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DARREL HUCKABY: Comic books have come a long way since the '50s

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Remember comic books? They were all the rage in the ’50s and ’60s — at least in my house. I liked Superman. What was not to like about Superman? He worked for a newspaper in real life and had two hot women — Lois Lane and Lana Lang — in his life. Sure, Lex Luthor was always plotting to kill him and Perry White was a bit of a pill, but he could fly, for goodness sakes, and every 13-year-old boy who ever bought a DC comic knew how Superman used his X-ray vision when he was off duty. And what red-blooded American male wouldn’t love to have a Fortress of Solitude to hang out in, especially this time of year. It was the original man cave!

My buddy Wayne Penn preferred Batman, although I will never understand why. The dude had a cool car and all that but who'd you rather hang out with -- Lois Lane or the Boy Wonder? I rest my case.

There were lots of other comics, too. Marvel had Spiderman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk, among others. DC, in addition to Super and Bat, had Green Lantern and Metal Men and let's don't forget Wonder Woman. I actually met her in college -- or at least an extremely attractive imposter, but that's another story for another day.

Randy Layson liked the Easy Company comics, about Sgt. Rock and his band of World War II brothers. They don't make soldiers like Rock anymore.

My sister, Myron, liked comic books too and I would read hers when I tired of stories about super heroes who were trying to save the world or soldiers who actually did. She liked Nancy comic books and Dennis the Menace. I liked following the adventures of Nancy and Sluggo, too and still keep up with them in the funny papers, but I have got to tell you, Aunt Fritzi has aged remarkably well and if Clark Kent ever showed up to do a story in her town he might give up on that whole Double L obsession.

Myron also read comic books about two little babies called Sugar and Spike. Sugar was the girl and Spike was the little boy baby. They would "goo goo" and "ga ga" when adults were around but carry on conversations that would put the E-trade baby to shame once they were alone. Yes, I would glance at the comic books about the babies every now and then.

But my sister's comic book of choice -- and I will admit, I liked them, too -- was anything from the Archie series. Archie Comics was about a group of teenagers who inhabited the fictional town of Riverdale. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the one in Clayton County, though. Archie and Reggie were pals and they hung out with a goofy guy named Jughead. I think there was a stereotypical dumb jock named Moose, too, but I might be remembering something that didn't happen. I do that sometimes.

Archie and Reggie were friends with -- and romantically involved with, from time to time -- Betty and Veronica. Betty was a blond girl-next-door type and Veronica was a spoiled little rich girl with hair so black that they always tinted it with blue streaks. I spent half my life looking for a girl with hair so black that it had blue streaks, but to no avail. Archie and the gang were typical teens who hung out at the malt shop and munched burgers and fries while getting into and out of one scrape after another.

Truth be known I had lost touch with Archie and the gang over the past, I don't know, 50 years, but they are still around and I've got a sneaking suspicion that a lot of us are going to hear a lot about the Riverdale kids soon.

It seems that a year or so ago the publishers of Archie Comics felt compelled to introduce a gay character named Kevin Keller to the Riverdale mix. Welcome to the 21st century? Well guess what, y'all. Next month Kevin, in a flash-forward, is going to tie the knot with an African-American physical therapist named Clay Walker. I ain't making this up. A comic book for adolescent kids is taking a stance for gay marriage, right there in Betty and Veronica's hometown. What's next? Return to Mayberry for Barney and Ernest T's nuptials? I'm so stuck in the previous century that I haven't even made up my mind between Ginger and Mary Ann. Thank goodness we didn't have to throw the professor or Gilligan into the equation! I wonder what Frank Rock would think about all this?

I'm glad that when I was a kid reading comics they weren't trying to mold my social mores. And to think that my mama got upset when I graduated from Superman to Mad Magazine.

What, me worry? You bet your bippy.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.