Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 86

October 28, 2012

How do you get the ideas for a superhero parody? I've been asked this question (in not so many words) quite a few times.

Here's an answer for a villain in the third story I'm working on (Still Untitled):

1) The Source Material

The Silver Medal was inspired by two Marvel Stories from the 1960s. The first was from Daredevil Vol. 1 #3. In this issue, Stan Lee attempted to give Daredevil some gravitas by using the Spider-man Villain Electro as the guest villain. To emphasize how powerful Electro was, he and the writers stated about three or four times that he "almost defeated Spider-man," as in, "Will Daredevil will be able to gain victory over the man who almost defeated Spider-man."

Well, I hate to break this to Electro but almost defeating Spider-man means you lost to Spider-man and it's nothing to brag about.

So, I had the idea to have a villain who is constantly bragging about all the heroes he's "almost defeated."

A second aspect was inspired by an Episode of the 1960s Cartoon Series Spider-man where the generic mad scientist of the week was scared that Spider-man would find his secret lair, so he (of course) lured Spider-man to his hideout expecting his lame stuff to beat Spider-man, and of course, it didn't happen.

2) A Little Added Inspiration

Sometimes, others help us with our story.

I planned to call the character, Dr. Mystery. However, I was talking to my brother Josh about the plot idea on the phone and he said to me, "You know what you ought to call the guy who brags about all the people he's almost beat. The Silver Medal."

And it was a brilliant idea, so I was glad to use it. So with an assist from 1960s comic silliness, from my current Work in Progress, I present, "The Silver Medal"

A man stood in the middle of the garages with half a dozen coffee pots. The man had gray hair and was wearing a white lab coat over a black jump suit and a silver medal hung around his neck. Next to him were four stunningly beautiful supermodels. One of them looked like Miss Invisible, but she was wearing a red blouse and a black pair of slacks rather than Miss Invisible's costume. The man wore a metal backpack and held a silver colored nozzle that connected to a hose in the back.

The man let go of the nozzle slapped his hands together. "Greetings Powerhouse! I am the Silver Medal and I have lured you here to your doom."

Powerhouse rolled his eyes. Another one. "Yeah."

"I knew that you were onto my ingenuous plan and I was afraid you would find my hideout, so I had Minerva lead you here."

Powerhouse said, "So you were afraid I was going to find your hideout, so you had your android lead me to your hideout."

"Yes, there's no better way to deal with fear by facing it," said the Silver Medal. "I, with my patent pending matter converter have turned all the possessions in the hopes of several Seattle citizens into fragments resembling coffee grounds." The Silver Medal pulled a remote control from his pocket. "They'll rehydrate for me at a later date in another city where I can sell them and reap a fortune when I press this button." The Silver Medal let loose a maniacal super villain laugh.

Powerhouse said, "Why coffee grounds?"

"That should be obvious," said the Silver Medal. "This is Seattle. If it were Boise, I would have used potato flakes. And don't think you will defeat me Powerhouse for I am the Silver Medal and I have matched wits with Earth's greatest heroes. Two weeks ago, I challenged that fat private detective Neil Worthington."

"And you defeated him?"

"I almost did. And a month before that, I went toe to toe with Miss Invisible."

"Oh she emailed me about this. You used the android that looks like here and hired it out as Miss Invisible for a modeling job and then used it to steal half a million dollars in designer original clothes. Miss Invisible caught you and got the clothes back."

The Silver Medal put up a finger. "But I almost defeated her. And two months before that I was in Europe and I tangled with Captain France."

"But you defeated Captain France, right?"

"I almost defeated him. As you can see, with all the heroes I've faced your case is most hopeless."

Powerhouse wrinkled his brow. "It seems me that you just lose to a bunch of people."

The Silver Medal scowled. "The Silver Medal does not lose! The Silver Medal finishes second. It all goes back to my High School Days. The one time my father was proud of me. " He touched his Silver Medal. "I won this Silver Medal at the Nebraska State Games in the long jump when I was eighteen and it defined my life. I am the Silver Medal and now you will die."
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Published on October 28, 2012 08:08 • 113 views

October 26, 2012

Daredevil in most of his recent incarnations has had nothing to do with the swashbuckling adventurer seen in Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1 (see my review.

