Common Superhero Workplace Problems


As part of our celebration of the American workforce this Labor Day, we figured we would look at something that concerns every superhero: the stuff that makes their daily life harder (before they go out and supervillains make their nightly life harder).

There's nothing that's more stressful than money problems--unless of course you're a vigilante protecting the Earth from an alien incursion. But if you've got both going on at the same time? Oh, boy...


These days, I'm a freelancer for entertainment news blogs, and so this is not a problem for me. In fact, those paying attention will notice that I wrote articles on the day my first child was born (at another site), the day my second child was born and recently when I had to travel across the country for a family wedding. Because I can work anywhere, and more or less on my schedule.

spider-man-tied-upWhen I used to work a day job that made me put on pants, though, I remember absenteeism being a problem for some people. I used to work as a retail manager for a number of video stores, and it seemed like any given week, there was somebody or other who was on their Final Written Warning for inability to show up, or show up on time, to work. Those people weren't just frustrating for the managers, either; they were downright annoying to their coworkers, who had to cover for them all the time.

With that--and the deadline-intensive nature of journalism--in mind, you've got to wonder how many people just can't stand Clark Kent and Peter Parker for never being where they say they're going to be or doing what they say they're going to do. Ditto Hal Jordan; as a test pilot, the nature of your job is that people are relying on you to be where you're supposed to be, when you say, becuase there are dozens of people who have to take time out of their day to attend the test flight. When he's always flaking out, but then gets to keep his job becuase he's sleeping with the boss's daughter, you can bet people aren't thrilled about that.

Flagrant conflicts of interest

Superman and Spider-Man are reporters who cover their own costumed antics--that would never, ever fly at a credible news organization, and it's even something that's been addressed on the page, most recently during Dan Jurgens's Superman run. There has been a lot written about the fact that the reporter superheroes are wildly unethical, but it's rarely noted that if those identities were ever to come out, it's likely that their employers would be forced to fire and then sue them, lest they lose all credibility.

Reporters aren't the only ones, though: Batman and Green Arrow routinely steal technology worth millions from their companies without leaving documentation to help them further their wars on crime. What if WayneTech ever got audited? Or if the Board of Directors wanted to know where this stuff all went?

Batman has dealt with the issue somewhat by publicly acknowledging a connnection between Bruce Wayne's company and the Batman family of characters, which is actually a page out of Green Arrow's book from his "Justice League Sponsorship" days, but it doesn't totally fix or even explain all of the conflicts. And it potentially opens the company up to liability.

Justice-League-International_1-665x1024Government interference

So there's something that you would normally do for free--and then someone comes along and says to you and your friends, "You know what? You're so awesome at this, we want to pay you to just keep right on doing it."

That's the dream, right?

Except that sometimes that pay comes with unexpected strings, and those strings can be a pain in the neck.

Anytime the government involves themselves in vigilante groups like the Justice League International or X-Factor, it generally tends to go badly. You're expected to operate as efficiently as the Fantastic Four or Shadowpact, but you're also expected to do it with someone looking over your shoulder, telling you how to do your job, and worrying about PR the whole time. When one of your members gets brainwashed by the villains and does something dastardly, it's not enough to beat the bad guys and get an acquittal. Now, you're expected to worry about the long-term ramifications of that event on the team's "image," and worry about losing your funding or being invoiced by the government to reimburse them for what you broke.

fight-club-blu-rayExplaining Your Appearance

"I fell down some stairs" is only going to help you a couple of times, and even if you admit that you're part of a secret Fight Club, people are going to wonder how the guy in the office who's built like a brick house is getting his butt handed to him every night.

They dealt well with this in a Robin miniseries back in the '90s, in which Tim Drake's school became convinced that Bruce Wayne was abusing him.

Your workplace is always getting trashed

Whether it's because the bad guys know who you are or just the fact that it's where you happen to be when you notice things happening, your office is probably going to get totally mangled at least once a year. Enjoy all that downtime with your friends and family, because you ain't getting paid for it.

Many of them work in dying industries0comments

Or at least specialty industries, where people are pretty replaceable when they go missing for days at a time. How many test pilots and private detectives do you know in your real life? And don't even get us started on the state of modern journalism.

Of course, on the other hand, there are plenty of them who appear to be independently wealthy and working for themselves...!