In regard to superhero comics in particular, Angela Cybulski lists ten truisms typical of such stories, such as…
the paradoxical fact that weakness is not only a strength but a gift, because it teaches humility;
that super-heroism revives the ideal of martyrdom in a world that has lost its faith;
that each individual is possessed of unique gifts, some of which don’t always count for much in the eyes of society or those in power, but which the individual is particularly charged — as a debt of honor – with perfecting and using for the greater good.
I will leave to your reading pleasure the rest of Cybulski’s list. But what the list makes clear to me is that, at bottom, what our sentimental, truth-loving selves yearn for in superhero comics is the figure of the knight-errant, the man who pledges himself to his lord or his lady and goes off in search of dragons. This is what my son, I believe, loves in Star Wars and the other action heroes who fill his imagination. For in his heart my son longs to be a knight. He longs to serve a cause bigger than himself. He longs to be a champion of the weak, to prove his faith on a battlefield. He longs, in short, to be a saint.
For this reason the superhero is a figure we should all desire to be–indeed, cannot but desire to be. Think of this as you hear in the Easter liturgies the heroic adventures in the Acts of the Apostles of Paul and the other early Christians. These are our Avengers, our company of heroes, “marvelous” witnesses to the glory of giving one’s life to the most glorious Cause of all.
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