Volume 4 Number 1
Astounding Man was sitting alone in the Communications Center of the CoH headquarters.
It was his turn to monitor the scanner, keeping an ear open for any situation
that would require the aid of the world's greatest superheroes. Word on
the street was that Loathsome Larry and Rat Face had teamed up and were planning
something huge. If so, they were still in the plotting stage because all was
quiet tonight. Just petty stuff -- robbery, simple assault, car theft, vandalism -- that
the local authorities could handle themselves. The Coalition of Heroes couldn't
do everything, after all; how would people ever learn to be self-sufficient
Astounding Man leaned back in his chair, his vibrant violet cape draped over his legs like a blanket, and opened the latest issue of his favorite comic book, Fat Virgins. The comic detailed the exploits of three best friends in a small town -- all obese, all obsessed with Star Trek and Star Wars to a degree that was somewhat unnatural, and none ever having known the touch of a woman. This was only the second issue by the new writer, Neil Moore. Moore had caused quite a controversy among long-time fans of the book with his first issue, in which Larry, a forty-two-year-old who still lived with his mother and gave her foot massages every night while she watched old Murder, She Wrote episodes she taped years before, had had his famously long gray locks shorn. The new short-haired Larry was the source of great debate among comic book lovers everywhere. How would this alter his character? If he cut his hair, what might be next? Dyeing his hair? Going on a diet? Getting laid? A few alarmists predicted this might mean the death of the title.
Astounding Man wasn't sure what he thought of this new development. It was certainly radical. When he'd first seen the panel that showed the scissors slicing through those stringy locks, Astounding Man had actually gasped out loud. But was a radical change necessarily such a bad thing? After all, a comic book which never changed or took risks could become stale and predictable. In any case, Moore had certainly made his presence known right out of the gate. This wasn't your parents' Fat Virgins; Moore was taking it in a bold new direction. It actually made Astounding Man eager to see what the writer would do next.
Astounding Man was just getting engrossed in the story -- Ryan was trying to save up enough money to buy a limited edition bust of Seven of Nine -- when Captain Fearless burst into the room, waving a glossy magazine above his masked head. "Have you heard the latest news?"
"Well, according to reports from the set, Trevor will be driving an aqua-colored Pontiac."
Astounding Man just frowned up at Captain Fearless for a moment. "But Trevor drives a 1974 canary-yellow Volkswagen Beetle."
"Well, I know that and you know that," Captain Fearless said, tossing the entertainment magazine to Astounding Man, "but apparently someone needs to explain that to Quint fuckin' Rodgers."
Astounding Man started reading the article Captain Fearless had marked in the magazine. The comic world had become electrified three months prior by news that director Quint Rodgers was filming a movie adaptation of Fat Virgins. The only other time the comic had been brought to the screen was as a black-and-white television show in the '50s, but the show had made the three friends into comedic buffoons instead of the multi-dimensional characters from the comic. Hopes were high, however, for the film. Then came word that Rodgers had cast a Hispanic actor to play Ryan, who everyone knew was African-American. And now this change of Trevor's wheels. Didn't sound too promising.
"According to the article," Captain Fearless said, hopping onto the countertop, "Rodgers says he has some important scenes to shoot in Trevor's car, and the Beetle doesn't have enough room for the actors and the camera."
"Does the man have no respect for the source material?" Astounding Man asked, still scanning the article.
"Get this shit," Captain Fearless said. "On Tomorrow's Entertainment, Rodgers admitted that he'd never even read the comic before getting the gig to direct the film."
"Fuckin' Philistine," Astounding Man said. As his eyes trailed down to the article's final paragraph, he nearly fell out of his chair. "Jesus! Did you read this plot twist where Larry develops a crush on the girl who works the ticket counter at the movie theater?"
Captain Fearless let out a miserable sigh. "Yeah, but I'm trying to block it from my mind."
"Everyone knows that Larry isn't even interested in women. He says no woman could ever compare to the standard that was set by Princess Leia." Astounding Man threw the magazine across the room where it slapped against the wall and slid into the wastebasket. "This is going to be a train wreck, you realize."
"On the bright side," Captain Fearless said, jumping off the counter, "at least Larry will have his long hair in the movie. I can't believe the publishers let that hack Moore desecrate the character like that."
Astounding Man nodded in sympathy. "I bet Stan Ellison is rolling in his grave." Ellison was the writer who created Fat Virgins in the '20s. Astounding Man owned two vintage Ellison issues that he kept sealed in plastic sleeves. They were worth a fortune, but he'd never dream of selling them.
"Oh, you know it, man," said Captain Fearless. "There's nothing like classic Fat Virgins. That was a golden era."
"The best," Astounding Man agreed. "Although Alan Lee's run in the late '80s/early '90s was pretty killer."
"Oh man, his extended twelve-issue arc where they go on that cross-country road trip to attend the mother of all Star Trek conventions, that was priceless. I mean, they actually met Uhura and everything."
"Yeah," Astounding Man said, opening his comic again. "But I'm gonna give Moore a chance. His work on Slacker Teens was groundbreaking."
"Hey, is that the new issue? I haven't gotten it yet. How is it?"
"Don't know, haven't really had a chance to get into it."
"Mind if I read over your shoulder? I'm dying to find out what Larry's mom says about his new haircut."
"Be my guest."
Astounding Man leaned back in his chair, Captain Fearless squatting next to him, reading along. The scanner squawked static, and a distant voice announced a major fire in the downtown area.
Astounding Man and Captain Fearless stared at one another for a moment. "Let Galaxy Girl get this one," Astounding Man said, reaching over and turning down the scanner's volume. "What else has she got to do?"
The two superheroes settled back and resumed reading the latest issue of Fat Virgins.