Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hughes High: Time After Time

No matter what you think of him personally, Matthew Orenthal's newest release, The Forgotten Kings of America, has caused a lot of discussion in the media. It doesn't matter whether you believe him or not. The book is a NYT bestseller #1 for four weeks running. Recently released from Lockdown, he was holed up in a posh Highrock hotel waiting for interviews. I'm not sure what a time traveler is supposed to look like, but he looked very normal to me.

Orenthal claims to be the villain known as Stopwatch, a time traveler from the future trying to put the world back the right way. His book detailed his various capers, from his multiple attempts to assassinate Hitler to running automatic weapons to the Confederates during the Civil War. In his book, he claims that an organization known as the Continuum has thwarted his attempts to remake the time stream into his own image.

"I realized early on that the Continuum was an organization of temporal fascists," he said as I asked him about his nemesis. "They have one very specific timeline in mind and any deviancy from it is crushed quickly and efficiently."

Stopwatch has tussled with the heavyweights like Pendragon and the Guardians, and down to the small fries like Abe 2.0. The Continuum's interference has kept his name out of the limelight.

"I wrote this book as non-fiction, but their interference put it into the fiction section. Either way, these stories had to be told. They can't destroy me, but they can discredit me."

One of Orenthal's most shocking opinions is that the Event was engineered by the Continuum as a major threat to their monopoly on the time stream. He claims to have been there as Stopwatch.

"All of the world's biggest masks in one place at one time? What better place to eliminate your biggest threat than in one fell swoop."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hughes High: Lay of the Land

First off, a welcome to the new readers of this blog. I never expected it to be a big deal, but apparently being a keynote speaker after Prodigal gives you an unexpected Q bump. I hope you find this blog informative, entertaining, and possibly even a bit nostalgic. The Eighties were a unique time for superheroes, and Hughes High was a unique place for superheroes.

Since this is my first blog with a national audience, I think it's a good time to talk about the city of Muellerburg a bit more. The students at Hughes High patrolled and pummelled in the neighborhoods here, so if I talk about the Bankhearst Commons Mall, I want you to have an idea of where that is. Muellerburg was a different city in the 80's. Since it was not targeted by Omnus during the Event, the city reorganized thanks to the refugees that never returned home once cities like New York and Los Angeles were replace by Empire City and San Angelos.

Bankhearst: The affluent suburb of the 80's. Bankhurst reached its peak as the yuppies moved west and built subdivisions to shelter themselves from the world. The Bankhearst Mall was the hangout destination for Hughes High teens and their shopping.
Downtown: the financial center of the city. Largely empty on the weekends, the center of town was home to the larger corporations that had offices in Muellerburg. Hughes High was technically part of this district, even though it resides on an artificial island in Lake Michigan.
Merton: What once was a rural community was turned into a commercial district with the opening of General Walter Mitchum Airport, later renamed Jack Jupiter Memorial Airport. The main streets were lined with hotels, restaurants, and things to do. But head outside those main drags for a few blocks, and you were back to old farmhouses and rusted tractors.
Rustville: The northwest side of Muellerburg was the heart of its industry, which took a severe blow thanks to the rise of importing products. Rustville soon became a neighborhood where the poor and disenfranchised were swept too. They were often distrustful of outsiders, and groups like the Street Sentinels made ths problem worse.
Southlake: The section of town between Merton and downtown maintained its middle class feel. The story goes that there is a pub on every street corner in Southlake. This section of town was where the Muellerburg Sentinels played their games at Southeast Stadium. Thanks to the bad record the Sentiels had throughout the decade, the area around the stadium suffered as well.
Seville: The buffer between Bankhearst and downtown. Seville evolved into a middle-class neighborhood in the 80's. It struggled with a rise in crime as well as the loss of tax revenue. But it also became the rare place where different classes would meet and drink together.
Weissberg: Many of the rural familes displaced by Bankhearst's expansion moved north of the city. While it wasn't incorporated until the 90's, Wiessberg gave rise to the awful local epithet 'Weiss-trash' to indicate someone was of poor upbringing and education.

