A Reminder

I’m going to take a break from all the political stuff for a minute here (that stuff gets tiring to wade through, you know) to talk about something that I used to know, forgot somehow, and was recently reminded of.

This reminder came courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Ultimate Spider-Man and roughly 26 other comic books for Marvel Comics. Bendis is an excellent writer, one of my favourites, and he earns my respect again with Ultimate Spider-Man #122, in which the aforementioned reminder came.

Ultimate Spider-Man #122

The cover of Ultimate Spider-Man #122.

Over the previous 121 issues of this book, Spider-Man has occasionally encountered a villain called The Shocker, who uses technologically advanced guns that deliver some sort of vibrating-shock pulses (and yes, vibrator jokes have been made about them) to their victims. On the occasions that he’s shown up, he’s usually beaten up and delivered to the police within 3 pages or so; basically, a joke villain, a loser, used to illustrate the heroism of Spider-Man rather than make any sort of point.

Until this issue.

This issue, Shocky (as his friends call him) captures Spider-Man, and, like all villains throughout history, can’t resist the urge to talk about himself while he’s busy torturing the hero. But, when he talks, it’s not about his plan for world domination; it’s about himself, his life, his feelings, his experiences. . .and it made me remember something I’d forgotten.

Everyone has a story.

Every single person I encounter, whether I like them, love them, dislike them, hate them, or want to set them on fire, has a story. There are reasons that people are the way that they are, journeys that have taken that molded them into who they are, and everyone’s story is different. Almost everyone’s story is worth hearing, even if all they ever seem to do is get beaten up in 3 pages by a teenager in spandex. By the end of the story, a 3-page joke villain is transformed into a real, deep, developed character, and it puts all of his previous appearances into a different light.

Being a writer myself (though that’s arguable, to be certain), you would think I would remember that constantly. Being a storyteller first involving being a story listener, and the stories that spin out of me always come from the stories I have taken in. And yet, I had forgotten.

So, thank you, Brian Michael Bendis, for reminding me that everyone has a story. I shame my ancestors by having forgotten that, but you do honour to yours by reminding me.

VS – 6.26.08

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