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My name's Carrie Hauser and as I record this on my trusty laptop, it's New Year's Eve and, coincidentally, the end of the weirdest, wildest and worst year of my young life - and also the greatest. Over the past four months, I've met incredible people, had an amazing adventure and learned that the world is so much larger and crazier and more fantastic than I could have ever dreamed.

Oh, yeah, and I've nearly been killed several times, but I try not to think about that part too much.
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Action Figures is a teen Superhero series by Michael C. Bailey that focuses on the "Hero Squad" of Kingsport, Massachusetts, mostly through the eyes of Carrie "Lightstorm" Hauser. Carrie begins the series as a new-in-town almost-16-year-old with a secret ... thanks to the gift of a dying alien, she can transform into an energy being, complete with the ability to fly and project energy bolts. She soon meets four friends with gifts of their own:

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The five band together to fight crime as the Hero Squad despite the disapproval of older supers like the armored hero Concorde. But with magic, aliens, and vast criminal conspiracies afoot, there's plenty for heroes of all ages to take care of - if they survive the experience.

The series to date, which takes place over about two years of In-Universe time, consists of:

  • Action Figures - Issue One: Secret Origins
  • Action Figures - Issue Two: Black Magic Women
  • Action Figures - Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect
  • Action Figures - Issue Four: Cruel Summer
  • Action Figures - Issue Five: Team-Ups
  • Action Figures - Issue Six: Power Play
  • Action Figures - Issue Seven: The Black End War
  • Action Figures - Issue Eight: Crawling From The Wreckage
  • Action Figures - Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury
  • Action Figures - Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences
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An 11th book is scheduled for 2022. The series is nearing completion, with Bailey expecting it to be 12 books in total.

Tropes featured in the series:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Kingsport High School adopts a zero tolerance policy toward the use of superpowers on campus. So when Carrie powers up on the athletic field to respond to an emergency call from another state, the school cites the policy and issues a suspension.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Averted with Mindforce, who is both a powerful psychic member of the Protectorate and a skilled psychologist.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Secret Origins introduces Archimedes, an AI that very much wants to come to life, has destroyed three robot prototypes trying, and works out an evil plan to make it happen for real with its creator's assistance.
  • The Anti-Grinch: Carrie is the self-described "avatar of the Christmas spirit," right down to the dorky green-and-white elf hat she puts on every December.
  • Arc Words: The Hero Squad motto: "No secrets. No lies."
  • Atrocious Alias: The first response to Matt's supername of "Captain Trenchcoat" is often "Dude - really?"
  • Back from the Dead: Black Betty, through what is effectively Demonic Possession.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Secret Origins, Missy admits that she sometimes wishes her parents would get a divorce because they seem so distant from each other. By the time of Power Play, her mom has walked out after discovering that her dad genetically manipulated Missy in the womb.
  • Best Years of Your Life: Matt assures Carrie that this is literally true for the school's "cool kids," who will never achieve anything better than their high school glory.
  • Big Eater: Stuart is good for multiple helpings of anything that's being served. During Carrie's first meeting with the rest of the Squad, Stuart wolfs down four hamburgers; at a follow-up dinner at Carrie's house, he's good for another three plates of pasta, while still remaining engaged in the conversation. As Carrie thinks more than once: "Where does he put it all?"
  • Boxed Crook: Unintended Consequences sees EVERY villain ever arrested by the Hero Squad quietly freed in order to become part of the government's Project Thermopylae, a defense against the alien visitors that were revealed to Earth in Power Play.
  • Broken Pedestal: Matt became a superhero because of his admiration for and desire to be like Concorde. Then, after shutting down a rampaging robot as Captain Trenchcoat, he got to meet Concorde - and was shocked when the older hero called him a stupid kid, asked Matt what he was thinking, and told him to never try anything like this again. After that, Matt's motive became to prove his former hero wrong.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Two cases so far:
    • Carrie has a traumatic version of this in Secret Origins when Manticore overpowers her and cuts the source of her power right out of her hands.
    • After killing the King of Pain and erasing the minds of her own parents in Cruel Summer, Sara asks to be psychically lobotomized by the Protectorate. They go through with it, but it doesn't last.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Archimedes threatens all of Kingsport High School to try to draw out the Hero Squad. Naturally, all of them are attending class at the time in their secret identities, and have to figure out how to respond despite the lockdown.
