Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 112

October 12, 2012

Teams of Convenience

Before we leave this whole topic of superhero teams, there's one type of team that's worth mentioning and that is the teams of convenience.

Many of the great superhero teams such as the Justice League and Avengers have had constant turnover particularly in recent years. The teams, particularly in their full forms are not balanced and they're not really "super friends" at least not all of them when you get on teams with dozens of members.

On one level, the comic book Justice League and Avengers are reminiscent of many "teams" thrown together in workplaces though with far more interesting tasks.

On another, they remind us of many organizations of people who join together on occasion for common cause, whether its a volunteer fire department in rural areas or a political group. Great caution is required in these situations as the bonds that tie are weak, and the risk of schism is pronounced. Thus, as both teams have learned, establishing a sense of community can be helpful to long term survival.

While these sort of groups are not ideal, they may have just as much importance as the other two types of teams.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 12, 2012 22:30 Tags: avengers, justice-league

October 9, 2012

The Great Teams of Fiction: The Family Teams

Continuing on our previous posts about different types of teams, there's another important type of team to talk about and that's what I like to call the family type.

While the balanced team brings a great deal of diversity. However, diversity is not without its drawbacks. Oftentimes, very diverse areas enjoy a great deal of productivity but they also can hurt a sense of community and belonging according to one study.

There's a longing for community, for a sense that we belong and that brings us to a type of team that appeals to that level and that is the family team.

The team need not be perfectly balanced, but there's ultimately a sense of unity in common cause and genuine belonging. This was a big theme of television shows I watched when I was growing up. The best of them did it very well.

True family teams are somewhat limited in the Superhero world. Most superheroes' default status is to fight alone: one-on-one against the forces of evil.

There are, of course, Teams like the Avengers or The Justice League are ad-hoc coalitions that bring together some of these solo fighters. However, the comings and goings of these teams make things feel less like a team and more like an on-again and off-again coalition, particularly with them messing around with multiple Avenger and Justice League teams. While Super Friends may have been applicable to these heroes at one points, Super Acquaintances and Occasional Allies may be more appropriate.

The X-men have had many comings and goings and internal squabbles with a lot of Ex-X-men and some who come back after being Ex-X-Men and then are Ex-Ex-X-men and then there are those who leave again after coming back and they're known as Ex-Ex-Ex-X-men and then...

However, once again, The Fantastic Four . In
Who Needs a Superhero?: Finding Virtue, Vice, and Whats Holy in the Comics, Michael Brewer praises the Fantastic Four as an example of the type of family situation that Christians and the Church in particular should exemplify, even to the extent that they often welcome other heroes to their world and as partners.

Of course, the Fantastic Four has had riffs and members leaving and various squabbles over the past 50 years. But with the Fantastic Four, they always ultimately end up back together because that's where they belong. It's that family that ultimately draws them back and it's what keeps people interested them and in good teams that speak to our desire to be more than just a means to an end but also to find that place where we belong.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 09, 2012 22:10 Tags: fantastic-four

October 7, 2012

The Great Teams of Fiction: The Balanced Teams

Reviewing the Justice League calls to mind, the beauty of a team.

True teams are not things we see frequently. In my life, I've been on may teams that are thrown together randomly. In sports, teams change drastically from season to season.

However, fiction produces the greatest teams.

I'll take a look at the three types of teams:

The Balanced Team: I think this type of team is only produced in perfection by fiction. It's personalities and skills match and compliment one another.

Probably, the best example of this I've ever seen was the 1980s A-Team. You had the brilliant leader Hannibal Smith. You had Face who could con anyone out of anything. You had the mechanical genius known as BA Baracus. With all that talent combined you always got your money's worth when you hired the A-Team.

For Superheroes, the Fantastic Four is a great example of such a team. The fight scenes with all four of them on their game are simply wonderful. The scientific genius and elasticity of Mr. Fantastic, the shielding powers of the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch's ability to flame on all combine to make them very hard to handle. You can defeat any one of them , but coming up with the right strategy to beat all four? Much harder.

Of course, while fiction writers draw to extremes, this same thing is at work in the truly great businesses and ministries. The fictional examples show the strength of diverse talents, styles, and names.

