Tag Archives: superpowers

Superdad

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had the time, energy, and Internet access to do the Sunday Photo Fiction story. Hopefully, though, I can continue this from now on though.

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

Superdad

“You know, Harry,” I said, sitting down on a bench overlooking the lake. “This is where I went to camp when I was young. That’s when I found I had powers.”

“Is this like how you say you have eyes on the back of your head?” my son Harry asked.

“Kind of,” I said. Except I could use my mind to move things. I was out one night and suddenly—POW!—a boulder almost fell on me. I picked it up with my mind and threw it in the lake. SPLASH!”

“So, you’re like a Superdad?” Harry asked, skepticism oozing from his expression. “Well, do something now to prove it.”

“Ooh sorry, I’m retired now. Being a father and all, you know.”

“Yeah. Can we get ice cream now?”

“Sure,” I said. Harry stood up and walked towards the roadside ice cream stand.

“You almost had him there,” a middle-aged man sitting nearby commented.

“I don’t know; kids are pretty shrewd these days. Excuse me for a moment.” I could see a swimmer across the lake struggling in deep water. I pulled him into the shallows, turned and nodded to the man, then followed Harry to get ice cream.


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.


Rescued Becky – Friday Fictioneers

This the last installment of the story of Peregrine and Becky. My apologies if this one is a little less stand-alone. However, here are the previous editions: 1. Peregrine’s Bar, 2. Clue 43, 3. Midnight Call, 4. Special Becky, 5. Freakish Becky. Obviously when you write flash-fiction, a lot of the story has to be implied. I am planning on writing a novella of the whole story of Peregrine and Becky. It should be ready in about…6 months or so, if I’m lucky. You know how it goes. However, I will let you know when it is ready, if anyone is interested.

copyright John Nixon

copyright John Nixon

Rescued Becky

Peregrine knelt in the Parisian apartment and held his daughter Becky as she sobbed in his arms.

“You came for me, Dad.”

“I came.”

“I didn’t want to kill them.”

“I know.”

“I’m sorry about Mom.”

“Don’t bring that up again. It was an accident.”

“Can we go home now?”

He nodded and took her hand. “Hey, do you know when we first knew you had a special gift?”

“When?”

“You were four. You whispered and made a street performer jump through his piano.”

Becky smiled and Peregrine’s heart almost melted. If he could, he would keep her smiling forever.




Freakish Becky – Friday Fictioneers

The continuing story of Peregrine and Becky. Here are the previous editions: 1. Peregrine’s Bar, 2. Clue 43, 3. Midnight Call, 4. Special Becky

copyright El Appleby

copyright El Appleby

Freakish Becky

They see me as a freak; a mutant to be studied and used. They want my Whisper, but they fear it too.

They finally took me off the drugs, trying to determine how I worked. I used my Whisper and they decided to send a message to my father, hidden in coordinates. They suddenly decided drugs weren’t necessary anymore. I Whispered and they called my father.

All it took was one small Whisper and they happily threw themselves through a fourth-story window.

I didn’t want to do it.

I just want to be normal. Why am I such a freak?




Special Becky – Friday Fictioneers

The continuing story of Peregrine. Again though, it should be able to stand on its own (I hope). Here are the previous editions: 1. Peregrine’s Bar, 2. Clue 43, 3. Midnight Call.

Copyright Janet Webb

Copyright Janet Webb

Special Becky

Peregrine was close; he felt it.

The kidnappers had first said Algeria. Then, at the payphone, a husky voice had given him the name of this Parisian building. A dress on the balcony showed the apartment.

Crash.

An upper window exploded in a blossom of shards and a body hit the sidewalk with a stomach-turning crunch. Another man appeared at the broken window and stepped out—placidly, deliberately—and landed on the roof of a BMW. Glass shattered; the car alarm began to scream.

Peregrine sprinted through milling crowds to the apartment entrance. Becky was definitely inside.

Powerful, special Becky.




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