Eat your electromagnetically protected heart out, Iron Man. Bruce Banner, try not to get angry and hulk out. And Batman, please stop brooding and lighten up, or The Moodist may work his mood-altering ways on you.
You say you've never heard of The Moodist?
Neither had we -- at least until we invited Review-Journal readers to "Create Your Own Superhero" in conjunction with a superhero-studded summer movie season.
Kids of all ages (6 to 88, to be specific) responded faster than a speeding bullet, their imaginations more powerful than a locomotive as they dreamed up 63 -- count 'em, 63! -- heroic figures devoted to truth, justice and other worthy causes.
Two school classes even got into the act: Deanna Finke's eighth-graders at Miller Middle School in Henderson (where Anne Garcia's The Moodist originated) and teacher Kaynella Wallace's fifth-graders from Tarr Elementary School in Las Vegas.
Judging by the array of costumed crime fighters R-J readers have conjured, evildoers of all stripes should prepare to meet their doom.
That means you, King of Crime, wreaking havoc in the big bad city -- at least until The Informant, aka A+ student Alec Night -- decides to use his astounding aural powers to short-circuit the crime kingpin's police-radio interference. (According to 17-year-old Las Vegan Alec Brown's scenario.)
Beware, diabolical, scissors-brandishing Dr. Dashears, as you make life miserable for assisted-living facility residents. That's because The Granny Squares are on to you, deploying their secret weapons -- knitting needles, cookie dough, sewing needles and crochet hooks -- to foil your fiendish plans, as envisioned by 49-year-old Henderson resident Marlea Mitchell.
The evil Princess of Darkness meets her match in Rainbow Girl, a colorful crusader created by 6-year-old Rubaab Wahid of Las Vegas.
Not even the devil himself has a chance -- at least not in 2012 Las Vegas, where Michael Moscosos' demon-seed creation, redeemed through sacrifice to wield the power of light, becomes the Angel of Death and leads the charge against Satan's fortress. (Where else would Satan's stronghold be but Sin City?)
Not every superhero creation fits the classic bronzed-god mold, however. Take pot-bellied moving man Lenny Garbonzio, who through accidental exposure to nuclear toxins metamorphoses into working-class superhero The Good Guy, created by 33-year-old Joel J. Claunch of Kingman, Ariz.
Las Vegas and surrounding Southern Nevada locations, from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to Yucca Mountain, figure in several entries.
Strange doings at Area 51, for example, transform research physicist Charles Hawk -- who has been zapped by an alien technology known as the Zellian power core -- into a tormented, green-armored warrior known as Starhawk, the brainchild of 39-year-old Pahrump resident Charles Ruffing, which gets our vote as the contest's standout entry, representing the best balance of art and story.
When social services worker Victor Vance and his ex-model girlfriend, Jewel Ambers, celebrate Millennium Eve on the Strip, Victor's zapped into the Universal Brain Bank and tapped to share the secrets of the great Universal Mind. He and Jewel thus become The Intelligentsia Duo, revealing the secrets to end war and disease in 56-year-old Las Vegan Ricky Kendall's imagination.
Las Vegas resident Alexander Briggs, meanwhile, discovers an ancient Ankh while searching for a long-lost pharaoh's tomb, then learns to harness its power in a Red Rock Canyon cave as 43-year-old Las Vegan Jay Nigbur's The Egyptian. Dodgeman, created by 6-year-old Ethan Lee of Las Vegas, coaches dodgeball at The Meadows School when he's not battling evil.
And when billionaire Yucca Mountain contractor Myron Held lures anti-Yucca activist Kyle Chamberlin to the proposed nuclear waste disposal site, intending to entomb him in the radiation room, Kyle is rescued by descendants of the ancient Yuccatoma Indian tribe, who survive inside Yucca Mountain and help transform him into Yucca Man, as created by 55-year-old Las Vegan Everett Croxson III.
Yuccatomans may be able to control the elements, from tornadoes to tsunamis, but they're not the only ones with awesome environmental powers.
There's 13-year-old Melanie Chambers' Green Gal (aka ace reporter Megan Green), "saving the environment one citizen at a time," accompanied by her "spunky crime-fighting squirrel" sidekick, Eco-Eddie. Chambers' Miller Middle School classmate Megan Ly, meanwhile, whips up Element, a sophisticated city girl with earth, wind, fire and water at her command, while classmate Andrea Corral's Flora transforms into a tornado to protect Earth.
Tarr Elementary School student Isabella Mendoza's Quakewoman can trigger not only temblors but ocean and atomic explosions. (Classmate Alison Mercado's Quake shoots rocks and uses a boulder bazooka, while classmate Nicki Morrella's Stormy also controls the weather.)
Under the sea, an Atlantean named Aquamarillo (created by 30-year-old Kyle Sims of Las Vegas) rides the ocean range on his giant seahorse, blasting bad guys with P-Shooters that fire pearls coated with deadly blowfish toxin. (That is, when he's not relaxing at the place he likes to hang his cowboy hat, the OK Coral Reef.)
Also in the liquid realm, Aquanite (created by Henderson middle-school student Kaylene Pecora) can control water and throw ice balls, while marine biologist Octo-Man transforms himself into an underwater-breathing creature capable of morphing into a duplicate of any man, thanks to creator Shayne Stephens, 50, of Las Vegas.
Time-trippers also turn up in the superhero lineup, from Henderson middle-schooler Bess Permthamsin's Stop Watch, who can go back in time or see the future, to Time himself, Pahrump 16-year-old James Johnson II's scientist, who controls his powers through a specially designed clock belt.
Other amazing powers range from Hypno's hypnotic eyes (according to Las Vegan Gil Stern, 74) to Tina Tune's hypnotic singing voice. (We'll have to ask Henderson middle-school student Malia Civetz if Tina Tune and Tina Turner are related.)
A plant in human form, Venus Flytrap (created by 13-year-old Bethany Mitchell of Henderson) uses razor-sharp thorns and vinelike arms to vanquish foes. And Alias, created by 14-year-old Kalaneda Tsosie of Pahrump, hails from the same distant planet as the ultimate superhero, Superman (her cousin Kal-El). She even followed him into the newspaper business, working as an editor at his great metropolitan newspaper, the Daily Planet.
Speaking of Superman, he also has a son following in his footsteps: Crusader, who takes after superparents Superman and Wonder Woman (at least according to Tarr Elementary student Eliott Finsland). Another Tarr student, Taylor Barin, dreams up the superrich Super-Powered Amazing Woman.
Meanwhile, from the other end of the age spectrum, 88-year-old Milton Knopf of Henderson dreams up star-spangled Sam Spirit and Ms. Liberty Belle, who lead the Global Terrorist Busters Network.
Some entrants even created superheroes in their own images, notably 54-year-old actor and ventriloquist James B. Thompson, alias The Rope Master, whose rope-jumping specialty act inspired his super alter ego. And 57-year-old Las Vegan Diane Lemon's Supermom proves "faster than a speeding minivan, more powerful than Mr. Clean, able to leap towers of Little Tykes toys in a single bound ..."
Yet regardless of their varied origins, their powers or their missions, every Review-Journal reader's creation understands one thing: With great power comes great responsibility. Just ask your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Or Octo-Man. Or Yucca Man.
Contact reporter Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.