Commentary: Year One

This is a commentary on the first chapter of Volume II called YEAR ONE which tells the story of how our Bruneian superheroes come out to the public. You can read the story HERE

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And now we move into the meat of the story. A lot of the elements from this chapter (and the few planned chapters to come) can be traced back to one particular year – 2008

The Dark Knight

I’ve always had it in my mind that a Brunei superhero would get his super strength from a magical Ikan Sumpit just like our mythical folk hero, Awang Semaun. And I’ve also always had it in my mind that the Brunei hero would wear our flag themed costume ala Captain America. But what I didn’t know was what would happen beyond the origin story. To me at that time, after the origin story, our Brunei superhero would probably go on fighting several bad guys before he faces his ultimate arch-nemesis in a final battle – that’s it….there was nothing to it.

Until The Dark Knight came out and changed everything.

Batman Begins was cool in its attempt at putting Batman in a more grounded reality. The Dark Knight begged us to question the consequence or impact of such thing. Gotham felt like a real city populated with people from all kinds of spectrum – mobs, cops, lawyers, the rich, the poor, the media, the businessmen. It was about the reaction of these people on both the Joker and Batman AND how those two react to those public reactions.

That was the type of story I wanted to write about.

I saw the potential of a Bruneian superhero story that goes beyond the origin story. I said that if I was to write a Bruneian superhero story, it would definitely have to involve the reactions from all the different socio-political spheres in the country.

It even made more sense at that time when you consider what else was happening in Brunei in 2008.

Social Media

2008 was also the time when Bruneians went crazy about blogging. Everyone in the country had a blog. Even I had a blog where I wasted spent my time writing random things (it was also a period of time when I finished A-Level and was waiting to get offer letters from potential Universities – so I had nothing better to do).

In a way, the social media boom kinda gave us a new sense of community. It made our already small country much more smaller. Stories gets spread faster and you can also get a clear picture of the general reaction among Bruneians much more quicker (sometimes in an instant).

I imagined that if a Bruneian Superhero exist, he would definitely come face to face with social media in the country. In my story, Captain Brunei utilized social media to his advantage.

Jafar: Cemana kan aku contact kita?
(How am I going to contact you)

Captain: Message saja arah the Facebook page
(Just message me on the Facebook page)

Jafar: Wait, are you telling me that Captain Brunei facebook page is not a fan page? And you actually run that?

Captain: Yes

Jafar: *laughs* I thought I have to shoot a flare into the sky or something ridiculous. A real life superhero using social media. I really like that, Mr. Captain Brunei.

He set up a Facebook page as his way getting information or help from the public. He enlisted the help from a Jafar – a character in this story who is a social media personality – to help him promote his public superhero debut.

But I also imagine that social media can also be his enemy. That idea also inspired me to come up with a villain that can be a formidable threat to the Bruneian Superhero.

Jafar: Creating the Villain character – power of information and media

First of all, Jafar was actually named after the villain from Aladdin. Why? Well, why not. But before Jafar was named, I refer to him as ‘Big Boss’. So how did this character of Jafar/Big Boss came to be?

It all started with a story that I heard few years ago. I’m not even sure if this was real or not but it’s nevertheless a memorable one. One morning, a man that was guarding a tower on top of a hill Tutong was surprised to see a group of families arriving. When he asked them what are they doing here, the family replied that they are trying to save themselves from the coming tsunami. It turns out that they heard a rumour (probably from text message) that a tsunami will hit Brunei on that day.

Now let’s think about this for a second. This rumour caused unnecessary panic for this particular family. Imagine if it was an even bigger rumour that causes panic on a bigger scale? Recently, several friends of mine all talked about how a gang is recruiting school kids to create an army to avenge the death of one their gang member. It was spread primarily through Whatsapp. Some of my friends made a big stupid fuss about it. I told them it’s probably fake but they defended its authenticity because it was stated in the message that it came from a report in Brunei Times, one of our main newspaper….which was ridiculous because I followed them on their offical twitter and they never reported such thing! And just like what any good person should do, I double checked by actually visiting their website.

Now imagine a villain who use misinformation to his advantage and use it against the good guys. Plus, imagine if this villain had the star power of some of our famous local social media personalities. He/she would be a really great villain for our Bruneian Superhero. Back when I was still talking about the idea for my Brunei superhero story, I would often describe the villain as “If Rano or BruneiTweet has an evil twin from an evil timeline”

You will hopefully see more of Jafar’s character in the subsequent chapters. In the meantime, here’s a sketch of the Jafar character that my friend made last year when I told him about the ideas for this superhero story.

concept the big boss

If you enjoyed reading my story and wants to sketch your own interpretation of the characters then feel free to email me if you want – trylobyte07@gmail.com

What lies ahead

I have ideas on what is going to happen in the next few chapters but I  still have to decide on details of it (eg. what plotline to tackle first, when is the best time to introduce certain new characters, etc). Hopefully, there will be a new chapter by January.

Am I making this up as a I go along? It’s 40% planned and 60% making up as I go along. It makes the process much more interesting :-)

I accept any feedback or suggestions.

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