  • Bully Hunter: Stuart despises bullies, at one point facing down a school football star who's hassling a special-needs student. This hatred goes back to a bully named Ronny Vick who inadvertently caused the death of Stuart's younger brother and served time for it. When Ronny enrolls at Kingsport High School, Stuart initially can't take it, but after working his way through to an epiphany about what happened, he eventually defends *Ronny* from bullying by the other students who know his past.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Carrie's depowerment lasts exactly two chapters while Sara's power loss stays in place for nearly an entire book.
  • Captain Superhero: Matt, the biggest comic-book geek on the team, goes by the supername Captain Trenchcoat. This is roundly mocked by his teammates.
  • Car Fu: Minotaur opens his revenge match against the Hero Squad by throwing a Toyota and an SUV at them. Stuart ends it by pounding him into the pavement with a police cruiser.
  • Celebrity Masquerade: Edison Bose is a rich and famous industrialist and inventor, the Tony Stark of his world ... which makes it fitting that he's also the armored hero Concorde.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Averted. Before busting into Archimedes' motel room, the Hero Squad has to change clothes in a janitor's closet, an awkward and uncomfortable experience. When Archimedes later threatens their high school, the members are able to react so quickly because they actually forgot to change into costume first.
  • Chaotic Neutral: In-Universe. In Hell Hath No Fury, the Hero Squad debates on whether Dr. Enigma belongs on this portion of the spectrum, or whether she's descended into outright villainy.
  • Child Soldiers: Carrie begins serving in the Black End War with the Vanguard at age 16 and turns 17 while still in service.
  • Clark Kenting: Captain Trenchcoat wears BMX goggles and a ratty trenchcoat, the latter of which he also frequently wears in his civilian identity. Concorde even recognizes the coat when Matt wears it on a non-super visit to Protectorate headquarters.
  • Code Name: As common for superheroes as it is in the comic books, with most names being either a giveaway (Concorde is an armored hero who flies really fast, Mindforce and Psyche are mentalists, etc.) or chosen for awesomeness (Superbeast took his name from a Rob Zombie CD).
  • Coming-Out Story: Sara realizes she's a lesbian and becomes the girlfriend of Meg "Megawatt" Quentin.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: When Archimedes threatens Kingsport High School in Secret Origins, the Hero Squad immediately responds - so immediate, in fact, that they don't change into their masks and costumes first. This doesn't cause immediate problems since the school was on lockdown and Archimedes doesn't know them from Adam, but it does later come back to haunt them.
  • Creator Career Self-Deprecation: Carrie panics after a meeting with her counselor on post-school careers, and begins wondering if one of the options in front of her will still be around after college. Her friend Malcolm reassures her that it has more of a future than newspaper reporting - which is author Michael C. Bailey's former career.
  • Crisis Makes Perfect: When Carrie suggests that Psyche's mental abilities might include Mind Control, Sara has serious doubts. But when Minotaur seeks out revenge against the Hero Squad, Sara helps save the day by freezing him in place with a command of "Don't move don't move don't move don't move ..." until Stuart can pound him flat.
  • Curves in All the Right Places: Carrie is pretty up front about it. "Around middle school I discovered that God saw fit to equip me with Option Package 3-B: blonde, boobs, booty."
  • Dead Man's Switch: To protect himself from being disconnected by his creator, the AI Archimedes writes an email accusing him of murder. The email will be sent nationwide unless Archimedes gives a "stop" order every 24 hours.
  • Dehumanization: Since she was the result of a genetically engineered in vitro fertilization, Missy isn't seen by the authorities as human but as a government experiment that they have every right to reclaim.
  • Demonic Possession: In Black Magic Women, Missy is possessed by an evil spirit that briefly turns her into Melissa Pandemonium before Dr. Enigma manages to cast it out again. A similar possession creates the villainess Stacy Hellfire.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Matt keeps chasing Sara without success. He finally gives up when he learns she's gay.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Carrie is a highly intelligent student who excels in many subjects ... except for math, where she struggles to even get a C on a test. She dislikes the subject and believes the loathing is mutual.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Pretty much how the Protectorate first came together: The Entity had been tracking a band of terrorists and found them at the same time as Concorde, who had been tracking the tech they stole. The mayhem from the resulting battle attracted Nina Nitro and Dr. Enigma, and when a captured terrorist refused to talk, Concorde called in a friend of his, Mindforce, to do a psychic interrogation. According to Matt, these sort of coincidental meetings are how most super teams get their start.
