[ExI] Hugo Danner the Transhuman

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 31 23:35:06 UTC 2008

This essay makes a really good case that the uncredited inspiration for
Superman, and much of the superhero genre, was a character named Hugo Danner
from a 1930 science fiction novel entitled "Gladiator" by Phillip Wylie who
also wrote "When Worlds Collide". (Strange that I would have heard of the
latter and not "Gladiator".)

Hugo's father was a scientist who injects Hugo with a serum while he was still
a fetus in his mother's womb to give him incredible strength, speed, and
invulnerability. In fact it seems that one Professor Danner's motives for this
was to have a son that is "stronger than any machine". Consequently Hugo runs
around with the French Foreign Legion crushing German cannons and throwing
vehicles around while enemy bullets bounce off of him during World War I. 

"He's strong, stronger than a lion's cub," Professor Danner
tells his distraught wife. "And he'll increase in strength as he grows until
Samson and Hercules would be pygmies beside him. He'll be the first of a new
and glorious race. A race that doesn't have to fear--because it cannot know


Even more interestingly, Hugo is not really a superhero at all. He's an
anonymous repressed *transhuman* who lives an alienated angst-filled life.
Constantly having to hide his abilities to try to fit in with normal society.
Never allowing himself to exercise the full extent of his power for fear of
breaking someone or something. He wanders the earth trying all manner of
professions to try to find a place and purpose in the world, unable to decide
if his god-like powers are a gift or a curse.

I haven't even read the book yet and I am already moved.  

Stuart LaForge

"A portion of mankind take pride in their vices and pursue their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong." - Horace


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