Bamf! Superhero-ing with P.E. Bolivar

Ah,superheroes! Is there anything they can’t do?

Other than exist in real life, I mean.

You want real life superbeings? Go talk to a firefighter, or a doctor, or a pro-choice activist in Mississippi, or a Muslim protestor at a Drumpf rally. They’re the real heroes.

*Ahem* But I digress…

Today’s sound effect.

In cooperation with EDGE Publishing, I hereby present for your enjoyment The Superhero Universe Interviews, a series of (you guessed it, smart guy) superficial interviews with many of the heroic contributors to Superhero Universe, the nineteenth (one more than eighteen!) iteration of EDGE’s acclaimed fantastic Canadian fiction anthology series Tesseracts.

Please note that I am not only a fan of the book; I’m also a member. I leave it to you to find my story amongst all these treasures. Here’s a hint: it’s the story with my name next to it.

Click here for information on how to purchase your very own copy of Superhero Universe.

And click here for a brief pdf sample of all the stories.

Today’s author: P.E. Bolivar

P.E. Bolivar

P. E. Bolivar is a writer, and air traffic controller, living in Vancouver, B.C. His work also appears in The Outliers of Speculative Fiction anthology and Pulp Literature magazine (Issue #10, available in April). You can find him at, on Twitter @PEBolivar, and on Facebook.

Tell us about your story, “The Rise and Fall of Captain Stupendous.”

“The Rise and Fall of Captain Stupendous” concerns a reporter whose career is launched after interviewing Canada’s greatest hero, Captain Stupendous. From that day on, villains think she’s his girlfriend, and constantly kidnap her to attract his attention. The story is a satire about superheroes, and how we perceive them, and how they in turn perceive themselves.

How did the idea come about?

It originated with one of the villains, a small man with the power to control people through scent. Beware the smell of Pherognome! I thought it would be interesting if the most ridiculous of villains ended up being the superhero’s greatest threat. It started there, but then morphed quite a bit.

Were there any superhero-related pitfalls/clichés that you struggled with?

No, I embraced them! It is a satire after all.

What do you think of the resurgence in superhero movies and television shows?

I think it’s great. More movies and shows mean more chance that, for every bad adaptation, there will be a great one.

Nightcrawler, Volume 3, Issue 3.

Which superhero could you see yourself being best pals with?

I’m a huge fan of Nightcrawler. We’d crush over our mutual love of Errol Flynn movies, but fight over religion.

What makes a good hero?

They have to connect with readers, and are most successful when they represent the zeitgeist of their era, for better and for worse.

Best/worst superhero? 

As I mentioned, I love Nightcrawler, probably because my teenage self related to his dreams of being a swashbuckler, and the way he felt like a second fiddle to the other heroes. Most teens can relate to feeling not as popular as other kids, I think. The worst heroes are all the ones that stretch, because, come on. Lame.

Best/worst supervillain?

Joker is the best, because villains need to be evil, but also fun to hate. Movie Loki is a close second.

Worst? Too many to count. There have been some pretty bad ones in comics.

Under/Overrated superhero?

Superman is overrated, because it’s easy to fight bad guys when you’re indestructible.

Underrated? Probably Nightcrawler!

X-Men Legends: Dark Phoenix Saga. The X-Men #129–138

Most/least valuable superpower? 

Being indestructible, although comic writers seem to think flying is the most valuable. Even characters that don’t start with the ability tend to acquire it the longer they last: Wonder Woman, Jean Grey (who then became Phoenix), Rogue, and of course, Superman, who started his career leaping. Least valuable seems to be deciphering languages, including understanding computers. Those characters tend to get one scene every few comics.

What’s the superhero cliché you hate above all others?

I’m not sure it’s a cliché, but I find superhero team-ups tend to lead to some pretty ridiculous plots. If you have the Hulk or Superman on your team, do you really need the guy that can shoot arrows, or someone that’s trained in martial arts? The writers always have to find ways to keep the powerful guys away for most of the story, because as soon as they show up, bam, it’s over.

If you could have superpowers for a week, what powers would you choose and what would you do?

Fly. And I’d fly.

Excalibur, Number 1, Oct 1988.

Favourite/least favourite particular superhero media?

I love the original Phoenix Saga by John Byrne and Chris Claremont, and anything by Alan Davis. I’m not a fan of the Arrow TV show, because I feel it captures none of the Green Arrow I remember when I read his books in the 90s.

Which do you prefer, “gritty” stories or those of a more fantastical bent?

Batman’s solo stories are some of the most compelling tales in comics. But I love Alan Davis’s run on Excalibur, and you don’t get much more fantastic than that.

Where do you hope future superhero stories will take us?

I really enjoy stories that wonder what it would really be like to have a superhero in our universe, both the good and bad. Mostly I hope they can continue to surprise us.

Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen

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