Graduation: Part 1

The next day wasn’t much better.

You know how in the Harry Potter books, there always seems to be some period in which Malfoy struts around as if he owns the school? That’s what happened with Sean. And not just Sean, everybody in Justice Fist got attention.

Sean, Dayton, Jody, Camille, and Julie seemed to be surrounded with people all day. Even the teachers seemed to want to hear about it.

I passed a huge clot in the hall as I went to Mr. Beacham’s class. Some girl around Sean said something about “knees?”

Sean shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s a Heroes League thing.”

I could have explained, but I didn’t.

There had been more of them than I’d realized. The newspaper and radio stations reported it as fifty. Most of them had ended up in the hospital, many of them with broken knees.

Lee often said, “If you can’t walk, you can’t fight.”

While it wasn’t true if you could fly or had energy powers, it was true for most people, most of the time.

I knew I’d kicked a few during the fight, and it sounded like the rest of the team had too. I’d also broken a lot of ribs, and collarbones.

Despite Mr. Beacham’s best efforts, I had a hard time paying attention in class. He was a good teacher, but not good enough to compete with what was going on in my head.

On Sean’s way into the room, I had accidentally made eye contact with him. He smiled at me, and my pen rolled off my desk, bouncing two rows over.

The girl in the next desk passed it back to me, and I swapped it for one with a plastic body.

Evidently his statement that he had better things to do than worry about me no longer applied.

I held on to the pen, took notes, and hoped he didn’t do more.

* * *

I rode my bike straight to Grandpa’s house after school. I still had to repair the suit(s?), design the communicators, and I’d had some ideas about mass producing roachbots I wanted to try.

Not to mention that school had sent home a pile of graduation related paperwork. I had to fill it out, and better to fill it out someplace quiet.

Except… HQ wasn’t quiet.

Marcus sat at the command console, having thrown his monitor’s contents to the wall screen. He had opened at least eight windows to recorded sessions from the houses and cars of Vaughn’s cousins and descendants from Red Lightning’s group.

I walked past one of the stacks of boxes, and made my way to the front of the room where he sat.

“I didn’t expect to see you here.”

He looked up. “Nick. I’m running through the latest stuff.”

He clicked on a mouse button, and the largest of the windows paused. It showed Sean’s dad standing in the kitchen. The two windows next to it showed other spots in the house.

“I’m glad someone is. With everything else going on, I kind of forgot about it.”

“Yeah, me too. Rachel and I have been swapping off, and I skipped a few days, but after last night, I thought I’d get back to it.”

“Have you learned anything?”

“Nothing important… Just personal stuff. Like Sean’s dad is a total jerk.”

“Wait. Did he just turn into a jerk in the last two weeks?”

“I think he’s always been a jerk. Like this video? It’s from last week, but there’s a dozen more like it. Sean’s sister… Her name’s Sydney. She just asked for permission to go on a date, and he went off on her, called her names you wouldn’t believe. My parents get angry with us, but they never do anything like that.”

“Does he… hit them?”

“No, but what he does is bad enough.”

He clicked on the mouse again, and Sean’s sister left the room, crying — or so I assumed. The sound was off.

Just a moment before she walked off camera, she turned around and flipped him off. Another window’s camera showed Sean’s dad shouting more in response. I thought I read a couple of the words from his lips. If they were what I thought they were, I’d never even heard my parents say them.

“Is he like this with Sean too?”

“Oh, yeah. Sometimes he’s decent to them too, but then he overdoes it, like he got Sean a new car out of nowhere. Something’s messed up there.”

“Do you think she’s been through the Impregnator?” I asked, and then I thought about what I’d said.

“That sounds really wrong when you’re talking about a girl, but no, I don’t know.”

He closed out that window, and clicked on another, that one showing a meeting with Russell Hardwick and Justice Fist’s parents in the living room of somebody’s house.

It enlarged to fill the spot that Sean’s father had been in, but didn’t play.

“Sydney’s kind of cute,” Marcus commented.

Thinking about her, I could see his point.

“Aren’t you with Latisha?”

“It’s Lakisha, and I’m not with her. We went on a date to prom, but we aren’t dating.”

“You’re not going to ask Sydney out, are you?”

“No. I don’t even know her. Besides, what if she’s psycho like everybody else in the family?”

His eyes widened for a second. “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the best bit about Sean’s dad. Look at this person.” He pointed at a woman in Russell Hardwick’s group that I’d guessed might be Hispanic.

“Red Lightning worked with the Fillipino resistance to the Japanese occupation, and he helped a couple he knew there immigrate to the US. She’s their daughter. She works with Sean’s dad at one of the Hardwicks’ companies. Her daughter is Camille, or Gravity Star if she’s in costume with Justice Fist. Guess who Camille’s dad is?”

He pulled a picture of her up on the screen. Her face reminded me of Sydney, and of Sean’s dad, and she had a lighter complexion than her mom.

“No way.”

“You got it. Rachel found a bit of video of the two of them talking after a meeting. Crazy, right?”

“Really crazy. Does Sean know?”

“I don’t think so.”

