Why have Super without the Hero

A writer friend of mine posted an article recently that Marvel Comics was planning on changing the direction of their stories to stop having “Social Justice Warriors”. I admit I didn't read the article because speculation on how writers and editors plan on creating something that hasn't happened usually turns out to miss the nuances and key points of what will eventually be made. I will wait to see what the comics are actually like. But the title stuck with me and bothered me. The last time I was this bothered was when I read about Captain America being an agent of Hydra.

I read the speculative essays on how the Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube to change history so that Captain America would actually be an agent of Hydra. Personally, I don't like time travel stories. People will argue that I love Doctor Who so I must actually like time travel stories. But I counter, that most Doctor Who stories only use time travel to place the Doctor and his companion where the story then takes place, very little time travel occurs afterward as the story unfolds. My real problem with this Captain America story line is I couldn't accept him as a Neo-Nazi. Capt was created to defeat the Nazi. Yes, even Stan Lee said it was a brave and acceptable thing for a writer to do. I see that now, that's where the nuance and writing comes in. Having a hero actually be the exact thing which is antithetical to everything he believes in can create some wonderful stories and character developments. Superman: Red Son would be a great example. There are many great examples. Most of those are alternate worlds or time lines or mini-series. I can accept those because although they may change future directions for the hero they don't undermine what the hero stands for, rather they enhance it through comparison.

I can accept Captain America agent of Hydra now, although I still don't plan on reading it. I am not interested in seeing my hero like that. I started reading Captain America around issue 212 in 1977. Jack Kirby was still writing and drawing those issues. Captain America had a partner, Falcon. Not a side-kick like Bucky, but an actual partner. Falcon was Capt's equal. I was pretty young and didn't see the true significance of that. But it was great because my friend who was African-American had a superhero and I had a superhero and we could be partners just like them. So maybe I saw some significance in that. Maybe my friend saw even more significance in it than I did. We didn't talk about those things, we just fought the Nazi and the Red Skull. We defended America and the American dream of all men being equal. I do remember that I especially loved Capt, Green Arrow, and Aquaman because they were blonde, like me. Other superheroes had black or brown hair so some of our friends said I couldn't be them.

That was also around the time that Linda Carter was staring in the show, Wonder Woman. There were no male Superheroes in that show. There were heroic men, but she was Super. Isis was another female superhero TV show. And there was Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, more female superheroes. I loved those shows and I had nothing in common with them. But they upheld great ideals. This was shortly after the American Bicentennial, so patriotism, national pride, and the American dream were prominent ideals being represented throughout the media. We had a great country and even though not everything was perfect and people disagreed, if we upheld the tenements of Liberty, Equality, and Justice we would always be the good guys. I was young then. Those ideas became inherent in me. Those were the ideals I wanted my heroes to exemplify. I was happy knowing that skin color or gender didn't make someone better or worse, that they were equal. What mattered was how they acted.

A little after this time, my friends stopped being interested in comics. They became interested in sports and other typical activities. I didn't. As time went on, we drifted further apart as our mutual interests vanished. I was identified as being different. My childhood nickname was “freaky albino”. I became the target of bullies. I was the weird kid. Eventually, I had no friends. My home life wasn't too much better. My parents were divorced when that was relatively rare in my community. I was being raised by my grandparents who didn't understand the last generation let alone mine. And they didn't want a weirdo grandson. They tried to force me into normalcy which failed miserably and made all of us quite unhappy and disliking each other. I felt like I didn't belong in society. My grandparents were thinking and acting like they did since the 1930s, I was acting like it was the 1970s. My African-American friend wasn't allowed to come over to my house. I couldn't play with the girls who were Wonder Woman, Isis, Electra Woman, and Dyna Girl. Boys played with boys and they played sports.

