“… and then I offered him only 1% above market price, but I had my lawyers arrange the deal so that the stocks were transferred over the course of sixty business days so as not to force an increase in market value. The fool had no option but to accept my offer. And that was how I gained controlling interest in Trojacon Technologies,” said the largest of the seated men with a thunderous laugh. Bald on top and rotund in the middle he wore an expensive looking three piece suit of dark grey fabric. His powder blue tie matched the flower attached to his lapel. Charles Edward Onyx, known in the underworld as the CEO owned half the city and three-quarters of the gangs reported directly to him. He was not a man you crossed lightly or more than once.

“That was so boring I think I blacked out,” said the man sitting next to him. Wild brown hair held in check by mechanized lab goggles and set above a sharp snarky face. The man was no older than 30 years but everyone knew that Dr. Desmond Mentor was one of the smartest people in Titan City if not on the planet. An evil genius he was patenting multi-million dollar inventions by the age of 8 and building doomsday devices by the age of 12. “C’mon, Chuckie Boy, where’s the murder? The mayhem?”

CEO scowled at the man, creases running up his forehead like canyons of hatred. “I also had his family kidnapped at the time. Does that make you happy?”

“Doctor Mentor has a point,” said the third man. He was blue and covered in scales and dark crustacean-like armor. A black and teal cape draped out behind him and his trident leaned lazily against his chair. Yellows eyes were set below a red bindi on his forehead, and a crown of black spikes. Lord Karta Kumari, also known as Kingfish, was the deposed ruler of the underwater nation of Lemuria, and sworn enemy of Atlantis. “I think, you are not so good at being the story teller. You should have led with that instead of telling us about this money deal.”

“Its called a hostile takeover.” The CEO said in a huff.

“Wasn’t that that the name of an old villain from the 80’s?” said Mentor.

“I would not know,” said Kingfish. “All you surface dwellers look the same to me. You would have to ask Iron Cross.”

Warning: Social interaction imminent, said the incessant voice in my head.

“Yeah, Cross,” said Mentor turning to me. “You’re older than dirt. Did you ever hear of a villain called Hostile Takeover? I think he wore… like a big business suit, and hit people with one of those old giant cell phones or something. I tell you, the 80’s were weird.”

Answer: Hostile Takeover operated from 1991 until 1994 when he took his own life after failing to crash the stock market.

“It was the early 90’s,” I said through the armored face plate of iron and obsidian. As I talked I admired my crimson cape and hood. The light reflected off the black mystic symbols of the Third Reich that trimmed the fabric. “I believe he killed himself in 94.”

“Some people can’t take the pressure,” said the CEO before turning to the last of our party. “Georgia, my sweet, may we begin anytime soon?”

“Hold your horses, darling,” said Georgia Atlanta as she finished shuffling the deck. “Alright, boys. The game of the night is Liberty City Draw, red sevens are wild. Ante up.”

Statement: This is an error in judgement.

“Shut up,” I cackled at the voice in me head as I tried to pick up the cards that were dealt me. My massive metal gloves failed miserably at the task.

“What did you say, my friend?” said Kingfish to my right. “Were you talking to me?”

“No… I mean, nein,” I said with a growl as my cards spilled onto the floor. “Blast these clumsy claws.”

“Geez, Cross,” said Doctor Mentor. “I knew you were old, but is the arthritis so bad that can’t you even hold your own damn cards.”

“Hold you tongue, you upstart.” If he could have seen my face behind the armor he would have known the true meaning of the word wrath. Unfortunately, the moment was ruined when I hit my helmet against the table, but no matter, because everything was going according to plan. While out of sight I quickly snatched up my cards, taking out the ace of diamonds and replacing it with an exact replica that was concealed within my suit.

Status: Decoy activated. Functioning nominally

“Of course it is,” I said under my breath as I picked myself back up. “I created it, you fool of a voice.” Kingfish looked at me again as if he had heard, but said nothing. So, I slid two chips into the center, matching the bet of the other men.

The rest of Friday’s Bar was clear of tables and chairs, but that did mean it was empty. Various henchmen and bodyguards lingered in rings around the spotlighted table. Large men in suits and sunglasses stood beside spindly warriors that looked more fish than human, and both mingled with faceless soldiers of fortune and cybernetics. Their weapons were not visible, but that did not mean that they were not within easy reach.

“I’ll raise,” said the CEO. He looked meaningfully at Doctor Mentor, daring him to match. “And, Doctor, if you did not enjoy the tale of my latest villainy maybe you might care to share with us what you have been doing since our last meeting?”

The man in the lab coat slid two more chips into the pot, holding his smug smile. “Just the usual, of course. I consider mad science to be more than a job. It’s a passion.”

“I heard you’ve been creating some sort of weather domination machine,” said CEO over his cards. “A little cliche, don’t you think?”

“Don’t blame me if you don’t appreciate the classics,” said Doctor Mentor as he put one card on the table and waited for Georgia to replace it with one from the deck. “Besides this is no mere weather dominator. My machine has the potential to reshape the world and no troglodyte in a cape and mask will be able to stop it.”

“I do not care for these weather machines you scientists are always creating,” said Kingfish as he received two more cards. “You surface villains always try to melt icebergs or shift the poles and who is it that suffers? It is the ocean.”

“And here, I thought you’d be happy,” said Mentor as he threw two more chips into the pot. “More water means more real estate for your people?”

