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If I had a superpower

I’m sure that one reason for the success of Marvel and DC comics is that they tap into a deep vein of human aspiration, the desire to be in possession of a power that sets us apart from our fellows. How many of us have daydreamed about such a scenario? I know I have! Some of the superpowers that writers have endowed their characters with are decidedly niche, one might argue. There is a little-known superhero called Squirrel Girl, whose superpower (if we might politely term it as such) is to enlist armies of fierce squirrels to her cause. Those who fear the menace of arboreal rodents might well tremble at her name. Oddly, this character has not achieved the same fame and popularity as Wolverine and Spiderman. Another example might be the wonderfully named Arm-Fall-Off-Boy (does what it says on the tin). This character, as the name suggests, is able to detach his arm and use it as a bludgeon in time of crisis; an ability of questionable utility, one would have thought.

An ability very commonly found amongst superheroes is superhuman strength, of course. I can see how this might occasionally be useful to me, when relocating rockery stones, for example, or when required to carry large amounts of groceries. However, my life so far has not brought me face to face with muscular super-villains, and so I’m not sure such ability would be of much use to me on a day-to-day basis. It would be vaguely disappointing to spend all day pressing fingers to the keyboard, when each formidable digit contained the power to hurl trucks or tear up the streets. I should feel that I was underachieving. And I’m sure there might be downsides, too. In fact, were I to be miraculously granted the powers of the Incredible Hulk, I don’t doubt that I should spend an inconvenient amount of time and money on replenishing my wardrobe.

Powers of an elemental kind might also be of dubious utility. I’m sure the Human Torch rarely ever has to fire up his central heating, but I’d imagine he must find it awkward to get house insurance, and you’d have to be so so careful taking a swim down at the local pool. Likewise, being Iceman would be cool on those hot summer days, and my drinks would always be refreshingly chilled, but I’m not sure I’d be that popular in the midst of winter.

The trick would be to find a superpower of genuine use to someone not typically engaged in fighting crime and bringing justice to the oppressed. My life has so far developed otherwise, and my lifestyle might be described as sedentary (or even sedimentary, if we want a really strong term for physical inactivity over time). Accordingly, the more dramatic superpowers might not suit me. A more commonplace superpower might be more appropriate. My wife’s superpower, for example, is the ability to notice and identify things that need doing.

After consideration, it appears to me that a very useful superpower would be the ability to fly. In these days of green consciousness, I could independently fly to Ibiza and leave zero carbon footprint. A nice tan and a clear conscience. How cool would that be? Superman, who made his first appearance back in 1938, combined superhuman strength, as well as the ability to fly. This latter ability seems to be something that people have always dreamed of, and it is surely significant that the first superhero was gifted with it. Ever since the caveman looked up from his mis-thrown spear, to watch the bird he had aimed at take refuge in flight, it must have been the universal dream. From the Montgolfier brothers through to the Wright brothers, we have always aspired to take to the air, but to do so without recourse to technology would be the ultimate high (in a very literal sense). What possibilities would open up? How exhilarating it would be to launch oneself into the skies and swoop and zoom with the effortless ease of the gull or the peregrine. It would certainly make the daily commute a delight, freed from the crawl of traffic, the tyranny of roadworks and the frustration of traffic lights. And what of the potential for sheer exuberant fun? I imagine myself alighting on an airliner at 30,000 feet and squeegeeing the windows, to the shock and bemusement of the passengers inside. Alright, I know smart alecs are going to point out that I’d freeze to death and suffocate up there, but hey, we’re dealing in fantasy here! So anyway, after due consideration, I’m off to equip myself with some decent flying goggles, a leather helmet and the ambition to add a new tweak to the concept of the mile-high club.

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