They dress in colorful costumes. They have battles in the streets. They say they protect us. But, frankly, protecting us from megalomaniacs and doing everything they can for us are hardly the same thing—and some of the most famous superheroes are so busy striking poses and fighting crime that they never get around to doing what's really important.
With Alphas about to premiere on Syfy July 11 at 10/9C, our thoughts are on superheroes, so let's take a look at some of them who unfortunately aren't giving it their all.
The Flash once evacuated the entire population of a small city to safety in the fraction of a second before it was nuked. And yet he spends much of his time fighting colorful Aussies with boomerangs who want to rob jewelry exchanges. Do you know how many more lives he could save if he just spent his days evacuating the victims of natural disasters, and getting relief supplies to them in time?
Superman is another guy who spends an inordinate amount of time fighting guys who have sent giant robots to rob banks and rescuing lady reporters who keep tripping over things when they're standing next to open windows. But really, that's a waste of his talent.
Pick even one of his lesser powers—heat vision, for instance—and you see that he could very easily help out cities afflicted by cold waves. And why isn't he spending more time at Third World hospitals with limited equipment, employing his X-ray vision to diagnose entire wards of afflicted patients at once?
The Spectre is second only to the Almighty in sheer power, as he can bend the laws of nature at will and has more than once juggled the entire planet in his hands, without breathing hard (or at all). And yet he uses his literally god-given talent to go after random murderers and prove what a nasty imagination he has by doing things like turning them into wood and then running them through buzz saws.
Seriously: Can't you think of any more useful and life-affirming uses for the skills of a guy who can, literally, do anything?
The Swamp Thing
As a plant elemental, the Swamp Thing could make entire forests sprout out of nothing. He could revolutionize agriculture on a global scale, and—though he whined about the despoiling of the Earth on a regular basis—was one of the few guys actually capable of doing something about it.
Think about it. Once, just to retrieve his girlfriend from police custody, he covered Gotham City in tropical rain forest. Why doesn't he do something like this for the areas wiped out by clear-cutting?
Thor has been the ruler of Asgard, a place with vast storerooms of gold and jewels that, he says, are of no real use to anybody living there. Once, to fulfill a minor debt, he advised a human being to walk into one such storeroom and fill a wheelbarrow with as much as he could carry. Given the weight of gold, which limits the chances of that poor guy being able to walk out with more than a few bars, this was an obnoxious move.
But, really. The guy belongs to a nation without an economy, a nation that doesn't trade, a nation with wealth it really isn't interested in—and he lets it sit, gathering dust. You know what would save more lives than a year's worth of smacking the Wrecking Crew in the face? Bringing a few paltry billion of that booty down to Midgard and establishing charitable funds that would, just to name one cause at random, pay for the medical costs of every uninsured American. Seriously. The guy could afford it, easily.
(That's before we get into the possibilities of his other major power, making it rain at will. We know a few states that can use that. Don't we?)
Firestorm can transmute elements and play with molecules on a grand scale. And yet he, too, spends the bulk of his time at ground level, fighting various costumed miscreants. Why isn't he spending his days in the upper atmosphere, absorbing excess carbon dioxide? Why isn't he flying to every catastrophic oil spill, turning the gooey crude into distilled water?
As Bruce Wayne, Batman really does invest many of his vast family holdings in helping out the people of Gotham ... but he still does live awfully well, on top of all the money he spends buying those wonderful toys.
We'll grant that Batman is needed, to deal with all the mass-murdering psychopaths he deals with on a daily basis ... but we'll also note an element of gross financial inefficiency in the way he goes about it. For instance, even if you discount the folks like the Joker who kill just because they like to, a simple examination of Batman's case files establishes that he's obliged to spend far too much of his valuable time dealing with criminals who aren't insane, who aren't necessarily killers, who just want to steal stuff in the hopes of an easy payday. Some of these guys have been known to hire themselves out as mercenaries. And they're taking up Batman's time, distracting him from all those cases where lives really are at stake.
Why not just buy them out? Why not go up to one of those guys who just wants to leave clues and rob museums and say, "Okay, we can fight each other, now, and put me to the trouble of sending you to prison and you to the trouble of breaking out again—OR I could put you on salary, for more than you've ever made at crime, and PAY you to just enjoy a peaceful retirement, subject to revocation if you ever break the law again."
I'm tellin' ya, guys like the Kite-Man would leap at that deal ... and Bruce would likely make a profit on the deal, just on the money he'd save on replacing boomerangs and Batmobiles. If he made this deal ENOUGH times, he could just park himself outside Arkham Asylum and BE there, waiting, the next time the Joker jumped the wall.