This will do for now, as there were other, smaller neighborhoods that grew up and eclipsed these conclaves. I grew up in Seville and even moved to Partridge Street when I first started at the paper. Partridge Street was a section of downtown that was made up of students going to the local state university. It was also a haven for the hippies that had been hiding out since Woodstock. Moonbeam Monroe, an art teacher at Hughes High, even lived in my building for a while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hughes High: Fatal Lessons

While Hughes High was started to teach young people how to use their powers responsibly, many of the hardest lessons learned were outside the walls. One of the biggest masks to terrorize the students was the mercenary Sure Shot.

From the beginning, Sure Shot didn't play by the rules other cloaks did. He wasn't big on speeches or grandstanding. He didn't have high-tech robots or minions. He was just an angry young man with a gun. He also had been trained by the Scarlet Shortbow, as prison records released to the public peg him as Gary Connor, the young man known as the sidekick, Shaft. Their relationship was savaged in the press, implicating not only a homosexual love affair, but one between a fourteen yoear old boy and a thirty-three year old man. The Shortbow's career was ruined, and Shaft disappeared until the late 70's, when he began targeting students at Hughes High.

Sure Shot was connected with many deaths and injuries to students, but in the 80's his tactics took an interesting turn. No longer content with attacking students, he began to teach lessons to them. These lessons were hard decisions that their heroes would make. Save the bus or save the parents. While Punchline perfected these moral quandaries in the 90's, Sure Shot was one of the first to challenge students and make them realize what having powers really meant.

Sure Shot's whereabouts are currently unknown. After becoming infected with the Mercy virus, his behavior became more erratic. It is unknown if he was involved in the Event or if he was able to resist the Mercy Wave that summoned everyone that had ever become infected to sacrifice themselves at Ayers Rock.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hughes High: A Brief History of Time

(Editor's note: With the passing of Signal Editor Emeritus Jack Massey, Ron was unable to contribute a column this week due to close friendship with Jack. This weeks column is a bit of a history refresher, excerpted from Signal Magazine, week ending October 13, 2002)

You can hardly imagine that Masks have nearly been around as long as
the motor car or color motion pictures. For those of you that slept
through history class, here's a brief capsule history of our
relationship with superheroes and super villains.

1920-1934: Rumors and wild stories filter into the public
consciousness of masked mystery men and women stopping petty crimes
and cracking down on bootlegging mobs.

1935: The Gargoyle brings about the end of Boss Carruthers' control
of Hudson City Hall. He deposits the crime lord on the steps of the
Hudson Times newspaper. This is the first and only time the
Gargoyle is seen by the public.

1937: The Rocket, sporting a high-tech jet pack and two sliver .45
pistols, thwarts a Nazi spy ring in Southern California. Soon
afterwards, newspapers around the world are flooded with stories of
people with unusual abilities on both sides of the law.

1939: Knowing the situation in Europe is boiling beyond control,
American scientists begin working on a chemical formula to give to
its allies to combat the Nazis. Both Hitler and Stalin have already
begun research in their own "super-men" programs.

1941: A paranormal population explosion. The Americans field
Captain Patriot, the Rocket, and Junior Jet. Britain stops the
Luftwaffe by the timely first appearance of Pendragon. The Germans
are led by Ironwing, Valkyrie and Victor Von BludBann.

1943: Valkyrie joins the Allies and helps turn the tide in the war.
Rumors persist of romance between her and the young Pendragon.

1945: The end of WWII with the surrender of Ironwing after the
destruction of Onikaze with two atomic bombs. Malice is rewarded by
the Soviets with a dictatorship he calls Roldavia. Jack Massey, the
only suriving member of the Platoon that aided Captain Patriot's
siege on a Nazi atomic rocket, becomes The All-American Kid.

1950-1962: The Salad days of Capedom. First appearance of the
Champions, the Fists of Justice, the Honor well as the
Dastardly Dozen, The Red Hand, and VIPER.

