What's This All About?

"Metro City Chronicles" is an ongoing series of superhero fiction. I've been working on it since early 2009, the first story was posted here in March of that year, and I hope to keep working on it 'til I finish it -- and yes, I do have an endgame mapped out for the whole thing.

The stories are set in Metro City, a large metropolitan area of approximately seven million people, located in an unspecified state and location, likely in the Northeast. The city is home to over a dozen different superheroes -- none of them are officially affiliated with any superteams, but they all work together very closely.

Other background elements? Well, obviously, it's a world where superpowers, superheroes, and supervillains exist outside of just comics, TV, and the movies. The first costumed crimefighters appeared in the 1930s, but history there has played out pretty much like ours -- mostly the same leaders, mostly the same wars, mostly the same pop stars. Does it mean temporal patterns are difficult to alter? Does it mean a higher power is mapping out the progress of our universes? Or does it mean that it happens this way because it usually happens this way in comics?

I started writing this partly because I've always enjoyed superheroes, and partly because the last few years have left me deeply dissatisfied with the state of the comics industry. I'm tired of reading comics that are not fun or entertaining, that wallow in truly gratuitous violence and death, that celebrate barely civilized attitudes about women and minorities, that seem to be written solely by and for white males who never managed to mature beyond fourth grade. I decided if I couldn't read comics I'd really enjoy, maybe it was time to start writing them instead.

So how 'bout it? You want to read some stories?

Stories? I Want to Read Stories!

Here are the stories making up the series:

  1. Atlas and the World
  2. Atlas Drugged
  3. Atlas Returns
  4. Atlas Underground
  5. Star Treatment
  6. Star Search
  7. Star Observer
  8. Hybrid Vigor
  9. Hybrid Amok
  10. Hybrid Identity
  11. Gamma Blast
  12. Gamma Whirled
  13. Gamma Time
  14. New Squid on the Block
  15. L.A. Squid
  16. Release the Kraken!
  17. Hazy Shade of Winter
  18. Ice Screams
  19. Winter Olympians
  20. Express Delivery
  21. Trouble Express
  22. Spaceship Express
  23. Cobra Strike!
  24. Castle Cobra
  25. Chrome Princess
  26. Calypso Dawn
  27. Calypso High
  28. Calypso Blossoms
  29. Curse of the Defender
  30. A Nightmare on Defender Street
  31. Scream, Defender, Scream!
  32. Gearbox Activated
  33. Gearbox Overloaded
  34. Gearbox Demolished
  35. Phantastic Phantasmo
  36. Phantasmo High
  37. Phantasmo Menace
  38. Phantasmo Diablo
  39. Oh Come, Oh Come, Polyphemus
  40. Polyphemus the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  41. God Rest Ye Merry, Polyphemus
  42. The Penitent Man Will Pass
  43. The Penitent Man Will Serve
  44. The Penitent Man Will Struggle
  45. The Penitent Man Will Rise
  46. Hot Rod Lincoln
  47. Life Is a Highway
  48. Dead Man's Curve
  49. Fly Me to the Moon
  50. The Silver Stones of the City
  51. The Silver Spire of the Mind
  52. The Silver Shards of Madness
  53. The Silver Strings of Life
  54. And more to come!

Plus there's also It's a Wrap!, a theoretical "final chapter" for the series. It may or may not be canon.

How Can I Tell All These People Apart?

Let's meet our main characters, shall we?

Atlas - Former member of the Assembly of Order. He's got classic superhero powers -- he's superstrong and bulletproof, and he can fly. He's a Hispanic man, mid-40s, a towering 6' 10" with a stereotypical superhero physique. He's married, and his three kids all appear to have inherited his powers.

His costume is a red and white bodysuit with an oversized red and silver helmet, gloves, shoulder-guards, and boots, along with a stylized silver "A" breastplate on his chest and a long white cape.

Calypso - One of Metro City's newest superheroes, she's superstrong, bulletproof, and is able to fly -- very similar to her father, Atlas, though she is only about half as strong as he is. She is 16 years old, 5'4" tall, attractive with an average build and straight brown hair.

