The Bodyguard Exercise

Which superhero - or villain - would be the best at protecting you if you were in a coma in a hospital? Let's figure that out.

One of my favorite superhero concepts is, perhaps strangely to you, the idea of superheroes doing ordinary things. Isn’t that the antithesis of their appeal? Not for me. There’s a reason my theme sketchbook for conventions is built off that very idea, whether it’s WildC.A.T.S. characters grocery shopping together or Storm shredding on a guitar. There’s just something inherently entertaining to me about those ideas, but also charming, as they’re probably things those individuals could do, we just don’t get to see them do it because, you know, superheroics.

All of this is why a July Mailbag question from a reader named Andrew Tan appealed to me so much. It blended two of my favorites concepts together – the aforementioned doing of ordinary things with outside-the-box hypotheticals – into one glorious mash-up. Here’s that question:

If you were in a coma at a hospital, which superhero (or supervillain, in case your choice is Stilt-Man) would you want to guard your body?

Now, I very briefly addressed it in the Mailbag, but as noted in there, I wanted to go into it a bit more because I love the idea. It pairs a theoretically ordinary situation – me being in a coma in the hospital – with a situation superheroes should excel at. But would they?

To figure that out, I’m going to build out the scenario a bit, with conditions applying aplenty. First, for the purposes of this thought exercise, unidentified ninjas – a lot of them – will be the force that’s coming to dispatch me. Second, only characters from superhero comics could be considered, as the scenario fits them better. Third, the general objective will require said protector to defend me within the hospital room. No taking the fight to the parking lot. It’s all inside. Fourth, I’m going to make the unilateral decision that this is an evening long siege to make it a realistic amount of time for the heroes or villains to spend with me, which apparently means I would be in a very brief coma. So the parameters are, which superhero comic characters would be best at protecting me, an individual in a coma, over one eight hour stretch in a single hospital room.

That brings up a quick point I want to make: in reality, every single superhero or villain should crush at this task. However, the difficulty lies within who they are. Some would scuffle at this exercise because of varying quirks – or essential ingredients! – of their character. Eight hours is an eternity if you’re a paragon-type character. Is one person’s life worth the cost of others around the world? That’s a question many would be asking themselves.

Let’s consider those questions below, as I break varying superheroes and supervillains into one of three tiers, finding the place they best fit in my personal “I want this person to protect me” power rankings.

Tier III. The Eternal Sleep Awaits

I hate to break it to you, but if someone from this group is protecting you, you’re probably not going to make it. The reasons differ but the results stay the same, unfortunately.

Examples from this tier: Boomerang, Grizzly, Armadillo, honestly really anyone who is a regular at The Bar With No Name, 43 Galactus, 44 Anti-Monitor, 45 Fin Fang Foom, 46 Damian Wayne, 47 Elektra (usual version), 48 Apocalypse, 49 Darkseid, 50 Constantine, 51 Mr. Fantastic, 52 Omni-Man, 53 Booster Gold, 54 Ted Kord/Blue Beetle, 55 each of The Flash’s Rogues (besides one), 56 Guy Gardner, 57 Bizarro, 58 anyone with fire powers, 59 The Hulk 60

“Best” in Class: Stilt-Man

I believe my guy Stilt-Man – a king of kings, truly – is capable of anything.


That said, he’s the prototypical example of someone that’s, again, capable of anything, but situationally not the right fit. Just think about it. What’s his greatest strength? He can get super tall. What’s not that useful when you’re trying to protect an individual in an ordinary sized hospital room? Getting super tall. At that point, he’s basically just a dude with dumb looking armor on, which I suppose he was to begin with.

While I’m sure he could sit on a chair and telescope his legs over and over at the entrance to ward off legions of ninjas, 61 Stilt-Man would probably recognize the futility of the situation, weigh the value of the job, and head off to join his fellow Tier III-ers at The Bar with No Name. That’s good news for the prospects of his nightlife, but bad news for the long-term prospects of one David Harper.

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