Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The replacements

For those unfamiliar with the Silver Age of comics (or Science Fiction), a familiar trope was the 'oh no, we've swapped bodies with someone else, now I'm too disorientated to function. Think Freaky Friday but with superheroes. 

What makes Superman/Batman 27's story unique isn't that two male heroes, Superman and Batman, have swapped bodies with two female heroes, Power Girl and Huntress, but that the female heroes are in essence, the someday replacements for Batman and Superman. We get past the whole gender swap comedy of errors (like men trying to cope with high heels, etc.) quickly when Superman declares that he actually sees and feels his (male) body rather than the body he seems to be inhabiting. Like I said, the story isn't about what would you do if you woke up a different gender, it's about being replaced.
As the story unfolds, we learn that the Superman and Batman we are reading about are really the old 80's Earth two counterparts who keep trying and failing to retire. In this story Superman and Batman are oddly compelled to come to the aid of their young counterparts. This odd compulsion seems to be the result of Huntress being Batman's secret daughter (the world's greatest detective didn't know he had a daughter?) and Power Girl being Superman's cousin whom he tried to raise as his own child (don't ask the 80's were as weird as the 60's). 

The real point of the story becomes clear when we learn that the minds of Power Girl and Huntress are going to inevitably return to their bodies and will in effect destroy Superman and Batman's consciousness by pushing them down and out. So, the young heroes will replace the older heroes and push them into obscurity. Isn't this the natural order of things? Don't we hope that the next generation will replace us and really, don't we hope that they will surpass our achievements and make their worlds even better than ours?

But what if I'm not ready to pass the torch!?!
I don't know why, but I've always been a bit worried that I might end up like King Saul who envied his successor, David (1Samuel 18) and that envy really became Saul's undoing. I also wonder how different the story might have been if Saul embraced David and made the transition easier and maybe even peaceful? Maybe we would lose a bunch of really great Psalms that help us cope with loss and strife, but maybe we would gain a roadmap in the power of humility, a lesson we don't really get to see until Jesus (the ultimate king) shows up and willingly gives up His kingdom.

So maybe some of us 'old dogs' still have some life left in us and we aren't really ready to give up our place in the world to folks who aren't carbon copies of us and who may actually eradicate our memories and legacies. Maybe our unwillingness to accept the next generation of Christians isn't because they are oh so wrong. Maybe we are rejecting them because they are not US. Maybe we're afraid that the Christianity they are embracing is so different that no one will want to put our name on a metal plaque nailed just outside the entrance to the sanctuary. Maybe no one will paint our portraits for the Christian Hall of fame, nor will they recreate our life in a radio drama of 'Great Stories of Great Christians.
Maybe we will just be forgotten.
...and maybe that's just OK. To be honest, I'd rather be forgotten than to be remembered as morality tale of what NOT to do, like King Saul. Also, aren't we all in agreement that our greatest legacy isn't a building, or a bunch of words on a blog (ulp)? But our great legacy should be those we have invested our lives in helping and promoting. Isn't our true legacy those who pick up the story and progress it to places we couldn't take it?
So, here's my well wishing to my replacements...
Whoever you are, whatever gender, nationality, immigration status, political leaning, skin color, age, and whatever other descriptor you use to identify differently from me...May God be with you and may you advance the good news of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in wild new directions that I could never conceive. 

Superman Batman #27
PAGES: 23 pages
RELEASED: Sep 8, 2010
WRITTEN BY: Mark Verheiden
PENCILS: Kevin Maguire
INKS: Kevin Maguire
COVER BY: Moose Baumann and Ethan Van SciverLocale 

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