Last night my son donned his Batman costume and joined his best friend, Michael, who portrayed Spider-man, for a round of neighborhood trick or treating. They did more treating than tricking, collecting handfuls of candy from our generous neighbors. Where we live, Halloween festivities are held on the last Saturday evening in October, regardless of whether it falls on October 31st. Koreans don’t celebrate Halloween, so the date does not matter to them. Some Korean children enjoy putting on a variety of homemade costumes so they can fill their bags with candy, but it is not a widespread practice here. Neither my wife nor I are fans of the holiday because of its dark connotations and fattening confectionary exchanges. I trick-or-treated when I was young, but after my wife and I married, we made it a habit to go out to dinner to avoid the trick-or-treaters. Now that we have a son, we acknowledge the holiday to the point that we allow our son to wear a costume and collect some candy with his chums. We’re pragmatic about it–we would rather our son not feel different from his peers for the sake of not observing a holiday we don’t really like. It would be awkward for him to go to class without a costume when his classmates and teachers are dressed up, and we would have to explain to him why he can’t trick or treat when his friends can do it. We’d rather let him have some fun, even if we now have a bag full of candy. Mom and dad will probably covertly munch on a few to make sure they’re safe to eat.
Tonight I carved a Jack-o-lantern with my son, just like we did last year. Last year we carved Oliver, one of the Thomas-the-Tank-Engine trains. This year, my son wanted me to carve it into Spider-man. He wanted to dress up for Halloween as the Green Goblin, Spider-man’s nemesis from the first Spider-man film, but we talked him out of it. After his friend Michael decided to be Spider-man, he decided to carve his pumpkin in Spider-man’s likeness. Next year, in Paraguay, he wants to dress up as Superman. Last year he was Thomas the Tank Engine. What a difference a year makes.
Tonight’s topic got me wondering about a mystery of life–why do some comic book superheroes and archvillians become popular, and some don’t? Batman and Spider-man, along with Superman, are the three most popular superheroes in comic book lore. Between them, the three characters have spawned hundreds of comic books and almost a dozen movies. What happened to other superheroes and villians from the animal world, including Snakeman, Mansquito (Mosquito Man), and Sharkman? It seems that some of the most popular superheroes and villians, such as Wolverine, are based on creatures from the animal kingdom that create fear and wonderment among us humans. Why aren’t other creatures (or pests) who create fear in humans popular comic book characters? Why aren’t there heroes or villains such as Pigeon Man, the bird poo slinger, or Yellow Jacket Man, who ruins backyard barbeques, or Pit Bull Man, who grabs bad guys and won’t let go? They would be really cool. The characters could be females, but I would not wish it on any woman to be one of those superheroes or villains. Viral Man to the rescue!