15 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 1”

  1. Well, that’s two things right there that Marvel and DC leave out…
    Actual bodily harm caused by superstrong people beating up mooks, and (possibly) crazy and/or evil people also getting around to everyday crazy/evil that doesn’t make the news.

  2. Actually, Marvel has addressed it, although not as much. First of all, there was the original Reavers, who were just thugs/security working for the Hellfire Club. Then they got locked in a room with Wolverine. Down the road, they showed up as cyborgs, missing all the bits that Wolvie had taken out of them. (Not super-strength, but still talking about damaged from dangerous powers.) Secondly, Marvel has mentioned a number of times about superstrong characters “pulling their punches.” The example that stands out was the old Wolverine episode when he was known as Patch, and the grey Hulk was in town. Patch does all sorts of things to manipulate Hulk into saving some women being held as sex slaves, including pissing Hulk off (“You wouldn’t like me when I’m pissed.”) Logan thinks Hulk has no clue who Patch really is, but in the end, Hulk nails him one on the jaw that sends him flying through a building. Wolverine considers the fact that Hulk didn’t “pull his punch” on that one, and thinks that maybe Hulk knew who he was all along.


  3. I totally remember Patch in Madripoor, thanks Hg!

    But the “realism” in this superhero serial has always been one of my favourite things about it. I used to collect Marvel trading cards, and they had the stats on characters (just like baseball!). Spiderman could lift 10 tons. Hulk and Thor could lift over 100. Even with training, even with caution, they’re capable of a lot more damage than a human being, when most people lift between 100 and 500 pounds. Spiderman, “low” on the Marvel scale, is 40 times stronger than that. Bones breaking on bank robbers should be a regular thing with Spidey.

    No wonder Nick worries about killing people, when they have little choice but to hurt them in combat — these kids don’t mess around, their grandparents fought a war and passed on the tactics. This isn’t Robin having fun, this is real vigilante stuff.

  4. Hey guys,

    I think what makes LON different from the comics is that Jim is writing episodes at his own pace, therefore he gets to include the “little” things in it.

    If LON were a DC or Marvel property, they’d be in a rush to get to the next adventure, and thus they’d only mention such little things in passing.

    When you come out with Iron Man 2, you could talk about the collateral and property damage caused in the first movie, but with only 2 hours to play with, you start chucking things almost straight away.

    Note: Part 2 was an alright movie. Definitely not as good as one, but not quite as insipid as Daredevil.

  5. On Iron Man 2 — I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it’s not as tight a story as the first one — which was straight-forward origin story and the development of the armour. The story was really clean and really not that ambitious — what made it great was Tony Stark/Robert sDowney jr.’s performance and dialogue.

    I’m not surprised the sequel is “busier” but I don’t think that will be a big problem for me — Comic books tend to get convoluted after the origin story, because they have to introduce supporting characters, this issues villain, and future sub-plots and villains in the background. I think that’s EXACTLY what happens in Iron Man 2 from the things I’ve read — the series has been set up as a trilogy and this middle section has to get them to the third, and it’s doing it with comic book writing.

    I still think I want to see it and I think the third one will be better still.

  6. A couple thoughts:

    I think the fact that it’s all in text makes a difference with regards to including certain details. I can give people a sense of what happened to the people in a line whereas including a panel or two in a comic or a scene in a movie might take up more space/time than they want.

    Another aspect of it is a deliberate choice. When I started this serial, I decided that I was going to handle the violence differently than I typically saw it in comics, and more like I’d come to view it through the time I spent doing martial arts training.

    I’m guessing that most writers don’t quite have that perspective on things.

  7. Hey Jim,
    Not that I’m not enjoying the current arcs, but is there any chance we might get another old heroes league story some time? Maybe a war story? It’d be cool if there was an Old League story in each ‘book’, just to give us a bit of a change.
    Besides, the Old League were grade-A badasses.

  8. Unwise Owl: Are you reading ahead? That’s exactly what I’m planning to do.

    Actually there’s one story in which I’m hoping to intersperse Old League stuff throughout the book.

  9. @ G.S – You’re intimations of the plot are spot on; that’s exactly the best to describe IM2, busier. But it is totally worth a look, the performances, particularly from Sam Rockwell (who never disappoints) make it worth seeing once.

    You’ve set up a very good point about origin movies vs. sequels. My girlfriend and I were having a good debate about this after we saw IM2.

    In some franchise movies, you’re right, the first movie kinda lays it all out, straightaway while it’s the sequel that just kinda plods along, like a throw-away mish-mash just meant to get more money, merchandising, etc. The movies in this set-up are Jaws, The Exoricst, a vast number of horror movies, and the recent Rush Hour movies.

    But then, you have the reverse, it’s the origin movie that seems like it was just a weird thrown together mish-mash, with the express purpose of just exploiting the property; while it is the sequel that is everything the first was and THEN some. For example, The Terminator, the Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman movies, The X-Men, and most especially, Spider-Man.

  10. Just a moment before she walked off camera, she turned around and flicked him off.

    Did you mean “flipped him off”?

    “Do you think she’s been through the Impregnator?” I asked, and then I thought about what I’d said.
    “That sounds really wrong when you’re talking about a girl, but no, I don’t know.”

    True, but then once you have that meaning in your head it sounds even worse when you’re talking about a guy…

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