HOUSTON - I have never been a comic book collector, but when I heard Houston was getting it's very own superhero I had to run out and get the first edition (seriously, Gotham, Metropolis and NYC have been protected long enough).
To me the arrival of the Scarlet Spider is interesting on a couple of levels.
One–it shows Houston's entree into pop culture. In my humble opinion I think this signals a big step forward in Houston's identity on a national level.
Two–the first story line shows a very dark side of our city. (I know superheroes aren't created to protect peaceful towns). I was surprised to see the opening sequence of the comic deal with human trafficking. Unfortunately our fair city has been a major hub for this type of crime for many, many years. I don't want to spoil the story for everyone, but the first bad guys the Scarlet Spider encounters are responsible for a situation very similar to one several years ago outside Victoria when several illegal immigrants died in a hot 18-wheeler abandoned by a smuggler on the side of Highway 59.
I also heard an interview with the character's creators, who said some of the planned super-villains in the series will be cartel chiefs. Usually when there is a national discussion on the problems of human trafficking and drug trafficking Houston is only mentioned in passing. Most of the conversations are focused on the Texas border, Arizona, NYC and LA. This comic shows (albeit in a fantastical way) that Houston's problems have become part of the national consciousness.
So while Houston's architecture, friendly faces and vibrancy have finally been deemed worthy of "super protection", our city also has enough real life problems to give comic book writers years worth of story lines.
But fear not brave citizen, the next time you see a scarlet blur zipping along our sky line rest easy–the Scarlet Spider is on the case.
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