Under 30: Part 1

The screen darkened, and the credits rolled. Travis brought up the lights, and people stood up to grab more pop. We’d put the cups and 2 liters on the main table next to the computer screens and keyboards. That may not have been the best idea, but nobody had spilled anything yet—except on the carpet, and that was no big deal. The original League had last renovated in the 1970’s, so the carpet was olive green shag.

Heroes League headquarters felt full, and it was, relatively speaking. We had all of the League’s grandchildren (nine of us), most of the former Justice Fist team (except for Sean, Jody, and Dayton), plus my friend Chris, and Cassie’s friend Kayla.

In short with the sixteen of us, we had more people with powers in the complex than some small countries had in their armed forces.

We’d just gotten done watching “Mystery Men,” and were about to watch another movie. We just didn’t know which one.

Vaughn pulled a DVD case out, and held it where everyone could see it. “We have to watch this next.”

The first words I noticed on the cover were, “Barely Legal.”

I said, “We are not watching porn.”

Vaughn said, “Nick, look at it.” He pointed his finger at the title. It said, “The All Nude Heroes League.”

The picture showed a group picture of heroes that looked like us, and like Justice Fist—if our costumes showed a lot more skin, and our bodies looked a lot more like porn stars.

Cassie leaned over to grab the case, and take a closer look at it. “This is hilarious. Vaughn’s right. We do have to watch this.”

“No, we really don’t,” I said.

“I don’t want to either,” Jaclyn said, “but we might want to sue, and I want to find out what they did with us.”

Daniel took a breath, and then said, “As anonymous vigilantes, I’d bet we can’t do much, but it’s not like I’d know. My dad’s the lawyer.”

The movie was every bit as bad as you might imagine. The plot, if you could call it a plot, consisted of The Rocket inventing some kind of sexual device, and trying it on everyone he met, except a supervillain stole it, and…

OK. I should not go into this, but here’s actual dialogue from the scene where he finds the supervillain and gets it back:

Princess Orgasmika: It’s so cold!
The Rocket: I calculate it will be warm in 2.75 thrusts.

Scenes like that left Cassie howling with laughter, and she wasn’t the only one. The acting was bad, the lighting too bright, and every scene appeared to have been filmed in the same warehouse.

It took about twenty minutes because we fast forwarded through most of it, stopping only for the most bizarre images. Suffice it to say that by the end everybody had had sex with everybody, which was probably fine for the average viewer, but kind of disturbing if you knew who was related to whom.

Once it was over, I decided to clear up something that had been on my mind for most of the movie. “The Rocket suit,” I said,” does not have an extension for that.”

That started people laughing all over again.

Cassie said, “Sure, Nick. We believe you. Haley, tell us the truth, does it?”

Haley blushed, and glared at her.

Cassie grinned. “That’s not a no.”

“It is SO a no.”

“OK,” Cassie said. “Sorry, but you know Nick will just have to invent one now.”

“No way,” I said. “I don’t think that the one in the movie would be technically possible.” I stopped, thought about it some more. “Although,” I began.

The doorbell rang, interrupting me. Marcus peered at one of the computer monitors at the table in the middle of the room. “Pizza delivery.”

“I’ll get it, I guess.” With all but a few former Justice Fist people attending, I’d gotten permission to use official Heroes League money for the pizza. It counted as outreach, right?

Anyway, people broke into laughter as I walked toward the elevator to the house.

I wondered why, and then realised the answer–I was walking into a pornographic cliche. The movie’s pizza delivery scene was when Orgasmika stole the device. In real life, I felt confident I’d be able to keep my clothes on.

Haley hurried after me.

“You can’t possibly think that—” I said.

“Think what? I thought you might need help with the pizza.”

She had a point. We’d ordered almost as many pizzas as we had people. I’ve often thought that supervillains wouldn’t have to create convoluted plots to figure out a superhero’s secret identity if they only monitored people’s grocery bills.

Cassie ate at least twice as much as you’d expect from her size, and she wasn’t the only one.

34 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 1”

  1. Greatest. Episode. Ever.

    The Heroes League watching porn of “themselves”? Hilarious!