1962: Senator Joseph McCarthy launches a second HUAC committee,
this time targeting the superhero community. The first "black
magic" trials single out mystic heroes but soon expand into
other "unsavory" activities. The Scarlet Archer and his sidekick
Shaft are forced to retire after the implication is made their
relationship is not strictly a professional one.

1964: Captain Patriot is thought to be killed in Vietnam, but
resurfaces two years later. In a growing response to more
paranormals battling on its home soil, the US government begins
equipping National Guard posts with high-tech weaponry to both help
subdue supervillains until a superhero arrives and to take them to a
holding facility after the battle. This branch eventually becomes
its own agency, commonly known as "The Guard".

1966: Signal Magazine, a magazine about superheroes, is founded by
the now-retired Jack Massey.

1967: Professor Power makes his first appearance.

1969: Man walks on the moon and discovers a black monolith beacon on
the darkside. Soon, alien races begin to contact the Earth's
denizens. Some are peaceful. Others are not.

1972: With the aid of the best and brightest scientists and
ambassadors from Alpha Centauri, The United Nations begins the
Science Initiative of Supernatural Technology, Education and
Research (SISTER). SISTER researches the origins of supernatural
beings, catalogs powers, and tries to apply breakthroughs to the
common good.

1974: Zinger, the famous speedster and self-proclaimed "Fastest Woman
Out of Mercy High next to Betty Kowalski", appears in Chicago.

1976: The Silhouette makes her precence knwon by stopping an assassination attempt by the Red Hand on Michael Albright, a
candidate for Senate. Albright, the former Professor Power, is
elected to the Senate representing California. He is the first
paranormal is that level of government and makes "Power to the
People" an Election year catchphrase.

1978: Roboto makes his first appearance.

1981: The City of San Fransisco help to pay for Champions manor
after the Champions save the city from a shapeshifting alien race.

1985: Punchline appears to torment heroes across the world. He
offers to sell the secret identities of the worlds greatest heroes
for a million dollars per identity. He then promptly turns the
buyers over to the police, including Alaric Krueger...but disappears
with the money, saying he hasn't learned the identities yet.

1987: While on trial for attempting to destroy Houston with am army
made of the animated dead, the Seventh Sorceror makes a shocking
revelation. Many of the mystic heroes operating in the world came
to him looking for power and he created them. The mystics deny
these allegations but an underlying current of mistrust and
prejudice wells up. Silhouette disappears after the Sorceror
implies "improper" sacrifices were taken by her to achieve her
power over shadow.

1993: Zinger becomes the star of her own network show. While it is
a moderate hit, prouction is rarely stopped for her superheroic
duties. Lady Malice eliminates her father and takes over rule of Roldavia.

1995: Mercy hijacks the Champions Manor and downloads the contents
of the computer into his cerebral matrix. He sets out to hunt all
the heroes in the database.

1999: Omnus arrives over New York City. He decimates the Big Apple
and makes a single offer. Join him or die.

January 1st, 2000: Silhouette returns and chastises both Pendragon
and the Seventh Sorcerer for not working together to stop this
threat that's bigger then both of them. She then is somehow able to
stop Omnus's assault of London. She is not seen again.

January 19, 2000: The entire paranormal community converges on Ayers
Rock in the Austailian Outback to settle the matter. Some have
allied with Pendragon and the Sorceror. Others with Omnus. This
day, known as the Event, was a 48 hour battle that could be heard
around the world. When the dust settled, only Senator Albright
returns from the scene. To this day, he has not told anyone what
happened, only that everything is taken care of.

2001: VIPER resurges and attempts to take control of the White
House. A new breed of heroes rises up to stop them, including
Pinnacle, and Purple Haze.

