Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Favorite Superhero Tropes

There are no rules when it comes to telling a story, and there are certainly no rules when it comes to writing about superheroes. At the same time, superhero stories have developed some fantastic "tropes" over the years...and as an enthusiastic fan of comic book- and superhero-inspired stories, I've included a few of them in I, Crimsonstreak.

Secret Identity: Clark Kent/Superman. Bruce Wayne/Batman. Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Any superhero worth his salt has a secret identity separate from his/her superhero name. Chris Fairborne/Crimsonstreak is an exception to this rule; just about everyone knows his "real" identity because his parents are famous superheroes. The Crusading Comet, on the other hand, is a true mystery man with a secret identity. No one knows who the Crusading Comet really is other than a handful of fellow superheroes. The world certainly doesn't know that three separate Warren Kensingtons (Warren Senior, Warren Junior, and Warren III) have donned the Comet uniform, with Warren IV's turn likely coming soon.

Gadgets: Not all superheroes need to employ gadgets. Heroes like the Flash, Superman, and Spider-Man have enough powers to handle any situation that arises without busting out a grapnel, smoke bombs, shark repellant, or anti-toxin. Vigilantes like Batman and Blue Beetle, on the other hand, need a little extra help. Thus, they employ an array of different devices and gadgets in their war on crime. In I, Crimsonstreak, the Crusading Comet is the go-to gadget guy. From disguises to "Comet Spikes," he's got the whole package.

Ever-Loyal Assistant: Jimmy Olsen. Alfred Pennyworth. Edwin Jarvis (or, later, JARVIS). Pepper Potts. One thing superheroes need to realize is that they can't do everything by themselves, even if they want to. A certain amount of assistance is vital, but it takes a special type of person to do it. The best "ever-loyal assistant" is someone who has the ability to stay under the radar while keeping at the forefront of danger. In the book, Mortimer "Morty" P. Willoughby is our ever-loyal assistant. As aide-de-camp to the Comet, he is much, much more than he appears. Plus, his wit is unmatched.

Secret Lair: Fortress of Solitude. Batcave. Sanctum Sanctorum. Hall of Armor. Xavier's Mansion. Heroes need a place to kick back, run tests, mull over their investigations, and perform Google searches. The Crusading Comet has the Sanctum Cometus, a swingin' superhero pad with a research lab, gigantic computer, workout facilities, guest quarters, and much more. Colonel Chaos has an isolated lab where he performs experiments of questionable public good. I'd tell you more...but Chaos' spies would come after us.

Super Team: Sometimes a threat is so overwhelming that not even Superman can defeat it. Sometimes the Skrulls invade and the Fantastic Four don't feel so fantastic. In these cases, it's time to call in the Avengers! Or the Justice League of America! In I, Crimsonstreak, superheroes have their own little club called the Heroic Legion. Unfortunately, they let themselves get bogged down in bureaucratic BS on occasion, and there was that one time they kind of let Colonel Chaos take over the world. Still, when threats go beyond purse snatchers and grand theft auto, you can be sure the Heroic Legion will band together to stop them, even if they argue a bit first.