Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I often think about questions of identity and self-image.

For instance:  Some people think the desire for physical beauty is shallow and superficial.  Is it really?  And some people I've known have seemed to believe that everyone else in the world is "pretentious," or that any attempt to distinguish yourself in the world or to stand out from other people is just a neurotic bid for attention or merely a pose.  But is that actually so?  Can there be nothing sincere about it?  Not according to some people.  To some, personal distinction is not a legitimate concern.  You have no business believing you are, or wanting to be, any more special than anyone else, regardless of your mind or your gifts or anything you may have to offer.  Anyone who wants to be anything more than another sheep in the flock or another brick in the wall (apologies to Pink Floyd) is pretentious.

And who are we, really?  Are we the selves that we present to the world?  Or are our real selves, our truest and most legitimate selves, the people that we are inside?  I tend to think it's the latter.  The real "you" is the "you" of your dreams.  Much of the business of living is, or I think should be, the attempt to peel away the falsehoods of the people we are in common life and expose the real self within; or to turn ourselves inside out and release the people we carry around inside us.  That's why we go to the gym and go on diets and patronize plastic surgeons and follow the latest fashions.  I'm sure it's also one of the motivations for going to school (or going back to school), for taking classes and pursuing degrees and keeping ourselves in growth.  Part of it, a very significant part, is the quest to transform the self.  Remember what Yoda once said to Luke Skywalker:  "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!"  

And that's the way I see super-heroes.  The super-hero is a metaphor for our dream selves.  He is an ordinary person turned inside out.  He's the person who has reached inside and woken up the "luminous being" sleeping within him.  In his physical beauty, in his superhuman powers, he is the human who has shed the shell of the mundane and become who he really is.  And that's one of the reasons we've always loved super-heroes.

The character of the Quantum is based on this theme.  I originally called him Wonder Boy and he originally had a different costume.  I renamed and made him over because in Wonder Woman in DC Comics there was once a teenage character to whom the Amazons gave the honorary title of Wonder Boy, and on seeing this I thought at once, Now all DC has to do is trick out this kid with powers and a costume and have him recruited by the Teen Titans or Young Justice, and I'm going to have to scramble for a new name.  So I decided to be proactive about it.  And besides, having a hero called the Quantum in a brand called Quantum Comics makes the same kind of sense as Marvel Comics hanging onto the name Captain Marvel (and creating a succession of characters to keep the trademark in play, forcing DC to call any comic book starring the original Captain Marvel "SHAZAM!")  

The Quantum is a character that I created to address issues of identity and self-image.  What you're seeing is one character with two distinct physical forms, one of them super-powered.  Corey Lonigan is a college student majoring in computer game design.  He is handsome but not the athletic "jock" type and frequently feels invisible in the presence of such boys as well as attractive girls.  But he acquires a power that complicates the "game" of his life quite a bit.  Corey is a metamorph with the power to become...well, the taller, even handsomer, wondrously muscled figure you see in the costume here.  And in this other form, Corey is not only super-strong and invulnerable; he can fly and can assimilate, process, and shoot energy from any source.  Corey takes to calling his other physical self "The Quantum" and embarks on a secret life as a super-hero who gets the kind of attention and respect that at times eludes him in his original form.  But because he's a smart boy, it all makes him wonder what it is that people really see in him when he's "that way," and whether it's all for real and whether it's all really worth it, and whether the Quantum could ever have what people think of as "a real life."  He even wonders whether the nature of his transformation might be a message he's unconsciously trying to tell himself.  Does the Quantum being that kind of specimen mean that Corey is gay and trying to come out?  Yes, in the Quantum we have a super-hero who is a questioning heterosexual!

Corey Lonigan/the Quantum, more than any other costumed champion, is a character who questions himself and everyone and everything else--because when you're one boy who is two boys, you have to assume that nothing in yourself or the world around you may really be what it seems!


  1. “The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” - Socrates

  2. Thank you for the first comment on this Blog. And a good one too!