When Stan Lee created The Incredible Hulk, he knew he had a winner.
Ol’ Green Skin operates on an anger reflex common to all of us. Managing pent-up rage until it explodes into unbridled raging fury is a notion familiar to us all. Indeed, The Incredible Hulk is alive, and hopefully dormant in all of us.
This is the key to Stan Lee’s success. He builds entire characters on psychological components that add up to describe the human condition.
Iron Man is an ‘after hours’ superhero. Haven’t all of us secretly wished for an exciting alter-ego to offset the mind numbing humdrum and drone of everyday life? Ben Grimm, a.k.a “The Thing”, is maligned and misunderstood. A lovable freak with a giant heart. Have all of us not felt this way at one time in our lives?
Here are some characters that Lee might have come up with, given the inclination, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark:
A lesser known, lower key superhero, paper product warehouse manager Bruce Baninksi, known as ‘The Procrastinator’, uses passive aggressive tactics to gently wear down Evil, like a piece of turquoise in a rock tumbler. Wearing a drab gray spandex one-piece with a yellow “P” emblazoned on his chest, The Procrastinator uses famous one line catch-phrases such as “I’ll meet you in Central Park, tomorrow!” and, “Call me next Wednesday and we’ll discuss the fate of Manhattan, and if I’m not there, leave me a message, and I’ll get back to you!” Baninski sublimely defeats super villains, usually driving them into other lines of work, namely social services, human resources and parody writing.
When one of the regular super heroes goes on vacation or gets down-sized, Manpower “temporarily” replaces him/her/it. He pretends to have the skills to carry out the hero’s functions, despite having little talent beyond the ability to type 30 words per minute. He’s a constant drag on the other hero’s productivity with his endless questions (Hey, Spidey, how do you shoot webs again?) but he’s constantly employed because he costs less than the real heroes and needs no health care.
Meek, indecisive ne’er do-well Century 21 agent Kitty Hawk, donning a red Gucci blazer, ruby red lipstick, and a “no money down” button pinned to her lapel, saunters behind a 3 walled cubicle, carrying a blank appointment schedule and a gaggle of No. 2 pencils, emerges, still dressed in a red Gucci blazer with a “no money down” button pinned to the lapel, but wearing a Batwomanesque silver face mask with diamond studs…and mebbe a little extra lipstick.
The Realtor crushes villains with absurd financial despair, forcing evil-doers into 30 year, 10.9 percent, fixed mortgage rate loans with 5 figure closing costs and open ended, forced place insurance, rendering them financially incapable of pursuing a nefarious life of world conquest and crime, while simultaneously earning a ‘Double Diamond’ pin and a cameo appearance in “Century’s top 21” biannual internal newsletter.
Mild mannered phone tech support Rep. Egon Zigga, after quaffing a elixir of Radium and Vanilla Smirnoff, sheds horn-rimmed spectacles and inhibitions, transmuting him into the famed super romantic Casanova X. X conquers evil by engaging in highly visible trysts with noted supermodels and slightly aging female vocalists. Villains are rendered impotent by extreme jealousy and inadequacy, expending their wasteful criminal energy on Stair Master and stomach flattening scrunches. X’s vulnerability? The elixir wears off quickly and is toxic if used too often, leaving Zigga in a ceaseless, pathological quest for more.
Theodore Thadeus Thronson III is The Alliterator, a master of all consonant sounds, he can spit out like-sounding first syllables until, as he says, “combatants are crushed by the creative concussion of cleverness.” He has two enemies. The first is The Assonant Assassin, that evil manipulator of interior vowel sounds, whose slogan is “Woe to those who will know my blows!” Mostly The Alliterator and The Assonant Assassin stand around bantering until one of them runs out of saliva. The Alliterator’s other nemesis is The Language Maven, William Safire, whom he claims cribs Spiro Agnew’s “Nattering Nabobs of Negativity” from our hero.