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Literature: Velveteen Vs
Velveteen Vs (2000) is a short story series by Seanan McGuire about a former superheroine named Velma "Velveteen" Martinez who was one of the young heroes "adopted" by The Super Patriots, Inc. On reaching legal adulthood she decided to walk away from the superhero life, but the Marketing Department wants her back, and are willing to do a great many things to get her.

The series is available to be read off the author's site as well as more recent updates on her LiveJournal. The first anthology in the series, Velveteen Vs The Junior Super Patriots, has also just been published, and the second was released in August 2013.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: From Velma's point of view, the adults are either borderline abusive, or Marketing.
  • Alternate Universe: Velveteen finds herself in an alternate universe where her rival quit the Super Patriots and she co-leads the team. She also gets a close look at what happens in other AUs.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Inverted. It ends with Princess declaring that the story DOES end here.
  • Almighty Janitor: In Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, West Coast Division, it's pointed out that Velma is ranked as a support hero "at best" (on the official "power level" scale, she is apparently rated at 2 out of 5). This does not stop her from wiping the floor with the nine-hero team sent at her, a whole three of which officially rank at the highest power level, 5. Elsewhere in the same chapter, the narration states that her real demonstrated power level would be 4, and that she had yet to fully reach her limits.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: in Princess' case, her animal companions can do anything a Disney princess' can do, and more.
    Princess: I can have a team of SWAT trained raccoons here in under a minute.
  • An Ice Person: Jackie Frost.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Claw, of the animal abilities sub-variety.
    • The Beastmaster: One of Claw's powers is to command the loyalty of crustaceasns.
  • Animate Dead: The power of Roadkill, an Alternate Universe version of Velma who went full supervillain.
    • Velveteen herself is also capable of the same trick, as seen with her keeping Tag alive after his death.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Several, including many associated with seasonal holidays.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Of forgetting to be Velma
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Starting with irradiated maple syrup and going from there with one bizarre origin story after another.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Sparkle Bright. The alternate universe version Polychrome is out of the closet.
  • Art Attacker / Art Initiates Life: Tag's power is to give his pictures form and solidity.
  • Back from the Dead: Jory. Victory Anna and most likely Tag, off screen.
  • Beard of Evil: The villain in the first story.
  • Blondes Are Evil: The final villain Velveteen must face down to defeat Super Patriots Inc. is a blonde of some high renown.
  • Bluebird of Happiness: Trained in salon styling and cosmetology, courtesy of the Princess.
  • Bunny Tropes: While she is not an actual rabbit, Velveteen, due to her costume being setup with bunny ears and cotton tail, ends up heir to several of the tropes.
    • Bunnies for Cuteness: Part of why Marketing set up Velma as Velveteen. She was a little girl who could bring toys to life.
    • Hair-Raising Hare: Near the end of the series, Velveteen shows that rabbits can be fierce.
    • Playboy Bunny: Some of Velveteen's grown-up costumes approach or riff off this.
    • Righteous Rabbit: Velveteen is the center of the eventual battle against Super Patriots, Inc., at which time people realize they're not the wholesome and unimpeachable force for good they present themselves.
  • Came Back Wrong: Alternate universe Marionette. Also Tag.
    • An interesting example, in that they are MENTALLY fine...they just need energy.
  • Catch Phrase: Marketing helps heroes working for them come up with memorable ones.
    • Velveteen has one that's pretty much only muttered to herself: "Fucked up times (number)."
      • Escalatingly increasing number, in the chronological order chapters. She hits Infinity at the end of book one, and doesn't go down till the second chapter of Book two.
  • Celeb Crush: Marketing encourages these.
  • Children Are Innocent: The downside of fighting the Junior Super Patriots when you aren't really a villain.
  • Child Soldiers: All of the Junior Super Patriots. It is also shown that the Super Patriots deliberately recruit kids young so that they will be more controllable.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Alluded to while discussing her origin
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: SPI offers classes in "Advanced Going Into the Big Spooky House at the Top of the Hill" to young superheroes: "you had to study to be that pig-headedly stupid."
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero / Heroes R Us: Super Patriots Inc straddles the line between the two.
  • Crush Blush: When Aaron first spoke to Velma.
    • Yelena blushes bright blue when asked if she has a crush; it's revealed later that the crush is on Velma.
  • Cure Your Gays: What Super Patriots Inc promised Yelena's parents they would do.
  • Deal with the Devil: Vel makes one with Santa Claus...a rare sentence.
  • Deep Sleep: One night at a motel, for Velma.
  • Detect Evil: Or rather, naughty.
  • Domino Mask: Part of the superhero costume in many cases, starting with Velma/Velveteen's costume.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first couple of stories imply that Velma and Yelena never got along; after that it's made clear that they were close friends before their Marketing-engineered blowup in their late teens.
  • Emergency Transformation: Claw's father changed him into what he is now to save his life from an unspecified illness.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: How the Princess gets her powers.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Yelena's powers.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: One of Princess' Powers
  • Face-Heel Turn: Played straight, subverted, playing with. . . .
  • Flashback: sometimes told in the form of Dream Sequence.