I still had comics. I found an old issue of X-Men, issue 140, shortly after the death of Phoenix. I got some more issues. For some reason, Nightcrawler and Wolverine appealed to me. Yes, those are pretty obvious reasons. I was an angry loner so I quickly identified with Wolverine. I wished I had his rebelliousness and strength to stand up to authority. Nightcrawler was a lovable and kind-hearted man who wished that people could accept him as he was. He tried to use the projector that Professor X gave him so that he would pass as normal, but his true form was always revealed. These were people who were shunned by society but nevertheless used their gifts to be heroes. The X-Men were such an obvious symbol and parallel for the LGBT community. Not all of the stories even touched on the mutant persecution, hatred, and bigotry. But when they did, back then, those were very powerful stories. I dare anyone to read the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills or New Mutants issue 45 without having some emotional sympathy for the victims of blind persecution.

I had found out that there were other weirdos like me in the world, I wasn't alone. When I started high school, I put that to the test and actually found many great friends. I am still friends with many of those people. I accepted that I was weird and owned my difference like David Bowie, but that is a different essay. I still read comics. I still believed in those same patriotic ideals. I made a good life for myself and befriended anyone regardless of skin tone, gender, sexual orientation, or religious identity. I judged everyone equally based upon their character and behavior.

I raised my son with those same ideals. I used Batman and Captain America to help teach him to read. I would read to him every night before bed. But we didn't just read the stories, we also discussed them. Why was Nightcrawler sad in this issue? Why did the Red Skull treat Falcon with contempt yet he felt Captain America was his equal? They weren't just fun stories with cool pictures, they were a way to teach morals and situations that he had not yet lived through. They were a way for us to connect to each other and the world around us.

When my son was in first grade he almost got expelled because he physically grabbed a boy who was bullying another kid. But because he touched the other child he was going to be expelled. The fact that he was helping a child in need didn't matter to the principal. My Wolverine and Captain America righteous indignation showed up to that parent meeting. Yes, he should have gotten a teacher to resolve the problem, but he did what his heroes had shown him-he defended those in need. I was very proud.

So when I heard that comics want to stop having Social Justice Warriors in their stories, I wondered what they will have? I read Walking Dead and the big spoiler was that the zombies weren't the villains, people were. People who had stopped caring about each other. People who had lost their sense of justice. When I first heard the phrase Social Justice Warrior, I thought it was a new superhero. Being a Literature major in college, I like to break down phrases and understand their total meaning. Social, being of and about the society and community. Justice, the fair and equal treatment of people. Warrior, the defender of the community, the person who fights. Together, a person who fights for fair and equal treatment of all members of the community. That sounded like a superhero's job description to me.

Do I want super without the hero? No. There are anti-heroes, tragic heroes, and flawed heroes but what made them more than just a collection of powers was their morals and ideals. Wolverine meditated. Nightcrawler prayed. And Captain America was an artist. Walk through the walls with a Jewish girl from Chicago sometime and see why these things matter and how we can keep them in our lives.

~ Y.M. Valentonis 2/18/2017

Winter 2010

Publications


Cliterature: Appetite issue (http://cliteraturejournal.com/appetite/maxvalentonis.html)has published my short stories "Dinner Guest" – a minimalist tale of stalking and "The Best Little Zombie House in Florida" – a behind the scenes porn gone to horror.

Health


So in early October my colon decided to have a flare up of diverticulitis – that is a swelling of a pocket in the colon. But that was not enough, it also decided that it needed to have a small perforation, just to complicate things. Now, I've had this happen to me once before, back in 2008, so I knew the drill; a week in the hospital with no food, just an IV for a week. Followed by a High Fiber diet. OK. Done. But then the doctor who admitted me added a new twist – once I am better he wanted to do surgery!

I liked the movie "Repo! The Genetic Opera" but I am NOT happy with surgery! And I don't want no repo-man coming for my parts!

So the doctor explains how he will do this surgery and I ask about laprascopic options and he says "I like to get my hands in there." So naturally I look at his hands. And damn! Those are BIG HANDS.

Worst X-mas gift ever: surgery in December!

