(Editor’s note: this article was written by Jason Hill)
Sorry, Spider-Man, you have had this spot for twenty years, and it’s time for a change. I originally chose you as my favorite because of your snarky one liners, unique set of super powers, and how you used your brain as much as your brawn. Unfortunately, I think I have somehow outgrown this … uh, hold on. Some of the readers have noticed the title and seem to have a complaint. Wait for a minute while I have a quick dialog with them.
Okay, I see the looks some of you are giving me. You seem to be the Judges of Every Real Kind of Superhero, so I’ll address you as such. I’m just going to initialize it to save space. Please voice your concern.
J.E.R.K.S. : Speed Racer isn’t a superhero.
Me : Why not?
J.E.R.K.S. : He doesn’t have any super powers.
Me : Neither does Batman or the Punisher.
J.E.R.K.S. : Yeah, but they have special equipment, special weapons, special vehicles, and so forth.
Me : Speed Racer has a special vehicle. It’s called the Mach 5. I’d be so bold to say that it’s on par with the Bat-mobile. As for special equipment and special weapons, he doesn’t need them. I think it makes his character stronger for not having them.
J.E.R.K.S. : Well, he doesn’t fight crime.
Me : Yes he does. He has taken down numerous crime bosses and even works closely with Inspector Detector on occasion. (Inspector Detector is the Jim Gordon of this universe)
J.E.R.K.S. : He’s probably never saved anyone, though.
Me : He saves people all the time! Many of them are the cheaters who tried to put his life in the very danger that they’re being saved from.
J.E.R.K.S. : Doesn’t he just use his “Special Car” to help him win all his races? Last time I checked, that was called cheating. Not very hero like.
Me : [sigh] Have you ever watched an episode? Speed Racer NEVER cheats! Never! He depends on the Mach 5’s engine and aerodynamic design, and his superior driving skills to win races. The only time he uses the Mach 5’s other features are to avoid traps left by the cheaters, or to keep himself from terribly wrecking. In both instances, all the other cars (if there are any left) have passed him and he has to try to reclaim his position using the first three things I mentioned.
J.E.R.K.S. : Well, uh … um … So what? He’s just a boring goody goody who has a lame back story. Me : Oh no, you didn’t! I think it time for me to go on a rant.
First of all, I want you to remember that Superman is a “goody goody” as well, and he has superpowers to back it up. Secondly, he’s not a goody goody. He disobeys his father constantly. He has broken out of prison. He killed a shark. That’s right! He killed a shark! To save someone who was trying to make him crash.
Look, the reason I like Speed Racer so much is that he does what he believes is right and he sticks to it. Though others may tell him what he ought to do, he makes his own decisions on his own convictions. He’s also willing to take the responsibility for his actions. His life is racing and he hates to lose, but he won’t hesitate to pull over if it means doing the right thing. This also makes him very selfless. He will do what ever he can to help someone out, even if it means selling the Mach 5!
Another thing I like about him is how he relies on people. Most superheroes need to have secret identities to protect their loved ones, and they have to face their problems on their own. Not Speed Racer! His family and friends are in the thick of it with him, and they aren’t just useless stand-ins that get in the way.
His girlfriend, Trixie, can fly helicopters and planes to let Speed know the conditions ahead and go back for help. His best friend, Sparky, and his father, Pops, both work on the Mach 5 to get it into top condition. (Speed is also capable of fixing his car, but isn’t as good as Sparky) And who knows how many sticky situations Spritle and Chim Chim (his little brother and pet chimp) have helped him out of.
In my opinion, I think Speed Racer is the perfect mix of Superman and Batman. Like Batman, he has no powers and an awesome car. Like Superman, he has high morals and sticks to his guns. Like Batman, he has people he can rely on. Like Superman, he likes to lead by example.
Unlike Batman, he doesn’t have as dark of a back story. It isn’t squeaky clean though. Remember that his brother ran away from home, and his father refused to see his full potential. I feel that I’m able to relate to his story more than Batman’s. My folks are both still alive, but I haven’t seen my brother in ages. Yeah, I can understand where Speed is coming from.
Unlike Superman, he has no super powers. Now this makes him really interesting to me because he doesn’t back down from a fight because of this. You’re mistaken if you think he just drives around in his car all day. It seems like there’s a fist fight every other episode. He’ll even charge a guy with a gun when given the right opportunity, and the show is smart about too. They don’t have him taking on hoards of badies with guns and coming out on top like it was nothing. Speed Racer is very aware of his own mortality. He’s been captured by more than one goon with a gun. This doesn’t make him a coward, though, because as soon as he has a chance, he’ll tackle the guy.
Speed Racer is a man who knows who he is and knows what he stands for. He is confident in his abilities, but not to the point of arrogance. He wants to help people and win the race to prove he has what it takes to be a professional racer. And when the odds are against him and there’s dangerous work to do, you bet your life Speed Racer will see it through. Go Speed Racer! Go Speed Racer! Go Speed Racer! Go!
There are you satisfied now? Can Speed Racer be called a superhero yet?
J.E.R.K.S. : Um … He doesn’t have a comic book, does he? Can’t be considered a real superhero without a comic.
Me: Oh for the love of … wait. He does have a comic. Actually it’s a manga, which is a Japanese comic, but it’s a comic all the same. Anyway, this conversation is over. If I haven’t convinced you that Speed Racer is a real Superhero, I probably won’t any time soon.