August 17, 2012

Letdowns and Showdowns: a round table discussion with the authors of Corrupts Absolutely?

This is the third and final round table with the Corrupts Absolutely? gang. I hope you've all enjoyed these, and if you haven't read them all yet, once you're done here, go back and you'll find a week's worth of goodness dedicated to this anthology. I'll go ahead now and thank all of the authors for taking part, as well as Lincoln Crisler for helping get all these ducks in a row. Now, onto the topics.

Which superpower feels like it would be more trouble than it's worth? Is there one you'd consider foolproof?

Kris Ashton: I definitely wouldn’t want to be Ghost Rider – there’s an existential horror about his powers that the movie version failed to grasp. I doubt any superpower would be foolproof. Regular human powers cause enough trouble.

Wayne Ligon: That depends on how it’s written. Telepathy is one of those huge, wide-open, ‘gateway’ powers that encompass a huge number of effects. You could have someone like Professor X, who can shut down every mind on Earth, or someone like Peter Stanchek who has to pop pills to keep his gift from driving him crazy.

Taking ‘having control over it’ as a given, though, Telepathy seems like it would be the power most likely to be more trouble than it’s worth. The pure temptation to change how people thought about you, or to know what they really were thinking about you in the first place, could utterly destroy someone with a weak personality or self-image. If there is no common way of defending against it, the minute it became known what you could do, every intelligence agency on Earth would be after you to either recruit you or kill you. No secret would ever be safe, again. Suffice to say that if I had it, I’d move to Washington DC to troll minds and drop anonymous leaflets.

Again, ‘given control’, telekinesis is one I’d think would be relatively foolproof. Move things, move yourself, control kinetic energy, eventually learn to operate on the nano-level to change matter, etc. You can produce an astounding number of effects depending on how ‘deep’ you want the power to actually go.

Ed Erdelac: Superspeed. It's awesome. You can do a lot with it, but if you're not paying attention, you could probably run over somebody, just obliterate them. Birds and animals too. Also, you'd go through shoes pretty fast. Plus, all I've ever read suggests speedsters possess a tremendous metabolism, so think of your grocery bill.

A foolproof power....that's tough to conjure, as a power without drawbacks isn't very interesting, is it? Maybe Mr. Fantastic/Plastic Man's power. They're pretty much indestructible, they can take on whatever shape they can imagine. That's pretty cool.

Cat Rambo: Telepathy. Imagine how creepy it would be knowing what everyone else is thinking. And one thing comic books have taught me -- there's no foolproof power. There's always some fateful Kryptonite lurking somewhere in the corners.

Jason M. Tucker: Honestly, I think Victor’s power of seeing peoples’ sins and wrongdoings, past and future, would be maddening. How could you ever grow close to someone if you know all of their past skeletons, as well as the things they will do in the future? I don’t know if there is a foolproof superpower. There always has to be some type of weakness and disadvantage if it’s going to be interesting.

William Rose: I don't think any of them are foolproof. People are down right ingenious when it comes to working the system, and I think superpowers would just be an extension of that. "Hey I can do this incredibly cool thing! Now, how can I make this work for me..." Because of this, I really wouldn't want any sort of metahuman ability. Life is hard enough without the added stress of constantly keeping your abilities in check. I mean, think about it: if you read minds, sooner or later you're going to find out things you'd rather not know; if you've got super strength you'll end up hurting someone. We've all heard the expression "I guess I didn't realize my own strength" ... and that comes from normal people. You can't feel pain? Sounds good in theory, but pain lets us know when something is wrong. Mutant healing factor? I think not. If you know that you're body will heal any wound, it's only a matter of time before this is taken for granted. When things are taken for granted, people get careless. And when people get careless, other people get hurt. People who don't have that healing power. So, no thank you. I'm happy being a regular, run of the mill guy in this instance.

