It’s almost 5 AM and I’ve been up all night reading.?The Green Arrow is?explaining to his girlfriend, the Black Canary, why he must stay behind and sacrifice his life to save some survivors of the latest threat to all life in the universe: Anti-Life. “I can’t lose you,” she breathes, raising her hand to the glass window. Green Arrow tells her not to worry – “They won’t catch me…I’ll use my ANTI-Anti-Life arrow. Pretty bird.” Then he turns around screaming obscenities as he unleashes torrents of arrows. I roll over in my chair because I’m giggling like a boy on Christmas morning at the sheer spectacle of it.

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Moments like this are why I love comic books.??It sounds incredibly geeky, but no comics fan would defend themselves. Friends tried to get me to read comics since I was in junior high and they were all quite unashamed of their pure geek. I was a harsh skeptic. One friend in particular finally decided he’d had enough with my snobbish disregard for “picture books” and shoved a stack of comics into my hands.

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What I discovered was more than just fights n’ tights. This was a clash of modern gods and devils. It was proof human imagination is able to fictionalize the fantastical and construct a narrative around what is impossible and yet dare me to believe with every colorful panel, each “Pow!” and cheeseball line of dialogue. It was all very epic – and pure unadulterated fun.

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Because comic books?just can’t be taken seriously (despite what Christopher Nolan may have you believe).?Death chases the living on skiis? Tigers wear bowties? Parallel universes exist within the very fabric of reality on this planet if you can only vibrate fast enough to find them??Villians say, “She’s DOOMED, do you hear me! Doomed – and so are YOU!” and heroes?say, “You don’t get it, boy. This isn’t a mudhole. It’s an OPERATING TABLE. And I’m the SURGEON.” It wasn’t just unrealistic, it?was laughably bizarre – and it wasn’t long before I realized that this was part of the point.

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It’s been roughly a year since I started reading comics. What has made me a fan for life is that magic of mythologizing. Our?gods today may be aliens allergic to green rocks or teenagers getting bitten by spiders, but they are part of our cultural storytelling nonetheless. Human beings have been telling fictional stories about our universe throughout history. Ancient Egyptians engraved on walls stories of a righteous king murdered by his brother and avenged by his son long before Shakespeare ever dreamed up Hamlet or Disney released THE LION KING. The Mayans had a giant picture wheel of a calendar depicting superhuman characters?and?the Hindu temples were dedicated to a?pantheon of gods that?rivaled the Greeks’ in sheer size and complexity.

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Even the predominantly religious narrative in our local culture is bizarre and mythological; God visits a teenage boy who essentially saves the souls of the world with a book made of gold buried in New York and eventually sacrifices his life in the name of truth? It smacks of the fantastic – and people continue to believe.

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Picture stories such as these have never been intended to realistically depict human existence, only to help explain it. In some small way, we can all understand the teenage years through Peter Parker and the pure desire to do good through Clark Kent. The point of comics is not to make us think, but to wonder.?As long as human beings?are capable of believing in the unbelievable, there will always be comic books.