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Literature / Corpies

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Corpies is a spinoff novel set in the same world as Super Powereds. It takes place chronologically during Year 3 of Super Powereds, and it's best to read it in between Year 3 and Year 4 (Year 4 contains references to the events of Corpies that will spoil major points). The spinoff follows the adventures of Titan, Roy and Hershel's father, as he tries to return to the Hero scene after leaving to hide from scandal.

Unfortunately, as a pariah scorned by the media he is unable to find any hero team willing to accept him despite being the physically strongest super in history. What he finds instead is a team of Corpies, privately employed super emergency responders who protect the public while advertising their sponsors' products. Since they aren't licensed to fight supervillains and their old Hero liaison left, they need someone that can fight to protect them if villains show up while they are trying to rescue people.

As he spends more time with the Corpies, he comes to realize that they aren't the inferiors and wannabes that he and many of his Hero colleagues think they are.

Corpies provides examples of:

  • Adaptive Ability:
    • Titan's real power is that if his strength or durability is ever not enough, he can grow.
    • Hopcules grows in strength according to how afraid Hexcellent is.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Titan, before the truth came out and he quit being a hero in the backstory.
  • Artificial Gravity: A prototype gravity manipulation device is stolen from a lab partway through the novel. The Big Bad ends up equipping its Humongous Mecha with it in order to circumvent the Square-Cube Law and to allow the robots to balance their bodies even if damaged.
  • The Beard: Titan was married before the start of the story. His refusal to admit the truth to himself and later to others cause the scandal that later led to his temporary retirement. He later admits to himself that he knew the truth about himself even before meeting his wife, but she ended up impressing him so much that he convinced himself he loved her.
  • Bland-Name Product: Hexcellent's most prominent sponsor is a store called "Fiery Discussion," catering to a goth aesthetic, an obvious nod to Hot Topic.
  • Break the Haughty: Owen goes one on five with the Elemental Fury team in a power assessment match and wins handily without doing more than superficial damage to them, despite their leader, Gale's insistence that he's nothing but a reckless Attention Whore.
  • The Cameo: From the main series. Dean Blaine leaves a voicemail for Titan, asking for a favor, although he introduces himself by his former codename "Zero".
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early on, Hexcellent mentions her first summon as a child was an armored rabbit named "Hopcules" who would protect her, while also mentioning she could not summon him anymore due to being a jaded adult. Come the robot attack on the charity, and Hopcules appears as a twenty story tall rabbit knight.
    • During his first public appearance with Hexcellent, Titan explains to her that strongmen like him can be rendered impotent by a telekinetic lifting them off the ground. When Hexcellent asks if there's a counter, Titan reveals that he always carries small spheres on his person, which he can use to throw at a telekinetic to throw off his or her concentration. He later ends up using this technique during his "assessment" with the Elemental Fury.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In her very first scene, Hexcellent is introduced playing a video game, and throughout the novel she is shown to be a skilled and dedicated gamer. It's her familiarity with video games that allows her to solve the mystery of the robots' weird and seemingly nonsensical attack patterns: they're being controlled by an Artificial Intelligence that thinks it's playing a Real Time Strategy Game.
  • Cool Teacher: Titan has a lot of respect for Dean Jackson of the Sizemore Tech HCP, who chastises Titan for sending Hershel/Roy to Lander instead of his Alma Mater. He then admits that Dean Blaine is probably more qualified to deal with the boys' special situation. He asks Titan to help out in the Sizemore Tech booth during a public event to help attract prospective students into his HCP, resentful that everyone seems to be talking about the Lander HCP these days, even though his program is just as good. When Titan asks about Supers who may avoid the booth specifically because of him, Dean Jackson simply leans back and says "Fuck 'em!"
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The eponymous corpies, which is actually a derisive nickname. Their official designation is PEERS (Privately Employed Emergency Response Supers) and they're primarily involved in rescue work as the title may suggest; they're not allowed to engage criminals, particularly not superpowered ones, unless it's in self-defense. They're usually looked down upon by most heroes, including Owen at first.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Before she joined the PEERS, Hexcellent made some bad lifestyle decisions. While she has since cleaned up her act, her criminal background still kept her from becoming a hero. This is the reason she cannot enter a Hero Certification Program, since they don't allow Supers with a record.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Hexcellent's power lets her summon demons, and she still works for the good guys.
  • Discriminate and Switch: A variation. Zone is hostile to Titan from the start, constantly jabbing him verbally. Finally, Titan confronts him about it, figuring that Zone either doesn't like that he's gay or assuming that all Heroes look down on PEERS (which is true). It turns out that his problem is that, during his scandal, Titan ran away instead of confronting what he did and owning it, becoming a symbol for all other non-traditional Supers, who dreamed of being Heroes. Instead, a number of other gay Heroes hung up their capes, and the gay Supers who wanted to apply for HCP chose other lines of work. The latter category includes Zone's brother, who gave up the chance to become a great Hero for a menial job in construction.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Big Bad had one not far from Brewster. It contains a huge robot factory on top of a deep mining complex. Everything is automated to the point where it continues to function after the death of the Big Bad. The Heroes determine that it was originally built decades ago by another villain before being abandoned and then re-discovered by the Big Bad.
