Most people believe comic books are fun but frivolous entertainment. To the uninformed, they are supervillains and superheroes smashing into each other and “biff”, “bam”, and “pow”. But for those of us who know, comics are a medium upon which any story can be told, from the silliest kid stuff to the most serious and poignant stories. It doesn’t happen often, but comic books can be literature on par with those of the greatest writers of any age.
Comics are one of only four or five truly American art forms. They not only exist as entertainment but they also have the ability to educate and inform readers. They can deliver a message or draw attention to a situation that may not be as well known as others. They can also help us remember something important that happened that we shouldn’t necessarily forget.
These books and tales are things that exist in the real world. They are a physical object and their stories can sometimes have effects on the world around them. It may be because of the comic itself, what happened to the characters in the story, or how the people in the real world react to the story.
The following ten comic books have had huge impacts on the real world through their expanded interest, cultural significance, and the important issues that they brought to light.
10. The Hulk And AIDS Awareness - In The Shadow Of AIDS
The Incredible Hulk #420 was written by Peter David and illustrated by Gary Frank and Cam Smith. It featured the death of Jim Wilson after contracting HIV/AIDS. Parts of the story were an analogy to that of Ryan White who had parents and teachers lobbying against his attendance in Howard County, Indiana prior to his death in April 1990. The comic was also meant to show that AIDS was not exclusively a disease for homosexuals.
Created by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe for The Incredible Hulk #131, Jim Wilson was an angry young man who befriended the Hulk when they were both hiding out in an abandoned building in Harlem. Jim traveled, eventually meeting fellow Hulk sidekick Rick Jones. In Incredible Hulk #388, he revealed to Jones that he had AIDS when Rick came to play a benefit concert.
Jim was injured by a mob who were protesting an HIV-infected boy being allowed to attend school. “Professor” Hulk saved Wilson and took him to the secret headquarters of the Pantheon. Jim begged the Hulk to give him a blood transfusion but Bruce feared creating another gamma monster. He pretended to give Wilson his blood but his friend saw through the ruse. Jim died soon after and Bruce donated enough money to Jim’s hospice for it to run for another few decades.