Tag Archives: superhero

Torahman

FF 205 Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

“I want something like Bibleman, but cooler. And for Jews.”

Jeff wasn’t sure how the rabbi had heard of Bibleman. “So, you want me to create . . . Torahman?”

“No, that’s too stereotypical. I want something original. And tougher. How about The Maccabee?”

“Okay.” Jeff didn’t know how to draw a Maccabee. “Does he throw stars of David?”

“Sure.”

“And his sidekick could be Dreidl Boy.”

The rabbi frowned. “That seems stereotypical.”

“Does he kill people?”

“No! He just teaches kids about Judaism.”

“He teaches? So he’s basically. . . Torahman then.”

The rabbi looked deflated. “Fine, Torahman. And stick Dreidl Boy in there too.”

 

 

When I finished writing this, I did a Google search and apparently there is a Torahman already, although his sidekick is called Mitzvah Boy. It seems you can’t make this stuff up.

 

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Enlightening the Son – Friday Fictioneers

Merry Christmas from the Green-Walled Tower! I hope you all had a great day yesterday. By the way, if you’re interested, go read my post about the time I was a real-life ghost. It just got Freshly Pressed, which was a great Christmas present for me.

Enlightening the Son

Searchlights combed the sky like Zen rakes, cutting graceful swaths across the obsidian dome of night.

“Get my son back this instant!” the president said, emotions colliding in his trembling voice.

“We can find him, sir,” the chief of staff said, “but while he has the artifact, we’re helpless. He flies faster than our jets and is virtually invincible.”

*         *         *

“What’s the spin?” the PR director asked later. “Is this good or bad?”

“We’ll find out soon,” the chief of staff said. “If we can make him a superhero, the next election’s in the bag. If not, start updating your resume.”


Super Teacher

super teacher

           “I always wanted to be a super teacher, but I never wanted to be Super Teacher, you know? That’s not why I got into the profession. I became a teacher to mold young minds and impact lives, not to be some sort of educational freak show.

           “It all started on a field trip. We were touring a high-energy laboratory, which in retrospect was a poor choice for a Grade 2 class. Anyway, as you know from the news, there was that malfunction and of course I jumped in front to save my kids and got hit with that experimental beam. The next thing I knew, I could fly and lift things with my mind.

           “It was great at first. I didn’t have to drive to work and if I forgot some paperwork at home, I could fly home and get it and be back before the next period started. I could tap students on the shoulder with my powers from the front of the room and collect homework without standing up. It was awesome.

           “The rest started innocently enough. First, my students wanted me to pick them up: all of them at the same time. Why not, right? It was fun until the other classes wanted in on it too. The whole school would line up and I spent my lunch breaks throwing kids up into the stratosphere and flying them over to finish their geography assignments on France, in France. Suddenly I’m the cool teacher and all the other teachers are jealous of me and I don’t have time to finish my grading and lesson plans.

           “And then the school board gets in on it. They want me to go around to different schools, talking about drug awareness and staying in school, whatever that has to do with superpowers. And of course, they insisted that every presentation end with me crushing a car with my bare hands. I got into teaching to show students how to use the power of their minds, not their bodies. When I brought up that objection, the superintendent said it was okay to crush the car with my mental powers. That wasn’t what I’d meant.

           “Anyway, I finally got my class back, but it’s not the same. The students just want to see me use my powers, the paparazzi are buzzing around the school at all hours and now there is that super-villain in the southwest that everyone keeps hinting I should go deal with. I just feel like I’m losing focus. What should I do, doc?”

           The psychologist straightened up. “Well,” he said. “I’ve never said this to a patient before, but if you want my advice, stop whining and suck it up. You can fly at Mach 10, lift 100 tons with your mind and you’re making millions of dollars in endorsements. I think you can find some way of adjusting. Oh, it looks like our hour is up. That will be 40,000 dollars, please.”


The Problem with Superman

A while ago, I wrote a story called Superman’s Golf Ball, which portrayed Superman as cocky and arrogant. It was playing off a website that highlights all the bad and jerky things Superman has done in the comics over the years.

I know that my story rubbed at least one Superman fan the wrong way and I do understand why. Superman is beloved because he is an ideal. He is an insanely overpowered person who could rule the world if he wanted to, but still tries to do the right thing and help everyone he can. He is what we all wish we could be. And I like that about him; he’s a fascinating character.

I just don’t think he always makes for a very interesting story. I went to see Man of Steel over the weekend (this post does not contain any big spoilers) and it was the first Superman movie I’d seen in a long while. I liked it well enough, but still, there are some things about Superman that nag at me. Here are three of the main problems I have with Superman stories:

1.   The lack or quality of external conflict.

The main conflict with Superman that I can see is that he is divided into the two parts that his name suggests: he is both Super and Man and a lot of the conflict comes from him trying to reconcile these two parts. He is both an alien from Krypton and a citizen of Earth. But that is all internal conflict.

When it comes to external conflict, there seems to be three main types. One is to make the conflict Superman’s race against time or distance, making the conflict his inability to do everything at once. He simply cannot save everyone and be everywhere at once (although he does pretty well sometimes).

Another way is with kryptonite, his Achilles Heel. I know that it has been justified in his back story, but it still seems like a manufactured plot point to keep him from being totally invulnerable and make the story a little interesting. Also, it seems like it should be such a rare material that it would really never show up more than once, at most. I was happy to see that while Man of Steel used the kryptonite idea, they didn’t use it overtly.