“I fold.” The Lemurian put his cards down in front of him. “The flooding is not the problem. That is a common misconception. You see, my friend, my people are affected by the weather too. Do you not know how hard it is to plot revenge on my traitorous half-brother when the currents keep shifting? Suddenly, my schools of venomous salt-water piranha are swimming back at me because some gaandu decided to put giant mirrors in orbit and heat the Atlantic, or some such surface-world nonsense.”

“Personally,” said CEO rearranging his cards, “I’m against the idea of weather machines. Their effects are too unpredictable on the market. What’s the point of creating cheap beach-front property if your investment portfolio drops by 12 points.”

“This here is too rich for my blood,” said Georgia folding her hand. “Didn’t Dark Horse just get busted with some sort of weather device?”

Statement: You have a 67% of having the winning hand.
Suggestion: Increase the ante.

“Fold,” I said in defiance of the voice in my head. My game was not about winning at paltry poker.

“Dark Horse?” said Mentor in disgust. “He’s a second-rate villain and a third-rate scientist, and who names themselves Dark Horse?”

“I always assumed it was because he was black?” said Kingfish.

“Yeah… but just because your African American doesn’t mean you have to go and name yourself Dark Horse… Right?” said Mentor. “I mean, this isn’t the damn 70’s anymore. I feel uncomfortable just saying it.”

“I would not be surprised if that’s why he did it,” said CEO. “And I’ll call.” He put down his cards, a straight.

Showing the kind of smug smile that often haunted my dreams, Doctor Mentor revealed a full house. “Too bad, Chuckie boy. I win again.”

Alert: Danger. Proximity warning.

The door to Friday’s Bar burst open and the assembled thugs and henchmen raised their weapons as one. The sound of a hundred safeties being released was like the sound of a thousand clocks ticking down to doomsday. Doctor Mentor was the first on his feet, a strange glowing gun of wire and circuitry held in his hand. Kingfish was next to stand, his elegant trident held at the ready. The CEO was the only one that remained seated, besides myself, mostly because the deplorable pressure cooker I was trapped in weighed a literal ton, and had no robotics whatsoever.

A spindly old decrepit figure was wheeled into the room. A tube of oxygen hung from his nostrils and a bag of undefinable substance sat suspended above his wheelchair. The whole contraption was being pushed by a rather rotund and fierce looking woman dressed in a white nurse’s outfit adorned with swastikas.

“Curses,” I said. The cumbersome metal casing was suddenly hotter than before.

“Count Von Eisen?” said Kingfish. “If you are there than who is this, sitting in your Iron Cross armor?” So, that was how I found myself detestably facing the business end of a trident, a ridiculous laser gun, and about a hundred other assorted weaponry. CEO finally stood and removed my monstrosity of a helmet. It felt like I could breath again, but for how much longer?

“Mandroid,” he thundered. “Did you really believe a C-Lister like you could sneak into our monthly poker game and walk out again with your limbs intact?”

Statement: Your ruse has failed, said my never-ending internal voice.

“Shut up, damnit,” I responded and immediately saw my mistake.

“You would speak to me in that tone, you half-machine half-wit.” The big man snapped his fingers and two of his thugs stepped forward, looking ready to pull me from the armor by force.

“No, no, no!” I would have gone down to my knees if not for the lead weight around my body. “I wasn’t talking to…” My words fell short as the cold steel of a pistol muzzle touched my temple.

“He stole my magic armor,” screamed the Count Von Eisen. “He must pay!”

“I just wanted to play cards,” I said thinking fast. “And bask in your glory. Yes, that’s it. I am such a big fan of all of you. I just wanted to be near you to… uh… bask and such.” The hammer on the pistol clicked back.

“Now, that’s enough, you hear?” said Georgia standing from her place. “First of all, Count, you ain’t worn that armor in what? Three decades?”

The old man looked suddenly lost for words. “I put it on, sometimes on Sundays…”

Next she turned on the CEO, “And you, Charles, do you know how upset JJ is going to be if you stain his little old floors with blood and motor oil? You can kiss this monthly poker game goodbye, I’ll tell you that for sure. Is that what you want, to lose the only night you four get to kick back and have a little fun? All because of some villain like Mandroid?”

Correction: The Mandroid

The Mandroid,” I corrected.

“Not helping, sugah.” She sat back down and started shuffling the deck as if nothing had happened.

“Yeah,” echoed Doctor Mentor. “I say you let him stay. We’ve been short a player ever since Comosis got pinched by the Intergalactic Guardians.” He plopped back down in his seat and put his feet up until Georgia pushed them off with a stern look. “I’m sure Manny’s good for it.”

“Oh, I just don’t care,” said Kingfish as he threw a glass of water on himself. “By Agni’s seven pits, it is so hot on the surface world. Can we just get back to the game?”

“Fine,” relented the CEO. “The mechanical moron can stay, but he better be able to cover the pot.” His henchmen resumed their place on the wall. “The buy-in is 100,000 dollars. I know it’s a little low, but it’s only a friendly game after all.”

Statement: Current Expense Account Total is $507.34

“I’m good for it,” I said as I unlatched the armor and climbed out.

“Do not scratch my suit,” said Count Von Eisen, the real Iron Cross, as his nurse wheeled him over to the table. “In my day people had more respect for their elders. They didn’t go around stealing their magic armor, and you know why? It’s because they feared me. Back then being a super-villain meant being ruthless. It meant being so terrible that your enemies quaked in their lederhosen at the very mention of your name. It meant that your underlings did as you told them for fear of swift and terrible retribution.”

