…and when I’m mayor I’m gonna build a big high wall all around the city to keep the bad criminals out and what’s more I’m gonna make the bad criminals pay for it. • Excerpt from Oliver Queen’s stump speech.
Well… not really. I haven’t heard Ollie’s speech yet (and perish forbid that I’d use this as an opportunity to lampoon a real office-seeker) and as far as I know, Ollie hasn’t perpetrated any campaign oratory yet, but it’s only a matter of time, right? Because he is running for public office. Wants to be mayor of the town. Hmph!
The venue where this is happening is a television show titled Arrow and this season it’s been edging closer to its comic book progenitor. The lead character is now calling himself Green Arrow just as his comics iteration has been doing since his introduction in More Fun Comics #73 (1941). These Wednesday evenings, when the show airs, he has taken to wearing a mask, just like his comics counterpart. How this affects the concept of his having a secret identity, I don’t know – didn’t a lot of citizens get looks at his maskless self in earlier seasons? Maybe not. It’s possible – dare we say “likely?” – that I missed a plot point or two.
Finally – and this may be news even to you comics folk – the comics GA also ran for mayor. If memory serves – and won’t that be the day! – the story appeared in the 70s and was almost certainly written by Elliot S! Maggin. (He likes the “S” followed by an exclaimer, and what the heck, it’s his name). Elliot was, and probably still is, a follower of politics who twice went to far as to be a Democratic candidate.
Now, we’re not in the draconian rules business here, so you won’t catch me decreeing that superheroes should never seek public office. Because I don’t absolutely know that to be true and if I did make such a pronouncement some wretch might come along and prove me wrong.
But it seems to me that superheroes and politicians occupy different, and maybe irreconcilable, domains. Politicians are, almost by definition, men and women of the people who work within the system and deal mostly with human-scaled problems. Superheroes, again by definition, are not of the people; they are differently abled and what’s superhuman about them causes them to attack problems beyond the capabilities of our uniformed public servants. Look at the early Superman stories: as his powers grew, so did his foes. It makes no dramatic sense for a chap who, at his mightiest, wrangles planets to chase jaywalkers.
So conflating superheroics and politics seems to be cognitively dissonant – two ideas occupying the same cerebral turf and bumping into each other. And that might be compromising the superhero essence more than is desirable.
Or it might not.
Maybe Elliot Maggin could clarify this for me. I wish I hadn’t misplaced his phone number.