Villains 'Fix' ThemselvesMonday, April 11, 2011
My little children have turned into their father. Lucy, instead of playing with dolls and arranging stuffed animals for a tea party, enjoys sitting down with comic books and the Justice League action figures. She and her brother battle super villains and work hard to rid the world of ugliness. Some mothers might think this is a bad idea. After all, battling lego villains on the xbox might not be the best use of time. I, however, think that it is wonderful (and it doesn't happen all day long).
Lucy can tell me the names of the super heroes (both real names and hero names) and tell me why they are a hero. She is even learning the names of the bad guys and discovering why they turned evil. For instance, Batman has to defeat Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a.k.a the Man-Bat. In an attempt to save himself from his growing deafness, the doctor developed a serum inspired by bats and their incredible hearing, and tests it on himself…thus accidentally altering who he is. He becomes, literally, a Man-Bat. He is super strong and can now fly. The bad part is…well, he is now bad.
In the 1970’s, Preston Payne became the third Clayface and an another enemy of Batman. Payne was a scientist that suffered hyperpituitarism (who says comic books can’t be educational?) and used the second Clayface’s blood to create a cure. Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, Payne became a clay-like creature that needed to pass his condition onto other to survive instead. What disturbing, is some believe Payne’s condition was a metaphor for drug abuse or sexually transmitted disease (Lucy doesn't know this).
The Penguin is a different story. Of all the villains that battle Batman, the Penguin is the only one that has complete control over his actions and is one-hundred percent sane. But the story of how he became something evil is interesting. Some believe that, as a boy, he was forced to carry and umbrella over his paranoid mother, due to his father dying of pneumonia after being caught in a downpour (explaining why he carries and umbrella). Having always known extreme wealth, Cobblepot experiences poverty for the first time when his mother dies. When this happens, her family of pet birds are repossessed to pay their debts. This breaks his heart—seeing his mother's beloved birds taken away.
Aside from this, the Penguin was obviously an ugly creature. He was short, fat, had a beak-nose, and webbed fingers. The children made fun of him. He didn’t fit in. He was bullied, ridiculed, and beaten-up. Even criminals would not accept him. When he tried to join a gang, they made fun of him, calling him the ‘Penguin’ and kicking him out…his umbrella tossed along with him. Angry, he decided he would make ‘The Penguin’ a name to be feared. He would fix himself. He would make himself something. He would prove that he had worth…or, at least, would prove that he was something--someone--to be feared.
The lists goes on and on. The Joker falls into acid and ruins his face, so he becomes something ugly and to be feared. Catwoman does much the same, deciding to pour out her vengeance on that which is deemed good—Batman. Two-Face, a man which was once good, is ruined by pain both emotional and physical. The loss of his love, the ruin of his face, and he tries to ‘fix’ things…make things even.
Super heroes and their villains will be a vessel for my children—lessons to live by—that we are mere human beings. We are easily wounded and hurt. We fall down, wallow in out pain…and get angry. That being the story, we can do one of two things: We can either try to fix ourselves and our situation on our own, or we can look to what is good to fix it—our Lord and Savior that is good enough to mend our wounds. If nothing else, the Justice League and their enemies will help me teach my children more about the goodness of God and the foolishness of mankind. They will admire goodness and those that live by it...and they will try to inspire others by doing so.
What Justice League is teaching me, is that we can not fix ourselves. If you do, you just might find a villain in the bathroom mirror.