The other day while writing some rather self-pitying notes in my blog book (yes, I handwrite all this rubbish before I go to bed at night!) I came up with some useless superheroes, or rather the only superheroes that a washed-up guy in his early thirties could hope to be. Because I haven’t got any ideas for “five things on the fifth” this month, I decided to flesh out a few of these. Last month I began the five on the fifth meme with five things to try if you can’t sleep and so this is a rather forced attempt to keep it going. I promise that I will try and think of more interesting posts on these lines for months.

I appreciate that this idea is not particularly new, there’s that film Mystery Men (complete with inspired turn from Tom Waits) about a bunch of superheroes who really have no powers at all and of course in Watchmen the superheroes are merely vigilantes. Of course these characters started from me being self-deprecating about myself and my flaws, growing up from there. Without further I introduce you to my washed-up coterie of superhero has-beens.

  1. The Mighty Groundhog (AKA Revision man or Mr. Hindsight). Special powers: is able to learn from his mistakes; does things over and over again until he gets them right; understands whatever the hell it is that is going on. Cape colour: Royal blue. Weaknesses: A bit boring in bed; highly susceptible to arch nemesis Professor Temptron’s Impulse-o-matic ray.

  2. Dr. Confidence (AKA Quite-nice-man or The Purple Deserveling). Special powers: aces job interviews and first dates; is able to explain job title and role to strangers without embarassment; can remember names, faces and birthdays of others; doesn’t envy the infinitely more interesting love lives of others; has innate sense of self-worth. Colour of tight superhero spandex leggings: Black. Weaknesses: Can’t drive; somewhat prone to simple traps when Walnut cake is used as bait; fondness for colour purple.

  3. Bosun Higgs (AKA Cap’n Puntacular). Special powers: shock and awe puns; up to the minute topical levity; great ideas for hashtags on twitter; chat up lines that end with a punch in the face; ability to resist chocolate hobnob biscuits at four thirty on a warm Thursday afternoon; always has a fantastic plastic cutlass ready for International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Colour of superhero helmet: Purple (shush now!). Weaknesses: Funerals; the burning desire to be despicably inappropriate around people in authority; utter lack of knowledge about particle physics that, ironically, would help him understand the puns behind the names of his unknown nemeses.

  4. Air Conditioning Tolerance Man (AKA Jack Frost Esq. or The Freezle Weasel). Special powers: Able to tolerate air conditioning in a British summer even longer than a sweaty American; has rainbows for flatulence; underarm deodorant is effective for up to seven years after application; can withstand dry nostrils for up to six hours without attempting to extract brain through nose with own index finger. Colour of slightly glittery superhero shoulder pads: Silver. Weaknesses: Begins to melt at temperatures greater than eight degrees centigrade; regards all people who don’t want the air conditioner on as being from a primitive civilisation and tends to patronise them; a little bit withdrawn at parties.

  5. Mr. Centre (AKA Bobby The Balance or The Middletron). Special powers: Remains calm in the face of rhetoric and propaganda; able to detect someone’s agenda from over fifty paces; can construct life saving devices from office equipment like a health and safety McGuyver. Colour of superhero gloves: Berry red. Weaknesses: Can be weakened by the Daily Mail much in the way that Clark Kent is weakened by Kryptonite; actually not that good at things involving hand-eye co-ordination; terribly ambivalent in relationships and never gets into cathartic arguments; not very good at smiling sincerely in photographs; lightweight when it comes to alcohol.

Well that’s all. For some of them I did have a back story worked out. For example, Bosun Higgs gained his powers when he was accidentally hit by a pun accelerator on “Dress down as a pirate day” while working at CERN, although I am not actually sure what one of those would be for.