Special thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® for granting Erik's wish.
Photo 1: CCP Comics team visit Erik in Seattle to present the Electron Boy comic. Martha Garcia (top left), McLain McGuire (top right), Rob Bass (bottom left), Erik Martin (center), Matt Campbell (bottom right)
On April 29th, 2010, a wish came true.
13-year old Erik Martin of Bellevue, Washington had been battling severe health problems since the day he was born but was lately suffering from extreme fatigue brought about by paraganglioma, a rare form of cancer with tumors that secrete proteins causing his heart rate and blood pressure to fluctuate dramatically. Two years earlier, Erik was on the operating table for thirteen hours while doctors performed a complicated procedure that concluded with the removal of a tumor the size of a lemon from his spine. But the cancer eventually returned, this time in eight separate locations in his body.
Erik loves superheroes. Like millions over the course of the past seventy years, he thrills to their exploits any way he can get them. Through comic books, playing with action figures, even up on the big screen. The first Spider-Man movie might be his favorite. So, when the Seattle chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked Erik what they could do for him, he didn’t have to think twice. “I wish I was a superhero.”
Wish Manager Jessie Ellenbaas and a couple of dedicated volunteers threw themselves into the challenge of providing Erik with the experience of racing through the city and saving the day in a manner that wouldn’t exhaust him. After a few days, they came up with Electron Boy, a new identity for Erik, a superhero who had energy to spare.
On that last Thursday in April, Erik got a phone call from Spider-Man informing him that the Seattle Sounders were being held prisoner in Qwest Field by someone called Dr. Dark and that only Electron Boy could save them. A DeLorean pulled up in front of Erik’s house driven by one Moonshine Maid, and before he knew it, Electron Boy was catapulted into “the best day of my life” as he rescued his local Major League Soccer team before finding out that Dr. Dark and his sidekick Blackout Boy were holed up at Puget Sound Energy and threatening to disconnect power to the entire city. He stopped them there, too, and the chase eventually led to the Space Needle, where Electron Boy used his lightning rod to subdue the villains, accompanied by the wild cheers of the crowd drawn by the motorcade of twenty-five police motorcycles, a white limousine for his family, and, of course, the DeLorean.
Any concerns about Erik not having enough power to make it through the day proved unfounded as he capered about the plaza in front of the Space Needle afterward, posing for pictures, flexing his muscles, and spending some time perched atop a Bellevue PD motorcycle gazing out upon the city that he protected. Electron Boy had given him all the energy he needed.
I saw the Seattle Times story on Saturday, two days after Electron Boy’s debut, and it crushed me. It wasn’t even all the time and energy that all of those folks at the Make-A-Wish foundation and Seattle Sounders and Puget Sound Energy and the actors and volunteers and spectators had put into the day. What really got me about the whole story was what it proved, right out there where anybody could see it, pure objective truth, that our imaginations are pure and boundless and can take us anywhere that we let them, no matter how much these bodies might fail us, that even if you’re born without a right atrium and ventricle in your heart and no spleen and all your organs on the wrong side of your body and are extremely sensitive to the touch and you beat cancer once when you’re eleven and then it comes back again when you’re thirteen, you can overcome all of that, because you still have the power to do anything, become just who you’ve always dreamed of being. A woman will come to your hospital room with some crayons and get you to design your own costume and, before you know it, Spider-Man’s calling you up for help, you, and Moonshine Maid’s pulling up in the DeLorean and you have to hurry because there’s no telling what Dr. Dark is going to do next, but it’s going to be all right, nothing you can’t take care of, because you have all the energy you’re ever going to need, right there crackling at your fingertips.
The day after reading about Electron Boy, I asked some friends if anyone was willing to provide the art on a short story about him. Matt Campbell said yes in less than an hour. Two days later, he had the script. Chris Beaver chipped in with some inking and design work, Rita Moore colored a few pages, Matt colored the rest, and McLain McGuire put the words right where they were supposed to be.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be moved. That’s what those hundreds of people did on April 29th, the ones who planned it and the ones who had no idea what they’d signed up for but were standing in the streets, cheering Erik on to victory. What the thousands of people around the world who’ve been touched by the story have been doing ever since, what we tried to do in these pages, mining out a few panels of real estate for Electron Boy in the medium that spawned him, and what you’re doing right now, reading these words, thrilling to the tale of a real-life superhero. We’re sending him energy. We’re sending him our love.