Thursday, May 23, 2024

5 Times The City Failed Superheroes.

( “You have failed this city” was a commonly uttered sentence by Stephen Amell’s character Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow in The CW’s former hit series Arrow. However, that’s not a phrase that can only be applied to the Arrowverse.

Here are three times when not only the city but the country—everyone—failed a hero.

Spawn’s Country Failed Him

Let’s warm things up with one we’ve talked about in the past. Detroit native Al Simmons was a top-tier lieutenant colonel in the U.S Marines as part of Force Recon. He moves up to become a member of the Secret Service and eventually the CIA.

In the CIA, he becomes an assassin and is dropped into various hotspots and the like carrying out dirty work for the U.S. Simmons becomes disillusioned with work as it isn’t how he wanted to serve his country.

He’s a good man who does very bad things and it wears on. On a mission in Botswana, his boss Jason Wynn orders Simmons’ field partner—who later becomes Chapel—to kill him.

Burned to death, Simmons is sent to Hell—half because his mother was worshipped the devil and half because his great grandfather survived a lynching but refused to sell his soul—so his soul was damned off the bat.

The rest is history: he wants to see his wife again, makes a deal with devil, and is sent back to Earth as one of the devil’s soldiers as Spawn. Yeah, the country failed him hard.

The Big Bang in Dakota’s Paris Island

Most of this list is how the country failed eventual vigilantes. In a case of the city failing the heroes you don’t have to look further than the early 90s—and recently revived—Milestone Comics imprint. Especially the 1993 comics from the publisher.

The Big Bang—inspired by Black urban legends—was an event where several street gangs went to a spot in Paris Island for a big end-all-be-all fight for control of the island. With such a large event, of course the police are notified and the mayor greenlights the use of an experimental tear gas of dubious origins and research.

What results is death and/or mutations both horrific and amazing. This is the birth of villains and heroes in Milestone Comics’ Dakotaverse such as Virgil Hawkins who becomes the popular Static, his foe/school mate Francis Stone who becomes Hotstreak, and my personal favorite of the Milestone series, the superhero group Blood Syndicate.

Dubbed “Bang Babies”, there’s no way to say that they weren’t failed by their city. As a matter of fact, with any incident where characters are failed by their city or country, the situation is covered up.

The Big Bang in Dakota’s Parris Island

The Death of Tak Se’Young’s Parents and the Trauma of Siyeon in Rooftop Sword Master

When this article is dropped my review of Rooftop Sword Master might have already been posted or you can expect it sometime after this one. RSM is a superhero fantasy revenge tale about a rail-thin victim of bullies who becomes a sword-wielding, muscle bound behemoth and sets out to gain revenge for himself, his girlfriend, and his parents.

After an incident that leaves middle schooler Tak in a coma and his girlfriend locked away in a mental hospital, his parents try to appeal to the public for justice. The bullies went unpunished, their parents went unbothered, and they were so rich and powerful that the whole thing was covered up.

They get nowhere and end up immolating themselves in front of civilians as a last-ditch effort to get the government to do something about it.

After coming out of a coma, living alone, depressed, unable to do anything about it, Tak gets a blessing of sorts in a large otherworldly sword. The sword gives him powers and immense strength and now he has the means to handle it directly.

Violence and revenge are never the answers but the city failed Tak and everyone close to him so horribly that violence and revenge seem pretty damn reasonable. After all, the incident was largely covered up until his parents killed themselves and something had to be done.

On that note, the government failed further as the bullies were only expelled, their parents issued a public apology and sent their kids out of the country, and Tak got hefty compensation. The bullies still have their parents and got to live life while he’s mostly orphaned—outside of his aunt.

Bruce Wayne’s Parents Were a Pack in the Batman Franchise

The Batman franchise has been around since 1939, so everyone knows Batman. He comes into existence because his parents are killed by a mugger or hitman often identified as Joe Chill but the police are unable to do anything about it.

Not only do the police fail Bruce Wayne but Gotham City in general fails him. Hell, the city is such a mess that it fails multiple characters—heroes and rogues alike.

As a result, it ends up with corrupt police, a commissioner who tries his best to turn things around, a ton of criminals and crime bosses, and a hero who breaks the law not merely for revenge but also to make sure no one else goes through what he went through.

Gotham City messed a bunch of people up, folks.

Aunt May Was On Death’s Bed During Marvel’s First Civil War

A while back, I discussed why I enjoyed the original “Civil War” story arc from 2006 and 2007. Two groups of heroes duked it out in a series of battles over the “Superhero Registration Act”.

The Act was meant to reign superheroes and superhumans in as they were too destructive even when doing the right thing or protecting others. It had been batted around for some time and is technically a wider version of the “Mutant Registration Act” from decades earlier—or years earlier if we’re going by Marvel’s mess of a timeline.

Peter Parker sides with Tony Stark who is in favor of SRA. The Act is supposed to hold everyone accountable for their actions—basically making them government employees. As a trade-off and to answer the concerns of technically vigilantes about their families and private lives, civilian relatives are supposed to be protected.

Given upgraded gear, Spider-Man is presented as a poster boy of the pro-SRA side. Part of being the poster boy is revealing his true identity as Peter Parker. Not only does this prompts J. Jonah Jameson to sue but also his enemies start making moves after he Spidey defects to the anti-SRA side.

While in hiding Aunt May is critically—technically mortally—wounded by a sniper bullet. Aunt May probably would’ve remained safe if Peter remained with pro-SRA side, so Peter failed Aunt May in that respect.

However, with the direction that the Registration Act was going, Peter was failed by the government. If things had gone differently and if some semblance of peace between the opposing sides could’ve been achieved things obviously would’ve gone differently and no one would’ve been annoyed by the “One More Day” arc.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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