Batman and the Outsiders, #15. In 1984, the Games of the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. The Soviet Union boycotted the games, but Maxie Zeus was there and brought no end of trouble for the Dark Knight and his pals.
Every four years, the world turns its attention to a gathering of athletes. They come from all over our little planet, representing all walks of life, all religions and pretty much every other way in which we humans can be different from one another.
And they come in peace. Sure, there's rivalry, competition...maybe even jealousy. But I always see the Olympics as a sign that the world is not such a bad place, that we really all can get along together if we make even the slightest effort.
And every time, summer or winter, for those two weeks, I trade in my favorite fictional heroes and bask in the accomplishment of these young athletes. They've spent their lives training to be there, to show the world what they are good at. And the results can be amazing. World records are broken, always. That means each time these (or similar) athletes gather, they are better than those who came before them. And these games have been going on for something like Ever now.
It's just incredible.
This year, we've got the talented and tasty super-wonder aquaman Michael Phelps and his new status as the Greatest Olympian Ever, now that he's won eight gold medals at these games alone.
And of course, choosing someone like him as a hero, for inspiration and encouragement in whatever you attempt, there's nothing wrong with that at all. Everybody loves a winner. There's no better model for success.
But heroes don't always win, as was obvious last night. Lolo Jones was the gold medal favorite for the 100 Meter Hurdles race in the women's track and field events. She'd overcome adversity with every step of her life and was poised to change it all with this win. (And I suspect she'd agree that in the process of trying, she did change all that.)
There she was, rabbiting toward her goal when she clipped the last hurdle and lost all her momentum...and the race.
"It's the hurdles," she said, afterwards. "You have to get over all 10. And if you can't, you're not meant to be the champion. Today, I was not meant to be the champion."
Jones' misfortune made gold for her US teammate, Dawn Harper, who was unknown in the field before and now suddenly wears the medal Jones had hoped for. This sort of story, too, is what the Olympics are made of.
The thing isn't the Winning or the Losing. Not in my book. The thing that inspires me, anyway, about all these Olympians, is that they go up against their personal demons, challenges and roadblocks and take the chance, having faith in themselves that they can better than they have ever been before and maybe better than anyone's ever been before.
That they go to the Olympics ever four years to try...that makes them heroes to me.