It had started as a childhood fantasy. But unlike most childhood fantasies, this one had stayed. And stuck like an obsession.
His foundation had been built with the comic books that he devoured and collected as a kid. He simply fed on those materials, building the worldview of a super hero in a world that needs saving.
Everyday, during break time at school, he would steal to the lone comic book stand at the school gate to run through the available titles. Everyday, he had exchanged most of his lunch money for one title or the other. A new edition of an old comic. Or the very first edition of a new title on the market.
He jumped buildings and battled Doctor Octopus, Sandman and many others with SpiderMan, defeated Lex Luthor alongside Super Man, and policed the night alleys of Gotham City beside the dark-caped crusader, Batman.
He knew he stood no chance of being Super Man, unless he was – unknown to himself – an alien. He did fantasize of helping to build Nigeria’s first nuclear reactor. Hopefully, something would go wrong enough for him to be transformed into something skin to a Hulk. Barring that, he deeply fantasized of building a super suit like Iron Man’s.
Yes; Iron Man was cool. Way cooler than most of the other options. Like Batman, Iron Man was not the product of an accident. The two shared the common thread of being the creations of highly intelligent minds.
That had appealed much to him. He loved to create. Cables, metal, cloth, plastic, glass, and other materials brought together intelligently to produce something that worked. That was his greatest appeal.
That appeal never left.
At secondary school, he had chased his dreams with a passion. He spent more of his pocket money on technology books, toy cars and electronics than on food. He had spent countless hours daily in the school library reading up everything from wood and metal works to nuclear physics and chemistry.
He was at home carving pieces of wood, cutting and gluing pieces of cardboard together, and extracting working parts from electronic items as he was with the concepts of neutrinos and positrons or advanced space travel.
By senior secondary school, he knew what chemicals to mix to produce various levels of combustion for propelling objects. One of his favourite pastimes at Christmas was buying fireworks and refitting them on his home-made cars and aircraft, lighting them up and watching them go. And they did go!
Well, to be honest, his creations mostly blew up or caught fire at first. But his persistence paid off. Very soon, he was scoring as many successes as failures.
Where other kids saw pure fun, he saw tools. He saw opportunities. He manipulated and built. And he got better at it year after year. Often the object of jokes from the regular school and neighbourhood bullies and pranksters, he took it all in stride. He never for once re-considered.
He studied the galaxies as well as the deep seas. He knew the skies and the reaches of the solar system. If his dreams were to come true, he would need every bit of knowledge about how this planet worked and what to expect. Never before had any child been so fixated on the dream of becoming a super hero.
Never before had any child dreamed his way into becoming one either. Never before. Not until him. But against all the odds, he had.