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Fan Fic / Less Than Zero

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Less Than Zero is a DCU Fan Fic written by Kenchi618, the same man behind The Newest Challenger and Shinobi of the High Seas.

It's one thing to enter the world of heroes and villains, it's another thing entirely to find your way back out again. That's a bitter truth to swallow when you want no part of the life to begin with. A hasty decision from a young man with his back against the wall sends him down a path of which there is no return.


Less Than Zero follows the adventures of Maximilian Gabriel, an orphaned, down on his luck high schooler who has the misfortune of living in Gotham City. After stumbling upon an experimental supersuit designed by his late parents, Max, desperate to improve his lot in life and seeing few other decent options, decides to use the suit to commit small-time thefts to keep food in his fridge and his lights on. Finding himself under the tutelage of Selina Kyle, it isn't long before Max eventually draws the attention of the Dark Knight and his younger sidekicks. And as Max continues to operate as Gotham's newest thief Null, he finds himself making both friends and enemies among the worlds superheroes and supervillains, for better or worse.


This fanfic provides examples of:

  • Asleep in Class: The story opens on this. Max, running himself ragged between trying to keep up with his schoolwork and making enough money at his crappy job at a convenience store to pay rent, barely has enough time to get any rest, causing him to fall asleep during class. Thankfully for him, he's got Barbara to wake him up.
  • Atrocious Alias: A self given one at that. Max chose the name Null because he felt it was a good summary of how much he feels he sucks at trying to improve his life. Even after he becomes more competent and makes a name for himself as a successful villain, he continues to use the name.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just before Copperhead eats Null whole, Wildcat intervenes and beats down the snake man to save him, since he assumes that Null is some rookie hero who picked a fight with the wrong villain.
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  • Clothes Make the Superman: Max’s suit was originally a Power Armor prototype that his parents made for the U.S. military to combat the ever growing number of rogue metahumans. It uses the body's natural bioelectricity to amplify it's wearers physical abilities and grants WallCrawling abilities, a built in stun-gun, and an adaptive camouflage function. That being said, Max quickly realizes that the suit only improves the already present physical abilities of its wearer, meaning that he still has to train in order to get the maximum use out of it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Null’s first encounter with Batgirl and Robin ends this way, which is a given considering that Null is a rookie thief who only has one month of training from Catwoman under his belt, while the former two were extensively trained by Batman. The only reason he manages to get away from them is thanks to his suit’s adaptive camo ability.
    • Wildcat delivers an absolutely savage beatdown to Copperhead to save Null, as mentioned above.
    • Null’s “fight” with Batman following the bombing of the Wayne Industries warehouses makes all the other curb-stomps look tame by comparison. It’s short, brutal, and every bit as one-sided as one would expect from a rookie facing off with the Dark Knight himself.
  • Dating Catwoman: Supergirl certainly is interested in Null, and he's not adverse to the possibility of a relationship with her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Max speaks fluent sarcasm as a second language. Rose also regularly gets in on this as well.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The Joker. He’s at the very top of Max’s list of criminals not to get involved with. Early in his training, Catwoman advises Max on how to deal with Gotham's various supervillains while on a job. Her advice for dealing with the Joker? Run and pray the clown doesn’t see his face.
    • Superman is the heroic version of this. One of the first lessons that Catwoman drills into Max is to NEVER go to Metropolis, because it’s where he will inevitably run into the Man of Steel, who Null would have absolutely zero chance of getting away from.
  • Electric Torture: After Null seemingly fails to stop Anarky from crippling the world’s economy and making all of Null’s money worthless as a result, Null settles for taking his rage out on the terrorist in retaliation, relentlessly zapping him with his lightning blasts over and over again with an unnerving calmness until Batman intervenes.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Despite being a thief who does his best to avoid danger, Null will go out of his way to try and stop a rampaging supervillain, but normally only if there are no heroes around and innocent people are in danger. And even then, he's not particularly thrilled about it.
    • After finding out from Zatanna that the Miracle Slate requires mass human sacrifice to grant it's user's wish, Null decides that no wish he has would be worth it.
    • Both Robin and Batgirl are genuinely uncomfortable with Batman’s plan to let Null take the blame for Anarky bombing a Wayne Industries warehouse so as not to alert the terrorist that they’re onto him, even as they go along with it.
  • Fantastic Racism: Averted. Supergirl assumes that Null is uncomfortable around her and the other kryptonians because he doesn’t like aliens. Null explains that he’s fine with aliens, he’s just instinctively wary around anyone who can effectively kill him with a finger flick.