    Probably the last thing i expected to see in this update. Oh hell i never thought i’d see something like this in here, well, ever.

    And, yay, new story!

  2. “by the end everybody had had sex with everybody”
    Ooh, all-out bisexuality. Not exactly mainstream, that. Then again it’s sort of to be expected, what with the whole stereotype of muscular men iin skin-tight brightly coloured spandex.

  3. Kyle/Parahacker: Thanks. I was a little worried about possibly offending people, but in thinking what I’d actually written, it didn’t seem likely.

    That being said, the idea seemed funny, and worse, plausible. I avoid pornography, but I’ve seen advertisements for it, and been surprised to notice how topical they were–election related stuff during elections and so on. Similarly,in a world with superheroes, it seemed like they’d use that to sell films too. It also struck me that it would be embarrassing, and annoying if someone were using your identity to sell films like that…

    Mazzon: Nick might be exaggerating a little there…

  4. You know, Jim, I was going to send you a private e-mail saying that allowing Robert Rodgers to write an installment was a mistake; his story was so freakin’ amazing, you’d now have a problem where you have to worry about topping his writing, instead of just topping yourself.

    In other words, “Jim, how on Earth will you follow such an amazing act??”

    And then…..with this chapter, you basically answered me. “Like THIS!”

    The League watching a superhero porn. Princess Orgasmika??? WTF?

    AMAZING STUFF Jim. I actually startled my coworker laughing out loud.

    P.S. – Two questions 1) Are they EVER gonna watch a Star Trek movie during movie night (Wrath of Khan anyone?) and 2) did anyone else think of that Voyager episode where the crew basically cosplayed as characters in a 1930’s pulp sci-fi serial?

  5. Bill: Thanks. That being said, I’m generally of the opinion that promoting the stuff of people who’s work I’ve enjoyed is a good thing. With any luck, people have room for more than one serial in their lives.

    As for your questions: I’m sure they’ve watched some Star Trek. The films are too famous not to. It’s just not worth mentioning it unless it impacts the story somehow.

    I didn’t think of the Voyager episode (I watched a few episodes of Voyager, but not a lot). I was reminded of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode where the characters discovered that a really bad play was being performed about them.

    That being said, another thing I had in mind while writing this was the time that a few of my friends decided to watch some movies. They watched Hitchcock’s “The Birds” first, followed by a science fiction movie they’d never heard of–Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy.

    They didn’t get around to finishing Barbarella. Having just been scared out of their minds by The Birds, they couldn’t help but laugh as Jane Fonda had sex with the first alien, and then gave up watching it by the second…

  6. “Daniel took a breath, and than said” – Should be ‘then’. Sorry, but I’m instinctively a grammarian.

    The notion of superhero porn in a comic-book universe is pretty hilarious, particularly when you’re the superheroes.

  7. I totally remember the Voyager that riffed on Flash Gordon.

    This chapter was unexpectedly hilarious and totally makes sense for teenaged superheroes — of course they would check that out. And of course Jaclyn would want to see about suing them — don’t they have toys and stuff? Someone owns the copyright to their images, through the League’s offices somehow.

    AND the neat thing the guest chapters did for me was to highlight what’s so great about these characters and Jim’s writing alongside enjoying Robert’s — we get extended, detailed action scenes from Nick’s perspective (the fight against Ray took weeks!) and they’re awesome. The characters all have strong personalities. There are themes about good and evil, responsibility, maturation — and what Robert did was intensify the action in the short term, give us some very cool shadow versions of already awesome characters, and highlight some of the emotional nuances of characters that are present but that are dryer from Nick’s perspective.

    I think it says a lot about Jim’s writing that he can write Nick as a techno geek lacking social skills AND still hint at the emotions of other characters — and gave Robert the chance to enhance that part of the story through that lens. The “Haley” oriented chapters showed her feelings, in a way that NIck doesn’t have access to — but all three storylines are consistent.

    That’s why I went to WFG and upgraded the story to a 5 star rating on my review.