“It also meant getting your ass kicked by heroes wearing literal spandex, with names like Captain Super or Dashing Dynamo,” said Mentor as he picked up his cards.

“I killed Captain Super in the 50’s,” said Von Eisen. “I dipped his body in acid. Turns out he wasn’t so super after all… and the title was mostly honorary. He had never served in the military.”

“I’ll take fighting heroes like Ionic Storm any day of the week. At least he has real superpowers. So many of those capes in the 30’s and 40’s were just lunatics with a strong left hook and a Hollywood smile.” Mentor waved is hand to pass the bet.

“Ionic Storm also has an ego the size of Titan City,” said CEO. “I don’t mind his heroics but must he take selfies with every one of my crime bosses he foils. I mean he can’t even smile, he’s wearing a robotic helmet for God’s sake. He looks the same in every picture he posts online, and I am sick of seeing that armored visage on my newsfeed.”

Status: Decoy card is not in play.

“Damnit,” I muttered.

“What did you say, my friend?” said Kingfish as he threw in a chip into the pot.

“I said, Damn Ionic Storm. I have faced him many times in glorious battle…” I looked at my cards: a 2 of spades, a 3 of clubs, a 6 of hearts, a 10 of diamonds, and a 7 of spades.

“And he’s beat you more times than an abusive boyfriend,” said Mentor. “I’ve seen those selfies too.”

“A slanderous statement,” I slapped my cards on the table, “and… wait, you’re telling me you follow him on social media?”

“…I don’t understand all this social what’s its?” said Count Von Eisen. “In my day you followed someone from the rooftops under the cover of darkness, not through chirps or shares or whatnot…”

“…Of course, I follow the Ionic Idiot,” said Doctor Mentor. “I also follow Social Justice, The American Eagle, Arachna-Kid, and the entire Law and Order Brigade. I even watch The Real Heroes of L.A.”

“That reality show about that second-rate superhero team of kids? What are they called?” said CEO taking two cards.

“The Millennial Squad,” said Doctor Mentor,” and don’t knock it, Chuckie Boy. I’m positively hooked. I can’t wait until next week’s episode so I can figure out if Hacktivism ever gets out of her abusive ‘ship with the Handsome Hipster…

“…I served on an abusive ship once,” said Count Von Eisen to himself as he took three more cards. “It was during the First World War…”

“… She deserves to be with Emoticon 2000. He may be made of steel and zinc but he has a heart of gold. And I hear that next week they face off against First World Problem Child,” said Mentor taking two cards from Georgia.

“You know, I met the Problem Child at a party once in Paradigm City?” said the CEO putting in an additional betting chip. “I couldn’t stand the little ingrate for more than two minutes, what with his tattoos and stupid haircut, and whining about how he couldn’t a wifi signal. I swear I have no idea what is becoming of this next generation of villains?”

“I’m sure the Millennial Squad will beat him silly as they yell squad goals, and all that crap. I am convinced the producers pay those villains a fee to lose on purpose,” said Mentor matching the bet. “But what I’m really trying to say here, Manny, is that this why I’m at the top of my game and you wallow down in the minor leagues. When my enemies are stupid enough to advertise themselves over the Internet or on TV, I’m smart enough to pay attention. Just like I am smart enough to know that you have nothing but garbage in your hand.”

Statement: You have a 8.3% of having the winning hand.
Suggestion: Fold

“Garbage!” I said. “I’ll show you garbage, you fool. I’ll see your chip and raise you two more.”

“You know each of those chips is worth 500 dollars,” said the CEO with a look of warning.

“Then I’ll use my winnings to fly a giant blimp over the city that says, Doctor Mentor is a Loser.” I put two more chips into the pot.

“You’re an idiot,” CEO said and folded his hand.

“I’m in,” said Mentor. “I’m interested to see what old Manny has up his sleeve. You have to be better at cards than you are at villainy. You can’t be any worse.”

“Well, I’m out, sugah,” said Georgia.

“Count Von Eisen, never runs from battle,” said the old villain, “but he knows when to tactically withdraw. I fold.”

“I will see your bet,” said Kingfish.

“Say, Manny, before you show us your cards why don’t you tell everyone about the last gamble you made? You know during your little vacation in Vegas?” Mentor smiled and put his feet up on the table till Georgia pushed them off again.

I froze. I hated the man more than I have hated any arch-nemesis I’ve ever had, even more than that accursed Half-Life.

“No,” he said. “Well, I’ll tell it than. You see, a few weeks back Manny here decided to try and head for greener pastures. So he picked up his little science experiments and went out to Vegas where he fell in with a guy named Damien, a man who claimed to be the son of the Devil. He wasn’t, by the way. The guy grew up in Yonkers, and didn’t even have any superpowers. He did, however, have a few D-Listers convinced of his little ruse. Long story short Manny spent two weeks brainwashed into doing menial labor for this Damien and his ragtag group of rejects until they were all busted by Diva and thrown into super-max… He was their bag boy.” Mentor laughed like it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

“By the Great Fin of Matsya, have you ever seen her show at the Grand Pilgrim Hotel?” said Kingfish ignoring the joke. “I know Diva is a superhero, but I hear that her voice is to die for.”

“Oh, honey, I went last summer and the notes that girl can hit… well to listen to her you would just think that you’d up and went to heaven.,” said Georgia. “Now, Doc, if you are done embarrassing poor Mandroid here…

Correction: The Mandroid

“The Mandroid,” I said.

