If I could go back in time and tell my 10 year-old self that one day they would make, not just one but five X-Men movies, including a Wolverine one, I don't think I'd make it back to 2013 because my 10 year-old head would explode.
The flurry of Superhero movies consistently coming down the pipe for the last 10 years from both the D.C. and Marvel Universes (Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Watchmen, Avengers) has given us a world that comic book fans have waited for their whole lives. It's a world where the Hollywood Superhero movie has become so commonplace that most forget that only a generation ago these blockbusters didn't exist.
It's not as if attempts weren't made earlier. We're all familiar with Linda Carter's beloved Wonder Woman, Lou Ferrigno's painted-on Hulk and Adam West's cornball Batman, but network television's confined budgets left less than dazzling results when compared to the actual comic books that inspired the shows. If anything, the t.v. experiments tarnished the idea of propping up superheroes for big budget features. Thankfully, Christopher Reeve's Superman and Tim Burton's Batman kept the spirit alive long enough for Toby McGuire to come web-slinging around as Spider-Man in 2002.
And yet, with all the millions of dollars now being pumped into making the Silver Surfer and Iron Man come to life, and with my sustained awe and wonder at each successive movie, I still find myself clinging to yesteryear and reverting back to a time when none of this was possible. I do this by listening to Power Records.
What is Power Records?
Power Records was a subsidiary of the children's record label giant, Peter Pan Records. While Peter Pan mainly put out records aimed at young kids during the '40s all the way through the late '80s, like Frosty The Snowman, Alice In Wonderland, Mother Goose and Bugs Bunny, Power Records' discography was mostly made up of DC and Marvel characters for older kids. Comic strips would often accompany the stories that were contained on the vinyl, and they marked my childhood like a booster shot.
Power Records became the default in bringing the comic book characters to life, eventually superseded by cartoons like Spider Man, Super Friends, Challenge Of The Super Friends and Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends. Not every superhero got the Power Records treatment, however. Sure there was the triumvirate staple of Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman and the Spider Man/Incredible Hulk records, but past the odd Captain America or Flash 7" storybook it was, after all, a line of records aimed at kids. And there wasn't much money to be made putting out a Wonder Man, Moon Knight or Dr. Fate album.
The stories hold up from when I was a chump, too. Whether it's Spider Man battling Man-Wolf or Batman unwelcome in Gorilla City, there's enough left to your imagination to keep its wheels greased. Digitally transferring the records onto my iPod has allowed me to enjoy them when the wifi and iPad have all gone temporarily kaput while on tour.
But trying to figure out where all my nostalgia stems from in the middle of this Superhero Blockbuster age has been nagging me for quite some time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not gonna stop watching the movies, but it is cause for some concern only because I sorta loathe retro fanatics -- people who insist that everything was better yesterday while lacking the ability to appreciate what's happening right in front of them. I'm concerned my zeal for Power Records may very well be the beginning of my near-ironic imperial moustache/pork pie hat/monocle phase and that scares me to death.
I think my Power Records collection stems from wanting to creatively re-engage with the superheroes I grew up with while I still can. With the advances in movie effects technology this may be a last gasp before CGI blows our minds to the point where our brains won't be able to creatively compete as we enter the next Singularity phase.
If so, I'm ready for whatever outcome. Whether I end up reverting back to reading the actual hard copy comics again to go against a virtual reality goggle-wearing populace, or we all end up in some grand Star Trek-like holodeck swathed in our favourite costumed caper's getup battling in some Secret War, sign me the hell up.
I'll probably end up ditching it all anyway in favour of jigsaw puzzles, Rubik's cubes and model airplanes, a knee-jerk reaction to all the stupendous stimulating simulation available to us.