For Christians, the apostle Paul offers some solid application using the body as an example in 1 Corinthians 12:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many....And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.-1 Corinthians 12:14, 16-20 (ESV)

Too often, we get the idea that everyone should be like us. However, there are many ways people are different because God made them different and we need to honor that with the people God brings into our lives. The things that make us different can be the things that can come in very handy for the best of the whole body.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 07, 2012 22:15

October 6, 2012

Excerpt: Powerhouse Flies Again

Powerhouse Flies Again
Here's a Sample from Powerhouse Flies Again, currently available for Kindle.

In this scene, we meet the villain of this new novella series:

Mitch Farrow slouched in a green metal office chair held together by duct tape. His Ebay auction filled the screen of his bulky, third-hand computer monitor. A fast food bag and an empty paper cola cup littered the buckled plywood desk that he also used as a kitchenette table.

The green linoleum floor had missing patches. On his right the sink had four days worth of dishes piled in it and smelled of putrid water. The electric stove and refrigerator were cracked with paint peeling, as was the cabinets’ frou-frou blue paint.
He refreshed the Ebay auction on his screen. Thirty-five seconds to go. Come on, a few bucks more.
The auction ended at $315. He made a note in his ledger.
Not bad. This sale would put him at ninety bucks for the month once he paid his bills. He smirked and hummed “If I Were a Rich Man.”

He turned the monitor off, grabbed his newspaper off the kitchen counter, and strode to the eight foot square patch of carpet that passed for a living room. The taupe carpet was partially blackened from foot traffic and riddled with teeth marks from rats. He rearranged two red afghans over his gray recliner, covering where the stuffing was coming out while protecting his sensitive skin from the irritants ground hopelessly into it.

He settled into his chair and took a sniff of the newspaper. “Good old newsprint.” The only clean smelling thing in this dump. He smiled. Why sit there and read a bunch of lies and fabrications on the internet when he could read lies and fabrications in a good old American newspaper? He reached into the cigarette pack in his pocket, withdrew one of his blissful cancer sticks, and slipped it in his mouth.

No, Rosie needed him. Even with his life insurance, she and her mom wouldn’t make it without his alimony checks. He put the cigarette back in his pack. On the bright side, he was still worth more alive at the moment, he was down to two packs a week, and he’d be dead before he could get lung cancer from smoking anyway.
“Razzle Dazzle” played on the lace-covered cardboard box serving as an end table. He picked up his cell phone. “Hello, Farrow speaking.”

“Hi, this is Anne Falkenberg. The FDA just voted.”

Mitch held the phone tight. It was his attorney.

“They decided the drug needed more testing.”

Mitch dropped the phone and a stream of curse words left his mouth. He grabbed it. “It’s been used in Europe for five years.”

“I know this is disheartening. Understand, though, they’re just wanting to make sure that the drugs are safe and people are healthy.”

Mitch huffed a shallow breath. “None of them have AIDS. None of them have an ex-wife and daughter who have AIDS. This is what 235 years of democracy has produced in this country, a bureaucracy that fiddles while people waste away and die.”

“I know it’s frustrating.”

Mitch laughed. “Frustrating is when your DSL won’t work. Seeing your daughter suffer and knowing she and her mom are going to die like you are isn’t frustrating.”

Tears welled in his eyes. He clutched the receiver with a death grip.


“Anne, I’m hanging up. I know you did all you can, but I’ve got a lot of vinegar to spew.” He punched the red end call button, hurled his cell phone across the room, and let out a primal scream. He stared at the ceiling. “Why, God? If you’re there, why didn’t you let me die in the accident rather than get that accursed transfusion?”

What was he doing? That was silly and pathetic. Time for some meaningful, purposeful venting to the folks who read his website. No question he was going to blog about the FDA Nazis. Still, he should check and see what else was going on. He flipped through the classifieds and spotted:

Help Wanted: Cynic
Change the World
Great pay and benefits.
Send application to Box C, Seattle Guardian

He chuckled. If you need a cynic, I’m the man for the job.


Learn more in Powerhouse Flies Again.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 06, 2012 21:11

Justice League: Secret Origins (Review)

So, I began today watching the Justice League TV series which stars with the 3-part Story Arch, Secret Origins.

