Under 30: Part 16

I couldn’t have explained it in so many words then, but saving Sean wouldn’t be simple.

I had a little bit of a head start because I was below him, and most of his metal defenses had been facing Dixie Supergirl. So I wouldn’t have to avoid much if I kept on flying upward, and a little to the left—where his back had been.

The big problem would come when I caught him.

The second he stopped falling, he’d get hit in the head by a chunk of steel reinforced concrete, or a ten foot section of railing.

Again, not that I thought about it that clearly in the moment.

In that moment, the readout showed the words, “collision alert,” and I knocked a chunk of concrete and steel away from my head, and then a railing, and then I was next to Sean.

I reached out to grab him, and realized that the second he started going up, he’d be battered by a piece of concrete and steel larger than both of us combined. Changing direction to go sideways would only lead us into more debris. Sure, I could slam it out of the way, but I could only guess which direction it would go. No reason that it couldn’t bounce into my legs—or Sean—if I happened to be carrying him.

I didn’t grab him. I knocked the big chunk above us out of the way, and flipped over, intending to clear a path and grab him on the way down.

I never got the chance.

In blur of red and blue, Dixie Supergirl crossed the distance, grabbing him, and flying across the distance to land and carefully lay him on the walkway. Below us, metal hit the floor, and concrete shattered.

“He’s alive,” she said, “but I’d call an ambulance.”

“X-ray vision?” I asked, knowing better. Dixie Superman had used sonar, something my grandfather exploited more than once.

“Something like that.”

I’d flipped back to hover, upright, about twenty feet from the fifth floor walkway’s ledge. Sean had ripped off all the railings during their fight, short as it was.

Still recovering from two quick flips in the air, battering chunks of building, and nearly exploding, I battled my adrenaline rush, and tried to think.

We were talking.

I had a chance, some kind of chance, to turn this from a fight into… Well, I wasn’t sure what it could turn into, but hopefully something that wasn’t a fight.

I took a moment to look at her for the first time. I’d seen her on the television, and briefly at the beach before she’d punched me.

Unlike Dixie Superman, she wasn’t red haired. She had long, straight, dark hair, and darker skin than his. Not much darker. She might just have a tan, but I doubted it. The possibilities it opened were mindblowing. I’d read the reports. I knew where Dixie Superman came from. He’d come from an alternate reality, one where Reconstruction went horribly wrong after the Civil War, and where even in the twentieth century, the South bore a striking resemblance to Northern Ireland in the 1970’s—full of bombs and terrorist cells.

My grandfather visited the universe once. He’d described it as a hellhole.

Dixie Superman appeared in the 1950’s, and had actually been a hero until the Civil Rights movement. During the Civil Rights movement, he became so extreme that even people who were against the Civil Rights movement themselves thought he went too far.

I’d noticed one other interesting thing when she talked—she had no southern accent. It didn’t mean she wasn’t from the South, but it opened up a lot of questions.

My head whirled with them. I settled on one.

“So… Are you related to Dixie Superman, or did you just like the name?”

“Like the name?” The tone of her voice probably would have been the same if she’d said, “Are you insane?”

“It’s a reasonable question,” I said. “Your names are practically the same, and calls to mind… um… a lot of the same things.”

Her jaw dropped a little, and she blinked. Then she said, “I’m nothing like him. I’m only using this name once—against you.”

From the anger in her voice, I thought for a moment that she was about to attack, but she didn’t. The moment of hesitation before she spoke, however, made me think that it couldn’t be all her. In fact, it might not be her at all.

She definitely wasn’t over thirty. To guess from what I could see of her face, I’d have been surprised if she were over twenty.

I decided to take a shot at getting her to recognize Evil Beatnik’s influence.

“I’m sure you’re not like him. In fact, I’d bet you’re not even sure you know why you’re doing this. You’re trying to free prisoners, but you don’t even know these people. You don’t know us either. I know Dixie Superman fought the original League, but we’ve barely met, right?”

She didn’t say anything. I took it as a cue to keep on going.

