Damn fine Superheroes

Forbidden Planet and the damn fine superheroes

Forbidden Planet

Marvelous Opening Movement

I can’t remember when I was introduced to comic books and their damn fine superheroes.  Probably when our family moved back to the so called civilised world.  Prior to this we lived in the Ghana Gold Coast where I went indigenous.  Boy they spoiled their children and apparently I lapped it up. It’s a shame I was way too young to appreciate the traditional folklore of the Ghanaians as it would have been amazing.

Then we moved back to London to await the finalisation of my mum and dad’s immigration to Canada.

Then in British Columbia we moved way up north (where transport was by bush plane or barge).  The snow was thick and the winter long.  We children played games featuring our own version of superheroes.  These were usually played by the bigger kids because – they could!Icy in Tulsequah

Then south to a lovely place half way up a mountain.  Finally we ended up east in the middle of several sets of mountain ranges.  By the time I was six I had lived in four countries.

In retrospect, I think any or all of these magical places would be a good setting for a ‘Superhero’.  In fact many people in these areas did superhero acts and without super powers.  They saved lives, helped people in trouble and protected them from adverse experiences.  All these amplified are shown in the Superhero fantasy characters that have evolved over the years.

Superhero Initiation

I believe I was between four and six when I ‘found’ comic books.  At that time we were in an almost civilised mining camp where my father worked.  Since we could drive to the stores we could buy a new comic every week.  Way up north stock only came in infrequently so this was a new luxury to us.

All the kids in the camp had piles of comics including many superhero ones.  Presumably they were forerunners to the Marvel and DC comics we know today, but we paid no attention to the publisher.  At the time we were young and only interested in the latest instalment of excitement.

Due to the transferring of our parents around the province to different camps we kids grew to know lots of other kids and frequently bumped into ones from other places we had lived.  So comic book sharing was an absolute.  And a real plus was the huge amount of socialising we children obtained.

Dazzling Cliff Hangers

Damn Fine Superheroes the Avengers Mug by Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet

The stories of superheroes often if not always came as cliff hangers as these were the days of the  superhero cliffhangers.  The story line was do they live and save the day or do they die at the hand of their nemesis villains? We didn’t just have to wait for the next instalment to see how the hero was saved or the villain escaped (or was dealt with).   We had to wait until that comic book was traded into our hands and that could take a while.

The great thing was that there was always something to read, even if it was a re-read done while waiting on a comic with the final (not usually) outcome.  Final outcomes often turned into another dazzling cliff hanger and so on.  And if reading material was rare we would pull out the colouring books and go to town inventing our own colour combinations.

Both super villains and super heroes died and were miraculously restored in future comics.  No one questioned this because no one really carried about trivial things such as truth in comics!

As Time Goes By

The initial introduction of superheroes to the western world was in 1867 in England. This was followed almost 40 years later by the rescuing, masked avenger the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Along came Zorro, Buck Rogers and the Lone Ranger, the Avengers and X-Men.  The list goes on and on and the media it appears on has broadened considerably.

My initial years of comic-phobia, that began years after the genre gained popularity, raced by and eventually came to an end.  As sophisticated teenagers the chase, thrill and anticipation became too passé.

On the other hand we still watched the TV series and eventually the movies.  Maybe it was the superheroes in tights, tights shorts and bodices.  Oh well you know what it is like at that age!

Influence on other media

Finally science fiction and fantasy started being taken seriously and the superhero theme flamed into life with the earlier mentioned TV series.  Movies began to feature science fiction themes.  I can remember going to the local matinee during my elementary school years.  The theatre was great.  All parents from outlying areas dumped the kids at the matinee where the film was usually a great science fiction or fantasy one.  They picked us up from a central location afterwards.  In winter the skating rink.  In summer on the coin operated horse at one of the local department stores.  And someone at each always looked out for us.  Those were the days when superheroes were watched by us and not needed by us for protection.  That need has grown over time as more social issues developed.