“… can we just get back to playing?” She looked at me. “Let’s see your cards, sugah?”

“My cards are unimportant, compared to the insults of this douche.” I stood. “I don’t have to sit here and take this from…”

Alert: Danger. Tactical error in progress.

Suddenly all the weapons in the room were again pointed at me.

“Mandroid,” said the CEO. “If you walk away now, you forfeit the complete $100,000 buy-in. Sit back down.”

“I suppose I can play a few more hands,” I resumed my seat, “but I refuse to play this hand… out of protest.”

“Fine, than I win,” said Mentor as he showed a straight.

“Correction, my friend,” said Kingfish. “I win. Five of a kind, I think.” The fish-man swept all the chips to his corner, leaving Mentor mumbling to himself. “It is so typical of you surface-dwellers. You are so preoccupied with your own little problems that you fail to realize the true threat rising beneath your feet, the threat of Lord Karta Kumari.”

“Don’t start this again?” said CEO, as he anted for the next hand “We’re all sick of hearing about the wrath of the sea. You know nobody cares, right? Nobody cares about what happens in the ocean. It’s boring. I mean you talk to fish. What kind of power is that anyway?”

“How dare you?” said Kingfish. “Three-quarters of this planet are dominated by the oceans. 80% of you surface-dwellers live within 60 miles of an ocean. 90% of your internationally traded goods are moved by ship across my oceans. Millions of fish are caught every year from my waters, and not to mention the hundreds of millions of Atlanteans and Lemurians who live in cities in the very depths of the oceans that you dare insult. If you think that because I am an ocean-villain,” he paused to throw another glass of water on himself, “that I am somehow less of a menace than you surface-villains, than you are mistaken. If anything I am the greatest villain here. I have power over a vast realm of creatures, and I promise that I will soon be bringing my armies to march on every major capital in…”

“Oh, stop monologueing,” said Count Von Eisen. “You villains today, your always spouting off about your great and masterful plans. In my day, you didn’t talk about the death laser you had aimed at the continental United States, you just obliterated a small Midwestern city and showed people that you meant business. With you young punks its all talk, talk, and more talk. Why do you even reveal your plans at all. Sure, you may think you have the hero strapped to a laser cutting table, but does that mean you have to tell him everything?”

“Or her everything?” corrected Georgia as she won the next hand.

“And that is another thing. When I ran the organization of the 5th Reich, women were secretaries and sometimes sexy bodyguards. Now they can be anything, even a hero? That is outrageous.”

“Did you not once work with Lady Zeppelin?” said Kingfish.

“She was my top henchwoman. She typed a hundred words a minute, took perfect dictation, and was also an animal in the sack. Yet, I would never think of putting her or any woman in a slow-timed death trap. A real gentleman does not hang a lady over a tank of sharks. Its disrespectful.”

“That’s just a double-standard, darling,” said Georgia.

“I don’t care if you like it or not. I’m old, and a literal Nazi. I used to go to dinner parties with my Mein Fuhrer. What do you want from me? Progressive policies on women’s liberation?” He took the cards that were dealt to him.

“Can you cut the Nazi act, old man?” said CEO. “I mean you want to talk about cliched, you can’t get much more cliched than that.”

“This coming from the man who runs a greedy corporation and is secretly a criminal,” said Von Eisen. “You’re basically the villain in almost every movie I’ve ever seen about about a scrappy young protagonist just trying to make it in the world. At least, I’m the original villain, the very definition of evil. I shall never be defeated…”

Status: Decoy in play

“Except when you lost the war,” said Mentor, “and then the Power Platoon finally caught up with you. I heard you were cowering in a bunker on the outskirts of Munich, and you spent the next six years locked away in a ceramic cage buried somewhere in the middle of West Germany.” He picked up the two cards that were dealt to him and dropped one immediately as if he had been shocked. It tumbled to the table to reveal itself as the Ace of Diamonds. Quickly he snatched it up and put it back in his hand.

Status: Interface Established. Download progress 7%

Count Von Eisen threw a chip into the middle. “I surrendered to the Power Platoon. It was all part of my long term plan. Besides it was better than confronting their Soviet counterparts, the Terrible Troika, even if it meant having to put up with the gloating smile of that American moron, Ironside.”

“Did you ever find it strange,” I said, trying to keep the conversation going, “That both you and your most hated enemy used the word Iron, in your names?”

He dismissed me with a wave of his skeletal hand. “It was a different time. Iron was a common a name. There was myself, Ironside, The Iron Curtain, Lady Ferrum, but I was the only one who actually wore iron.”

Status: Download progress 19%.

“If we’re done reminiscing, can we get back to cards?” said Doctor Mentor passing two back to Georgia, neither was the decoy.

“I do not know if I could have done six years in prison,” said Kingfish as he put two cards down on the table and got two more back, “We have all been to prison here, but that is a long time. Personally, I spent six months in the dungeons of my half-brother and that was enough. Thank Kali, I was able to signal a passing whale and command it to free me. Oh, what an escape that was, let me tell you. The coral wall exploded apart and I rode the beast back to safety all while Atlantean cannons boiled the waters around me.”

“Aren’t whales mammals?” said the CEO putting down three cards. “I thought you could only control fish?”

“They all live in the water,” said Kingfish suddenly not making eye contact. “It’s all the same.”