  • Evil Teacher: School's hard enough without having an evil mastermind who's also the vice principal.
  • Expy: As a billionaire powered-armor hero who's the core of a major superteam, Edison Bose AKA Concorde is basically Tony Stark AKA Iron Man with a touch of Batman's tendency for keeping secrets, even from allies.
  • Family of Choice: Already best friends, Carrie and Sara become sisters in everything but DNA when Sara moves in after her parents throw her out because of her sexuality.
    • More generally, this is an overall theme for the series. Every single member of the Hero Squad experiences sharp family rifts, but they also have their strong friendships with each other, solid adult mentors and friends in the hero community, and even some personal connections that have nothing to do with their superhero lives (like Stuart's youth work or Missy's band) to give them the love and support they need.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: An ARC robot that's an AI prototype has recently run amok in the downtown - again - and the main reaction from the average resident seems to be frustration that it forced The Coffee Experience to close for repairs. "Now where am I going to get my damn latte?"
  • Firing Day: At the start of Secret Origins, the head of ARC's Artifical Intelligence division has already been suspended, pending a board decision on whether to shut down the entire department. He escalates this into a firing when he comes back to reactivate his old servers, though this soon becomes moot when he knocks his boss unconscious in the middle of the firing and downloads the AI Archimedes directly into his boss's brain.
  • First Contact: The open arrival of alien terrorists in Team-Ups, followed by the galactic guardians known as the Vanguard, serves as a blatant notice that we are not alone in the universe. Carrie, of course, knows that it isn't the first time aliens have visited Earth since that's where her own powers came from. But even she doesn't realize that the visits go all the way back to Roswell.
  • Five-Man Band: For the Hero Squad:
    • The Leader - Carrie, whose combination of levelheadedness and responsibility holds the team together. At least until she's drafted to fight in an alien war.
    • The Lancer - Matt, who contrasts with Carrie on several levels: he's brash, she's mature; he looks like an outcast, she's a teen beauty; he's knowledgeable in science and has magic-based powers, she struggles with science in school and has technology-based powers; he's a well-read geek who knows everything about real and fictional superheroes, she's completely new to the superpowered world. The choice of leadership comes down to the two of them, and Matt really wants the role, but he's too abrasive to lead the team himself. By the time Carrie departs for outer space, he's matured a bit and becomes The Leader in truth.
    • The Smart Guy - Sara, whose quiet but perceptive nature is supplemented by her Psychic Powers, which give her a lot of extra context on situations.
    • The Big Guy - Stuart, an obviously ripped easygoing "brick" with a seemingly bottomless stomach.
    • The Chick - Missy, the most-loved member of the team, who draws in-universe comments about being so cute she could be an anime character. It doesn't hurt that due to genetic modification, she's basically a catgirl without the obvious markers ... yet.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Near the end of Secret Origins, Carrie admits to having nightmares about Manticore cutting off her hands.
  • Flight: One of the first powers Lightstorm ever discovered, she can fly at supersonic speeds. Once she's on the radar of the established super teams (so to speak), she starts carrying a transponder so that she doesn't cause any difficulties for air-traffic controllers.
  • Flying Firepower: When transformed into Lightstorm, Carrie can fly at supersonic speeds, fire off energy blasts, and is mostly impervious to physical harm.
  • A Friend in Need: This becomes Carrie's motive for being a superheroine, as she notes in Secret Origins:
    Carrie: Life's not fair. Bad stuff happens to good people all the time and there's nothing they can do to stop it, but maybe I can. Normal people, they can't do jack against someone like Archimedes or Manticore or Minotaur, but I can. And I will. Even if I have to do it alone.
  • Girl Posse: At her old school, Carrie was one of the "Mean Girls," but was snapped back to reality by her parents' divorce and is trying to make a fresh start in her new hometown. Kingsport High has a posse of its own, led by Amber Sullivan who (of course) is captain of the cheerleading squad and dating the football team's quarterback.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Matt is roundly mocked by the rest of the group for his assumed name of "Captain Trenchcoat." His impromptu coining of "The Hero Squad" isn't seen as much better (even by him), but the media solidifies it before the group has a chance to change it.
  • Goal in Life: According to Sara, Matt has wanted to be a superhero since the second grade.
  • Guinea Pig Family: Kunoichi's powers are the result of genetic experimentation by her Dad. His wife was not aware of this and walks out when she learns the truth.
