Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Practical Superheroism #4: Weapons of Choice

DISCLAIMER:  This column is intended for entertainment purposes only.  Actually trying to do anything suggested here will result in great bodily harm--for you.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

All right, so in Part 1 I suggested how to come up with a decent superhero name.

Part 2 dealt with how to make a practical costume.

Part 3 told you how to decide on a fighting style.

Now in Part 4 we're going to talk about weapons.  Fun!

Built-in weapons: how convenient!
A lot of superheroes luck out and don't need to go out and shop for weapons.  Superman's got his heat vision, Wolverine has built-in claws, and so on.  Others like Batman or Iron Man or Captain America have to obtain their own weapons, though the latter's was with your tax dollars.  (SOCIALISM!!!)  Still others like Thor or my own Scarlet Knight are provided their weapons by higher powers.

Scarlet Knight's Sword of Justice, courtesy of Merlin

The thing is, though, this column assumes you are not a billionaire weapons designer like Iron Man and you don't have a staff of weapons designers on your payroll like Batman.  Also I'm assuming you don't work for the US government like Captain America.  And you probably haven't had Odin or Merlin make any hammers or swords for you lately.  Remember, this is Practical Superheroism, not Pie-in-the-Sky Fantasizing Superheroism.  (Or is it?)

So we're shopping for weapons on a budget.  In the last column I talked about whether you should be more of a brawler or more of a ninja.  Either way, you know what you need:  a gun.  And you might say, "Well Batman doesn't use guns."  But again he has people to make him all sorts of cool Batarangs and non-lethal explosives and gases and whatnot.  Do you have that?  I didn't think so.

Look at this way:  most criminals have guns.  Hell, a lot of non-criminal people have guns.  I live near Detroit so trust me on this.  You go running into the mean streets with just a knife or club or something and you are literally bringing a knife to a gun fight.

In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shooting it seems insensitive to suggest buying a gun.  But here's the other thing:  just because you have a gun doesn't mean you have to KILL anyone.  Just shoot people in the knee or something, if you can.  If you can't, then pray you have a "stand your ground" law in your state.  Or do like I saw in these "Wilderness Family" movies I saw as a kid and fire into the air a few times and then brandish the thing to get people's attention.

While we're at it, I'd suggest getting the highest-caliber, easiest to use weapon you can find.  I should also say not to get one that's so high-caliber it'll throw you back ten feet if you fire it.  If you're an average-height blob like me that might not be a problem but if you're on the smaller side, it's something to remember.  You really want something with some stopping power, unless you're Annie Oakley, in which case you've been dead for about 100 years.

Another way to go though is with a shotgun.  Then you don't get as much stopping power, but you get a wider coverage area.  That means you don't have to aim as well.  I'm sure on YouTube you can find a video of how to saw off a shotgun to make it more portable.  Yup.  Here's just the first one I found:
Really you might want to carry the shotgun on your back so you can use it in more crowded situations and then keep a smaller handgun for more limited engagements.  Also a shotgun makes a hell of a lot of noise (unless you have a silencer like in No Country for Old Men) so that might intimidate your opponents and send them running.  If it doesn't then you can still have a pistol. So really what I'd suggest is going to the nearest gun and knife show in your area.  Then you can look around, talk to dealers, and find something you like.  You'll probably get a better deal too than just waltzing into your nearest gun shop. While you're there, look for a knife or two as well.  Guns are great for longer range, but if things get in close you might want something to fall back on.  You don't necessarily need a Bowie knife or a Crocodile Dundee-type knife, just something you can carry and access easily.  Let's say a switchblade, maybe three inches or so?
You probably think it'd be cool to get some ninja weapons like a sword and throwing stars and that stuff.  You can go that route, but make sure you really know what you're doing with those.  That kind of stuff takes a lot of skill, which is why I recommend relying on more American weapons that are still probably made in China. Another awesome weapon would be flamethrowers like Azrael Batman, but that would probably be too messy. It should go without saying (but let's say it anyway) that you should PRACTICE using any weapons you purchase.  Get a membership at a local gun range.  Practice opening and closing the knife so you don't cut your damned hand off.  Practice a lot before you decide to hit the streets so you don't look like a dumbass and get yourself killed. So we have handgun, shotgun (optional), and knife.  Maybe get more than one knife.  That might set you back a couple hundred dollars, which is probably 1% of what Batman or Iron Man spend on all their stuff.   And it should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway) not to use your weapons against crowds of moviegoers or anything like that.  This is Practical SuperHEROism, not Practical SuperVILLAINY, that's the blog down the hall.

Next month, we'll talk about some other stuff to take with you during those lonely nights of patrolling the city. 

Meanwhile, tomorrow I ramble on about Azrael and his influence on
A Hero's Journey...


  1. Guns are the way to go. Even if you never have to use it, it's still fun to go shooting every once in a while :)

  2. haha! Love the knife clip from Crocodile Dundee.

    Nice post!

  3. Pat, if I HAD to have a weapon I'd use a knife. While guns are more effective, they just look cooler and are scarier for the bad guys.

  4. io9 did a whole article on the last ninja. I guess after this guy dies, the art of being a ninja goes extinct. It's a sad world we live in when the art of killing someone else cannot be taught to others.

  5. Weapons are only necessary if you're not an effective fighter. Or you can incorporate the weapons into your fighting technique.

  6. I loved the line in the Batman movie where Jack Nickolson played the Joker, when he said of Batman: "Where does he get those marvelous toys?"



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