I was at the Guardin newsroom today for a World Book Day joint event with the devilish and debonair Mark Walden.
We were debating 'Heroes v Villains'. It was an epic battle between good and evil. I stood up for heroes, while Mark put forward the case for the bad guys.
I picked out my top five heroes (in no particular order):
Batman - cool outfit, great car, mysterious nickname (The Dark Knight)
Robin Hood - good with a sword and pretty clever, despite sometimes wearing green tights
James Bond - cars, girls, gadgets... but for me it's the Savile Row tailoring that does it
Bugs Bunny - cool under pressure, witty, charismatic... the Hugh Hefner of the animated world
and of course...
Jimmy Coates - well I have to try to sell some books, don't I?
Those five narrowly beat out two other favourite heroes of mine, Sherlock Holmes and Jason Bourne.
With a line-up like that, how did villains have a chance? Well, they didn't. I'm delighted to say that the heroes were overwhelming champions in two successive debates. Not that I like to crow about it. That's not the hero way.
As I pointed out several times today, Mark was up against it from the start, given the material he had to work with:
The Joker - a man who thinks he's in a deck of cards. Oh, how very frightening.
The Penguin - "I have it! I'll conquer the world by tying my ankles together and waddling around with a top hat and a beak!"
Darth Vader - a man with so little imagination he nicks his whole act from Batman, but gets it a bit wrong: built a stupid plant thing instead of a cool car, calls himself a 'dark lord' (I thought lords were the venerable gentleman of the government's second house - they must be doing something, but whatever it is, it doesn't look particularly exciting), and even steals the all-black outfit, but stupidly tops it off by putting a pot on his head.
Blofeld/Dr No/every other Bond bad-guy - they're basically the same: old, chubby, bald and stupid enough to reveal their plans in a lengthy monologue when they could be killing the good guy.
Elmer Fud/Texas Pete/Wile E. Coyote - Bugs Bunny's adversaries are woefully overmatched intellectually. And Elmer is also bald.
Nothing wrong with baldness in itself, of course, but it is a bit weird that Lex Luthor, Elmer Fud, every Bond villain, Darth Vader (probably), and the Penguin have about three full hairs between them.