I guessed there would be a vehicle obsessive phase of some sort and steeled myself to learn the difference between a BMW and a Volvo at 20 paces, a front hoe and a back hoe loader and to try and enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine.
I thought there might be a dinosaur phase and practiced pronouncing some of the trickier ones like Compsognathus and Archeoptyrex.
I anticipated that I might need a more detailed understanding of the different formation tactics of the Roman infantry.
As it turned out none of these things came (or have yet come) to pass. What I should have been studying or what I now know more than I ever thought I would about is Superheroes and their nemeses. Not just the likes of your Spidermans or your Batmans- oh no. I know the difference between the Marvel bunch and the DC (not dissimilar to remembering which is a Greek or Roman God). I know who started out a goody and then became a baddy and who started out a baddy and then became a goody and of a select few who then turned back to their original status once (or even twice) more. I know who the Teen Titans are and how the Justice Society of America differs from the Justice League of America (that's pretty specialised stuff). I can name the Metal Men and tell you the names of all 5 'Robins'*.
I can tell you're impressed.
We have various sources of information in the house that have underpinned my knowledge. A beloved selection of annuals are Eddie's current comfort blanket, including the equivalent of a Superhero pre-school primer 'Spiderman and Friends'; where Spidey, Doc Oc, the Beast and others hang out at school together and solve problems like cows escaping from a farm or a cat stuck in a tree. The next step up from that is the supremely strange 'Superhero Squad' annual which had us following the Human Torch cupcake recipe this weekend (pretty good- turns out the Human Torch is a useful baker). And finally the standard Marvel Heroes version,where as you may appreciate from the comparative faces of the Hulk below- things get a little less cute.
|Don't be deceived by these cakes 'ordinary' appearance. They are Human Torch Super cakes.|
But my personal favourite has to be our set of Fandex Deluxe DC cards. It's a difficult object to describe but it basically consists of 76 different cut out Goody and Baddy characters with all their vital statistics and a lovingly detailed potted version of their 50 or so years of comic backstory held together by one central pivot fastener. You can thus use them as little pop-up puppets for enacting battles behind the sofa or just work your way through the most arcane details of the DC Universe. They've seen a lot of action in the two or three years we've had them and helped bring me up to speed.
There are other Fandex sets available- they're a US import- and are probably very well known if you're coming to me from there but worth tracking down from obscurity here too. If Superheroes aren't your thing how about Mythology? Or Butterflies? or even Dinosaurs...
Fandex Deluxe: DC Comics Superheroes and Villains, pub. Workman publishing isbn 978-0761158561
*Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Timothy Jackson "Tim" Drake, Stephanie Brown, Damian Wayne