Our MS Superheroes and Their Sidekicks

According to the Oxford dictionary, a superhero is a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman.

To be a superhero, one must exhibit an extraordinary ability, moral conviction, great courage, and a mission to serve. While a superhero is not required to have a sidekick, many of them do. I grew up with Batman and his witty sidekick Robin. So, when I wrote I Have MS. What’s Your Super Power?: A Common Sense Guide to Living with Multiple Sclerosis,

it was a no-brainer for me to assign the abstract character Common Sense as my sidekick. I needed the added security of a partner in fighting the criminal MonSter.

Upon discovering the article above, I knew it was meant for me.

Since my diagnosis on July 1, 2001, I have searched for a superhero wing from which to hang. The MonSter casts its darkness over every aspect of life, turning sunshine unto clouds…

Oops. Sorry for the momentary lapse into childhood.

“According to Mike Benton, in Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History (1992), “Although the term ‘superhero’ was used as early as 1917 to describe a public figure of great talents or accomplishments, the early comic book heroes of the 1940s were usually referred to by their creators as ‘costumed …”

Well, Mike Benton, you have obviously never met an MS Warrior. I prefer to follow Iron Man’s take on Super Heros.

“If you’re nothing without this suit, you shouldn’t have it.” — Tony Stark / Iron Man

MS Warriors clothe themselves in invisible armor every day. We hide behind a brave facade of normality in a world of alternative reality. Our smiles are more convincing than botox. Our shoulders refuse to bow to the pressures of incontinence, foot drop, fatigue, cog fog, and paralysis.

“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give it purpose.” — The Flash

What is the difference between a hero and a superhero?

If we check our grammar we find that the difference between superhero and hero is that a superhero is any kind of fantasy/science fiction crime-fighting character, often with supernatural powers or equipment. A true hero is someone who puts their life on the line to help others, without a thought to his/her own safety. While real heroes can be hurt, a superhero’s risk of physical harm is greatly reduced due to fantastical powers.

On planet MS, these fantastical powers come in the form of modern medicine and human compassion. Super Heros walk among us daily.

Stan Lee is probably the most famous comic book writer of all time. He is remembered by his belief that struggles and hardship do not define us. Sound familiar?

“No matter how bad things get, something good is out there, just over the horizon.” — Green Lantern

According to Stan Lee, “A superhero is a person who does heroic deeds and has the ability to do them in a way that a normal person couldn’t. So in order to be a superhero, you need a power that is more exceptional than any power a normal human being could possess, and you need to use that power to accomplish good deeds. Otherwise, a policeman or a fireman could be considered a superhero. For instance, a good guy fighting a bad guy could be just a regular police story or detective story, or human-interest story. But if it’s a good guy with a superpower who is fighting a bad guy, it becomes a superhero story. If the good guy is doing something that a normal human being couldn’t do, couldn’t accomplish, then I assume he becomes a superhero.”

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” — Superman

“The problem with telling superhero stories is that it naturally follows that you need a supervillain. You need a foe who can make the story interesting, someone who’s at least as powerful as — and hopefully even more powerful than — the hero, because that makes the story fun. The viewer or the reader has to think to himself or herself, how is our hero ever going to get out of this? How is he ever going to beat the villain? We have to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. So the most important thing is to have a supervillain who is equally as colorful as and even more powerful than the hero apparently is.

I try to make the characters seem as believable and realistic as possible. In order to do that, I have to place them in the real world, or, if the story is set in an imaginary world, I have to try to make that imaginary world as realistic-seeming as possible, so the character doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He has to have friends, enemies, people he’s in love with, people he doesn’t love — just like any human being. I try to take the superhero and put him in as normal a world as possible, and the contrast between him and his power and the normal world is one of the things that make the stories colorful and believable and interesting.

Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing. He had the superpowers and wore that costume with the bright colors and silly cape. It’s the costume that was different. Zorro didn’t have superpowers, Doc Savage * didn’t have superpowers; they could just do things a little better than the rest of us. The Shadow † could be a superhero because he could make himself unseen, and if he appeared in a comic book today, he might be a superhero, though he doesn’t really wear a costume. I’m not an expert on the Shadow, but I think he just had a dark business suit and a sort of raincoat and a slouch hat. Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume.

But it does serve as a way of colorfully identifying the superhero, and it also announces him. When he gets into a fight with a bad guy, the costume sort of explains that he’s the good guy.

Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes. I didn’t need a house to fall on me to realize that — for whatever reason — fans love costumed heroes.”

“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give it purpose.” — The Flash

Stan Lee on what is a superhero

“I’m not always able to choose my battles… but effective immediately, I’m going to make an effort to choose the battles that matter.” — Captain America

Because you, as an MS Warrior, possibly go to daily battle with a sidekick, it is important to recognize that additional hero. Common Sense serves as my abstract sidekick, ready and willing to charge ahead with its superhuman surprise attack.

On a more contract level befitting the origin of this post, I give credit to my fuzzy friend, Scooter.

She makes me laugh. She shares my tears. She listens to my offkey singing and watches my attempts to dance with trekking poles. She reminds me to stay strong and find purpose every day.

I would love to see your furry sidekick!

Have a SUPER day!

Lisa, Lady With the Cane



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July 1, 2001, six months after the birth of my only child, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.