Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Practical Superheroism #2: Form vs. Function

DISCLAIMER:  This column is intended for entertainment purposes.  The advice given here should not ever, under any circumstances, be used in real life.  Not unless you want to get the shit beat out of you and/or killed.  And if you do, there are probably easier ways to go about it.  I'm just saying.

So when we last left our prospective hero, he/she had come up with a really clever and awesome name.  Or probably a not awesome or clever name, but let's assume at least a name.  Now that you've got an identity, you need a costume to go with it.

Yellow spandex kind of stands out...
In the comic books, superheroes have bright, flashy costumes made of stuff like yellow spandex.  More often than not those costumes are toned down a bit in the movies because let's face it, bright yellow spandex is godawful and not very practical.  But if you have regenerative powers and a skeleton of adamantium I suppose it doesn't really matter what you wear.

See how well Batman blends in?
But here in the real world where you don't have regenerative powers or a skeleton made of adamantium, you really need to think safety first.  In particular you need to think of camouflage.  If you think of special ops soldiers like Navy SEALs or Army Green Berets and so forth they don't run around in yellow spandex either.  Because when you're trying to sneak into Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan or whatever, you want to be as inconspicuous as possible.  And since you'll probably be doing most of your business at night, you really want to think of muted colors like black, grays, etc., which aren't really colors in a sense.

(At this point if you've chosen a name like The Peacock you might want to reconsider.  Actually you should have reconsidered a long time ago.)

And you might say, "Well you write about a Scarlet Knight who wears a bright yellow cape."  But her armor is magic to protect her from bullets and such, so again it doesn't matter so much if she blends in or not.  She also happens to have the ultimate camouflage in a cape that lets her turn invisible.  You do not have that luxury unless you've happened to find a case of red plate armor created by Merlin the wizard 4,000 years ago.

The second-most important thing besides camouflage is protection.  I'm not talking about condoms, either.  (Though you might want to keep one handy if you run into some damsel in distress--or whatever the male version of that is.)  I'm talking about the type of padding that will minimize the pain and bruises when someone knocks you on your ass, as is inevitable.

At this point you might want to remember that scene in "The Dark Knight" where the imitation Batmen show up to foil a drug deal.  If you notice they're wearing hockey pads and baseball catching gear and such.  This is a good way to get low-cost body protection.  Unless you're a cop or soldier who might have access or a billionaire playboy with a multinational corporation you probably can't get bulletproof vests or sweet Kevlar-mesh armor.  If you can't afford a trip to Dick's or another sporting goods store, then as a last resort you could always strap some cookie sheets or similar metal objects to your body.  It probably won't be that much help, but it's better than nothing.

Though when you're looking for protection, make sure you get something lightweight and flexible, especially if you're going to be doing any martial arts stuff.  You don't want to go shambling around like the Frankenstein monster--unless that's your schtick.  I would also say an anti-concussion helmet and for guys a cup is a good way to go.

Whatever you do, make sure you cover your face as much as possible.  Maybe in comic books they can't figure out that Clark Kent is Superman and Diana Prince is Wonder Woman because the secret identity wears glasses, but chances are in the real world someone will be able to figure that out.  And just wearing one of those little domino masks isn't a good idea either.  If you don't have a full helmet then put on a ski mask or something similar to that so most of your face is covered.  That way when the wanted posters come out someone won't be able to finger you so easily.

Finally, I get annoyed when people quote that "No capes" line from The Incredibles when I talk about my hero because her cape actually has a couple of useful purposes.  Since it's magic, it lets her turn invisible and makes for a parachute.  But again you don't have access to magic--so no capes.

Now presumably you have some kind of costume.  Next month we'll start in on your fighting style.  (Mine is possum style, as in go down and pretend to be dead.)

Tomorrow is my long, rambling commentary on watching all seven seasons of "Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine."  I'm sure you're thrilled.


  1. I actually am thrilled to hear your rambling take on DS9. I thought the series jumped the shark when Jadzia was killed. And the first two seasons were a complete waste. But everything between those two points was frickin' awesome.

    Some of the last season was okay.

    The series finale was one of the worst I have ever seen. How stupid.

  2. You've piqued my curiosity; I really want to see a super hero named The Peacock. They're mean and nasty birds, in case you didn't know.

  3. LOL. This was awesome! All I can say. :D

  4. It would be great if the Peacock adopted the Possum style of Kung fu. And I don't want to even consider not wearing a cape. I think all sports should make them mandatory parts of the uniforms as it is.

    1. Hmmm, we should start a comic where a dude uses a cape of many colors, which he twirls around to confuse and disorient his opponents so that he can defeat them with his beak and talons or whatever peacocks use.

    2. And each time he finds himself outmatched - he does a Fred Sanford and cries that he's having a heart attack.

  5. Ha! This is great advice. Good point about the Batman copycats. Only Batman is rich enough to go without visible padding and guns.

  6. Great entertainment PT :)




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