2002: More and more supernaturals are arising, unbound by tradition
and unguided by those masks that have come before. Will they lead
us into a Silver Age?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hughes High: Absense of Malice

Roldavia has always been a tumultuous country. Even those people that aren't a fan of history or current events could tell you what was happening in Roldavia. Whether you speak of its time under the iron fisted rule of Malice, the late Cold War chess games played by his heirs, or its current state as a free haven for capes and masks of any type, any student of history and its relation to superhumans will discuss Roldavia. Of course, Roldavia has the distinction of being the first sovereign nation ruled by a costumed superhuman.

Malice was allegedly active as a secret super during World War II. While the Allies and Axis powers made big displays of their capes, encouraging patriotic names like Captain Patriot and Das Eisenfaust, most of the men and women manifesting powers in Russia found their way into dirty government work. If his own tales can be believed, Malice was Stalin's right hand man, kept close to his vest when the war with America would need him to lead his country into battle. Malice first appeared to the general public in the early 1950's. Clad in his battlesuit, he defeated Captain Patriot time and time again, only to to have the Greatest American Hero take the fight to him as the Soviets expanded their influence over what would come to be known as the Eastern Bloc.

"Malice was a real son-of-a-gun," said Jack Massey in an early Signal Magazine interview. "That's not to say that any of the German masks we fought during the war were walks in the park. But whenever we'd see that red suit clanking towards us, we knew we were going to be sore for the next few days."

Malice and the Patriot would stay on this course of tit-for-tat one-upsmanship until it was revealed that Premier Ivan Brakov, dictator-for-life of recently-renamed Roldavia, were one in the same on March 18, 1953. Many cape conspiracy theorists believe that Patriot and Malice had a secret meeting shortly after this revelation, and Patriot left Malice alone, so long as he did not directly interfere with American interests.

Malice had two children during his time as Premier of Roldavia. His son, Piotr, has forgone a flashy life in the public eye. He was often the target of other cloaks' schemes and found himself a kidnapping victim or worse. His whereabouts are unknown today. Rumors suggest that he was a participant in the Event, stopping the final plot of his sister.

That sister, whose full name is Dahlia Romanov Sabrinski Illyitch Brakov, is more often called by her mask name: Lady Malice. Her alluring beauty (despite the loss of an eye in a mysterious incident) and her forceful personality made her one of the stars of the pre-Event mask culture.

What few of her fans and detractors remember was her time at Hughes High. Lady Malice, calling herself Black Dahlia at the time, led Varsity for a time and dated many of the prominent heroes from the school. Some suggested she was a spy acquiring information for her father. Others suggested just the opposite, that she, like many fellow communists, wanted a taste of the American lifestyle, and that acting as the Roldovian ambassador to the school was the best way she knew how to escape. Was the time at school responsible for her declaration of mask sovereignty when she wrested control away from her father?

I saw her once at Glitterdance. She was striking even then, and was shooting down boys left and right. Somehow, in my teenage mind, it didn't faze me. She had turned everyone else down; why would she say yes to me.

But she did.

It still amazes me to this day that I danced to "99 Luftballoons" with one of the most powerful women in the world.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hughes High: Studying Abroad

Most kids growing up in the 80's spent at least one summer wishing they could go to SpaceCamp. Before the Challenger Incident, astronaut was still considered one of the prestigious jobs that young and old alike looked up to. This was long before cross-country love triangles and duct tape. I even spent a summer down at Muellerburg School of Engineering building rockets.

Of course, for the kids at Hughes high, there was something above and beyond even those lofty aspirations. Starmada was a collection of supers from across the galaxy. Threats to peace and justice existed on a cosmic scale, and the best and brightest donned the famous uniform to combat those threats. When the Aldrin Monolith was activated, it became only a matter of time before Earth was asked to contribute to the peace.

Earth's most famous member of Starmada was Commander Nova. Astronaut Carl Washington, one of the first black men in the space program, volunteered to test an experimental craft built from an alien design. The craft's advanced drives malfunctioned, and Washington found himself drawn to a star ready to explode. But the activation of the craft's engines altered Washington, allowing him to absorb the explosion and return to Earth. When the time came to send someone to serve in Starmada, Washington, then calling himself Lieutenant Nova, volunteered.