Karina Fabian: I’m with Tim on human torch—setting yourself on fire? Give me a flamethrower—or getter yet, just give me a gun. I’m surprised no one mentioned the Hulk. Wardrobe failure aside, is smashing everything just because you’re ticked off ever a good idea? However, part of what makes superhero fiction so compelling is dealing with—or not dealing with—the negative aspects of power. I agree with the others that comes down to control—the better your control, the better the power. However, I have to add that the more intelligently you use that control, the better. How many of us armchair quarterback superheroes? I know I do. “You can do X—why are you still trapped?!”

Lee Mather: Nothing is foolproof. I could find a way to mess anything up.

Wayne Helge: I'm such a sucker for the rich guys with crazy toys, but Batman and Iron Man are both one stray bullet away from taking a dirt nap. And as far as foolproof powers? That's a tough question, but I'd love to invite Wolverine to my backyard to watch the kids. Odds are that none of the kids would step in dog crap that particular day. That would be a major success.

Tim Marquitz: I think being able to burst into flames like the Human Torch is kind of a reject power. I mean, flying would be great, but honestly, I can set crap on fire without burning through my underwear.

I also don’t think there’s a foolproof power, but some are more subtle than others and that’s a bonus. Having the telepathic/mind control powers of someone like Professor X would be cool. You could get away with pretty much anything as long as you never got too carried away.

Jeff Strand: Invisibility, because at some point you should leave the women's locker room and go to work, or at least get something to eat, but that would never happen. A custodian would be cleaning up the shower and smack into my invisible dead malnourished body with his mop. Most of the really awesome powers have some sort of drawback, but I'd think that the lamer ones, like the ability to magically clip your fingernails to the perfect length, would be relatively foolproof.

Which two characters from Corrupts Absolutely? would you like to see in a cross-over showdown?

Kris Ashton: It’s probably bad form to nominate the protagonist from my own story, but I’d like to see a showdown between him and Drake from Tim Marquitz’s "Retribution." Would Drake’s brand of shady vigilantism trigger the kill urge?

Ed Erdelac: Maybe I'm being biased, but the first thing that comes to mind to me is Punkinhead meets Oz from "Ozymandius Revisited." Oz is Abassi with more experience using his powers, coming from a better, more educated background, operating from a more holistic frame of reference. I like to think Ozymandias would end up taking Abassi under his wing out of boredom, opening his mind. They'd probably end up fighting though - and how would that go? A battle of sundered realities, each trying to think the other out of existence. Cool...

Cat Rambo: Just two? I'd like to see all of them, actually. It's such a fun anthology.

Jason M. Tucker: Hmm… this is a fun question. I think I might like to see Sabre from Anthony Laffan’s story fight Z-Pack/Rogue Agent from Wayne Helge’s story. I don’t know why, but they popped into my head! I think there could be some good brawls with lots of potential.

William Rose: I'd love to see Oz from "Ozymandias Revisited" squared off against Abassi from "Conviction." That would be an epic battle.

Karina Fabian: I’m not into show-downs, so all I’ll say is “Leave poor Deryl out of it!”

Lee Mather: I'd like to see the protagonists from Tim Marquitz's "Retribution" and Joe Mckinney's "Hero" lock horns. One can explode on demand and the other can see roughly seven minutes into the future. It would be interesting to see how anyone could avoid or prevent a bomb blast in seven minutes or so…

Wayne Helge: I went to high school with Ed Erdelac and Malon Edwards. Those guys can write the hell out of their stories and have publication credits out their ears, so I'd love to see an Erdelac-Edwards-Helge Corrupts crossover. To the death. I'm betting that Zooster would not survive, and I'd be perfectly fine with that.

Tim Marquitz: I think I would like to see Weston Ochse’s character versus Joe McKinney’s. Nothing like a battle of two men who know what the other is going to do.

Jeff Strand: Does it have to be the characters? Because I would love to see Weston Ochse battle Lincoln Crisler. That would be an awesome spectacle. 

Thanks again to all of the authors for taking part in these round tables. As for the rest of you, be sure to get your hands a copy of Corrupts Absolutely? so you can enjoy all the super-powered antics, too. 

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