Could it be… magic?
Some of us are total suckers for magic. I mean, let’s be honest, all that super-science stuff that purports to explain how people have superpowers and everything — how different is that really than just saying "He flies? She shoots beams from her eyes? It’s magic!"
To some of us it’s all much of a muchness, but superhero comics universes are peculiar about that sort of thing, they seem to demand differing levels of disbelief-suspension depending on whether we’re talking about Batman or the Spectre, Spidey or Dr. Strange.
At both Marvel and DC, magic is a part of their fictional universes but, like religion, is usually distinguished from the mythmaking involving superscience. The DC Universe has had a number of recent stories dealing with a transformation of how magic works in that fictional milieu, and now Marvel’s about to undergo a similar shift in their interpretation of the fantastic.
For my money, even though I’m not paying for it, the best story currently dealing with DC’s attitude towards magic and superheroes is the Doctor Thirteen backup tale currently running in Tales of the Unexpected, wherein superscience and magic and nonsense and fourth-wall breaking all collide in a fun romp that proves DC is well schooled on how to puncture its own pomposity. Maybe it’s not Ambush Bug-level surreality, but you can’t go wrong with talking pirate gorillas, parodies of the 52 writers, and Infectious Lass.
Now Marvel’s gearing up for their own big magic event this summer, Mystic Arcana, leading off with, appropriately enough, a Magik one-shot written by one of my personal heroes, Louise Simonson. Firm believers in not being able to tell the players without a scorecard, Marvel’s also bringing out a companion guide called Mystic Arcana: The Book of Marvel Magic, 64 pages of bios and character sketches and probably not storytelling.
Meanwhile, Scott at Polite Dissent decries the use of the "humans only use 10% of their brains" misinformation employed so often in comic book fiction as a way of introducing magical (or even superhuman) abilities. Dang, there goes about 90% of the captioning for future origin stories!