🎨 Creative Advice On Superhero World-Building

NautilusComics

"Insert Famous Quote Here!"
Validated User
#1
Hey everyone 😀. So I'm the creator, writer, illustrator and publisher of my own comic book universe called "Nautilus Comics" (Hence my name 😁) Anyway, I'd love any advice you have on superhero world-building, as I want my series to be as sweet as humanly possible.
Just some things of note:
•Normal powers like strength, speed and flight are a rarity in this universe; exotic powers such as aquatic adaption and pocket dimension portals are the norm as I really want to differentiate myself from DC and Marvel Comics.
•Super-Science has affected my universe for the better. As an example, in Clamtown, Pennsylvania (my maritime stand-in for Philadelphia) many modern buildings there are based on the structures of coral reefs.
•This is a series where the Golden/Silver Age never stopped and has continued into the modern day; lots of campy humor and quirkiness to follow.
• Martin Luther King Jr lived until 1991, in this timeline and was renowned as the first African-American president.
•The US got to the moon, though Russia colonised Mars and have a command station in the Artic Circle called Buran.
•Canada has amassed an army of Sasquatches.
•Australia is called New Holland.
•the premier superhuman group is called Earthwatch.
•And there will be a lot more "cool" colors for superhero costumes; less reds, oranges and yellows and more blues, greens, purples, that sort of thing.
Any advice you have will really help!
Cheers 😀
 
Last edited:
#2
So, here's a question for you: what are you trying to do with this project? Is there a story you want to tell, a theme you want to explore, anything?
You've listed some plot points, but nothing really makes it feel different from Marvel/DC.
 

NautilusComics

"Insert Famous Quote Here!"
Validated User
#3
Thank you for responding 😀.
Well, my main concept is inspired from the stories in comics books during the 1950s and Sixties. I love these stories due to the campiness and lighthearted style that they possessed. Unfortunately, these types of stories became less and less prominent in the rest of the 20th century. People grew cynical, and preferred anti-heroes and angst rather than the champions of yesteryear. What I want to do is bring the light-hearted and campy style back into comic books, while also managing to create relatable characters.
As well as this, I'm also going to try to use more unusual and uncommon tropes and abilities because having superhuman strength, speed and flight can get old really fast and I like variety. How about that?
 

torbenm

Registered User
Validated User
#4
You could look at the PS238 web comic, which is about a school for superpowered children. It has all the usual powers and even jokes that the combination Flight, Invulnerability, Strength, and Speed (FISS) is so common that they start numbering people with this combination. But it also has many less common powers. It also has the light-hearted style that you mention.

As for superpowers, if you want your heroes to fight crime, some defence against guns is required. This can be some sort of invulnerability (including force fields and intangibility), super agility and speed that allows you to dodge or deflect bullets (like Wonder Woman does with her bracers), or fast healing/resurrection (such as an infinite supply of new bodies). Or access to super materials that provide light and bulletproof body armour. If you don't do something like that, your heroes are likely to get shot and die pretty quickly -- unless they can interact with the bad guys from a safe distance.
 

AndersGabrielsson

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#5
I have two points.

The first is to always remember the human perspective. Superheroes and supervillains are people first and bundles of powers second. (See any issue of Astro City for examples of this. Generally speaking, anyone writing reconstructive superhero stories, like it seems you're doing, should read Astro City as a great example of how to do that. Kurt Busiek is very skilled at taking a common trope, breaking it down, and then recreating it with enough thought put into it that you don't need to ignore the obvious implications.)

The second is to occasionally, but not always, look closer at what the existence of a certain type of ability or common superhero comics trope would do to the world and inject that in the background.

For example, in Powers there's a kind of hired thug called Simons who all look exactly the same. I don't remember if it's been explained that they're some kind of Multiple Man person, clones, or something else, but it's a thing that exists there that's a bit different from how superhero stories usually handle nameless thugs.

However, unless your goal is to be very deconstructive I think this should be done sparingly. A couple of such details go a long way towards showing that you're not ignoring all the implications of superpowers which I think makes the reader much more willing to accept that most things are still very similar.
 

NautilusComics

"Insert Famous Quote Here!"
Validated User
#6
I have two points.

The first is to always remember the human perspective. Superheroes and supervillains are people first and bundles of powers second. (See any issue of Astro City for examples of this. Generally speaking, anyone writing reconstructive superhero stories, like it seems you're doing, should read Astro City as a great example of how to do that. Kurt Busiek is very skilled at taking a common trope, breaking it down, and then recreating it with enough thought put into it that you don't need to ignore the obvious implications.)

