Friday - - Travel -

Matt, orig­i­nally from Cal­i­for­nia, but now liv­ing in Brook­lyn as a job­bing pho­tog­ra­pher, led the way. Next thing we were rac­ing out of the lift through the dark lobby of the Hud­son Ho­tel. Even in such a rush it was im­pos­si­ble not to pause for a sec­ond to ad­mire the 40ft high ceil­ing, enor­mous chan­de­lier and crawl­ing ivy – all magic touches of renowned in­te­rior de­signer Philippe Starck. Even the out­side of the build­ing looked mys­te­ri­ous with a fu­tur­is­tic stone front and sign-less en­trance. “Hurry up, Judy!” I heard, as I dashed down the sin­gle es­ca­la­tor – a tube of neon green pan­elling to street level.

Be­fore I’d even seen the stony­faced Amer­i­can sol­dier dressed in army greens (he’s our guy in green!) and obe­di­ently clam­bered into a wait­ing minibus I felt like a big kid. A buzz of ex­cite­ment surged through the group as we waited for in­struc­tions with no idea of what might hap­pen next.

The sol­dier got into the ve­hi­cle and in­tro­duced him­self as Sergeant Robert King. “I as­sure you that your pres­ence here is not only nec­es­sary, but vi­tal to the peace­ful ex­is­tence of our world,” he said. But now what?

Sgt King switched into an open­ing mono­logue. He told us he had come straight from Cairo, Egypt, where after “ram­pant bliz­zards” the city had frozen solid, all thanks to evil vil­lain Loki Laufeyson, the scorned brother of Thor (of course!). King’s friend Dis­ney and Mar­vel’s brand new first-of-its-kind video game Dis­ney In­fin­ity: Mar­vel Su­per He­roes 2.0 is out now. Orig­i­nal sto­ry­lines have been penned by award-win­ning Mar­vel comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, a top Mar­vel writer for 20 years who scribed The Avengers, Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Play­ers will take on the roles of 20 Mar­vel char­ac­ters care­fully se­lected from a cat­a­logue of 8,000. The game fea­tures an en­hanced ver­sion of the Toy Box mode from the first game Dis­ney In­fin­ity with new ad­ven­tures play­ers can cus­tomise us­ing hun­dreds of Dis­ney- and Mar­vel-themed props, lo­ca­tions and char­ac­ters to cre­ate their own sto­ries or even re-cre­ate their favourite movie and comic book mo­ments. Fun! And it can be played on Playsta­tion 4 and 3, XboxOne, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, iOS. Prices Starter Pack Dh275 with ex­tras start­ing from Dh18. Avail­able to buy through­out the UAE. Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) was stuck in Egypt and told us via a live link (ob­scured face, sunglasses, a fur-lined hood) that Loki was threat­en­ing to freeze New York next among other world ci­ties and needed our help to stop this hap­pen­ing.

“What do we have to do?” asked a mem­ber of the group, his fur­rowed brow re­veal­ing the fact he was tak­ing this rather se­ri­ously.

Five shards of the ‘Gem of In­fi­nite Suns’ were scat­tered across New York City within a 20-mile ra­dius. We had to find all five pieces, re­form the gem and only then would the world be saved from frost­bite.

“But if the gem lands in the wrong hands, even one shard of it, our fate is sealed,” King warned. He then gave us a mo­bile phone, which Matt looked after, and left the bus, be­fore lean­ing his head back in the door to say: “Good luck, guys.”

If you’re lost, don’t worry. I was too at this point. At least un­til we ar­rived atThe Su­per­hero Sup­ply Store in Brook­lyn, where I got car­ried away with it all. It stocks ev­ery­thing any self-re­spect­ing su­per­hero needs or wants. Capes of all colours and lengths, tins of in­vis­i­bil­ity paint, shrink­ing gas and jars of su­per stretch gel – not to men­tion stacks of teeth-whiten­ing prod­ucts.

Inside the tightly packed store you can take a ‘How Evil Are You?’ test, sit un­der a mind reader (that looks sus­pi­ciously like a retro hairdryer) and test your cape in a pow­er­ful wind tun­nel. But what’s in­ter­est­ing is the shop has a sec­ond, se­cret iden­tity – like any good su­per­hero does.

It is the brain­child of Bos­ton-born writer, ed­i­tor, and pub­lisher Dave Eg­gers who had fit­ted a fake book shelf on the back wall. It’s a vault­like door, be­hind which is a room ded­i­cated to a non-profit writ­ing pro­gramme with work­shops fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing the read­ing and writ­ing skills of lo­cal chil­dren aged six up to 18. Whether it’s by writ­ing comics, po­etry, es­says, songs, short sto­ries or nov­els, kids are en­cour­aged to be cre­ative and con­fi­dent with words. Who said su­per­heroes don’t make the world a bet­ter place?

To­day we were there to meet a wacky guy called The Sci­en­tist, who ex­plained fur­ther the sci­ence

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