X-Factor

I get so pleased with myself sometimes.  I really wanted to do a word pyramid that started with a NYC-centric “X” clue, but I wanted to steer clear of Malcom X.  For me, the use of Malcom X to start the word pyramid was both too clichéd and politically charged.  Also, strictly from a puzzling standpoint, I couldn’t come up with a good ending word that contained X in it to link back to the 60’s icon.  I remembered the X-Men of Marvel Comics fame weeks ago, but only recently remembered “Excelsior!” as a Stan Lee catch phrase.  The rest is history.  5 word pyramids down, 21 to go.

Comic books are something that makes me think of my generation.  I am in my early forties now, a post Boomer, Gen X (see what I did there?) kinda guy, and comic books is one of the things that defines my generation.  We were the first bunch of kids that didn’t “outgrow” comics and many of my friends still read them today.  The holding on the childhood things well into adulthood is a big part of my generation and I don’t know what to make of it.  In some ways, this makes Gen X a bit Polyanna-ish with a mix of creepy guy living in his parent’s basement thrown in, but also this shows a sense of fun and imagination that can be found lacking in previous generations.  Some will see my generation as Peter Pan’s who won’t grow up and avoid hard things like grown up work.  Others will see us as those who changes the rules regarding work and play, and while we certainly can be a frivolous lot, we also have a lot of heart and passion.  I think that both sides of the coin are accurate, but I like being able to embrace my geeky passions amongst my peers with minimal eye rolling, so I will lean towards the positives on this one.

Comic books did reinforce my sense of right and wrong as a youth.  Peter Parker’s revelation that “With great power comes great responsibility” resonated with me as much as anything my parents or CCD classes did.  I am also very much a left leaning person, so comics underlying messages about justice, equality, and responsibility were pretty much in sync with my basic personality in the first place.

I have a co-worker who is into super hero comics more so than I, and he told me about a conservative comic fan who lamented the fact that an overwhelming majority of mainstream comics lean left.  This is the real connection and legacy of New York on the super-hero world.  Many of the original super-heros were written and drawn by left leaning New York Jews.  They set the formulas down that work for the cape and tights lot, and that formula stems from this New York sensibility.  New York City has more than its fair share of conservatives within it boarders, but it has been a liberal town for a long time.  The New York qualities of independence linked with community, acceptance of new ideas, and progressiveness have been laid down in the DNA of the super-hero, and through this New York’s world view has spread into the minds of the youth of said world.  I for one find this to be a great thing.

Excelsior!

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