Green Heroes Needed

By Elias Rodriguez

Could you name a few green heroes? Several that leap to mind are the Green Lantern, the Green Arrow and the Green Hornet. People who care about human health and the environment are humanity’s best hope for a sustainable planet. You might choose to peg them as Green Heroes.

I was mulling this on a recent lunch time stroll through New York City when it occurred to me that Jack Kirby, the “King of Comics,” walked many of the same streets. Born as Jacob Kurtzberg (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), he was the exceptionally gifted artist who helped bring to life green, red, white and blue heroes of all shapes and sizes. Jack who? Did you ever hear of Captain America? The uncanny X-Men? The Fantastic Four?  How about an angry little green dude named, the Incredible Hulk? Yep! Jack Kirby’s extraordinary easel enabled these colorful comic book characters to inhabit the minds of generations of adoring aficionados.

Krakk! Zzizt! Pwow! Whether they were alien invaders seeking to hijack our natural resources (The Skrull) or marauding minions emerging from the center of the earth (The Mole Man)- it was pretty clear that subjugation of the planet was an issue that called for courage.

Although separated by decades, Jack and I grew up in the same neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Delancey Street became “Yancy Street,” in his terrific tales. No matter the plotline, one always finished the story with an appreciation for playing by the rules and protecting your home (world) against the bad guys. Little did I suspect that preventing the mighty Galactus from devouring the earth (he was a villain who travelled the galaxies eating planets for sustenance) would become, at least for me, a metaphor for preventing chlorofluorocarbons from destroying the ozone layer and reducing toxic air pollutants like mercury and arsenic in our air, water and land.

Kamandi, the Last Boy of Earth, one of Jack Kirby’s original creations, followed an endearing character in his exploration of a ravaged planet. A “Great Disaster” had wrecked havoc on the planet and as a result the animal kingdom reigned supreme. “Beasts that act like men, men that act like beasts!” This 10-year old reader was obviously impressed by the taut 1970’s comic series. Our planet was saved from imminent peril time and time again in the panels of countless issues of pulp.

Where can we find genuine Green Heroes today? Just look into the mirror. Switch to clean energy. Use less energy. Watch your water use. Reduce waste. Fortunately, superpowers are not required to do your small part to keep our planet from peril.

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