Please join me in welcoming author Heather Long to the blog today. She’s here to talk about some life lessons everyone needs to learn, but some never do, and her book, Yesterday’s Heroes. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Yesterday’s Heroes or Marshal of Hel Dorado!
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Comic Books
My mother never saw value in reading comic books. She called it “a waste of money” and, worse, “a waste of my time.” Unfortunately for her, I was a stubborn kid. When she ‘threatened’ to never pay for my comics again, I got a part time job and paid for them myself. When she refused to get me a ride to the comic book store, I took four different buses a total of twelve miles—including a half-mile walk to the bus stops on either end. When she told me I would never amount to anything because I read them, I got straight As, a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, a masters in business administration, and, oh, a few books published.
I don’t blame my mother, not by any stretch of the imagination, for her lack of faith in comic books. She only saw the illustrations and the costumes (and frankly, yes, some heroes are wearing their underwear outside their clothing.) But I did fault her judgment because she never actually read a comic book—she only ever judged them by the covers.
At one point in time I had a 2,000-issue collection with some issues dating back to before I was born. Since my mother never saw the value in them, she tossed them out one year while I lived in another state. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she threw away about ten grand worth of comic books, but I digress…
The reason I bring all of this up is everything I know in life—I learned in comics. Okay, well maybe everything is stretching it, but the morals, values, and life lessons that I found in comic books are resonating in movie theaters right now. Blockbuster hits like Ironman, Thor, Captain America, The Dark Knight, Spiderman, and The Avengers—you know those movies based on comic books?
So what did I learn from comics?
- I take responsibility for my actions.
- Revenge and justice are not the same things.
- Truth, justice, and the American way.
- A woman can be tough, vulnerable, beautiful, and powerful.
- Being different–didn’t mean being wrong.
- It’s not who you are beneath, it’s what you do that defines you.
- ’In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, No Evil Shall Escape My Sight.Let Those Who Worship Evil’s Might Beware My Power — Green Lantern’s Might.’
- Stand up to bullies.
- Never give up.
- Science is sexy
- Teamwork makes us more powerful
In the comics, the animated series, and in the movies, the line Uncle Ben advises Peter Parker with is “with great power comes great responsibility” and that’s a message that resonates today as loudly (or at least it should) as it did when Stan Lee first put pen to the words. The X-Men were feared and despised because they were “different,” they were “mutants” and they faced numerous threats over the years—threats against their life, against their freedom, against their loves, and even against themselves as parents. Who hasn’t been an outsider? These outsiders were persecuted and they still protected humanity even when humanity tried to wash their hands of them.
The message? Don’t give up and teach others through your own actions, understanding and tolerance. Yes, it was a direct parallel to the civil rights movement in the1960s and echoed to the holocaust in Nazi Germany, but it continues to resonate today where we still separate others because we call them “different.”
Superheroes overcame obstacles, they held onto their moral compass and—even when they wavered—they were pulled back from the edge by their strength of character or through their friendships. Roy Harper (Speedy) abused drugs, like so many other teens and he came back from that. Batman never compromised his strict code of justice, no matter how angry he was. Superman never gave up on life or diminished the value of a human life. Dick Grayson chose to walk away from a role that defined him to take on a new mantle inspired by the two heroes that shaped who he was—he grew up and became a man, accepting his choices as his own and his mistakes. Tony Stark changed the course of his company and reacted to the perceived injustices and mistakes he himself made in the past in order to save the future. Steve Rogers only ever wanted to defend his country from bullies and he never gave up that drive. Alienated by her own abilities, Rogue hunted other meta humans until she killed Miss Marvel–an event that changed her life. Haunted by her own mistakes, Rogue struggles to make the right choices and find love and acceptance in a world she cannot touch.
The list goes on and on, but the most important lesson we can learn from comics is that united—we are stronger. Whether it is a partner, a family, a team, a community, a country, the more we are together, the more we can move mountains. So, yeah, my mother didn’t see a lot of value in comic books, because she didn’t read them. But every lesson I discovered in those “funny pages” echoes with me today—and I hope it’s reflected in my writing, in stories, and the choices my characters make.
Because, really, everything I needed to know about life—it was in a comic book.
