The Fantastic (Or Why I Love Superhero Science)

February 17, 2012

So, yes, technically the characters in most of my books (all of them, at the moment!) could make superheroes of themselves. They do have superpowers, after all! I called the blog "superpowered love" because that's the point: romance novels about people who have superpowers... that complicate their love lives.

Some might've noticed that although each book really only explores one major aspect of that, the rules of these powers are already hard and fast. That's what the Superpowered Science page is all about, thanks to our Neuronaut-in-Chief Irene Ballagh. We're not making this up as we go along because I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of Superpowered Science as the core around which all the stories are built -- which aspect to I get to explore next, and whose story is that?

From whence came this obsession? I gotta blame Ultimate* Fantastic Four.

Really, it doesn't matter how you explain the origin of the powers, to me. Genetic mutation (X-Men), a chemical spill (The Flash), a ring that means you're a superawesome cosmic protector (Green Lantern), or simply a genetic trait passed down through generations, whatever. So long as the powers operate within certain boundaries, so long as the author plays by certain rules, I can suspend my disbelief. I mean, let's not even get into the ways shapeshifters screw with the laws of conservation. Holy shit. The point is that I just need a pseudo-scientific-but-based-in-actual-science excuse to believe -- well, and it helps if the story and characters are interesting enough that I want to.

And Ultimate Fantastic Four had alllll of that. That is the book that made me truly fall in love with sexy superhero science and understand its full applications. First there's my love of geeks and inherent belief that scientists are sexy... well, just look at them:

From Ultimate Fantastic Four #2 (Bendis, Millar, Kubert)
Now that is some seriously adorable nerdlove between Reed and Sue, amiright?

In the original* Fantastic Four book, the eponymous team got their powers from SPACE RADIATION... or something. I don't know, it was always with the gamma rays back in the 60s. The Ultimate-verse team launched in 2004, so it got a much-needed update, and their powers are -- well, I won't spoil it, since The Fantastic is readily available as a TPB now if people are interested, but it's all because of an experiment Reed's been working on since he was quite literally eleven years old and getting constant swirlies in gym class. (Yes, the transporter issue mentioned in above awkward geekflirting panels.)

So The Fantastic is the story arc of the first six issues -- them getting their powers, and some of them being less excited about it than others...

From Ultimate Fantastic Four #5 (Bendis, Millar, Kubert, Dell)

Seriously, how can you not love these huge dorks? I love them so much I just scanned all that crap in just so I could do this post. C'monnnnnn.

As the book gets going, the implications of their new powers and the dimension that caused them get more and more interesting and less and less random. A pattern emerges, and it just adds to the sheer unadulterated awesome of these four characters. Which is a lot of awesome, frankly.

And that is why I love superhero science. Because it does that for me. So that's why I gotta have it, and that's why I'm lucky Irene feels the same. She's the Reed to my Johnny.

Well, except I'm not quite that dumb. But feel free to contradict me if you see this, Reenie :D

I always like to give full credit to my inspirations, so I even included some geekflirting in re: Fantastic Four in Nobody's Hero. Stay tuned for a snippet on that subject next week, I think!

*For the uninitiated: Ultimate Marvel is different from Regular Marvel. Long story short, Ultimate was an alternate universe reboot in 2000. Both universes still exist in Marvel Comics -- I buy books from both. There's a Spider-Man in Ultimate-verse (Miles Morales) and a Spider-Man in what we'd think of as regular Marvel-verse (Peter Parker), and they never, like, meet up and cause a temporal vortex or anything. That'd suck. But yeah, Ultimate verse has waaaaay less baggage.

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