The plot that brings the Justice League together is, of course, an alien invasion by some ugly aliens. I say, "of course" because an alien invasion is the inciting for the recent Avengers movie as well as The Mighty Avengers direct to DVD release. This does contrast with the Silver Age introductions where the Avengers just needed to battle Loki alone while the Justice League apparently only needed to be fighting a giant malevolent alien starfish. But this is the 21st Century and no Starfish is going to be enough to bring together Earth's greatest heroes.

Aliens invade the Earth just as Superman has been destroying all the big missiles the Earth has that could do any good at the behest of a disarmament plan. Batman and Superman feature strongly in the first episode with brief appearances by the Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman and the Flash (outside the action) , but by the end of Part One, it's clear Superman and Batman won't be able to handle this alone and in Part Two, the first scene features all our heroes including the Green Lantern and Hawk Girl joining the fight.

From there on, the series was animation magic with a great sci fi plot and superhero battles. We got to know most of the characters and get a taste of their personalities. Each adds something to the team except perhaps Hawkgirl. Her personality seems too much like Wonderwoman's at this point, and she's one of those character you get the idea was only added in so that you'd have a good balance of female characters.

The series, like Batman Beyond had a little bit more gore than the early-mid 1990s Batman and Superman series, but it was all good as it was just alien goo for the most part and not blood.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 06, 2012 12:48

October 5, 2012

Comic Dreams: For Want of A Comic Book Artist

If you write superheroes you face a unique challenge if you can't draw. Well, even my stickmen look bad.

When I first began showing Tales of the Dim Knight to people, someone thought it'd be a good idea to do it as a graphic novel. He looked into it and found it would require going overseas to do the artwork and opposed offshoring work on principle.

In the years since, I've never quite run into an artist who could do the type of work I need. I've never imagined they've existed. Those who can do this sort of work well seem to work for mainstream publications or have their own comic books. It's definitely something I'd love to pursue if I could work out.

This is particularly true when I hear about The Marvel Method wherein the writer writes a generl plot outline, gives it to the artist and the artist then draws the pictures and fleshes out the story. The writer then adds the dialog where appropriate.

It sounds like a blast, but it would all depend on finding the right artist. We'd have to have some shared vision and be able to respect each other as it's very much a collaborative process. I wouldn't want just anybody to do it. Someday, hopefully I'll find someone to bring Powerhouse and other characters to the full comic-style adventures they deserve, until then, I can dream.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 05, 2012 18:45

October 4, 2012

Stan Lee's the Man

Stan Lee

Stan Lee remains one of Superherodom's greatest ambassadors. He was co-creator of so many of the great Marvel franchises: The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Spider-man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-men, and what I'm reading right now: Daredevil.

Mr. Lee always approached his comic books with a sense of fun (not that he didn't get serious from time to time). His work has a sense of fun and excitement to it. He loves his readers, he loves his characters, and its writ large on every page. In one page of a comic I'm reading, a previous issue is referenced and Lee said, "If you didn't read that issue, don't worry, we won't mention it again.-Considerate Stan Lee."

He's a bit of an inspirational figure. He was 39 and ready to give up on Comic Books writing entirely when his wife encouraged him to try one more time and to write a comic book his way. The result was the Fantastic Four and was followed by a host of other characters including Mighty Thor, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk. While this made him a success in the comic book world, it didn't necessarily make all of his dreams come true.

After Fantastic Four was created, there were plenty of setbacks with poorly produced television shows and movies, the failure of Stan Lee Media due to shenanigans by some of his investors. He enjoyed a mixed series of good and bad films as some efforts were successes and others were abysmal failures (such as the 1990 Captain America Movie.) His original dream of acting didn't come true until he was 58 and he appeared as the jury foreman in Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Now, as he's 90, his characters are enjoying perhaps their greatest popularity among the general public. When I feel annoyed at the pace of my career when I'm 31, the amazing story of Stan Lee stands as a reminder that it's a long journey ahead.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 04, 2012 06:03

October 2, 2012

Powerhouse v. The Illusive Plot

On the blog, I'll address a couple criticisms that my work's gotten, not as a defensive measure but to explain the methods of my madness.

