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By Chris Vespoli

AWKWARD NEW YORK is a weekly column about the uncomfortable experiences of Chris Vespoli in and around NYC. Every Tuesday is another cringe-worthy account, from being fat shamed by a Dunkin’ Donuts employee to crashing Fashion Week.

With Special Edition: NYC behind us and San Diego Comic-Con still to come — not to mention the annual deluge of summer action movies in which we find ourselves now — I’ve been inspired to act on a comic book superhero idea of my own.

Though I’m not the biggest comic book and graphic novel fan — my interest doesn’t extend far beyond Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and The Death of Superman saga — their cultural impact isn’t lost on me. Also, I’m well aware that you can make a shit ton of money if your comic book idea catches fire; just ask Stan Lee, or the guy who wrote Spider-Man (his name escapes me at the moment). So, with that in mind, I present this, an open letter to Marvel and DC Comics pitching my idea for the next great superhero franchise: The Awkward Avenger.

Like the guy who wrote Spider-Man (again, name escapes me), I realize the merit in making a superhero relatable to the audience, and that means giving him flaws and real-life problems. Also, making him from New York City doesn’t hurt, either. Because if there’s one thing people in the American heartland can relate to is paying over $3,000 a month for a 500-square-foot apartment above a gay bar/abortion clinic. Here are some qualities Awkward Avenger will embody:


Terrible Eyesight

Whereas Daredevil was rendered blind in an accident, Awkward Avenger’s visual acuity has been greatly weakened over time from years of solitary TV watching and video game playing. With no childhood friends to keep him company, not to mention a debilitating case of agoraphobia, Awkward Avenger was decidedly an “indoor kid.” He compensates for his poor vision with dark-rimmed glasses, and a heightened sense of paranoia with which he detects impending dangers both plausible and irrational.

Flat Feet

Awkward Avenger has fallen arches, greatly hampering his ability to flee from or run to aforementioned dangers. Seeing as Dr. Scholl’s has yet to make a supportive shoe insert that fits easily into superhero boots, Awkward Avenger must keep off his feet as much as possible or risk a painful case of plantar fasciitis. An off-brand motorized scooter is his preferred mode of transportation (Vespas are quite pricey).

Tree Nut Allergy

Every superhero must have an Achilles heel — a weakness that his villains are always trying to exploit. Superman has Kryptonite, Batman has femme fatales, and Awkward Avenger breaks out into hives whenever he comes into contact with nuts. This figures greatly into the main story arc, as Awkward Avenger must thwart the evil Pecan Predator and his henchmen, the Macadamaniacs.

Avoidance of Confrontations

If there’s one thing Awkward Avenger doesn’t like, it’s direct human contact, especially in the form of a verbal disagreement or a physical altercation. Instead of recklessly risking life and limb fighting criminals, Awkward Avenger posts vague, passive-aggressive missives about them on Facebook. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the nuclear option: writing a strongly (but not too strongly) worded email requesting that they “stop acting all criminal and stuff.”

Inability to Pick Up on Social Cues

Awkward Avenger doesn’t get out much from his Fortress of Awkwardness (his studio apartment in the gentrified part of Crown Heights), so misunderstandings abound when dealing with people who aren’t his cat, Sherman. He’s known to just sort of linger around police headquarters long after he’s needed, having been summoned there by the Awkward Signal — a spotlight in the shape of a Stouffer’s microwaveable dinner for one. He’ll hover over desks, trying to strike up conversation with people against their wills. After one or two conversation starters go unanswered (“So, you watching Halt and Catch Fire…?”), Awkward Avenger slinks out of the rear exit and into the lonely night.


There’s a lot more to Awkward Avenger than I care to divulge here. You’ll just have to wait until he hits the racks at your local comic book store to find out.

Your move, Marvel and DC…

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