So of course, that was our first class of the day. I mean, we’d barely been able to thrash out a name between us, even meeting first thing in the morning and arguing about it all the way into class.
Why were you so concerned about the name?
Names mean things. I mean, I didn’t think up “Mighty Joe Young,” but you see how it fits, right?
As the story of a giant –
No, not just that, but because my name is Joey. Joseph. So it fits, plus, yeah, there’s the gorilla thing, and maybe that’s good and maybe that’s bad. But it’s what I have.
People have changed their names before, including supers. Names go in and out of style, people’s lives change, words and culture change. The Gay Blade and the Gentleman Negro in the 60s, Miss Kick in the 70s … when Split lost his blue half and became Red Vengeance … Waltzing Matilda decided to change their whole image and became Bareknuckle … even last year, Trump Card becoming Dead Man’s Hand, or Kid Diamond going by just Diamond now that he’s pushing 30 …
This is different. This is us, trying to say who we are, right? As a group. I mean, maybe we don’t stay together. But even if we do, we’ll always be known by this name. “Mighty Joe Young, who first came on the scene while in school as part of the Loose Marbles --”
You didn’t actually –
No, but if we did, that would always be part of the news stories, our whole lives. So we needed something catchy, but noteworthy. Even if it’s just for the school, we’re gonna be doing things out on the streets, and you gotta know that if some reporter says, “Who are you guys,” someone, probably Roddy, is gonna blurt out whatever we choose.
So … we came up with something. And we’re barely warming our seats when SURGE calls on us group, and picks Mette.
How did you feel about that?
She was a great choice. I mean, she talks well, she doesn’t get all snarky like Alex or goofball like Roddy or say things like, “By Grabnar’s Hammer” like Kiln –
He doesn’t actually –
No, but things like that.
What about you?
Why shouldn’t Sarge have called on you?
Oh. Well, I don’t speak as well as she does. And she gets all earnest and like that, and I can’t do that because people don’t know what an earnest ape looks like.
So she announces the name.
Which is …?
“The Tomb Patrol.”
Oh. Ah. All right, that’s … not what I expected.
Well, we’re kinda on this quest, looking for more ruins and tombs and stuff like at the museum. Stuff from Kiln’s era, with maybe that magitech stuff. Cause that not only ties to him, but also to stuff in Mette’s era and – well, maybe stuff about what happened to me.
So we named it after that really old cartoon, “The Doom Patrol.”
Yes, I got the reference.
It’s classic stuff. I was reading they were thinking about doing something live action, like on HBO Max or something.
Perhaps you and your team could star.
Well, we’re not actually the Doom Patrol. We’re just riffing off their name.
A reboot, then?
Naw, nobody’d believe this team was real.
How did the rest of the class take your team name?
Aw, y’know, some folk thought it was funny, or stupid. Some thought it was cool. SURGE didn’t seem impressed, but Roddy thought we should keep “The SURGE Suppressors,” only maybe with an “Awesome” in there, Sarge shoulda been happy. Stead, just he just starts ragging on us that we need to get all the rest of the team paperwork put together ASAP and how it needs to be filed inside and outside the school and all that.
Which means we gotta get a sponsor. Which … well, that was my turn.
Yeah, 'cause I’d had the idea that maybe Princess Arizella might be good.
'Cause she’s, like, really good at fighting. So maybe she can teach us some stuff. Aaaaand …
Well, she kinda thinks I’m a good student.
'Cause, y’know, she found out I write, wrote poetry before all of this, so she keeps giving me poetry writing assignments. And then I got shifted into Honors English first week, with her, and she keeps saying I’m doing a fine job. Like today, we do this exercise in Wuthering Heights, like who’s talking inside of the nested dialog, and I figured it all out.
But that’s just – it all just made sense to me. But she’s treating me like I’m some literary super-genius, and points out to the class the good job I’m doing.
How does that make you --?
Like a freak, y’know? I mean, nobody likes the really smart kid. Especially smart doing something like Wuthering Heights.
Why do you think she does it?
Probably because she was one of the really smart kids, so that’s the sort of thing she’d like.
Ah. So because you don’t think of yourself as a really smart kid, you resent her compliments.
Weelll … not like I don’t like her compliments, I just wish she wouldn’t do them in front of everyone.
So class is over, and she says some more nice stuff, and I kinda blurt out that my friends and me, we’re looking to form a formal club, and we’d like her to be our club sponsor.
How did that go?
Awful. I, like, couldn’t keep my words straight and she was really polite and didn’t get what I was saying, and then she said we should bring our lunches to her class to discuss it.
Well, it sounds like you got the message across.
I did, but I felt like a goofball doing it. All “uh” and “um,” and like that.
How important was it to you that she accept?
Well, like, really important. I – well, she’s a good teacher, and she thinks some reason I’m a good student, so that would be cool if she were our sponsor.
So I leave, and get on the group chat and am telling everyone so they’re there at lunch and trying to have a discussion about it, and Roddy’s instead trying to talk about some stupid thing at Powertronic’s house with canopies and Gothwitch coming over and stuff.
You know. Like the little apps?
Yeah, that. I mean, I’m trying to get this all worked out, and Roddy’s talking about eating apps with Powertronic and showing off to Gothwitch.
I know. I mean, what’s actually important, right? But, anyway, I get everyone rounded up and off to her class at lunch, and she’s like all honored and pleasant, and I’m thinking I hit the jackpot, because I can just imagine what some sponsors would be like. I mean – imagine SURGE as our sponsor.
The Princess is not … a pushover.
Oh, I know, I respect her – a lot. She’s a really hard grader, right? And I did a practice bout with her, with, like, sticks, and you could see the bruises, if you could see the bruises, y’know? But she was like, actually kind of excited, especially when we told her what “heroic shenanigans” we were doing, and Mette described all the historical stuff, and then she quoted from what she put on my worksheet from SURGE’s class about what I was into this stuff for, to do the right thing, so that was really cool.
And Alex is showing where his computer’s gone ding-dong on places around the world, including a big one like on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. And then Arizella’s talking about magitech, from her own perspective, how her people have legends of when Kiln’s folk were all around, and then they were gone and nobody knew how to make the magitech stuff work, and she made a monkey joke and apologized.
I know, it was nice of her to do. She was a little worried about us picking her since, because it’s her first year she thought it might be against the rules, but then she said Hellbinder kind of likes bending the rules, just to see what happens, so that was interesting, but also good. So she signed the form, and I think that means we’re all set.
After complaining about the formal groups on campus, how does it feel to be one of them?
Well – we’re one of the cool ones, so it feels good. And …
Well, I just …
I just – it kinda feels like it’s more officially … um … kind of a family? I mean, even Roddy, 'cause every family’s got someone like him. But … it made it feel more … like I had a place, that other people recognize, that I recognize. A place I belong. Y’know?