Butterman is not the first hero, but he does have a strong claim to be the first superhero. We know of his exploits from original Roman frescoes, mosaics and murals. Unusually for the period, the stories are told over several sequential pictures and are captioned with little Latin inscriptions in speech bubbles.
Like most Superheros, Butterman has something unusual in his genetic make-up. His beautiful mortal mother Lactea was seduced by both Jupiter and his cup bearer Catamitus at the same time in a mythic menage a trois. Unlike Danae’s experience of being impregnated by a golden shower, this was more like two Olymians, one churn. Lactea raised her son to be as normal as possible, but this was not to be. His demi divine parentage meant he excelled in the mortal world. By his late twenties he had become a distinguished Roman General and Statesman. After a highly successful campaign he was féted as the cream of Rome with a triumphal procession.
As tradition dictated, throughout the parade an Auriga slave stood by his ear repeatedly whispering, “Remeber you are but a man” for the whole day. (They do this to stop the celebrated person from milking it too much). Now he romes Rome by night fighting crime and injustice as “Butterman!”.
Needing to conceal his true identity, he developed the first incognito super hero costume. Wearing his subligaculum* over his tunic may not have been the best “look”, but it certainly started something. After a few years as a solo crime fighter, he was recruited a mysterious side kick known only as Ghee-Whiz who was said to be from a land far to the east. Together they destroy those who’s actions are beyond the pail and rewards the virtuous with a little pat on the head.
Unlike later superheroes, Butterman could not fly. However, he had the ability to slide through the streets of Rome at high speed on his buttered sandals. In times of dire need the Vigiles could summon Butterman by lighting the beacon which projects the “Butt Signal” into the night sky. On busy nights he could end up spread very thin.
Butterman has averted wide scale disaster on many occasions. When Hannibal and his herd of elephants came over the alps he helped save thousands of Romans from drowning. His super arch enemy is a snack chariot driving demon called Marge.
Even in his own mortal lifetime, Butterman inspired copy-cat have-a-go heroes. One went as far as to have the temerity to pretend to be Butterman himself. He made a poor show of it though, and the plebians sarcastically nicknamed him “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butterman”. In the end this obsessed wretch was arrested for Storking.
The only people who knew his true identity were his wife Flora and Alfredus the Butterler (who maintains the Butt Cave). He was also said to have been romantically linked to the notorious courtesan Kerry Gold. Much as he loves the city of Rome, he secretly prefers the country life, and likes to get away now and again to roll in clover.
Having two fathers, Butterman is worshipped by many same sex couples. Those embarking on the journey to become parents will often make sacrifices of dairy products at the temple together. In fact he is so popular with the LGBTQ+ community that each of his temples has a little Pride themed charity gift shop called “Momento Homo”.
Temples of Butterman have impressive frontages with elegant columns shaped like milk churns. The windows of the temple are made of paper rubbed with grease until they became transparent.
Priest and Priestesses of Butterman alwsys carry a symbolic replica of Butterman’s weapon “The Butter Knife” to represent defending the vulnerable. For special occasions a full size reproduction is worn. For more convenient everyday wear, they can opt for the smaller, retractable “Stan Lee Knife”. The High Priestess is known as the Shea-Rah. The motto of the priesthood is, “Look after one an udder.”
Oh, and if you were wondering how Butterman achieved full immortality. Before a mighty battle of the Gods, he applied butter to Jupiter’s thunderbolts for him. Thus inventing the much faster and deadlier “greased lightning”. In recognition of this great deed, he was granted apotheosis and ascended to Olympus. Butterman was no longer but a man.
*That’s a loincloth to you.
Thank you to Dave Redford and Nicky Bailey for your help with Butterman.
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