  • Flawed Prototype: The reason that the suit Max's parents made never got picked up for military use. As Max finds out, it's lethally flawed. While the suit harnesses the body's electricity to function, it also causes the wearers atoms to go haywire, storing more and more energy until the body overloads and shuts down. It's all but outright confirmed that this is what led to the demise of Max's parents and since he's been using it for an extended period of time, his days are numbered as well unless he finds a cure.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Supergirl struggles with the fact she's mainly identified as Superman's cousin instead of merely Kara Zor-El. She starts to crush on Null because he was the first person to not care about her Kryptonian status.
  • Logical Weakness: Zeiss's cybernetic enhancements amplify his reflexes to the point that he can fight Batman one-on-one, but as Batgirl proves, they're only effective against attacks he can see coming. When she ambushes him from behind, the villain goes down quickly.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: Null’s primary power after awakening his metagene. He becomes extremely proficient and creative with it as time goes on, using it for everything from subtly redirecting attacks from metal weapons to affecting someone’s polarity to stick them to a metal wall.
  • Mugging the Monster: After his first run-in with Batgirl and Robin, Null gets the wonderful idea to rob a supervillain after they’ve already stolen something. He targets Copperhead, thinking that he's one of the few villains Null can safely fight and win against based on what Selina told him about the contortionist. After Null blindsides him, he quickly finds out that Copperhead isn't a simple contortionist assassin, but a full-blown snake man who is a bit out of his league.
  • Outside-Context Problem: After facing off with heroes and villains whose powers range from mundane to scientific, Null is completely blindsided by the magic wielding Felix Faust when the sorcerer comes looking for the Miracle Slate.
  • Parental Neglect: Max's parents spent more time working on their projects than they did paying any kind of attention to him. When they died, Max wasn't even that sad as he felt that their work had taken them away from long before death did.
  • Personal Gain Hurts: Completely averted. While he does get in trouble with the law from time to time, Max’s decision to use his new powers to benefit himself leads to his life improving.
  • Pet the Dog: Selina's decision to teach Max how to be a successful thief boils down to this. Having once been in similar circumstances as him, she feels a bit of sympathy for the boy trying to take on Gotham City by himself.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: One of the things that sets Null apart from just about every other villain in Gotham is that most of his crimes are done with the intent of attracting the least amount of attention possible while also hurting the least amount of people. Early in the story, he steals jerseys from Gotham’s basketball team, which would only be of value to collectors willing to buy them under the table, and almost manages to slip under the Bat Family’s radar.
  • Self-Healing Phlebotinum: Null’s combat suit is capable of regenerating small tears on it’s own and can assimilate fabric to repair larger damage.
  • Starter Villain: The Tally Man serves as Null's first villain opponent when the hitman comes looking for daylight identity. He's not a skilled martial artist or superpowered fighter, he's just a psychotic gunman with good aim. Once Null gets in close, he's able to beat him down easily enough.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: After seeing Null’s fight with Copperhead, Wildcat assumes that Null is an up and coming hero, and decides to give the teen a bit of training so he doesn’t get himself killed. Null goes along with his assumption, partly because he really needs the training and partly because he really doesn’t want to explain that he was actually trying to rob the villain Wildcat just got done beating the crap out of.
  • Thicker Than Water: Deathstroke treats Rose worse than shit, yet she stubbornly sticks with him because he's her only blood relative left alive.
  • Too Much Information: Max's visible response when Selina mentions how Wildcat performs in bed.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Null goes from easily getting his ass kicked by Batgirl and Robin to being able to put up an impressive fight against either of them after a month of learning how to properly fight from Wildcat and another few months of training with Ravager, though he is still noticeably behind both of them in terms of skill.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Copperhead believes that since Wildcat has no powers, he shouldn't have any trouble dealing with the hero. It doesn't end well for the assassin.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Null helps Ravager from being double teamed by Batgirl and Robin during the S.T.A.R. Labs heist, Deathstroke responds by putting a bullet in Null's thigh and berates him for not immediately escaping the crime scene like he was instructed to do. As far as Deathstroke is concerned, following his orders is more important than saving his daughter.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Max and Rose are constantly snarking at and insulting each other, yet they function surprisingly well together. Deconstructed when Max ponders how toxic Rose actually is for him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The mob sends the Tally Man and Zeiss after Max in retaliation to his parents dying before paying back their loan to them. Tally Man especially is all too eager to try and gun down the teenager.
  • Wretched Hive: Gotham, naturally. Max wonders if there's something in the air or water that brings out everyone's dark side.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Null constantly assures he's only looking for himself and helps the heroes just because it's convenient for him. Supergirl isn't really convinced by his arguments.


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