Superheroes, to me, are the most versatile and amazing fantasy characters. You have your “Holy Trinities” in the main two comic book universes–Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman in DC; Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America in Marvel–but the fact that you can virtually create and hero or villain with any type of power imaginable is wonderfully adaptive for writers and artists alike.
One of the first comic book series I collected was DC’s Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. I liked it exactly because of that variety of powers. It was especially fun to read the storylines where they had tryout for new Legionnaires. You would get some of the most weird and wild powers, costumes, and names. I mean Double-Header, Esper Lass, Calorie Queen, Antenna Lad, Color Kid, Infectious Lass, and Porcupine Pete, just to name a few.
I see a lot of that wild variety in the anime My Hero Academia. While the show has some of the weirdest powers I’ve ever seen in comics, the concept behind it is so cool. A world where everyone has superpowers, or quirks as they call it. Some people have over the top, extraordinary powers, others have basic, simple powers.
For example, Shoto Todoroki has the quirk “hot and cold” meaning he can control fire and ice from each side of his body; but Yuga Aoyama, for some ridiculous reason, shoots a laser from his belly button. You know, it’s kind of out there but it makes perfect sense in a world like this. Additionally, unlike most comics, heroes are not part of the police force but licensed to us their powers to fight crime. They can’t use deadly force or even arrest bad guys themselves.
It’s such a wild ride, especially for an anime, and at times funny as Hell; but it also has a serious side. The stories cover every topic you would find in a afterschool special, but with superpowers mixed in. From teenage love to kids growing up too fast, these are the things we see in every teenage drama, but just with superpowers involved. And those powers are so freaky, and yet, they make them seem not only powerful but possible. There’s a pro-hero called Best Jeanist (yes, that’s his name) who is covered in denim from head to toe. His quirk manipulates fibers to ensnare or entangle his opponent. It seems ridiculous, yet he does it with “flair and style” like no other.
This is why superhero stories are so versatile and fun to write. It’s hard not to read a comic and find an example or inspiration in other characters. For example, if you look at DC’s Deathstroke and Marvel’s Deadpool, they’re basically the same character. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, Deathstroke is Slade Wilson. They both use every weapon imaginable, from guns to swords and daggers. Rob Liefeld, who created Deadpool, doesn’t hesitate to point out to the similarities, but won’t admit to it.
“I’ve always been in awe of Deathstroke — and “always” means since I was a child,” he said. “It might not be as obvious as it seems to me, but Deathstroke is blue and orange…and the last time I looked, Deadpool is black and red.”
Marvel did a direct ripoff from DC when they created the Squadron Supreme, an alternate world of superheroes that try to destroy the Avengers. Their superheroes mocked the Justice League with characters like Hyperion (Superman), Power Princess (Wonder Woman), Nighthawk (Batman), Doctor Spectrum (Green Lantern) and the Whizzer (Flash). Both sides admit to the ripoff, but more so as a compliment and tribute rather than a zing.
These great stories we read as kids are finally making their way to the big screen. We used to get one or two superhero movies every four to five years, but now its two-to-three annually. The technology has finally caught up to where these great hero stories can go from comic book to screen I mean, watching the finally fight in Doctor Strange looked exactly like a page of art drawn by Steve Ditko in the 70’s.
I have always loved superheroes. I even created a few of my own as a kid (Vulcan, Moonbeam, and the Speed Demons to name a few), and brought them to life in the City of Heroes video game (see my blog for more on that). We love these stories because it shows us the best, and worst, humanity has to offer in the form of entertainment.
Admit it, when you saw Captain America fending off Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet in the new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, you were psyched. It’s why we love them!
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.