  • Failure Knight:
    • Titan himself, who got back into Hero work because he was embarrassed about having abandoned Hershel and Roy after his scandalous affair, and guilty about abandoning people who still needed a hero. He also keeps a list of every innocent who has died while he was trying to protect them.
    • The remaining members of the Wild Bucks, after their mistakes turned a small fight into a huge disaster that killed nine civilians.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Humanity Purists. They talk a lot for people who perpetrate hate crimes against the heroes that actually protect humans from dangerous supers. To a lesser degree, a lot of people who still attach great mysticism to powers despite their having well-documented mechanics.
  • Game-Breaker: Invoked by the Big Bad, who believes it is playing a computer game and finds itself continuously frustrated by Titan's frankly obscenely powerful abilities, both as a super in his own right but also as a motivator of other supers who can bring out the best in them.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When first meeting Galvanize and finding out about his Status Buff power, Owen tells him to never use the ability on him, as it would remove Titan's control over his abilities, which would cause untold destruction. During the Decisive Battle, with Humongous Mecha attacking the city, Titan decides that he needs all the strength he can get and asks Galvanize to use his ability on him.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Even as a kid, Hannah/ Hexcellent had that unconventional style of hers. Her first ever defensive summon was an armed bunny of roughly 5' tall... wearing platemail. That's quite a lot of bunny. But, she lost the ability to summon Hopcules as she grew older and her fears became too complicated for Sir Hopcules to combat directly. She slowly created other, more demony replacements for the rabbit-shaped hole in her heart. He does come back to save her. Twenty storeys-worth of righteous, lapine anger aimed directly at the robots trying to kill her. Awesome for (unconscious) her; scary for anybody on his list of targets with a brain.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Invoked by Titan with Eli, a gang member whom Owen persuaded to help with rescue efforts after he cubstomped the rest of the members of Eli's gang and another gang they were fighting. Justified, since Titan is able to tell that Eli isn't really a bad guy and was just lashing out after Heroes killed his brother, a Super gangster. Later, he is asked to help with opening holes in a Humongous Mecha in order to allow Heroes to enter it. After Topsy takes over Titan's duties on the team, Titan gives him Eli's file and suggests he consider hiring him, which would fulfill Eli's community service sentence.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When signing a contract with Hexcellent, Mordent Holdings deliberately wrote out the details of her three summons in order to trademark them. After Hopcules comes into play and becomes hugely popular, they attempt to claim pre-existing conditions, since Hexcellent created him when she was a little girl, but Lenny is having none of that. He gets the arbiter to agree that the contract specifies nothing of the sort.
  • I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Titan is terrible at superhero fighting games, despite being more or less the best guy to have on your side in the kind of fight they depict. Also, due to Competitive Balance Titan in the game is much weaker than Titan in real life.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: When Corbin slanders Bubble Bubble, Titan comments that it is a surprising show of trust in the hero community to make himself that much of a target for groups like the Sons of Progress and still expect to be protected.
  • Invincible Hero: During the tug-of-war competition, Titan realizes that their opponents are getting more cheers than his team. The reason is because everyone knows that Titan is the one doing all the pulling and will inevitably win. So, he deliberately swaps with another teammate, resulting in a loss that earns them lots of cheering.
  • Island Base: Elemental Fury are based on an island not far from Brewster.
  • Kaiju: One of the members of the Wild Bucks team is called Kaiju, and his power is to shift into a 14-foot-tall red lizard. Not quite up to kaiju standards, but still.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Big Bad keeps periodically sending them out to attack Brewster, Illinois, with the robots getting better each time, learning from the previous attempts. This culminates in a large-scale attack using spider Humongous Mecha that keep spewing more humanoid bots. There's also a specialized robot at the Big Bad's base designed to fight Titan.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: As vastly musclebound as he appears, Titan is still way stronger that he should be judging from simple muscle mass.
  • Old Shame: invoked The team shares theirs when Bubble Bubble is caught in a sex scandal.
    • Galvanize was in a porno. Not even as one of the actors, just as an extra.
    • Zone once accidentally crapped himself at a skateboard competition.
    • Hexcellent's was the aforementioned Hopcules, whom she summoned because she was afraid of the dark.
  • One-Word Title
  • Power Levels: Given that it's difficult (nearly impossible) to properly classify Supers and Powereds as far as their power level goes (no two Supers or Powereds have the same exact ability, and some abilities mitigate or neutralize other). Titan explains to Hexcellent that there is a Damage Rating system that categorizes people with abilities based on their destructive potential (typically, how much damage they can do in an hour):
    • Non-Threatening Combatant (NTC) Class: Supers with the same ability to cause destruction as normal humans. Frequently called "tap to the head" by stronger Supers due to their lack of super-resistance.
    • Standard Class: Can cause significant damage but not on a large scale. Most Supers fit this category.
    • Demolition Class: Supers who can level city blocks. Titan himself is classified as this. He explains that no strongman can ever be classified as Manhattan or Armageddon class, since they simply can't cover a large enough area in the time allotted.
