Friday, 21 March 2014

A Day In The Life of An Ordinary Citizen In Gotham City

I'm no Superman. Seriously, I can't even leap a building in a single bound or run fast. Just an ordinary human. No super. No meta. Just a regular powerless person living in a world of supers. It's kind of easy to feel insignificant or small when Green Lantern just saved Manhattan from an asteroid with a giant green baseball mitt. Personally, I would have gone with a baseball bat and hit one right out of the park... er... atmosphere. But what do I know? I'm no hero.
Pictured: Hero.
Also, you probably thought I was making a joke about that baseball mitt. I wasn't.

Lacking any enhanced abilities, mystic prowess, alien tech, radioactive animal bites, or super genius of any kind, I can safely say that I am just a person. And that's fine, I don't really care. It's not like I've ever wanted to fly or shoot beams out of my eyes or shrink down to atomic size or whatever. Walking at a normal pace is good enough transport as any for me.
The Flash uses enough electricity to power a small town every time he puts on his boots.
My electricity bill is high enough, thank you

I do occasionally wonder what it would be like to live in a world with no superheroes though. And no supervillains too, before you get the wrong idea. It's not the lack of heroes or villains I wonder about but the lack of powers. What would that world be like? A world where no one had superpowers. Where there wasn't an alien from a distant planet many galaxies away who took to the skies and punched evil in the face until it went away. A world where the fastest a man could run was around 14 miles per hour. A world where physics had rules that had to be followed, instead of merely laughed at on a regular basis by beings with powers that challenge the very conception of what is possible. A world where everyone and everything was ordinary.
In such a world would explosions still spell out onomatopoeia like "BOOM"?
Is that even a rational question to ask when it clearly makes light of scientific truth?

I don't know the answers to these questions but I do wonder about them. Would my dinner plans with Lucy from the gift shop still have to be continually rescheduled because the Penguin unleashed an adorable but deadly army of killer penguins in Gotham Park again (alternative Tuesdays) or because yet another alien invasion had to coincide with date night for the third time in a row? Would I actually have to do anything as head of security at the Gotham City Art Museum? Most of the time when there is a new art exhibition or an expensive diamond on display, we take bets on how long it will take for a supervillain to burst in and try to steal it. These bets are in minutes by the way. Also, there's no real point in trying to stop them. My loyal can of pepper spray stays loyally in my holster because of the fuck-all good it would do. Most villains come bullet-proof and often are armed with freeze rays, acid-squirting prop flowers, or the power to induce motion sickness. Better to just leave it to Batman.

He can handle it. I heard that he actually has a can of shark-repellent because of course he does. He's Batman. 

Maybe I would actually do more than simply monitor the security cameras for the inevitable appearance of a gimmick-themed villain who will either alternatively skulk silently and avoid detection until being inexplicably spotted in the process of, or immediately after, stealing something and then beating us all up, or just exploding shit up because fuck it, they can and we can't stop them. Maybe I'll actually have a night on the job where nothing actually gets stolen because regular thieves aren't as good as super-powered ones. I'm assuming, of course. I'm not sure I know what a regular thief would even look like.

A regular thief? I dunno.

It might be nice to live in a world where it isn't utterly and complete obvious that everyone is not the same, where all men are not created equal. I wonder if a world without superpowers would be a more equal world. Surely there wouldn't be any reason for people to treat each other unfairly if everyone is normal and there was nothing intrinsically different about people that made them significantly more powerful than any other person, right?
Then there would be no reason for Green Lantern to be a racist just because he had an alien ring that proved his superiority to other people.

But what do I know? It might be worse without the supers around to stop that sort of thing. Or at least to distract from it. It's hard to think that you're better than a group of people based on something as arbitrary as race when the Flash can literally run rings around you at the speed of light or when Superman can fry you with a blink of his eye.
Staring contests with Superman don't tend to end well.

But that brings up another thing, would there be religion in a world without supers? I remember reading that before the appearance of the original superheroes, people used to believe in gods, which were all-powerful beings that watched over us even though people couldn't see them. So, I'm guessing like Batman in ninja-mode or something. As head of security, I've spoken to him once or twice. He just appears and disappears with no warning. Rather impolite when you think about it, doesn't even say goodbye. Just leaves when you're in mid-sentence...

But anyway, apparently religion kinda fell out of favour when the supers appeared because it makes little sense to believe in invisible gods when beings who are practically real gods are fighting bad guys outside your window.
A god, I guess. You can tell by the tights and the lightning. But mostly the tights.

But in a world without supers, where Superman doesn't swoop in at the last moment to save you like he did my aunty Rena, it would probably be easy to believe in gods you couldn't see in order to feel a bit safer about things you don't understand because I think it would be probably kinda scary without superheroes looking after you. I mean, I don't understand much about stuff because it all seems so chaotic and confusing when there are demons and aliens and cross-dimensional beings and talking fish but at least I know the Justice League is looking out for us. And that's comforting, which I guess what believing in a god would be like. But what do I know? I'm just a security guard with too much time on his hands.

Tony Bullock
Head of Security, Gotham City Art Museum (unpublished writer and non-super)

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