International Superheroes

As I mentioned in the Prodigal Old Man thread, I’ve been having trouble writing stories lately. At least long ones; I find it hard to recall facts, forcing me to constantly check my notes, and I get tired quickly. I still haven’t talked with my doctor about this (my appointment is this Monday) thought I suspect it might be depression from my family problems.

In any case, I still feel the NEED to write. I decided, hey, maybe I can at least write something if I just let the ideas flow and limit myself to short spurts at a time, with no deadline… work my way back up from there. Hence this article.

I’ve always loved the idea of a group of heroes with members from various countries. This is an old idea, of course, you can find it in various comics and cartoons. And yet, I’ve never been completely satisfied by any version. Something’s always missing, I’m not sure what. It may be a realistic use of World Politics, or an proper presentation of the cultures involved… so I decided, hey, let’s give this some thought, maybe even come up with my own team of characters. And what better place to discuss this than an international forum like RPGC?

Let’s start with the logistics:

An international team of heroes- one that operates on all (or most) of the World, needs some kind of permission to cross international borders. The only way that would happen is if the countries involved gave their authorization. So, such a team must be backed up by the United Nations. Of course, those governments might want something in return. I suspect they would carefully choose who represents them, so that they have their countries (or at least the country’s government) agendas in mind first. I. E., the American and Russian heroes might really be CIA and KGB agents. This would be a source of conflict. Of course, being heroes, they eventually put their differences aside and work together (in any story I write they would, at least :wink: ) defying specific orders they were given. This of course would not sit well with their governments. There’s quite a bit of potential for story conflict there.

Conflicting with the political aspect would be the cultural one. There would of course be heroes who want to form such a team to protect the World, and maybe foster cultural exchange in the process. Both visions can work together, with the team organized for political purposes but the heroes interpreting things their own way.

Then there’s the membership. Ideally, you’d want a hero from each country in the team. But that would result in a group of over a hundred characters… it would be best if the stories focused only on a small team, and the rest were visited in individual stories. Perhaps even having a team with a rotating membership, so that everyone gets to join at least once. I still haven’t figured out who the main heroes should be, or how they would be rotated, however.

Other logistic problems: Where would the heroes be based? The United Nations building? But that would make it a target for villains (more so, I mean.) Perhaps an island in international waters… or a mobile base, like a battleship? And what would their headquarters be like? (If it’s a ship, that would be solved.) And how would they get around? Would they have their own, advanced vehicles? Or would it be better to split them into smaller teams based near trouble spots around the World? (That would help with the membership problem.)

Then there’s the heroes themselves. On the one hand, I want to make each representative of their home cultures, but on the other, I don’t want them reduced to collections of clichés like so many typical international heroes are. (Check out Marvel’s Irish Heroine, Shamrock: She’s red-haired, green-eyed, wears a green costume, has “good luck” powers, and is even connected to the IRA! I’m surprised she doesn’t Riverdance. :stuck_out_tongue: ) The trick is, I think, developing the character as a person separately from his or her nationality and powers. The Hindu hero, for example, might be a movie actress on her free time. Hey, we’re living in the 21st Century already, you know. On the other hand, a little cultural flavor doesn’t hurt, especially if it’s realistic- most people from other countries do speak with accents, for example. I’m obviously going to need to do a lot of research on the countries involved for this…

The characters’ powers are also important. I considered having all the superhumans of this world have the same origin -a mutant virus, for example- but then decided that it would be more interesting to have various sources, according to each country’s culture; for example, the American Hero might be given his powers by an experiment, while the African hero might be a shaman. Also, having a variety of powers would not only make it more interesting, but would give good reasons to use particular characters. “Oh no, the Russian hero has been brainwashed! We need a telepath! Somebody call the Hindu guy!” :smiley:

That’s all for now, I feel tired already… but I managed to spit quite a few words as usual, eh? :stuck_out_tongue: Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going with this, I might start my own fanfiction series, or just discuss things in this thread. We’ll see. Of course, any suggestion would be welcome. :slight_smile:

That’s totally the Scottish girl I was dating. Apart from the IRA part, that is.

