Midlife Crisis Man to the Rescue!

Belle Waring, riffing off of Cala from Unfogged, imagines a political wife who spontaneously develops superpowers and vaporizes her cheating spouse on-camera with laser-beam eyes.

This made me realize that there are very few regular comic-book superheroes whose powers spring from the middle-aged traumas of adulthood that often drive serious mainstream fiction. The only two big examples I can think of are Dr. Strange and Iron Man, with Dr. Strange being a good example of just how cool this concept potentially could be. (There’s Nite Owl from Watchmen, also, but he’d be hard to write as a continuing character in a regular comic-book series.) Bruce Banner, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm got their powers as mature adults, but in Banner’s case, as his character developed over time, it turned out that his transformation into the Hulk was the result of being abused as a child. There wasn’t anything particularly traumatic about Reed Richards’ transformation. Ben Grimm’s transformation really isn’t the expression of some prior adult crisis, it IS the adult crisis.

Given the aging demographic of comic readership, you’d think there could be a real niche for more Dr. Strange-type characters, adults whose fundamentally grown-up crisis triggers a transformation. (The new Dr. Fate over at DC is being developed along these lines, for example.) Enough with your mutants-are-a-metaphor-for-puberty and your childhood traumas! Bring on the wronged wives, laid-off middle managers, failed novelist alcoholics, alienated suburbanites, nervous breakdown bank vice-presidents and get them into costume!

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