Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Three Superheroic Considerations

Almost no one becomes a superhero on a whim. Even those who have their powers thrust upon them must think long and hard before they don a mask and take to the rooftops. Is the risk worth it? Does the universe really need them to take up arms?

Perhaps you’re in that situation now. You recently gained the ability to control fire with your mind, or you realized your years of fencing training have made you an unparallelled master of the art, or you discovered your parents are aliens who hid your true heritage (and its accompanying abilities) from you.

Naturally, you wonder whether you should do something about this; whether you can make a difference with the fiery bolts you shoot out of your fingers, or your skill with a blade, or the energy field your species generates. What challenges will you face? Will it be worth it?

Fear not! I can help you figure it out!

While your decision must ultimately be as personal as the superheroic journey itself, I’ve read a shit-ton of superhero comics and watched a fair measure of superhero-focused television, and I’ve noticed three distressing constants beyond the ones everyone talks about all the time (ie, the need for a costume and a secret identity and all that). You'll want to take them into account as you make your choice. Don't worry; they ain't pleasant, but you can soften their impact if you want this superhero thing badly enough.

A comics panel depicting four ninjas attacking Clint Barton. He is tied to a chair and has tipped backwards onto a bed. One ninja's sword has just come down inches from Clint's arm.
From Hawkeye #5

You will fight a ninja

Other villains may vary, but ninjas are universal. They'll probably waylay you in an abandoned warehouse, though they may also strike in a hotel, a busy restaurant, a late night street, or even your own living room. Ninjas can and will attack at any time; however, they adhere to a code of honour and so usually have a good reason for targeting you, which makes them slightly less unpredictable than they first appear. Keep careful track your transgressions so you can better gauge the possibility of a ninja attack.

Be aware you’re likely to come this close to dying before you triumph over the ninja with a clever ploy no one, not even yourself, could have seen coming.

If you’re particularly unlucky, you may find yourself facing a swarm of ninjas instead of a lone operator. Consider partnering with another superhero against this eventuality. Not only will you have someone at your back when the ninjas attack, but you’ll be able to engage in witty banter at all other times.

As an added bonus, a partner may provide you with the opportunity to engage in a misplaced rivalry fueled by jealousy and/or conflicting views on how superheroes ought to operate. Fun!

A gif of Foggy Nelson yelling, 'If you weren't half dead, I would kick your ass, Murdock!'

Your BFF will freak out over your secret identity.

Most BFFs disapprove of superheroic antics. Sometimes they’re upset about the dubious legality of masked vigilantism. (This is especially true if you’re the kind of superhero who routinely beats the crap out of and/or kills people.) More often, they’re hurt you lied to them for months, or even years.

Consider coming clean to your BFF immediately after you choose to adopt a superheroic lifestyle. Better yet, invite them to weigh in as you make your decision. They’ll be more accepting of your choice, and you’ll have a potential new ally in your crime fighting endeavours.

Newly-minted or less intense friends will probably be more sanguine about your secret identity. They’re still liable to be surprised and/or shocked, but they’ll recover their bearings more quickly and so can be valuable allies in the fight against injustice. They’ll also help you weather the sting of your BFF’s inevitable blow-up. Bring one or two of them into your circle as quickly as you can.

A comics panel depicting Nova flying through space with the Worldmind's avatar hovering above him. Worldmind says, 'I was speaking figuratively. You are pushing yourself too hard. First the war, now this ceaseless urgency, from one crisis to another.' Nova replies, 'People need my help. They haven't got time to wait.'
From NOVA #1

You will never sleep again

Really. If you take the masked vigilante route, you’ll be down dark alleyways or on rooftops just about every night--and since you probably go to school or hold down a day job as well, you’re gonna have to cut back on your sleepy time.

If you sign on with an organization that allows you to make the superhero schtick your full-time job, you’ll be on call 24/7. Your team leader could pull you in at any moment, whether you’re sleeping, trying to enjoy a vacation, or even recovering from your last death. (Oh yeah--you’ll also die at least once, but don’t worry about it too much. Nobody ever stays dead.) (Well, almost nobody.)

Even when you’re not vanquishing bad guys with your team, you’ll end up righting a lot of smaller wrongs during your off hours. The superheroic personality allows for nothing less.

Luckily, you probably know at least one superscientist who can brew you up some sort of concoction that’ll limit your need for sleep. Take advantage of this opportunity if you possibly can, but heed your scientist's warnings about the long-term consequences of such cheats. You don’t want to turn into a dark and vengeful version of yourself over something as minor as a sleep issue, now do you? Save that plot twist for a more important occasion.


  1. Ahaha this post is great! Poor Hawkeye -- even when he's not getting attacked by ninjas, he's getting attacked by someone who makes him fall on his back and have additional band-aids the next time. (Oh, but I just thought of that time he said Kate was perfect, which she is, and now I need to reread the whole run of the whole comic.)

    1. I looooove how the fancy-dancy new Hawkeye action figure comes with switchable heads so you can put him in band-aid mode.

      Kate's perfection is limitless. LIMITLESS. She needs an action figure, too.

    2. P.S. Kate is one of those characters who's an exception to the "Your BFF Will Be Furious" rule because all her BFFs are superheroes their own selves. She does run into ninjas and reduced sleepy-times, though.