Nova felt it was important for heroes to get a larger perspective of their responsibilities, so when his patrol would require members, he would often recruit from Earth first. Many students signed on for short hitches during the summers. Why spend your summer working at a fast food joint when you could be guarding a galactic envoy? Nova also became an advocate for civil rights amongst the cape community, amazed that species warring with one another for centuries could serve on a patrol squad.

When Starmada refused to aid Earth before the Event, Nova disobeyed his orders and made a stand with his patrol members as well as a few other friends and foes at the Aldrin Monolith, hoping to stop Omnus. The fuzzy images of Omnus during the battle were some of the first images that we saw of the creature. With his sacrifice, Admiral Nova (posthumously promoted) allowed the world just those few extra hours of preparation.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hughes High: Stanley Schuster: 1921-2007

I'm sure anyone that reads this column saw the funeral yesterday. If you don't know who he was, or why so many people showed up, let me break it down for you.

Stanley Schuster was a 21-year old man that signed up for OPERATION:STAR-SPANGLED in 1942. At the time, there was a real fear that Germany's beliefs about their superhumans were right. Allied heroes seemed to be created by accident, while a new hero for the Axis seemed to show up every week. We know now that it was all part of Hitler's propaganda machine, but the powers that be were very worried. They started the first serious study of superpowers and how to get them. In many ways, STAR-SPANGLED was the grandfather of both the GUARD and S.I.S.T.E.R. The test subjects were exposed to a variety of stimuli, ranging from radioactive animal bites to injections of strange formulas.

The most famous of these subjects became Captain Patriot. While the others weren't exactly washouts (except, of course, for the ones that banded together in the military unit that many consider to be a precursor to the modern super team known as The Washouts.), most of them developed abilities that weren't exactly useful on the battlefield. Stanley, for example, was struck blind by the injections he received, but gained an uncanny sense of touch. He could read newspapers by touch and could tell the colors of your tie by holding it.

After the war, Stanley started a small tailor shop in New York. He soon found himself serving a very peculiar clientele. Supers on both sides of the law came to him to help make and maintain their costumes. While not every memorable costume came from Stanley's fingers, it was hard to forget the ones that he did. Stanley gave Jack Jupiter his golden cape and Seventh Sorcerer his emerald glasses. Stanley's studio was one of the few places where cape and cloak could go and know they would be safe. The few supers that violated the unspoken sanctuary soon found themselves fighting Stanley's friends on both sides of the law.

Schuster passed away in his sleep last Tuesday. The funeral was one of the largest gatherings of masks since the Event and it was full of memorable moments. I know I watched the whole affair with a tear in my eye. Who knows, maybe some old enemies buried hatchets?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hughes High: Hard Knocks

Not all of the teenagers that came out of Hughes High went onto careers as do-gooders and capes. In fact, a few of them started on the wrong side of the tracks and never really crossed to the other side. Whenever an organization thinks about restarting Hughes High or something of a similar nature, these are often the names that get used to shoot the idea down.

The most famous cloak team in its day was ARCADE. Even though it did not have Hughes High students as members, it clashed with various teams all throughout the 80's. For awhile, ARCADE was even seen as cool 'anti-heroes' and their merchandise became a hot seller. Even after the Astro-BOOM! caper, where thousands of video game cartridges were programed with mind control screens, ARCADE merchandise was popular for those that followed the super-scene but wanted to be on edge. Many also consider it the theme-team of the decade, with such names as Player Two, Cartridge, Zapper, Bison Kong, and Leaper.

The Myth-Fits began as a group of escaped experiments of the infamous Atlantian scientist (and later Ambassador of Mu) Dr. Korbana. He kidnapped human children and genetically redesigned them to have the powers of of various mythical creatures. While they escaped his lab, in the early days they often turned to crime to survive. Eventually, many of the members were sent to Hughes High instead of prison, and the team expanded to include mystics and other outcasts.