Were you smart enough to play the Lotto while dating her? :hahaha;

Still thinking of more ideas. C’mon, no one has any?

A few notable sources of conflict to add:

  1. Representation of Non-UN member states and defence of those states. For example, what if a nation that has not been allowed/has not attempted to join the UN has an emergency? Would the heroes be allowed to go in and help, and would heroics trump politics and force them to go in either way?
  2. When two member nations undergo conflict, what are there heroes supposed to do?
  3. The “stereotype” heroes might exist, and get political backlash from some of their nations’ people. For example, Sunni or Shi’a moslems might protest a hero of the other faith, or some people might be offended by a shamanic hero, thinking it paints their country as backwards and primitive in the international light. If you think about it, the hero of a nation (Captain America, Captain Britain, Silver Samurai) is, in a lot of ways, the personification of a country, and how the country chooses to represent itself will make a big statement to the people of that country.
  4. There could be political controversy over nations who happened to have more powerful heroes, the same way there is in the real world over wealthy nations. This could lead to nations feeling like their interests weren’t respesented because their heroes weren’t powerful enough.
  5. Being from different cultures, the morality of individual heroes might differ when it comes to when they think they should intervene or an action is right. This could lead to conflict within the team as different heroes argue whether it’s right to battle an environmentally destructive corporation or some other such not entirely black-and-white cause.

As for location:
A standard, static base like the UN building would be such a target for attack it’s ridiculous. That, and it wouldn’t really be in totally international territory. While there’s a few islands in international waters, I think most of them have some ownership by other nations. There’s the issue of a private island owned by a an individual, which could be another source of conflict (private backing for superhero teams on such an international scale might not sit well with some). However, I still think the static base leaves too much potential for attack.
Some past worldwide hero teams have had bases on the moon/satellites or similar astral bodies, thereby on truly unowned teritory. I think that’s kinda ridiculous, as without some serious teleportation powers, it’d be really inconvenient, the base would be incredibly expensive to build and maintain, and still fairly vulnerable to attack, at least in a comic book world.
A flying base with some innovative fuel source allowing it to stay airborn without destroying the world, or a mobile naval base would make the most sense. IT woudl allow heroes to travel the world fairly quickly, be in generally international territory (or able to move between different nations’ territories, at least), and be vulnerable enough to attack to make it interesting, while not ridiculously easy targets like immobile bases are.

I’ve been thinking of ideas for a few specific heroes, too. If it goes the way of fanfiction, I see no reason for it not to have the 100-some-odd members, just with certain people picking certain ones to write. If it were an actual, comic form, that would be more impossible and lead to less characters getting attention, unless it were an entire universe with ultiple titles (like the fanfiction system would be), rather than a single title within a universe. Establishing a canon of some heroes, either way, would be good, to avoid repeats. A place for people to write the heroes they’ve created, in short. The other manner of dealing with the hero number problem is that, theoretically, superheroes wouldn’t be all that common. Every nation having one might be a little unlikely, so there could be some that, while they had slots for a hero, didn’t have any superpowered individuals to send.
One idea for more original, but still nationally recognizable characters is to take notable aspects of a nation that aren’t stereotypes. For instance, several of the world’s best long-distance runners is from Ethiopia, so the Ethiopian hero could be given super-speed. Instead of the “leprechaun” stereotype, a character noting Ireland’s long tradition of literature (Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Dylan Thomas, Johnathan Swift, and a lot more) in some way could work.

In the U.N. the five members can veto decisions despite what other members think. The superhero team probably won’t carry such baggage but the power balance of the countries-members will be present in some way.

edit: I forgot, no lotto. I’ll have to use plan B.