The Daredevil of most modern comics has been a dark, brooding, and violent character whose adventures have been steeped in sex and violence. The reason for this can be laid at the feed of one man-the same guy who has made comics far darker overall Frank Miller.

Just like with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it's hard to find fault with everything Miller did. Some of his changes were pretty brilliant. For example, his portraying Daredevil as a Catholic and providing the Kingpin as a Daredevil nemesis was pure genius. Others such as turning early Nelson and Murdoch Secretary Karen Page into an adult film star who sells Matt Murdoch out for drugs-not so much.

Also, his darker tone for the series was handled far better than subsequent writers who had done some crazy things with Miller's tone. In Batman, it wasn't Miller's idea to have the fate of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker decided by a 1-900 line. It also wasn't his idea to have Daredevil become Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen or to get possessed by an actual demon as happened in the past decade.

Arguably, two of the 1990s most successful Kids Animated Series wouldn't have the same without his work. Batman: The Animated Series was brilliantly done and far darker than prior Batman cartoons and something that both kids and adults liked. Miller's re imagining of Kingpin made him a very satisfying villain on Spider-man. In both these cases, while portrayals were different from many older programs, they were dialed back versions of Miller's changes.

Miller had good ideas for where to take characters, but he went way too far and the writers who succeeded him on these titles boarded the train to crazy town.

Miller is nothing but thought provoking and in a video posted on You Tube, he raises some interesting questions that deserve discussion and I'll give them the attention they deserve in the next week or so.
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Published on October 26, 2012 19:23 • 68 views
I said I'd be buying Superman #13 out of curiosity, but after reading a review of the comic book and a particular scene I think I'll pass.

Wrote the author regarding Superman walking in on a scene with Jimmy Olsen in the shower with a young woman:


Have we ever had such an obvious indication of someone having sex in a Superman comic as soapy Jimmy and pal? I realise this series is rated T for Teen, but I think of Superman as an all-ages character. By all means imply that stuff is happening, in a way older readers will pick up on - in the Seventies there was a running gag around boeuf bourguignon - but show? I'm not so sure.


On top of that, we have Clark Kent reading Lois Lanes' private texts. This is shall we say, not very supermanlike and a good reason why many fans of the character avoid the current books and I certainly wouldn't want to reward DC's degradation of this iconic figure. I'll have more on Superman past and present in some upcoming posts.
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Published on October 26, 2012 06:39 • 103 views

October 24, 2012

Your Average Ordinary Alien by Adam Graham

My digital short, "Your Average Ordinary Alien" is available for free today on Amazon.

Kirk Picard Skywalker is kidnapped by aliens, fulfilling a lifelong dream, but will disillusionment follow when he realizes that the aliens are all too ordinary?

This is a fun science fiction satire and it's available for free today only on the Kindle. Click here to download.
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Published on October 24, 2012 06:32 • 69 views • Tags: free-download, kindle-giveaway

October 23, 2012

I've read exactly one mainstream Superman Comic Book published after the 1980s. I may make it three tomorrow. Fox News reports:


In the next issue of DC comics’ “Superman,” due out on Wednesday, the superhero’s alter ego will eschew being a mild-mannered reporter, presumably to become a snarky blogger, when he quits his post at the Daily Planet.
“This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren’t really his own,” Superman writer Scott Lobdell said to USA Today.
“Superman is arguably the most powerful person on the planet, but how long can he sit at his desk with someone breathing down his neck and treating him like the least important person in the world?” Lobdell said.


In a panel from the comic, Clark Kent says, "I've been a journalist for barely five years now. Why am I the one sounding like a grizzled ink-stained wretch who believes news should be about---I don't know, news?"

All I can say is, "Amen, Clark."

Now for those of you who remember Clark Kent being around in the 1950s and 1970s, they've rebooted the series a couple of times in the past couple of decades and just did a fresh reboot along with DC's New 52 series in 2011. There's some psuedo-sci fi mumbo jumbo, but what it comes down to is that DC made some demographic decisions and came up with a story line to justify it.