  • Flying Brick: Majesty's power set, Action Dude's, and one of the more common ones.
  • A Friend in Need: Velma to Yelena, as children.
  • Genre Savvy: Several characters exhibit this:
    • Velveteen, extremely so. She realizes early on in her career that a lot of the stock drama and superhero tropes around her are actively engineered by Marketing. And, in a nice meta example, she closely follows fan forums for inspiration (and possible strategies) on how to use her powers effectively.
    • Scaredy Cat coaching Velma in Halloween.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Velveteen builds up an army of people who have been screwed over by Super Patriots, Inc. and their Marketing department.
  • Heroic Build: Action Dude
  • Heroic Sacrifice: How alter-Velveteen ended up causing Velveteen-prime to reality hop.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Velveteen, and pretty much anyone who leaves SPI under bad terms, is declared either a washout or a super-villain by SPI, and therefore, by the media as well.
  • Hide Your Gays: Subverted in some cases, and an in-universe case played straight with Sparkle Bright.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: A mechanic doesn't take her money.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Velma and Yelena
  • Killed Off for Real: Subverted with Tag.
  • Light 'em Up: Sparkle Bright's base power.
  • Mad Scientist: Many, including Dr Darwin and Victory Anna.
  • Making a Splash: Lake Ponchartrain and Mississippi Queen, for starters.
  • Maybe Ever After: Vel does NOT revive Tad in the ending, though she makes it clear she'll try when she feels she's able to.
  • Marionette Master: Velveteen's power
  • Mega Corp.: Super Patriots Inc, crossing over into Law Enforcement, Inc..
  • Men Don't Cry: Aaron carefully waits for Velma to leave before he wipes his eyes.
  • Merchandise-Driven: SPI
  • Mutant Draft Board: SPI
  • Nice to the Waiter: Velveteen looks for toys that volunteer.
  • No More for Me: Something a river rat would swear after seeing amassed crayfish
  • Oh Crap! There Are Fanfics of Us...: Velveteen is disgusted by some of hers.
    "After the fifth piece of pornographic fan art and the real-person slash fanfic novella where she liked to "do it like a rabbit," she figured the strategy tips were sort of like protection money: as long as they stayed semi-useful, she wouldn't feel compelled to wipe them off the face of the planet."
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Velveteen's parents were abusive when she lived with them, and only cared about her as a meal ticket once her powers manifested.
    • Velveteen's team of the Junior Super Patriots West Coast Division was, except for the Claw, composed of kids who were sold by their parents to Super Patriots Inc.
    • The Princess was forced into it; once her powers manifested, the universe insisted that she not have parents, so she cut all ties with them rather than see them have an "accident".
  • Pirate: Jolly Roger's power
  • The Power of Love: Princess can invoke it at will, with her fairy tale powers.
  • Powers as Programs: The character profiles in the book state that Super Patriots Inc. tried to switch Velveteen and Sparkle Bright's powers to "stabilize" the team, but it didn't work.
  • The Promise: Scaredy Cat warns Velma about the importance of getting this.
  • Propaganda Machine: Marketing
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Team Velveteen is composed of Velveteen herself (declared a supervillain by SPI), Tag (who washed out of training), Victory Anna (trans-dimensional refugee), Princess (untouchable by SPI due to other contractual obligations), Jackie Frost (the naughty daughter of Winter).
  • Second Love: Tag. Also Yelena.
  • Secret Identity: One of Super Patriots Inc's few redeeming qualities is its thorough protection of its under-age superheroes' identities.
    • Also a part of superhero courtship, since so many start in-costume.
  • Slasher Movie: One of the enemies Velveteen faces can generate the thematic for a slasher flick as his powerset.
  • Spot of Tea: Victory Anna as part of her quasi-Victorian thing.
  • Steampunk: Victory Anna's whole motif.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Several of the characters in the series, starting with Velma Martinez herself.
  • Stock Superpowers
  • Subject 101: Heroing 101
  • Tap on the Head: In the first story — though it only knocks her down.
  • Technopath: Mechamation.
    • Velma's powers can touch on technopathy. Her specific power is to animate anything that looks like a lifelike representation, and that includes things like animatronic dinosaurs as well as plush animals.
  • The One Guy: Tag is the only guy on Vel's team.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The amassed crayfish have the mood, if not the objects.
  • Transgender: When asked their real names, one of Velveteen's friends announces the name their parents called them is adifferently genderered from the one by which we currently know them.
  • True Love's Kiss: What will wake Tad from his enchanted sleep; Vel just isn't sure if she qualifies.
  • Undercover as Lovers/The Beard: Action Dude and Sparkle Bright.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn what job Velma wanted to interview for in Portland, after she misses her interview.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The Midnight Coffee Society
  • Wicked Witch: How Halloween's problems started.
  • World of Pun: Many of the cast have names that fall into pun territory: Jack O'Lope, Victory Anna and Dairy Keen, for starters. It wouldn't be so bad, if some of these were people who are NOT named by Marketing.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Princess, Jackie, and Velveteen.

Ultimate HeroSuperhero LiteratureWearing the Cape
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