Calypso wears a red and black bodysuit and a black leather jacket, with a cowl that leaves her mouth and nose uncovered but hides her hair.

The Chrome Cobra - The unofficial leader of the Metro City heroes, the Chrome Cobra may not be the best known superhero among the general public (she actually tries to stay out of the public eye as much as possible), but among other superheroes, she is considered the big favorite. She's an absolute professional, even if she's also an obsessed control freak. She's earned acclaim within the hero community as a nearly unstoppable badass, able to take down full teams of supervillains singlehandedly.

She wears a suit of powered armor that isn't as massive and overpowering as most battlesuit heroes, but she makes up for the smaller size with higher maneuverability, low-level superstrength, hard-light weaponry projected from her gloves, and her own natural agility and master-level fighting skills.

The Cobra is about 5'8" tall. She wears green and yellow powered armor with plenty of chrome silver highlights. Her large metal boots contain flight jets, while her gloves have light-emitting panels to create her weapons. She wears a full-face mask with a cobra-hood design and small goggles.

Daffodil - You should actually avoid calling Daphne Diller "Daffodil." She really doesn't like the nickname. And you should avoid calling her a superhero -- as she tells everyone, she isn't a superhero, she's a private investigator. Sure, she has superpowers -- namely, she's completely invulnerable to all damage -- but that doesn't mean she's a superhero. Superheroes work for free, and Daphne Diller expects her clients to pay up promptly. If only she could keep the other Metro City superheroes from dragging her off to fight evil...

Daphne is an African-American woman in her upper-20s, about 5'7", with short dreadlocks. She doesn't wear a superhero costume. Didn't you hear she isn't a superhero?

Defender - If you want a crisis defused with as little violence as possible, you call on Defender, who wears a supersuit stocked full of nonlethal weaponry. Aside from durability and a minor dose of superstrength, Defender's equipment includes neural stun pulse gloves, glue traps, energy nets, and subliminal pacification burstcasts. She can also fly and dispense a regenerative gel for simple first aid.

Defender is 5'5" tall. Her armor is blue, white, and silver, with a blue and white helmet with a reflective silver faceplate. Her entire outfit glows brightly.

The Express - Derek Battle is a mutant with superspeed powers. He isn't the fastest man on Earth, but he is able to run several thousand miles per hour. Though he operates under the codename "Express," he doesn't have a secret identity -- he publishes his real name in the phone book to make it easy for anyone who needs help to contact him.

Express is an African-American man in his upper-20s, six feet tall, with a weightlifter's physique, a close-trimmed beard, and a shaved bald head. He wears a dark green and black bodysuit with red trim, short sleeves, a cowl, and goggles.

Gamma Girl - One of Metro City's newest heroes is a radioactive heroine who doesn't have a secret identity because she had such a public origin and debut. Renee Windler was a cancer patient receiving radiation therapy when an encounter with a radiation-blasting supervillain gave her blue skin, white hair, and extensive radiation/heat powers.

Gamma Girl is 5'6" tall and wears a blue and white bodysuit with a white metallic belt, cuff-top boots and gloves, and a logo with the letters "GG" inside an atomic symbol. She's married and has two daughters.

Gearbox - The closest thing Metro City has to a renegade superhero is Gearbox. He's a robot, and since the government doesn't recognize any rights for sapient robots, he runs the risk of capture, exploitation, and deconstruction by the police, federal agents, or certain large unscrupulous megacorporations. So he avoids civilian authorities at all costs, though he maintains excellent relations with the rest of the local superhero community.

Gearbox is a mechanical shapeshifter. He can reconfigure himself into any form he needs, turn his hands into buzzsaws or his legs into wheels, reshape himself into pulley arrays, flying machines, small vehicles, or almost anything else. He can also survive being completely dismembered and put himself back together in mere minutes.

He is a 5'6" red and yellow robot, very thin, covered in metal plating, pistons, and gears. His eyes are small yellow bulbs, and his mouth has a moveable jaw, but other than that, his face is almost entirely expressionless. His voice is always very calm and has a slight synthesizer reverb -- he sounds a lot like Douglas Rain, the actor who provided the voice of HAL in "2001."

