Never underestimate the appeal of a simple good vs evil story.
Last week I wrote in my blog, thedorkydaddy, that with my first child set to arrive in just a few weeks, I’ve been increasing the amount of reading I’ve been doing to my wife’s stomach. So far it had been the usual fare of Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon and the like.
However, this past week, I was reading a copy of DC’s All-Star Archives Volume 3 (as part of my ongoing effort to read every original JSA adventure from the 40s) and thought, “what the heck,” and began just reading the tale aloud to my wife’s stomach. To her surprise, and to mine, she had yet to feel the baby move about as rapidly and excitedly as it did when I was fleshing out the Nazi-bashing adventures of the JSA, making sure to give a distinct voice to each member of the team, from Hawkman’s broad, over the top hero voice to Starman’s almost 1920s newspaper man, fast-talker, it seemed that my unborn child was having as much fun with the JSA as I was having reading it.
Of course, I’m the first to admit my nationality voices need a little work. Nazi soldiers? Easy to handle. The little Dutch boy helping out Dr. Fate? Not so much.
The story in question was certainly not the most complicated of plots. It was All-Star Comics #14 and the Justice Society decided that it was the only right thing to do to feed Nazi-occupied nations to give freedom fighters the power to fight back against their oppressors. With a miracle of an invention (pills that turn into whole meals, something The Jetsons would perfect many years later), each member of the Justice Society set out to a different country to spread the pills and hope to these nations.
When I was a kid, I loved the Justice Society. In the 80s and 90s as I was growing up, the JSA had handed things over to a new generation of heroes, and were seen in the occasional guest role or short-lived series like the great Mike Parobeck-illustrated run of JSA – a series that should have been collected into a trade a long time ago, but sadly, has not.
So for me, the excitement of this reading session came not only as a first-time dad who loves comics, but a fan of the JSA for a very long time. My wife enjoyed it for the historical reference and background (she’s obsessed with the 1920s-1940s) as well as the sheer ridiculousness of some of the dialogue. The kid, well, the kid (not sure yet if it’s a boy or a girl) just went over the moon for it probably because of all the wacky voices daddy was doing along the way (it’s not like they can see the pictures through the belly), even if it is art by the great Jack Burnley or Bernard Bailey.
It was an absolute thrill to not only get to read these types of stories to my child (even if they haven’t been born yet), but to have them move about at the sound of my various voices was almost as incredibly as that time we first heard their heartbeat.
When all was said and done, the story then led to a great conversation (a bit one-sided as the belly doesn’t do much talking yet) about how fictional heroes were written to inspire in a time that seemed pretty bleak. We told the baby about the many real-life heroes of that time, such as their great grandfather and great grandmother, or our next door neighbor, George, or neighbor across the street, Geno, who put it all on the line to fight in for their country during World War II. It’s because of those folks that the baby is able to come into a world that was not overtaken by Hitler’s tyranny.
It also served as a great lesson for me. This child will come into the world in just a few weeks, and while I’ll always be glad to read to them (Justice Society, comics, Dr. Seuss or otherwise), the greatest thing is knowing how they will learn of the vast history of their family, of those who came before them, and all that led up their moment here in life. I get to be there with them every step of the way for that, and that, is going to be the greatest adventure of them all.
I don’t think any adventure of the JSA could top that.