Worldbuilding 201: Getting Even.

I thought they’d done it. I really, really did. The show started off great, with a solid, pseudo-scientific explanation for why these super-powered people had begun to appear, a conspiracy for them to fight, and a tight-knit plot leading up to a great first-season finish that held the promise of blowing the world wide open. I expected to see public hysteria, government investigations, witch-hunts, and masks, costumes, and codenames to start appearing right and left. Then the second season started and… none of it happened.

I am of course referring to Heroes.

Now, I’m aware that Not Wearing Tights is a valid trope, but other shows had already done it–and one of the main characters actually had a comic-book already written about him! Still, I wanted to see the public reacting to “real-life” superhumans among them, and I imagined all kinds of possibilities. Because throughout the series the heroes’ existence was kept secret, it simply didn’t happen.

This was when I started seriously plotting my story, originally beginning with The Event and with Atlas as the main character. With The Event a worldwide phenomena, and the public breakthroughs of so many superhumans at once, I avoided any possibility of a conspiracy of secrecy (and made secret identities problematic for 90% of them). I envisioned a freaked-out public, and some media-savy superhumans adopting costumes and codenames as part of a PR campaign. After all, after 100 years of comic-books, people know what superhumans in costume are: superheroes. In short, I wanted a story with characters who were self-consciously playing up the superhero archtype. “Greetings, fellow citizens!”

So here’s an interesting question; would at least some “real-world” superhumans adopt superhero personae?

Of course they would, especially if their powers were a close match for the various superhero types we are all so familiar with. If nothing else, movie and TV teams would form, PR and stunt-teams would be highly visible, and governments and businesses might adopt them as mascots.

I also decided that at least some superhumans would want to Do Good as a professional career; how would the law and law-enforcement handle it? By regulating the hell out of it, of course. And this would not be a bad thing; just being bullet-proof doesn’t make a man competent to deal with hostage situations, for example. Nor does being able to fly–and therefor arrive at an emergency scene before road-bound first responders–make a man capable of providing competent emergency aid once on the scene.

On the other hand, I couldn’t picture police departments taking well to super-cops who could swoop in to save the day–and most police work doesn’t involve that sort of action anyway. So from my disappointment with Heroes, and my What If musings, the concept of the professional, certified, Crisis Aid and Intervention teams, and the core of my story, was born.

4 thoughts on “Worldbuilding 201: Getting Even.

  1. Interesting premise, can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    Also I’m right there with you on Heroes. That first season was some of the best TV I had ever seen, the 2nd season was easily some of the worst!

  2. Heroes went from the TV show I was most excited about to the TV show I cared least about in the shortest time ever. I think the exact moment came in the first season finale, when the two most powerful characters in the show’s universe finally met in a climactic battle, both of them brimming with powers, and they … punched at each other with their fists. Ho-hum. And then came the second season which was the first series except less interesting, and after that I’m not sure because I stopped watching, but from what I’ve heard it never got any better. One thing’s for sure: Wearing The Cape would make a much better TV series than Heroes. Definitely 🙂

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