Surgery takes twice as long than expected because of residue damage from my burst appendix back in 1997 (for those of you who don't remember, I died during that and spent a month in the hospital afterward). My body doesn't like this invasion and so it takes me much longer for my system to start processing food again. I end up in the hospital for ten days instead of the planned five. Everything is being doubled! A few internal stitches open, I bleed internally, plus my incision gets infected. The doctor cheerfully reopens my incision for me. Then they send me home, with an open incision which a nurse has to come and pack every day! FUN!

I have a hole in my belly. I have no energy. I am in pain. And since I am a contractor, I had to start work right away or not get paid. However, I am very grateful that I still have the job! I can even work from home.

With all things in perspective, it is good and I am doing well. I do hope next year involves less medical issues.

Autumn 2010

My comic 'My Pet Zombie' and my poem 'Winter Horde' will be published in the 'Zombie Nation: St Pete' Anthology (http://www.zombienationpublishing.com/). The book premiere will be October 23, 2010 on the St. Petersburg Pier. Their previous anthology was a big success, so there is a lot of excitement over this!

I have created a board game, 'Sumo Dice' which will be premiered at the Necronomicon Science Fiction Convention (http://www.stonehill.org/necro.htm). I will be running games on Saturday and Sunday, October 23 & 24. Many "thank you"s to my play testers and David Waterman for making the game board! And just for fun I will be running a Monster Slayer (kid's D&D) adventure "Noise Control" on Sunday. Come and play!

Cliterature (www.cliteraturejournal.com) has published my poem 'Lost in Urban Landscaping #17' in its MYTHS theme issue. This poem was previously published in 'Say … #1 (Was That a Kiss)' way back in 2002.

In freelance news, I have taken on the duties of Web Master for Optimal Performance Group Incorporated (www.opg-inc.com), the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour (http://lcostampa.org/), and the Academy of Our Saviour (http://www.academyofoursaviour.org/).

I started my new drawings for the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour’s annual Christmas Concert; this year's theme is "Christmas on Broadway".


Ink touches paper!

SPRING 2010

Apparently, I have been very busy – I was so busy, I didn't notice it, but then I realize that it is May! Whoa! As we all know, the first Saturday in May is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! I honor of that – all of my eComics on Lulu.com are FREE! (Ignore the listed price.)

Maximum Lizard #1 – Troll Vs. Goat
Maximum Lizard #2 – Mushroom Maiden
Rock Paper Scissors -
ASYM #1 – The Adventures of Scrubby Bear

http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fSearch=valentonis&fListingClass=&fListingCategory=


>>>>>>
I have TWO new chapbooks of Visual Poetry out and available

“This Is Visual Poetry” -
http://thisisvisualpoetry.com/



“i DEAL” Avantacular Press -
http://www.scribd.com/doc/30394039/i-DEAL



>>>>>>
I have been published the Sixth time by Cliterature Journal! My short proem “Kitchen” -
http://cliteraturejournal.com/maxvalentonisfamily.html

>>>>>>
And if this isn't enough, I will be playing the role of Mufasa in “The Lion King”. My son who is playing the young Simba, volunteered my services. Miss Suda has put together a good performance and great cast. It will play May 15 in Cypress Forest Recreation Center in Oldsmar.

Confessions of a Web Comic Addict

I mentioned my addiction to WebComics and some people have asked about the ones that I follow. Here are the comics which have stuck with me for one reason or another. Many of these are NOT appropriate for work or children. Then again, some are, but they might be too much for a newspaper to carry. So view with discretion. Some of these comics have run their lives and are now completed and some have not posted in so long that they seem completed. I mention if I have only started reading a comic to let you know that I have not yet seen enough to really keep it on the list yet. I provide the breifest description of the comic after its title. they all have different posting schedules. I suggest that you start at the begining in all cases. Peruse and enjoy.


