Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's wrong with comic book universes

Sorry, folks, but I'm going to talk about comic books again. Putting aside the invincible flying people, they seem rather unrealistic. They're trying to make them like the real world, but with super heroes and villains. But their existence and all they imply would significantly alter the world.

In Gotham City most of the crime is small… relatively. The major villains tend to restrict their damage to localized areas. Killer Crock usually sticks to the sewers. Penguin is more of a godfather than a major villain. And Mr Freeze tends to stick to banks and museums. Joker's the one who tries for mass killings and his victims are usually cops. And so it goes with most villains. Still, the murder rate is way beyond our worst cities. For someone to willingly live there they must either be making a ton of money or too poor to leave. So it's either "why did you take that job in Afghanistan?" or "you can't afford DC, but you haven't left". And after the massive plague and the city leveling earthquake from story lines a few years back Gotham should make Detroit look prosperous and heavily populated.

Across the bay in Metropolis there's not much of a crime problem. Although, knowing how close the two cities are, why didn't Metropolis get some earthquake damage? What it has is super villain issues. Alien beings and killer robots and people in power suits and major stuff. They've learned to build their skyscrapers so that debris or people moving at high speeds punch through walls rather than level the building. So bravo to their engineers. But it's still going to mess up your office or shop if someone gets knocked through it. And it happens a lot! Insurance must cost more than rent. I'm sure Gotham has Joker insurance or triple payout in case of death by Scarecrow. But Metropolis is the shining city on the hill that it is because they're constantly having to repair the streets and buildings. Construction crews from Metropolis must be fast, efficient, and good. I bet they could have put Haiti back together in about a month. Or is Superman involved in reconstruction? I know the Justice League has been known to help out on some projects. Another option is that construction crews in Metropolis function like those in China. They don't expect their buildings to stand for more than a few years before they get torn down and rebuilt. My original point was that trying to run a business in Metropolis comes with the assumption that there will be lasers, thrown cars, firestorms, or at least rubble raining down outside the shop on a regular basis. Granted, it's a big city and the odds of it being your shop that gets damaged in any particular attack aren't great, but attacks are common enough that you're going to get hit eventually. It's like playing roulette and always putting your money on the same number. Eventually, it's going to hit!

But that's the least of it. Superman alone is proof of extraterrestrial life. The Green Lanterns (Earth has several now) are proof not just of alien life, but so much of it that someone decided this sector of space needed several security officers. And the planet gets attacked all the time! Knowing this, don't you think NASA would be better funded than the US Army? Most of the major world governments should be working together for a defense shield. Space elevators, orbiting shipyards, weapons platforms, arrays of telescopes constantly scanning the sky, etc. Not all races are entirely hostile all the time. Wouldn't Earth at least have embassies for a few alien races? Krypton only has a few possibly representatives, as does Mars. But there's Oa (they run the Green Lantern Corps) and Thangarans (Hawkman) is from and whatever race it is they're always fighting. Surely the Skrull would have a representative here even though they keep trying to conquer us. And all these races and these races. Instead Earth ignores these constant attacks confident that the heroes will save us. DC comics has a Mars base, but they needed Superman's help to set it up and deal with their problems. A few Marvel heroes shot Hulk off to another planet but the rest of Earth only has a few manned space stations. A few labs in Marvel and DC dabble in great power sources and interdimensional rifts. Knowing the threats that are out there should have driven mankind to become a major force in our part of the galaxy. They have the technology, they just don't exploit it. The best they sometimes do is use what they've learned causes the development of super powers in some people and try to duplicate it in others.

Of course, I know why they don't. Their world would quickly depart from ours so radically that even the most mundane heroes would live in a world we don't recognize and wouldn't want to read about.

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