Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Foibles of the Reconstruction

In her always-entertaining "Green Lantern's Butts Forever" blog , Sally P (aka "Stars and Garters' one and only regular ") pondered the question here of who is responsible for the property damage caused by your average superhuman skirmish, particularly in the DCU, and how it is paid for and insured.

Which inspired me to pose a follow-up question:

What about the heroes' part in rebuilding?

Sure, in the aftermath of the big battles we usually see Superman or the JLA or the JSA helping out with the cleanup and the search-and-rescue efforts, clearing out the debris and locating survivors trapped under rubble.

But when all that is done, what part do the heroes play in reconstructing the destroyed buildings and the damaged landmarks? In the golden and silver ages, when someone like, say, Superman or Captain Marvel or The Flash, got into a battle and a building was destroyed or damaged, he'd generally come back and reconstruct or repair the building in nothing flat. Things were a lot simpler back then.

Take Superman, for example. Suppose he gets into a battle with Metallo and the fight brings down an entire building. Well, we don't actually have to suppose because this battle was actually depicted in SUPERMAN#1 by John Byrne and Terry Austin back in 1986. What Byrne & Co. didn't show was the cleanup and reconstruction. Assuming Superman's powers snapped back in time (he was exposed to Green Kryptonite for a prolonged period), what was his next move? Did he take part in the bank's rebuilding? Did he rebuild it singlehandedly, did he merely aid the construction crew, or was he even allowed to participate at all?

What is Superman's union status, anyway? Is he "duly unionized" in the same way he is duly deputized by the city of Metropolis? Is he an "honorary" union member?

And even bypassing the union question, what if Superman does reconstruct a building himself, but he makes a mistake (say, a faulty staircase) and someone gets hurt? Is Superman liable for damages?

Or, for the most extreme case, go back to a mid-1990's Superman storyline called "The Fall Of Metropolis", in which one of Luthor's henchmen bombs the city and virtually destroys it. In the conclusion, Zatanna reconstructs the city using Perry White's memories of it as a blueprint. But Perry doesn't have Super-Memory. And he's a newspaperman, not a trained architect. What if there were glitches in Zee's "reconstruction" which caused property to be destroyed or people to get hurt. Would Zatanna be liable for the damages? Would Perry?

And, being inspired by Sally P, I have to ask a funny Hal Jordan question: What happened the first time Hal tried to reconstruct a building without realizing/remembering that the "green nails" he used to keep everything in place were only temporary?


At 7:29 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

Ha! Funny that you should bring up the question of green nails. There was an issue of the old JLI, where Scott and Barda's house gets destroyed. The Justice League bands together to build them a new one. This is during the time when Guy was hit on the head and because sickeningly sweet and nice, and he's rushing around helping like mad. And supplying the nails. The GREEN nails.

The house is finished, and hideous though it is, Barda loves it. Then Guy realizes that his ring needs to be recharged, and takes off, but of course all of the green nails dissolve...and that's the end of the house.

It really was QUITE amusing.

At 12:04 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Ah, the "DC Bonus Book".

That's where I got the idea. But somehow picturing Hal in that same scenario really cracked me up.


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