Despite my other Marvel fandom, I’ve always hated The Fantastic Four. At the outset, it’s one of aesthetics: their costumes are cheesy and their villains are tacky (Galactus is a purple cyberpunk Greco-Roman style warrior?) Besides that, the plucky “family” of mutated heroes in their literal ivory tower never spoke to me in any kind of meaningful way as Spider-Man did, even less so than Batman- which is saying something considering the latter is an obsessive billionaire turned ninja vigilante.
I was a big fan of the comics’ Civil War event all those years ago, and Reed Richards’ misguided alignment in the conflict was all too fitting a reflection of my distastes for him. During Civil War, I read an issue in The Fantastic Four mainline where Reed sits down for coffee with Johnny Storm after Sue has left the team to help Captain America, and Storm asks Richards why they’re mixed up in politics at all.
The argument/character moment is pretty facile, but one line sticks with me from Storm’s speech: “We used to cross the galaxy for donuts!”
On the one hand, there’s the notion of abandoning calls of duty and good citizenship in favor of going off on an adventure, (which is the diametric opposite of Spider-Man’s heroic values) but on the other though is one of fleeting freedom in the face of adulthood. At a certain point, you simply have to stay home and take care of business, tedious as it may be at times.
A week ago I got hit with a terrible spate of back spasms. I was unable to walk more than a handful of steps without collapsing to the ground in pain waiting for the spasms to subside enough for me to struggle back to my feet and try again.
When I attempted to take my dog on a walk I barely made it ten feet from my lobby door before collapsing again, and in trying to get back in just the ten feet back to the lobby seemed so insurmountable a distance that I waited for a half hour until finally asking a stranger to lend me their shoulder to walk on.
As I spent the next two days recovering and hobbling along on my makeshift cane, the thought kept occurring to me: I used to cross the galaxy for donuts- used to cover more ground in a day around LA than some people do in a month- used to write articles, short stories, and novels in the time I spent last week barely able to stand.
Father time is undefeated and while the injury last week was (thankfully) temporary, it was still a reminder of how fragile all this is and how easily I can be stopped dead in my tracks (literally). So what’s the point? Nothing new I’m afraid. All I have is a reiteration that I’m once again aware that this doesn’t last forever. While I’m still in my early 30s that lightning bolt of agony in the right place could bring it all crashing down at any moment, so we move forward while we can.