The politics of superheroes

superhero politics

 

I briefly touch on any sort of politics with superheroes in the first Superpowered book.  Working with the second book, it’s dawned on me just how much I’m going to be dealing with the politics of a world teaming with superheroes.  The predominant politician I deal with in the second book is an Alabama senator by the name of Richard Walker.  Yes, I named him that so that I could have the characters ironically refer to him as “dick”, and I get to make jokes.  I may as well be a 12 year old trapped inside a 32 year old body.  I’m not going to reveal the nature of this man’s character through this blog (right now at least), but it’s safe to assume a few things based on his name.

So what can you do about superheroes that have run amok?  How can you get a handle on a situation that can easily spiral out of control?  You legislate them of course!  Of course politics and superheroes have been mixed in before.  Look no further than Xmen and the never ending desire to register mutants, and then of course the Marvel civil war that caused tons of infighting.  I’m sure there’s more, but those are the only ones that occur to me right off hand.  What we’re dealing with in the world of Superpowered though, is a world filled to the brim with normal people who absolutely love superheroes.  That tends to complicate things.

Humanity was essentially conditioned to love supers before they came to fruition because of comic books and TV shows.  They inspired wonder, admiration, and they fulfilled that base desire of vigilante justice that we all have, but never act on.  Look no further than http://www.reddit.com/r/justiceporn for proof of that.  Just to let you know, there’s no actual porn involved, but it’s full of stories, videos, and pictures that make you go “Hell yeah!  Take that you idiot!”  So then it becomes how do you balance these humans with god-like powers with the law, and the safety of the rest of us?  You pass zoning laws, you pass insurance laws, you pass laws that allow the authorities to use whatever force necessary, you pass laws to limit superheroes from playing professional sports or serving in the military.  Much to the chagrin of the United States, the U.N. passed a resolution banning all superheroes from military service, going so far as to declare it a war crime.

Of course you have politicians lining up to pass legislation either for their backers that have financial interest in rampaging supers, or for grieving widows they drag in front of television cameras in order to clamp down on supers just a little bit more.  New York has banned people from using superpowers at all within city limits.  How can they enforce something like that?  Specialized weapons and ammunition that are able to temporarily drain superheroes of their powers.  Ironically, someone with super intellect helped to design all of these tools.  Despite their amazing abilities, they have unfortunately been relegated to second class citizenship.  When the normal population outnumbers the super population by a few million to one, you’re left with no choice but to choke on the rules set before you.  Luckily, many supers are able to carve out very comfortable and lucrative lifestyles.  Typically those that attempt to break the rules or work outside the letter of the law are quickly snuffed out.  The superhero community is rife with various shades of gray, but nothing is so simple as to be black and white, good and evil.  Super villains always go extinct shortly after making themselves known.  Aside from all the “heroes” that are out for their blood, the general populace is capable of quickly raising an army to put down any rogue supers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of insight into the politics around the world of Superpowered!  Expect to see a lot more of this in the second book, once I finish it…eventually.  I’m doing my best to force my way through a nasty bout of writer’s block mixed with real life things that are causing delays, but I assure you, the second book is definitely in progress.

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By jamiebworth

Who doesn’t love a good convention?

I bring you a little excerpt today.  Within the world of Superpowered, heroes vie for fame and money constantly.  Oh sure, there’s the whole fighting crime thing and vigilante justice and blah blah blah blah.  They don’t care about that.  You’re nobody if you don’t have your own feature comic book, or a TV show.  Only the most popular of supers get their own movie deal.  It’s almost a race to see who can have the most merchandise, or the longest line for signatures at the big superhero convention “Supercon”.

So of course Supercon is a huge spectacle that draws supers from all over the world.  It’s the purest example of pomp and extravagance.  Massive video monitors, colorful characters flying through the air, rabid fans masquerading as their favorite heroes (or villains), and everyone partakes in the revelry.  Let’s not forget that the bottom line, the reason for all of this, is of course money.  Oh yes, fame and admiration and all that, but there are boatloads of cash to be made from those with superhuman abilities.  They’re so willing to line up and be exploited.

Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from the chapter involving Supercon, and Dennis’ dream sequence:

I love my son, but his squeaky voice sometimes makes me want to strangle the life out of him, in a loving way of course.  I saunter out of the bathroom and rummage through the luggage strewn around the room until I find a proper fitting T-shirt that doesn’t have a super hero on it.  My choices are limited, but luckily I packed a few plain navy blue shirts.  The one I grabbed is kind of tight, but I think it compliments me well.  After slipping my shoes on, Zack is practically dragging me through the doorway.  I had to stop him to make sure it didn’t look like he was dressed by a monkey.  He mostly passed. 

“Daddy, can I get Femme’s autograph?  She’s my favorite!”  He’s practically jumping up and down with excitement. 

“Of course, and maybe if you’re lucky you’ll get to punch Ogre in the face!” I make a mean face at him and ball a fist.  Ogre of course is one of the villains that had cropped up over the years.  He was nasty, ugly, and a mammoth of a man that loved to paint himself green, wear heavy jewelry, and smash anything and everything he could get his terrifying hands on.  They roll out dummies of him for the kids at events like this so they can go to town and feel like super heroes themselves. 

“I’ll punch him SO hard he’ll wish he was never born!”  Zack throws a few boxing style punches at the air for effect. 

When it comes to huge conventions like this, having money makes everything easier.  I was able to book a hotel room months in advance just a couple blocks from the main staging area.  The parade even goes right past our room at one point.  Those festivities aren’t until later today.  According to Zack, we’re supposed to meet the rest of the family in the “Hall of Heroes” which is a fancy way of saying “place where heroes that need money sign autographs, for money.”  That’s not fair of me though, not all of them are there for the money.  Some are already filthy rich and just want to pander to their fans.  There are few supers I have respect for, but the ones that I like are the ones that give back to the communities they’re a part of. 

We walk the 2 blocks while taking in all the amazing sights.  There are so many normal people walking all around while dressing in garish and terrible superhero fashion.  Supers fly through the air flashing smiles and waving at the crowd below, many while carrying banners with ridiculous self promotion.  Tons of street vendors are trying to sell knock off capes (real ones are trademarked), colorful masks, and fake weapons.  Even the homeless have dressed up, and the ones with a good sense of humor are sporting “Will punch evil in the face for food” signs.  If you’re going to capitalize on something like this, at least you can do it right.  Even as much of a tightwad as I am, I slip a five dollar bill into the hat of one homeless man dressed up like the superhero Zeus.  May he rest in peace. 

The approach to the “Hall of Heroes” (the main lobby of the convention center) is fantastically decorated with all kinds of video screens, streamers, super hero shaped balloons, and large speakers that are blaring thematic music and sounds of supers battling it out.  It feels so garish and overdone to me that rolling my eyes is essentially a natural reflex at this point.  The giant holographic “HALL OF HEROES!” sign makes me want to scrub my eyes with soap and steel wool.  It’s so bright and over saturated that pain and eye bleeding seems far more appealing to me right now.  Fortunately Zack is so eager to get inside that I don’t have to be subjected to that for very long. 

Crossing the threshold out of the bright sunlight and into the darkened lobby doesn’t reveal a scene that’s much better.  At least there aren’t any really bright flashing signs in here, but the crush of people is really starting to trip my social anxiety.  I remember this part vividly as I had to will myself to move through the crowds and get to the individual supers so Zack could get the autographs he wanted so badly.  In quick succession we hit the booths for Vaporo (he can turn himself into mist, yippee), Rock Boy (late teens kid that can turn his skin hard as a rock), Mercader de la Muerte (Merchant of Death, specializes in dark purple energy projection.  He’s actually kind of cool for a good guy), and of course Femme for Zack.

Despite knowing that this is a dream, I’m still impacted by the boredom of standing in line for what seems like forever.  The look of excitement and anticipation doesn’t seem to be fading from my little boy’s face.  It kinda reminds me of a creepy little grinning totem, but hey, if he’s happy that makes me happy.  I check my watch and it seems almost like this dream is turning into a nightmare as time practically refuses to pass by at a decent rate.  The chubby idiot at the front of the line won’t shut his mouth so others can get on with their lives and get their stupid junk signed.  Okay, calm down Dennis, it’s just boredom.   

“Daddy!” I hear a squeaky little voice yell excitedly, right before I feel something clamp onto my right leg.  I look down to see cute little Adeline looking up at me with her big, bright blue eyes.  “I’m so happy to see you!  Mommy let me ride the ponies!” 

“Did she now?  Did those mean little ponies try to bite you?” I snap my teeth and growl at her.  She shies away from me and giggles. 

