Thursday, 8 May 2008

Power Trip 2 - Split personas/Superhuman Strength

Ok, so I'm finally getting back into this, let's see if it lasts longer than just one article per series this time!!If you're interested what I'm doing is looking at the different superpowers affecting the characters in the show, how it works in the TV series and where the powers they posess come from in comic book and older sources. By the way, most of my references will come from series 1 unless something especially relevant comes up as I watch series 2.

Niki/Jessica is in terms of superpower, my favourite character in the show. While Hiro is the funny one and other characters have more powerful abilities hers is quite intriguing and done in an original way. Niki is initially plagued by a reflection in the mirror that acts independently and whispers to her. She later discovers that it is another personality "Jessica" who at times posesses her body and has the ability to do amazing things. After being threatened she wakes up to find her attackers brutally murdered. Throughout the series she battles with and strugles to accept Jessica who semingly has the personality of her long dead twin sister. Jessica is protective of her 'sister' but lashes out in brutal attacks and acts wild ways, even dominating Niki's personality for a while. But at the end of the series the two reconcile and it is revealed that Niki also posesses great strength adding another twist to this duo.

Tales of great strength are as old as time itself. I will cite two examples, the first being the Biblical story of Sampson whom God gave great strength to defeat their enemies while he kept to his vow not to drink or cut his hair. The temptress Delilah eventually got him to reveal his secret, but eventualy he sought God's forgiveness and regained his strength to deal one final blow to God's enemies. Another ancient example would by the mythical tale of the half-god Hercules who was equipped with great strength which he used to complete the tasks set for him.

Superheroes with above average strength are as common as can be, with two obvious names being Superman and Captain America, but I'll focus now on ones with a dual personality also. I will simply cite the two most famous examples, though there are a few more than you might think. The idea would seem to have it's origin in the famous tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The scientist consumes a concoction that unleashes a creature of rage and desire and has to battle the monster within. The Hulk brought the concept up to the modern day when a scientist is affected and turned into a giant green monster of rage. The comic book changed things and made Hulk a hero character, though certainly one with a dark side and the battle to maintain sanity and order made it even better. Other examples would include Dr Connors in Spiderman who transforms into villain The Lizard who is out of his control.

So the whole thing isn't exactly new, but Heroes has made it fresh and I certainly find the character fascinating. First of all the lack of physical transformation makes it visually more intriguing and more challenging for the actress to play. Secondly the reveal at the end that Niki also has powers makes the dual personailty more interesting. Jessica certainly seems to be more than a side effect of a mental disorder, but is she part of her 'power' or just something that's happening along side her unatural strength - I guess we'll have to keep watching won't we?

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