In the words of Our Lady Peace, "Superman's dead."
As most of you have probably heard by now, Christopher Reeve has died from heart failure, after lapsing into a coma in the last week. His long battle is over. A few thoughts on his passing:
--As I've mentioned before, I was never much into comics growing up. My interest in the mythology of comics is a recent thing. Thanks to my recent Smallville compulsion, I now consider myself something of a Superman fan, after years of being a diehard fan (admittedly superficially) of Batman.
I do remember with the historic "Death of Superman" issue came out. My friend JD's dad was searching high and low for the issue, and my dad finally found one and grabbed it for him. I was entrusted with the keeping of the book until JD's dad picked it up. I looked through it only once. I looked at the cover with curiosity and awe. I flipped through it reverentially. The first time I'd ever really looked at a comic book (except for a brief and uneventful run-in with an "autographed" Spiderman issue). It was so...heightened. I was a book nerd from birth, but this was a wholly new medium for me. Frankly, I'm surprised that I didn't dive into comics right there. I guess basketball and Nintendo overwhelmed and crushed that small seedling of comic fanboyhood. But I always remembered that first issue.
--I remember hearing on the radio when Christopher Reeve had his accident. It was in eighth or ninth grade. I was being picked up from school, and as the car left the carpool area, it passed the family-owned stables nextdoor. I don't remember what I felt, but I remembered trying to picture what happened. I couldn't quite see it mentally. So I looked at the chocolate colored horses munching grass in the sun-and-shadow-dappled afternoon.
--I collected keyrings before I had reason to buy them. I still have about thirty. For a while, I used a metal Batman insignia, about three inches across, on a metal chain. That was my first actually functional keyring, until one of the links broke. When I went to buy its replacement (this was sometime during high school), I actually put back the Batman and bought the Superman shield. Though the red and yellow plastic pieces inset in the metal base have come out (leaving a rad "steel" look), the Superman key chain remains to this day. I know it doesn't mean anything, but I like to think it might.
--The first Smallville episode I ever saw was the first episode guest-starring Christopher Reeve. That was the only reason I watched--until that point, the series held no interest for me (as I said, Batman fan). That episode was so interesting, it planted the seed that would later grow into my current viewing habit. I felt the same sense of heightened story, of a mythology larger than I could grasp in the moment. Reeve would star in another episode the following season, and his character became a major catalyst in the series. I'm curious how/if the writers will address Reeve's passing.
--I know he was a proponent of neurological injury research, and like Michael J. Fox, encouraged the use of embryonic stem cell lines for that research. In a way, I almost understand his position. But I don't agree with it, even now. If that makes me a bad guy, so be it.
--My favorite Christopher Reeve performance wasn't in the cape and tights. He was a brilliant little movie called "Noises Off", the film adaption of a hilarious play. The film also stars the truly funny John Ritter and Carol Burnett. If you find this movie in your local video store, it would be a crime not to rent it.
That's all I have to say now. I'm sorry for his passing. He was and will always be a legend and an inspiration of courage and the power of the human spirit.