Posts Tagged ‘Super Heroes’


Stories are a slice of life. A set time span in the character’s existence. That is why characters can exist for so long with minor or major aging all dependent on when the writer wants them to exist. As I have shared previously, my Bionic Knight character was the first super hero character I created circa 8 years old. 31 years on he still is starring in pulpy hero adventures.

Recently over the past 6-7 months the story has been laid out of his struggle through health issues, and PTSD symptomology caused by his exposure to environments, stimuli and circumstances in his life in religion, journalism, outreach, and super heroics. It has led to him being “shelved” as another hero took up the mantle. In the lingo of super heroics, a legacy character stepped in.

Mostly it is the youngster that take over, as we have noted with new Johnny Power, Speedster and Bionic Knight within the transformation of the Great Crime Fighters. With the “Weird Tales of Rick Saturn, formerly the Bionic Knight” (for this and other arcs enjoy the Bionic Knight Pulps category); two new aliens were introduced. But these five characters are not the thrust of this point in Saturn’s lifespan. It is the interplay between William “Shotgun” MacKay and Rick Saturn.

For it is the closing on one chapter in the book of one’s life journey, and officially opening oneself up to what is possible to come with the new chapter starting. Literally an epilogue to one life, and the chapter one of a new book. For when folks ask why I put this four-part story together that did not have much action, it was simply showing that transition and acceptance can happen. Hope can spring forth.

Or in the observation of Rick at the end of part four:

Shotgun stepped back into the restaurant towards George and Dragon. “Look, we have a need to fill on the team with a few more members. Since you both appear to know of this imminent threat, how would you consider joining the newbies?”

Rick had to grin as he heard his friend extend the “offer”, how often he had those conversations over the years. The best conversation to have with a new or old hero, to find belonging and community. To become part of something bigger than themselves.

The world was in good hands. Rick knew it was about more than simply him, it was about taking his new life. His new book of life, one chapter at a time.

Simply a new chapter, watch for future adventures/mysteries as Rick transitions into who he is meant to be now in his life. Who knows where the stepping stones have led, and where the new chapter…new first word will lead him.

 

 

 

 

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The world of comics has become a world of reboots for the super heroes as publishers’ experiment with legacies not getting to long in the tooth. Characters aging, and living life…or worse yet experimenting with keeping up with other mediums their characters appear in so there can be cross sales. What is left is a product that can become too over controlled from the top that does not allow for creative passion. Which it is the creative drive that creates stories that stand the test of time, and the new meta-narratives of our time. For whether we want to admit it or not, super heroes are the new heroes of ancient myth today.

Why these thoughts enter Rick’s mind as the green flame bursts through the glass and sending the two old fighters flying across the restaurant and breaking the fountain pop machines, slumping into the mess of carbonated water, syrups and ice on the floor. Rick notes that William “Shotgun” MacKay is unconscious. Moments like this as the dagger like stabbing of pain hits his brain a new, he misses having Pen, the little dragon of power with him. Moments like this where he wonders why he left re-watching Star Trek, to meet with George Dragon in the alley.

Rick’s tremoring left hand finds the chunk of space gem, it is glowing. There is something moving through the smoke, alarms are ringing, sprinklers have kicked in. People are screaming and running. One text away from back up, and Rick curses himself. “Silly old bastard.” He had sworn this nuts life off, time to be a Dad and leave saving the world to the younger set. Only problem being that many times those in most need were chronic and would not go to the new faces. They would seek out the old guard for advice and aid regardless of health conditions.

The person looks reptilian. Not trying to hide, if this was a Star Trek episode possibly a Gorn, but truly looked more like a mutated crocodile ala Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Rick’s eyes narrowed as he attempted to breathe through the pain. Now would not be the time to take a seizure, could end very badly for him. This was an intergalactic bounty hunter. George had mentioned him before many years ago. The harbinger, the one that pre-dated those that drove them away. An immortal jerk out for blood.

The croc-hunter steps through the shattered glass and blown apart booths. His eyes narrow and smoke comes from his nostrils.  Was the green flame not from the gun he held in his hand? Could this actually be a…

“Richard? Where for art thou heir to the PenDragon?” The snarl made it hard to be made out, but Rick picked it up. There was also a burst of purple noise blocking out many other electronic forms of hearing. The government would be able to create a cover story for this issue.

