Home > World-Building > Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: New to the Game

Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: New to the Game

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!


I have a great love of super-heroes, as you may have noticed. I’ve been reading comic books for as long as I can remember, and there’s something about a super-hero movie that I just can’t pass up. I have t-shirts and replica rings, and I would have action figures if I had the room for them. Point is, when I started doing this writing project, I knew that super-heroes were going to play a big part in them.

What is often overlooked is that a lot of the really good stories that you can tell with super-heroes are the same stories that you tell with normal people, only bigger and with tights. So in that sense, I created Mass Man in his eponymous story on day 74.

Here’s what we know about him from this story: he loves being a super-hero, but he hates a lot of the trappings that come with it. The spandex, the mask, being hurled into buildings and having to keep his dignity in front of civilians… Especially his name – Mass Man. It was given to him by a reporter and the name just stuck. Now he doesn’t think he can change it without looking whiny and self-important.

His powers are pretty simple: he can manipulate mass, both his own and that of other things. This means that he can fly, walk through walls, stop bullets, lift heavy things, all that. He doesn’t know how he does it, and he doesn’t really care to know. What he wants is to be a super-hero and not go out there looking like a moron.

His role models are Photon the Magnificent and the Lady of the Rooftops, two high-profile heroes out of Corsair City. When they come to help him with his giant robot trouble, he gets to talk to them about the missteps and problems of being a new hero, which gives him a bit more confidence that he will one day make a name for himself.

Basically, Mass Man is an early twentysomething, and suffering from the same problems that modern young people all have to go through. He’s not sure who he really is, for one. He hates the label that’s been given to him, but can’t come up with anything better. He knows what he wants to do, but really all he can do is emulate the people who do it better. He has those he admires, and he feels both awe and shame when he has to perform in front of them. He’s new at this gig, and feels like he ought to be a lot better than he is, despite not having a lot of experience.

Perhaps that’s because he – like a lot of us – was told as a kid that he was intrinsically special and due for greatness. Maybe he was praised for everything he did, and can’t understand why he’s not getting the same treatment anymore. I dunno – it’s not Bruce Wayne levels of childhood trauma, but what happens to us as kids does a lot to make us who we are as adults.

The story doesn’t go into his backstory a whole lot, but here’s how he looks in my head: he is a middle-class kid from the suburbs, in his mid-twenties, who manifested these strange powers maybe a year or so before the story begins. He lives in a world where super-heroes are real, and so has a career path all laid out for him. Despite that, he doesn’t know anything about being a hero other than the costume and a baritone voice.

A lot of his stories, then, are going to be about growing up – both as a hero and just as a person. These are, in a lot of ways, my favorite kinds of super-hero stories. It’s all well and good when they save the world or vanquish evil, but the stories where they become better people or learn their limits are a lot easier for me to relate to as a reader. I look forward to exploring his world with him.

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