If there's criticism that Tales of the Dim Knight is the seeming lack of a central plot. Some have even suggested the book should be a short story collection.

Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam Graham

However, I'm comfortable with it as a novel, though I guess people could consider it a braided novel if they like. I will say that the book is a little different, so it throws people for a loop. There are three things that make the book different and throw people for a loop.

First, humor was a priority because it's very much a comedy and a parody. Many authors use humor as something that they mix in with their plot. What's different about my approach with Tales of the Dim Knight is that so much of the basic superhero stories are told for the parody and humor value. So the plot is at least partially built around the gags rather than the gags being put in around the plot.

Second, my overall style for the story is tied to the way I encountered superheroes growing up which was mostly in episodic television. And in the best superhero TV shows like Spider-man: The Animated Series, the stories may stand on their own but they were usually leading somewhere and somewhat inter-related. I hope that appeals to people who grew up watching Saturday Morning cartoons as part of that nostalgic feel.

And that brings me to the third point, the overall dramatic story in here is about Dave Johnson's journey. He gets his ultimate dream when he becomes a superhero, but that has an impact on his family and there's all ready trouble to begin with, so the story of the relationship between Dave and his family holds the novel together dramatically.

Obviously, the style we use here is not for everyone, but I'm very satisfied with it and how it turned.

If you'd like to try out, we are having a give away on Goodreads with the prize being an autographed copy.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 02, 2012 00:36 Tags: powerhouse, tales-of-the-dim-knight

October 1, 2012

Stupid Christian Tricks: Prayer On the Bottom

There are two things that leave me feeling refreshed like nothing else.

First, there's prayer. When I've had a good time of prayer I leave re-invigorated, peaceful, and with direction for the day.

Second is exercise, when I've had a good workout, I'm charged up, my muscles have worked, I can think clearer.

It'd seem a no-brainer that prayer would be at the Center of Life and that I would exercise regularly and right away.

Reality though?

Reality is that prayer is hard to do and that it's easy to put it off.

And as for workout? I not only workout in the Evening, I end up pushing it back to 9 or 10 o'clock usually. As if my mind is trying to talk me out of it. It usually loses.

But on prayer, I get so distracted. This morning is a good example, I realized I needed to find my keys. I spent a good half hour ravaging the house for them. I figure I would pray after that and maybe then get to the writing. I didn't get any writing done this morning and instead dashed off a hurried prayer time of 45 seconds. Got to work and was stressed out before my first break over something not even worth getting upset about.

What astonishes me is that I know it'll be good for me and draw me close to God but somehow I find myself always pushing it back behind something else.

"For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"-Romans 7:22-24
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on October 01, 2012 16:37

September 30, 2012

The Incredible Hulk 70s Style

I got my first look at the Television pilot of the 1970s live-action version of the Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby playing the title role. The series begins with some promise.

Dr. David Banner feels guilty after he was unable to rescue his wife from their burning car. He takes part in research of people who did save others in times of crisis with superhuman strength. He discovers that while he shares similar genes with them, the son was omitting a low amount of Gamma radiation on the day his wife died.

Upon reaching this discovery he, of course, sets about to inject himself with 300,000 units of Gamma radiation but puts it on maximum level, but unbeknownst to him a technician had amped up the output of the machine and hadn't bothered to calculate how much it actually could give and so Dr. Banner got himself nearly 2 million units of Gamma radiation.

We probably shouldn't dwell too much on this because the science of superheroes is always silly when you think about it, we've just learned better to keep a straight face over the years and to try and make our scientific leaps a little more plausible.

Unfortunately, the pseudo-science and its methods took up quite a bit of time in this pilot which was distracting. The story showed definite potential in two ways. The action was good. While this wasn't the CGI creation of the recent films, the Hulk in Live Action looked pretty good for being from 30 years ago.

In addition, while radically changing the comic book character, they managed to capture the sort of sadness and tragic nature of the character that makes him connect with audiences. Banner and the Hulk are both quite a bit misunderstood.

Overall, I'll look forward to another look at Bill Bixby's Incredible Hulk.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on September 30, 2012 19:44

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
Follow Adam Graham's blog with rss.