A group that skated the line between good and evil were The Street Sentinels. Krush Groove's vigilantism definitely made faculty advisors sweat. The Sentinels were more likely to bring down a drug kingpin than a VIPER nest. This often brought them into conflicts with other capes, since the capes usually got the press. A few members also had more militant views on crime and criminals, especially repeat offenders like cloaks often are. Fights sometime broke out between the Sentinels and teams that ended up on their 'turf', letting cloaks escape in the process.

Finally, the most infamous group of Hughes High students were The Dropouts. The name is even a bit dishonest, as many of the teens that came and went never saw the inside of Hughes High. One of the main reasons why so few teens were expelled from the school was that it was a sure-fire way to send that child to the dark side. The few teens that were kicked out of Hughes High generally ended up on this team at some point. The sad thing about the Dropouts is their durability. The most recent edition showed up last year, under the guidance of Sure Shot.

I remember Silverwing and Vorpal facing off on top of the bus that I took to school. The Silver Sentinels had caught The Dropouts trying to sabotage Glitterdance and the fight spread out over the city. Putty and Goober stretched each other to a stand still. Krush Groove and Winterfist turned the Bankridge Mall into a dojo. Silerwing drew Vorpal across the rooftops, trying to keep himself out of the way of Vorpal's dimensional claws. I felt them both impact on the roof of the bus, saw Vorpal's claws slash through the roof, and almost had a chance to take a Silverang home.

Ultimately, an institution like Hughes High is a tool. Good kids and bad kids both went there. Some of them turned out better than others. But there were probably just as many kids that went to sleep at night dreaming about the Dropouts as there were about Varsity.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hughes High: Extra Curricular

While Hughes High did not have sports teams, they did have something unique to the school that most of the jocks at my school would have gladly been covered in toxic waste to try and join. While winning the state championship might get someone on the front page of the sports section, being part of a school-sponsored super team gets them on the Tonight Show. The school had no shortage of both official and unofficial teams, not to mention several heroes working together on Big League teams around the world.

When Hughes High was still know as Project: Superyouth, most of the teams were formed as necessary and dissolved just as quickly. When Principal Dorcas took over the school, he formalized the process a bit. School-sanctioned teams required the sponsorship of a faculty member. While the faculty assumed responsibility for the team's actions, that didn't stop teams from ending up with a tongue lashing from the principal.

Unsanctioned teams were often pressured into finding a sponsor on staff. While ad hoc teams were generally forgiven for operating outside school, ones that seemed to continue to work together often got more trouble from the students. Some captains of Varsity took it upon themselves to 'punish' unsanctioned teams, while the unsanctioned teams often saw the sanctioned teams as a perfect example of why they didn't want to be official in the first place. The conflict between school ties and teenage friendships often caused problems that spilled out into the streets.

One of the advantages of being sanctioned was that the administration of the school generally came down on that side even if the sanctioned group had started the trouble. Unsanctioned teams often had to peddle for support amongst the cape community. Some heroes preferred operation on their own, as it was often a baptism of fire to the trials and tribulations capes go went through in their public lives.

The most famous sanctioned team was Varsity. Varsity was generally sponsored by whomever is considered the most senior staff member. This was often a point of contention amongst the staff members themselves. The team traditionally was made of two squads of 4. One squad, usually with the most popular members, was considered the main squad, and the other squad was considered the back up squad. While a few members resented being on the backup squad, most were just grateful to get a spot. Having a spot on Varsity virtually guaranteed a minimum of one year on a major superteam. Most of the members were juniors or seniors, with sophomores a rarity and freshmen unheard of.

On the other end of the spectrum was Detention. This team, while sponsored by a teacher, was thought to have been overseen by Principal Dorcas himself. It had a very unstable membership base, as it was generally made up of students that had fouled up elsewhere and were often sent on extra missions as punishment. Detention was primarily used in the defense of Hughes High, but also was sent on missions no other student wanted, such as the protection of "Senator Albright" during his campaign for the RSHHA.

Other teams came and went. Some of them were formed by the friendships that come from high school. Some were formed by faculty looking to get out of the office and crack some heads again. Two of the more active teams I remember from my youth were The Silver Sentinels and Hecate's Heroes.

