Sprocket Man was a creation of of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, designed to get the kids excited about bike safety (and spandex, presumably). I found him at the World's Worst Comic Book Museum, which is a great website.
On Saturday, Brendan and I, along with some other people at my house, got to talking about superheroes and their logistical dilemmas and policy choices. This is a matter that needs further reflection and the input of the interwebs. We were talking about how superheroes always operate in large cities (usually New York or some New York proxy) and how they're always concerned primarily with the Big Menaces (supervillains, meteors hurtling toward earth, etc.). Conveniently for them, the Big Menaces always get started or are soluble in big cities - and in fact, that's convenient for all mankind, because if Lex Luthor had decided to hatch his diabolical plots in Sioux City, Iowa, he probably would have totally flown below Superman's radar until it was too late, and then Superman's only recourse would have been to fly around the earth backward to reverse time, and he would have had to put up with flashbacks of Marlon Brando saying, "It is forbidden," which is tolerable if the reward is some R and R with Margot Kidder in her prime, but not so much when you're playing catch-up to keep California from getting sunk into the ocean or whatever.
What we wondered was, could Hartford have a superhero? How would this person effectively locate crime and vanquish it? Because even with surveillance cameras they haven't been able to find the people who ran over Angel Arce Torres, right? So what could a superhero bring to the table in that situation? Brendan was concerned that superheroes should know their beat intimately - one for the South End, one for the North End, etc. - because the social norms vary from community to community and you wouldn't want some masked avenger coming in the mix, misapprehending a situation, and causing more trouble than he solved (or getting arrested himself, which risk especially concerned Brendan). Would a network of neighborhood superheroes, working in separate jurisdictions but with constant communication and the ability team up as needed, be the right model for the Beat? Would they be called upon to be super in neighboring communities too small to maintain their own corps of superheroes, like Willimantic or Bristol? Given the large number of heroes needed to make this model work, would non-superpowered people with cool gadgets (a la Iron Man and Batman) suffice? This is a matter that needs some serious reflection in the comments.
Also, assuming we like the neighborhood-based, non-superpowered superheroes, is a bicycle a good thing for the job? On the one hand, it allows the hero to move quickly around the area while maintaining more maneuverability than if s/he were in a car. (Also, lower costs, nice to the environment, etc.) On the other hand, a superhero who can be effectively flummoxed by a flat tire or thrown chain is kinda lame.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Posted by El Presidente de China at 9:29 AM