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Superhero Stories by You #1: So You Want to be a Superhero How Noble of You by Zachary Schechter

Sarah and Jeff Boyle

"It's not easy to be a superhero" by Esparta Palma. Via Flickr and courtesy a Creative Commons License.

"It's not easy to be a superhero" by Esparta Palma. Via Flickr and courtesy a Creative Commons License.

So You Want to be a Superhero How Noble of You
by Zachary Schechter, age 17

So, you’ve woken up one day with an intense desire to save the world and the few billion and change people who live in it. Good for you! You now have something in common with every  elementary school student and small child who has ever laid eyes on Superman. However, you have one thing going for you that those other children don’t; you have this handy dandy guide right here. The children don’t have that. They probably can’t even read.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that most superheroes worth their salt have some kind of superpower, or enough money that they don’t need superpowers. Presumably you have none of those, you poor mortal soul, you. Now, there are a number of ways one could go about obtaining superpowers, most of them entirely fictional and should not be attempted in a real world environment. There’s cosmic radiation, gamma radiation, solar radiation, spider radiation—apparently superpowers are a common side effect of lethal tumors in the comic book world. For some real world options, though, we suggest looking into genetic science: walk into your local gene splicing laboratory and see if they can give you some gills or some wings or some vampire fangs. Vampires are all the rage these days apparently. However if you cannot get your hands on some superpowers, that’s ok too. It’s not like anybody’s gonna laugh at you for not having superpowers while you’re saving their lives. That would be so rude.

If you do choose to go down the no-superpower route, though, you’re gonna need something else to give you an advantage over the criminal scum of the world. Many superpowerless crime fighters take up some form of martial arts or karate. However just a quick warning, many karate instructors are quick to remind their students that karate is for self defense only. This can get quite annoying, especially if you’re planning on ignoring that and taking the fight straight to the criminals anyway. To subvert this, the authors of this guide are releasing several of their own martial arts instructional DVDs, order now! Other superpowerless heroes choose to illegally acquire military-grade weapons and just shoot criminals. The authors of this guide do not condone the actions of these “heroes” and suggest you buy our instructional DVDs instead.

The next thing you’ll need is a costume. Otherwise you’re just some person punching other people, and that’s illegal. The costume makes it less illegal. For some reason. Probably because people are more comfortable with it and it allows the criminals to put “super villain” down on their résumés. If you plan on fighting crime at night, black and gray is definitely the way to go when picking out a color palette. Not only does it provide great camouflage, but it also looks really trendy and stylish... and scary. If you plan on fighting crime during the day, then we’d suggest a dark crimson. Either way it’ll end up that color—because if a criminal’s committing a high profile crime during the day, chances are he won’t think twice about shooting some wannabe superhero. So stick to fighting crime at night.

Many superheroes find it essential to cover their face with some kind of mask while they fight crime. We would definitely recommend this as well, but don’t use one of those domino masks that only covers up the small area around your eyes and the bridge of your nose. Those are not the most readily identifiable parts of your face, that is not a good disguise. A cowl that covers the top half of your head is only marginally better. Yes, it covers more of your face and hair but it still leaves a lot exposed. What we suggest is some kind of ski mask or balaclava, something that will cover your entire face. This form of mask is definitely the most protective of your identity, but it is also very popular among the criminal population so you run the risk of showing up to foil a crime in the same outfit as your criminal adversary and that’s just embarrassing.

Capes are another staple of the classic superhero costume. They’re also incredibly inconvenient and useless. For starters they get caught in everything. Literally everything, mostly doors, though, and the last place you want to be when you’re being held at gunpoint is caught in a door. You’d probably rather be in Bermuda or something. Well too bad! Superheroes don’t get vacation days. Not that you’d be held accountable for taking any, you don’t have a boss or anything. Feel free to customize your costume in any way you want. Most superheroes like to paste pictures of their favorite animals or favorite weather events on their chest. This is actually a really stupid thing to do. In practice you’re essentially just drawing a brightly covered target over your vital organs, so don’t do that.

Another important topic that bears discussing is how to react to the existence of other superheroes. It is important to be cooperative when dealing with other superheroes because you literally have no moral high ground over them. You both look ridiculous and you’re both saving lives so you have no right to be rude. However you should also avoid forming large superhero teams. The last thing the world needs is for all of the world’s superheroes to be taken out by a single terrorist attack on a single building because they all live there for some reason. You should also, under no circumstances, take on a teenage sidekick, even a really clever one who cracks wise. Not your son, not your kid nephew that your sister pays you to hang out with, not the local homeless orphan. No teenage sidekicks. At all. None. Not allowed. The reason for this is, simply put, it’s an incredibly boneheaded thing to do. What kind of person brings a child to fight criminals! A child is the worst possible thing to bring to a gun fight! Even worse than knives! It is better to either work alone or with another adult. Don’t try calling him or her your sidekick though. Full grown adults hate being called sidekicks, this is a scientific fact.

Since you are technically operating as an illegal vigilante, it is quite likely that you will be  hunted by the local police when you first start out. In order to deal with this, we suggest running away really fast from the potential crime scene once you stop the crime. This way when the cops get there you will be long gone. If you are confronted by a police officer, however, please remember to be respectful as he is legally doing what you are illegally doing. Seriously, why don’t you just become a cop? What are you even doing with your life? We’re sure your parents are very proud of you and your life choices. However, after you save the city from total and utter destruction a couple of times, the police will probably throw you a parade and stop trying to arrest you. So that’s something to strive towards. Once that happens, though, any time anything a little bit out of the ordinary happens in your city, it automatically becomes your problem, not the official law enforcement’s. Nuclear plant meltdown? That’s a job for you. Super criminal with a freeze ray? That’s a job for you. Alien invasion? Don’t expect any help there. Dinosaur attack? That’s your problem too. But on the bright side, you live in a very cool town.

Now that you’ve read this guide, and presumably ordered several martial arts instructional DVDs, you are now fully prepared to go out into the world and fight crime. So put your underwear on over your pants and hop into your noun-mobile and go put the fear of lunacy in the hearts of criminals and super villains everywhere.


Send us your superhero-inspired short stories, poems, and essays! All the details are here in our call for submissions. All writing published on this here blog will also be considered for our print zine KaPow! Superhero Edition. Buy a copy of KaPow! Poem-A-Thon edition to see what other great student writing we've published.