  • Hero Harasses Helpers: Concorde doesn't think that teenagers have any business being superheroes and tries to get the Hero Squad to quit even after they come to his aid during a super combat and assist in the arrest of Archimedes. He eventually (and reluctantly) eases off on this, and the Squad later discovers that he has his reasons for being uncomfortable with masked adolescents.
  • Hero of Another Story: In Secret Origins, Matt argues that this can be the Hero Squad's initial role - taking care of the problems that aren't world-shaking enough for the Protectorate to handle.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the Black End War, Carrie develops severe post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently wrestles with depression.
  • Hidden Depths: Matt quips about this when Carrie - a high-school hottie on first appearance - mentions liking ice hockey. More significantly, Matt reveals some hidden depths of his own when he begins to learn hand-to-hand combat from Nina Nitro and gets a chance to show what his mind can do while interning for Edison Bose.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The sorceress Dr. Engima is the heir to the throne of a Hell-like dimension, and will do literally anything to avoid becoming the new ruler.
  • If You Won't, I Will: Concorde prefers to work on a need-to-know basis, even with allies like the police. More than once, Carrie warns him that if he tries to keep a dangerous secret, she'll cut her ties with the Protectorate and reveal it herself.
  • Inscrutable Oriental: Ironically applied. Dr. Hamill, Missy's Japanese father, is The Stoic, if not The Spock - a sober personality with few visible expressions, who dresses in an impeccable suit and tie and keeps the atmosphere like a funeral home, but without the gaiety. He's also the member of his family who's tried the hardest to assimilate into being a "proper American," even to the point of taking his Western wife's last name - his brother has maintained more of his Japanese roots and is a much more fun guy to be around.
  • Light 'em Up: Most of Carrie's powers are light-based, including her energy blasts, her golden aura, and later her invisibility, discovered after some experimentation with Doc Quantum.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Meg "Megawatt" Quentin, oh, so much.
  • Local Hangout: The Coffee Experience is a regular go-to for the Hero Squad. It's also where Carrie ends up working when she loses her previous job while fighting in an interstellar war.
  • Loose Lips: Carrie's identity is irreparably blown when Mom's new boyfriend gets drunk and tells everyone in earshot.
  • Magic Versus Science: The brilliant super-scientist Doc Quantum (Dr. Gwendolyn Quentin) is personally offended by the existence of magic - she knows there should be a scientific explanation for it and it disgusts her that she can't find one. In Black Magic Women, she spends a long time examining and testing Matt's gloves to understand their powers before finally concluding "Your gloves are magic. ... Please get your magic gloves the hell out of my lab."
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Inverted. When Carrie's mom starts dating, it winds up unmasking Carrie, followed by the entire Hero Squad.
    • Played straight for Carrie (who breaks up with her first boyfriend out of concern for him) and Matt (who has a potential girlfriend walk away when she realizes how dangerous his super-life is).
  • The Mentor: Concorde becomes a mentor to Matt in both his super and secret identities (to both of their surprise). Mindforce helps Sara understand her psychic powers and also provides psychological counselling when needed. Missy finds herself learning a lot from The Entity about effective stealth and combat. And in a non-super example, Grandpa Hauser is a kindly rock whom both Carrie and her mom lean on a lot after her mom's divorce. Which makes it all the more devastating to the family when he dies.
  • Mind Rape: Psyche completely wipes the minds of her own parents in Cruel Summer, leaving them permanently in a vegetative state.
  • Mirror Monologue: Carrie's speech to convince Concorde to take the Hero Squad seriously goes on for four paragraphs before she reveals that she's actually speaking it to her reflection to make sure she's ready.
  • Mooks: Whether they have live pilots inside or are operated remotely, the Thrasher battlesuits exist mainly to give the heroes (and in one case, the villain Archimedes) an opportunity to show how awesome their powers are against identical, disposable opposition.
  • More Hero Than Thou: When Manticore drops his nuclear tail over a major Massachusetts city (see Sadistic Choice below), Lightstorm and Concorde both fly out to intercept it. Lightstorm insists on taking the rescue because she - possibly - has enough acceleration to get the thing out to sea AND get back before she's caught in the blast radius.
  • Most Common Superpower: Carrie admits she's been blessed with a chest (and with all the other curves as well). This is also true for Meg "Megawatt" Quentin.
  • Motor Mouth: Missy frequently gets carried away into paragraph-long sentences without pausing to inhale.
    Carrie: (To herself) She got that out in one breath. That should qualify as a super power.
