Sunday, 24 February 2013

Reporting LuthorCorp Industrial Relations

On pp. 133-137 of the Smallville novel, Whodunnit by Dean Wesley Smith (Smallville Omnibus 2, London 2006), Chloe Sullivan works late in the Torch office at Smallville High School, reviewing recent events:

a group of LuthorCorp employees had talked to a union about improving working conditions at the Smallville plant;

Lex Luthor met this group and, although he did not want the plant to be unionised, did seem amenable to making changes that would benefit the work force;

two days later, every worker that had been connected with possible union activity was laid off;

however, the layoff notices came from the Metropolis office;

Lex, interviewed by Chloe, had promised to do the right things for the laid off employees, adding that it was illegal to fire anyone for union activity but that on this occasion he was obliged to act on his father's orders;

everyone said that this rang false but Lex had not rung false to Chloe.

Why do I value this passage? It is authentic real life stuff about journalism and industrial relations and is as far away from Superman as you can possibly get, the only discernible connection being the name of Superman's main adversary. These two major characters, Chloe and Lex, have taken centre stage.

I think we could have more fiction set in the DC Universe but focusing on citizens who do not fly or wear colourful costumes. Millions of people live in Metropolis and Gotham City reading the Daily Planet with Lexcorp or Wayne Tech ads in the background and with superhero activities reported in the news or discussed in Congress. Superheroes are an acknowledged mysterious powerful presence as the gods were to the Greeks, Romans or Vikings but the average person is as unlikely to meet Superman as they are to meet a politician or celebrity - but what would it be like to live in such a world?

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