Happy Hour

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“So the wall explodes, and there is 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,’ yada yada…you know, the typical speech. That’s when that jackass 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, but their hero is a walking Three Mile Island. If I get cancer, I am so suing his ass.”

He gets silent before mumbling something into his glass of liquor.

“How’d you get away?” I ask as I stand there, wiping down a dirty beer mug.

“Get this,” he says 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-robbing type, Mandroid.” I pour the brightly clad man another drink.

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

“Say, barkeeper / I’ll take that kicker / Give me your best liquor,” calls the man from the far end of the bar.

“I think you’ve had enough, Quizzy.” I hobble down to him. It’s happy hour on a cold, wintery Tuesday, and the place is packed floor to roof. I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down all day, and my body’s paying for it.

“Nonsense. I am the Quiz Master / I won’t be ordered by some drink caster.” The man gets up from his barstool and brandishes some kind of staff that extends out from his hand. His purple-and-gold sports jacket flaps off him like a cheap suit.“Drink caster? Your rhyming is making less sense than usual. You’re cut off.” I motion to Edward in the corner.The big hulking brute of a man lumbers his way toward the bar and picks up the slender, squirming drunk like a child. He carries him to the door and tosses him out into the alley without any ceremony.

In a past life, Edward was known as Two-Ton, a third-string villain in Titan City’s supercriminal 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, superstrong, 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 Doomerang started a brawl with Kid Cyanide because the kid was hitting on his girlfriend, the Cougar.

Still, for the most part, everyone remained civil. They all knew my bar as somewhere they could wind down. Really, supervillains 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 calls my name with a noticeable squeak, and I turn to find my newest employee, Gil Laridae, backing away from the bar top with a gun pointed at his chest.

“What’s the problem, Gil?” I hobble toward him.

“I’ll tell you what the problem is,” says the small, big-headed man standing on top of his barstool. His tiny, childlike hands are clutching a firearm with the steady grip of a professional killer. “This kid asked me for ID. Don’t you know who I am, kid?”

“Gil,” I say calmly, “this is Child Endangerment. He only looks like a kid. Really he’s forty-two years old.”

“I’m forty-one,” says the hit man as he puts away his gun away. “Now how about that drink?”

“Coming right up.” I motion for Gil to pour the man a beer, and to his credit, the kid snaps out of his stupor like an old pro.
It’s always a little disturbing 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 get out. I’ve 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 have to be tough to work in this industry.

I watch my table waitress, Georgia Atlanta, as she slaps some guy who looks like he is half octopus and half human. I guess he was getting too touchy-feely with her, as customers tend to do.

Georgia’s one of those people who can handle herself. She used to be a mercenary by the name of Southern Bedlam, but she gave it up when her son was born. She moved out west to Titan City just looking for someone to give her a chance at a fresh start. I know how that can be.

“What’s it like to be a villain?” asks Gil after he’s calmed down. The kid has an abnormal fascination with supervillainy, and that sort of path leads nowhere good. My hope is that I can dissuade him from it by hiring him on as my part-timer. I figure I can show him that it’s not all fun and grand larceny.

“It’s not anything you want to be a part of, kid,” I say as I start to tap a new keg. With a grunt I heft the large metallic cylinder underneath the bar. I’m not as young as I used to be. I wipe my hands down with a nearby dish towel, but when I turn around, he’s still looking at me like some wide-eyed kid expecting to see a parade.

“Listen, Gil,” I say, “you don’t want to get mixed up in this world. It never ends well. Look at Dr. Zirconium over there.” I motion to a large imposing monster sitting alone in the corner. Underneath a torn white lab coat, his skin is made of jagged crystalline material. “Dr. Zee was a Nobel Prize–winning metallurgist, but one of his experiments went horribly wrong. Sure, the accident gave him increased strength and skin almost as hard as diamonds, but it also reduced his intelligence down to that of a twelve-year-old. Supervillainy always comes with a price. It ain’t worth it.”

“What about you?” says Gil. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out an old picture, and suddenly I’m staring at a memory I haven’t thought about in a long time. There I am in a black-and-white jumpsuit. I have this great big mask covering my eyes and the days of the week written all over my damn costume.

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

“You used to be Joe Friday,” persists Gil. “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 the days of the week makes you a bit too predictable.”

“But everything turned out all right for you. You’re fine…”
I don’t usually get angry, but all the questions, along with the old photo, rile me up. “Kid, I was one of the lucky ones. Some of the guys I knew from the old days—King Carnivore, the Piper, Wrecking Cruella—they weren’t so lucky. Most of them are dead or in jail. Damn, the Emerald Hood has spent the last twenty years lost in time and space. Is that what you want to happen to you?”

“No,” he says meekly.

“I was lucky. Shining Templar only broke my leg in four places when he captured me. I spent a few years in supermax and 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. It’s a lot less hazardous to your health.”

I shove the old picture back in his trembling hands. “Watch the bar. I’m going out for a smoke.” I turn my back on the poor dumbfounded kid. His shocked face’s the last thing I see before the back door swings closed behind me.

My hand reaches for my shirt pocket and the other picture I know is concealed there, an old memory I can’t seem to let go of. The one thing the kid doesn’t get, and maybe the one thing I can never explain, is that the villain life leaves more than just busted noses or ruined knees. The worst scars are the ones you can’t see, the ones you never really get over.

I resist the call of the old Polaroid, the urge to revisit that dark and lonely well. Instead my shaking hand fumbles for a cigarette. I light it with one of the matches from my back pocket, and the first drag is a warm blanket. All the tension and anger drain away as I stand there smoking and watching the snowy gray sky.

It’s an old habit, I suppose, watching the skies. It’s something most villains learn to do early 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. I haven’t committed a crime more serious than jaywalking in over two decades, but I guess it’s still a hard habit to let go.

After all, there are times when I feel the urge, and the old excitement starts to kick up again. Friday the thirteenth is always the worst day for me, but I’ve been clean for too long to let myself fall back into bad habits. Besides, I’m too old to play the game anymore. A man has to admit his limitations, and I know mine.

Idly I stretch my leg. I ain’t a villain anymore. I’m just a bartender, and that’s good enough.


FRIDAY’S BAR FOR SUPERVILLAINS
Written by: Adam J. Brunner
Illustrations by: Russel Roehling

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-Profile1
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.