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Holy Captain Independence! 

It's Megalopolis Superhero 2000, where good and evil meet for fun

Wednesday, Aug 9 2000
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In a narrow, dark alley, somewhere South of Market, a small band of superheroes rubs uneasy elbows with a tangle of supervillains awaiting entrance to Megalopolis Superhero 2000, the small comic book shop's fourth annual superhero/ supervillain soiree, where crime fighters and diabolical masterminds must set aside their differences for marvelous fun. The criminal Catnip Girl slinks past, blending into the shadows and curling around Kaptain Killbilly. "Sniff my tail?" she purrs invitingly as Killbilly bares his misshapen teeth, wielding deadly breath and an oversized bottle of bootleg hooch. Olestra, Bubble Rapperz, and Iron Bride Maiden disappear into the ruddy glow of the secret entrance to Megalopolis' home base (soon to be overrun by creepy dot-commies). Captain Independence, in star-spangled pantaloons, shimmering cape, and red feather helmet, stands at attention by the door, exhibiting his lethal sparklers. "Keep your hands to yourself!" he bellows. Indy's a fearless protector of American interests -- specializing in the fields of illegal drug trafficking, weapons of mass destruction, and crude oil -- but sometimes it's a little difficult to tell which side he is really working for. In the superhero game, the lines between good and evil are often blurred. After all, it is the villain who makes the plot line interesting; the hero just has to show up. But (as I am told repeatedly) on the front lines of the battle between good and evil, one's true nature can never remain hidden.

My true nature always tended toward the job of superhero sidekick (all the gadgets and glory; none of the responsibility) but sidekicks apparently have been relegated to some second-rate party down the street, so I plunge into the narrow hallway, emblazoned by the Megalopolis Headquarters logo; there, a pasty-faced Borg and the anti-hero Darkman exchange words under a giant creeping Spider-Man. At the top of the stairs, a costume cop, euphemistically called Positive Reinforcement, issues chirpy, positive citations. Behind him, the dimly lit secret hideaway is wall-to-wall superthingies: Boots, capes, overlarge shoulder pads, blinking wrist guards, magic wands, laser guns, funny-colored hair, funnier-colored skin, utility belts, helmets, crowns, bustiers, and leggings of every possible artificial hue writhe and mingle like the ejecta of a giant kaleidoscopic sneeze.

In a lounge to the left, the silver-coated G-Space Girls -- Geisha Space, G-Spot Space, Gothy Space, Groovy Space, and Glitter Space -- swirl around Captain Jesus and the pacifier-toting Super Sucker. The Wop, a supercenturion with a well-waxed mustache, comes to the aid of a damsel in distress, adding day-glo paint to her mask. "No job too small. No danger too dire," he says as the Bad Egg stumbles into the room to remove his cracked, discolored head. The noxious smell of mustard swirls through the room, and Pirate Cable's upper lip curls ever so sinisterly. To add insult to injury, eG gHeAd, a seemingly low-level villain in a plaid shirt and propellered hat, spams the room with an e-mail chain letter. "Send this to at least ten people or lose your super power," read the small slips of paper pushed into our hands. The Magenta Ninja shrieks at the injustice of it all, and, for a moment, I think there's going to be a showdown. But this is a battle-free zone and, except for the sticky incident between Gaffer Tape Girl and Duct Tape Boy outside the bathroom, most of the guests manage to keep acrimony in check.

On the dance floor, among cartoon wall hangings and flashing lights, superheroes and -villains boogie down in awkwardly tall shoes, unintentionally impaling each other with foam spikes and protruding collars. Stratus, a rocky mountain of a man, leans in a corner bobbing imperceptibly as Magna Mai Tai tries to avoid hitting her enlarged mug-head on the rafters. La-Z-Boy -- a walking, talking all-comfort chair -- hurls himself to the ground shouting, "If you attack, I'll kick back!" He flips up his footrest and offers me a seat. Other supermantras fill the air: Dr. Scholl's "Odorless and dry!" Captain Independence's "Keep your hands to yourself!" Professor Prawn's "I'll krill you!" Hissy Fit's "I don't have time for this!" Super Glue's "All toys will be safe!" Major Scarab's "Bug off!" and Killbilly's "Squeal like a pig!"

But a hush falls as the commanders of Megalopolis -- Positive Reinforcement, with his badge-festooned uniform; the Bird, with his mutant rubber feet; the Aztechno, with his blinking loincloth and animated headdress; the Raving Lunatic, with his glow-stick armor and fuzzy pink backpack; and the statuesque Bride of Konk-It, with her liberty crown and obtrusive breastplate -- gather at the head of the dance floor carrying three luminescent red statues in the form of an upraised fist. It is the much-coveted Gauntlet Award, the highest honor bestowed by Megalopolis. The contenders push to the front of the crowd -- the Root of All Evil, a towering gnarled tuber covered in potato sacks; Stratus, whose muffled rumblings suggest something calamitous is in store if he should walk away defeated; Road Rage, an ornery sort covered in safety lights and tread marks; and Doctor Fudge, a disturbing nightmare in diapers with a shit-dispensing apparatus attached to his butt.

It's no contest: La-Z-Boy gets the first prize; Thunder Nerd, a British hero of foamy proportions with bad teeth and thick glasses, takes second; and Calamity Clit, with her gooey sidekick, Cunnilingus, third. There is villainous grumbling about a fix, but it's quickly silenced under a surge of superhero disco. The superbeings commence to getting down (except for La-Z-Boy, who must get up to bust a rug). I notice Missing Sock Man chatting up a beleaguered housewife through the water-filled washer on his head. A few villains steal off into the dark corners of Megalopolis with yielding heroes in tow. It's an age-old story: Let superheroes have a few drinks, and they'll do just about anything. Thankfully, the hangovers will be brief, and tomorrow, the city can rest comfortably knowing good and evil are again in balance.

About The Author

Silke Tudor

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