Will began stirring. Rick tapped his friend’s shoulder “stay down. I got this.” Will rolled onto his stomach to be able to push up a little. He cursed under his breath for leaving his gun in his truck. Two old fighters, facing some space monster.

Rick stood up from behind the high bench table, why any design team though that was comfort was astounding. “I think you missed a space memo.” He stepped forward walking towards the croc-hunter. “I am no longer the heir, there is someone new.”

The smoke in the thing’s nostrils began to glow, almost a flame. Rick focused on that, the stabbing added to the temples as well as the top of the head. The feed back sound became a white noise which started to trip his brain out.  He froze in place fighting in the void of darkness unable to move. The croc-hunter levelled his weapon at Rick.

“You are a coward to hide behind a child as heir. Good Knight.”

The trigger squeezed…

To Be Continued…


The CW tends to start super hero shows out well, the new Black Lightning series is no different. Two episodes in and Jefferson Pierce’s life is being laid out. The lead is much older than most, if not all, of the CW heroes brought to the small screen. In comics, he first launched as a black-ploitation hero; then was a member of Batman’s team the Outsiders; onto the Justice League (before that, many forget the President Lex Luthor time when he was in Luthor’s cabinet as Secretary of Education). Milestone Comics Static (Shock) was a very visible nod to the hero as it was a teenager taking up the power.

Jefferson Pierce is a principal (in original comics a teacher) using the investment in education to hopefully lay new paths away from the 100-gang life for his community. Within Pierce’s body courses the power of the lightning, but he has chosen a path to make a difference when offered a choice by his wife Lyn. A choice he has stayed the path on while the darkness overtakes his city without his alter-ego out being the light. Hoping to save his marriage—yet still separated. Not re-dawning the costume until his daughters are taken into sex trafficking to rescue them—at Lyn’s insistence.

Which brings us to the question of addiction Lyn raises in Season One, Episode 2: Lwanda: Book of Hope. She states that he can’t go back for he was addicted to the power. Even with his community calling upon him out of the shadows as a rallying cry to freedom.

The statement on addiction made me think of 3 other stories that dealt with addiction in superheroes:

  • Roy Harper (Speedy, the Green Arrow’s Sidekick) during the awesome ripped from the headlines style run of Green Lantern-Green Arrow it is a 2-parter that reveals Roy’s heroin addiction. It delves into the orphan now abandoned by his adoptive father. The story was prophetic for its time in that it spoke to the lack of belonging that fed into addiction. The lack of belonging, and feeling no control leading to the one thing that can be controlled. It is through belonging he finds a path out of the darkness. A risk taken.
  • Hourman (Rex Tyler). This may be a long shot for anyone to remember, but Hourman was a golden age super hero, Member of the Justice Society, All-Star Squadron. His son took up the mantle later on. Why Hourman? Simple, he took a pill that for one hour gave him super powers. Miraclo. This was the story of a heroic man, who succumbed to the habit of popping the pill to transform his life from what he saw as the mundane to the heroic. The adrenaline rush not only of doing good, but literally of the magic pill serum coursing through his body. Never believing he could be a hero without the drug, never believing his life had meaning without. Pushing away his life for everything but Miraclo and the adventures that came.
  • The final one, is from Captain America in the early 1990’s I remember buying them from our local Ma’s & Pa’s convenience store every two weeks when each part of the 6 parter came out “Streets of Poison”. It is the basic war on drugs story from the streets. Yet Cap (Steve Rogers) shows great insight that his powers are a result of drugs. Cap had the super soldier serum drained from him, and continued being a hero. He may not have been as “super” as before, but he was still a well trained, hero hearted person driven to make a difference. Shining through that heroes will even strive to be heroes with or without the power source.

Which brings us back to the episode of Black Lightning and Lyn’s assertion the Pierce has an addiction to the life. Yes there is an adrenaline rush when it comes to combat, same as what comes with doing good works. Yet if it was the addiction he would not have been able to walk away so easily, and stay away from it. Perhaps as my wife pointed out in talking about it, this is a case of projection in that Lyn was addicted to being the girlfriend/wife of the super hero but disenfranchised by not being able to scream it from the rooftops, so she finds a new addiction—the ability to control someone.