“No, it’s not,” said Mentor. “Mammals and fish have completely different brain structures. Could you command a dog if its swimming in the water? What about a Gorilla is a diving suit?”

Status: Download progress 35%.

“Wait,” said Count Von Eisen as he put one card down and looked at me. “Mandroid, didn’t Doctor Mentor say you got thrown in super-max a few weeks ago? How did you escape so quickly?”

CEO was suddenly staring me down.

“Was it the laundry truck?” said Mentor with a sneer

Status: Download progress 40%.

“No,” I said thinking fast. “I was sent to The Dome out in Utah. The fools use robots as cafeteria servers, something about an incident between a cafeteria lady and the villain, the Cafeteria Lady. So now they use robots. It was a small matter to rewire them to do my bidding. After all, I am The Mandroid, Master of Machines, Ruler of Robotics…

Status: Download progress 48%.

“Uh… uh… Earl of Electronics…”

“Yes, yes, my friend. We get the picture,” said Kingfish. “I once heard that Cerberus Super Max has an 11% escape rate per year, and that is considered one of the lowest in this country. You would think they would learn to build better ones.”

“I’ll call, said Mentor holding his cards as if he meant to drop them.

Status: Download progress 66%.

“Wait,” I said. “I’ll raise you… two chips.”

“Not this again, Manny. Didn’t you learn your lesson last time?” He matched my bet and raised me an additional chip.

Status: Download progress 71%.

The four other players at the table went out and I found myself faced with the scientist I hated most in the world. Here was the man that had hounded me since graduate school. He took every chance he could to embarrass me. He was the reason why I never became Dr. Mandroid. I could still see his smug eighteen year old face sitting on the review committee as he mocked and destroyed my dissertation. He gloated how cybernetics were the key, like the ones he had installed in his own body, and that robotics were too 1970’s. The others had agreed and I found myself out on the street bested by someone ten years younger, but no more. For as we sat there my decoy card was hacking those very same cybernetics and downloading the schematics to his vaunted weather machine.

“I’ll see that and raise you two more,” I slammed three chips down as if I were pressing the button on one of my doomsday droids.

Status: Download progress 88%.

“You’re a fool, Manny.” He smiled and slid two more chips into the center. “You always were.”

Status: Download progress 93%.

I put my cards down revealing a straight flush. “How do you like that, Desmond.”

Status: Download progress 98%.

“I like it just fine.” He put his own cards down, revealing a royal flush. “You lose again, but at least you’re used to it.”

Status: Download progress 99%. Connection lost.

“I don’t see it,” I said. “How is that higher than mine?”

He grew angry. “It’s a royal flush, you ass. Look.” He grabbed the cards and held them up for the entire table to see.

Status: Connection established. Download progress 100%. Download Complete.

I laughed maniacally. The fool was completely clueless to my masterful ruse. My evil cackle echoed off the walls of the empty barroom. No one could withstand the intellectual might of the Mandroid. My time of revenge was finally at hand… and then I realized I was kneeling on the table as everyone in the room silently watched me. “I mean… curses. You win again.”

The CEO and two of his goons personally threw me out of the bar after that outburst. His massive girth towered over me as my face hit the pavement. “You’re a fool, Mandroid. I never would have paid your way out prison if I knew you were going to be this amateurish.”

I turned over, my face feeling raw and soiled. “I got the plans you wanted.” I ejected a small disk from a socket in my torso, and the man snatched it up like it was made of gold.

“Excellent,” he said with a sudden sneer. “With these plans I’ll finally be able to sink a few troublesome islands and the offshore accounts that reside on them.” He pocketed the information and headed back toward the bar.

“Wait,” I said. “What about the payment you promised me?”

The CEO turned and brought his massive foot down next to me. The cement cracked where it landed. “Considering that you just lost about $30,000 in poker chips, $30,000 of my money! I would say you’re lucky I don’t have my men take you apart and sell you for scrap.”

He put his hand on the door and disappeared back inside the bar. His two thugs lingered longer but they soon followed leaving me alone in the dark alley. I picked myself up off the ground and clutched the duplicate data card in my hand. I inserted it into my data drive and hobbled off knowing that soon Titan City would feel the true wrath of the…

Status: Analyzing data disk.
Error: Disk unreadable. Data corruption detected


Read all the stories about Friday’s Bar for Super-villains

We are all looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, that special someone who will make us feel like we’re in a Disney movie with singing crabs and kleptomaniac monkey sidekicks. Unfortunately, not everyone we date will always meet our expectations. If only our partners could be more like the heroes and heroines we read about in books or see on the big screen. Yet, not even those seemingly perfect two-dimensional representations are without flaws, and if you were to ever find yourself on a date with any of the following characters just remember that no person -even fictional ones- are perfect.

Supes profile2
This corn-fed farmboy is a protector through and through. He will stop a speeding bullet, catch a falling plane, or even superspeed to the store to get you ice cream when you’re feeling depressed. Superman is friendly, conscientious, and will take you on romantic flights over the city. He naturally puts your needs before his own, and if the Man of Steel makes you a promise you can count on him keeping it. It does not hurt that he is easy on the eyes and looking for a committed and loving relationship.