Arac: Those are some very good points! :slight_smile: Let’s check them out:

  1. You’re correct in that not all nations in the world are members of the UN, and technically the (I need a name for this team. Help!) couldn’t go help there to help in case of an emergency without some negotiations first (but would the heroes wait, especially if lives are in danger?)

  2. If two nations are in conflict, they would probably order their heroes not to cooperate (but not to attack each other openly, either.) Again, what the heroes would do would depend on the characters. Note also that the heroes would not be allowed to intervene in most wars… no matter how much they might want to. Their responsibilities would be restricted to 1) battling crime, especially supervillains, and b) rescuing people from disasters, which occur constantly around the World. Note the heroes would probably have diplomatic immunity too. “Whoops, there goes the Roman Colosseum. Sorry. Take it with the UN, people.” :stuck_out_tongue:

  3. You bring in a very good point that a group of international heroes (Name! I need a NAME!) would probably end up becoming, unwittingly, a propaganda tool, with some countries insisting on their heroes wearing certain costumes, to be featured in more missions, etc. (Kinda like with Miss Universe… Oh, I’ve got to work such pageants into one of those stories! Perhaps the heroes as bodyguards for contestants threatened by terrorists…)

  4. Yes, the concept of a “superhuman arms race” is far too obvious not to include. It would go from jokes (“Geez, did you see the Russian guy? He has to be using steroids!”) to story plots like secret eugenics programs.

  5. Morality would precisely be one of my main points in the stories. Some cultures, even today, simply do things that are unacceptable to others (like female castration.) No, I wouldn’t go THAT far, this are superhero stories after all, but conflicts would have to arise due to beliefs (what if the Israeli hero is needed on a Sabbat?) My aim would be to show that, ultimately, there are some things that all humans consider sacred (like human life) and heroes would find a way to make things work, when politicians cannot.

As for location, it does sound like a mobile base would be the best solution. Like a battleship or a submarine, though those would be controversial in and of themselves… maybe a flying “island” invented by a genius hero? Perhaps we should let he events of the story decide things, i.e. they might start working out from Blue Helmet bases and then move into their own.

And yeah, opening this as a fanfiction setting would be a great idea! After I work out the basic details, I could allow anyone to write sidestories featuring their own heroes… fans from all around the World could bring in their own (original) national heroes! Though as you mentioned, not ALL countries in the world need to have superheroes. As I said, I would leave their creation and use as inspiration comes along. (But I would at least like to have each major culture in the World represented… i. e., an American Hero, a Latino one, a Japanese one, etc.)

(You know, the other day, while doing some research on international heroes, I found out a very interesting fact: Darna, a Filipino comics character, is the earliest superheroine to have her own movies and TV shows, before even Wonder Woman! How about that? Check her Wikipedia entry.)

Rigmarole: Oh yeah, The Security Council of the UN (and its member nations) would certainly have a presence in the stories. They would probably demand that the team includes one hero from each of their member nations at all times.

Man, that felt good! Send me more ideas if you got them, folks (I’d love to hear your hero ideas, Arac. Don’t worry, I won’t steal them without permission!) Also, if I go ahead with this, where could I post it? i hear terrible things about… Oh yeah, and I need a TEAM NAME!!!

Smashing idea, Mr. Martinez. I might have to ask Galloway if I can guest-write an ep of the Task Force or something. Heck, we could both write versions of the fated moment when our heroes met for the first time and what was the original reason for the fire between them. (“Oh, I just dropped a banana peel in front of him and dared him to take a step forward.”)

Given our location and a few matters regarding our past, a goverment-funded hero from here would probably have a few interesting matters to say about Russia and Nato. Spirit of the Winter War and all that, still not left behind. He would be concerned with being competitive as it’s a relatively small country where local networking would be tremendously important, but internationally, very protective, perhaps even suspicious. Powers would probably be technology or information based. (“Nokia’s 3rd gen mobile network? Pshaw, look at this mighty rubber boot from the same company!”) He would have military training, perhaps more than the mere compulsory service. (I decided Mabatsekker’s White and Blue from the flag colors, Blue Mage powers came from my rabid obsession of said art.)

