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September 22, 2012

As Time Goes By: Even superheroes have to face the fact of getting old

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The Daily Star

---- — In my day, the ability to scratch up 10 cents to buy a “hero” comic book was a big event. Better yet was the fact that every comic book that entered the household had to pass censorship. You had to hand the comic book to mother, who would quickly scan the pages. If all the women in the stories were “covered,” you could read the comic. Today a kid has a $199 e-reader and the stories are no longer censored.

While walking down the lane of nostalgia, I started thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about what happens to comic book characters when they start getting old.

How embarrassed was Superman when he said, “Up, up and away” and he didn’t leave the ground? Does he try and pass it off as a verbal gaffe and hide in the men’s room? Worse yet, picture Superman and Lois Lane on a couch and she whispers into his ear, “Are you still the man of steel?” Superman says “Up, up and away” and all you hear is, “ffffffffiiisssssllllee.”

What about his clothes? Superman travels at the speed of light. You have never heard of any incident where Superman’s suit bursts into flame from the friction of air passing by. You never find Superman in the ICU burn unit of some hospital telling the nurses “All of a sudden my leotard burst into flames.” I can hear the response now, “Sure we believe you.” (It’s true, nurses have seen everything — count on it.)

I realize that wondering about where Green Lantern buys his candles for his light is going to date me, but let’s face it, these superheroes are not the brightest stars in the sky.

Picture this if you will, Green Lantern is fighting a bunch of warehouse thugs and suddenly his candle burns out. “Kato” he yells, “help me out.”

 Kato (who has just turned 65) sizes up the opposition, which consists of five hairy thugs built like gorillas with names like Scarface, Hunk, Boom-boom, Killer and Shirley, responds with, “Fight your own battles, man-in-the-green coat.”

Kato’s smart; when you’re 65 and want to see 75, you don’t get into prolonged battles. Of course, there comes the day when Green Lantern forgets his matches and walks off of a cliff shouting, “Kato, where are you?”

What about Batman? Picture him in the bat cave when the wall breaks apart and a bulldozer comes roaring through. “Make way for a super tunnel to Gotham,” the driver shouts.

“OMG,” Batman cries in anguish. When the construction crew locates the pockets of guano that have accumulated over years and years of bat activity, the construction company crew retires as millionaires. Batman (alias Bruce Wayne) is heard to say, “It is enough to make me LOL.”

Robin, Batman’s sidekick, suddenly notices that his voice is getting huskier and lower. Instead of focusing on fighting “the forces of evil,” he starts looking for “chicks.” 

Batman gives him the typical father-son lecture and afterwards Robin goes out of the Batcave and never comes back. He can be found in Gotham City, having the time of his life from his cut of the profits from the sale of the bat guano.

The Flash had a real tough time as he aged. The first thing he noticed was that his “plumbing” started to leak. He went to see his urologist, and a medication was prescribed. Everything was going fine until he noticed that the intervals between “goings” were getting shorter. 

While once he was able to go all day without having an “accident,” he started to notice that he had to make “pit stops” with increasing frequency. That was OK when he was just standing around, but when you are chasing a robber, if you stop to “take care of business,” the crook gets away. 

Soon all the crooks were laughing at him, even the fat, slow-running ones. Worse yet were the episodes where he was unable to hold “it.” When he stopped running all the kids would stare and in one voice shout “Look, the Flash wet his pants!”

Then he started in with shortness of breath. Instead of being able to run all day he found himself gasping for breath after just 200 feet. The ultimate shame was when he was out of breath gasping for air and a first-year Girl Scout came up to him and asked, “Can I help you, mister?” 

Away to the cardiologist he went and he was diagnosed with both COPD and heart disease. After open-heart surgery and an inhaler, he was marginally better at catching crooks (the fat, slow ones), until he got home one night and his knees hurt. He went to see the orthopedic surgeon. “Your knees are shot from all that high-speed running. You need new knees!”

Away the Flash went to get artificial knee joints. While he was under he also got his hips replaced and a new rotator cuff for his shoulder. The bill was so high the doctors threw in a face lift because all those high speed runs had left his face with a grimace from the folds of skin. 

Everything turned out fine. The Flash could almost run as fast as before and his facelift left him looking like Joan Rivers. (At least his navel wasn’t on his chin.) 

Unfortunately his replacement parts were of poor quality and started rusting from within. Nobody had looked to see if there was a “Made in the USA” stamp on the joint parts. 

One day, after catching two crooks after a two-mile chase, the joints seized up and he was unable to move. The crooks got away and The Flash was left in a park where pigeons had no mercy on him. 

In a short while, the Flash became a health hazard and the department of sanitation had no recourse but to give the Flash the flush.

There are many superheroes, so as time goes by, I’ll get the urge and tell the rest of this story.

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by e-mail at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.