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The daily prompt a few days ago asked us to look at our stats – which posts are our most popular?  What connects those posts?

My top three posts of all time are:

The first one, technically, is a page, not a post.  I’ll ignore that.  The link between the second two is clear – posts which link to other people’s blogs, so that their followers come to see who is giving them an award.  There’s only so many times you can do that before other bloggers start getting annoyed at you, so I chose to look a little further down the list.

Again, the link here is clear.  I obviously need to talk about superheroes more!

I have no problem with that.  I’m a pretty big fan of superheroes.  Especially ones with secret identities, and today I’m going to talk a little about why.

Growing Up Super

I was brought up on a diet of Superman – specifically, Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman.  That’s the one with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, for those of you who don’t know all of the incarnations off the top of your head. I admit I became a little obsessed by it – I recorded every episode so that I could watch them again and again, and I was heavily into fanfiction from quite an early age.

Of course, there was also the fact that he was… quite pleasant on the eyes.

Later in life I discovered that Dean Cain caused a lot of controversy with the hard-core Super-fans, because (Shock! Horror!) he has brown eyes.  But growing up I have to admit that I didn’t even notice.  In fact, since it was the first version of the hero I had encountered, it seemed odd to me when I found out that all of the others have blue eyes.

What I loved about Dean Cain’s portrayal of Superman was that, primarily, he wasn’t Superman.  He was Clark Kent.  In fact, at the start of the first episode, Superman didn’t even exist.  He only came into existence because Lois spotted Clark just after he had rescued someone and told him he was dirty and should bring a change of clothes to work.

The show focused more on his daily life and his struggle to be both halves of his personality than it did on fighting super-villains (although there were a fair few of those).  Hiding often creates as many problems as it solves.

The point here, if I can drag myself back to it, is that Clark invented Superman as a way to hide who he was.  However, even before that he was hiding behind a pair of glasses and a loud tie, trying to pretend that he was normal.

It’s a great relief to a young girl to realise that even people who have the power to lift spaceships into orbit sometimes feel the need to hide.

Masks vs Hiding in Plain Sight

Later, I discovered other heroes.  Batman (Adam West version, of course!) was, in some ways, the complete opposite of Superman.  He spent more time as Batman than as Bruce Wayne – indeed it sometimes seemed that Bruce only existed to fund the fancy toys, and occasionally to be kidnapped.

Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.

And he hid behind a mask.  The mask made it obvious that he was someone else.  He had something to hide.

Clark got away with a simple pair of glasses because everyone thought “hey, he’s not hiding his face, he clearly isn’t hiding anything else; he must spend all of his time as Superman.”  Everyone knew that Batman was really someone else, and some of the best plots revolved around people who were determined to discover who he was.

Is it somehow more honest to hide behind a mask?

If people think they are getting to know the real you, when in fact they are learning the mask, is that more deceitful than openly acknowledging that you are holding people at arms’ length?

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I’m particularly amused by the fact that you also need a pair of glasses to make it work.

I was a little (all right, a lot) worried before I went to see this film.  I had been looking forward to it for a long time, and had hyped it up so much in my mind that I was afraid that it would be a massive disappointment.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong.

From almost the very first moments I was on the metaphorical edge of my seat.

Kal-El

We open on the birth of Kal-El.  The room is clearly alien – the floating machines and the clothes give that away.  After the birth, Jor-El holds his new son in his hands – and we cut to one of those scenes which, once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it.  An impressive alien vista is shown, with a large beast in the foreground.  It raises its head and bellows towards the sky.

You’re more likely to understand what I’m saying if you have children, or were a child yourself around 1994.  If you need a hint, click here.

I really love what they’ve done with Krypton’s architecture.  Not for them the overly traditional ice palace motif.  Instead we have a truly advanced race, with flying cities and technology that can change shape at need.  The development of their tech followed logical lines, too – their designers had clearly been influenced by the natural world that was around them, four-winged creatures and all.

Once he’s been sent off into the void (and the story of how that happened was very exciting, with its high-speed chases, theft, treason, and attempted coups) we cut to 30-year-old Clark living on Earth.

His youth is told through flashbacks, but it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.  What I loved about his childhood was that he struggled.  He didn’t fit in, and he knew it.  From the terrified “what’s wrong with me?” to the plaintive “can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?”, this was a child who was desperately afraid of being different.  He couldn’t fight back when he was bullied, not because he was afraid of being hurt, but because he was afraid that everyone would find out that he couldn’t get hurt.

