These next three characters have their origins in science fiction rather than mythology. One thing they all have in common is inhuman strength.
An alien refugee from the destroyed planet Krypton, Kal-El does really well in earth’s atmosphere and under earth’s sun. His secret identity in which he masquerades as an earthling is that of Clark Kent. He is so familiar that I need not list all of his powers. Instead of discussing the evolution of this character from DC Comics, I’ll cut straight to these images by Alex Ross, my favorite artist in the superhero genre.
There is no more iconic character in the history of comics.
I appreciate this character from Marvel Comics because he is a metaphor for what lurks in all of us. As the result of a gamma ray explosion, there is a link between his physical and emotional states.
Most notably, stress and rage transform slight, mild Robert Bruce Banner into a huge, green monster. The more upset he gets, the stronger he gets.
Have you ever taken a good look at yourself when you’re mad? Probably not, because you probably can’t. You feel like you’re in control when you’re not, and you typically regret your actions later. This gets back to my view of the Hulk as a metaphor for the human condition. We all consider ourselves to be better people than we are. I wonder how often the difference between us and those we think of as evil can be attributed to whether or not opportunity, trauma, and a host of other circumstances has pushed us to extremes that unleash the beast. Weigh in if you wish, I deliberately just dropped a bomb. If you agree with me, you may metaphorically add your signature to the illustration below.
Oh, and I really like the way he is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Disney Marvel Universe.
Benjamin Jacob Grimm was transformed into the Thing when an inadequately-shield vessel was bombarded with cosmic radiation during a space flight. Other members of his crew became the rest of the Fantastic Four in the same incident.
Unlike Banner, his condition doesn’t depend on his emotions.
That’s enough said. Here is one more piece of eye candy from Alex Ross since he’s making this post look so good. His visuals transform any story, and that’s his superpower.
I’ll call it here. The strong man has been a cultural icon throughout history in various parts of the globe. Perhaps this is because of our desire to be able to protect ourselves, to take matters into our own hands. I think often of this in relation to Christianity and its doctrine which stresses the need for internal control from the hand of a higher source. In that light, I wonder if the trend of making female superheroes stronger and angrier might not be hiding other approaches which have escaped consideration because of all the cultural noise. After all, I don’t think rage and swagger look good on anybody.