But anyway, back to the main point, I can agree with Clark Kent as I've had many of the same feelings about journalism. That's my emphasis was on back in college and worked on a paper for a few weeks before leaving over a philisophical disagreement with my employer. I tended to believe that people should be paid as promised for their work. The employer didn't.

About the middle of the last decade, I was glad I really hadn't completed my degree and got stuck in that industry. Journalism had become a joke. Unfortunately, blogging wasn't much better, particularly political opinion blogging because so much stuff became topics of conversations that was really irrelevant nonsense.

Of course, Clark Kent may find better luck as a guy who goes for hard news and investigative reporting, particularly in and around Metropolis. I hope it works out for him and I'll be sure to check out his Howard Beale moment?

Do I think it will last? I'd say there's about a 2/3 chance it wouldn't. The 1/3 chance is that American newspaper really are in trouble, so going back to work for one may not be a career possibility in a few years. The 2/3 chance that he will end up back at the Daily Planet is that Superman has a sense of tradition greater than any other comic books. This stuff goes back 70 years: The Daily Planet, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White. That stuff has a gravitational pull. So, just as his TV reporter gig in the 1970s went away, I think that unless newspaper's collapse we'll eventually see Superman back at the Planet.
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Published on October 23, 2012 22:14 • 79 views
I'm still looking for a name for our third novella in "The Adventures of Powerhouse Series."

The Plot:

Mitch Farrow, CEO of Dorado Incorporated and secret agent of King Bel, an extraterrestrial bent on world domination. First he's got to increase cynicism and to do so to undercut Powerhouse. To defeat Powerhouse, he tries the old fashioned supervillain ways as well as using his media prowess to put Powerhouse on the defensive through scandal and controversy. Then King Bel sends a helper, the situation gets more complicated.

Can Powerhouse survive this multi-thronged attack or will Mitch Farrow eliminate him? Found out in... (Insert Title.)
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Published on October 23, 2012 21:57 • 74 views

October 22, 2012

One of my favorite episodes of Spider-man: The Animated Series featured the character Daredevil, a blind New York City Attorney with amazing physical powers through the use of his other senses.

It turns out my local library system had the Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1 containing his first twenty-five issues from the 1960s.

So below are my thoughts:

Origin: Matt Murdoch loses his sight in accident while trying to save a blind man from being hit. Due to radioactive material, he not only develops stronger senses as is typical with blind people but also extremely enhanced senses that also completely compensate for sight giving him a sort of radar vision among other things.

Murdoch's father, a boxer, is murdered for not fixing a fight. But he has urged Matt not to make his living with his fist. Matt honors his father's wishes and graduates from Law School but is unable to focus on his work until his father's brought to justice. He designs the Daredevil costume. He'd been teased by kids in school as a "Daredevil" and adopted that name. He set out to find his father's killer and took care of that in Issue #1. And thus begins a long career of crimefighting.

The Supporting Cast: Foggy Newlson, his law partner and Murdoch are in love with the same girl, their secretary Karen Page. Karen cares more for both Daredevil and Murdoch than Nelson. Foggy is a somewhat insecure and vain character, although he can be heroic in a pinch. In one subplot arch, Spider-man sees Daredevil going into Murdoch and Nelson's office and concludes that Foggy is Daredevil because it couldn't
Art: The art, particular, the last fifteen or so issues is solid. It couldn't possibly be the blind guy. Foggy than tries to subtly convince Karen he's Daredevil, putting their lives at risk.

Karen tends to be a little irritating. The art of Gene Colan art makes her look more attractive than earlier issues, but she's a little too focused on Matt's blindness. Her ability to make assumptions plus her guilelessness goes a little beyond innocent. She never truly does anything stupid, but she's no Mary Jane Watson.

Plot and Character: The book has been criticized for its B-grade villains and to an extent, it's true. The original Daredevil villains tend to be a little lame with character like the Matador and Stiltman and the Purple Man is a bit weird.