“It’s not you. Someone’s making you do this. It’s—”

A silvery blur appeared out of the stairwell, and ran around the walkway too quickly for me to follow until the blur hit Dixie Supergirl, knocking her backwards.

She didn’t fall, flying into an upright position after a few feet. By then, however, the silvery blur and Sean had both disappeared.

If I’d been keeping track of reasons to dislike Jody, I had one more to add to the list.

15 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 16”

  1. There’s a reasonable basis for thinking it could have gone that way. Quite a few Confederate soldiers wanted to do the guerrilla thing. Some of them still did, for a time, as the Klan and the White League and such.

    Time for Psycho Gecko’s comic story time, I guess, but way back, in the 40s and early 50s, Superman had a radio show. And someone who was very much against the KKK had infiltrated it. He didn’t or couldn’t take it to law enforcement to get anything done, so instead he took it to Superman…or at least, the radio show. And so Superman took on the KKK, the show using their terminology for all to hear. Obviously, some people got turned off at joining up with a group that got beat up by Superman on the radio, and people probably had to hide their robes from their kids, lest little Timmy think daddy was a supervillain.

    The irony of the situation of THIS superhuman in the serial has not been lost on me.

  2. It was folklorist and author Stetson Kennedy. He also got Georgia to repeal the Klan’s nonprofit status.

    However, he stated his real goal was to *trivialize* the Klan, and remove its mystique. Once he did that, they became just a bunch of wackos in white sheets, and they lost a lot of their cultural power.

    He was a real hero, and took significant risks. His house was firebombed, and he was forced to move to France by death threats.

  3. So….perhaps a cameo where we find out Stetson Kennedy is part of that mysterious Cabal that handles weird crap (The one with Amelia Earhart)??

    And defintely a cameo for Psycho Gecko? I’m with Mystic, I read the LON as much for the comments as for the story.

    Speaking of the story….Jim, you’ve long been able to hit multiple points on the story scale; funny, dark, humorous, whimsical, horrific…etc.

    This serial seems to be an even more nuanced version of this. Every installment has toed the line between pumping action, social commentary, and laugh-out loud humor. Is this something you’ve been focusing on?

    Also FYI, Dixie Superman wouldn’t be the first racist to fall for the very people he allegedly despised.

  4. They say many of the worst homophobes are just struggling witht their own repressed homosexuality. I suppose something similar could work with racism, as well.

    Jody’s little stunt at the end again makes me think there’s a verb in the name Justice Fist…

  5. Eh, personally, I’d think it’s less about falling for Supergirl’s mom or grandma and more like the way slave owners did. They’d think of them as not good enough to be people, but good enough to take to bed. She’s not very happy with him, after all.

  6. Bill: Strom Thurmond (a senator who worked against civil rights and for segregation) had a child with a black maid who worked for his parents. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

    As for how this story came to be what it is… I’ve got long term interest in history. My dad taught political science for years. As kids, our family vacations included visits to places like Gettysburg, the birthplaces/homes of presidents, and things like that.

    The upshot was that when I started writing Legion, I wanted it to use US history mostly straight (with odd twists where necessary). I wanted to include social/cultural issues from any given period and see where superheroes would fit in that.

    This particular story gets to be funny (because I wrote a tense storyline for months), includes action/tension (to keep the story moving), and social commentary because once you include Evil Beatnik/Hippie, you comment on the 60’s/70’s automatically. You comment on the present too because we’re still dealing with the effects of everything that happened then.

    I wish I could say it was all planned. In the end I find myself with the material I want to include, and try to include all that fits while still being entertaining.

    Mazzon: The combination of public racism, and private interracial relationships is truly strange.

    On one level, I can reconstruct how people rationalize it, but on another it’s strange to imagine someone being able to hold on to all manner of lies about other races while simultaneously having a child who will be hurt by those lies.

  7. ” This particular story gets to be funny (because I wrote a tense storyline for months), includes action/tension (to keep the story moving), and social commentary because once you include Evil Beatnik/Hippie, you comment on the 60′s/70′s automatically. You comment on the present too because we’re still dealing with the effects of everything that happened then.

