Superpowers as a disability: the fantasticness of Concrete

We’ve just received some new collections in one of my favourite graphic novel series. It sounds like a superhero story: a man gets abducted by aliens and returned with a body made of living concrete. He is, however, returned to our world, where there are no super villains for him to fight. Paul Chadwick’s Concrete series is the story of how he adjusts to life now that he is disabled by his special abilities.

Concrete (as the main character comes to be called by his government handlers) uses his new abilities to do great things he couldn’t do before. He swims the Atlantic for charity. He climbs Everest. And, of course, that’s great. The snag is, though, you can’t be off doing that sort of thing all the time. Eventually you’ll want to go home, and be with your family, and read a book, and go out for a sandwich. Concrete can’t do these things anymore. The series is about how he finds meaning in his life.

He can’t go into buildings that are unable to handle his tons of weight. His huge cement hands are too big for tools like computers and phones. Human intimacy is lost to him. People aren’t scared of him, but they kind of pity him and don’t know what to say when speaking to him. They relate to his shape, not his inner self.

So, Concrete is a really great series, and it covers disability issues in a very interesting and counter-intuitive way.