However, when it comes to dating Superman you might find that it may not be all truth, justice, and a two-way relationship. Setting aside the fact that he has a secret mild-mannered side, protectors like him are always trying to rescue the damsel in distress. Though that is appreciated, not every woman is looking to spend their days falling off of buildings so a man in blue tights can catch them. A relationship with the Last Son of Krypton will work for a while, but eventually he may lose interest when he realizes you don’t need him or becomes frustrated if he is unable to help you. Even worse, he will always be flying off to save someone else instead of spending time with you, and the jealousy that might create could prove to be as good as kryptonite to your relationship.


Her profile1
This good-hearted know-it-all is a real thinker, but her calm and serious exterior hides a deeper passion and a true loyalty to those she cares about. She can be quiet at times, but when you need someone to punch a Malfoy in the face you will be surprised by the fire you find inside her. Her dedication to schedules will help you always be on time, but she is not without a spontaneous side and can occasionally be made to abandon her best laid plans in the name of friendship. She is well organized, practical, and the exact type of person you want around on a date to playing pub trivia or trying to solve a century’s old riddle to break into an underground basilisk pit.

Because of Hermione’s status as an underage wizard, dating her may be difficult for many. Be warned that she is Azkaban bait and cannot practice magic outside of school. So that means you shouldn’t try any your “magic” on her. Those that can date her may find that she is sometimes arrogant or emotionally distant. The wizarding wunderkind spends too much time in the library, preferring the company of books to most people, and her strict adherence to rules -which she can often quote by memory- could drive a partner crazy. Anyone who cannot take criticism or a strong will would do good to avoid Hermione as she can often be dismissive and skeptical of other’s ideas, often believing that she is right in most situations. The most annoying part is that she usually is, and that could mean avada kedavra to any hopes of romance.


mike profile1
If you like those who are outgoing, friendly, and fun-loving than Michelangelo might be who you are looking for. The hero in the half-shell is all about being spontaneous and enthusiastic about almost anything that life throws at him. Less arrogant or rude than some of his brothers he will always be there for you as a supporter and a team-player. Michelangelo is also the exact type of person you want around when you are feeling down or depressed. He can find the fun and the funny of any situation, even when facing down a clan of ninja or a robot that houses a talking brain in its stomach.

Unfortunately, that also means Mikey doesn’t take a lot of things seriously. So when situations or romance get tense he will often come off as annoying. Everybody likes to party, but not everybody wants to party all the time, especially when you are trying to have a serious conversation about your feelings. He is not a leader or a hard worker, often preferring to seek pleasure and getting bored easily in mundane situations. Michelangelo also does not respond well to rules or structure, like those found within the confines of a relationship or a government laboratory that might want to dissect him. Overall, he is a very uncomplicated personality, though he will seek the spotlight and he enjoys being the center of attention in all occasions. Any significant other who cannot share the spotlight might find that hard to compete with. It is also worth mentioning that he is a giant talking turtle, and any sort of relationship would probably not win the approval of parents, friends, civil authorities, or the religious community.


Snow Profile1
Snow White is a caregiver. Generous, compassionate, she will always be there to kiss your wounds or cook your pot roast. She is happiest when she can lend a hand and is always the person who tries to keep her environment harmonious, which is hard when you live with seven other roommates. Some will see Snow White as adhering to outdated stereotypes, but she is just content being a homemaker, and she is the exact person who will help you make your house your castle. Her love of animals also belays a kind soul and a possibly magical ability to summon the beasts of the wild on command.

However, many people will see “the fairest of them all” as nothing more than old fashioned. Not every man is looking for a maid who will take care of his every need, or wait patiently for him to save her with his kiss. When it comes to dating she is mostly a shut-in, preferring to stay at home rather than go out for the night. Many will often see her as fussy and maybe even a bit smothering, and Snow White’s adherence to keeping domestic peace will be frustrating at times. It will ultimately mean that any argument or disagreement will be stopped before it can become productive, causing feelings to fester until they explode like a bubbling cauldron of a wicked witch. There is also the matter of her questionable relationship with seven unattached miners that could cause emotions to flair from happy to grumpy to dopey to jealous.


Spock Profile
Spock’s life is dominated not by emotion but logic. He is a natural problem solver and just the type of person who will always be able to give you the best of advice. He excels at predicting outcomes and patterns in situations and people. Unlike other high thinkers, Spock is not arrogant and is often fascinated by the emotions of others, even if he cannot always understand them. When proven wrong the Vulcan science officer is the first to admit his mistake and take responsibilities for his actions. So, if you are looking for a good conversationalist you have found your green-blooded man. He is also a strong leader and an equally adept follower, comfortable in playing any role in your relationship.

The Vulcan Mind Meld is a technique that literally allows two people to share each other’s thoughts, so if you are not open to a completely honest relationship, then Spock may not be the mate for you. He is also not the person who will be there with a shoulder to cry on. For all his logic the decorated Starfleet officer can sometimes come off as cold and unfeeling. He is a great life-coach but a terrible sympathizer, and he will often put the needs of the many before the needs of the few, including you. Biologically, Vulcans only need to mate once every seven years, thus you should not expect an overly physical closeness. Spock is long lived, and even after he dies he can store his katra or personality inside your mind, which gives a new meaning to the word “commitment.” Yet, in some ways, of all the souls you will ever meet, he may be the most… human.


Leia has it all. She is a strong willed leader who can pick a Stormtrooper off with a blaster at fifty meters, and look good in a golden bikini while doing it. Any relationship with Leia will be one of give and take one, as she is a master at negotiation and compromise. She also usually knows what she wants, being both decisive and assertive. Coming from a royal upbringing Leia is highly educated and refined, and if you ever need the perfect date for a wedding, formal reception, or Galactic State dinner, she is the woman you want on your arm.