Aurora “Rory” Graystone
Abilities: superior reflexes, I.Q. and aptitude for calculating probabilities
Mission: find missing teammates
Rory knows she’s being watched, and she’s not about to let the hunter catch her in his trap. She’ll confront her stalker, a man she suspects is involved in the disappearances of other superheroes–if she can ignore the sensual heat that fills her every time he’s near…
Codename: Hard Target
Abilities: expert tracker and sniper
Mission: kill Rory Graystone
One of five desperate men sent back in time to save the future, Michael believes eliminating Rory is the key to his mission. But even as he takes aim, a split second of doubt causes him to miss his shot.
Drawn together by passion, and on a collision course with fate, can Rory and Michael work together to change the future? Or have they set in motion the horrific history the time-travelers are trying to prevent?
Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel. Website / Facebook / Twitter
He never missed.
Michael stared at the sidewalk swarming with citizens and shopping debris. His bullet had hit one of the shopping bags, turning it into scraps of leather, metallic buckle bits and paper drifting in the air.
How the hell had he missed?
Michael allowed himself the twenty seconds it took him to collapse the rifle back into his bag to analyze. But it was twenty seconds too long.
Her slender, lithe body appeared over the roof’s edge and landed, one knee and one foot down for balance. Power coiled through her body’s compact musculature. Intelligence shimmered in her violet eyes. Danger sheathed her like a halo.
She was absolutely magnificent.
“Going somewhere?” Her voice undulated, low and husky, the sardonic notes pinging his nervous system as though they were played on a too-tightly-strung guitar.
“Unfortunately, no.” A flick of his wrist dropped the small-caliber weapon into his hand, but the woman rolled, twisting and turning through the air as she avoided his bullets.
Incomprehension tangled with irritation. He never missed.
Twice in as many encounters.
“Tsk, tsk. Didn’t your mother teach you not to play with guns? If you’re going to shoot at something, hit it. Otherwise, what’s the point?” The come-hither voice was close and the liquid heat in her tone tormented his cock. He narrowly jerked his head back, avoiding her fist whiffing the air just millimeters from his nose. But he had no time to savor his victory as her arm completed the arc, punching down on the crook of his elbow.
Nerves screaming, he released the gun and jerked himself to the right to avoid the blow of her leg lashing out at his knee. He struck back, unsurprised that she avoided the strike. She used her forearm to send it wide and swiveled so that his own mass and velocity sent him flying over her shoulder.
An unexpected grin turned up the corners of his mouth. Despite her slighter frame and fragile appearance, the she-vixen offered him a challenge.
God she’s fast.
He slammed against the rooftop and rebounded to his feet, pivoting to face her. Gone was the sweet white t-shirt that hugged her breasts. In its place was an almost-white body suit that lingered like a lover on every curve. A rainbow swath of color wrapped around her right thigh, cut up across her hip and over her abdomen to blaze a trail of treasure to her left breast. The Kevlar-based polymer shimmered in the morning sun.
It was both practical and erotic.
Deep within his brain, the microchip he’d thought dead flared to life. Data scrolled across his internal eye, a mechanized voice reciting the information
Target acquired: Codename Halo.
Abilities: Superior reflexes, high I.Q. and an uncanny knack for discerning the possibilities
Suggested defense: Unknown
Suggested offense: Unknown
Computers were not meant to be sarcastic, but the advice carried the weight of dry humor that Michael associated with the programmer it imitated.
“Got a name big boy?” Her words were a provocative tease and his body tingled in response.
Her voice spawned a physiological side effect on his anatomy. It must have a correlation with her ability, but the chip remained silent on the matter. Her second attack came in a flurry of kicks and palm strikes.
Michael could take a man down with three moves or less. She was slender, slighter in build, and he should be able to snap her in two. Instead, he blocked, evaded and turned her blows until he was able to capture a wrist and spin her back against his chest, his arms coming down to cage her. She turned her palms down, her suggestive little ass rubbing his crotch as she tried to break the hold.
Using his size and associated muscle mass, he bent with her, his fists shackling her wrists, his knuckles brushing her firm breasts. She twisted her hips, going for the side spin. Michael moved with her, boxing her tighter to his body. The motion brought the rich, velvet of her hair to his nose. He drew in a lungful of her scent. The tart lemon was a top note, but beneath the citrus was a distinctively musky, feminine scent.
Blood surged into his cock and she stilled as his arousal pressed solidly against her backside. The teasing curve of her body was soft against his hardness, filling his mind with erotic images and the desire to determine just how the sexy little body suit came off.
Had any battle been more fun?
Or more exciting?
“Done?” He touched his lips to her ear, stealing the smallest taste of her flesh. Her tender skin tasted of schnapps and cool malt, both decadent and sweet.