It’s been a good year so far for super heroes – with Thor, Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class arriving in theaters and with Captain America on the horizon, you’d think it was a great time to be a superhero.
Well, not really. At least, not to me.
There’s a lot of angst involved with being a superhero – Thor has daddy issues, GL has all those insecurity things going on and XM:FC has a whole lot of Austin Powers envy bubbling under the surface.
And Emma Peel look-alikes. Anyone else think that all Shaw needed was a white cat to stroke while prattling on about destroying the world?
Captain America looks to be going down the same path. Small, weak young man seeks redemption through better drugs and experimental treatments. Finds true happiness killing Nazis. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but… it’s sort of out of reach for most of us mere mortals.
Along with being bitten by radioactive spiders, being born on an island of Amazons and being a multi-millionaire who loves booze and sex.
(I’m working on the last one. Don’t tell the hubby. My Rescue armor is in the basement. Okay, it’s only cardboard right now, but when I win the powerball…)
But I digress.
Being a superhero means suffering in some way, somehow. Either you have personal issues that just aren’t resolved despite having some major mojo or everyone’s trying to kill you. Or both, which is how you end up with sequels.
When I started plotting “Blaze of Glory” I wanted to write a superhero novel where the world wasn’t what you thought it was. I remember reading comics when I was younger and wondering why the bad guy always escaped in the nick of time or Arkham Asylum had a revolving door where the baddies walked out for the next issue. They just always got away at the right time in the right place, to return for the next battle.
And the cynic in me wondered why more civilians didn’t die. I know we’ve moved on a bit since I was a wee one paying a dime for comics (cough*Watchmen*cough) but civilians casualties weren’t a regular part of my comic book reading.
My mind wandered off at that point into an alternative world where the game was fixed. Fixed to let the criminals escape and the good guys always win, to a degree. From there it went to why would the heroes let the villains go and what would be gained by it all.
Thus the Agency was born. The multi-government groups (for North America only) that took charge of new supers and engineered battles, splitting them up into teams to roleplay the scenarios for an adoring public.
It wasn’t hard to go from there and figure out why this would be happening and to look for one character, one woman who would break the system while saving the world and surviving her own personal crisis.
Jo Tanis isn’t any Wonder Woman, no Batman, no Superman. She’s a woman trying to figure out her place in a world that’s made up of lies. And that’s before she’s thrown into a war she never signed up for and loses her best friend.
Her journey is like any other hero – one step forward, one step back. She finds Hunter but loses a bit of herself when she makes the hard decisions, the tough ones that you don’t hear about in the comics. Who lives, who dies and who she loses along the way.
But one of the qualities I most admire about super heroes is their resilience. Peter Parker gets yelled at and he still goes web-swinging every night. Clark Kent plays the buffoon and still saves the world on an hourly basis. Oracle may be in a wheelchair but she’s the best darned computer hacker out there and a plague on the underworld while a friend to law enforcement.
And they just keep on going.
I don’t know if I’d have that resilience, that strength to get up every day after being kicked in the face the night before. I know some do and they’re the unsung heroes of our society, the ones who just don’t stop even though the odds are constantly against them.
You know who I’m talking about.
They don’t wear capes and they don’t get much screen time, if any. But they do what most of us can’t or won’t without the applause or acclaims.
Me, I’ve walked a bit on the sidelines. After fifteen years in private security, including a short stint as a Guardian Angel, I’ve got a lot of respect for those unsung heroes out there who go to work every day and don’t know if they’ll be going home that evening.
And I write about tough old women who just don’t know when to quit.
Because, well… they’re my heroes. And men too, ’cause they’re too delicious to leave out.
So I wouldn’t choose to be a superhero. Or even a regular one.
But I do love those who are.