Birth of a Superhero – Part I: Super Powers

This series documents the creative process of bringing a Superhero to life. My Superhero is “Hydrator.” See my Birth of a Superhero – Preamble entry for more details.


Shoot, I pulled the door off again!
We are all familiar with super heroes, aren’t we? We all have our favorites, from Superman to Batman to Wonder Woman to the X-Men. We all have a superhero we think is the best. But how do we define best? Which super hero possesses the greatest super power? Which super hero possesses the super power YOU would most like to have? That is your task, define which super power you would most like to have and what you would do with it.

There are so many good superhero powers to choose from, but there is one that I have ‘adopted’ as an ongoing joke with friends over the past few years. The power is the ability to absorb or spread the water in the environment and objects around me, through hydration or dehydration. With this power, I would be able to draw water from one person and spread to another in thirst. I would also be able to absorb rain from the sky and redistribute the liquid in a more enjoyable-but-equally-beneficial-to-the-environment manner.

Not all uses of the power have to be positive, though. In a moment of villainous weakness — or in the name of vengeance — I could use this power to dehydrate someone and cause them pain, rendering them helpless.

A superhero power would not be fun without a restriction, as it would have no limitations and be completely unstoppable. Therefore, the one weakness or flaw to this power is that the manipulated water would retain its original temperature. Therefore, absorbing moisture from snow or ice would result in a terrible case of brainfreeze. Similarly, absorbing moisture from steam or a boiling pot would be rather unpleasant as well…

The genesis of this superhero power for me occurred when I participated in a research study at Penn State. I volunteered for the study with the hope that something would go awry and result in the development of a power, as this seems to be the setting that leads to many superheroes (The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Manhattan, Dr. Octopus, and I am sure many more than I could possibly name). The study required me to run on a treadmill while wearing a body suit lined with tubes of water on the interior. As I ran, the researcher manipulated the temperature of the water while recording different measurements in the breath I exhaled (I think it had something to do with the efficiency of the oxygen in my system..VO2, maybe?). Afterwards, I realized that the ability to manipulate and absorb hydration levels in objects around me would be the ‘most likely’ possible superhero power developed in case of an explosion or accident in the lab. I shared this with friends who, after making fun of me excessively, dubbed me “Hydration Man” and often make tongue-in-cheek pleas for help when the weather is unpleasant or they are thirsty. I prefer the new name, “Hydrator.”

COMING NEXT: Part 2 will include Thumbnail sketches of Hydrator’s logo (for his chest)

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