I can still remember the initial pride I felt when, flicking through the Sky channels, I stumbled upon some breaking news. This was the sort of reaction to a terrorist threat I wanted. Forget pissing about with scanners, x-rays and sniffer dogs, we now had Captain America, Batman and Robin on a rooftop in Downing Street and Spiderman keeping watch from the London Eye. Al Qaeda? Bollocks! But within seconds I was deflated…bloody fathers for justice.
Still, the thought of a real-life superhero does excite me. As a child in the 70’s, reading my monthly dose of American comic books (at that time, kindly shipped over by my aunt Winnie who had emigrated there), I used to really envy the crowds in those exciting comic strip panels. There would always be a large gathering, looking up from the street at the action going on about their heads. Fortunately (for the story at least), these onlookers were pretty vocal "woh! it's Spidey!" "his superhuman strength has enabled him to catch that aeroplane that had lost control" "he’s captured him single-handedly and is hanging him by his testicles from the flagpole" - well, I might have made that one up, but for regular Joe's, their conversations always seemed pretty descriptive, and who were they talking to anyway? But I digress… The point I'm trying to make is, just how cool would it be to have a real superhero in the neighbourhood? And with the ever increasing advances in technology and the world of science, I wonder just how long it will be before this is a reality?
There have been a few stories in the news recently which must have put a spring in the step of any budding Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne out there.
It’s been over seven years now since pig to human transplants commenced, but earlier this month, news broke that the creation of embryos that are part human and part animal would be given the go-ahead. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have given the green light for UK scientists to, in layman's terms, place human DNA into an animal's egg. The story (unsurprisingly) caused outrage among many groups, on both moral and religious grounds, but it left me daydreaming of the creation of Pigboy, Mothman or even Tigergirl.
In April this year kryptonite was discovered! (I kid you not!) A mineral that nobody could identify was mined in Serbia, and a London expert was sent out to work on it. After extensive testing, it transpired that the formula of this mystery mineral exactly matched the makeup of the fictional rock that Superman is so afraid of (sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide).
Then, in August this year, perhaps the biggest breakthrough yet, scientists announced that it would be possible to create the gravity defying antics of Spiderman. Harnessing technology used by spiders and geckos (tiny hairs that stick to any surface), a suit that would enable a human to climb the walls of a building or hang upside down from a ceiling is now a reality. Well I'm putting me name down for one of these babies -- not sure if a life of crime fighting is quite me, but with a bucket and a good-quality chamois, surely I could revolutionise the world of window cleaning.
But then halfway through typing this blog it dawned on me, maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Perhaps the superheroes are already out there, and guess what? They are! Just a few minutes with my good friend Mr Google brought the following to my attention:-
In Mexico City, Superbarrio is on the streets protecting the poor. He wears a fetching red and gold jumpsuit and a Mexican wrestling mask.
Iqaluit in Canada is the patch of Polarman. He specialises in clearing snow from people's drives, and prowls the streets late at night to avert danger for the good citizens of the town.
In New York, heroine Terrifica is the patron saint of pissed up ladies, as she cruises late-night bars and clubs dissuading men from taking advantage of the aforementioned women. Not only does this crime fighter have a pretty nifty outfit (red jumpsuit, golden eye mask, blonde wig, Valkyrie bra, red boots and a cape), she also dons a utility belt containing pepper spray, condoms, a mobile phone, lipstick, digital camera (for photographing any potential predators) and packs of Smarties.
These are just a few of the many real-life superheroes that are out there -- there is even a website where they can register their alter egos:
It surely is only a matter of time now before you and I will be straining our necks to the sky shouting "Woh! Daddy Long-Legs Boy has captured the evil Chav, who was using a mobile phone whilst driving….".
Till then, tune in next time Bat Fans, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.
Read more Piley musings on real life superheroes here, in my article 'No More Heroes'
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