I don’t really know all that much about the stuff you’re asking, but I will tell you, this is a really cool idea. And I’m not generally into the Superhero stuff. :smiley:

Mabat: Of course, you would be ideal to write a Finnish hero. :slight_smile: Though sometimes I worry that the influence of American comics is too great, many of the International Heroes I’ve seen (not yours) are obvious Superman or Batman take-offs. I’m hoping for more originality here.
PS: Is that you in your Avatar!? Handsome fellow, indeed. :slight_smile: Though you seem distracted, is Galloway standing behind you stealing your cookies? :stuck_out_tongue:

Kiro: Well, superheroes are the “official” main theme, but as mentioned, there will be many others as well. Most adventures will probably be about the heroes going to a country on a mission and be exposed to the local culture. That’s what I find cool about this concept, how you can get to learn about the rest of the World through it.

Double Post. Edited out. Nothing to see here. Move Along. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well this idea sounds really cool Wil. Whatevers comes from it, it sounds really cool.

And I would definately put my vote on a flying base of operations, like the SHIELD headquarters in Marvel’s stuff. Floating somewhere above international waters seems like a good idea. Also makes it much harder for enemies to reach, then just ship, or anything.

As for a name (which I noticed you are still in need of), I like Glenton’s suggestion of Vanguard, it sounds pretty cool. But if you have them linked to the UN, you could have use that, like the UNbeatables, or the UNstoppables. Or something like that. But that might be a little too cliche. I don’t know, that’s all I could think of off the top of my head.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, there have been one or two individuals using the name of Vanguard, but no TEAMS, so you could probably use it if you wanted to. It does have the right kind of sound to it, one has to admit.

Adding to the cultural conflict within the team you could have representatives of different cultures from one multicultural country like Canada or US.

Yeah, have you noticed that some International Hero Groups often include a Native American character as their “American” representative? There was Apache Chief in Super Friends, and Owlwoman in Global Guardians (DC Comics.) You’d think a flag-themed hero ala Captain America would be better. Thing is, Native Americans are a very small cultural minority in the US- Heck, an African American hero would be more proper. It would be like having a Zoroastrian represent Iran.

Now, I’m not saying the cultures and plights of such minorities should not be covered in the stories, only that they shouldn’t be members of the main team.

STILL looking for a team name… only thing I can come up on my own is U.N.I.T. (United Nations International Team)… and that’s LAME. :thud:

It also is taken, in Doctor Who, although the acronym stands for something else.

As for the Native American thing, I think it’s because of the attitude that they’re the “real” Americans, seeing as we were here first. However, as a Native American, I really disagree. Not only are we a very small minority (everyone who claims to be “part Cherokee” notwithstanding), our “culture” doesn’t really represent modern American cultures, and, finally, it’s not even really our culture any more; we don’t just parade around in loin cloths and feathers sleeping in tipis, for the most part. I mean, I’m sure there are some people, Native or otherwise, who do that, but when I go to the Pawnee reservation, I sure don’t see it. There’s more drinking and kareoke and gambling than sweat lodges and tomahawks. A lot of Native American culture never was the stereotype schlock it was in comics, either. In short, I’d say a Native American hero is a really, really bad idea for the American representative.
I figured each country only gets one hero, and the conflict would come from minorities who didn’t feel represented as a result of that.
A hero who doesn’t really represent his country, though, could be an interesting twist, if it was done well and only happened a few times. Since, again, superheroes are only so common, if one pops up from a minority group, it may be what the government has to send, even if it’s not representative at all. It could be hard, internally, on the hero, with him/her having to feel like they needed to represent a country they naturally only represent a small portion of.

