I didn’t grow up with some prized comic book collection, like one of the characters on Big Bang Theory might have, but I’ve always been a fan of superheroes. Still am.
After spending a few years without television, I recently caught up on the final season of Smallville. That’s right. I admit it.
And, yes, as a boy, I did imagine myself saving the world each time I leapt off the picnic table in the backyard, trying to fly.
As a boy, my favorite superheroes were Superman and Batman, sure, but I also used to imagine The Thing and The Hulk engaging in epic throw downs.
Maybe it’s the way each superhero has flaws, vulnerabilities, perceived weaknesses which they don’t just manage to overcome, but which, in the end, often turn out to be strengths as well.
Maybe that’s why Ron Koertge’s poem “Sidekicks” speaks to me so strongly, in part because it’s not a poem about superheroes, but about their sidekicks, characters who tend to exist in the background. They don’t usually represent the best of us, not in a sense of possessing superhuman abilities, but they do represent the best of us in the way they selflessly put the needs of others ahead of themselves, the way they exist outside the spotlight and still do what we need them to do. Not for fame, but because it’s the right thing. In some ways, they are misfits, yet misfits who often save the day.