A Superhero Name

In order to be a successful superhero, the superhero candidate must have a sexy name. It’s absolutely required. Jimmy Olsen can be named Jimmy Olsen. Lois Lane can be Lois Lane. Alfred can be Alfred. But Superman must be Superman and Batman must be Batman. Otherwise no one would take them seriously.

Unfortunately all the sexy names were taken when Fish Guy was ready to graduate from Superhero U. Sure, he had played on the football team. Sure, he was graduating valedictorian. But Fish Guy just wouldn’t do for a name. Even though he was Big Man on Campus, the alumni and parents just laughed when one of his fellow students said the name “Fish Guy”.

In all the years of Superhero U, not one superhero had graduated without an appropriate name. If the word got out that Fish Guy was the latest, and greatest, of the school’s graduates, the public would laugh themselves into early graves.

The President of the school and the Faculty Council knew the consequences if they didn’t come up with a name that matched Fish Guy’s status as the latest and the greatest. They would be out of business. The new Paladin School for Champions had been recruiting many of the Potentials lately. If Superhero U didn’t face this crisis head on, they would have to close their doors. Parents would be  just too embarrassed to send their child to such a disaster.

After months of racking their brains, the Administration finally decided they needed a crisis management team. They chose the dream team of dream teams, X-cel Plus, Inc. If anybody could solve the dilemma, they could. After all, they had changed Heracles to Hercules. When Brutus came calling, they chose the  Ides of March for assassination day for Julius Caesar. When the Cleopatra team asked, they substituted an asp for arsenic. After all, if you’re a queen, you  want to go out with a bang. And they had made Lucretia Borgia the envy of her colleagues. Stabbing a person just wasn’t done if you were looking for a good rep. Poison it had be, and poison it was.

Originally Bill Shakespeare was known as “Just Plain Bill”. Bill came to X-cel Plus, Inc. They suggested “The Bard of Avon”. They said, “Now no one will ever call you Shakes again and use it derogatorily as in ‘I’ll be there in two Shakes.'” As you can see, the Bard of Avon is so much sexier than Two Shakes. From that point on, his plays were standing room only.

“But have you done anything lately?” President Positron asked.

“Waterloo. Wellington had chosen Brussels. We said no. No one would take the phrase ‘he met his Brussels’ seriously.”

“But anything since?”

“We were responsible for the Fab Four name for the Beatles and the phrase ‘British Invasion’. It’s amazing how much those two terms netted the British government in tourism dollars. You name the term, and we probably invented it.”

“So what did you have in mind?”

“We’ve given it a great deal of thought. At least, two hours. We took several polls. Tried out Merman on the public. People walked away shaking their heads. There was The Atlantaean. They just scratched their heads confused. Then we took The Swimmer out for a ride. It got a 52% approval. Not good enough. And the women didn’t swoon when they heard it.”

“I guess we just can’t let Fish Guy graduate.”

“No,” X-cel Plus shouted. “For heaven’s to Betsy, no. I’m not through”

“Continue then.”

“We tried Water Boy, Sea Weed, Gill Man. Nothing worked. Maybe okay for villains but not a superhero. Then one of our clerical workers piped up with the perfect name. It was so good we’ve made her head of our PR department.”

“What was it?” There was a great deal of impatience in the President’s voice. There was such tension in the air as the President and the Faculty Council were on the edge of their seats.

“Since it was her idea, we’ve asked Iris to do the honors. Iris?”

Iris stepped forward. If ever there was a business suit, it was the dark blue suit she wore. Her face was painted with such seriousness the President and the Faculty knew how serious she was.

“Over the past two weeks,” her soft soprano said. “we tested this up and down America from sea to shining sea and the responses have been 99% in favor. On hearing the name, women have swooned. Men have said that they would want this guy on their team. The name is…drum roll please.”

“Get on with it,” one of the Faculty Council urged.

“The name is Aqua Dude.”

The name hit the President and the Faculty like a ton of bricks. Before they knew what they were doing, they were on their feet applauding.

When the applause had quieted down, Iris continued, “There’s more.”

“More?” President Positron asked, a big grin on his face.

“What’s an AD without a BC. Aqua Dude has sidekicks. They are the Beef Cakes.”

And so that is how Aqua Dude and the Beef Cakes came to rein over the Seven Seas, pursuing Truth and Justice and distributing sea sick  pill to all in distress.

Near 500 words: The Birth of a Superhero

In a previous post, I introduced my readers to the twenty-first century superhero, Fudgenado. Here is how that superhero came to be:

Some say it was a Monday. Some say Wednesday. Still others Friday. In truth, it was Sunday. Late Sunday night with midnight closing in. Jasper Cookster, chocolatier-in-chief of Chocolatetown, had spent the last thirteen hours working on a new fudge recipe. He was on his hundredth try.