    • Manhattan Class: Supers who can cause damage on the scale of a nuke.
    • Armageddon Class: Supers who can, potentially, cause destruction on a global scale.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Jeremiah's power. He can lock his body into a particular state (when he's healthy and fit). For as long as his power is active, that state cannot be changed. This means that, no matter the damage to his body, it always pulls itself back together. It also means he doesn't age, although he's not old enough to know for sure. The downside is that he remembers every time he has died.
  • Seen It All: Dispatch is very difficult to surprise. She has been around for so long that her voice remains cool and businesslike no matter what, even when she's told that there's a 20-story rabbit wearing medieval armor and breathing fire on a bunch of robots in downtown Brewster. However, she is momentarily dumbfounded by the news that the rabbit was summoned while its summoner was unconscious, which is thought to be impossible.
  • Slave to PR: The corpies are contractually-obligated to be this, which is enforced by their public relations manager Harold Greene. The latter constantly admonishes Titan for failing to appear in photo ops with the PEERS, while Titan is doing something that, as far as he's concerned, far more important. Of course, in Mr. Greene's eyes, nothing is more important than PR.
  • Slut-Shaming: Bubble Bubble gets caught up in a sex scandal for sleeping with a director two years before, who failed to mention that he was already in a relationship with a well-known actress. Later, when a paparazzi reveals a video, showing them making out and entering a hotel elevator together, the director claims that she seduced him, possibly using her Super abilities (even though her well-documented powers have nothing to do with mind manipulation). Titan convinces his agent Lenny to help her save her. Instead of trying to rescue her image of a demure nice girl, which the scandal has pretty much killed, Lenny has Bubble Bubble own what she did (i.e. had consensual sex with another consenting adult who only afterward turned out to be a liar and a cheater) and be aggressive about it. During an interview, she turns the tables on the talk show host and attacks the outdated My Girl Is Not a Slut stereotype.
  • Square-Cube Law: The Docs explain that the reason the attacking robots aren't much taller than Titan is because of limitations imposed by physics. As it is, the current robots are weaker on top than bottom. They discover that a prototype Gravity Master device has been stolen, which could allow someone to build Humongous Mecha without regard for this trope. This results in a bit of Canon Discontinuity with the main series, where giant robots are mentioned several times, and a picture of Globe is described, where he is casually blocking a giant robot foot.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Owen is head and shoulders above literally every other character in the story, with his abilities allowing him to go one on five with an entire team of top level heroes and come out on top, though he personally denies this, citing his belief in the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors nature of super-powers, specifically listing a super with the power to induce fatal aneurysms that the government keeps on hand just in case he goes rogue (at his own suggestion).
  • Summon Magic: Hexcellent and Birdsman are able to summon creatures they have previously designed. Hexcellent can manifest three demons (and one very large bunny), and Birdsman, true to his name, can summon a number of elemental birds (four total, one of which he can ride).
  • Super-Empowering: Galvanize's ability is to temporarily allow others to operate at the maximum physical level their body is currently capable of, though he isn't able to increase their strength beyond that limit and it doesn't affect powers.
  • Super-Strength: Titan's power, at least in effect.
  • Super Team: A number of Hero teams are named, and a few play key roles in the novel. The titular corpies have a team without an official name. They are frequently just called PEERS or referenced by their employer.
    • Elemental Fury - the most well-known Hero team in the city. The composition is well-rounded in terms of combat and non-combat Supers. Their leader is called Gale (Blow You Away). Other members are Granite (Rock Monster), Birdsman (Summon Magic), Spring (Super-Speed), and Misdirection (Master of Illusion).
    • Wild Bucks - a relatively new team of young Heroes, composed entirely of physical heavy hitters. They are mentored by a retired Hero called Topsy (Titan's former teammate). After a botched public fight, two of them are kicked off the team, leaving the leader Deadlift (Super-Strength, but only for picking things up), Juiced (a girl who uses a special concoction to temporarily gain Super-Strength), and Kaiju (a shifter, who turns into a 14-foot lizard). At the end, Titan joins the team, but Deadlift renames it to Gentle Hammers after Titan's first team after apprenticeship. At the same time, Topsy takes over for Titan as the PEERS Hero Liaison.
    • Modus Operandi - a team of Subtlety Heroes, only one of whom, their leader Jeremiah, is known to the public. They are instrumental in gathering intelligence for other teams.
    • Transcendental Justice - a team of Heroes with less-than-direct powers, led by Aether (Intangibility).
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Every Hero wears an earpiece that connects him or her to Dispatch, who sounds like a vaguely European woman. No one actually knows who Dispatch is or even what she looks like. She is the one who tells Heroes where they are needed and provides them vital information. She also records and relays messages between Heroes.
  • You Are Not Alone: Titan, and then the rest of the group, do this when Bubble Bubble's sex scandal shows up. Each of them shares an embarrassing story from their own past, and Titan reminds her that she is less responsible for her own scandal than he was, since she didn't know that Corbin was cheating with her.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Titan gets this at one point from a passerby. He also needs to tell just about everyone that he is the original Titan and doesn't just have a legacy title