Hybrid - Considered the city's most terrifying superhero, Hybrid is a semi-feral shapeshifter prone to carving up bad guys with claws, fangs, and animalistic rage. In truth, she's a great deal more in control of her temper, but she finds that her monstrous reputation helps intimidate the city's criminal population.

Hybrid is a Hispanic woman in her lower-20s, about 5'7" with long black hair. She wears a green and black costume with an asymmetrical design and a stylized "H" on her chest, plus a black and gold belt, black and green mask, and black open-finger gloves.

Hypothermia - Kelvin Mauro used to be a scientist creating life-saving cryogenics treatments, but an attack by corporate spies turned him into a hulking ice statue with a variety of cold-based abilities. Deeply embittered by his transformation and by the loss of his family, he still tries to do good works as a superhero.

Hypothermia is a 6'4" ice man, covered with jagged spikes of ice. His face is mostly featureless aside from his browline. His only costume is a pair of blue and silver bicycle shorts.

Iota - Even before he learned he was a mutant able to fly and shrink down to an eighth-of-an-inch tall, Stephen Denziger was the kind of genius inventor who comes along only a few times in a generation -- he created the prototypes for his armor and his neural stun gauntlets when he was only in elementary school, and has continued to create amazing inventions since then. He'd be a billionaire if he devoted his time completely to his scientific creations, but he just enjoys the excitement of superheroing too much.

Iota is a Caucasian male in his mid-20s, 5'4" tall with short brown hair. His costume is an armored red and blue outfit with a red and blue helmet. His neural stunners are hidden inside the oversized gloves he wears.

Jonni Rotten - Joanna Rotenberg used to be an all-American high school beauty queen, until she and her family were sacrificed by the blasphemous Church of Sorrow... which then completely botched a series of spells and accidentally turned her into a mystically-empowered zombie. Using her supernaturally high fighting skills, she remade herself as Jonni Rotten, Metro City's angriest and least popular superhero.

Jonni is a Caucasian female, 5'10" tall, with short brown hair. She has rotting green skin, is often surrounded by a small swarm of flies, and smells like spoiled meat. Her costume is the same as her civilian garb -- black pants, a black heavy-metal T-shirt, and as many weapons as she can carry.

Miss Mega - The strongest person in Metro City is the eight-foot-tall brunette bombshell called Miss Mega. The upper end of her strength hasn't been measured yet, but she's held her own against some of the most powerful beings on the planet. She isn't able to fly, but is able to leap vast distances. Though she enjoys squaring off against superstrong villains, her protective nature often has her working to shield weaker citizens -- and at her strength class, "weaker citizens" tends to include other superheroes, too.

Miss Mega is a Caucasian female in her mid-20s. She's 8'2" tall, has long brown hair, and is considered exceptionally attractive. Her costume is a black bodysuit with an orange and yellow lightning bolt motif and highlights. She wears black cuff-top boots, black gloves, and a black domino mask.

Penitente - Metro City's lone unpowered hero is Penitente. Though the city's other superheroes initially tried to discourage him, he's proved his worth and skills as a hero many times over. Aside from his high levels of athleticism, he has a lot of skill with acrobatics, bullwhips, martial arts, motorcycles, and improvised weaponry.

Penitente is a Hispanic male in his upper-20s, about six feet tall with a muscular build. He has a short-trimmed beard that he's apparently very fond of. He wears a loose-fitting blue and gray costume with a face-covering blue and gray cowl.

El Phantasmo - Metro City's youngest hero is El Phantasmo, who can control and communicate with the spirits of the dead. Ghosts of all kinds are drawn to him and want to help him, thanks to his "Undead Charisma." With their spectral assistance, he can fly and perform feats of telekinesis and estra-sensory projection. He can even deflect bullets, if by "deflect bullets," you mean "have ghosts catch and discard bullets for you."

Phantasmo is about 5'6" tall with a slim build. His costume consists of black pants, a black T-shirt decorated with a stylized cartoon ghost, and a black jacket, topped off with a colorful luchadore mask that completely hides his face. He's also constantly surrounded by spirits and ghosts, orbiting him in a spectral swirl.

