Choose Your Heroes

“The stories are always about the heroes with useful super powers, have you noticed?” Clive said. He waved his comic book in the air in emphasis. Neil grunted noncommittally from behind his own book, intent on his breakfast cereal. “Are you listening?”

“Yes, yes. Look, stands to reason, doesn’t it? People want a bit of fantasy to distract them.” His spoon clinked in the now-empty bowl and he risked a look at Clive. “A bit of flight, x-ray vision, muscles you could bounce a penny off? It’s all wish fulfillment isn’t it?”

Clive pulled a face. “It’s all the same though isn’t it? With great power, and all that. People doing the right thing and tidying all the toys away at the end. But they’re always amazing powers, never crap ones.”

“Well that’s not entirely true.” Neil felt compelled to defend his favourites. “Some of them don’t have powers at all, and others just have something minor, or something that’s a huge burden, like not being able to touch anyone.”

“Oh what, billionaire playboys with all the cool toys and plans, or some oddly specific skill that gets used in looser ways over time?”

“So what? It’s a bit of fun. Occasionally there’s a writer gets really deep with them, but they’re comics! It’s a genre with conventions.” Neil reached for the cereal box and poured out enough to refill his bowl. The sound of pouring milk filled the air for a moment.

“Yeah, but why not write about, oh I don’t know, heroes who can make people burp on command, or always pick matching socks in the dark?”

Neil chewed on his granola with gusto a while to give himself a chance to come up with an answer. He thought about pretending not to have heard it. In the end he settled for: “Because it’s not very super heroic, and frankly a bit dull?”

“Oh sod off. I was trying to make a point.”

“Just not a very good one. Go write one yourself if you think it’s so easy.”

“I will, I’ll blog it.” And Clive swept out the room, leaving his comic behind. Neil sighed and finished his meal. He could hear Clive stomping around upstairs; and the noise of the water in the central heating and mains pipes; and next door’s cat; and the sound of the delivery van driver’s shoes hitting the front step outside.

It was more of an effort not to hear everything really, just easier to pretend to be half-deaf so he didn’t have to bother trying to filter it. He chewed some more granola to drown it all out instead, and got ready to start his day.