Saturday, 8 December 2007

Power Trip 1 - precognition

Well I've finally managed to get round to it so let's hope this thing works eh? Inspired by the show Heroes I will look at the various powers given to different characters and look at how they impact the show and where they originated from. This is by no means definitive and will no doubt have missed important figures in comic book history. These articles are designed more for me to give my opinion on things, which I have not been doing enough of.

The first "Hero" to be featured on the show, Isaac Mendez has a truly unusual gift that impacts all the other characters, though they seldom feel his influence. Isaac paints pictures, and what he paints comes true. At first he believes this to be influenced by drugs and so becomes dependent on them, driving away those close to him in his search for answers. This gift doesn't give him combat powers and so immediately struck as unusual for a superhero show and made Heroes interesting viewing.

The power of precognition brings an added element, that of destiny. The heroes aren't just going to get powered up, mask their identities and save the world just like that. There is a path to be taken, and glimpses of that path are shown in Mendez's paintings. However there is a certain paradoxical element in this as the Heroes accept their destiny, and yet their mission is to thwart what was laid out as a vision for the future. I think this is quite representitive of a modern mindset, we like the idea that we have a destiny and a purpose in life, but we also want the freedom to be able to change it as we see fit. People often speak about having a destiny but being able to change it, yet if you can change it then it wasn't destiny at all. This was displayed in Mendez's demise where he accept's his death at Sylar's hands, but at the same time is confident because he has revealed how to stop the bomb.

I stated in my nnouncement that I would refer to the Bible and I will do so here. I also have no intention of being politically correct and so will adress the word of God with the authority and superiority I believe it deserves. Precognition has it's roots in God, who is all seeing and all knowing and, since he created it, can see all of time and knows how and when everything will happen. God chose to reveal the future to his prophets, often in dreams or "visions", who then would pass it on to the people. People have a massive interest in the future so it's no wonder a superhero was given this gift.

Precognition often featured in mythology, the Oracle at Delphi being one posessor that springs to mind. In olf mythology the future was often set in stone, and though the hero might try and thwart what was written or spoken, his fate would always come about as said. Occasionally the hero's fate would be delivered through his efforts to avoid it, giving that extra bit of irony. Bringing it forward a bit various philosopher and thinkers have claimed to have knowledge of events to come, the most famous of who is Nostradamous who'se predictions are still being debated today. With Horoscopes and fortune telling a very popular industry even in a skeptical age it looks like seeing the future is a power many desire to posess.

Moving on to comic books and popular fiction now where precognition has not played such a dramatic role, but is still a presence. With comics being an ongoing and widly divurging medium having the future all mapped out probably isn't such a good idea, yet some characters like Madame Web of Spider-Man, Destiny from X-Men and the film incarnation of Elektra have had some for of precognition. Moving from comics to film and the most famous prognosticators are the Jedi and Sith from Star Wars. These enhanced beings can gain glimpses of events to come, but hold to a changeable destiny since "always in motion is the future." The most prolific use of precognitives I've seen in modern writing has been in the work of Philip K. Dick, the best known example being Minority Report where 'precogs' are used to prevent murder. Precogs feature in many of his writings using their powers for anything from stoping aliens to predicting market changes for businesses.

I started this idea with an eye to shooting down the Heroe's crew claims to be unlike anything else, but I have to commend the show on presenting the superpowers theme in a new way, something that seemed almost impossible. While seeing the future is a popular theme it is used well in the show, and since I don't personally know of any other character that uses painting to see what happens next I will have to hand that to them as an original creation.

Well that's it, I have a tie-in project in mind to do with this so hopefully you'll read more soon but for now, goodbye.

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