However, Leia is very much a career oriented woman. She is one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance and that comes with a lot of responsibilities and not a lot of time for dating. Include into this that her family life is a bit of a mess, and you do not want to meet her father. Some men will also see her as blunt and argumentative, as she has no fear of speaking her mind and telling people exactly what she thinks of them. Yet, the former senator from Alderaan is also a very shrewd politician and an adept liar when it suits her purpose. That can always leave a seed of doubt in the back of any man’s mind. The princess is very goal oriented and will work tirelessly to reach those goals, which mean she has a tendency to ignore the feelings of others, including you, in the pursuit of a higher objective. Most importantly, Leia needs excitement in her life and some who works a 9-5 job and watches Netflix on the weekend is not going to keep her entertained for long. As much as she claims to like nice boys it is clear that she is looking for the scoundrel type, no matter how scruffy looking.


Venkman Profile
Peter Venkman is a ladies man in the truest sense of the word. A showman, he is outgoing, witty, and at times aloof. Most of Peter’s life is ruled by his impulses, including his mouth. Peter will always knows the right comment to make to infuriate or impress his significant other or any crowd that has gathered to watch him. This means that when he wants to be, Venkman can be the most romantic partner a girl will ever have. Also, despite his exterior fun-loving nature, he does care deeply about the friends and family around him, even if he is often unwilling to show it.

Unfortunately, Peter Venkman will never settle down. He is not marriage material as much as he sometimes wishes he was. It will about the time when he starts introducing you as “the old ball and chain,” that you may decide to pack up and move on. He is smart, having two doctorates, though most people do not quite know how he got them. Many will find Venkman selfish and self-centered, often using his charm and wit to manipulate others into doing what he is unwilling to do himself. A natural liar and showman you will always find yourself having doubts about the sincerity of anything he says. There is also the very serious question of where Peter got the tranquilizer drugs that he once used to knock out a possessed Dana Barrett, because that means he may carry roofies around with him whenever he goes on any date.


Kat profile
Katniss is a survivalist and the kind of person you want around when you are stranded with a dead phone battery or in the middle of a vast wilderness where children are constantly trying to kill you. She is fiercely independent and does not care much for rules. Basically, time spent with Katniss will always be difficult, but it will never be boring. She is also slow to trust but incredibly loyal once you earn her confidence. She will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about or feels responsible for. More than anything the Girl on Fire is an introvert at heart and will often need time alone to recharge; any partner that can respect that will go far to learning how to maintain a relationship with her.

Unfortunately, no relationship with Katniss Everdeen will ever be easy. Having faced so much tragedy, her natural instinct is to cut herself off completely from her feelings, including love. However, every so often she will explode in what may appear to be an emotional and almost irrational outburst. She also does not like being controlled by anyone, and will often withdraw or fight against the will of others, whether it is an oppressive white-bearded dictator or an overbearing significant other trying to plan for a night out. She has admitted to being opposed to romance or marriage, but Katniss has problems understanding what she truly wants, whether it be the son of a baker or the brother of a thunder god. This kind of indecisiveness coupled with her emotional problems and fiercely independent nature does not bode will for the odds of any relationship with her being in your favor.


Did you enjoy our list? Was there anyone we forgot? Anything you disagree with? Let us know in the comments below.

“So the wall explodes and there is like plaster everywhere. The people in the inside are all like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ So as the dust settles I make my entrance and I do the maniacal laughter-thing, of course, and announce, I am the Mandroid, yadda yadda yadda… You know the typical speech. That’s when that douche, Half-Life, shows up. He trashes my robot minions and the next thing I know I’m getting a face full of his radiation blast… I mean come on, radiation blast. That doesn’t even sound safe. They call me a menace yet their hero is a walking Three-Mile Island. If I get cancer I am so suing his ass.”

I stood there wiping down a dirty beer mug as I listened to the man. Suddenly, he was silent and mumbled something into his glass of liquor.

“How’d you get away?” I finally asked as I finish cleaning the mug.

“Get this,” he said with a laugh. “I made him think one of my minions was wired with explosives. I gave him the ol’ ‘save them or catch me’ speech. What an idiot.”

“I didn’t think you were the bank robbery type, Mandroid?” I said as I poured the brightly colored-clad man another drink.

“You know how expensive it is to have robot minions? Enhanced neural processors don’t grow on trees you know.”

“Barkeep, I think I’ll take that kicker./Give me a drink of your best liquor,” called the man from at the far end of the bar.

“I think you have had enough, Quizzy,” I said as I hobbled down to him.

“Nonsense, for I am the Quiz Master,/and I won’t be ordered about by some drink caster.” The man stood up from his bar stool and brandished some kind of staff that extended in his hand. His purple and gold sports jacket hung off him like a cheap suit.

“Drink caster? Your rhyming is making less sense than usual. You’re cut off.” I motioned to Edward in the corner.

The big hulking brute of a man lumbered his way toward the bar and picked up the slender squirming drunk from where he stood. With very little effort he carried him to the front entrance of the bar and tossed him like a rag doll through the open door. In a past life, Edward had been known as Two-Ton, a third string villain in Titan City’s super-criminal underworld. That was before he got clean and I gave him a job. When you cater to the type of clientele I do it helps to have a seven-foot, super strong, near-indestructible bouncer at the ready.

