The other day, my fiancee and I went to Barnes & Nobles on whim. Once inside, I began to meander around my normal areas of the store, from the fiction section, to the fantasy/science fiction section, and inevitably to the comic section. It was once I reached the comic section that I found something that caused a great emotional stir for me. Looking at the comic collections for sale, I found one, whose story I had heard about, but to actually see was depressing in a manner that I had not expected. That comic was the death of Spider-Man.

This image alone is enough to elicit an emotional response


When I was young I collected a lot of comic books. My very first comic book was a Spider-Man comic and of all the characters whom I followed, I collected more Spider-Man comics than any other character. I remember religiously watching the Spider-Man cartoon on Saturday mornings back in the 90's and played nearly every game from the SNES and Genesis era.

My first comic book ever.


Initially, I was able to beg my grandparents (who lived on the corner, down the street from me) for money and proceed around the corner and down half a block to the Kwik Shop where they had several comics on sale.But as the 90's ran on, it became harder to find comic books where I lived. By the time I was in middle school, I didn't even know of a place in town that I could purchase comics at, and I found my fondness for all comic book characters wane, including Spider-Man.

In more recent years, I've started to get into purchasing comic book collections such as the one I spotted at Barnes & Nobles, and the numerous comic book movies have rekindled my love for the characters. However, it is still difficult for me to follow current story archs, as there is only one comic book store remaining in Lincoln. So, the main thing that I have to hold onto is simply what these characters have done in the past, as opposed to what they are doing now; a sense of nostalgia. So, to see something like the death of Spider-Man, for me, almost felt like a portion of my childhood had died (even knowing that it is just Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe didn't sway this feeling). It also brought back some issues that I have pondered internally over the last year and a half.

For those of you that don't know, my brother died last February. Since then, I've found myself pondering issues of mortality. One particular issue I've considered is how the death of those that I admire and look up to will affect me. There have been several examples of figures in the media that people admired, dying and mourners being stirred to hold vigil. Yet, of those that have died, there has yet to be one that has elicited more than an apathetic response from me. Yet, if there were to be someone who I idolized, who represented core traits that I admire and strive for, how would I react? This is something I have pondered at length and leads me to one of my greatest fears.

My father is someone that I have always looked up to. He worked for Burlington Northern as an engineer and worked constantly, doing everything that he could to provide the best life possible for our family. He was a great example for me in how to approach work and taught me that sometimes you have to sacrifice some elements of your life that you hold dear (such as time with loved ones) for the bigger picture (sustained financial stability). I turn to him for guidance often, and he is always there for me.

Yet, my father is now 67. My grandparents from his side died at the ages of 76 and 80, and he has smoked since he was a teenager. So, I'm not blind to the fact that he's not going to be around forever. I now find myself learning a new lesson, to enjoy the time that remains for every moment you can.

As I take this lesson in and attempt to apply it to my life, I realize that we as gamers never apply this lesson to the games we play. We admire the hero who stands against the enemy forces, hopelessly outnumbered, and manages to beat the odds and survive. Yet it is very rare for that main character in a popular series to not make a return and rarer still to be killed off. We as gamers have been conditioned to expect the hero to continue to save the day. Yet, I think that each of us knows that one day these heroes will not make a return to the games that we play. When and if that time comes, will we be accepting their absence? Will we long for the days of Master Chief laying waste to the Covenant Armada? Will we wish that we had known Gordan Freeman's last words? Will we internalize the last lesson that they have to teach us; the lesson of when to saw "goodbye?"

Image changed due to spoilers...


My guess is that when these characters see the end of the road, the experience for us will be similar to my experience in seeing the death of Spider-Man; poignant, thought provoking, and above all a reminder to cherish the time that we shared.

At that, I believe I will say goodbye (for tonight)