When he learns how to fly you can see the pure joy on his face.  Here at last is something that makes it all worth it.

Lois Lane

Finally, a Lois Lane who is not the most unobservant reporter ever.  Bravo!

 am not an expert at drawing on the computer.

A normal Lois response to situations.

Dru-Zod & Friends

General Zod was very much a victim of his upbringing, and I liked that he wasn’t just evil without reason.  The one problem with his reasoning that I had was not at all the fault of the film.  It was this line:

“Everything I have done, I did for the Greater Good of my people.”

Which is fine unless, on the way to the cinema, you have had a conversation about Hot Fuzz.  If you’ve seen it, you will see what I mean.  If you haven’t, I pity you.  Go see it.  And then try to listen to that line with a straight face.

This is not a picture of General Zod.

Zod’s friends, however, had some interesting ideas about how nature works.  Evolution always wins, does it?  Hmmm, and all of those extinct species which evolved and then died out?  Still, one dud line in a film of that length is a pretty good ratio.

What next?

There were no major loose ends that screamed “insert sequel here”, but there were a number of avenues that could be explored in future films.

The first is, of course, Lex Luthor.  He wasn’t mentioned at all in the film, but there were several occasions where buildings and vehicles with “LexCorp” splashed all over them were seen (and often destroyed by the fighting).  Whether this was a taste of things to come or simply good background remains to be seen.  I for one wouldn’t say no to a film in which Lex was irritated at all the property damage.

The other idea I’d like explored is the question of Clark’s children.  For reasons which I won’t go into for fear of spoiling things, this would be very interesting.  And with his clear interest in Lois already demonstrated, we just need to discover whether Humans and Kryptonians are compatible in order for it to be a perfectly valid plot.

Conclusion

Five Stars.  If you haven’t already seen it, go as soon as you can.

A plane (an Airbus A320 to be precise, although I doubt it matters) coming in to land at Glasgow airport has seen a UFO.  Usually, when people talk about UFOs, they mean aliens, however in this case I’m using it in the literal sense.  It was an object, it was flying, and it was unidentified.

The UFO passed around 300 feet below the plane, seen by the pilots mere seconds before.  Visibility was good, nothing was showing on the radar, and the pilots were wide awake.  They described it as

blue and yellow or silver in colour with a small frontal area, but […] bigger than a balloon

They reported the near miss immediately, and the flight controller said he wasn’t talking to anyone else in the area, and there was nothing on his radar.  The radar at Prestwick (which is about 30 miles from Glasgow) reported an “unidentified track history” just over a nautical mile away 28 seconds earlier.  If it was the same object it was moving pretty fast.

Other aircraft, including small planes, helicopters, and weather balloons, would show up on radar.  The weather conditions were wrong for gliders and parascenders, and they shouldn’t have been in restricted airspace anyway.  So what was it?  Members of the committee investigating the near-miss were unable to decide.

Was it aliens?  Or a secret military experiment?

I have a different suggestion.  What is blue and yellow, can fly fast, and is bigger than a balloon?

I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a bird, or a plane.

And I may have been lying about it not being an alien.

Yesterday, we discussed going “out of phase” and falling to a horrible doom at the centre of the Earth.

Today, I want to talk about superpowers.

I have often seen Superman catch falling people mere inches from the ground.  At that height there isn’t enough space for him to absorb the kinetic energy without killing them. I’m not the only one to notice this:  Ben Tippet’s Unified Theory of Superman also mentions the problem, in addition to being a pretty entertaining read.

Now, there are ways of getting around the problem.  If Superman’s invulnerability extends a few inches from his body, then anyone he catches would be automatically protected from the damage of a sudden stop.  This has the added advantage that it protects his clothes, explaining why they don’t burn off during fiery rescues.

But wait, you say.  What about when he punches people?  Wouldn’t they be protected from damage too?

Yes, they would.  But only in the instant of the punch – they have no protection from being thrown into a wall, and it is that which causes them harm.

As you can see, some scientific problems can be worked around with the suitable application of other science.*  All it requires is a little creative thinking – and that’s what we all claim to be good at, right?

 

* Whistles innocently and hopes nobody noticed that auras of invulnerability extending a few inches from the body aren’t actually very scientific.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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