  8. Two things:

    1. Re: Star Trek. It is possible that Star Trek, as it exists in our universe doesn’t exist in the Legion universe. That might make life difficult for Jim, though, since it limits a whole crapload of cultural references that are especially familiar to his target audience

    2. My favourite part in the episode? Nick’s, “Although….”


  9. Typo: “We belive you. Haley”

    Believe. 🙂

    Great episode, by the way, Jim. It’s a nice lull after all the (cool!) action from the crosspost.

  10. Eli/Robert: Thanks. Though I find it bizarre that I could misspell believe. On the other hand, I almost always get than vs. then correct too.

    Hg: “Although” amused me too. It’s one of those experiences anyone who works with technology (or really anything that involves solving problems) where a person’s initial response is “No, that’s impossible,” before suddenly realizing that you can do almost the same thing by another route…

    Gavin: I tend to regard Nick as a “semi-reliable” narrator. He’s accurate in reporting things he notices, but he doesn’t notice everything. The key thing is to pass along details he’d notice but not necessarily recognize. It does lead to a perspective on characters that leaves a lot to the imagination though.

  11. About the Rocket suit having an extension for “that”… I’m sort of inclined to think that the original Rocket, being a responsible superhero, would have upon retiring dismantled any such devices. Why? Because if you want someone to take up the legacy you’d better make sure they don’t see the armour as “grandpa’s creepy fetish gear”.

  12. Before going into the ignorable stuff, I’ll just say pretty damn funny, and a step into adulthood for the story. Luckily, they don’t have someone with stretching powers on the team. And just wait until Justice Fist gets one made of them, with that team name. I like that it expands the universe. Superhero magazines and websites. It reminds me of a slightly younger me, who once commented something about tabloids following certain heroes, claiming one or another to be an eligible bachelor, and the concept of “capechasers”.

    That said, parodies and satire tend to be allowed, so I don’t think they can do anything about it. Also, entering the TMI information zone, those kind of parodies are apparently huge in the adult industry. I really don’t want to say anymore. I don’t want to wind up not only as the nerdy mad scientist but as the local porn expert too.

    Oh, and a villain did once manage to hypnotize Superman and Big Barda, the wife of escape artist superhero Mister Miracle, and made a porn of it in order to harm Mister Miracle. At least she wasn’t made of tissue.

  13. @Psycho Gecko: Not to start a whole discussion, but yeah, that -particular- storyline should be filed under the ‘DC Comics Has A Fucking -Horrible- History Concerning Sex/Race/Gender/Everything’ heading.

  14. On Nick as semi-reliable narration — but that’s kind of what impressed me about being able to compare two versions of the story (three if you count Haley) — it takes talent to have details in mind, keep them consistent, and then only hint at them because of the character traits of an unreliable narrator. Robert did a phenomenal job of picking out pre-existing traits and highlighting them in a way that Nick doesn’t — but they’re still there.

    If you were a painter, for example, you’d use all the colours, but your “Nick” period would have more greys and blues, and the “Haley” period might be more oranges, yellows, reds and greens. Robert used all your colours in a condensed space and that helped me see that they were all there all along, just spread out over the last few years. It’s been an impressive acculmulation of work.

  15. Mazzon: Oddly enough that reminds me of a Black Adder episode (set in the medieval period) in which the main character decides to wear a particular codpiece because it “frightens the clergy” (or something like that). The codpiece looks a lot like what it covers.

    PG/Robert Rogers: I did a little reading on the Superman/Big Barda reference, and it may have come about because John Byrne was angry at Jack Kirby (who based Big Barda’s personality on his wife) because Kirby called Byrne a corporate shill.

    Gavin: Thanks. I’m glad that that aspect of things works. I try to do stuff like that, but I can never know for sure that it’s happening for the reader (without someone saying so obviously).

    Incidentally, I initially read your comments on my phone which (because it’s an iPhone) highlighted the “4am” like it always does with times. This amused me because it would have made it very easy to add a 4 am wake up time to my calendar (which is pointless, since I don’t have a dog…).