“The ponies were awesome!  I rode on Lightning Pony and got to pet all the other ones!  I liked their outfits!  Daddy I want to go ride some more!”  She’s jumping up and down in excitement. 

“Zack still has one more superhero he wants to see, then we can go back to the ponies.  I promise.” 

“Do you swear?” she made sure to elongate the last word for emphasis. 

“I’ll swear on a bear!” I hold up a fist in front of me and make an angry face. 

“But bears don’t like swearing, dad.” She loves playing this little game with me.  The girl is bright. 

“I’ll swear on in your hair while eating a pear, so there.”  I purposely put on a smug expression for her. 

“Nope.  That doesn’t work for me.  Pinky swear!” She holds out her pinky finger. 

“Fine, fine.  We’ll pinky swear.”  I feign exasperation and present my outstretched pinky, which she takes with enthusiasm and shakes vigorously, then follows with a satisfied facial expression. 

I glance around the room and don’t see Kylie anywhere, which is surprising, especially considering that it implies that she left Adeline alone. 

“Adeline, where’s mommy?” I try to hide my concern. 

“Oh, she had to go to the bathroom.  As soon as she saw you she told me to go to you and not move until she got back.” 

I run my fingers through her hair, and despite knowing that the real Adeline isn’t in any danger from my dream, I’m relieved.  “Good girl.”

By jamiebworth

BTW, social networking!

I’m constantly on social media, and I plan to do a lot of promotion through it once I start really gearing up with writing.  So add my on Twitter and G+, and you never know what might show up!

Twitter: @JamieBworth I’ll follow you back!
Google+:  Just search for me as Jamie Butterworth.  My public posts link right to this blog!

Those are the only two social network I’m dealing with right now as far as writing promotion is concerned, so follow me on Twitter, or add me to one of your circles, and be updated with all the latest Superpowered news!  Er…once there is more news of course >.>

By jamiebworth

BOOM! Actually did some work!

writing picture

 

 

Life can get crazy and throw us curve balls from time to time.  As I’ve talked about before, I’ve been having constant back issues for like a month and a half now.  Yesterday I felt pretty damned decent, and was able to get the entire ten page prologue for the second book written out.  I really enjoyed writing it from a different character’s perspective, especially considering how integral they are to the first book.  Considering that the entire first book is written in first person, and the second…and of course the third once I get there…writing even a chapter in a third person for a different character makes your mind work in a divergent direction than you’re used to, at least for the specific series you’re working on.

I have a number of other books floating around in my head, and even one that’s got potential for a lengthy series, but Superpowered is unique in that it’s the only one, out of all the books I’m thinking of, that is first person.  I’m gonna blame Hunger Games for that one.  Yes, I will fully admit to being a 31 year old male that LOOOOVES the Hunger Games.  I read all three books in a four day span, while working full time.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was working a call center job, and was able to read while working.  And yes, I loved the subsequent movie as well, and CANNOT wait for Catching Fire.  Anyway, Superpowered was born of my Hunger Games fervor, and my love of all things Superheroes.  I mean, why can’t a superhero have a compelling story?

By jamiebworth

So I’m working on a prologue

calvin-and-hobbes-on-writing-3

 

After numerous doctors visits, xrays, and such, it’s obvious my back problems aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  I’m going to try to get back to writing, even in the uncomfortable position of laying down.

I’ve had a potential epilogue/prologue in mind for months for Superpowered.  After discussing it at length with a few people lately, I was spurred into actually writing it out.  The first 3 and a half chapters of the second book have little to no action in them, and though the reaction I’ve received so far has been quite positive, I feel it needs something a bit more.  So this is why the prologue is being birthed.

It’s kind of a fun and brain tingling exercise for me, because the prologue is set 3rd person, since it focuses on a character other than Dennis.  So I’m trying to come to grips with a slightly different writing style.  In truth, I love writing in first person because I find it incredibly easy.  I’ve always had a knack for empathy and putting myself in someone else’s shoes.  All I have to do in order to write Dennis, is to put myself into that mindset, imagine myself in the situations he’s dealing with, and just write out my thoughts and what is going on in my imagination.

And after typing this post out, writing a few paragraphs in the prologue, and talking with my girlfriend’s mother, it’s obvious that between the pain and the medication…I’m having a hard time finding the right words for anything.  Maybe I need to put this off a little longer….

By jamiebworth