  • Mutants: Sara, Missy and Stuart are introduced as the products of genetic mutation. That's true for two of them but in the case of Missy, her powers were the result of deliberate genetic engineering.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The King of Pain, a notorious hero-killer.
  • Naturalized Name: Missy's dad, born Kenjiro Mifune, was urged to assimilate by his immigrant parents and took it to an extreme - he is now Dr. Kenneth Hamill, having taken his wife's last name when they married. Matt considers it tragic, since otherwise, Missy could have claimed a relationship to Toshiro Mifune.
  • The Needless: In Black Magic Women, Carrie learns that she doesn't just use energy when she powers up, she becomes an energy being who no longer needs to breathe.
  • Next Tier Power-Up: With the assistance of Doc Quantum, Carrie comes to understand the basis of her Lightstorm powers better, and adds invisibility to her power suite.
  • Ninja: Missy is half-Japanese, has heightened speed, strength and agility, and begins to learn serious stealth skills from the hero known as The Entity. Her chosen hero name, Kunoichi, is the term for a female ninja.
  • Non-Indicative Name: While Captain Trenchcoat does indeed wear a Badass Longcoat, the magic gloves are the real source of Matt's power - the coat just provides him with the ability to get his hands out of sight for the few seconds needed to summon an item.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: The scientist Doc Quantum and the sorceress Dr. Enigma both hold academic doctorates, not medical ones (though Enigma, a doctor of parapsychology, does give Stuart advice on how to heal an injury caused by black magic). Ironically, the one medical professional among the core superhero cast doesn't use the word "Doctor" in his name at all: the psychologist and therapist Mindforce.
  • Playing Possum: Carrie's escape from Manticore, the first time.
  • Polyamory: Late in the series, Missy finds herself in a relationship with two guys at once, with their full knowledge and consent. Her friends are surprised, but figure it out long before she feels confident enough to admit it to them.
  • Power Glows: When she become Lightstorm, Carrie is surrounded by a golden glow.
  • Power Incontinence: Sara's powers first manifested as uncontrollable telepathy, leading her to believe she was schizophrenic because she was constantly hearing voices. This reached a critical point when she was overwhelmed by the thoughts of an entire shopping mall and knocked into a coma for a month, after which the truth was discovered. In Secret Origins, she still has trouble keeping the thoughts of others out of her head until Carrie helps her practice her defenses.
  • Powered Armor: Numerous examples, especially when the bad guys begin equipping minor villains with their own, but the premier example is the heroic Concorde, a Rich Genius who built his suit and regularly upgrades it.
  • Pun: One special-occasion hangout for the Hero Squad is a Chinese restaurant called Silk Sails, which includes a model of a Chinese ship out front. Naturally, the gang refers to it as "Junk Food."
  • Real Name as an Alias: Dr. Enigma's real name is Astrid Lilith Enigma, and she actually does hold a doctorate in parapsychology.
  • Rich Genius: Edison Bose, the secret identity of Concorde, is the billionaire owner of a high-tech company who designed and built his own power armor.
  • Sadistic Choice: When detached, Manticore's tail becomes a small-scale nuclear bomb. When he drops it over a city, Carrie has the choice of either letting him escape or letting the city be devastated. Needless to say, she chooses the former.
  • Secret Identity: This is the default for both teen and adult superheroes until the exposure of Carrie's identity kicks off the Great Unmasking. The Hero Squad in particular is concerned about upsetting their families and not without reason, since many of their parents are upset by the news. Carrie's mom and Missy's dad are the only ones who really come to accept it, and the latter had already known.
  • Secret Keeper: Because of the traumatic way in which Sara's powers manifested, her parents are aware that she's psionic. They had previously believed that her "hearing voices" was a sign of schizophrenia, so learning the truth from Matt and Mindforce came as something of a relief, though they remained uncomfortable with her mental abilities.
  • Secret Legacy: Matt originally found the magic gloves in a lockbox belonging to his grandfather, along with a diary recording Granddad's career as Joe Mysterio.
  • Sensory Overload: Sara's budding mental powers put her into a catatonic state at age 14, when she was overwhelmed by the thoughts of a mall full of people. She was brought back by Mindforce, who began to teach her some techniques for control.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: After the end of the Black End War, a traumatized Carrie finds it hard to come home again.
  • Shout-Out: The artificial intelligence Archimedes gives the mandatory Frankenstein reference when his creator finds a way to give him a human body. "I believe the appropriate statement at this juncture would be, it's alive."
