≡ Menu

Day 1055: A Superhero For New Orleans

From Batman, City Of Crime 

Batman is my kind of superhero – dark, reclusive and inherently good.  Forget Superman and Spiderman, who are goody, britches-wearing Archie Bunkers when compared to The Dark Knight.  Last night, I watched Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight on the History Channel.  What I thought was going to be a shlocky dissection of the man behind the mask turned out to be a rather good comparison of Batman and his evil counterparts with the fight between good and evil in our daily lives.  There were the occasional hip shots like one psychologist who considers Batman to be obsessive-compulsive because in one comic he stopped a business meeting to watch the sun go down – um, no, that’s not obsessive-compulsive behavior, he just wanted to watch a beautiful sunset and then leave to conduct his nightly affairs.  Overall, however, the show explored nicely the Batman vs. Evil Villain situation and reduced it to one simple fact that can be applied to people and places that have suffered horror, abuse and indignity: after Bad has occurred, one has the choice to go forward in life and work to ensure that Bad happens as little as possible to others or to marinate oneself in the Bad and inflict it on the world.

Ever since moving here, I’ve wished a superhero on New Orleans.  One who, like Batman, does not kill, but hunts down perpetrators of wrong all the way from murderers and thieves to corrupt white collar people and politicians, and beats the living tar out of them in dark alleyways.  One who will find the murderers of Dinerral Shavers, Helen Hill and everyone on The List and bring them to justice while NOPD and the DA cannot.  Besides, in this city of costumes and voodoo metaphysics, a person flying from building to building dressed in spandex and wings is unlikely to receive public disbelief or derision.

Gotham hasn’t become bright, gay and safe because of Batman and his crime-fighting buddies and the doors of Arkham Asylum are monitored worse than that of OPP, but at least they have Batman.  Whom do we have?

The Spirit would be a perfect fit.  He is “rookie cop Denny Colt [who] returns from the beyond … a hero whose mission is to fight against the bad forces in Central City.”  Dead cop, ghost, Central City – hand, meet glove.  How about a partnership with Super Muse who has “the power to lift tons of debris, super boots [that] give her the ability to fly over BS and red tape and she can even read the minds of politicians.”  Along with Po’ Boy, their little yet scrumptious sidekick, they take on the mean streets of Louisiana delivering Pow! and Zap! to the likes of Mighty Mouth Nagin, Vitterman and Jindal Boy.  I thought about adding Supa Saint to the ensemble but the bad guys would see his gold cape and blond jheri curls coming from a mile away, and his powers may wane outside the Dome Party District.

The situation here is absurd, so don’t scoff at a New Orleanian superhero unless you have better ideas for solving this city’s crime problem.  One can’t help but dream.  Who would you like to see out there?  The Golden Lantern?  Bucktown Banzai?  The Roach?  Nominate away for the New Orleans Justice League.

11 comments… add one
  • oyster July 17, 2008, 3:41 PM

    The Phantom Stranger is my fave, but I thought “Voodoo Child” was our comic book superhero.

  • Sil-Marc July 18, 2008, 9:19 AM

    Are you familiar with Joseph Campbell’s book, “A Hero with a Thousand Faces”? Just wondering if you had any thoughts about it.

  • Maitri July 18, 2008, 12:31 PM

    Oyster: I totally forgot about Voodoo Child (with good reason)!

    Sil-Marc: An old copy of the book is in my library. Regardless of our geographic, cultural and religious dissimilarities, we are all humans and are thus similarly limited in the occurrence and comprehension of the problems that face us. This is something I point out when those of one religion vilify another – our most critical requirements are food, shelter, employment, love, space and happiness, so why differentiate?

    When these requirements are threatened, we reach out for a solution. When that is beyond our human grasp, we invent the god, the superhero, the hero with a thousand faces who is ultimately the singular solution all humans have come up with when in states of distress and helplessness.

    The dissimilarities cannot be ignored, however, because they point out how different cultures internalize/philosophize problems and Good vs. Evil. In the west, evil is a tangible externality which can and must be vanquished, while in the philosophy of my culture, evil is a part of life, harmony is not necessarily happiness but balance of different forces and needs, good cannot exist without evil and bad resides in us, too, but it is our control of it that counts. As Campbell himself says, “The battlefield is a symbol of the field of life, where every creature lives on the death of the other.”

    I’ll have to go back and re-read the book to decide whether he resolves east-west philosophical differences into a unique human problem.

    Clear as mud?

  • jeffrey July 18, 2008, 4:06 PM

    Quoting from multiple reviews of the new Batman flick:

    “Some men just want to watch the world burn”

    Yes. Hello there.

  • Maitri July 18, 2008, 4:09 PM

    Jeffrey: So, you’re telling me that I need to set you up with white face makeup, black eyeliner and red lipstick and you’re good to go?

  • Sophmom July 19, 2008, 9:50 AM

    Classic post, Maitri. I was struck by your nutshell: “…after Bad has occurred, one has the choice to go forward in life and work to ensure that Bad happens as little as possible to others or to marinate oneself in the Bad and inflict it on the world.” Yeah.

    I think the Superhero appeals to our workaday selves, stuck in the doldrums of getting up every morning to do it again and again and again. Not only can we dream of being rescued by the masked savior swooping in from above but we can dream of being something more than we actually are.

    While, alas, there can be no real Superheroes, at least New Orleans has whole Krewes of them that come out in the dead of winter to remind the world to celebrate life.

  • KamaAina July 19, 2008, 8:48 PM

    Even in my day (’89-’91), it often seemed like it would take a superhero to bring the home town out of the doldrums. Mine was (drum roll, please) Yatman!

    Yatman doesn’t have any flashy superpowers, mind you: he takes down the bad guys in thoroughly local ways. For instance, if the bad guy is getting away with a sack of stolen loot, Yatman whips out a Saints-logo football and chucks it toward him; naturally, the bad guy drops the ball, and the loot along with it!

    Of course, there’d have to be villains, like Heckuvajob Brownie, and The Falcon (who shows up every fall with his pack of pit bulls), and associates like the Ninth Ward Avenger (he’s the smoothest, and gets all the girls!)

    Much more to come; no sense giving it all away here…

  • liprap July 21, 2008, 9:27 PM

    Hmmm…some other thoughts on conflicted superheroes, especially in relation to the Homeland Security values our administration holds ever so dear:


  • Maitri July 22, 2008, 2:03 PM

    As I commented over at Poplicks:

    a) Batman is not the government. Conflating vigilante justice with sweeping government spying programs doesn’t quite work here.

    b) Those who watched the movie know that Lucius Fox’s conscience had the upper hand and the surveillance system was destroyed at the end of the film by Batman’s order.

  • Cliff July 24, 2008, 8:33 AM

    After the oil spill in the river we could easily throw someone in there and have he or she come out as the New Orleans Toxic Avenger. I know that name isn’t original but what the heck.

    I was thinking of who could possibly be ready to deal with all the foolishness a hero here would have to go through. I vote for Richard Angelico.

  • Will Warner August 19, 2011, 1:31 PM

    Actually guys, THE BLACK GHOST is the Official Superhero of New Orleans, and was proclaimed so by Mayor Ray Nagin and City Council President Jackie Clarkson on October 13th, 2008.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.