What is it about Foundry City that attracts superheroic activity?
Dating back to before Superman’s first appearance, there have been extraordinary people working in disguise on the streets of the city, making it a safer place to work, find recreation, and live. In fact, it has been theorized that the fictional superhero, created around 1939 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, was based on Kale Seirr, the construction worker and real-life hero living in Foundry City in the twenties and the first known superhero with the now well-known “Samson switch” mutation, which appears to cause the circulatory and respiratory systems to become more efficient than those in the ordinary human, cutting down on the build-up of fatigue acids in the muscles and making feats of strength and stamina more feasible.
In the years after Seirr passed away, the superheroic field became more focused on crime fighting, and as such superheroes began to dress in colorful or otherwise unusual outfits as a disguise, so that their civilian or “secret” identities would be safe, and their families and friends as well.
“There’s a sort of brilliance to it, if you think about it,” said Marie Raehe in her interview with the Foundry City Piper two years ago. Ms. Raehe is a community college student who was saved from a collapsing building by the well-known superhero Starlight, during an attack by an unnamed supervillain who set up a concussive bomb in an attempt to level Foundry City. In that interview, Ms. Raehe said, in closing, that she “wasn’t sure if she would be out there,” if she did have powers herself, but she “strongly admires those who do.” (Ms. Raehe’s interview caused a great deal of controversy, as the then-editor of the Piper, James Baldwin, decided to omit Ms. Raehe’s final open message addressed to the superheroes of Foundry city, in which Raehe said “God Bless You.” For the article on that event, please click here.)
The amount of activity in Foundry City has led to concerned citizens asking for a court order to the superheroes to reveal their secret identities. However, this has met opposition from superhero rights activists, those with and without powers alike.
“It’s not like coming out of a closet for these people,” said Cecelia “CeCe” Taylor, seven-foot-one and broad-shouldered. Taylor, a longtime superhero rights activist, is not a superhero–as she likes to joke, “it’s kind of hard to disguise a frame like mine.” “They can’t reveal who they truly are without some sort of risk. If not the risk of people wanting to use them for scientific study–which, even when it’s done ethically, can be horribly invasive–then they’re at risk from those who are prejudiced against any sort of person who isn’t a ‘normal’ human being. And if they do superhero work, then they run the risk of criminals coming after the people they love.” Their superhero identities are their way of coming out of the closet, Taylor says.
“These people use their superhero identities to keep their families safe. They’re using their secrets to protect the rest of us. And, for now, the superhuman community reputedly self-polices. They’re better equipped to deal with superpowered criminals than the rest of us, to be entirely honest. The time when they stop self-policing, or when they stop answering to the city authorities–that’s the time when we should regulate. Until then, I think that the best option is to give them some sort of protected legal status, and leave them to do their good work in peace.” A gentle giant in every sense of the word, Taylor volunteers at an animal rescue organization and shelter. She lives with her three cats and parrot, who she’s “currently trying to teach the national anthem to.”
What is it about Foundry City that attracts superheroes? Our crime scene is not too different from that in any other city. Our attitude towards heroes and vigilantes is very informal, so they have little legal protection to fall back on. The only thing that seems to differ from other cities’ situations is that Foundry City has an established superhero presence.
Maybe superheroes, just like everyone else, need a sense of community.
Jason Keller is a freelance journalist. He has written, not only for the Foundry City Herald, but several national magazines, and his first book, focusing on the psychology of superheroes and why they continue to be so beloved, is planned to publish in March of next year.