A Pox on My Holiday Season!

A column article by: Jim Kingman

haven’t been contributing to Comics Bulletin lately--the more recent half.

Seven days before Christmas I thought I had a bug bite on my chest so I popped it and treated it.

Six days before Christmas I thought I had another bug bite on my forehead, so I popped it and treated it.

Five days before Christmas I was running a fever, but I didn’t let that stop me. I had an upcoming Christmas luncheon to co-host at work, and I needed to get that little event in order. My wife and I were planning to have family over on Christmas day, and I was going to cook. No mild fever was going to derail my Christmas.

Four days before Christmas the number of blisters, which I decided should be bed bug bites, had increased significantly on my chest and forehead. I asked my wife what she thought.

She looked them over, all the while denouncing my bed bug theory, and concluded with a grave, concerned tone that I probably had chicken pox. That’s when all kinds of denial on my part started kicking in.

I thought, no way. Didn’t I have chicken pox as a child? Well, my parents couldn’t recall if I did, exactly, but they were certain I had one of the childhood diseases.

So I went to the doctor three days before Christmas, and he looked over the red blisters, which appeared to have multiplied overnight, and diagnosed me with chicken pox. And just like that, I had to lay low, to quarantine myself, for seven to ten days.

My doctor wrote a note to my boss excusing me from work. He told me to stay away from pregnant women and the elderly, as well as anyone who had never had chicken pox. I listened to him, but my head and heart remained in denial.

Oh, and there was one more thing he told me. Do not scratch the blisters. No matter how bad the itching got . . . Do. Not. Scratch. The. Blisters.

He gave me medication to prevent additional spreading, and recommended calamine solution to ease the itching, but to still expect lots of itching.

My Christmas had been officially derailed. That much I had to scratch off my denial list, the only thing I could scratch, as a matter of fact. My wife applied calamine solution to my skin, pretty much head to toe, and I looked appropriately spackled.

On Christmas Eve, I started to itch, really, really itch. It itched on my scalp, on my face, all over my back, across my chest, and on my stomach. For five days straight, I itched. I felt the blisters, I gently rubbed the blisters, just to convince myself they were really there, but I did not scratch.

Those strict orders not to scratch had to be adhered to because having chicken pox as an adult is worse than having it as a child, and if those broken blisters became infected there could be serious complications, the least of which would be some permanent scarring. So said the doctor and my wife--and I just listened in despair.

Honestly, the itching was worse than the torn calf muscle in the back of my left leg that I had suffered in mid-September, which I had only just completely recovered from (and the other half of the reason why I haven’t been contributing much to Comics Bulletin lately).

Since I followed my doctor’s and my wife’s orders pretty much to the letter (as I’m not exactly the most cooperative of patients), by the middle of the last week of 2010 the itching had subsided substantially, many blisters had scabbed and were dropping off me like . . . well, like dead blisters . . . and I was just plain feeling a whole lot better.

By New Year’s, my wife and I went out to see True Grit (truly great) and Black Swan (better than I thought it would be). Once again, however, I found myself behind on my life--including all writing assignments.

When I returned to work on Monday, January 3, 2011, there were almost half a dozen projects before me that basically had to be attended to at once, and it took all of two weeks to get up to speed. Happy New Year to me, now hit that ground running!

In the meantime, it’s hard to read comic books and write about comic books when one itches like crazy.

It’s pretty much impossible to focus on anything when one itches like crazy.

The Sudden Return of COMIC EFFECT!

Except Black Canary, she’s easy to focus on because, after all, she’s my favorite superheroine. I can think about her anytime, because she’s been a part of my life since I was ten-years-old, and I simply can’t and never will be able to resist her as long as she wears those fishnet stockings. Even my wife has to respect my feelings for Black Canary (and Zatanna, too, because she also wears fishnet stockings).

Black Canary’s husband, Larry Lance, was killed on Earth-2, then she traveled to Earth-1 to mourn and recover (Justice League of America #74 [Sep 1969]), eventually taking the departed Wonder Woman’s place in the Justice League (Justice League of America #75 [Nov 1969]).

Then her origin was revamped so that it wasn’t actually the Golden Age Black Canary who journeyed to Earth-1, but her daughter (Justice League of America #220 [Nov 1983]). For as much as I admire writers Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman, I never liked this story. I believe it was meant to explain why Black Canary appeared younger, but wasn’t there already an explanation for that unique to Earth-2, that time there moved at a slightly slower pace, so that the Golden Age super-heroes did not age as rapidly as those on Earth-1?

In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths universe, Black Canary replaced Wonder Woman as a founding member of the Justice League, and for almost twenty years DC worked hard and sporadically to convince me of this radical change (Secret Origins #32 [Nov 1988]; JLA: Year One [1997-98], which I think contradicts Secret Origins #32, but it could be the post-Zero Hour revamp; and JLA: Incarnations [2001]).

Eventually I grew comfortable with this origin alteration, but then along came Infinite Crisis, which retrofitted Wonder Woman as a founding member of the JLA. At that point I wasn’t sure how, exactly, Black Canary became a team member, but as long as the fishnet stockings were in place, I was good with it.

Hopefully, though, when I sit down and read DC Universe: Legacies (2010-2011) in its entirety upon its conclusion, Black Canary’s early role in the Justice League will be made clear.

Then again, maybe not. Continuity concerns may be more convoluted than ever, or not addressed at all.

At most it’ll make my skin crawl, but at least it won’t itch.

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