Silverwing started the Sentinels his freshmen year and for a while, they were rivals with Varsity in terms of popularity and effectiveness. When the team suddenly disbanded, rumors flew ranging from one too many clashes with Squire to a falling out between Silverwing and Krush Groove. Groove would go on to form the Street Sentinels, an unsanctioned team clearly modeled on his previous team. When I interviewed him for his spotlight article, I asked Silverwing if this was one of the things that led to his retirement as a cape. "No," he said, "but I often wonder if things with Squire would have been different if we would have talked more with our brains than our fists."

Hecate's Heroes were an all mystical team, generally sponsored by the Mystics faculty member. The name originally stemmed from a joke in the Muellerburg Sentinel referring to Hecate in a manner similar to Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes. The press was leaning heavily upon mystic heroes, and Hecate claimed to be unaware of the shady dealings going on within the OTH involving Watergate. She started the team that would bear her name both to give a positive focal point for mystic activity, as well as to teach mystic heroes that they were protecting a world that often didn't want their protection. After her death at the hands of the Seventh Sorceror, the team kept the name in honor of her.

Next week, I'll talk about some of the most famous adversaries of Hughes High students, including its most infamous unsanctioned teams; The Dropouts.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hughes High: The Homecoming Queen Has A Plasma Rifle

One of the driving forces behind Hughes High was providing teenagers with superpowers as close to a normal high school experience as possible. While not every power was useful, the fact that every student had powers let life inside the walls settle into something that we could recognize. For example, there were cliques. There was a drama club. Copies of the school paper, "the Watchdog", are now highly sought by cape collectors. In fact, the only thing that Hughes High couldn't really give students were athletics.

The school had a mascot (three, actually), but no football, baseball, or swim teams. This often caused problems with athletic students that transferred in after developing powers. Students and parents often campaigned for programs, but the issues were always the same. Other schools didn't want their students competing with superhumans. Who wants to swim in a swim meet where half the competition is from Atlantis and the other is from the waterworld Sedaron 7? But if the school had all the typical trappings of a regular high school, what did the jocks do when they weren't trying to chat up the girls from Royalty or stuffing the Brains into their lockers?

Most students with a competitive edge tried out for one of the many superteams that the school fielded. The most famous is Varsity, who staged something of a reunion during The Event. But don't forget the others: The Freshmen, Detention, The Science Club, The Dropouts, and so on. That's not counting the 'unofficial' teams or the ones started by Hughes High alumni. (At least 3 members of The Bad Seeds have matching class rings.) Many teams would recruit out of the Hughes High teams when they went looking for new members. Many members of Varsity have gone on to both prestigious teams and solo success. But even this solution had a few problems. Part of the allure of sports was the socialization. Football games were as much about the players playing as they were for the other students to have someplace to go on a Friday night. And while many of Hughes High's proms were legendary, they never held a homecoming dance on-site.

Hughes High homecomings were always held in cooperation with local schools. The schools opted to be put into the drawing for the events. The school that hosted the homecoming got a big boost to their budget for that year. Smart administrators often stretched out the windfall for a few years before submitting to the lottery. Every school in the state submitted at least once. Of course, the dangers involved kept conservative administrators away. Malice used the opportunity in 1972 to replace every living being in the Bankridge Academy gymnasium with a Dopple-Destroyer robot. In the 25 years that the school was able to hold dances, 5 of them caused some sort of damage to the host school. And that's not counting the disastrous debut of Ringmaster and his Robozos in 1991.

Students were eligible for court but few were ever elected to court. The glaring exception is Savior-Flare, who was homecoming queen three of her four years at Hughes High. She chose not to run senior year. It was a good chance for both sides to see how the other half lived, or even to give someone that grew in to their powers a chance to feel like a regular kid again for a night.

Of course, my real alma mater was the one school out of the district that was in the running every year and was never chosen. I cite this as my number one reason for never making out with a super hero.