As all stories like this begin, it was indeed a dark and stormy night. Besides that, there was a tornado on the way to Chocolatetown. There was thunder and flashes of lightning on the horizon. But Jasper Cookster was so engrossed in his recipe-making, he didn’t have a clue about what was about to hit Chocolatetown.

All he knew was that this recipe had better work. For thirteen hours, he had been at his work, stirring in this ingredient and that ingredient and the other ingredient. And none had that fudgelishous taste that said, “Jasper.”

Jasper leaned over and tossed in his last ingredient for the piece de resistance batch he was making. The thunder thundered. The lightning lightninged. And a tornado hovered above the Chocolate Store where Jasper was in mortal combat with his recipe. “This had better work,” he mumbled. “This had better work.”

As we all know, those are abracadabara, shazam words that make magic. And magic did happen as the clock struck midnight. Only it wasn’t the magic Jasper was expecting. The thunder ka-boomed. The tornado touched down. The lightning struck and hit Jasper right in his tushie.

Jasper fell into the large tub of fudge goop that was a-stirring. He went under. Just as he did, the lightning hit the tub. The tornado then picked up the tub and Jasper and sailed off into the west a la Dorothy. Two miles out of town, it gently set the tub onto a pasture.

Now that tub may not have been the home of an fudge excellence, but it was the birthplace of a new superhero. Out of the fudge razzmatazz, Jasper flew. Only he wasn’t Jasper. He was a creature covered with brown fudge goop covering his entire body from the end of his big toenails to the tippy toppy hair on his head. He rose spiralling in the sky and headed towards Chocolatetown.

As he moved like a meteor across the sky, Farmer Brown, from his bed through the bedroom window, looked up in the sky and saw what he saw. As he did, he was moved to say, “It’s a bird. It’s a plane.”

His wife said from her sleep, “No it’s not. It’s a fudgenado. Now go back to sleep. The rooster will be crowing in six hours.”

From her bedroom window, Latisha, Farmer Brown’s nubile daughter, had been wishing upon a star. Only there wasn’t a star. She was about to wish for her Prince Charming to come and swoop her away from slopping hogs and milking cows and all the other farm chores an only child had to do. She saw the meteor as it flashed across the sky. Right then and right there, she knew she had seen her future. She was ready to walk down the candy lane aisle and say her I-doeses to the world’s first twenty-first century hero. She was ready to become Mrs. Fudgenado.

Near 500 words: In Praise of the Working Class Superhero

In June 1938, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel launched Superman into the world in Action Comics # 1. This month is the eightieth anniversary of his first appearance. It was the beginning of the Golden Age of Comics.

Crash Test Dummies: Superman’s Song

Before Superman, there were superheroes. Hercules, Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan and Tarzan all fit the bill. With the exception of Peter Pan, they were the ultimate alpha males who beat up the bad guys, swung through the trees, and outthunk Doctor Moriarty. Or at least tried their best.

Superman was the new kid on the block. Like Douglas Fairbanks, he could fly or at least do a reasonable facsimile. Like Paul Bunyan, his muscles had muscles, and they were muscles of steel. Like John Henry, he was not a blue blood but a working class fellow.

He was Introduced in DC’s Action # 1 June 1938 comic book issue. From the beginning, he had a real job like all the working stiffs. Growing up on a farm, he learned good values. Hard work seemed to be in his DNA.

Clark Kent may have been a superhero on weekends. But still the rent had to be paid. He had to wake up early Monday morning, crawl out of bed and eat his Wheaties so he was ready for the rat race of the day ahead. Unlike those billionaires Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, unlike the godlike Wonder Woman and Thor who came along later. And he never ever sold his superhero skills for payola.

In his free time, we never found Superman hanging out with the other superheroes like some. For many of them, humanity they loved, but people they couldn’t stand. Sure, he joined the Justice League of America but that was only a part-time gig.

In a lot of ways, Superman was just a regular joe, a man of the people. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, he often faced down the bad guys with truth and justice. Like Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, he stood up for the little guy.

And when he went out for an afterwork drink, he never schmoozed with the bosses. Not even with Perry White, Editor Extraordinary. It was Jimmy Olsen you’d find him with down at the local watering hole. They were real tight. So much so that later Clark was the godfather to Jimmy’s twins. Lois Lane was the godmother.

And Jimmy returned the favor for his friend. He was best man at Clark and Lois’ wedding. Lucy Lane was the maid of honor. It took Lois sixty years to land her guy. As we all know, persistence does pay off. It wasn’t that Clark Kent was slow. He was a workaholic and had very little time for a social life. No matter. Superman was always her knight in shining armor and Prince Charming combined. And she knew eventually she would catch him in a weak moment.

