Superman Joins Spidey
in the Unemployment Row
The biggest villain any superhero worth his or her cape has to contend with is boredom. So writers who maintain their alt-world keep topping themselves with ways to sustain their relevance in such unfazed times. Often, their realm comes close to bursting into our sad sack of reality.
What just happened to Clark Kent is typical. With the doom and gloom surrounding the print industry’s outlook, even the most unflappable reporter has to adapt. So he’s quitting his newspaper job and becoming, of all things, a blogger. Like we need any more competition.
He probably has a better shot at succeed than poor Peter Parker, who lost his own job at the Daily Bugle two years ago and recently got evicted from his landmark address in Queens and moved to Brooklyn. Yeah, right. Have you seen how much rents cost in Williamsburg lately?
Right there, it’s a sign we’re talking about fiction: in our unglamorous but inescapable day to day life, chances are, the next stop after Queens would be Newark, or Hackensack, New Jersey. But at least in Brooklyn, Spider-Man will be closer to the Superhero Supply Shop, the newest depot for all things hero in the city.
For the record, the two legends share an elaborated costume, a will to do good, and not much else. Superman was born in the throes of WWII and the A-bomb, a break-neck solution for the terrifying prospects of that time. Spidey, on the other hand, is the offspring of the more cynical and self-deprecating 1960s.
Clark Kent’s alter ego has been nothing but an intoxicating but soothing mix of naivete and power, always at the ready to help the little guy. Apparently, after a stint as a patriot and champion of the ‘American Way,’ he’s now back at being just your regular, faster-than-a-bullet, man of steel we all cheer and love. Oh, and now he has a beard stubble too.
Parker can’t get enough of life’s hard knocks, in print, on the screen or on stage, no matter how many remakes they come up with. His greatest appeal has always been his shattered ego and second-guessing internal dialogue, which nevertheless hasn’t prevented him from smashing bad guys to a sticky pulp.
WHERE SUPERHEROES TALK SHOP
Talking about the intersection between the make believe and our seemingly insufficient reality, nothing can be more eloquent than the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, the ‘online purveyors of high quality crimefighting merchandise.’ From costumes, to gear, to secret-identity gadgets, all at ready for any discriminating crusader.
We’d love to be a fly on the wall and watch as these bizarre creatures would descend to do some last minute shopping. And we bet that, with the holiday season almost upon us, their ultra-secret friends would finally have a place to browse for just the right item for those, as they say, who have everything.
We’d only make an issue of their vast cape selection. For as it’s been fully demonstrated in the very instructive Incredibles animated motion picture (hey, what did you expect? that we’d invoke Bergman in this post?), capes are now considered a hazard, given so many untimely deaths of beloved cartoon characters.
FIGHTING EVICTION & BEDBUGS
The latest indignity thought up by illustrator Damion Scott and writer Stuart Moore, is a two-part series about Peter Parker’s relocation to Brooklyn, where he joins a rag-tag group of lesser known heroes, the Avengers (no relation), but actually winds up fighting bedbugs, air pollution and eviction due to eminent domain.
You know, stuff New Yorkers are familiar with. The series is supposed to celebrate Spidey’s 50th anniversary, even though no one would say he’s aged by reading his comic books, or watching the movies. At least, no one would dare tell it on the face of such a volatile crime-fighter, that’s for sure.
In the meantime, after an accident-prone beginning, the yet another Spider-Man, the musical, is doing amazingly great in its multimillion dollar-budget run on Broadway. Apparently, its troubled but star-ridden start, fist-fights among producers, and near-death falls and effects have only contributed to its allure to tourists.
The move to Brooklyn from the original, but considerably poorer Amazing, may be a consequence of an unfortunate sequence of events that happened to him two years ago, with the loss of his job and a lot of his credibility as a good guy, in a story created by Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta. We’re sure you’ve been following closely what happened next, so we’ll spare you a retelling here.
Without delving too much into comic-book geekhood (even though we know you want it), this most neurasthenic of all heroes has had so many ups and downs to make us all wonder why he still keeps going. But if that’s a no-brainer, even if you ask yourself the same, it’s also part of his, and any fantasy crime fighter’s, allure.
Since we usually can’t stand anyone posing as incorruptible, unless, of course, you are Clark Kent, we like our heroes bruised, slightly dirty, and prone to breakdowns and reversals. The thing that makes us going back for more is that they, unlike most of us, always bounce back.
FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE BLOGGING
About the kid from Krypton, now that’s a hero we’ll always allow as many supersonic bounces back as he wants. If the crisis in the print industry is affecting him too, though, what hope can the rest of us have? Besides, with his speed and superhuman intelligence and vantage point of view, we’re sure his posts will be infinitely more interesting than this one.
Again, not wanting to dip too deep into superhero lore, this is not the first time he’s quit his job at The Daily Planet, according to NPR’s Glen Weldon. First, the paper itself shut down briefly in 1952 and in 1998, he was fired by archenemy Lex Luthor, who’d bought it. It seems to be doing fine now, since it’s been purchased by a billionaire with a secret identity: one Bruce Wayne. Who knew?
Scott Lobdell, who came up with the idea of blogging on the Superman issue #13 that’s out this week, tells USA Today that ‘this is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren’t really his own.’ Gee, we wonder whether Lobdell has caught any flak from his own employer on this one.
It is, however, a repackaging to prepare Jor-El (what? you didn’t know that? Sorry for the spoiler, you under-the-rock dweller) for a new day. Who knows? Maybe next he’ll be trying his hand at higher office. Certainly this more engaged Superman would be concerned about street gun violence in America, or the lack of criminal convictions for Wall Street high rollers.
As for being out of regular employment, we’d be less concerned about Kent, who doesn’t need health care coverage, than Parker, that frail poor kid, who probably doesn’t have hot running water in his tiny studio. His unemployment benefits gone by now, it may not be a bad, if not particularly original, idea to consider getting a grant from the Wayne Foundation or something.
But for all the discrepancies among the multi-medium versions of these characters, and their irreverent inference into our own grim script, the myth of the superhero has undergone so many rewritings, that it’d be waste to try to squeeze one more meaning out of its, ultimately, aleatory conception.
So be it a monument to rectitude, or a pile of self-doubt, we don’t mind at all having these guys flying or slinging about, at least within their still insulated realm. In intention and clarity of purpose, they do beat the real-world remote-controlled drones and ubiquitous surveillance eyes flooding our privacy that also float and snoop around us every day.
* Super Dupers
* Warped Worlds
* Cape Crusaders