Monday, 28 April 2014

Because even a super-hero needs somewhere to live.

The Fantastic Four, Baxter Building
As I soar through the skies above Pitsmoor, people often say to me, "Steve! What the beeping beep are you beeping doing!?! I come down to Pitsmoor to take in a little of the local character that's made it so celebrated and, instead, I find myself startled by the sight of the 37th most popular blogger in Sheffield flying through the air like he's King of the Rocket Men or something!"

And I tell them, "Quiver, ordinary person. I'm currently in flight because I've decided that never again shall I leave the house by the front door. For, such methods are for the humdrum and the predictable. From now on, I shall always leave my house by firing myself from a cannon, like Ant-Man always did."

"But won't you die when you land?"

"No," I tell them. "Because, just like Ant-Man, I've arranged for a pair of flying ants to catch me and carry me off to lands hither and thither."

"Isn't there one slight flaw in that plan?"

"Not that I can think of."

"What about the fact that Ant-Man is the size of an ant and you're the size of a human being."

"I knew there was something I hadn't thought of."

But, of course, I'm not firing myself through the air for no reason. I'm doing it because I've always wanted to own two things in life.

One is a secret passage and the other is a secret headquarters.

Everyone knows that a super-hero's no kind of super-hero if he doesn't have a secret headquarters. Why, even Ant-Man has one. And therefore I've always wanted one.

But, of course, it's not that simple. There's the question of just what kind of secret headquarters a man should have.

Batman had a Batcave. Superman had his Fortress of Solitude. Peter Parker had his bedroom. And Daredevil had his flat. Nick Fury had his heli-carrier, Dr Strange had his Sanctum Sanctorum and, in his early days, Bruce Banner had an underground lab in the desert.

I must confess I've always had a liking for the Batcave. Who wouldn't want to slide down a pole to get to one's secret HQ? And who wouldn't want to be confronted by a giant penny when one got there?

On the other hand, I've never wanted a Fortress of Solitude, which, by its name, sounded a very unwelcoming place.

Then again, there was always the fact that Superman had to share it with Supergirl, Superhorse, Superdog, Supercat and Superchimp, not to mention the entire population of Kandor; making it possibly the least solitudinal residence in global history.

Like Peter Parker, I too have a bedroom - but that's hardly a secret. Most people do.

Unlike Daredevil, I don't have a flat.

But there's one secret HQ above all others that I've always wanted.

And that's the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building.

From the moment I saw Jack Kirby's first cutaway of the skyscraper, with its labs, cinema rooms, observatories, computer rooms, lecture rooms, conference rooms, map rooms and sundry rooms that could serve no noticeable purpose, I knew that was exactly the sort of place a man of my class deserved.

This could just be because my nan lived in a tower block and it didn't take much imagination to envisage it being turned into a replica of the FF's digs. Even now, I can't help feeling that tower block would have been so much better with a great big rocket silo incorporated. Why the council never thought to add one, I have no idea.

And the truth is that - just as I know there's still an outside chance I might be called up to play for England in Brazil later this year - even now, at my advanced age, I still have a vague notion in my head that, one day, I shall somehow yet get to own a headquarters just like the Baxter Building. Once I'm in it, I shall say portentous things and do mad experiments in Space-Time that regularly threaten the lives of the local populace.

Admittedly, the Baxter Building's not actually a secret headquarters, as the whole world knows about it. But, of course, if I owned it, it would be. For, my other inspiration in the headquarters stakes is The Shadow who, I believe, also operated from the higher reaches of a skyscraper but, unlike the FF, made good and sure to keep quiet about it.

1 comment:

Aggy said...

Give me Teen Titans Tower anyday. Sure the FF would end up with a 4 on the roof. The Avengers would move into an A. The Legion had their Rocket shaped building (in at least a few of their continuities). But the Titan Tower stakes a claim. "Never mind sensible architecture we are in a T!"

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