However, the stories are swashbuckling fun. The quality of villains picks up in Issue 6 when he meets the Fellowship of Fear that includes one villain who can fire a ray that induces large amount of fear-a big challenge for the Man Without Fear.

The Masked Marauder may be a bit of a generic character but he does work as a mastermind foil for Daredevil. The Gladiator and Tri-man are great physical challenges and even the Owl improves on his second appearance.

In addition to that, Daredevil meets up with Spider-man, Kazar, and the Submariner in this book. While some may dis Stan Lee's writing, I love. He gives the stories a conversational air. I found myself chuckling at his notes several times and while most fans seem to hate the introduction of Mike Murdoch (Matt's Alleged twin brother (really Matt himself) meant to cover his secret identity), I thought it was an amusing and fun bit of 60s craziness.

No, you don't have great villains, but the book is pure Silver Age fun.

The character of Matt Murdoch is interesting. He seems to be addicted to adrenaline, which would seem to be his prime motivation for carrying on as Daredevil after his father's murderer was caught. He knows things are traps but boldly walks in wantings to see what will happen. Occasionally, The Man Without Fear acts like the Man Without Sense.

Clearly Matt feels constrained by what people expect of a blind man in terms of being helpless. In Issue 24, he declares that it feels like Matt Murdoch is the mask while Daredevil is the real person. A nice serious character conflict to go with all the fun of these books.

Overall, this is just a wonderful version of the character before Frank Miller had his way with him.

Overall, I give the collection 4 out of 5 stars.
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Published on October 22, 2012 06:50 • 118 views

October 21, 2012

Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson were fine minds of writing, legends in their field. Both died at their own hands, putting bullets through their brains.

It turns out Thompson and Hemingway are far from alone in a studyreleased from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden:


When the researchers looked specifically at authors, they found that they are overrepresented among people with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety syndrome, and substance abuse problems. Authors were also almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.


The story does resonates with my experience. Writers can be an odd lot (and I may be the oddest of them all.) We imagine new stories world and if we're any good, we start to imagine our characters tell us things and suggest things. That's a little nutty to start with.

Of course, some may wonder if the best course of action would be to avoid fiction writing. The answer is no for two reasons. First, you can't avoid all risks in life. Second, it is less a case I think that fiction writing brings on these problems as it is that fiction writers tend to have these problems. You take away people's outlet and Good Heavens, things could end up worse.

Writing fiction is a talent, maybe analogous to a superpower, and readers of superhero stories know those come with drawbacks.

Being aware of these tendencies should lead writers to be cautious of their mental health and conscious of the darker side. We have to be in touch with ourselves.

For Christian writers, I think there's a definite spiritual element to consider. Jesus tells us, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." The thief, of course, refers to Satan. And we have to be aware that he wants to destroy Christian writers. He wants to destroy their work, their efforts, and the ministry of what they write.

This study is a reminder that Christian writers should be in church, in prayer, and in the study of the Word, perhaps as much as anyone else.

For Christian non-writers, remember to pray for all of us writers, for peace of mind and heart.
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Published on October 21, 2012 08:24 • 501 views
I don't know if I'm nitpicking or not, but I find a slight disagreement with one of the points Paul Asay makes in God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and Ourselves. He argues that, "Every evil we commit is a corruption of something good and honorable in us."

The overall point I agree with, but one of his examples seems off. He writes, "If we did not love, we could not lust."

Really?

There are quite a few sociopaths out there who lust both for people and for things and there's no love behind. Same thing with many rapists and other sexual criminals.

What we have to recognize is that lust far from being love, which is concerned with the welfare of the other, lust is completely selfish. It's about what I want and what I desire.

Perhaps, it would be better to put lust in the same category Asay puts envy and gluttony. It's a perversion of God's design for our sexuality, not a perversion of our ability to love, because when it comes to lust, to quote the great philosopher Tina Turner, "What's love got to do with it?"
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Published on October 21, 2012 08:05 • 121 views

October 18, 2012

Okay gang, last chance to win a free autographed copy of Tales of the Dim Knight. Click here to enter.
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Published on October 18, 2012 06:30 • 110 views

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
...more
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