A Hero in Harare

movies

Sterkinekor Lusaka Arcades Centre in Lusaka, Zambia – found at afrotourism.com

“I want to meet this Miles Morales,” twelve-year-old Miriro murmured spontaneously as he and his eleven-year-old sister Anesu did their maths homework at the kitchen table, warm afternoon sunlight streaming in the western window.

“What are you talking about,” she replied in irritation. “He doesn’t even exist. He’s a cartoon.”

“Uncle Tongai took me and my mates to see Spider-Verse over the weekend. The movie said anyone could wear the mask and be Spider-Man.” He was grinning, his mind completely diverted from his textbook.

“You’re daft. This isn’t Brooklyn, America. It’s Harare, Zimbabwe. Just because black Americans look like us doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Our lives are different.”

“Anybody can be a hero, Anesu.”

“Be a hero and finish your studies before Mama comes back from the market and we both get in trouble.”

But it was too late. Miriro was already thinking about his new costume.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location/image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Harare, Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, I saw the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) with my son and my nine-year-old grandson. I subsequently published my review online and obviously still have the movie on my mind.

One of the things I’ve been considering, both with this movie, and especially with the Marvel Studios film Black Panther (2018) is that in the African nations, culturally, black people have widely varying cultures compared to African-American audiences, so the differing populations may not have as much in common with each other as people in the U.S. might imagine.

Having said that, the central message of “Spider-Verse” is that anybody can wear the mask. It was meant as a commentary about how historically, superheroes have been white, but it doesn’t automatically have to be that way. Any kid, no matter who they are, can be a hero.

I decided to put a spin on the message and say that any kid anywhere in the world also can aspire to be more than who they are, mask or no mask, even a twelve-year-old boy living in Harare.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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Film Review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” (2018)

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Promotional image for the 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse”

About an hour ago as I write this, my son, grandson, and I were walking out of the theater after watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). This animated film chronicles the coming of age and origin of the Miles Morales Spider-Man (voiced in the film by Shameik Moore), who, in the movie, looks about 13 or 14 years old.

I know I just put up a link, but I haven’t read the page yet, so don’t know much about the Morales “Spidey.” I didn’t want to find out more about him before I watched the movie, and for years, I have only been tangentially aware of him. I have to admit, when I first heard of that version of Spider-Man, I figured it was Marvel taking a highly popular franchise and just inserting a person of color in order to attract progressive readers as well as pull in long-term, hardcore Spidey fans.

This movie changed all of those misconceptions.

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Sacrifice

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The cover art for Spider-Man issue 33 (1963)

“You’re going to be fine. Just hang in there. We’ve got heavy equipment coming. We’ll have the two of you out of there in an hour.”

“What?”

Ben Howard was on his knees. How did he get here? Wait. The earthquake. The little girl was going to be killed. Somehow he managed to push her in a hollow space as tons of concrete and steel rained down around them. What was that about heavy equipment?

“Can you hear me?”

Ben opened his eyes, not realizing they’d been closed. There was an opening in the rubble just in front of him. A firefighter. That’s who was talking to him.

The girl! He looked down. She was unconscious but breathing, thank God. Oh no.

“She’s not going to make it. Damn it! I didn’t push her all the way clear. An artery got nicked. She’ll bleed out. You’ve got to do something.”

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Final Justice

armor

Image: ThreeZero Fallout 4 Power Armor Preview from news.toyark.com

The armored figure walked into Mickey’s Bar, his eyes glowing a murderous red. The patrons, which included several high-ranking members from the criminal underworld, four on-the-take police officers, a Judge, a Deputy County Prosecutor, and the head of the Local 453rd, all stopped as if possessing one body and stared in disbelief. Mickey, who was tending bar himself this evening, momentarily considered reaching for the shotgun he kept under the bar, but the last time he tried to shoot The Sheath, things hadn’t worked out so well.

For several seconds, no one moved and even The Sheath, his steel-alloy armor reflecting the dim light inside the bar, merely moved his head slowly from side to side taking in the scene as if deciding who to kill first.

Finally Vinnie Russo, underworld kingpin and reputedly the most powerful man in the city, stood. He was trembling, which was uncharacteristic of him, but given the circumstances, quite understandable. The cigar he had been smoking dropped unnoticed from his mouth.

“You…you’re dead! I killed you myself! I pulled off your helmet and put a bullet through your brain!”

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