The story could take other twists, that is the fun of the many forms the heroic meta-narratives can take. It is also part of the fun to watch these shows with friends and discuss what ifs, what you think, what may be a deeper underlying message.

For me, up to the end of episode 2 the Black Lightning is showing that heroes are those that struggle to be the light in the darkness. Heroes are those that work to change the tide. Will Pierce and Lyn’s debate on addiction fit one of the 3 noted above or something else entirely.

Is it an addiction? Or is it being a good citizen?


When most of your day is spent slept away or zoned out, knowing when to go out for air can be a bit of a challenge. My chat with Sister Anne was of benefit, but sometimes you just need to face the darkness of the past from where it finally comes to rest. In this case, that is a late-night stroll with the moon full amongst the tombstones.  The fog gives it an eerie old Sherlock Holmes movie feel, with the chill of an early winter coming which for our city means anytime before January.

Ahh Ricky what were you hoping to come here? That a vampire would pop up and you’d be able to see how much mystic magic was left in your broken ass old hero body.  Scratch the greying beard, there was a time on an investigative track that some akin me to Sisko of DS9. Y’know the badass that punched Q, for the Harumphs, he would always be Hawk from Spenser for Hire.

My hands run across her name. Shelley Kobwash. Susan’s little sister. One of the one’s that could not be saved. The one that chose drugs over her child after high school and aborted. But could not get out of the darkness regardless. Death surrounds death. She fell into the world of Susan’s father, but not in the way the old man would have approved. For she was not the queen of crime as he has been the Kind pulling strings on the distribution of debauchery for years behind the scenes. Remember it was when my brother James was in one of his side of light phases, it was his child, drove him back into the darkness for years after that repercussion.

“Why are you here Richard?” The voice. It echoes in my dreams. Those times when things would make no sense. It is the voice that used my brother as a right hand for many years in his Ionic Knight guise. The voice of the man that should’ve been at my wedding to walk my bride down the aisle, but as Susan so eloquently put it to her mother, she would have to kill her first before the bloated bastard was allowed in the church.

“Darcey, really, Richard? After all these years surely you could call me Rick.” It is one of the things that confounds me to this day. How this man had compartmentalized his life so much, for my brother had shared my identity with him. Yet…he could not bear to break his child’s heart so he never released it.

Although his emotional-mental-spiritual abuse is still something Susan is battling through not just from the narcissistic-sociopath father, but from her borderline personality mother. I am the orphan and the ones that still cause harm keep breathing air.

“Rick, after all these years, why are you here?”

James’ gave his life in a heroic venture in the end. Much to this pompous ass’ chagrin. For that heroic venture cost, him billions in ill gotten gains.

Yet even then he kept my secret.

“Same reason you are here. Shelley’s death haunts.”

“Susan had mentioned to her Mom all your years in investigative journalism had given you a rough neuro-mental go as of late.” His voice drips with sarcasm. He knows that the real cause is, but like I said, compartmentalization.

“Ever wonder if you didn’t bring the shit into this city if she would still be alive.” Or my brother your sick bastard, could be an uncle and Susie could be an aunty. If only compartmentalization always worked. No answer. Oh right. Just before James’ sacrificed himself was when he saw the file.

The one that showed the shit that killed his beloved.

That claimed his soul mate.

Drove him into the darkness deeper.

Caused him to lose his chance at fatherhood.

Showed the shipment and the dealer.

The name of the dealer was Shelley’s pimp.

The pimp paid protection to…

Darcey Kobwash.

The sword Chivalry slayed a dragon and a falling knight saved a universe.

“that’s right Darcey ya bastard. James’ one. You died.”

I wipe condensation and mud away on the grave marker next to Shelley’s.

Another demon puts to rest.

At least until the next seizure shakes my mind palace to pieces.

“Please forgive me Susan.” For the pain, I have brought into your life by answering a call.

My phone vibrates.

I flip it open to a message from Shotgun.

Need to talk kid.

