is an article I wrote that was originally penned in the mid-‘80s (when I was in
my 30s) and was published by the Comics Buyer’s Guide. I’m republishing
it here, with a special addendum/update to further help put the conclusions I
drew then into perspective.
you remember Saturday morning cartoons, Wonderama (with Sonny Fox
— sorry, a local NY TV program from the late ‘60s), and the wide-eyed innocence
of youth? Do you remember tying a beach towel around your neck and transforming
yourself into the Man of Steel? Do you remember when you really believe that a
man could fly?
— given this — you can perhaps better understand what I did a couple of
Halloweens ago. Brace yourself — I became (drum roll, please), the Amazing
Spider-Man. No, I am not an overgrown fanboy (although I do admit to being a
card-carrying Marvel Zombie), since I had been invited to a Halloween party, I
decided that I would attend, and — for the first time in several years — go in
I went down to a local comic shop and bought the last Spider-Man, long-sleeved
T-shirt they had in stock. You know it, the black one with the white spider
symbol silk-screened on it. Yes, yes, I knew that Spidey had long since
abandoned this costume (and it was adopted by the villainous Venom), but who in
the outside (dare I call it “real”) world, knew this. If the truth were to be
told, most people never knew that the costume changed to black in the first
place. I supplemented the shirt with a black turtleneck, black sweatpants, a
black, full-faced ski mask, black knit gloves, and heavy black socks. I
inserted a pair of thick insoles into a pair of black socks (making them akin
to a pair of slippers), sewed the mouth of the face mask shut and (using white
medical tape), edged the mask’s eyes and placed a patch of white on the backs
of the gloves.
the makeshift costume (along with a pair of curved, mirrored sunglasses worn
under the mask), I transformed myself into my childhood hero: the Amazing
Spider-Man. To all who could see, I was covered from head to toe in black; with
the ominous-looking spider on the front and back of my shirt, as well as the
spectral-like white-rimmed, mirrored-eyes, I was no longer the mild-mannered
writer, Bob Sodaro, I was Spider-Man, a bona fide Superhero. All I needed to do
now was to make my grand entrance.
determined that this costume was too good to “waste” on just the party, so I
decided to make the rounds, and show it off. My first stop was my uncle’s deli.
Clad in my new costume, I flung the door open and leaped to the countertop next
to the cash register (promptly sliding on its slick surface and falling on my
rump). The gal at the register, who I’ve known for years, looked at me and
said, “Hello Robert.” Oh well, I said, she knows I collect comics and that
Spidey is my hero; so, it was a lucky guess on her part.
next stop was to a local restaurant I frequented and knew most of the help. I
calmly strolled in during a mid-afternoon lull to a chorus of “Hey there, Bob.”
“Great costume, Bob.” Bummer, two strikes against me, I thought. After I was
there for a while, the owner showed up, I quickly pulled my mask back on and
jumped up on the banister behind a booth in my best Spider-like pose. He calmly
walked in, glanced passingly at me and said, “Nice costume, Bob.” Grrr, this is
there I went across town to another establishment I frequented and knew the
help. I walked in and jumped up onto the back of a videogame in the lobby
(which was being played by one of the workers), “Ooh, Spider-Man,” the gal
playing the game cooed. “Is that Bob?” A co-worker asked. “Yep,” the first gal responded.
|Me (as Spidey) & Pop|
last stop of my tour was (naturally), the comic shop I frequented (not the shop
where I bought the shirt in the first place). I burst in the door of the shop,
shouting “Beware evildoers! Spider-Man is here!” One patron looked passively at
me and said, “You clown, Sodaro.” While others laughed and called out my name.
to say, no matter where I went that day, no matter who I saw, either knew right
away who I was, or strongly suspected that it was me. Granted, I do have a
reputation for being a tad flaky, and pulling some silly stunt or other, but what
depressed me was that literally everyone knew it was me! leading me to ask,
just how does this work in comics.
know what I mean, how do guys like Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Robin, and other, who only sport those
dinky little masks (and, by the way, how do they stay on?), get away with not
being outed? I have no trouble recognizing people when they put on a pair of sunglasses.
Further, how does Oliver Queen get away with having such a stylish beard and
mustache without people questioning that Green Arrow does as well? And don’t
even talk to me about how Clark Kent gets away with just his eyeglasses as a
disguise. I wear glasses, and everyone recognizes me with or without them (or when
I change the style of them, as I do every couple of years or so.
I had a gal come up to me in a dimly lit, smoky bar and ask if I was Bob Sodaro
(which I then was, and still am). I responded that I, in fact, was, and she
told me that we were in second grade together, and not only had she recognized
me, but she stated that I hadn’t changed at all since then (this, in spite of
the intervening 30 years, and that I was probably twice as tall as I had been
the last time she saw me, plus I was now over a hundred pounds heavier,
moustached, bearded, wore glasses, and my hairline was in a full retreat up my
forehead. I — of course — had not a clue as to who this gal was; when prompted,
I eventually did recognize her name, if not her.
spite of this incident (that I was recognized in full costume), I still believe
that a man can fly. Nevertheless I do not fully understand how people never
quite figure out who these superheroes are. (Personally, since this incident, I’m
more inclined to believe John Byrne’s line of thought as expounded in Marvel
Comics’ comic The Star Brand
. That is to say, that superheroes’ secret
identities aren’t discovered more often within their respective storylines is
because it would not only ruin a nifty story, but that the writer simply doesn’t
want it to happen.
while this doesn’t really inhibit my enjoyment of superhero comics, I am a
touch more critical of plot holes that simply ignore things that are (or would
be in real life), glaringly obvious. If only other writers would consider how certain
events would look if the story was told outside comics, perhaps they would
improve their storytelling.
for me, I believe that this year I’ll stay home for Halloween.
is now 30 years hence from when I originally penned that article, and I’m in my
60s. This article is even more relevant today than when I originally wrote it, as
we have recently came through a two-year pandemic/lock-down where whenever I
was out in public, I was fully masked, and yes, people I knew still recognized
me, so, clearly, nothing has actually changed, and while I still believe in
heroes (especially the colorful, mask-wearing ones) I’m still not completely
convinced that the entire masked-wearing gerne actually works; especially when being
fully-masked (as many of us were during the pandemic) were still recognizable
to those who knew us. Still, it is fun to pretend.