When I was invited to participate in Liesa Mignogna’s anthology of personal essays about superheroes, Last Night A Superhero Saved My Life, my answer took less than a second. Oh, hell yes. I started reading comics my first year in high school, thanks to my excellent friends John and Mike, who lent me stacks of them at a time. I read a lot of X-Men and quickly fell in love with a fuzzy blue mutant named Nightcrawler, renowned for both his ability to teleport and his Erol Flynn-like skill with a rapier.
But my essay, “Swashbuckle My Heart: An Ode to Nightcrawler,” isn’t just about Kurt Wagner, it’s also about me. Specifically, my struggle to keep from giving in to the dark, cruel aspects of myself, modeled by a person who loomed large in my life at that time. It’s an extremely personal essay and I’ll admit that I’m more than a little nervous that it’s now out there in the world.
From Booklist: “At the heart of the collection are contributions that plunge deeply into dark recollections…these essays bear out how superheroes are powerful psychological receptacles, helping us define the crucial strength we need to survive—a sentiment which will be of great value to many soul-searchers…There’s ample insight to be found here, not the least of which is that superheroes have a deep, resounding place in our cultural and individual psyches.”