Of course, there were still some mishaps. A year before some mercenary named Raymond Gunn shot up the place. He destroyed my prized pool table. Then there was the time Professor Nightmare started a brawl with Kid Cyanide because the kid was hitting on Nightmare’s girlfriend, The Couger. Still, for the most part everyone remained civil. They all knew my bar as a place they could wind down. Really super-villains are just like anyone else. All they want is a place where they can go and forget about the world for a while. I like to think I offer that. My name is James Joseph Friday but most people nowadays call me…

“JJ,” the voice called my name. I turned to find my newest employee, Gill Laridae backing away from the bar top with a gun pointed at his chest.

“What’s the problem, Gill?” I said as I hobbled my way toward him.

“I’ll tell you what the problem is,” said a small big headed man as he stood on top of his bar stool. His tiny child-like hands clutching the firearm with the steady grip of a professional killer. “This kid asked me for ID. Don’t you know who I am, kid?”

“Gill,” I said calmly, “this is Child Endangerment. He only looks like a kid. Really he’s 42 years old.”

“I’m 41,” said the big headed assassin as he put away his gun away and sat back down. “Now how about that drink?”

“Coming right up,” I motioned for Gill to pour his drink order and to his credit the kid snapped out of his stupor and got to work. It’s always a little disconcerting the first time you have a customer push a gun or a knife or a fully charged plasma cannon in your face, but in this business you learn to get over it fast, or you quit. I have gone through more than my fair share of employees. Most quit, but a few disappeared without much of a trace. No two ways around it, you had to be tough to work in this industry.

I watched my table waitress Georgia Atlanta as she slapped some guy who looked like he was half-octopus and half-human. I guess he was getting too touchy feely with her, as customer sometimes do. Georgia is one of those people who can handle herself. She used to be a villainess by the name of Southern Bedlam, but she gave it up when her son was born. She moved out west to Titan City to get a fresh start.

“What’s it like to be a villain?” asked Gill later on after he had calmed down. The kid had an abnormal fascination with super-villainy and I knew where that path led. I had hoped to dissuade him from it by hiring him on as my part-timer. I wanted to show him that it wasn’t all fun and grand larceny.

“Its not anything you want to be a part of kid,” I said as I tapped a new keg. I hefted the large metallic cylinder underneath the bar with a grunt. I was not as young as I used to be. I stood and wiped off my hands with a nearby dish towel. When I turned back around he was still looking at me expectantly.

“Listen, kid,” I said. “you don’t want to get mixed up in this world. It never ends well. Look at Dr. Zirconium over there.” I motioned to a large hulking monster sitting alone in the corner. Underneath his white torn lab coat his skin looked like it was made of jagged crystalline material.

“Dr. Zee used to be a Nobel-prizing winning metallurgist, until one of his experiments went horribly wrong. Sure, the accident gave him increased strength and skin almost as hard as diamond, but it also reduced his intelligence down to that of a twelve year old. Super-villainy always comes with a price. It ain’t worth it.”

“What about you?” said Gill. He reached into his pocket and he pulled out an old picture, and suddenly I was staring at a memory I hadn’t thought about in a long time. There I stood in a black and white jumpsuit. I had this great big mask covering my eyes and the days of the week were written all over my damn costume.

I took the picture from his hand. “God, look at this. I looked ridiculous. Look at my mustache. What was I thinking?”

“You used to be Joe Friday,” persisted Gill. “You used to run around with a calendar pinned to your chest. How can you tell me being a villain isn’t worth it?”

“First off, it was a weekly planner not a calendar. Second off, I was never much of a villain. It turns out planning your schemes based around a weekly schedule makes you a bit too predictable.”

“But everything turned out alright for you. You’re fine…”

I don’t usually get angry but all the questions along with the old photo had me riled up, “Kid, I was one of the lucky ones. Some of the guys I knew from the old days, King Carnivore, the Piper, Lady Gravity, they weren’t so lucky. Most of them are dead or in jail. Damn, the Emerald Hood has spent the last twenty years trapped in some kind of parallel hell-dimension. Is that what you want to happen to you?”

“No,” he said meekly.

“I was lucky. Shining Templar only broke my leg in four places when he captured me. I spent a few years in jail and now I got a bum leg to show for all of my troubles, but that’s when I decided to go legit. Take it from me. Make an honest living, its a lot less hazardous to your health.”

I shoved the old picture back in his trembling hands. “Watch the bar. I’m going out back for a smoke.” I left the poor dumbfounded kid alone inside. His shocked face the last thing I saw before the back door swung shut behind me. I fumbled for a cigarette and lit it with one of the matches I had in my back pocket. The first drag was like a warm blanket. All the tension and anger seemed to drain away as I stood there smoking and watching the sky over Titan City.

Its an old habit, I suppose, watching the skies. Its something most villains learn to do in their careers. You never know when some guy in a cape and long-johns is going to come swinging down and ruin your day. Even though I hadn’t committed a crime in over two decades I guess it was still a hard habit to let go of.

I knew there were still times when I felt the urge and the old excitement would start to kick up again. Friday the 13th’s were always the worse days for me, but I had been clean for too long to let myself fall back into bad habits. Besides, I was too old to play the game anyway. A man had to admit his limitations and I knew mine. Idly I stretched my bum leg.

I wasn’t a villain anymore. I was just a bartender, and that’s good enough.

Read all the stories about Friday’s Bar for Super-villains