The Piledriver - The newest superheroic arrival to the city is Laura Quinn. After a car accident destroyed most of her body except for her brain, spinal cord, and a few scattered body parts, her mad scientist uncle rebuilt her into a powerful cyborg body with superstrength, high-level sensory abilities, fingertip lasers, and many other advanced technological features.

Laura is a Caucasian female in her 20s. She's 5'10" tall,  has shoulder-length brown hair, and vividly green eyes. There are small metal ridges along the sides of her neck and at her temples, blending into her hairline. She wears a red bodysuit with silver trim and a dull red leather jacket, with stylized "P" logos on her chest and on the shoulder and back of the jacket. She spent a period of time as a professional wrestler and has a tendency to monologue theatrically. She is also out of the closet as a lesbian.

Polyphemus - One of the city's newest superheroes, Bertram McKenzie was an 84-year-old English professor before a mad scientist completely rewrote his genetic code to turn him into a 12-foot-tall, hairless, yellow-skinned, eyeless monster with superstrength and an attitude problem. While his inhuman senses compensate for the loss of his traditional sense of sight, he is still getting used to the idea that his life has completely changed.

McKenzie's conservatism and grouchiness often put him at odds with the city's other heroes, who also object to his preference for teaching classes instead of patrolling the city. He is nevertheless trying to adjust, albeit slowly, to the idea of being a superhero. His costume consists of a black bodysuit with shorts and short sleeves; when not on duty, he prefers to wear his custom-made tweed suits.

Silver Protector Kumiko - Another of Metro City's newest heroes, Kumiko is a magical girl -- yeah, like in the old "Sailor Moon" cartoons. She has a variety of magical abilities, usually activated by shouting spell names. She's a recent transplant to the city, though she's been a superhero since she was 14 years old. There was even a cartoon about her on TV a few years ago. Kumiko doesn't have the best attitude about Metro City -- she was assigned to the city by the Council of Thaumaturges to make up for Metro City's lack of superhero sorcerers, and she resents having to move from her old hometown to a city she doesn't like.

Kumiko is a Japanese-American woman in her low 20s, six feet tall, quite beautiful, with extravagantly pink hair worn in long twintails. She wears a silver and blue costume with a short, frilly skirt, short puffy sleeves, a high collar with a large red bow at her neck, red and silver gloves and boots, and a silver and blue crown-like headband. She also wields an ornate silver staff.

Squid Kid - Lenore Pittman is a wisecracking goth-punk college student who gained her powers after participating in a botched magical ceremony with a mistranslated passage from the Necronomicon. She is able to turn her arms into black, hyper-elastic tentacles and can sprout six more out of her back. She also heals quickly and has low levels of X-ray vision.

She is a Caucasian female, 5'5", in her low-20s. She dresses in goth-punk styles and has short black hair. If she uses her powers for about 15 minutes without a break, her appearance changes to a more monstrous form -- however, Lenore is completely unable to see herself looking any differently. She wears her own street clothing instead of a regular superhero costume.

The Star - Another former member of the now-defunct Assembly of Order. The Star has cosmic abilities -- he can fly, emit blasts of cosmic energy, capture foes with cosmic energy snares, and even temporarily take on a form composed entirely of stellar energy.

He's an African-American man in his low-30s, a couple inches over six feet tall. He wears a blue and white bodysuit with a starburst logo, along with a mask and a white cape.

The Wheelman - Greg Brachemann is the greatest driver in the universe. He can win any race he enters. He can jump a station wagon over the Grand Canyon. He can drive across the country in six hours on a quarter-tank of gas. He can drive a car out of an airplane in flight and land safely. He can drive up the side of a skyscraper. He could've made a fortune as a stunt driver, auto designer, or celebrity. He's decided he wants to be a superhero instead. It's an added bonus if he can also get rich as a celebrity stunt driver.

The Wheelman is a Caucasian male in his mid-20s, about 5' 10" tall, and very handsome, with short blond hair and a dazzling smile. His preferred superhero costume is whatever set of designer haute couture he happens to have on, along with his ever-present sunglasses and the winged sandal logo he usually wears somewhere on his person.

I hope you enjoy reading my stories!

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