And then later it’s Superheroing 101, in the gym with Sgt. SURGE, and I’m kinda giving him the stink eye a bit, but Mette’s like not angry with him, so I kinda try to keep it under control. Besides, we’re too busy with all these forms.
So Sarge has us doing this exercise on “Entering the Super-Heroic Workforce,” and gives us these bad xeroxes, telling us all about super-suits and public image and having a “media presence,” and followers on HeroTracker and like that.
How do you feel about that?
It seems kinda like bullshit, y’know? Like, you should be able to be a hero, if that’s what you’re gonna be, and people will follow you and support you for what you do, not because you took an insta in front of the flying saucer you just knocked down, right?
I mean, that’s the kinda thing Jillian does, and, I mean, she’s not as bad as that, but she spends a lot more time on all the social media stuff than she should. I mean, it would be kinda nice having thousands of followers, but that’s just not something I’m interested in doing, even assuming anyone would follow me. I just wanna help people, y’know?
So Sarge groups up folks into squads, and we have to all scoot our desks together, and, big surprise, all of our group are together, so I’m thinking maybe Sarge has gotten word from the Headmaster about our being a “team”. And everyone in the class gets a worksheet to fill out, all out about identity and team and things like that. So, superhero ID. That one’s easy – “Mighty Joe Young.”
How did you come up with that name, originally?
Dr. Q suggested it. Showed me the movie – both of 'em, though he only likes the old one. Which is kinda sad, y’know, the movie, but it’s not King King, and, I mean, my name’s Joey, I’m a giant gorilla, so it all kinda makes sense.
Do you like the name?
Guy in my position, not a lot of choices. I’m not gonna be Monkey Man or Magilla Gorilla or anything like that. Mighty Joe Young’s at least got some history behind it. So the next thing on the form is social media.
Which you have mixed feelings about.
I mean, I got a couple of private accounts, but I don’t spend all my time online, and I don’t want them out in public, so I figure, I guess, I’ll need something, so I go with the obvious, @mightyjoeyoung or the format is on different platforms. HeroTracker, of course. Insta. Maybe Twitter. No Facebook, though, that place is like old and nasty and probably steals all your files when you sign onto it.
And then Anti-Villain-slash-Cause thing. That’s where you can say what kinda bad guys you wanna bash on, Nazis or science criminals or alien invaders or crooks in the hood or corrupt politicians or whatever, or else what kinda good causes you wanna focus on, like the environment or urban stuff or orphans.
So I thought a bit, and I decided Bullies. Because people push other folk around, hurt folk because they’re maybe smaller or weaker, that’s always bugged me. Like, a lot. And now I’m big enough to do something about it, y’know? Maybe teach 'em their own medicine, like.
Use force against force?
Yeah, but like, in in a good way. To help people – protect them. That’s it. Protecting folk from bullies.
And there’s a line for “Why I do it”, and I write something, and it sounds stupid, so I erase it, and write something else, and that sounds dumb, so I erase it again. I mean, “To be the best person I can be”? “To serve the public”? “To live up to my principles”? “Because I’m stuck in this stupid-ass gorilla suit”? It all sounds like bad movie dialog, y’know?
Were those things true?
Yeah? Maybe? But coming out of my mouth, or my pencil, they just sound dumb.
What’s the worse that could happen by putting down something “dumb”?
People could laugh at me.
And it would get in the media and people would call me a Boy Scout, or whiney, or a phony because nobody could really believe that stuff, and it would be in every article about me for the rest of my life or something, and be on my tombstone, and, ugh.
Cause I’m no good with words, just, I guess, punching things. But “So I can punch things” didn’t sound good, either.
Then Team Name comes up, and, I’m like, yeah, right, it’s either gonna be something cute and clever or something dark and broody, and everyone’s gonna argue over it. So I leave it blank.
No ideas at all?
Oh, stupid stuff like “Might Joe and the Youngsters,” which the only thing worse than saying that to the others on the team is even the chance they might like it and choose it, so, nope.
Then costume ideas and color palette and all that, and I already told you about me and super-hero costumes, even if Hellbinder gave us like stuff we can start wearing until we decide, and those things are so awful that it’s almost like they’re designed to force us to decide quick. I try to write some things, and then erase them, and then try something else, 'cause the form has this, like, generic figure on it, and nothing I come up with looks any good. So I leave that blank, or maybe heavily erased. Also, the “Iconic Identifier” entry, which I guess is a symbol for the team, maybe, or, oh my God, an icon to use for me, and that the hell am I gonna do there?
What do you mean?
