Bar Banter: Metropolis Police Department
This is a response of sorts to Edietel’s Article on the same topic.
As a huge fan of Gotham Central, I would LOVE to see the story/universe return, but barring that I would like to see DC examine the concept for one of its other big characters. On a personal level, I would love to see a Gotham Central-like story in Flash’s Central City or even one for Green Arrow (especially given his current status in the comics), but this article isn’t about either.
If you read the article linked above, you would see Eric’s thoughts on how a Metropolis Police Department comic could work, and on some fundamental issues I do disagree with him, the concept has some merit. Superman would probably have DC’s second most fleshed out city behind Batman. We know of course of the Daily Planet and its staff. We know that STAR Labs has a headquarters/building there. And of course depending on the source, LexCORP exists in Metropolis. So the idea to expand on that universe isn’t a hard one to swallow.
The problem comes when trying to come up with a compelling narrative for this story. Unlike Gotham City and Batman, most of the criminals we know of are larger than life beings. Superman literally battles gods at times. There is no way a normal man or woman would be able to contend with these type of powers. And the concept that they could run point in a situation until Superman arrives also seems a bitÂ ludicrous, how effective would bullets be against Metallo or Bizarro?
Then there is the issue of creating compelling characters in a world dominated by Superman. What drives these cops to be cops when they have a man who can bend steel, fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes and move at lightning fast speed? What drives them to put on the badge each and every day?
Now comes the question, how do you address it? How do you make it work? I don’t have the correct answer, but I do have my answer. This is how I would present a Metropolis Police Department series narratively.
- Start from before the beginning. This may be easier said then done, but I think in order for the story to work we need to start the saga before Superman arrives in Metropolis. Show what crime was like before the Man in Blue.
- Old meets new. I think the main protagonists in the story need to be an older more seasoned cop and a wet-behind the ear rookie. While it is one of the oldest stories inÂ existence, I think it works once you get through some of the other points.
- The arrival. I’ve recently read both Superman: Birthright and Superman: Secret Origins. Both give interesting takes on Superman’s arrival to Metropolis and of course Luthor’s reactions to his arrival. It would be interesting to see the development through the eye of the law enforcement. His arrival, hisÂ collateralÂ damage, learning to trust/accept him.
- Does the Man of Steel make appearances? Superman is a very public figure unlike most superheroes he isn’t opposed to posing for the camera or even conducting interviews. So does he make appearances at the police station? Does he give motivational speeches to firemen? Does he assure them that even though he is in Metropolis, they are still just as important and vital part of the city as they were before his arrival. How do characters react?
- The arrival of the supervillains. With Superman comes heavy-hitters like Metallo, Darkseid, Parasite, Brainiac and the list goes on. How do the cops deal with the arrival of the first supervillains? What about each one after that? Do they begin to resent or respect Superman?
- Special K. Now this will be a running idea throughout the book, but do all cops know about K? How do they handle it on the street (technically it isn’t illegal, I don’t think anyhow, but knowing it harms your greatest champion)
- Transition into the Science Police. Now I think this will be the biggest story/factor in the entire series. TheÂ modernizationÂ of the Department to better aide Superman. Old cops who aren’t as well informed on the technology. Young cops who become tooÂ reliantÂ on the tech and not their own training. Who pays the bills? Will there be resentment when some branches get the stuff first? Who/how do you test it?
- The prison. Once more we return to the notion with Superman we get extraordinary villains who can’t be held in a normal prison. Who works with these prisoners? How are they restrained? What is the mortality rate like?
Like I said before, I don’t have the correct answer as to how to handle a Metropolis Police Department series, but I do have some ideas on how to properly get the story rolling. In the long run do I think it could work, who knows. But I do love the idea of more people in Metropolis doing right because of Superman, and always welcome more cape-less caped comics (if that makes sense)
Thanks for reading my ramblings. And don’t forget to check out the original article that inspired this if you haven’t already.
I think the reason I see potential and you hesitate is because you are looking through this idea with the same lens you would look at Gotham Central. Obviously a Central City or Star City series would be great but it would explore very similar themes and characters.
I love this idea because it’s different. It’s not about people like the Gotham Central crowd, it’s about people like the the men and women who are over in Iraq diffusing street bombs when they know they have like a 50/50 chance of getting blown up with one wrong move, or the ones who ran back into the collapsing towers on 9/11 again and again despite the odds.
It’s not about the themes of Gotham Central. It’s about the ordinary men and women who can and do perform the extraordinary things the rest of us don’t have the strength to do. There are people in this world who run straight into enemy fire to save a fellow soldier, or jump on grenades to protect their comrades. The themes this series could explore would be what drives those people to do these things.
Some people might do it to try and prove something to themselves or those around them, some people might do it because of flaws like arrogance or self destructive behavior, some people might do it because they have strength through faith. All sorts of different reasons for bravery, and all sorts of compelling characters.
I love the thoughts you have about how the series WOULD work. But I can’t agree with you on your doubts. If this idea was literally a continuation of Gotham Central then it wouldn’t work, but as an entirely new series with a similar premise I find it very compelling. Personally that is what I think makes more sense, exploring something totally different in a similar environment, rather than exploring the same circumstances with different characters.
But seriously, we need to continue this dialogue because it is very fun and interesting and I love this idea more and more each time you share your hesitation. Hopefully more people join in the discussion, haha.