Solar storm news gets me ready to power-up

First published in Dave Barnett Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant Editor (Content)

As I write this the earth is being bombarded by the biggest solar storm in five years, with supercharged particles of energy from the sun hurtling at the planet.

Many people – most people, in fact – who have an opinion on this at all will consider that it might disrupt things like plane flights, satellite technology and mobile phone signals.

Me, I wonder if it will give me superpowers.

Such is the curse of the child reared on American comic books. As anyone who had the sort of upbringing I had will know, solar storms are a prime source of super-powers. That’s how the Fantastic Four received their metahuman abilities.

It has to be said that I don’t feel particularly super right now, but perhaps it takes a while to kick in.

Since I was old enough to read I’ve viewed the sort of thing that most people would take as a dangerous thing to be avoided as a potential giver of superpowers.

When I was a very young child I received a chemistry set for Christmas.

Mindful of the fact that Peter Parker received the proportionate strength of a spider, the ability to climb walls and an early-warning system in the shape of his “spider-sense” from an irradiated spider, I once captured a money spider, dropped it in a test tube full of all the chemicals in the chemistry set, then sat it on my hand until it bit me.

It didn’t. It crawled away and probably died.

All attempts to gain superpowers thwarted, I decided to become a superhero anyway when I was about ten. After all, Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. Just a lifelong dedication to exercise, martial arts and looking miserable. I did a few press-ups and made myself a costume. I called myself Sentinel and patrolled the streets after dark, keeping my neighbourhood safe from muggers and alien invaders.

I met some like-minded geeks and we decided to team up and form a super-hero squad. There were two brothers, one of whom adopted the name Hellwolf. I can’t remember what the other one was called. It soon fell apart, though, and it was all Browny’s fault.

Browny decided his alter-ego was going to be Goddizenter. That was a stupid name that didn’t mean anything. He said he had lightning powers. This was blatantly a lie, but we let him into the team anyway. On our first patrol we called for him in our civilian clothes, with our costumes underneath, but he said he couldn’t come out because his mum had found out he was going to be a superhero and said he couldn’t do it.

So I’m hopeful the solar storm will finally grant me the superpowers I so richly deserve. I’ll keep you informed next week. In the meantime, keep watching the skies.

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