Where Have All the Heroes Gone?
An Invasion crossover
by Martin Maenza
In the midst of the Invasion, Lois Lane pens a commentary on true heroism for the Daily Planet.
Sitting in the darkened open landscape area of the newsroom at a desk lit only by a single green-trimmed florescent desk lamp, a dark-haired woman dressed in a white blouse and cranberry skirt typed rapidly. Though the Daily Planet had started migrating to a computerized system for story composition, Lois Lane still preferred to compose her drafts on a worn-but-reliable Smith-Corona typewriter. Something about the click-click-click of the keys and the ding-swish of the carriage return said journalism to her.
She was alone in the newsroom working on a column. With the craziness of the alien invasion still going on, most of the staff was already working overtime to try to get all the news covered. Most of it wasn’t very good news, though.
The attacks were still happening all over the globe. Though victories were occurring, it seemed like a never-ending assault. The mood of the city was down, and it reflected that of many cities. It didn’t help that Superman had not been seen for weeks, either. That concerned everyone. It definitely concerned her.
And, in part, that’s where this assignment had grown out from. Lois heard the rumblings and grumbling all over — on the subway, at the corner newsstand, at the coffee shop, even around the news room itself. Where have all the heroes gone?
Lois had something to say about it.
It didn’t take much to convince the Planet‘s editor-in-chief to run with her idea via a commentary column. Usually she would have to compete with Clark Kent for the spot — Perry seemed to prefer Clark’s down-home personal approach to Lois’ sometimes biting words. But Clark had taken some time off for personal reasons. If it had been any other reporter asking to put in a favor at a time like this, Perry would have said no. But the editor respected Clark and was glad to have him back on staff again after his foray into broadcast news. Good reporters were hard to find. Perry knew the value of respect and loyalty, too. Clark had all those good qualities and more.
Lois stood up to stretch and picked up the most recent copy of the paper.
Just then, a light flashed outside the building. She rushed over to the window to see what it was, her reporter’s instinct kicking in. Something had fallen from the sky and started a small fire on the street below. Already she could see the red flashing of crews coming to handle it.
She shook her head. “No ambulance-chasing tonight,” Lois said to herself. “Got to finish this first.” She went back to her typewriter so that she could finish the final draft for tomorrow’s edition.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE?
A commentary by Lois Lane
Although it seems like so long ago, it has been just two years since the blood red skies, strange weather patterns and time-jumbled events that threw our world into a crisis unlike it had ever seen before. Our world persevered despite what seemed like unbeatable odds, and eventually life returned to the norm once more.
With the advent of this recent incursion by inhabitants of other solar systems, it appears that we face unparalleled crisis yet again.
The onslaughts come without warning and without reason. Many people across the globe have found themselves without homes, their lives turned upside down in a matter of moments. The global economy is on a downward spiral. Children go to bed at night crying in their pillows, wondering when it will all end. Some adults do, too.
Naysayers are always going to be around, quoting interpretations from the writings of Nostradamus, the 16th Century astronomer, as if those vague predictions carried any weight. The horoscopes in the entertainment section are as reliable, but at least those are labeled properly for amusement purposes only.
I saw a man today wandering the streets of this city wearing a sign that said “The End is near!” I don’t buy it. Every day the sun rises. Just as it has since the dawn of our solar system. Just as it will tomorrow.
What gets me, though, are those who are sighing with despair, “Where have all the heroes gone?” It reminds me of the lyrics of a song from a popular movie soundtrack couple of years ago:
“Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods? Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds?”*
People of late are acting as though our mighty protectors have abandoned us, that our champions of justice have turned a blind eye to the society that needs them, that dark times are approaching.
That is far from the truth!
It’s not uncommon for the people of Metropolis to catch glimpses of Superman streaking overhead on his way to put out a four-alarm blaze or corral a criminal who has just broken out of Bleak Rock Prison. Even when kryptonite rained down from the skies and covered our fair city, the Man of Steel found a way to put Metropolis back onto the road to recovery despite the dangers to himself.
And now we have a Superwoman, too. The mysterious Thorn, as her name implies, still strikes at the sides of organized crime in the urban corners of our great city. Even someone like Cannonball, who lends himself out to commercial endorsements, serves in his own way.
And our city isn’t alone with its heroes.
The Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin patrol the rooftops of Gotham City along with various allies that work best under the cover of night. New York City has the New Titans operating out of their gleaming tower off the East River. Star City and its gritty streets are brightened by the presence of Green Arrow and Black Canary. The Green Lantern Corps and Titans West serve and protect California and the West Coast region. Even once-forgotten heroes like Captain Comet have returned to active duty as well.
