Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Power Trip 5 - Rapid Cellular Regeneration
One of the key Heroes in the show is Claire Bennet. From early on in season one her magnificent and gross stunts made her popular as well as the catchphrase "save the cheerleader, save the world" which became synonymous with the show. Even after she was saved she is still a key character and her relationship with her "normal" family and the friends around her have been of much interest. But Claire's ability, while a protection, also makes her a target for those who want to possess such a great gift.
Claire's ability is rapid cellular regeneration, that is the ability to rapidly regrow and repair any part of her body when injured. This extraordinary gift means she can survive even the most grievous injury. She has been seen surviving falls, burns, bone breakages and even a car crash. Claire has had some of the most gripping scenes in the show, such as when she wakes up with her chest cut open for surgery, recovers from a nuclear fire or in series 2 when she successfully cuts off and regrows her toe. She has pushed her ability to the limits, and yet she may be capable of much more...
Part of the genius of series 2 was to introduce some character who had the same abilities as others as well as new powers. This gave the series a more grounded feel, like it wasn't just a crazy diversifying bunch of wild traits, but that there was some kind of regularity to the so called "evolution" of humanity. The introduction of Adam Monroe, alias Takezo Kensei, ads a new dimension to the ability. He is centuries old, meaning that 'powers' aren't necessarily a new phase in humanity and also that his ability (and quite possibly Claire's) means that he doesn't age and can live healthily for a long time. Another development showed that his and Claire's blood could be used to heal the injuries of others, which has much potential for the future. But then Adam carried out his cliched plan to end the world and got himself locked in a box forever (which totally doesn't work - he'd just suffocate, you can't "regenerate" air!!!) and Claire has recovered her father, but at a price.
Well let's have a look at where this power comes from. It almost undoubtedly has it's roots in nature where animals such as certain lizards, starfish and other creatures are able to regrow limbs when needed. However the creatures are usually limited to limb regrowth and don't have the complete death defying self-repair ability that most regenerators in comics do. While mythological character may have been able to access healing, it has always been through some form of magic, and often with a cost. Creatures such as the hydra has rapis regenearation, probably inspired by the aforementioned creatures.
I like to quickly make a bible reference here, but off the top of my head I can't think of anyone who healed themselves, there are certainly many healings, but they all come from God, demonstrating that we cannot fix our own sickness, the great sickness of sin, but we need to rely on God for he alone can heal us. The only character who definitely could have healed himself, Jesus, was the one person who actively chose to suffer as one of us, identifying with the human race in all it's aspects. And when the ultimate suffering came on the cross, even though he sweat blood with fear at the prospect, he still chose to face it to save undeserving sinners. There's been a lot of talk about the maturity and development of heroes recenlty - if you want to find the ultimate hero you need look no further than the heroic sacrifice on the cross. This is something I want to develop more, but I'll leave it for now and move on to popular fiction.
The power of regeneration or self healing is by no means new, though it is explored well in the show. There are a number of character whop posess the same ability to come back healed from the most dangerous as it is quite a useful gift when fighting other superpowered enemies. The most popular and dynamic of these is undoubtedly Wolverine a popularity renforced by dramatic demonstrations of his abilities in the X-Men movie trilogy. Wolverine's longevity and origins are also a mystery and his metallic claws (only convievable with a healer) make him an iconic figure. Wolverine was part of a Weapon X program which features other healer such as Sabretooth, Deadpool and Lady Deathstrike. There are also characters who can heal in adition to other powers such as the Hulk. I trust Sam to bring more of these to light - I know he's a Deadpool fan so surely he can't resist!
So there's a rooted tradition behind Claire's ability, coming from nature, comic books and a desire to be invincible hidden within us all. We know how fragile the human body is how potentially weak it can be and how the slightest accident can cause injury or death to any one of us. Is it any wondee then that we create characters who can bounce back from all this and fight another day, is it any wonder we want to be like these heroes?