Mixed damn fine superheroes with super moggyWith ongoing developments with movie techniques and their accompanying equipment the newer movies became more sophisticated and visual.  Movies progressed from film to video, dvds and now the internet via mobile and computer means.

There has been a vast expansion of superheroes.  Now not only the Batman and Robin, Superman, Spiderman, accompanying villains and all the ‘other old’ heroes existed but along came the X-men, several updated Avengers teams and Justice Leagues of America.  Then there was Indiana Jones, Harry Potter (super wizard too), and the animated ones with Simba the Lion King truly overcoming the bad guy.  And the list goes on and on.

Divisions in the Ranks

There are two basic trends with superheroes.  The first is the special powers (magic) of some.  And the other is the lack of special powers (wit and strength).  Good examples are Superman and Batman.

Within each of these exist the good guys and the bad guys.

Often each trend contains exaggerated text or speech, action and costuming.  There was a ‘campiness’ about some of them, in particular Batman with the drama and glamorous dress sense and theatrical gestures.  But oh boy what fun they were.

As for innuendo, as children that went right over our heads as we were way too busy having fun and our attention was not constantly focussed on innuendo or double meanings.

Now-a-days we probably create the innuendo.

Super Wrap Up

If you like reading, watching or listening to Superhero tales saunter on down and browse superhero products.  The easiest way to do this is to visit Forbidden Planet and Kobo eBooks.

I’ll let the local super vandal wrap this up after she takes care of that educational hero (that’s debatable) newspaper.

Damn fine wonder cat villain

Look out superman, batman, spiderman and in particular cat woman.  You have competition.

I would love your comments or questions on superheroes and suggestions for any topics you would like to see on this site.  And I will return the favour even if the answer is ‘I don’t know yet but will find out!’



  1. I loved comics growing up and continue to do so to this day. I am not sure if it’s the stories that have changed, or if it is the fact that I am older, but those early comics could be read and re-read a near-infinite number of times. I don’t often re-read today’s comics, though there are some exceptions.

    I am very, very happy thus far with much of the Rebirth event going on over at DC comics, which aims to “restore a sense of hope and legacy” to the characters. So far, it has been working. There have been moments over the past year that literally had me teary-eyed. Some will label that as “sad” or otherwise disparage it, but there has been a surprising amount of emotion in some of these books as they “right the course” and bring back the heroism and optimism that made these characters appealing in the first place.

    • Craig, like you I prefer the older comics and that goes for TV and movies. The modern animation just doesn’t cut it in so many cases. Maybe I should now look into the rebirthed DC comics to see how I like them.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article and comment on it.

  2. Nice article Helen. I’m a comics fan also. Nowadays, I usually read graphic novels or collections so that I can get entire story arcs at once. After all, we’re in the age of instant gratification. In the US comics means ‘superheroes.’ But, there’s also a rich vein of non-superhero comics that are worth checking out.

    • Michael, when we were young my dad was transferred between several remote locations in British Columbia. As other families did the same thing, over time we grew into one big family. A family where we children could get a comic book occasionally. So we pooled them all and just rotated them throughout our ‘family’. No possessiveness and that was so unlike today and so very comfortable.

      Superheroes abounded but we also had Archie, Felix and other non superhero ones. We used to play all these characters using the country around the camps as our stage.

      I am so glad you liked my article and please come back for another chat soon.


  3. While they were very interesting, comic books were a luxury I couldn’t afford as a kid. My friends weren’t really into them . I use to borrow spiderman comics from my cousins but they din’t have all of them. At one point I give up and continued with the television instead. Watching TV was something I had easy access to, so you could say my introduction into the superhero world were: Spiderman, Thundercats, He-Man, Justice league, TMNT, Batman: The animated series, Superman: The animated series X-Men, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Phantom 2040, and of course I can’t leave out Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Now that I think about it I have watched a lot. Thanks for bringing back the memories. I now want to watch a few of these again (isn’t that crazy?)

