Hello once again pursuers of knowledge, welcome back to The Science Of Superheroes! This week Ryan and I have arrived a bit closer to home, in the picturesque valleys of Wales, the homeland of cuddly superhero SuperTed. It's not bears we're after though, this week we're interested in words (magic words to be exact) and the power that they bring. As Ryan still has a lot to learn, he will provide the questions and I'll provide the answers, so that we can uncover all those important truths you dear readers keep begging for.
Let's get it on!
WHAT ARE MAGIC WORDS?
Magic words are simple words said by ordinary people to transform them into superheroes!
WHO DO THEY BELONG TO?
The magic words here belong to SuperTed, a ragtag teddy bear created by Mike Young who appeared in 1982 on the Welsh TV series of the same name and Captain Marvel, who first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 created in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker.SuperTed started life as a defective teddy bear rescued from a dusty storeroom by Spotty Man (an anorexic Mr Blobby), who sprinkled cosmic dust on him (sounds a bit suspicious), before whisking him off to meet Mother Nature.Once in the company of the mother of all mothers, the not so super ted was given magical powers which were activated every time the bear whispered his secret magic word.SuperTed never actually revealed the word (well it was a secret you understand), however superhero Captain Marvel did let slip his magical phrase each time he went through his transformation.Cap’s alter-ego was radio news reporter Billy Batson who was given a whole bunch of abilities after meeting the wizard Shazam.Granted the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury, all young Billy had to do to activate his abilities was to utter the word Shazam!Billy then was struck by lightning, but instead of being incinerated like a barbequed sausage, he quickly became Earth’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel.
WHAT DID IT DO FOR SUPERTED AND CAPTAIN MARVEL?
After saying his secret magic word SuperTed would peel back his own fur (and this was a kid’s show?), to reveal a ruby red costume complete with booster rockets in his boots, so that he could go paw to spur against his arch nemesis Texas Pete.As for Captain Marvel, saying Shazam (followed by being struck by a lightning bolt) allowed the Big Red Cheese to access numerous abilities, including super strength, super speed, flight, near invulnerability, a resistance to magic, increased mental powers and much, much more.
WHAT WOULD IT DO FOR ME?
Erm, well SuperTed never let slip the phrase he used to make him into a superhero, so his secret remains just that and will do nothing for you.As for saying Captain Marvel’s magic word Shazam, it’s unlikely to do anything physically for you either.Don’t believe me?Try saying Shazam and see what happens.Oh and if you happen to get struck by lightning, don’t expect any powers as chances are it’s just a coincidence.Over 10,000 people are struck by lightning a year, with US National Park Ranger Roy Sullivan holding the record for being struck the most times (seven times in total) and he’s never gained any powers!
SO IF I HAD A MAGIC WORD IT WOULDN’T MAKE ME STRONG LIKE SUPERTED AND CAPTAIN MARVEL?
Well technically no.Magic words have existed in tall tales and works of fiction for years and although phrases such as alakazam and abracadabra sound believable enough, in reality they’re all just a bunch of hocus pocus.However that isn’t to say that words aren’t powerful in their own right, because say the correct word at the correct time and you can get someone to do what you want.The best way to do this (and often grease the wheels in any situation) is to make use of the three lettered word that is often thought to be magic.It’s ‘please’ if you hadn’t already figured it out.Saying please, as well as ‘thank you’, is seen as a sign of respect in polite society and although you can’t use the words to convince someone to do something they don’t want to, it sure as heck helps.Understanding language breaks down barriers which ultimately creates an understanding and leads others to be more forthcoming to suggestions.Of course this doesn’t mean you can use please or thank you to turn yourself into a superhero, but in theory a ‘trigger word’ could be used during hypnosis that could make a person under the influence believe that after saying a certain word you were a superhero.This is more hypnotic suggestion than a simple magic word and you would need to hypnotise everyone you came into contact with in order to make it work (which The Comics Code doesn’t recommend), so it’s best to rule this one out.
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: A magic word + Ryan = A polite Ryan...but not a super Ryan
That’s it for this week.We’re off for a quick bite to eat as Ryan wants to visit Welsh village Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch before we go and then we have to be setting off for our next thrilling adventure in The Science Of Superheroes!