Thank you DC, from a Marvel fan. (written August 7th)
From the time I was a kid, and my mom would let me sit in the magazine aisle of our local grocery store reading comics while she replenished our pantry, I’ve always been a marvel fan. It’s nothing against DC, but for some reason I’ve always flocked to heroes like Captain America, Gambit, and Iron Man. Honestly at 8 years old I based my opinions on how cool the heroes looked. Super Man’s red under wear didn’t stand a chance next to Wolverine’s claws coming from his fists. As I grew older and came to understand the impact that comic book heroes had in society the more respect I had for them even though they were fictitious. That respect crosses both the DC and Marvel universe.
Since the time Superman was first introduced to the world, kids and adults have looked to super hero comics as either a way to relate to their problems with the world, or just simply escape them. For instance, during World War II, Captain America was depicted fighting Nazis and Hitler himself. Superman tried to single handedly solve world hunger. Batman even took on the subject of drug abuse in Batman RIP, and in most recent years both Marvel and DC have taken on the subject of gay rights in announcing gay and lesbian characters. Social issues and comic books go hand in hand.
While I’ve always enjoyed the fun and exciting universe that is Marvel, I want to take a second and say thank you to Detective Comics. Today I’m sitting on the oncology floor of Vanderbilt Children’s hospital with my son and probably 30 other children who are battling some form of pediatric cancer. Over the last year I have learned more about real life super heroes than the ones that I’ve read about in comics in my 28 years of living. My son is one of them. He has endured 42 rounds of chemo therapy, one huge back surgery to partially remove a tumor from his spinal cord, 36 rounds of physical and occupational therapy, and has gone from being paralyzed to walking again, and did I mention he was four years old for most of this. He handled every bit of this in stride. Sure there were plenty of tears shed, and arguments had on going to chemo, but he has literally become a symbol of strength to people who are fighting the same disease and even people who aren’t. Every kid on this floor is just that… a symbol of strength, bravery, and hope. Each week we come to the hospital you can usually find all kinds of super heroes either painted on shoes or all over kids’ shirts. These are both Marvel and DC heroes. Each week you see kids who find strength in fictional heroes you’ve created and how they overcome their problems or in some cases don’t. Still you provide so much more than entertainment. You provide strength, hope, and bravery, to these kids and their parents. (Fact: more than 175,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer a year)
It’s been a long year, and to be honest my son hates chemo almost as much as the Joker hates Batman. So much so he does his best to not even talk about it. While it’s been long we (my wife and I) have always looked for ways to make the whole process easier for my son. Actually the first thing he watched when he woke up from surgery was Captain America (sorry DC, he’s a marvel kid). He would watch the Amazing Spiderman over and over while we were in the hospital. Truth be told, we even were able to sneak in some Batman Forever (he really loved all the bright colors). We’ve given him countless toys of Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America, Iron Fist, X-men, Hulk, and even Batman stuff to help keep his mind off how terrible chemo makes him feel. All of it worked to some degree, but nothing really helped keep his mind off of it permanently.
Yesterday, I took some time off work to hang out with my son before his last treatment. While I was sitting down to start writing another article for 4NL I thought of the video I had seen a couple of months ago that has been making its way around the internet. It shows how DC is directly helping kids to change their mindset on what is happening to them. Here it is if you’re not familiar.
I showed this video to my son, and as he watched I would see his eyes light up and a slight smile emerge. I asked him what he thought and the first thing out of his mouth was “I want some stuff to help me be like a superhero”. You have to understand, as a parent, trying to explain away the scary and boring place that is a hospital to a 4 year old is near impossible. Even the hospital we have that is decorated solely for kids becomes a bad memory over time, but here you are taking your awesome stories and characters and making them fight something that my son has been fighting every day for the last year. You’ve written it so that he immediately relates, and FEELS like he is being turned into a superhero. You’ve done something every fanboy and fan girl has always wanted in making them feel as if they ARE a super hero. What a powerful tool this is for kids fighting cancer. Let me say that every kid fighting cancer could use what is in this video…. hope, strength, and bravery.
So let me say this very clearly.
From a Marvel fan,
THANK YOU DC
For helping kids conquer their arch nemesis one chemo at a time.
(I’m a huge advocate for finding a cure for pediatric cancer because of my son, and if you feel so led to help make an impact, feel free to make your own impact here. http://www.stbaldricks.org/ They are the largest non-profit research organization for pediatric cancer, and their money is where their mouth is. Help save a life and donate.)