Author’s Note: Edited on 6-7-14 for clarity and personal opinion.
I realized the other day that I feel like an imposter. For a while now, I have called myself a nerd, specifically a comic book nerd (Or is it ‘geek’? I don’t know which is the acceptable term now). I mean, we have about four issue storage boxes similar to the one the picture stacked in a corner of our living room by a bookshelf, not to mention two whole shelves of one bookcase for our trade paperbacks, 80% of them mine. So I think I have often thought of myself as the girl in the picture – fun (maybe a little cute and devilish) and geeky, glasses and all. But, as I go to more and more of the comic-based films and, inevitably, debate them afterwards with my husband and my friends, I’m realizing something. I’m realizing that I often feel like an imposter in this particular corner of the popular culture world.
With the releases of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-men: Days of Future Past, and The Amazing Spiderman 2 this spring alone, not to mention Guardians of the Galaxy hyping up and preparing to release in August, I find myself forced to think long and hard before and as I debate these films with others and, usually, they are others who have actually read the comics these movies are based on. For me, here’s how it breaks down, at least the most recent ones:
Captain America – never read a single thing with him, except for the recent A vs. X arc. Never been interested, actually.
X-men: My experience has been sporadic at best. My longest love affair has been with the animated series, The Uncanny X-men, X-men Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-men. I read the comics a great deal in middle school, read some again in college/grad school (only remember one arc that actually made any impact – Wolverine: Return of the Native), and the closest I have come to loyalty lately is the recent Uncanny X-men arc with the proto-mutants, which I a.) collected because the covers were pretty (love the nouveau layouts), b.) Storm was leading the team, and c). the story was interesting. Of course, life got in the way and I got lost on it.
Spiderman: I have not touched a Spiderman title since I was a child and I would grab my uncle’s stack of Spiderman comics, put them beside my grandma’s hammock that was hung up in her front hallway, and swing and read all of a summer afternoon to stay out of the sun and the heat. Those comics are gone by now, rotted to dust in a corner of the storeroom somewhere. And I only remember one or two of them with any sort of vividness.
Catwoman (90s run) issue #37 – Story by Dixon, pencils by Balent, inks by Smith
So maybe you can understand why I tend to feel like imposter. Maybe I’m not a comic book nerd, not really. I do have loyalty but not to a brand or a company. I have loyalty to a single incarnation of a single character: Catwoman. Specifically, her 90s run with the art drawn by Jim Balent. To my mind, she has never been more capable, lovely, or deadly than in this incarnation. But I posted about that a little over a year ago so I won’t rehash it here. I love Catwoman; she has been my only ‘real’ loyalty over the years. Batman, my feelings come and go. Superman I can take or leave. Even Wolverine , I run hot and cold at times. Wait. I think I may have accidentally fibbed. There is one other title that has my love and loyalty and always will, I think: Fables. But that is a whole other story in and of itself.
So, with this in mind, I’m not entirely sure I have earned the right to call myself a “comic book nerd”. I enjoy comics. They are fun to read. But I am not the girl who will stand there and argue Bone First vs. Adamantium First a la Big Bang Theory. Well, not if I don’t know the right answer right off the bat. I do love offering theories, though. And I do love continuity, which, of course, X-men plays havoc with all the time, but that’s OK. It’s kind of part and parcel for the universe. But, for all of this, I feel like I’ve maybe been appropriating a title for which I am ill-suited, as silly as that may sound. It’s kind of like Cyanide Happiness comic about “loving” science. Maybe…maybe I don’t “love” comics so much as I have been ogling Catwoman’s shapely behind for the past twenty years of my life.
It may not be the truth but that is how I feel. Over the past two years, I feel…removed from the hobbies that I love and used to participate avidly in – belly dance, comics, cosplay, and larp/tabletop. I hardly feel worthy of calling myself a ‘bellydancer’, ‘cosplayer’, or ‘larper’ any more either, truth be told. I know that with life comes changes and the finding of a new balance amidst those changes. Maybe that is what I need to work on.