It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's...A Blimp? Maybe Some Sort of Dinosaur?
The other day I was in line at the drive thru, patiently waiting for my turn at the window so I could pick up my milk shake and enjoy that cold, chocolate goodness on my way home from the gym. The dude at the front of the line was having some sort of trouble with his order and it delayed the rest of us. After a few minutes, I said to myself "If I had superhuman strength, I could go up to that dude's truck, pick it up, place it aside, and get this line moving again." But unless you count being able to recall pop trivia (especially 80's music), I am totally devoid of any super powers, especially superhuman strength. So wait there I did. And waited.
As I waited (and waited) I pondered. If I could have any super power, which would it be? Strength? Flight? Superior vision? If I could be a superhero, what sort would I be? Good like Superman? Evil like Dick Cheney? Tortured like Spider-Man? Reluctant doers of good like the X-Men? And are the X-Men even superheroes? How about the Hulk? Is he a superhero or just some green freak who can't control his temper?
And finally, the key thought implanted itself into my sugar-starved brain: How would you go about becoming a superhero? I thought to myself "If I am wondering how to become a superhero, surely many, many other folks are, too." So, after much research, I have developed a how-to guide to becoming a superhero.
Step 1: Don't just fall into it. You will regret it!
As I ran down the list of superheroes (Superman, Spider-Man, The Flash, Bat Man, Kurt Warner) I noticed that none of them (except Kurt Warner) set out to become superheroes. They allowed circumstances to direct their lives. That's always a big mistake. Peter Parker didn't intend to get bitten by that mutant spider and didn't plan on having his uncle killed by that thief. Circumstances came together and thrust him into the role of crime fighter - a role he didn't want and was not ready to play. As a result, he was a tortured soul, always conflicted Ditto Superman, Bat Man, the X-Men, etc.
Beyond the whole issue of being emotionally prepared for all that being a superhero entails, what if you find yourself stuck with some lame superpower? Would you like to be able to summon a light breeze at will or make it chilly whenever you want? Totally lame. Nobody wants that power. But, if you leave it completely up to chance, that's just what you might get. So, don't leave it up to chance - go out and acquire it for yourself.
Before you can acquire a power, you must decide which one you would like. If you want to crawl around like a spider, hang around spiders in genetic research labs. If you want to be super-fast, super-smart, radioactive, super-strong, etc., then hang around chemical labs, nuclear power plants, or toxic waste dumps, especially during electrical storms. Very often, accidental exposure to the chemicals/radiation/electricity (you can also use combinations of the three. Have fun! Experiment!) will render you a changed, super-charged, super-cool individual. However, if you want to be completely lame, useless, and the subject of universal mockery, then explore the oceans and find Atlantis. Some magic powers there will turn you into Aquaman. As for me, I hang around convenience stores a lot. I am hoping to acquire some sort of snack-based super power. Keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?
If you are afraid of exposing yourself to chemicals/radiation/electricity, or are unable to do so, then you could go the prop route. Bat Man and Wonder Woman rely heavily on their toys to fight bad guys. Bat Man has no discernible super powers, yet is the toughest dude in town. Wonder how he does it? Props.
A word of advice, if you decide to go the props route. Be smart. Set yourself up with useful props. Take Wonder Woman, for example. She has this rope that will force you to tell the truth should she tie you up with it. That's kinda useful. She also has these bracelets that deflect speeding bullets. Definitely useful. But then she also has this invisible plane. That sounds useful until you find out that you can still see her when she is flying it. Not so useful. So, again, be wise.
Step 2: Good or evil?
The decision to be good or evil is a big one, don't rush into it. While it is, technically, not against the rules to switch sides later on, it's best to clearly declare yourself a "good guy" or a "bad guy" as early as possible. It establishes expectations. The pros and cons for each are compelling - both sides have their benefits and drawbacks. Being a good guy means that little kids love you while grownups misunderstand you and (of course) eventually turn on you and blame you for everything. It's kinda like being a parent.
Being a bad guy has many, many features and only one drawback (you face being locked up in some high-tech prison for all eternity - or until one of the good guys gets a movie deal and needs a super villain, in which case you get sprung). Just some of the many good points of being evil: you get cooler names, cooler secret lairs, cooler sidekicks, and can get away with calling yourself "Doctor" without anybody checking your credentials (Dr. Freeze, Dr. Doom, Dr. Love, Dr. Doofus etc.) While you will never get invited to any swanky soirees as a baddy, you won't care. Super villains are always crashing the big party and making off with the girl/diamond/secret formula.
Also consider this: being on the right side of the law means that whatever alliance you form with others will have names like "The Justice League" while evil dudes call themselves badass names like "Legion of Doom". I am not trying to steer you one way or the other, but it is something to ponder. The Fat Kid has already aligned himself with a high profile group: Weight Watchers.
Next time: Sidekicks, secret lairs, and secret identities