Now I know there are some of you out there, saying that Superman’s alter ego wasn’t the only alter ego who had to work for a living. But the thing is he was first. And Lois Lane was a career woman at a time when women didn’t have careers.

So let’s celebrate the workingman’s superhero and his buddies. No matter how bad things get, it’s always nice to remember Superman is on our side.

Superhero’s Meeting

Ratman was at the bar, nursing his drink. Supercharger walked over and sat down on the stool beside him and ordered a beer.

Then he turned to Ratman and said, “You look pretty down in the mouth. You okay?”

“Yeah. My wife says I have to go on a diet.”

Superduper Woman joined them. She ordered her usual scotch.

“Hey, Ears,” she said to Ratman. Ears was what she called Ratman because he had big ears. They were his super power. They were like wings he used to fly with. “What’s up?”

“Oh, the usual, Mabel.” Mabel was Superduper Woman’s civilian name.

Supercharger leaned over and said, “He’s getting fat. His wife says so.”

Mabel slapped Ratman on the back. “Ratz, you’re not getting fat. Oh sure, you could use some slimming. It’s that darn costume you’re wearing. It’s shrunk. What you need is a new costume. What do you think of mine?”

Mabel jumped off the stool and turned around. Supercharger hadn’t noticed but now he saw Mabel in a whole new light. The reds were reds, not rust. The yellows were bright and the greens, they were green.

“Wow. I like,” both Supercharger and Ratz said.

“Don’t you think it accentuates my amazing figure?”

“I must say that your butt is nice and firm. You may just win the superhero butt contest at the convention this year. Who did this?”

“Jimmy Olson, fashion designer to the superheroes. Actually he’s done a name change. He’s Jimmy O.”

“Jimmy Olson?” Ratz asked.

“Yeah. He was a cub reporter. He went and took some aptitude tests and found out he was a fashion designer trying to get out. He had always worried about being gay because he paid a lot of attention to Superman’s clothes. He had a real thing for the cape. Hated it. Now he’s set up shop. You should go see him.”

Supercharger piped in, “And me too.”

“Nothing can help you, S.C.,” Mabel said, then she gave it a bit of thought. “Well, maybe some bubble wrap.”

Mr. Smith Teaches a Superhero Class

Mr. Smith stood before seven students on the roof of a twenty-story building.

“For today’s lesson, we are going to fly. Not learn to fly. But fly. Jimmy, you had a question.”

Jimmy, the one with his hand raised, nodded yes. “We’re not birds. We can’t fly.”

“No, we’re not birds. We’re superheroes.”

Emily raised her hand and asked, “Will there be a net?”

“No, Emily, there won’t be a net.”

Jason, the kid with the glasses, didn’t raise his hand. He just asked, “Are you sure? I’ve never flown before. I tried jumping off my dad’s barn. If I hadn’t fallen on a load of hay, I would have broken something.”

“Jason,” there was frustration in the teacher’s voice. “You can’t break something. You’re a superhero.”

Margaret looked scared. “Are you sure, Mr. Smith?”

“Of course, I am sure. I’ve been teaching twenty years and I’ve never lost a student. Now, class, step up to the edge.”

The seven twelve-year-olds turned and stepped onto the ledge. They looked down. It was a long way to the concrete below.

“Now jump off. And don’t forget to land on your feet.” Mr. Smith stepped behind each of his students, confident that they were going to fly.

Well, you’ve heard the old saying that turkeys can’t fly. Mr. Smith’s class couldn’t fly. His students hit the concrete below. And they hit it hard. When he heard the splats below, Mr. Smith’s mouth dropped open. What happened?

Just then, Miss Pettigrew, his assistant, rushed into the classroom. “Mr. Smith, what happened?”

She took the clipboard from his hand and read it, then she looked up at his face. “Didn’t you read this? It says here that this class is the X-ray vision class.”

He took the clipboard and read. The script was blurry. He squinted. Yep, it said “Flying”. He was sure of it. He looked down at the pavement below and said, “Darn kids.” Then he ripped off the page and handed it to Miss Pettigrew. He looked at the next class roster. “Well, it’s not my fault that they didn’t fly. Now, on to the Able-to-jump-tall-buildings class.” He passed the clipboard back to Miss Pettigrew.

She read the class title to herself. “No, Sir, it’s the Shapeshifting class.”

He grabbed the clipboard from his assistant and read, then he looked up at her. “Miss Pettigrew, do not argue with me. It’s the Able-to-jump-tall-buildings class.” There was a lot of frustration in his voice. He was starting to turn blue. When he went dark blue, all hell broke loose.

To calm him down, she said, “Yes, Sir. You’re right.”

Her soothing words brought him back to a state of calm and his body went back to its normal tan. Then he said, “Miss Pettigrew, I think you need some glasses.”

As he left the room, Miss Pettigrew said under her breath, “We know who needs the glasses.”