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America's Greatest Hero is murdered. His sidekick wants to know why.Curveball
is a Web Serial Novel
centered around the eponymous villain turned hero
who discovers his former partner Liberty
was murdered under mysterious circumstances.
The story primarily follows Curveball as he learns of his ex-partner's murder and begins his investigation. It also dips into the perspective of other heroes, villains, and the victim's great-great granddaughter.
Curveball borrows liberally from the conventions of comic book publishing, adopting a monthly release schedule, referring to each release as an "issue," and creating cover art designed to resemble a comic book cover.
This series provides examples of:
- 555: So far, every e-mail address in the story has ended with ".tti", which is a non-existent Top Level Domain. This is later justified; Gladiator (a.k.a Robert Thorpe) created his own micronation for Thorpe Industries, and apparently managed to get some international recognition, which would qualify him for a country-specific TLD.note
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Farraday City's sewers were apparently built specifically for people to travel through — complete with secret rooms for the travelers to hole up in. Later on, we find out that the water that flows through them during a storm forms a magic rune the size of the entire city.
- All Part of the Show: Back before they both retired, Alex and CB got into a little fight over CB dating (and sleeping with) Alex's granddaughter. The fight only ended when they both fell off the under-construction building they were on, through a skylight, and into a Bar Mitzvah celebration. Fortunately, the father at the celebration was pretty quick on his feet, and introduced them as though he were expecting them. Alex and CB played along, and a good time was had by all.
- Badass Longcoat: CB's trenchcoat.
- Big Eater: Whenever Red Shift exceeds a certain speed, his powers also accelerate his metabolism for the next few days, resulting in him eating doughnuts by the box. In addition, if he's going to be traveling a long distance at high speed, he has to wear a special IV harness that pumps glucose and nutrients directly into his bloodstream (and he's still hungry afterwards).
- Captain Ersatz:
- Liberty is obviously a stand-in for Captain America.
- Gladiator is much more of a straight-up good guy, but beyond that, you'd have some trouble telling him and Ozymandias apart.
- Farraday City is what you'd get if Basin City was moved to the coast.
- Code Name: It's traditional that every person with powers has some kind of code name, even if they don't have a secret identity to protect. This is especially important to the members of Crossfire, who absolutely insist on calling people with powers by their code name. Red Shift discovers that this can be pretty inconvenient when talking about a new metahuman who hasn't had time to think of a code name yet.
- Deadpan Snarker: CB, on occasion.
- Defiant to the End: Liberty.
- Dying Clue: Played with; That e-mail that Liberty sent just before he was attacked probably contains a perfectly coherent and logical explanation of what's going on. Too bad they can't decrypt it.
- Friendly Enemy: Overmind admits to feeling admiration for Liberty, and displays an interest in finding the people responsible for his murder.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: See Ret Gone, below.
- Gun Fu: In Issue Four CB displays casually deadly proficiency with handguns.
- Healing Factor: All over the place, with various justifications.
- Super powers: Liberty, Curveball, and Jenny can recover from injuries as serious as multiple broken bones overnight. Vigilante can heal from much worse than that in fifteen minutes.
- Medicine: Crossfire has access to an IV medicine that can cure a concussion in a few days. Thorpe Industries has a "medical tank" that's supposed to be much better than that — if they could get around all the legal red tape blocking them from actually selling the things.
- Magic: Plague gets a healing factor that's almost as good as Vigilante's by having magic symbols tattooed over his entire body.
- Heel-Face Turn: CB was once a villain and one of Liberty's arch enemies. The actual turn occurred before the start of the story.
- Hollywood Silencer: The people who offed Liberty used silencers to avoid alerting the neighbors.
- Instant Sedation: The fire sprinklers in Agent Travers' office don't spray water, they spray an instantly paralyzing neurotoxin. (And I do mean instantly. As in, one whiff and you drop like a discarded toy.)
- Living Lie Detector: Agent Henry. What's more, while he's making direct eye contact with you, you lose the ability to lie at all.note
- My Hero Zero: After Jenny gets her powers, she starts using the name "Zero."
- Only Known by Their Nickname: In his civilian identity, Curveball is known only as "CB". Subverted later on, when we find out that that is his actual, legal name.
- Outrun the Fireball: It's a little more realistic when the one doing the running has super speed.
- Present Tense Narrative: Every issue is published in third person present tense.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Thorpe would be perfectly happy to sell his amazing inventions for profit. It's just that his competitors, fearing they would be put out of business, used some underhanded legal tricks to block him from doing so.
- Required Secondary Powers: Red Shift generates a force field around himself whenever he exceeds a certain speed, so that he can travel at supersonic velocity without the slipstream tearing his arms off. He's been known to use it as a weapon in and of itself, by running just fast enough that the force field forms, then running into people.
- Ret Gone: When Overmind was young and foolish, he accidentally cast a spell that would have ended the entire world. The only way he could undo the spell was to erase the entire island he was on from history. Unfortunately, the two spells interacted, leaving behind a "remnant" of the island that is doomed to repeat the last 24 hours of the island's existence for the rest of eternity. Every now and then, this remnant will reappear in the location where the island would have been: the middle of what is now called The Bermuda Triangle.
- Secret Identity: Some supers have them, some don't. In addition, although it's not a good thing if your secret identity is found out, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your superhero/supervillan career, either.
- Superhero: Well, duh.
- Super Team: All over the place. The Gladiators was a New York-based team that both Liberty and Curveball were members of before it broke up, and the vigilante group Crossfire plays an important part in the later part of the story.
- Telepathic Sprinklers: A single cigarette manages to set off every ceiling sprinkler in the bank lobby in Issue One.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Overmind is trying to take over the world, because he believes that the world would be a genuinely better place to live with him in charge. This makes him perfectly willing to help investigate the murder of a hero like Liberty.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Thanks to his Healing Factor, Alex aged at a fraction of the rate of most people. So, he got to watch his wife grow old and die without him. The fact that CB has the same power, and thus wouldn't be able to grow old with Jenny, turns out to be the real reason behind the fight mentioned under All Part of the Show, above.
- Wretched Hive: Farraday City.