EVERYONE is remembering the late Senator Robert C. Byrd. Why should I be any different?
This is going to seem rather strange, but my earliest memory of Senator Byrd was when he took on Tony Stark for the secret of Iron Man.
That's right, the same Tony Stark that we just saw in the movie Iron Man 2... except in the movie, the role of the Senator was played by a well-cast Gary Shandling, who made him an irritant, not a force to be feared.
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My earliest memory of the Senator with the flowing white hair, was his appearance in the Iron Man comic book in the late 1960s, as drawn by Gene Colan for Marvel Comics. At first, they changed the name to try to hide the fact that it was Senator Byrd they were depicting, but that distinctive white hair and the strong force of will made him an impressive opponent.
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In fact, Senator Byrd in the comics succeeded in having a summons served on Tony Stark to testify before his senate sub-committee. However, a heart attack as he began to admit he was Iron Man sidelined the industrialist, and pretty much ended the Senate investigation plot line.
But as a kid, it made a BIG impression on me. I remember the somber, dark tones of the senate subcommittee meeting and public hearing.
So, as an adult, when I made the connection that Senator Byrd was from West Virginia, there was a bit of awe in the back of my mind.
Certainly, the comic book didn't have a big influence on real life, but it was my first experience with the late Senator.
Now, I drive on roads named for him, and attend meetings in buildings named after him.
But in some small way, the Senator will always be that impressive, threatening figure that was so feared in Marvel Comics. And in someway, that's the immortality of a superhero.
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