The second is to occasionally, but not always, look closer at what the existence of a certain type of ability or common superhero comics trope would do to the world and inject that in the background.

For example, in Powers there's a kind of hired thug called Simons who all look exactly the same. I don't remember if it's been explained that they're some kind of Multiple Man person, clones, or something else, but it's a thing that exists there that's a bit different from how superhero stories usually handle nameless thugs.

However, unless your goal is to be very deconstructive I think this should be done sparingly. A couple of such details go a long way towards showing that you're not ignoring all the implications of superpowers which I think makes the reader much more willing to accept that most things are still very similar.
Thanks for responding my friend 😀
First off all, I have read Astro City and I understand where you are coming from. Like you said, Kurt Buisek is a master with this whole deconstruction thing and I'll try to have another look at his series, and see what I can pick up 😉
Funny, I do remember doing a write-up for Crackerjack when I was a lot younger and even today, my favorite Astro City storyline is the "Tarnished Angel" with Steeljacket, so there you have it.
Secondly, like you said, I will be trying to use the deconstruction sparingly, but I do have some ideas for what I might change:
Dead Parents/Loved One: Now here me out, I don't necessarily hate this trope in any way shape or form. Family is a good motivation for superheroes and villains because it's so relatable and it can be done really well in movies and TV shows such as Captain America and The Flash. It's just when it gets overused so often which really bugs me. I mean, does every parent or loved one have to die at the hands of a mugger so often? Couldn't there be another motivator besides this?
In any case, I think that's another reason I loved AQUAMAN so much as it was so refreshing to have Temura Johnson and Nicole Kidman still alive.
Armies Of Faceless Drones/The Nemesis Principle: To often in storytelling, the superhero will either fight enemies with similar powersets or alternatively, armies of faceless drones. The MCU is not stranger to this with Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther and even in Infinity War. However, like with the first one, it can be done really well... Provided you use it sparingly. I can forgive most of the MCU because despite the frequent use of tropes, they still manage to tell great stories with characters that feel human. It just gets old when you have villains essentially darker reflections of the hero and just armies and armies of CGI creatures. It is really cool to see heroes and villains with varying powersets which is why the airport scene in Civil War was so talked up about.
Now that's all I got so far, but it's a start. Thank you and have a lovely day/night wherever you might be 😀
 

NautilusComics

"Insert Famous Quote Here!"
Validated User
#7
You could look at the PS238 web comic, which is about a school for superpowered children. It has all the usual powers and even jokes that the combination Flight, Invulnerability, Strength, and Speed (FISS) is so common that they start numbering people with this combination. But it also has many less common powers. It also has the light-hearted style that you mention.

As for superpowers, if you want your heroes to fight crime, some defence against guns is required. This can be some sort of invulnerability (including force fields and intangibility), super agility and speed that allows you to dodge or deflect bullets (like Wonder Woman does with her bracers), or fast healing/resurrection (such as an infinite supply of new bodies). Or access to super materials that provide light and bulletproof body armour. If you don't do something like that, your heroes are likely to get shot and die pretty quickly -- unless they can interact with the bad guys from a safe distance.
PS238, you say? Sounds interesting, I have to take a closer look 😉.
Secondly, yeah I guess you're right, having defense against firearms is important and I do have ideas for characters who have those powers you suggested previously 😀.
However, my main character is a guy with all the abilities of the great white shark and fights maritime crime, such as pirates, illegal whaling and oil rigging when he isn't fighting supervillains. Another thing is that unlike other aquatic supers, he isn't connected to Atlantis in any way.
Do you have any advice for creating "non-lame" marine superheroes?
 

torbenm

Registered User
Validated User
#10
Do you have any advice for creating "non-lame" marine superheroes?
Water-only telekinesis would be rather useful: You can move a sphere of water around with you (which would give some protection against firearms), hit people with fast-moving water, calm/create waves, and so on.

Forming (temporarily) solid objects out of water would also be neat: Make a spear out of water, make a solid shield out of water, make a boat out of water, and so on. The solid water could have the material properties of ice, except not being cold, or it could be harder than ice.

Changing shape to any human-sized marine creature (such as fish, porpoises, octopi, and so on), would also be interesting. Or just the same kind of camouflage that some squid can do (both colour and surface texture). See
 
Top Bottom