---> My comics:

Fuzzy Vision
My random and sporatically updated comic and updates
http://valentonis.blogspot.com/

Oombosition Bodr
High School collaborative adventure
http://oombosition.yolasite.com/


---> Comics I read:

The Lair of the Dreaded Atrox
(I haven't read much of this yet but the sculptures are really pretty.)
http://www.theatrox.com/lair/

DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary (completed)
Funny daily life and relationships (some adult content)
http://www.darcomic.org

Curvy
Funny sexual sci-fi adventure
http://www.c.urvy.org/

Pinkerton
Adult funny animals (I just began reading this)
http://talltalefeatures.com/pinkerton/

Luci Phurrs Imps
Hellish funny
http://luciphurrsimps.com/

Nerf This
Adult daily life
http://nerf-this.com

Bear Nuts
Funny animals
http://www.bearnutscomic.com

Edmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life
Odd adventures
http://eqcomics.com/

Sinfest
Funny adult strip
http://www.sinfest.net/

Girls With Slingshots
Daily life and relationships
http://www.daniellecorsetto.com/gws.html

Girl Genius
Adult SteamPunk adventure
http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php

Myth Adventures
Funny Fanatasy adventure
http://www.airshipentertainment.com/mythcomic.php

Looking for Group
Funny Fanatasy (gaming) adventure
http://lfgcomic.com/

Pictures of You
Coming of Age in Collge
http://picturesofyou.smackjeeves.com

Goblins
Funny Fantasy (gaming) adventure
http://goblins.keenspot.com/

Oglaf
Funny Fantasy sexual stories
http://www.oglaf.com/archive.html

Dead Squirrel Girl
Odd adventures
http://www.deadsquirrelgirl.com/index.html

Canned ham
Funny monster (I just started reading this)
http://www.cannedhamcomic.com

Bored and Evil (seems to be completed)
Funny monsters
http://www.boredandevil.com/

Garfield Minus Garfield
One man gone crazy
http://garfieldminusgarfield.ne

Hello Cthulhu (seems to be completed)
Cute monsters
http://www.hello-cthulhu.com

More Publications

I made it into Cliterature Journal's new issue "Jungle". This is the fifth time I made it into their journal. I think they might like me. They have accepted my pieces:
Flower Haiku
Monkey.Haiku.Story.One
Savages

http://www.cliteraturejournal.com/jungle/maxvalentonis.html

***

My piece "Orange Juice" was published in the new issue of artICHOKE "Earth and Ether". This was premiered at Boog City's 6th annual small, small press fair (with indie records and crafts, too) Sat. Sept. 12-Sun. Sept. 13, 2009 at Brooklyn’s Unnameable Books

earthether.blogspot.com

***

Also the Domo manga is out! I have seen it and it is cool. I have an illustration in the Runners Up section in the back. It is a small image but I swear I drew it bigger than that.

http://www.tokyopop.com/Domomanga/tp_article/2591611.html

Recent publications

1.
Once again I am pleased to say that Cliterature has published some of my poems. This issue the theme was Rules. They selected the following poems:

Fleeting
from A is for apple
The Human Marionette
Lost in Urban Landscaping #25

www.cliteraturejournal.com

*** This is the fourth issue that I have had work appear in.

2.
I am a runner up in the "Show Me the Domo" art contest by Tokyopop. My illustration of Domo will appear in the forthcoming Domo Manga published by Tokyopop, due in stores in September 2009. *** This is the second Tokyopop art contest where I have done well (see the Sumo Tournament / Sakura Pens related posts).

3.
See the last few posts to see my artwork / puppets for the Experimental Skeleton exhibition "To Bodly Go" at the West Tampa Center for the Arts. *** This is my third Experimental Skeleton exhibit over the years (not counting Titanic Anatomy shows).

To Boldly Open Photos by Marcy D











To Boldly Open











To Boldly Set Up











Setting up the Star Trek show at the gallery








to boldly link

http://www.tampabay.com/features/events/article1002528.ece

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2009/05/22/artsqueeze-weekend-roundup-may-22-23/#comment-4003

http://web.me.com/tmreller/WTCA/current.html