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Joel Grineau
by: Joel V. Grineau
Physically Challenged Superheroes

No doubt the first physically challenged super hero to come to my mind is Professor Xavier, founder of the X-Men. Xavier of course was irreversibly damaged in an accident some years before he founded the X-Men. However, no one has ever questioned his ability to lead the team. No one could possibly argue "Professor X, you're in a wheelchair, you can't possibly handle this job".

Similarly Niles Caulder, the 'Chief' of the Doom Patrol is also wheelchair bound. Heck, near the end of the last Doom Patrol run, the 'Chief' had been decapitated, yet he was still the undisputed leader of the 'original hard luck heroes'. Again no one had questioned his ability to lead the group. (Okay, some questioned him, but that was due to his mental state - which is a subject for a different time).

Daredevil of course, is blind (well usually he is). Imagine, a blind person who walks tightropes, is an olympic level gymnast, and beats the crap out of street scum and super villains alike. Okay, he has a super powered 'radar' to aid him, but he's still blind. He can't distinguish hair colour, height, weight, or even gender of a purse snatcher down the street from him; which is probably important, if you're going to chase around criminals. Okay, he can get around it (as he can identify persons by their posture and heart beats), but try explaining that to a jury in a court of law.

The late Jericho of the New Teen Titans was mute. Yes, in a world of angels, aliens and gods, a single silent man could fight the good fight, and make the ultimate sacrifice to stop an evil force. His teammate Cyborg, as the name implied, had multiple cybernetic prosthetics, to replace those limbs lost in an accident. Again, no one questioned his abilities.

Two of the deadliest martial arts masters to inhabit the Batman corner of the DC universe this decade were physically challenged. One had no arms, but was a master of kicking combat. The, second, had no legs, but was a master of punching combat. Those rash enough to question these two masters' abilities suffered untimely ends.

I could go on, but I think these few examples have made my point. These are individuals with physical limitations; limitations that they have gone beyond. Therefore, unquestionably, they are superheroes.

Joel Grineau is a former Writer/Contributing Editor for "Chaos" Magazine. "Iron Man" 146 (purchased in the spring of 1981) was his first comic book, and time has not worn down his enjoyment of them. Joel holds a BA from the University of Guelph and an MA from the University of Saskatchewan. He is currently an officer with the Canadian Forces.

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Text © Joel V. Grineau, 1997,1998.
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