Tag Archives: superhero

The Ongoing Quest for a Superhero Worthy of Our Times

There’s an imaginary character in my novel called Super Subliminal Man. And his unique super power is his ability to blend into the background, so as to remain undetectable by others around him. He kind of exists on the threshold of consciousness, waiting to right wrongs etc.

I suppose, I’m ultimately intrigued by the whole idea of the subliminal, more generally. So it’s probably not all that surprising I should have been compelled to create a figure like Super Subliminal Man.

Why is it we have that favorite pair of jeans that when they’re freshly washed and ironed makes us feel so totally invincible as we pull them on? Or that favorite song that fills us with hope and boldness, for instance? Or that favorite food that we crave after a stressful and tiring day, for that matter?

Habit or familiarity, I hear you answer. Sure, but isn’t familiarity supposed to breed contempt? Uh-huh? And I would argue, therefore, that neither of these two things makes up the whole equation.

On a slightly different tangent, I was idly researching the history of the tobacco industry today and learnt that the man who designed the first Camel cigarette packets was a man called Fred Otto Kleesattel. And apparently he had initially worked as a camouflage artist for the US military during WW1. His wartime role evidently was to make lethal objects blend into their surroundings. Kind of like hiding cancer-causing tobacco products in plain sight of Mr and Mrs Joe (Camel) Average.

The Joe Camel reference may be lost on some of you, because this lovable mascot was banned in 1997, following accusations he existed solely as a way of marketing cigarettes to children.

Anyway, whatever. Hidden persuaders aside, I thought it might be cool to invent a subliminal agent that would fight for the forces of good for once. And, hence, Super Subliminal Man was born…

NB 5.4 million people die globally each year from tobacco-related diseases. The total number of deaths caused by WW1 was approximately 17 million, which includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. But because WW1 lasted four years (1914-1918), tobacco comes out on top as the bigger killer. At a rate of currently 5.4 million deaths per year, over a period of four years, tobacco will kill 21.6 million people compared to WW1’s paltry 17 million…

Hmm, appearances can often prove very deceptive, wouldn’t you say?