I suppose that nearly every super hgero comic book creator must have at one time, in their creative process, thought "What if I had a super power? What would I want it to be?" These ideas come from somewhere, right? Some of them had to be some kind of private wish fulfillment stuff turned deadline inspiration.
I think it's safe to say that all of us, in one way or another, have fantasized about being "the Hero(ine)" in some way. Whether by actually saving someone's life, or just saving the day by figuring out the answer to that problem at work, or even just being the person who can make everyone laugh - we all have imagined this at some point, in one way or another. Low grade, high grade heroics--everybody can identify with that, if you make the scale wide enough.
Reading Whispers brought that to mind for me, and with heightened awareness this time. As you may or may not remember (the first issue came out a while ago), the protagonist of the story, Sam, suffers from a severe case of OCD and has just developed the power of astral projection. He seems to leave his body when he is sleeping and is able to visit others in present time and even influence what they do or say.
At this point, we're still only in the second issue and don't know much else about him except that he is still wildly in love with his ex-girlfriend, Lily. We also know that the extreme nature of his OCD and his denial of its magnitude was a major reason their relationship crashed and burned.
So...if YOU had the ability to visit people while you slept, without them seeing you, hear their thoughts and even influence their behavior....what would you do? In a way, it's like the time machine question - if you could go back and time, what time would you go to and what would you do - you still being you, that is. Or the lottery. Or a bunch of others, sure, but "time machine" is my preferred go-to.
Generally, the answers to these questions, if we're being really honest with ourselves, usually has to do with, well, ourselves. Perhaps going and changing the outcome of a certain event, or making a different choice in some situation so that things work out, well. For US. Right? I don't think about going back and stopping Genghis Khan, you know?
It was with the newly introduced neighbor, Cali, that I began to have a hyper-sensitivity to this understanding.
You see, the issue opens with Sam trying to go read the thoughts of Lily and then getting pulled toward a ferocious, evil force that he can't explain or understand. He witnesses a wild beast that does not truly exist eat a baby. And he's really shook up by it, as anyone would be, because that's the sort of thing that no one ever wants to see. So while he's hashing everything out in a conversation with Cali - what happens, how he saw Vanessa in a bad situation and also visited his mom, how he's influenced people, how he'd like to know what Lily is thinking - she says, "To be brutally honest....you seem a bit preoccupied with yourself and your little soap opera. Saving Vanessa is great, of course, but I can't believe you barely mentioned the part about the Demon eating a Baby!" Later in the conversation she says, "I'm just saying, maybe your ability has a way bigger use, other than adjusting your personal life. "
That's what got me started. I mean, with some sort of super power suddenly manifesting in us, wouldn't we use it to adjust our personal life? Would we automatically go use it for the greater good? Even in those hero/ine fantasies that I sited above - what's the point of those? If we save a life, or save the day, or save someone from having bad feelings - is it really about them? Isn't it true that these fantasies are about what we get as a result of our heroic act? It's not really being a hero/ine, is it?
I think the Luna Brothers played with this idea in The Sword. The idea of using power for personal gain, rather than some abstract idea of "greater good". It's an interesting idea to think about. How often, in this current society, do we take the opportunity to do something just because others will benefit? With nothing in it for yourself? What would that be like, if you had some actual ability to change things at some massive, fantastic level? Would if feel like a huge, weight responsibility? Does it contain a type of joy I've never experienced because I've never been able to do anything that is truly, 100% selfless? Does the ability to use your power for good, to right wrongs, with no thought of yourself, make one a super hero? I feel like none of that is ever addressed in those comics. It's all taken for granted, and honestly, I don't think it has any right to be taken for granted. Explain it. Talk about that. Do something with that.
I'm interested to see where Whispers is going. As this issue draws to a close, Sam, while sleeping, is in a hallway - drawn by a dark feeling, a feeling of evil, a dark energy . As he watches a seemingly normal older man pass by a little girl and talk to her....Sam is able to see the beastly predator within the man, to hear the evilness say "mmmmm.....yummy" about the little girl. Perhaps its Sam's first opportunity to use his Power to help. Maybe it's just another gross story about pedophiles. I'll have to find out.
-Nina Stone, 2012