    I wish I could say it was all planned. In the end I find myself with the material I want to include, and try to include all that fits while still being entertaining. ”

    Holy shit. Now I know why I love this story. It’s bascially Star Trek with superpowers and you’re Gene Roddenberry.

  8. Michigan. The latest frontier.

    These are the adventures of the Grand Lake Heroes League.

    Their continuing mission; to explore and face down strange new threats.

    To seek out new allies, new powers, and new dimensions.

    To boldy fight crime like no superhero has fought before…..

  9. ” The combination of public racism, and private interracial relationships is truly strange. ”

    What’s stranger is how nuanced and evolving racism is.

    In spite of what the popular (American) media would have you believe. Jesse Owens himself said he was treated better in Hitler’s Germany for the Berlin Olympics than he every was in the land of his birth and residence.

    By all accounts, all the German spectators upon seeing him in the streets ran up to him like a wild mob…..and begged for his autograph.

    Many Dodger fans rooted for Jackie Robinson. But were none too happy when he and his wife wanted to move into certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

  10. The best way I grasp it is in the idea of relationships based on power, which I’ve been considering ever since I found a webcomic about D/s, though come to think of it, the assured place of even the poorest white man on the social and racial hierarchy was something that was brought up in my class on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Perhaps we just don’t know what it’s like to be white men in a time when women have to shut up and listen to us (Jackie O. once stated that of course her opinions on politics wouldn’t be as good as those of her husband), where we have the power to hit them if we’d like, control the finances, keep the kids and leave them broke if they do try for a divorce (scandalous back then), and when marital rape wasn’t considered rape. Granted, it wasn’t all like that, but that’s the power a white man had over his wife back then. And black people weren’t on nearly that even of a playing field.

    A white man, for a long time, could probably just get away with raping a black woman. What’s she going to do, go to the white sherriff and sit in a court of law with a white judge and an all-white jury?
    Even if consensual, pressing for marriage would be a big no no. Can’t remember off the top of my head when that was legalized, but it wasn’t likely before WW2. So no child support for the woman and the kid couldn’t inherit anything.

  11. Psycho Gecko: I remember doing some research on the Temperance movement, and because some of the same people were feminists, I did some research on that too. I was somewhat surprised to discover that feminists in the 1800’s were proposing that women have the right to say no when their husbands want sex. It was bizarre to think that that wasn’t a given.

    Bill: One difference between Glen Rodenberry’s approach is that I think he was intending to deliberately promote his point of view of what the future should be whereas I’m trying to include aspects of the past and present that should be included for things to feel real to me. I feel like religion, law, politics, race, gender, sexuality, history, the side effects of violence, and many other things should all appear somewhere.

    The challenge is to keep that subordinate to telling a story because no one’s coming here to be told how to think.

  12. For a long time, there was a hierarchy. No matter how poor and uncivilized a white man was, he could always count on having more rights than a woman or a black man. Some poor fellow without the ability to read and write, no money to his name, a lazy, good for nothing alcoholic who beats his kids could still look up and say to the most educated and successful african american man of those times and say, “Get your ass to the back of the bus.”

    I’ve grown up without even thinking about the idea of a hierarchy in society that isn’t based on wealth, so all that was quite a foreign thing to think, but if something like that was the normal way of thinking for someone, then it isn’t a stretch to think of someone as human in some ways and less than human in others. That’s just the way things were.

    Besides, it’s good to keep those things secondary to the story. Not everyone can avoid the controversy or “preachiness” that can come up. Just think of politics as second-class story elements.

  13. The concept of financial value also came into play as well. While a man from China or Ireland was ‘free’ and considered ‘better’ than a black man they were considered of lesser value. While building the intercontinental railroad foremen were sent a memo mandating that any time a dangerous task could be performed equally well by a black slave or an Irishman, the Irishman should be selected because the slave had a resale value.

    On to a more light-hearted topic! Nick really needs to work on his focus, concentrating on reversing the impregnator’s effects and upgrading his suit. I’m hoping Justice Fist loses their powers 🙂

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