“Because Captain Amazing is a bit of a joke,” Sean said with his face looking down at the table in front of him.
Roger understood how difficult that must have been for Sean to admit.
“This is a whole new chapter of my life I’m going to be entering into now,” Sean said. “It calls for a fresh start. That’s why, to go along with being the first true superhero in the world, I’m going to become… Superman.”
“Superman?” Tony said with a laugh that almost made him choke on his second slice of pizza. “You can’t call yourself Superman!”
“Tony’s right…” Roger said. He prepared in his mind what to say next, knowing how much ridicule secretly bothered Sean and not wanting it to sound like that. “DC comics would sue your pants off if you called yourself Superman.”
Sean looked around from face to face for some encouragement.
“Well, I think Superman would work,” Kevin said. “If you worked harder to keep your identity secret, how would they ever sue you?”
“It’s not just a question of how they would,” Ruben said. “Superman stands for doing what’s right. Using a trademarked name illegally… it would just send the wrong message, man!” he said, shaking his head.
“So what do you all recommend?” Sean asked.
“How about a public domain name?” Tony asked. “There are plenty of superhero characters with history almost as old as Superman’s and those names are up for grabs.”
“Oh! Oh! Black Terror! Alan Moore made him rock!” Kevin said, getting excited for the first time since the meeting began.
“I was thinking Stardust,” Tony said. “I was even reading a blog the other day that was claiming the old Stardust character was based on an actual person – the very first of the real life superheroes – back in 1939.”
“Stardust…” Sean said, nodding approvingly. “I like that. It would tie in nicely with how I got my powers too. Very well, from now on you can call me Stardust. Now, onto the second order of business, which I e-mailed everyone about in advance. I need your input to decide how best to use my newfound powers.”
“So that’s why you wanted to know what one thing we would fix in the world if we had superpowers…” Kevin said, as if he only now understood the e-mail from earlier.
“What powers do you have exactly?” Ruben asked.
“Well… I don’t entirely know,” Sean admitted. “I did sort of paralyze the gunman in the store by wishing he would freeze. I’ve also been working out a lot more and I’m stronger and faster than I ever was before. Not at superhuman levels, but I seem to be getting stronger and faster every day. Just this morning, I was lifting 350 lbs at the gym.”
Kevin whistled. “That’s pretty impressive there, Sean,” he said.
“Well, when I thought this was all theoretical,” Tony began, “I was thinking I would end world hunger and Earth’s water shortage.”
“That’s technically two things,” Kevin pointed out.
“Those are great goals,” Sean said, “but, unfortunately, I haven’t exhibited any ability to create food or water – yet.”
“There’s that earthquake that happened yesterday in China,” Ruben said. “I think I read thousands of people got injured by it. They probably need a superhero the most there right now.”
“Haiti is still rebuilding from their earthquake,” Roger added, “and they’re a lot closer to home. Also, if you’re seriously considering leaving the country to help out overseas, you could always just join the Peace Corps.”
“Good point, Rog,” Sean said. “As a matter of fact, I did apply to volunteer with them already, but I’m bothered by the fact that they’ll decide where to send me and what they’ll ask me to do. What if they fail to make the most use of what I can do? That’s why I want a back-up plan, in case I have to go out on my own.”
“I picked Somalia,” Kevin said. “Two words. Fighting. Pirates.”
There were several “ooo”s that escaped from the men sitting or standing around the table, including Sean. “Oh, that’s a good one,” he admitted. “I like that. I’ll consider all your suggestions and get back to you.”
There was still plenty of time left for a heated debate about who was the best Green Lantern ever before Tony called the meeting adjourned. As Kevin was throwing out the pizza box and Ruben was re-bagging the Green Lantern and Blackest Night comic books that were under discussion, Tony caught Sean’s attention.
“Look,” Tony said in a lower than usual voice, though still loud enough for anyone to hear, “I was going to ask Captain Amazing to look into this for me, but maybe this is a job Stardust could do for me too. Someone’s been stealing comic books from the store. Some good ones too. I lost a copy of Brave and the Bold #43 just last week.”
“Was that the first issue of Hawkman’s tryout series?” Sean asked.
“No, the second one, but it was still worth $80. Can you look into it?”
Sean thought about how little luck he had finding his stolen motorcycle these past two weeks, but said, “Sure, this sounds like a job for Stardust.”
Sean did not bother to put his mask back on as Roger and he walked out to Roger’s car. Sean talked about the comic book thief half the way back home.