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Kaliman, The Incredible Man is one of best known superheroes ever created in Latin America (though curiously, the character himself isn't Latino.) Originally a Radio Show from the 1960's, it was adapted into a comic book series that lasted until the 1980's, as well as two live-action movies during the '70s.
He may possibly have been inspired by The Shadow and similar pulp-era characters, who also had the same "trained by Tibetan mystics" origins; additionally the format of most of his stories owe a lot to the Cliff Hanger style movie serials. He also physically resembles Superman, down to having blue eyes, which considering he was supposed to be a Hindu bears Unfortunate Implications (note that this can only be seen in some of the comic book covers; the art inside most of them was in sepia tones.). Later in the series this was explained as being a mestizo, born from an english archeologist and an indian noble woman. While the radio series always refers him as having a brown skin, the covers always depicted him as caucasic.
Kaliman is "The Seventh Descendant of the Seventh Dinasty" of Kali, goddess of justice, and thus was predestined to become a hero. Raised in a temple in Tibet, he mastered "the powers of the mind and the body" and then vowed to wander the world fighting evil, a vow he must renew at the temple every seven years. His only regular supporting character was Solin, an Egyptian boy whom Kaliman picked up on his first published adventure to be his Sidekick.
(It must be noted that Kali is regularly used in fiction as an evil goddess; yet in the hindu religón she is depicted as a destroyer of evil forces, it´s not clear if the authors were aware of this disparity. The exploits of the Thuggee in the name of Kali were not well known to latinamerican audiences)
Kaliman's stories were very formulaic (again showing his pulp roots): They would start with his visiting a new country, only to find a mystery to solve; in the process, he would run into an evil scheme, often with supernatural elements; there would be at least one beautiful woman (either a Damsel in Distress or a seductive villaines) involved, who invariably fell for him; and a really nasty villain who always died by the end (despite the fact that Kaliman himself never killed.) All the while, Kaliman would not only fight stoically but would spew philosophy as well, making him one of the most idealistic heroes ever. While many plots involved the supernatural, Kaliman was presented as an skeptic of magic and witchcraft, his powers were atribuited to his mental training, not magic.
Despite all the reused trappings, the stories were still thrilling and exotic, and Kaliman was an exemplary hero. Even today, the name "Kaliman" is still known to whole generations of Latinoamericans, and it is likely he will continue to appear in the future, in one format or another.
Tropes featured in the Kaliman series:
- Cartwright Curse: Any woman Kaliman loved invariably ended up dead; maybe that's why he was mostly a Chaste Hero.
- Catch Phrase: Several; his most famous ones included "Serenity, serenity and patience, plenty of patience" and "He who masters the mind, masters everything".
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Kaliman's powers included Suspended Animation, Hypnotism, Telepathy and astral projection. In addition he was an expert at hand-to-hand combat and was familiar with many scholarly topics.
- Cliff Hanger: In. Each. And. Every. Issue!
- Did Not Do the Research: The arc that took place in Ancient Greece used both Greek and Roman deities, including some who were actually the same deity!
- Enlightenment Superpowers
- Informed Ability: Kaliman supposedly had "The strength of 50 men" but rarely made feats of Super Strength.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: Kaliman's costume resembles a Hindu prince's; apparently he was one. It's white, too.
- Pulp Magazine- Many of the series' tropes came from these.
- Rogues Gallery: Among the villains who came back to torment Kaliman were: The Black Spider, a costumed gangster; Karma, an evil member of the Kali cult; and Count Bartok, a vampire.
- Sidekick Glass Ceiling: Solin never learned more than telepathy from Kaliman, and even that was used mostly to call for his aid!
- Thou Shalt Not Kill- Kaliman never killed (anything human, anyway); the dagger he carried was only used as a tool. He did carry blowdarts coated in paralyzing poison, however.
- Token Minority: Solin.
- Weirdness Magnet: Regardless of what Kaliman's starting intentions were, he always found himself running into the supernatural, or even flung across time!