In literary circles, June 16th is “Bloomsday,” this single day on which James Joyce’s beloved classic Ulysses takes place. Folks take the day to either honor or malign the author and his works. As a thinking person of Irish descent, I’ve made several attempts to conquer the novel, but never completed it.

This year, I’m going to neither praise nor condemn the man. Instead, I’m going to celebrate another significant numeral of 6/16.

In the Marvel comics universe, or rather multiverse, 616 is the number associated with the version of Earth where the stories take place. There are other Earths, where these characters don’t exist, or live radically different lives. Occasionally, readers get a glimpse of these ‘alternate’ realities, but for the most part, our heroes are the ones from Earth-616. So this year on 6/16, rather than celebrate a work I have a complicated history with, or an author who has his own complex history of achievements and failures, I’m going to watch “The Avengers” and enjoy some literary works that may not be as highbrow as Joyce, but still were a force for good in the world.

Captain America was a symbol of hope and encouragement in the darkest days of World War II. Even up until the present, he has served as a reminder of the greatest ideals of my country: Freedom, Equality, Tenacity and Acceptance. The X-Men are icons of the struggle civil rights in every community. Iron Man is a symbol of what we can achieve if we dream big enough and work hard enough, and also of the fact that no matter how high we fly, we can’t outrace our demons. And of course, Spider-Man is an example of the responsibility to use power for the benefit of others.

These characters might not breathe the same rarefied air as literary icon Leopold Bloom, but I learned more from their stories than I ever did from Joyce’s high-barred, punctuation-less tome. But I won’t admonish any literary fans from enjoying today as they see fit. But as for me? Pour me a glass beer, put “The Avengers” in the DVD player, and hand me my “Astonishing X-Men” collection, and make mine Marvel.

How are you celebrating today?

 

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