On The Familial Lives of Lizard Superheroes

A review of Jason Loo’s The Pitiful Human Lizard #3 (2015)
By Derek Newman-Stille

In The Pitiful Human Lizard # 3, author And illustrator Jason Loo finally gives us a glimpse at some of the supporting characters in the comic. We get our first real look at the life of the top tier Toronto superhero Mother Wonder, and a chance to see her civilian life as a mother with small children. Although not the title character, Mother Wonder serves a key role in Loo’s superhero world. She is the superhero who The Pitiful Human Lizard looks up to and considers himself far below her power ‘weight class’.  Loo allows us a view into the life of a character who would be considered second tier and his reactions to meeting a first tier superhero – blending envy with fandom and a desire to assist.

The role of family has been an important one in Loo’s comic, allowing us to see the home life of his character and familial responsibility. This family role transcends his civilian life in the comic when The Pitiful Human Lizard needs to continue to cope with his father’s celebrity as an early Toronto superhero, The Lizard Man, and the fact that people keep making connections between father and son, which could reveal The Pitiful Human Lizard’s civilian identity. The threat posed by the potential for his family to reveal his identity further blurs the space of family and superhero identity, placing him in a precarious space of uncertainty between two identities that most superheroes tend to keep separate.

The blending and mixing of superhero and civilian/family identity is further illustrated through The Pitiful Human Lizard’s interactions with Mother Wonder. Her name itself speaks to the close connection between familial and superhero identities, and The Pitiful Human Lizard’s constant view of her as the superhero he aspires to impress situates her as a sort of maternal figure to him, coaxing him to further develop. When The Pitiful Human Lizard is able to recognize Mother Wonder in her civilian identity while she is out with her family, the line between superhero and family is further blurred, allowing him a glimpse at her familial identity.

Where The Pitiful Human Lizard is inspired by Mother Wonder as a figure to look up to, he inspires the development of a new superhero in a very different way. He evokes the irritation of Lady Accident, who seeks to become a superhero because she is frustrated at the attention-seeking behaviour that she believes underlies most superhero identities. She is able to justify her own voyage into heroism as a reaction to this attention-seeking behaviour rather than a reflection of it, and, rather than continuing to protect the public from the shadows, she sets out into the streets with her own garb (something not too flashy so she can blend in, but different enough so that she can stand out). Lady Accident reveals her own contrasting desires to both be noticed and also continue to be critical of superheroism’s intrinsic attention-seeking.

This issue is one of revelations – characters discovering secret identities as The Pitiful Human Lizard discovers the secret identity of Mother Wonder and also recognizes Lady Accident as his sometime girlfriend Barb, but beyond the plot revelation of secret identities, this issue also reveals the blurring of identity that can occur when a character’s civilian and super identities mix and interchange. 

You can discover more about The Pitiful Human Lizard and get your own copy at PitifulHumanLizard.stoenvy.com 

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