As a kid, I lived on a steady TV diet of superhero shows like Batman, Shazam!/Isis, The Incredible Hulk, and Wonder Woman. And when The Six Million Dollar Man came on, you’d betta not change the channel or I’d whoop you with a Steve Austin-style bionic kick. It’s no wonder that I wrote a book about superheroes!
When I first began outlining Doom & Gloom, I had a choice to make: should I imbue my main character with mutant/genetic super powers (like Spiderman) or give him a superior intellect and awesome gear (like Iron Man)? I know I’ve simplified things a bit. But there are more types of superheroes than I can comfortably cover in a few hundred words–aliens, gods, and altered humans, to name a few–and I had to boil it down for the sake of brevity.
Anyway, for better or worse, I chose the Iron Man route, giving my hero, Dane Winter the Sixth, an incredible amount of wealth, an above-average intellect, super skills, and a slew of gadgets to accomplish his missions. Why? There’s something about a hero who relies on his wit, not his physical strength, that’s infinitely appealing. And, to be honest, my heart has always belonged to Batman. Sock! Pow! Bong!
And what’s a good superhero without a foible? Enter xeroderma pigmentosum, a nasty genetic disease that hit my radar after I watched the super-creepy movie, The Others. XP renders patients incapable of repairing UV damage to their skin and makes them thousands of times more likely to develop skin cancer. Because of this disease, my fictional character is able to see in the dark better than the average human, not through any supernatural cause, but through constant nighttime and low-light exposure. In fact, he draws his name–Gloom–from this unique skill. Doom, on the other hand, suffers from no diseases. She’s simply a klutzy girl plagued by superstition who manages to best villains by falling into or over them.
If you’re still not convinced that “every man” heroes are every bit as compelling as mutants, watch Stan Lee’s Superhumans. Each episode provides shining examples of human excellence taken to superhuman lengths (like Dane’s eyesight). Not only is Stan Lee the mack daddy of the superhero genre, it’s a riveting half-hour of television. Can’t compare to Batman, though. Not even close. Sock! Pow! Bong!
Doom & Gloom is currently free on Amazon (9/6/13 – 9/8/13) if you’re curious about my character.
How about you? Which type of superhero do you prefer? Gods, like Thor? Aliens, like Superman? Vigilantes like The Green Hornet? Please share!