Free comic book week ‘Endgame’: A hero’s calling

By Zach Harris
Posted 1/17/20

This week I would like to offer up to you a wonderful invitation, a pointed synopsis and critique and an unexpected revelation — all of which, taken together, will make sense.

The invitation is …

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Free comic book week ‘Endgame’: A hero’s calling

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This week I would like to offer up to you a wonderful invitation, a pointed synopsis and critique and an unexpected revelation — all of which, taken together, will make sense.

The invitation is to a one-day version of the free comic book events at my congregation, Ascension Lutheran on Nash Street. The synopsis is of a scene from this past week’s episode of “Arrow.” And the revelation will kind of flow from those.

Like any great epic, let’s start “in media res,” right in the middle of those, with what happened on TV in the “Arrowverse” this past week. Tuesday night brought us the last two installments of the five-part big crossover event entitled: “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” This story was based on a famous storyline from 1985-86 by Marv Wolfman (who also had a cameo a la Stan Lee) and George Perez (both of whom I have comic books signed by — Marv whom I also met just last spring).

The intent of the original comic series was to bring all those many worlds that had inadvertently been created in the DC Universe together into one world, thus bringing all the characters together and making everything simpler.

Seeing as the CW already had several worlds created with its own line of heroes, this storyline took a big swing at pulling in about every DC incarnation one can imagine from various Clark Kents like the one in “Smallville” to the Robin of the 1966 Batman series with even a nod to the 1970s animated Justice League series and so many others in between including the recent DC movie franchise. It was certainly a TV/cinema attempt at the same thing as the ‘80s comics — but as with its predecessor, with a cost.

“There was an end . . . and then a beginning.” So says the dying, Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow who for over a year has been destined to sacrifice himself. He speaks to The Flash and the White Canary the very words that I have been telling my congregation most fervently for the past few months, but really for the whole time I’ve been preaching. Every end, no matter how sad, in the eyes of resurrection, is a new beginning. And you cannot have a new beginning without completing the previous end. However, the butterfly usually doesn’t complain once the cocoon is left behind!

And then, the conversation continues, reflecting on a previous comment from Oliver as he was anticipating this moment: “Dying is the easy part. The dead are at peace. The real heroes are the ones who have to keep going,” to which he adds: “So keep going. Don’t ever stop. This world, this NEW world, it needs you.”

And as The Flash and the White Canary look up into the CGI sky, they see what appears to be the point of a universe where it is either in rapid collapse or expansion. The Flash: “An End.” The White Canary: “And a beginning.” And by the end of the story, there is one Earth Prime that combines all the worlds that had been separated before!

If you only followed that a little bit, perhaps you now understand what ecumenism is all about. Perhaps you understand what the new creation will be about. Perhaps you understand the power of that one sacrifice for all. And if nothing else, perhaps you understand the richness of explanation, understanding and modern metaphor that the faithful use on a regular basis to more readily express the Gospel message to those who some call “Geeks for God.”

Which brings me to that invitation. Next Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ascension Lutheran, we are calling together all the artists, writers and Geeks of every variety who have been or want to be a part of our celebration of just such a proclamation of God’s faith in the images and metaphors of a more modern and geeky variety.

We’ve got any number of folks who have been at our events in the past planning to be there with us. Pastor Hector Miray of “Faith and Fandom” is planning to be with us. He has a whole series of books taking just such subject matter and making devotionals. He has a couple of podcasts that he hosts, and he is the only one of my geeky cast of clergy cohorts who has actually been to the “Big Show” in San Diego and served as a professional on several of the panels at that world famous Comic-Con! We will have a panel discussion about “God and Geek Culture” and also, I’m sure, get some stories from Hector about being in San Diego.

We will also have Louis Small Jr., world-renowned artist, as well as a whole slew of other artists and vendors present. There will be food available.

Oh, and did I mention free comics? It’s one day only, so set your Bat-watches to be there!

Which brings me to the title of this event and sort of its reason for being. In the past, we have called our mini-Comic-Cons “Free Comic Book Weekend,” but this one is called: “Free Comic Book Endgame.” Obviously, we are stealing a little from the Marvel movie by that name, but if you look at our sign, you will notice that it looks like the Joker X-ed out “Week” and then scrawled “endgame” right over where “end” should be, giving DC some cred too.

As in the movie, it is the end of an era, but not necessarily the end of the franchise.

We decided to do one more event like this so quickly because I will not be in Wilson that much longer. I will be moving on at the end of February, so while there may be more events like this in the future, this will be the last one with me present.

I really enjoy the chance to interact with you folks who read this column (and I’ll keep writing for the foreseeable future) so if you get a chance to come by next Saturday to check us out or just to say, “Hi!” that would be great.

So, while not near as earthshaking as in “Crisis,” I’ll end today with a charge to the creatives who remain beyond my presence with the words from Oliver Queen: The real heroes are the ones who have to keep going. So keep going. Don’t ever stop. This world, this NEW world, it needs you. Especially now at ... An end. And a beginning.”

See you next week!

Pastor Zach Harris has been an ordained minister for 28 years and currently serves Ascension Lutheran Church in Wilson. His column, “Through a Lutheran Lens: A Pastor’s Perspective,” appears weekly in The Wilson Times. Previous columns are available at WilsonTimes.com.