“Fallacy-Themed Villains and Superheroes,” by Harrison Scott Key

Jul 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Mad Hominem

What does a failed presidential candidate go from here? Insane, that’s where! This reckless rogue never made it out of the primary season, but that won’t stop him from making anarchy of the republic with his Slander-Beam, a voice-controlled plasma laser that renders entire blocks of voters unable to distinguish between the validity of policy ideas and the personalities of the candidates who propose them. When will the madness end?

Dr. Maxine “Slippery” Slope

Meet Maxine Slope, a Ph.D. in meteorology whose burgeoning career was cut short when accused of falsifying research data. After several years in secret exile, Dr. Slope returned to unleash upon the world a power more devastating than greenhouse gas, having transformed herself into a redheaded vixen with a new career in TV weather journalism. Audiences sit gripped with fear as she ravages midsized media markets and creates widespread panic with warnings of deadly tornadoes and unseasonably warm temperatures that will stunt grass, dehydrate pets, tear families apart, melt glacial ice, reduce the density of matter, tear asunder the fabric of our galaxy, and ultimately reduce state funding to land-grant institutions. Who says climatologists are unconvincing? Not us!

Red Herringbone

This sartorial hero works as a designer of menswear by day and a global vigilante of justice by night, cleaning up the mean streets of every cosmopolitan berg from Venice to Hong Kong, where he is often distracted from his gallant deeds by the nagging demands of his brand’s exclusive boutiques and his many charitable activities. “We must stop Non Sequitorch from murdering the royal family,” his assistant says. “Ah, yes,” Red Herringbone answers, “but what about the AIDS epidemic?”

Non Sequitorch

Born of a solar flare, carried to earth on winds of the sun, and capable of consuming all matter in flame, this once-happy villain works mayhem to avenge the rejection of his application to work at NASA, largely owing to incongruous answers during the interview process. Before igniting their bodies, he torments his victims, creating a hellish psychological terror. “I have chosen to end your pitiful life,” Non Sequitorch says, “because I find gardening so rewarding!”

Little Addie Populum

Who’s going to save America’s schools? Not Superman! It’ll have to be this wunderkind who graduated summa cum laude at Princeton at age four, secretly formulated a pharmacological compound that permanently eradicates all forms of cancer at age five, and became the youngest Teach for America corps member at age six, where she lays waste to apathy in the high schools of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. When asked by her parents why she doesn’t share with the world what would likely be the greatest discovery in the history of modern medicine, she reminds them: “I felt a lot of pressure to do Teach for America, mom. Everybody’s doing it.”

Post-Hoc, Ergo Propter-Hawkboy

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s really a bird! This mercurial, humanoid raptor with keen hearing and a wingspan of sixteen feet soars high above the city, listening for cries of distress. Hark! A mother in City Park cries out! And, despite the fact that she’s clearly upset because an unemployed ruffian has taken her two year-old son hostage, our wily hero reasons that she must be upset because of the city’s outrageous gas prices, which continue to rise. Quick, Hawkboy! Get that woman up to speed on the crude oil market!

Straw Man

Don’t think for a second that this lanky bumpkin with the hillbilly diction is a pushover! Born in a trailer park and raised by lesbian rednecks, this simpleminded hero packs a mean punch, standing up for the weak, the meek, and the infirm. His only weakness is that he only fights those he’s confident he can whip. Watch out, weak, meek, and infirm! Straw man’s a’comin’ and he’s bringin’ the Haymaker!

Begging the Questionator

Once a mild-mannered philosophy professor, this reclusive villain was forced to resign his position at the university after a colleague falsely accused him of domestic violence. He now stalks the plenary sessions of academic conferences, where he employs a bullhorn to unleash his fury on scholars with accusatory interrogations such as, “How many adjunct faculty are you all screwing over this semester?” and “Hey, jackholes, where’s the panel on how to plagiarize? I hear it’s a big hit!” After these tirades of Socratic indignity, the Questionator has been known to throttle nearby scholars with conference-themed lanyards.


Dr. Harrison Scott Key lives in Savannah, Georgia, and teaches writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His humor and essays have appeared in Oxford American, The Pinch, City Journal, Document, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere. He writes a monthly humor column for the Oxford American online magazine and can be reached via @HarrisonKey on Twitter.

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