Around the world, most countries have protectors of their own: the Paladins in Great Britain, the Bushrangers in Australia, Doctor Light in Japan, the Rocket Red Brigade in the Soviet Union, and of course the Global Guardians and its many diverse members that hail from all seven continents.
And high above the Earth, the Justice League satellite once again orbits like a watchtower in space. It monitors our world, allowing that team to handle disasters and situations as soon as they arise. The crisis two years ago saw their satellite fall from the stars in a fiery blaze, but nothing could keep Earth’s mightiest heroes down forever! Like a legendary phoenix, they rose again to their former glory, rebuilt their satellite headquarters and reinstated many of the members who had left the team in years prior. Over sixteen members strong, they continue to be a primary source of protection and inspiration to us all.
And when we had lost some great champions in recent times, others have come forth to take on those legendary names: the Atom, Batwoman, the Flash, the Knight and the Squire, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman. Though they might carry the same names and even wear similar costumes, make no mistake — these individuals bring with them a unique perspective and fresh view without compromising the reputations they have chosen to carry on. They are true heroes in their own rights and do not merely rest on the laurels of the previous heroes’ careers.
On a related point with something else I’ve observed recently, many people have grown frustrated, and rightly so, because of the recent attacks from space. Anti-alien sentiment is rising with a fevered pitch, washing over the population with a paranoid sense much like the un-American activity probes during the McCarthy-fueled 1950s.
I want to remind those leading such alien-hate groups that they should not judge everyone by their planet of birth!
Some of the members of the Justice League and the New Titans, as well as most of the Green Lanterns, hail from other worlds. Yet these individuals stand tall with those born of this world to help defend it and promote peace. Some in recent years, like the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, have sided with the Earth against those from their own homeworlds who have sought to attack our world.
One should not be judged solely by the color of his skin nor be watched with suspicious eye just because he speaks in a different tongue.
Today, more so than before, we have plenty of heroes out there. Some wear masks and costumes, but many do not. Firefighters, police, doctors and nurses, rescue workers, teachers, anyone who can make a difference can be a hero.
Where have all the heroes gone?
Take a look in a mirror. Maybe you’ll find one that close to home.
(* Lyrics from “Holding Out For A Hero,” written by Jim Steinman and Dean Pitchford, performed by Bonnie Tyler, 1984.)
“Your column has gone down to the printers, Lois,” said the brown-haired Perry White, wearing a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, as he put down some papers. “That was a good idea you had.”
“Thanks, chief,” Lois said with a yawn. “If you don’t mind, I want to run back to my apartment for a quick shower and a brief nap before the mayor’s news conference at two.”
“Go ahead,” Perry said. “You’ve earned it.”
That night at about ten o’clock, a Hispanic man dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and tie dropped his copy of the Daily Planet into a wire trash receptacle on the street. Even hours after the sun went down, it was still hot in the city. He couldn’t wait to get back home after a long day at work to relax with a cold beer and a few innings of the ball game on television.
Suddenly, he heard the sounds of muffled screams coming from an alleyway nearby.
With little hesitation, he zigzagged through the light traffic to investigate. From the open end of the alley, he thought he saw something moving in the shadows near the back. He then heard the sound of a something or someone being thrown against a Dumpster.
The man ran in.
“Hey, you!” he shouted as he came upon two young punks roughing up an older man.
The one closest to the man took a swing. The Hispanic man ducked quickly, his old Navy boxing reflexes still sharp. He swung a fist and connected with the punk’s nose. The punk hit the floor.
The man turned to the other guy and saw fear in his eyes. Messing with an old man was one thing, but messing with a man in his late twenties with a solid right hook was another. The punk dropped the wallet and ran.
While the Hispanic man was helping the old man rise to his feet, the other punk ran off, too. He thought about chasing after them but decided to let it go. Their crime had been stopped. “Are you all right, sir?” he asked the elderly man.
“Yes,” the man said with a cough. A little blood was on his lips where the punks had hit him. “I’m fine.”
“You should go see a doctor,” the Hispanic man said. “Just in case.”
“Thank you,” the old man said. He strained to see the name on the badge that hung from a strap about the Hispanic man’s neck. “Thank you, Mr. Del… Del…”
“Delando,” the man replied. “Juan Delando.” He reached down and picked up the wallet, handing it back to the older man.
“You’re a good man, Juan Delando,” the old man said. “A hero.”
Juan shook his head. “No, sir, just a good Samaritan. That’s it. Nothing more.”
The old man nodded. “Let me at least buy you a cold soda or something,” the man offered. “Least I can do for your troubles, risking your life to help me and all.”
Juan merely nodded. Best to let the man show his appreciation in some small way.