    • Dira, I was in the same boat as you when young. Also we lived in isolated mining communities so comics weren’t readily accessable. When people flew out to ‘civilisation’ they often brought back a few. In the end the collection between all us kids in the camp was quite impressive. Once read they were passed to others. This way we got to read quite a few. In the end the comics were left in the commissary as individual ownership had been forgotten. This was great for new children coming into the camps.

  4. Hello Helen,

    It such fun to take a few moments to reflect on our youth. I remember being taken to the theater for those afternoon matinees. We would walk from my Babca’s (Polish for grandmother) house, around the block to a little movie theater. it was a good time. I still remember the smell of fresh popcorn and the mustiness of the old theater. The projectionist was an interesting fellow and as it turned out far too interested in children. Too bad there have to be folks who manage to spoil it for others.

    Still….My fondest memory of these times was having my Babca make us all sandwiches of ham on bread spread with mayonnaise. Those were the best.

    Well done in bringing back a memory …super heroes from my childhood.


    • I am very glad you visited my site and had a good bit of reminiscing. Your childhood sounds much like mine but the Polish connection was via a good school friend. Her mum made the best dill pickles in town. And what about that fresh popcorn. No fake butter! This was not good for the body but oh so tasty! My plan is to allow people to keep reminiscing but there will eventually be more modern stuff in here. See you around.

  5. Back when TV’s started coming out with color, kids back then use to read the comics like they were the bible. Comic book trading was very active only it was not for money, we just wanted something different to read. Now days, Comic books have to compete with TV and the movies. Gone are the days when you could see a kid walking down the street with a rolled-up Comic book in his back pocket.
    Have a great day!

    • Bob I really appreciate your commenting on my site. Without these comments it’s hard to gauge where I am at in my website construction. I agree about the comic book trading. The initial comic did cost but our parents made sure everyone bought something different. With about 15 kids doing this it increased the available comics for reading to about 15 fold. And it would be a bit hard to roll up a computer to stick in your back pocket and it would certainly look funny wouldn’t it?

  6. Hi Helen.I enjoyed reading your new posts and page,I never knew too much about the Scarlet Pimpernel only the Phrase “They seek him here they seek him there” I remember an old neighbour would have come out with this quote if someone went AWOL.I suppose he was a bit like Robin hood,only he smuggled people out.You have one error that I seen on your super heroes post,its where you have two words together where there should be a space in between.It is the second line of “Influence of Media”.I used to love all the super heroes cartoons years ago,do you remember there was one with Spiderman Iceman and fire star ,I liked that one or what about the “Sentinels”,I recall two of their names Mercury was one and he could move the speed of the wind and then Astria she could turn herself into any animal form,there was another one but I forget his name,Hercules jumped into my head a minute ago,I wonder was he the third one.
    I also like your story on the fairy,did you make this one up?

    • Mark, thanks for commenting. I will fix this spacing up now. The fascinating thing about the Scarlet Pimpernel is how much of it is based on actual people and history. I too remember well the racing around exchanging comics. It certainly helped keep us fit. And no the fairy one is about the book “The War of the Flowers” by Tad Williams. If you like reading you should enjoy it but it is a long read.

  7. Superhero comic books were also a favorite of mine. Mom would take us to the comic book exchange where we could trade 2 for 1. Then we would curl up in a favorite chair at home, along with an apple to eat, and read the afternoon away. What a great memory.

    I guess today kids are not so into reading comics as trading them. A 1960 Superman comic in great condition would fetch a pretty penny. So now our kids’ children are really missing out. They don’t read comics they go to Star Wars 3D, The Avengers and other similar superhero shows. There is nothing left to the imagination any more. Not like reading a comic.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Si-Fi and Superheros are still a staple offered in a completely different package.

    • I often don’t go to movies of books I love as not only don’t they allow you to build a picture in your own mind but often don’t even follow the story line. One of my current favourites is the Dresden files. They made a ‘straight to dvd’ series of them. The main female character is so different these stories might as well be on another planet. Comics are making a comeback I believe. An old acquaintance of mine started the Comic Kingdom in Sydney and it was always full of customers. So lots of people still like reading.

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