Short Stories 366:321 — “A Bunny Hug for Karl,” by Mike Remar

This story, found in Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories, is more like a glimpse into a character origin than a narrative, but I am here for that kind of story, and also, it pokes more-than-a-little-bit of fun at the Superman/Lex Luthor dynamic, so, y’know, bonus points. Set in the fields of Saskatchewan, the Karl of the title is meeting up with his friend, Lars, who is for some reason standing on top of a grain elevator. Before Karl can find out what’s going on, Lars jumps… and survives.

What follows is mostly Karl’s thoughts about Lars’s developing abilities (he’s strong, he’s pretty much indestructible, he can fly—sound familiar?) and then what Lars would like to do with those abilities: help people. It’s at this point that Karl’s take on things becomes clear: helping people? But people are pretty much generally awful, and also there’s truly no profit in it, and if Karl had powers like that, he knows exactly what he’d do with them. And that becomes his goal: to get Lars to see the folly of his way, and the positives of Karl’s.

Remar’s story takes that typical set-up we’ve seen before, moves things from Kansas to Canada, and plays with the reasons for everyone becoming who they become in a fresh (if cynical) way. I don’t normally end up wanting to follow a villain’s story, but when Lars does what he does to show Karl how important it is to use his powers for good, I found myself nodding along with Karl’s reaction. It’s the tiniest of adjustment to the usual take, but it’s a clever one, and the end result had me walking alongside Karl, curious to see where he’d end up next.

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