The third way is to make the conflict between him and other insanely super-powered beings, such as General Zod and his comrades, just to give Superman a challenge. The problem with this scenario is that a fight between indestructible beings is not all that interesting to watch for too long. No one really gets hurt, except for any unfortunate humans (and buildings) that happen to get in the way. Which brings me to my second point.

2.   Humanity is largely irrelevant.

When I watched Man of Steel, one of the biggest impressions that I got was how humanity was irrelevant to the final outcome. Sure, we help out a little, but in terms of fighting, the conflict is entirely out of our league. I felt bad for all the brave special forces members who are running into combat with absolutely no chance of doing anything but dying quickly. It’s like watching rabbits chewing on the treads of a tank. And although we can cheer on Superman while he defends us, it’s hard to get too invested in a fight between two indestructible titans while we sit on the bench and hope not to get crushed by accident. Incidentally, if Superman really wanted to help humanity, I think he would have lured Zod away from one of the busiest cities in the world to somewhere like Greenland where the destruction would have been a lot less.

3.   It’s too easy to break the rules.

This one is less about Man of Steel and more about Superman in his other movies and incarnations. The fact is, Superman is more or less a god. He is indestructible and his powers are so great that they aren’t even definitely defined. This is unique. Pretty much every other superhero has one power or set of powers that defines him. Spiderman has his spider sense, lightning fast reflexes and he can climb and swing on webs. Wolverine has an adamantium skeleton, claws, super healing, plus heightened senses. They’re both pretty powerful, but they have defined powers and never suddenly gain the ability to fly or use mental powers.

What can Superman do? He is indestructible, can fly, has super strength, has X-ray vision, has heat-ray eyes, has super hearing… etc. He also tends to occasionally get powers that are important to the story. In the original movies, he has turned back time and erased memory. Sometimes he flies around in space. He can do that? Sure, why not. I know that these are all in different movies, where the writers have different conceptions of what Superman is like, but still, Superman is a bit like magic. He can do whatever you need him to do at that moment. A living, breathing deus ex machine is not as interesting to watch as a character that has real, defined limitations.

 

I was a bit hesitant about writing this, since I know that some people take superheroes very seriously and would possibly disagree with me. But that’s okay. If you disagree with anything I said, let’s debate the matter like friends in the comments.


I am . . . a Superhero – Fantastic Travelogue #10

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me.

I am a Superhero

Sing-ga was acting like he was drugged. He was moving slowly and unsteadily and seemed to be having trouble staying awake. I was having the opposite sort of experience. Whatever they had forced us to drink had made me faster, stronger, and smarter than I had ever been before. It was the same liquid, so obviously, the stuff had a very different effect on my physiology than on the others. I honestly think that while I was in that state, I could have learned a language in a day. At least that’s how I felt.

I tried to explain to Sing-ga how I wanted to escape, but he was not in any state to communicate. Not that my plan was all that complicated: punch the guards and run out, try to find Ain-Mai, then get back to the circular room and . . . I honestly don’t remember now if I had an ending to that plan. I had a lot of confidence though.

The guards came back ten minutes later and I could tell immediately they were furious that we hadn’t changed. The lead one started yelling at us and lowered her spear at me. I grabbed it by the shaft and pulled it out of her hand. Then I cracked it in half. I can tell you, there is no greater feeling of satisfaction than snapping a two-inch-thick spear in half like it’s a candy cane.

It was on then. Forget getting me to change clothes—they were trying to kill me now. I ducked under a spear, punched the lead guard in the chest, probably breaking a few ribs. The other guards backed off a bit and then I was suddenly surrounded by guards, maybe fifteen of them. However, I could tell that some of them were illusions. They all moved the same way, like puppets on the same string. That must have been what had happened in the forest when I tried to escape.

Honestly, I don’t exactly remember much about what happened next, except that it felt really good. It was a confusion of ducking spears, punching, and kicking whenever I saw an opening. The next thing I remember clearly was the guards lying around, unconscious, injured and bloody. There was also a man on the ground whom I had apparently punched in my excitement. Oops.

None of the other men had really reacted, although they were all watching by now. I felt like uttering a William Wallace yell and leading this rag tag army to freedom, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. So I grabbed Sing-ga and pulled him out the door, taking one last look at the defeated guards lying on the ground as I left. Man, I wish I had my camera!

I didn’t know where Ain-Mai was, but I went in the direction I had seen them take her. Sing-ga seemed to have recovered a little and was trying to keep up with me, although it was hard. I was probably sprinting. The corridor we were in was mostly deserted. I say mostly because every now and then, we would come across one of those funny little four-legged creatures about a foot tall that moved really slowly. We flew by them and they didn’t seem to pay us any attention.

The corridor ended before too long, opening into a monstrously big room and even as hyped up as I was, I stopped short in amazement. I couldn’t tell how big the room was—perhaps half a mile square and a few hundred feet high. It was filled with thousands of cages suspended by chains from the ceiling. A lot of the cages were empty, but I saw figures in some of them. At the same time, there were cages being raised and lowered from holes in the ceiling.

I didn’t know what to do. The corridor ended here and I couldn’t see Ain-Mai anywhere. Sing-ga was gasping and reeling behind me as if he had just run a marathon.

empty cage

A cage began to descend from the ceiling, about two hundred feet away from us, and inside I saw Ain-Mai. She was crouched in the corner of the cage and a few strands of her long, black hair came out through the bars and floated in the open air.

I didn’t think hard on the situation; I just acted. The closest cage to me was about fifteen feet away horizontally, but also about twenty feet up. The walls were covered with overlapping plates that stuck out and gave a lot of good hand and footholds. I bounded up this, and then, when I was a little bit above the closest cage, I leaped.


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