Archive for June 6th, 2010

Jun 06 2010

Superhero types and how to distinguish yours (Part 2)

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

(Part 1 here).

Jekyll and Hydes

  • Most superheroes have two distinct identities, like Batman vs. Bruce Wayne or Ben Grimm the Thing pining vs. Ben Grimm the human. For a Jekyll and Hyde character, the identities are separated not only by a marked physical transformation but also a multiple personality disorder. Sometimes the character shifts between the two states (such as the original J&H and the Hulk, but it was permanent for Dr. Manhattan).
  • Compared to other archetypes, curiosity and/or naiveté usually play a prominent role in the origin story of a Jekyll/Hyde character. For example, Dr. Suresh injects himself with his superserum rather than conduct tests, Jon Ostermann/Dr. Manhattan and Bruce Banner/The Hulk were involved in highly dangerous experimental research, etc.
  • Generally, the character gains his powers unintentionally (either through an accident or as an unintended consequence of a scientific experiment). What if it were intentional? What kind of character would want to do that to himself, and under what (desperate?) circumstances?
  • What causes the character to have separate personalities in each form? The most cliche (read: usually least interesting) explanation is that the transformed form is monstrous and/or bestial, like Hyde or the Hulk. (One of the many problems that might arise out of that is that the dialogue of the transformed form will be pretty dumb). Fortunately, there are fresher alternatives. For example, Dr. Manhattan’s perspective changed considerably when he essentially ascended to godhood, causing him to lose most of his empathy and estrange himself from humanity. What are some other ways a character’s perspective and/or values might change?
  • In most cases, the character is a scientist researching something that man wasn’t supposed to know. So he’s generally responsible for the transformation. What if he’s not? (Maybe he’s an unwilling or unwitting test subject, or he’s a janitor that accidentally triggers the device after-hours). Maybe the process is purely magical/occult rather than scientific.

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