Someone in the previous thread asked how local and federal government felt about superhumans. This was such a good question, I thought the answer deserved being moved to its own post.
is briefly answered in I Did Not Give That Spider Superhuman
Intelligence. I'll try to go into it with a little more detail, here.
the government is scared of superhumans and relieved to let them
regulate each other. When one single person can have the power of a
giant bomb, and there are thousands of these around the country, law
enforcement becomes prickly. Conventional attempts to deal with them
require you to either accept massive collateral damage, or go heavy on
cruel and unusual punishment. When super powered communities fall into a
relatively peaceful pattern, neither the government agencies nor the
electorate want to interfere with that. An analogue is when organized
crime takes root, and locations decide fighting them is more trouble
than it's worth.
There are bad and unfair aspects to this.
Superhumans are above the law in many ways. They're not going to get
arrested for, say, reckless driving, or violating building codes. They
don't have to face their bank accounts frozen for criminal acts, unless a
superhero makes a point of dragging the villain in and revealing where
the money went. The minor damage caused by breaking these laws, given
the small number of people doing it, is considered a price easily worth
paying to limit the gigantic damage that could be done if powers were
used unrestrained and with malice aforethought. As long as heroes are
willing to fight villains, and everybody is willing to keep damage to
civilians to a minimum, the government is willing to limit themselves to
doing the sweeping up afterwards. It is very convenient to let the
hero take the blame when a villain is dragged off to jail.
note: It is extremely hard to keep supervillains locked up. People
like Bull can walk through any wall you can build. Some mad scientists
can create an escape tool out of a spoon and a mattress. If they don't
break themselves out, they have friends who can do it easily. It's an
No amount of superhumans the government can
hire can come close to what's lurking in the 'civilian' population, and
like conventional weapons, enough force to reliably stop someone like
Lucyfar or Chimera (or Mech, who has broken a lot of laws in his
vigilantism!) brings us back to neighborhoods destroyed and hundreds
All of this is self-reinforcing. Government cracking down
makes superhumans more violent, which forces the government to crack
down harder. The government turning a blind eye makes it easier for
self-regulating communities to maintain a peaceful tone. In LA in
Penny's time, the hero and villain communities are actively friendly
with each other, despite how seriously most of them take their roles.
is far from a perfect system. For example, built into LA's
friendliness is mob justice with execution as the penalty for breaking
the rules. The superhuman community itself is weird, a separate culture
from main society with a lot of social pressures. Both superhumans and
the government cling to this system as a thousand times better than the
(Added aside: There is an entire separate hero/villain community devoted to less obvious bureaucratic, financial, and cyber crimes. Beebee has dipped into it several times. I am unlikely to ever do more than hint about its existence in any book, but it might interest you to know it's there.)