[Although this post is a little late for Labor Day, by the time you read it I'll be hip-deep in continuing legal education. That's why I'm not writing about you-know-what, at least not this week.]
Sure you've always secretly wondered what it would be like to live in DC's superhero universe ... but what about getting paid? If your vibrational frequency suddenly shifts, and you find yourself in an America with a few extra major cities, here's a handy guide to some possible career choices. It's a sampling -- a showcase, if you will -- of some of the best and worst places in DC-America to work.
5. The Flash Museum (Central City, Missouri). At first glance, Central City's Flash Museum doesn't seem too bad. It's full of neat exhibits, artifacts, and monuments not only related to the Flashes, but to all their colleagues, and that makes for a pretty impressive collection. However, the very nature of that collection makes the Flash Museum something of a scholarly powder-keg. If one of the Rogues needs a spare weapon, where's the first place he's going to look? That's right; and he'll probably do it on your shift. (Remember what happened with the Inertia "exhibit?") Besides that, though, the Flash Museum has scads of other unique, nigh-irreplaceable items ripe for destruction by an overeager fourth-grader on a field trip. You practically need super-speed yourself to make sure everything gets through the peak tour times unscathed. I'm surprised curator Dexter Myles doesn't take a couple of Vicodin right before he opens the doors each day.
Upside: Best gift shop in the Midwest!
4. Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories (multiple locations). Two syllables you never want to hear at the local branch of S.T.A.R. Labs: "Uh-oh." Unfortunately, odds are you'll hear them (or perhaps say 'em yourself) at some point in your first month there. Could be an experiment gone awry, could be grabby supervillains. Either way, you're in the middle. Now, that's all well and good if you're in New York, Metropolis, Los Angeles, Central City, or even Austin -- but the staff of S.T.A.R.-Missoula probably spends all its time calculating which Justice Leaguers can get there fastest. You got that second doctorate for this?
Upside: Remember, in between all the carnage, you are helping to save the planet.
3. Ferris Aircraft (Coast City, California). Honestly, I'm picking on Ferris because so many other mom-n-pop DC corporations have seen their founders bankrupted, bought out, or even murdered. Queen Industries foundered when John Deleon took over from Ollie Queen. After Ted Kord's death, Kord Industries went from being Blue Beetle's family business to a front for Intergang. The fact that Ferris Aircraft endures should give its employees and stockholders some confidence -- but that doesn't mean it's not continually beset by too-cocky test pilots, unstable scientists (Ferris once employed Bruce "Eclipso Magnet" Gordon), and yes, a steady stream of supervillains. Never mind that Carol Ferris herself might literally fly off into space at a moment's notice.
Upside: Everyone goes home early when the boss is out of town.
2. LexCorp (Metropolis). Speaking of the boss being out of town, in LexCorp's case the boss is likely to be on the lam. Things were good for a while when former First Lady Lana Lang was in charge -- and then she ran afoul of some arcane no-helping-Superman clause in her contract, so out the door she went. These days, with Luthor gone, there's more uncertainty than Machiavellian maneuvering, but it's hard to change a corporate culture overnight. Take every paranoid nightmare you've ever had about an impersonal, uncaring entity which exists only to amass money and power (and not necessarily in that order) and give it a good shot of adrenochrome, and you'll be ready for work at LexCorp. It doesn't give out golden parachutes, unless it thinks you'll fall harder with one on.
Upside: Even the most evil business needs middle managers, and LexCorp is only slightly less evil today.
1. Arkham Asylum (Gotham City). Not only does it house the worst of the worst, the irredeemably insane, and/or the cheerfully psychotic, but it always seems terminally undermanned and underfunded. South wall crumbling after a C-4 blast? Must be Tuesday! Whole building in shambles and all the lunatics running free? Oh, that only happens in odd-numbered years! It must be the one place on the globe where nobody -- and I mean no-boh-dee -- has ever posted one of those "you don't have to be crazy to work here" signs.
Upside: They're always hiring ... and who else has a videogame based on his office?
5. Any company which employs members of labor union Local 242 (Keystone City). I'm not quite clear on what this union does, but any Flash or Green Lantern reader ought to recognize what its president, one Keith Kenyon, used to do. For a good while, he was the armored supervillain called Goldface, so named because his battlesuit was the one color against which a Green Lantern ring was (emphasis was) ineffective. Today, though, he's paid his debt to society and gone straight -- and despite the stereotype of union leaders being corrupt, if conservative Wally West doesn't have a problem with him, he must be doing something right. In Keystone, look for the union label!
Downside: Completely reformed supervillains are few and far between.
4. The junk-food industry (multiple locations). Global sales of Oreos (and Oreo-like cookies not otherwise subject to trademark infringement) might have dipped over the past year, but whether it's Soder Cola, Gingold soft drinks, the faux-Mexican of Taco Whiz, or Big Belly Burgers, the denizens of DC-Earth generally find it hard to resist food of dubious origin and decidedly unhealthy effect. Junk food is relatively cheap, too, which makes it recession-resistant. What's more, we hear those sales of Oreos (and Oreo-like cookies, etc.) might be ready to rebound.
Downside: Man does not live by Big Belly Burgers alone.
3. Any insurance company (multiple locations). Let's face it, in a world where your late-model Altima might be the next one used as a weapon in a super-fight, the insurance bidness is bound to be better for those who sell it than those who need it. (You could probably get flood coverage for a 12th-story apartment in downtown Metropolis, is what I'm saying.) Still, rates are probably reasonable, given that the people most likely to suffer "acts of demigods" are also most likely to be protected by them. You might get lucky, too, and have an apologetic super-type offer to repair your car/house/skyscraper, good as new. However, there are limits -- only one death per customer. The insurers aren't made of money, you know.
Downside: Okay, maybe you're profiting off society's woes. You still didn't have to go to law school.
2. The Daily Planet (headquartered in Metropolis). The quintessential "great metropolitan newspaper" has a nationwide readership, but more importantly, it has a unique place in the American media landscape. Of course, it's because the Planet and her staff tend to have the inside track on any news related to Superman. Plus, your boss is tough but fair, and you're owned by Best #1, below, which has no interest in shutting you down. Accordingly, while other papers face the apparent death of print media with uncertainty, if not outright dread, the Planet survives. As long as there are Superman stories, you'll have job security.
Downside: As long as there are Superman stories, there'll be a big target painted on your building.
1. Wayne Enterprises (headquartered in Gotham City). Although its base is in Gotham (and used to be in a building built around a giant artificial tree), this multinational has offices and facilities just about anywhere you can imagine. It is only slightly less diverse than the Amazon rainforest, and it has interests in more applications than the iPhone. From nanotechnology to shipbuilding, from finance to the most deserving charities, Wayne Enterprises is involved somehow. Through his network of companies and foundations, eponymous figurehead Bruce Wayne not only seeks to make Gotham better, but the world as well. (Lately he's been feeling especially generous, which might translate into even-better employee benefits.) Moreover, if your innovation ends up being "appropriated" by Batman, you'll probably end up with a nice royalty check; although you'll never know the reason why. Who wouldn't want to work in a place like that?
Downside: You might have to live in Gotham City.