Anyway, I was actually working on developing a Mongolian hero who wasn’t a Kahn-referencing, nomad-themed repeat. I’m currently looking into some Mongolian poetry for inspiration, but I think I might give him thermokinetic-type powers, since the differences between warmth and cold are expressed quite a bit in writing, and one of the country’s more notable features. He’d also be one of the better linguists in the party, given the wide range of common languages in Mongolia (Mongolian, several local dialects, Mandarin, Russian, German, and English are all quite common).

Maybe you could have a compromise. I’m thinking a Native American who’s mythology expert or something. In a broader sense, an archaeologist with a specialty in mythology. If that makes any sense. Their power would be to manifest mythological heroes and creatures like Tarot or Dani Moonstar.

I’d forgotten about the Who UNIT, too. Next time I’ll do a Wiki search first.

Arac, your comments remind me of our cultural situation here in Puerto Rico. As a child, I was taught to celebrate our racial/cultural ancestry: Taino, Black, and Spanish. And certainly, we have towns with Taino names, our music has Afrocaribbean beats, and we speak Spanish. But something seemed missing to me: What about American (as in, The USA?) We drink Coke, wear jeans, talk about the Mets, watch Madonna, put Santa Claus and fake snow in our Christmas Trees, etc. But when I point out these things, some people get mad. That’s “gringo” stuff, we shouldn’t count it as part of our culture, and we should be an independent nation already (never mind we ruined our own economy and made ourselves utterly dependent on the States… ) It’s hypocrisy, and it annoys me.

Anyway, if I write any International Heroes stories, I would likely use Native American characters at some point, but I would take care not to make them as stereotypical as the examples above (as I mentioned, this is a problem with many international heroes.)

In fact, I’m currently researching the cultures of The World, past and present, for these purposes. Expect a list here soon.

One good point, however, is that many heroes chosen to represent their countries, would probably be according to their government’s agendas: the American hero is more likely to be a CIA agent infiltrating the group that a true “American Apple Pie” character. At least at first; certainly, at some point these agendas would clash with the team’s heroic ideals.

And a Mongolian hero is certainly a neat idea. Let us know what you come up with.

A character who could connect to myth in general, not just Native American, might be better to show the “cultural melting pot” idea that is America, as his power would be a culmination of all those cultures that came together into ours. I mean, much more of our culture comes from elsewhere in the world; a lot more people have Christmas trees (something of largely German, though some other European, or origin) than go to a sweat lodge even once in their life. Speaking of more similar things, a lot more people go to Saunas, a Nordic idea, than sweat lodges.
As for the hero himself being Native American, there’s obviously nothing wrong with that. I’m just tired of seeing all Native American heroes be the same. I mean, it’s not even that it’s an offensive stereotype as much as it’s just boring. So, any fresh twist would be all right.

The only names I have currently have are;

H.E.L.P.: Heroic Earthican Law enforcement Patrol

Super Interpol: Since this sounds like Interpol + the occasional SuperVillain

International Police Squad: In case we want an organization consisting of bumbling fools

G. R. D.: Giant Robot Dispatch In case we want a crime fighting organization consisting of Super Robots

S.T.O.P.: Super Troopers on Patrol can be shorten down to Supers on Patrol (don’t let the fact that the name was inspired by Police Academy 4 lessen any of the potential)

Guardian, Emblem, Stand, Division 9, Alpha Squad 7, Beta Force 8, The 984s, Ect…Ect…Ect…, Peace, Peach, Peas in a Pod, SOD, RoD, Tod, Central Operations Division, International House of Police, Password. International House of Shriners (good for a cover name at least), F.U.N.N., R.U.N.N., Law Officers Litigation Section, Super Officers Nations Investigation Committee, Global Order Division, Advanced Developed Humans Division, Prefectural Earth Defense Force, and M.O.R.E.

Also I vote for the sub (one named Nautilsk) namely because Floating Islands tend to be highly visible and not highly maneuverable.

To expand on an earlier idea…

Division of International Vanguards: Emergencies, Resolutions, Safety, and Emancipation.

Aka, D.I.V.E.R.S.E