  16. @ Jim
    Black adder – You mean the “Black Russian”? (Edmund wears it to his appointmet as Archbishop of Canterbury to terrify the clergy….)

    Hmm, superhero based caricature/porno crossover…not the first time i have come across this subject (no pun intended) – was Jim inspired by “Flesh Gordon” & “Flesh Gordon 2” perhaps?

  17. Re: superhero porn…once, in a superhero roleplaying game, my character travelled to an alternate reality and found (amongst other things) a company selling novelty keychains with “naughty” (i.e. explicit) images of her and her teammates in Freedom Squad.

    Wildfire thought they were a riot. She bought the whole set and brought them back for the team as souvenirs.

    Comments included:
    (from Crystal Blue) “I’m not *that* pink.”
    (from Warp) “And I’m not Native American. That *is* a totem pole, right?”
    (from Jo-Tan) “Sometimes I do not understand Americans.”
    (from Victrix) “Am I old enough to be looking at these?”

  18. Mycroft: Yeah. The Black Russian. That’s got to be it.

    Haven’t seen either Flesh Gordon movie. Mostly I was inspired by thinking it would be funny. I’ve had versions of this scene floating around in my head for while, and finally found a story that the scene could contribute to instead of distract from.

  19. This episode made me grin. Then it made me giggle. As I am reading it on my birthday I regard it as a very nice present. Yes I really am that egotistical. (Is that really word? Help me out smart type people.)

  20. Well since we have all had our little laughs at the super hero porn episode let us now consider some serious thoughts.
    1) Since Jaclyn has a certain degree of invulnerability as a secondary power we can safetly assume this extends to all parts of her anatomy. This means that the first time is going to take some real effort, and probably be pretty unpleasant. Of course she has it easy compared to Haley.
    2) Haley is extra tough, though not nearly as invulnerabe as Jacklyn, so we can assume there will have to be some extra effort her first time to. Of course she also has healing powers so it is likely there will be more than one first time so to speak. Of course she has it easy compared to Cassie.
    3) Cassie is also extra tough, though again not nearly as much as Jaclyn, so again we can assume there will have to be some extra effort the first time. Of course she also regenerates rather quickly, so every time will be the first time. She has also stated that the healing tends to hurt worse than the injury.

    @Psycho Gecko Marcus can shape shift which would include stretching, and Justice Fist was in the porno. You have to wonder what kind of affects they could make for cheap

    Can’t think of anything else to add right now. May you all find enough brain bleach to deal with those images. Since I ended up thinking about it I felt I should share.

  21. Christopher: I’ve given some thought to some of that stuff as well, unfortunately.

    DWwolf: Not teasing at all. I’ve had this ready for days. I planned to have this go up on time, but unfortunately we had an all night thunderstorm here, and I wasn’t willing to risk my computer getting zapped by a power surge.

  22. I’m nerd enough to pull this thread of conversation right back to “real” pseudo-science. You have the basic accelerated healing which allows the person to heal injuries much faster but with the same limitations of normal healing in that you can’t regrow limbs or other lost portions of your anatomy, would include scarring, etc… I suspect Jaclyn’s healing to be this variety. On the other end you have Cassie who can regenerate any body part as long as she doesn’t lose her head (classic Highlander regeneration). I don’t recall anything happening to Haley that would indicate which form of healing she has but I suspect that as a shape-shifter it would tend toward the latter as her body probably uses some kind of template to know what forms to assume.

  23. Heh, you caught me completely off guard with this chapter, I laughed, a lot.

    When the adrenaline starts, Haley has claws, sharp teeth, and narcoleptic poison. That has some pretty serious down sides.

  24. I’m coming late to the party here but I just have to say: Nicely Done!

    It could have been completely tasteless (say, if Cassie was the narrator) but you pulled it off perfectly.

    1. Thanks. It’s a scene that I had in my head long before I wrote it, and people seemed to find it as funny as I intended it to be.

      And yes, it would be different with another narrator. I suppose it might be theoretically possible to have it work with a narrator who wasn’t bothered by it, but having someone respond with horror and disbelief struck me as better.

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