Ancient To Modern: The Strong Man (3)

These next three characters have their origins in science fiction rather than mythology. One thing they all have in common is inhuman strength.

Superman

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.

superman1

superman2

There is no more iconic character in the history of comics.

The Hulk

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.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

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.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

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.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Oh, and I really like the way he is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Disney Marvel Universe.

Credit: Disney Marvel
Credit: Disney Marvel

The Thing

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.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Unlike Banner, his condition doesn’t depend on his emotions.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

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.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

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.

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14 thoughts on “Ancient To Modern: The Strong Man (3)”

    1. Thanks. That’s all I’ve got on that particular topic unless I have a flash of inspiration before next week. My favorite? That’s a hard one. It’s between, Kingdom Come, Marvels, Marvels: Behind the Camera, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I might be leaning toward Kingdom Come at the moment, but I go through these moods…

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  1. It seems like there’s always been a thread of characters who are physically monstrous and yet pitiable. Frankenstein’s Monster, for instance. It’s like a balance between fear of violence and risk of compassion.

    Or maybe a tale like Beauty and the Beast, where a loving woman changes a monstrous man for the better. Both Hulk and Thing have had girlfriends or wives who played a similar role. Even in the second Avengers movie, Natasha was able to calm Hulk down from his rage.

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    1. I like the idea of the humanizing influence of an admirable woman. I’d like to see this developed more in future movies of the Avengers, and I wish SOMEBODY would get the Fantastic Four right. I’d really like to see that franchise go back to Marvel Studios.

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  2. dawnlizjones (a relation?) directed me to your site, and I’m glad she did.I went through a brief comic book period in the early ’60s, and my favorite was Fantastic Four. My interests ultimately left them behind, so that the only adult contact I’ve had with comic book stories has been with films based on them. (Well, except for an intense fling with Corto Maltese.) I’m more drawn to Marvel than DC, but I do enjoy both The Flash and Arrow. I don’t know if I would have pursued even Iron Man but for being the single parent of a son — yet another reason to be grateful for him. lol. What I’ve read here so far intrigues me enough to hit Follow and return for a deeper look. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you for following me. Dawn is my inimitable wife of the last 37 years. You might enjoy perusing my archives. My brother, Doug Jones, played the villain, Deathbolt, on both Arrow and The Flash. He is also the Silver Surfer from the Fantastic Four movie. I mention him in some of my posts. I hope you enjoy my site. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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