The Superhero Blues Part Five: Of Young Heroes
My first instinct writing original superhero fiction lies with a focus on younger heroes just starting out. This is typified by my creation of Redwind and the earlier heroes who languish in the depths of my notebooks.
I’m not sure the exact reason why. Maybe, like Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I feel that the superhero story is, in many ways, best suited as an extended metaphor for the process of growing up, of coming into one’s own.
Now, this does not mean that the meaning of every superhero is the same. The X-Men is a decades long metaphoric debate about civil rights and the struggle between passive and active resistance. Batman is, I think, both a revenge tragicomedy and a meditation on psychosis.
With Redwind, and the earlier heroes who I need to track down, I’m trying find a philosophical/ cultural/ ideological/ take your damn pick metaphor as a push. I admire what Whedon did with Buffy, but I’m not sure taking that same metaphor is appropriate with what I want to do, though I would skew my heroes to starting out in their late teens. Maybe the college experience?
This hunt for extended metaphor is all well and good for a fundamentally episodic narrative. But I’m not writing a comic book or a television series. I’m writing a novel. Or a series of novels. Or one really big ass novel broken up into volumes.
And that brings me to the epic (which is, perhaps, one of the similarities that my various projects have in common).
I want to write an epic fantasy set on a version of our contemporary Earth. And the best means to do that, I think, is through the usage of the superhero trope (as similar as any superhero world can be).
And here’s my problem. How do I make an epic of Redwind? Do institute a discovered epic? Do I throw so many epic conflicts that readers will have to wonder how the fuck this Earth is still around? Do I focus on a single threat? Or do I focus on a single life, the career of a lone hero?
All of those possibilities lead, maybe, to excellent stories. But how do I choose the right one? (And, on writing the last sentence, realizing that I could combine all of them into one story). That is the trouble. Especially when it comes to thinking about the world of heroes, which will form the basis of my next post.