Previously in Comic Superhero…
Andrew triumphed over Emily, earning him the right to win back the autographed comic. However, Jackson was less than impressed by his friend’s thought of cheating on the test. The sweetest victory for Andrew soured when his best friend stormed away, leaving the issue unresolved. Friendship is now on the brink of collapse…
Jackson disappeared into the crowd of students evacuating the building at the end of the day. Emily, Joshua and Bianca shadowed behind Andrew, watching Jackson walk away.
“Well Mr. Quiet Achiever,” said Emily. “Looks like you are on your own. Seems such a shame to celebrate your victory by yourself.”
Andrew wheeled on Emily, his anger fired at the nearest target. “You lost. That comic is now mine. I won it, fair and square. You had better deliver that comic on Saturday.” Turning his attention to Joshua, Andrew delivered another volley. “You Judas. You knew I wanted that comic so you blabbed to Emily about it.”
Emily interrupted, her eyes narrowing, “You think you’re so smart that you don’t realise how much of an arse you are.”
Joshua and Bianca laughed quietly behind Emily’s back. Feeling humiliated Andrew turned and headed off down the corridor, hoping to catch Jackson. Standing in the doorway he scanned the schoolyard but could not see Jackson. Stray papers rolled across the asphalt landscape.
Andrew walked home, furious at Emily and angry with Jackson. He called Jackson’s mobile. When it began ringing he waited expectantly for Jackson to answer.
“Hi, you’ve reached Master Chief Jackson. Right now I’m busy on a mission, but if you leave me a message I’ll buzz you back. Master Chief out.”
Andrew waited for the beep. “Jackson, it’s Andrew. What happened this afternoon? Give me a call.”
On his walk home, Andrew replayed the events in his mind. The victory of defeating Emily still glowed in his mind, but Jackson’s abandonment was an advancing hurricane. It knotted his stomach and he couldn’t shake the guilt of what he had done to make his friend turn against him. He hadn’t actually cheated, but Jackson was right: he had come close to doing it.
He slammed his bedroom door behind him and threw his school bag under the desk. Blast beats and grinding guitars thumped behind Andrew’s eyes as the headphones shut out the world. Foul music to match his foul mood. Sitting motionless in his chair, eyes closed, Andrew absorbed the music while his frustration and anger simmered.
Opening his eyes, the boxes of comic books above his desk mocked him. In front of him was Jackson’s copy of The Green Lantern. He flung it away. It settled like an injured albatross, pages creased and awkwardly folded.
No message had been left on his phone from Jackson. His text messages went unanswered. He sent one more before giving up. What’s going on? Talk to me.
Andrew tossed the phone onto his desk and resigned himself to a night of homework.
At school the next day Andrew kept a low profile, hiding in the study desks of the library. A pile of comics and homework kept him distracted from thinking about
“Looks like you’ve built yourself a Fortress of Solitude,” said Nathan. Andrew turned Nathan and Stuart away, thankful for the act of solidarity but not in the mood to talk.
Three days passed and Andrew had had no contact with Jackson. His text messages were ignored and calls went unanswered. In class Jackson kept his distance.
Emily noticed the cold shoulder given to Andrew. She buttonholed him in the library on Thursday. Andrew was at one of the large desks focused on the books in front of him.
Sitting across from Andrew, she scanned the books spread out in front of him. She picked at the corner of a comic sticking out from the edge of his folder. Andrew slammed his hand down but Emily was quicker to withdraw her hand. He stared into her green eyes, but they gave nothing away. She flicked her long hair back over her shoulder and all Andrew could think of was a shampoo commercial. He pulled his earphones out.
“Ironic, isn’t it?” Emily asked, leaning back. “All this fuss and bother over a comic.” She reached for the comic again, slipping it out of the folder. “The Dynamic Duo has had a falling out. Seems such a shame to lose a friend over such a trivial thing.” She turned it over in her hands.
Andrew leaned forward and snatched the comic back. “Let me ask you something, Emily. Why did you do it? What do you gain from all this?”
Emily leaned in towards Andrew who recoiled slightly at his personal space being invaded. “Do I need a motive? Like all villains, we do it because we can.”
“But there has to be a reason.”
“Because it makes sense when there is a reason. Even The Joker had a reason for bringing about chaos.” Andrew opened his hands on the table, palms up in resignation.
Emily took advantage of the hapless Andrew. “You don’t see it, do you? You have always had success, always done well. You’ve never had competition. Not until I arrived, then you had some real competition. Without me, there is no competition. Without me you are nothing. I’ll bet you have no idea what you want to do when you leave school.”
Emily’s last comment deflated Andrew. It felt as though she had physically slapped him across the face. He attempted to regain his composure.
“So what’s your story? Every villain has their origins. You never talk about where you came from.” Emily flinched ever so slightly, her eyes darting down quickly to avoid Andrew’s stare. For a moment, Andrew saw a potential crack in Emily, a glimpse behind the mask of a teenager.
“My story is irrelevant to our conversation,” said Emily, her face forming a mask again as she stood up. “I have something you wish to possess.”
“Which is now rightfully mine. See you on Saturday at Phat Albert’s.”
As Emily walked away, Andrew threw another question at her, “Did you cheat?”
“Won’t say I did. Won’t say I didn’t. I wasn’t the comic freak with something to lose. When you’re the good guy, the rules are so important. When you’re the bad guy…” Emily shrugged her shoulders, leaving Andrew in his self-imposed isolation.