Monday, May 29, 2006

Hughes High: Power to the People

The thing that strikes you about Michael Albright when you first meet him is how normal he looks. He has a warm face with too many lines from the California sun. He walks with the practiced measure of someone that has dealt with disability for the majority of his or her life. He says please and thank you to the waitress at the coffee house. He also is the only known survivor of the Event, and has known many names as a cape throughout his career.

"I wanted to be a teacher, with the elbow pads and a pipe," he says as the waitress sets down our order. "I was going to be one of those new professors that let you call them by their first name and sat cross-legged on his desk. I guess I still could be, but my career in public service called."

Most people get into public service by running for Alderman or volunteering for an election. Albright chased after a meteor that landed in a nearby field and discovered the last Scion of the Okava. The Okava was drawn to Earth by the Aldrin Monolith and passed his powers to Albright. He was given control over the cosmic power of the stars, as he was now their final guardian.

"I thought the best place to start was at home," Albright said. "Of course, I probably should have waited for the buzz to wear off before I designed that costume. I even made into Superhype's 100 Worst Costumes Ever."

Professor Power debuted in 1969. He flew everywhere to hide his identity and the facts that his legs were severely damaged by a car accident when he was 6. He was looked upon as a hippie. Established heroes ignored him because of his laid-back demeanor and the government was afraid the counter-culture would rally around him. He rechristened himself several times and found the most success as The Living Power through the early 70's. But Albright felt that he was not doing enough

"It didn't make sense to me how punching Dr. Deathtrap through a wall would bring about real, lasting change," he said. "The system is there for a reason."

Albright found inspiration in our very own Rudolph J. Mueller, aka The Silver Sentinel. After giving up his cape after World War II, Mueller was drawn into local politics and became one of the longest tenured mayors in the United States.

Albright won a Senate seat in 1976, holding it ever since. While he runs as a Democrat, he is the standard bearer for anyone calling themselves a moderate. He introduced the bill that brought Stronghold into existence and has done a lot to protect superheroes from litigation and public scrutiny. Albright is also a staunch opponent of superhero regulation.

"These guys put their lives on the line every day," he said, and the laid-back demeanor fades for a moment. "The last thing we need to do is have them stand in line, put all of their secret identities in a big list so VIPER can steal them. They wear masks for a reason. Nobody likes going to the DMV. Can you imagine what sort of bureaucratic nightmare a Department of Super Powers line would be?"

Albright still has his share of masks to fight. He was one of the most famous members of the Senate Committee that tried the Seventh Sorceror and was the only confirmed living being to come out of Ayers Rock alive. His most recent re-election campaign was his most brutal. His opponent, Vanessa Krueger-Kensington, implied that Albright used his powers to influence the public as well as his colleagues in Congress.

"My powers don't work like that," Albright said with a laugh. "Vanessa's campaign was very shrewd. She never actually said it, so I never had to deny it, but it planted the seed of doubt in some voter's minds. I'm sure her father would be proud."

Many cape fans wonder if we will be seeing President Power in 2008. Albright shrugged.

"I'll go wherever the people take me. They are the true power in this country."