I click delete and continue my graveyard shift.


The most read posts on my site, are my most recent short stories featuring Rick Saturn, the Bionic Knight as he entered what I dubbed the heart of evil. K, an ancient evil returned to earth, Susan his wife running for mayor. Yet Rick was not fully himself, he hands off reigns to another. It is the story of an elder hero who has been challenged by the collective of the holistic self.

These stories found under Bionic Knight Pulps  emerged over the last few months the story of a hero, who is breaking down but still trying to remain strong and place the needs of others ahead of his own. The greatest victory comes in the end, when he makes the choice to return home and choose living forward to look after himself and his family first. To step out of the heroics, for holistic health (it was found in the tale Lightning Rod).

Yet, it was also showing that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (see End Note section), may or may not happen within a vacuum. For there was physiological symptomatology the hero was battling. Hand tremors, weird inexplicable neurological issues. These with environmental exposures throughout his career, all these aided in the breaking down of his self care and allowed the mental health to wane, or perhaps it was the mental health that began to wane that caused his system to react to gain more attention?

Either way, I believe this was an important story to be told during my time of current challenge, because it shows that a human being is interconnected. Our systems do not exist in silos. Alberta Health Services likes to treat and triage us as such. But our symptoms are part of a whole. What happens neurologically, emotionally, physically and mentally are all tied together to create the life experienced and the patient before the physician.

I have received decently reactive care, and I do believe the right thing has been triaged for treatment first. Things moving more timely would be nice.

But I digress. For at the core of the story of B.K. was the shattering of having done everything right to care for himself. What the first responders and helping professionals dub self care. There are the textbook answers on caring for the whole self, but what it breaks down to is doing that which refuels you, and allows you to put the pain to rest, and heal.

In the moments, what had happened to the hero is that his own brain had betrayed him. The unknown neuro events had shattered the self care updates. When his system rebooted all the pain, trauma and stress came back online flooding his brain and heart without the healing.

Crippling.

The other challenge that I hoped these stories would bring out, is that the hero does not just exist in the role or the career. There are still life stressors at play in their day to day life that need to be navigated and dealt with as well. When the dam breaks, all this jumble together.

This is the battle that was going on within our humble hero as he chose one last path. The metaphor of unknown for that minute is within that moment the individual to choose which path they are going to stay on. The path of healing even with course corrections and change, or the path of succumbing. Neither choice is wrong, both are made with the best faculties of the moment, and each time the choice rings out again and again.

The Bionic Knight story over the past several months, was my own hearts attempt at allegory of the journey I was on, and still journey. The mystery of darkness swirling around and within me. The struggle each day to not let the lie win. The lie at reboot that my life mission of making my own little corner of the world a better place had failed.

Each reboot I must focus to name the lie and walk out of it.

Each day is a challenge for I live a mystery of not truly knowing what is happening as I await more testing to truly diagnose. I am learning to live with the new me, and how I experience the world.

My first goal is simple, to be a good husband and Dad, my second goal is to discover what is happening. My third goal is simply to see what that means in my life, with vocation secondary.

Why does the Bionic Knight story matter at this moment in my life?

Like him, I have a lightning rod of family, beyond that…

the journey is only being discovered.

End Notes:

Research: PTSD and Burnout in Workers in the Homeless Sector in Calgary. Read here: http://homelesshub.ca/resource/burnout-and-ptsd-workers-homelessness-sector-calgary

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

Full copyrighted criteria are available from the American Psychiatric Association (1). All of the criteria are required for the diagnosis of PTSD. The following text summarizes the diagnostic criteria:

Criterion A (one required): The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way(s):

  • Direct exposure
  • Witnessing the trauma
  • Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma
  • Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, medics)

Criterion B (one required): The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced, in the following way(s):

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

Criterion C (one required): Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related reminders

Criterion D (two required): Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  • Negative affect
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive affect

Criterion E (two required): Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Criterion F (required): Symptoms last for more than 1 month.

Criterion G (required): Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H (required): Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Two specifications:

  • Dissociative Specification.In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
    • Experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if “this is not happening to me” or one were in a dream).
    • Experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., “things are not real”).
  • Delayed Specification.Full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.