Sunday, February 06, 2011

Earning Their Space Pay

Skylab, the US' first space station, was pretty big news in the 1970s. So perhaps it's only natural that the writers of DC Comics' Justice League of America wanted to pay homage to the intrepid space pioneers by giving them a one-panel cameo on the splash page. They even note Skylab's "twelfth record-breaking week in outer space."

But how must these astronauts feel, cooped up in a tin can made of Apollo program leftovers, when they can see the colossal Justice League satellite way up above them in geosynchronous orbit? The JLA satellite has room to accommodate dozens of people in a shirtsleeve (or spandex) environment - and it features artificial gravity and a teleporter, not to mention private staterooms. Meanwhile, Skylab astronauts have to poop in plastic bags and eat food through a straw. No wonder they'd give up half their "space pay" to trade places with the Leaguers.

This is one of the ways in which the conventions of the superhero genre batter suspension of disbelief into jelly. If such fantastic technology exists, why haven't the world's superheroes used it to uplift the entire human species? Imagine the problems they could solve with teleportation and artificial gravity alone. Instead, they use their advanced science to stop people in silly costumes from robbing banks (or, to be fair, from destroying the world.)

See Reed Richards is Useless at TV Tropes for more on this baffling storytelling convention.


Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Well put, Earl. I also love it when comic book characters express disbelief in extra-terrestrials, when absolutely everyone knows Superman is from Krypton and that Galactus has tried to eat Earth every few years since the '60s.

Sean said...

I bet they eject their space poo toward the JLA satellite.