Sunday, November 27, 2011

Glee's Lauren Potter Appointed to Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities//My Favorite Five Disabled Super Heroes

Earlier this month, I learned that one of my favorite Glee actresses, Lauren Potter, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to the Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.  Potter's character Becky Jackson managed to do something exciting and unexpected on that show: bring out one shining spark of humanity in the otherwise self-centered and sociopathic Sue Sylvester.  Becky (and, of course, Potter herself) has Down Syndrome.  As far as I can tell, she is one of the only actors with Down Syndrome who currently has a recurring television role.  (There was Chris Burke AKA Corky Thatcher from Life Goes On, but that show hasn't been on for nearly 20 years, and more recently a now deceased character named Addie Langdon--played by Jamie Brewer--on FX's American Horror Story.):
Obama stated that “I am grateful that these talented and dedicated individuals have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

While many Americans are focuses on the issue of bullying when it comes to the LGBT Community, Potter has been working with her mother and to help end the bullying and taunting of children with special needs. Potter has opened up about being bullied and feeling alienated by her peers because she has Down Syndrome.

She said in a statement “Our challenges are the same as many others. We want to be safe in school — free from bullying and teasing, we hope to be welcomed at parks, recreation centers and other community activities, we worry about jobs and where we will live but mostly we want to be treated how you want to be treated — with respect.”
I wish Potter well with this new position.

Over the years, I've read many comic books with main and supporting characters who possess a variety of physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities.  For whatever reason, those disabilities tend to fall in the first two categories.  I've always wanted to create a super hero with Down Syndrome and someday I might.  Otherwise, I'm not aware of too many heroes who have intellectual disabilities, though there are a few.  I thought it would be fun to go through some of my favorite fictional comic book heroes who also have disabilities and list out five of my faves.  Here goes:

5. Wiz Kid: Takashi Matsuya is a physically disabled mutant character who teamed up with a bunch of Marvel Comics' New Mutants characters to save New York City from a bunch of baby-sacrificing demons.  Taki lacks the ability to use his legs and uses a wheelchair to get around.  His mutant powers manifested in his early teens and gave him the ability to manipulate metal, plastic, glass, and technology.  For example, he could transform his electric wheelchair into a one-man helicopter.  It was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, Taki kind of disappeared in the late 80s.  Fortunately, he recently showed up in Marvel's Avengers Academy comic book as a potential super hero trainee.  Given his very recent appearances, I'm hopeful that Wiz Kid will continue making comic appearances in the future.

4. Box: Roger Bochs is a now deceased member of Marvel Comics' Canadian super team, Alpha Flight.  This brilliant inventor lost both of his legs but eventually created a robotic alter-ego named Box, who successfully served Canada for many years.  Unfortunately, a new writer took over the book.  I say unfortunately because he really liked to make the Alphans suffer.  Bochs began experiencing a bunch of physical and mental stressors that eventually broke his mind.  Bochs went insane and almost destroyed his former friends.  He was eventually killed off in issue #49 of that comic book's first series.  Surprisingly, there have been no attempts to resurrect or redeem this once-great hero.

3. Shape: Shape is a member of the other dimensional team of super heroes, the Squadron Supreme.  As far as I'm aware, he's one of the few intellectually disabled heroes around (as opposed to heroes who've experienced temporary reductions to the mental capacities).  Shape originally started out as a villain, but underwent some behavioral modifications that helped him transition into a heroic character.  He quickly bonded with magical hero Arcanna Jones and her family and often looked out for her young children.  Shape has rubbery skin and bones.  You don't see much of him these days (outside of a bastardized zombie version that appeared last year), but he's still one of my favorites.

2. Silhouette: Silhouette Chord is one of my all-time favorite super heroes.  She became paralyzed from the legs down following a gunshot wound.  Now partially paralyzed, Silhouette uses crutches and leg braces to get around.  Like any good hero, she's managed to have hidden tazers and retractable knives embedded in her crutches.  She also possesses the ability to melt into shadows and teleport over short distances.  She's a formidable fighter by any stretch of the imagination.  She hasn't been seen much in recent years, but has a long history with Marvel's New Warriors team.  It wouldn't surprise me if Silhouette poked her head out of the darkness if/when that team eventually resurfaces.

1. Aurora: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier is one of the founding members of Marvel Comics' Alpha Flight.  She's fast and she flies and she glows blindingly when in physical contact with her brother Northstar.  But she's also mentally ill.  She experienced years of physical abuse in her early childhood, which led to the creation of a second personality.  Her mind is torn between her repressive Jeanne-Marie personality and her outgoing adventurous Aurora personality.  Aurora has made strides over the years with consolidating the two personalities, but it rarely lasts long.  Despite her difficulties, Aurora remains one of Alpha Flight's most engaging and exciting members.

Who are your favorite disabled super heroes?


Anonymous said...

Love this post!

Jon said...

Thanks Anonymous!