Well, I mean, I’m not gonna put a banana, right? I mean, I actually hate banana flavor, even as a giant monkey. And anything else is kinda generic, right, like a star, or a “J,” or a J in side of a star, or else it’s like super-monkey, like a picture of a monkey, or a picture of an ape like me, and it’s all, ugh.
Is a good insignia critical?
Well, it’s gonna be on all the merch, and, like, on the back of your chair in the Orbiting Hall of Attitude, and on your icon in the games and stuff. So, yeah, and it’s stupid, but there you go.
Finally, there’s a question on ideal team mentor, and I actually had an answer there.
Which was …?
The Princess, Arizella. I mean, she’s still doing actual super-stuff, and she’s a kick-ass fighter who can teach uis some stuf, and I really like her class and she …
She actually knows me and likes the poetry I write, and, like, makes me write more.
How do you feel about that?
Well, I like writing poetry, even though it’s all crap, but she says it’s not, it has ‘authenticity’ and ‘passion,’ and that’s kinda nice, even if I will never, ever, never submit it to the school poetry slam or the Phoenix Pheels poetry magazine or anything.
Hmmm. Might I ask, maybe –
I’d – well, you’re my shrink, so I guess maybe it’s okay. If you promise not to laugh.
I’ll restrain myself. Though – didn’t you say you weren’t good with words?
I’m not. That’s why you’d laugh.
I see. So, you think Princess Arizella would make a good choice.
I think so? I mean, maybe? It’s something we gotta discuss on the team. Anyway, there were a lot more questions, but those were the biggies, and then Surge comes around and tells everyone to swap forms and tells people to fill in blanks for the team member whose form you get for what you think would be a good idea.
And I gotta give my form to Mette, which is like really embarrassing but also kind a cool cause I’m curious what she thinks, but then I have to get Roddy’s.
Was that an opportunity to help someone else on your team?
Yeah, but, I mean, Roddy. And I look at Cause and he has down “To Be Awesome,” which is so Roddy. And most of the stuff he put down was all like that, except for the team name, which he chose the SURGE Suppressors, which is, like, really dumb because who outside the school would know what that means? And also it’s kinda mean toward Sarge, though he deserves it.
And for dream mentor he put down Powertronic, of course, and dude doesn’t even teach at the school, so, what’s he gonna do, commute over to the Academy for advisor meetings?
So I fill in the blanks, and give him a social media handle of @TheAwesomeOne, and write down for why he does it “To display my unbelievable awesomeness,” and I underline it four times, one in each color of the pen, and I add with one of those little arrows “Awesome” into the team name, because of course.
How did you feel about his answers?
It was so Roddy, y’know? All about how awesome he is. So I just went with it.
Were you being serious and thoughtful in your answers?
As much as they deserved.
Meanwhile, Mette’s busy scribbling and writing, and I keep looking over, but trying not to look like I’m looking over, and she keeps looking over at me and squinting and I’m all la-la-not-going-to-let-you-see-I-see-you-looking-at-me …
And then she smiles and writes something down.
For Why I Do This, she wrote, “It’s the right thing to do.”
How did you feel about that?
It was perfect! It – it captured what I was trying to say and be, like she really saw into my soul and expressed it perfectly.
I would have it tattooed on me if tattoos actually would show up on me. Or I didn’t heal them away, or something.
It sounds a lot like the sort of things you were writing and scratching out.
No, it’s much better, and even it it were the same, having her say it makes it awesome – real awesome, not Roddy awesome. Also, she sketched in a great set of shorts for me, and a shirt that was interesting but had horizontal stripes which are not slimming, but if she wanted me to wear it, I would give it a try.
I … see.
Anyway, so we all worked on that, and then Sarge, before the class ends, asks folks what their team names are. And they were all, “Variable Stars” or “Outsiders” or “Runez” or “Outsiders” again – because, y’know, some teens are so emo, right?
Um, I suppose.
Exactly. And then they came to us, and it was like, crickets chirping as they rode on tumbleweeds blowing silently across the screen, y’know?
Cause everyone either didn’t have a name down or it was, like SURGE Suppressors awfulness. And Nono whispers loudly we had also probably said Outsiders and were trying to think of something, and all I can think is that actually Outsiders is a cool name I wish we had thought of, except everyone else chose it first.
And then the bell rang, and Sarge was all, “You guys and your ‘arrangement’ means you need to Figure This Out,” so, yeah, Hellbinder tipped him off, and then he said that we’d have to announce at the beginning of the next class.
So tonight we’re getting together in the Fortress of Attitude to thrash out things like the team name and insignia and mentor ideas and (ugh) costume colors and things like that.
Have you come up with any preferences?
Good. Our time is up, but I will be very curious to hear next time how the debate played out.
Yeah. Me, too.