  • Small Town Boredom: Carrie is aware of but doesn't believe in this.
  • Soft Water: Averted: Carrie hits the ocean after she's managed to brake, and it still hurts, though it doesn't kill her.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Dr. Enigma's exorcism ritual runs through several lines of flowery Latin before concluding with "GET OUT OF HER, YOU SON OF - !"
  • Stacy's Mom: Mrs. Hauser is every bit as attractive and curvaceous as her daughter Carrie, a fact that gets Stuart's and Matt's immediate attention when they first visit. When Stuart finds out she also makes killer pasta sauce, he immediately (and jokingly) asks Grandpa Hauser for her hand in marriage.
  • Super Family Team: The Quantum Quintet consists of two parents, three kids and five superhumans.
  • Super Hero Origin: In Secret Origins (appropriately enough), the Hero Squad compare origin stories - Matt finding his grandpa's magic Mickey Mouse gloves, Carrie encountering a dying alien and Sara discovering her psionic mutation during a telepathic freak out in the mall. Stuart and Missy appear to have discovered their mutations in more ordinary ways, although Missy doesn't realize her origin is a lie - unknown to her and her mom, she was the subject of a genetic experiment by her Dad.
    • The opening book is also an origin story for the Hero Squad in general, since it's only after Carrie joins the others that they stop talking about being a superhero team and start doing it.
  • Super Team: The Protectorate is the shining example, of course. The Hero Squad are up-and-comers, but eventually become a team that other new groups can look to.
  • Superheroes in Space: Carrie joins the Vanguard, leaving Earth for eight months to fight in the Black End War.
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: Matt insists that the Lightstorm costume has to include tights. When Carrie accuses him of indulging in sexist Fanservice, Matt quickly disagrees, pointing out that it's a more aerodynamic choice, offering less wind resistance for a flyer than looser material would.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: So many examples, but especially when Carrie returns to Earth after fighting in an interstellar war. In addition to the PTSD and depression from the events of the war, it turns out that after eight months' absence, a former job has been lost and the junior year of high school has to be repeated.
    • Missy isn't exactly surprised to learn that an attempt to build a large-scale Suicide Squad sort of team for the U.S government is going poorly because the supervillains suck at teamwork and cooperation.
  • Telepath: Sara is a budding telepath, while Mindforce is an experienced one.
  • There Are No Coincidences: The Goldfinger quote of "The third time, it's enemy action" is cited by Carrie when she tells the rest of the Hero Squad that three incidents of an ARC robot rampage in the same small Massachusetts town are too much to be considered an accident.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Mindforce's role as a therapist for some of the young heroes is a major plot point, especially when Carrie returns from the Black End War and has to struggle with PTSD and depression.
  • Their First Time: It's the first time for both Carrie and her boyfriend Malcolm when they sleep together in Cruel Summer. Her mother discovers the condom afterward, and Carrie soon discovers that she was an Accidental Pregnancy.
  • The Un Masking: The first big one comes when Carrie's identity becomes public, as noted above under Loose Lips. That in turn leads to the unmasking of the entire Hero Squad and then the revelation of almost every heroic identity in the country, voluntarily.
  • Thrill Seeker: While Nina Nitro can share the more idealistic motives for heroism, she's ultimately still motivated by the same love of action and thrills that she had when she was starting out at age 17.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: Working behind the scenes, the Foreman and his apparatus expose one of the few dark secrets that the otherwise-open Hero Squad has: the fact that they killed The King of Pain and then covered it up. How well-buried was it? The incident happened at the end of Issue Four, but didn't come out until the start of Issue Ten.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The Hero Squad still has to navigate classes, homework, high school cliques and whatever that lunchroom pizza is. The complications of maintaining both lives are underscored when Carrie is held back a year after spending eight months off-planet in an interstellar war, and then later suspended for violating school policies about using superpowers on campus.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: Matt can use his Hammerspace abilities to summon an item that an opponent is already carrying, disarming them.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Stuart's motive for being a superhero, as given in Secret Origins. When Carrie delivers her Armor-Piercing Question to Matt of "Why are we doing this?" and refuses to accept "Because we're super-heroes" as a reason, Stuart steps forward with "Because we can."
    Stuart: A lot of crap happens in this world, y'know? People get hurt and killed, and a lot of it happens because people, the people who can do something, they don't step up. It's always someone else's problem. Maybe that's why the world is such a mess, because no one wants to be the one to try and fix it.

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