It was a cold, misty night in Lima. One of those seemingly endless cloudy dusks that the city is so infamous for. May, June and July were months where Lima became the Seattle of the Peruvian coast – overcast, dreary and humid.
It was on one of these nameless, gray nights that my mother and I went exploring downtown. I don’t remember much about the surroundings, but I do remember a small store, and one colorful rack that stood out amongst a sea of cheap sea of gray paperbacks. I came closer to get a look at what the rack held – I didn’t realize it at the time, but this lonely comic book rack held what would become two very rare limited edition prints from Marvel – Blade runner, and The Jack of Hearts.
I remember whispering something to myself about the price on the 8 comics. I knew I’d have to be careful about asking for them. Mother wasn’t entirely too generous with children’s whims. My parents really never learned to see things from a kids perspective. To her, these comics were just like any other – If I wanted comics, we could just as easily meet my needs by buying other ‘comics’ that were twice as cheap.
I wasn’t sure why these were so expensive, but I knew I had to have them – they were beautiful. I’m not sure if it was the contrast in color to the melancholy of Lima in Winter, but I knew they were special.
I approached my mother carefully, making sure I didn’t seem too eager. Miraculously, my request was granted with no hesitation. Mother seemed completely unphased by the request – maybe Lima had been getting inside her skin too. We both seemed a little happier at finding this bundle of color.
I remember getting home to read my new stack of comics, and being immediately drawn to the Jack of Hearts story. There were so many small surprises. The storyline was interesting, unpredictably dark and heroic. The costumes were bright, iconoclastic, and nothing like I’d seen before. I was in love. Jack was a conflicted hero, with more dimensions than what most other super-heroes I’d been exploring. He was a bright light of hope, in spite of himself. I liked this about him, much like the first hero of my 12th year – Captain Deckard of Blade Runner.
I thought about The Jack of Hearts through the years. On occasion, I’d search through libraries or magazine racks. My search was never too terribly thorough – life was on my mind. Recently, a friend asked for comic recommendations on Twitter. I immediately thought of The Jack of Hearts, and began to search for material to send to my friend, Katherine. I stumbled on Marvel’s amazing hero site.
I’m more than pleased to have found The Jack of Hearts again, for lots of reasons. The most important, however, was re-discovering that sense of child-like wonder at realizing that many surprises in life have more than one dimension. This dark, conflicted hero, clad in cyan and innumerable reds, bursting with the spectrum of color seemed to call up for me so many dormant visions and combinations of the possible. Dark with light, tragic with comic, heroic with human.