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Literature / Super Powereds

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Super Powereds was originally hosted as a web-novel on DrewHayesNovels. It has since been reformatted as a series of e-Books, available on Amazon (and free for those with the Kindle Unlimited subscription service). The series is comprised of four books, each one representing an academic year.

"Knowledge is power. That would be the motto of Lander University, had it not been snatched up and used to death by others long before the school was founded. For while Lander offers a full range of courses to nearly all students, it also offers a small number of specialty classes to a very select few. Lander is home to the Hero Certification Program, a curriculum designed to develop student with superhuman capabilities, commonly known as Supers, into official Heroes.

Five of this year’s freshmen are extra special. They have a secret aside from their abilities, one that they must guard from even their classmates. Because for every one person in the world with abilities they can control, there are three who lack such skill. These lesser super beings, Powereds as they are called, have always been treated as burdens and second class citizens. Though there has been ample research in the area, no one has ever succeeded in turning a Powered into a regular human, let alone a Super.


That is, until now… "

The series has a spin-off novel called Corpies (which takes place chronologically during Year 3—it's best to read it in between Year 3 and Year 4, because Year 4 contains spoilers for Corpies and features several characters introduced in Corpies who will otherwise seem a little out-of-nowhere) and an as-yet unpublished one called Blades & Barriers.

Super Powereds contains examples of:

  • Act of True Love: Half way through the third year, the Melbrook powereds are prepared to sacrifice their memories with Nick. They don't, but the message they made was clear: One for all, and all for one.
  • Adaptive Ability: Titan's power, as well as Hershel's actual power. Roy is actually a unique manifestation of it.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mary gets scolded for assuming this. As she and the others are used to relying only on themselves, they rarely seek the aid of their teachers, even when it would solve a whole lot of problems.
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  • The Alcoholic: Michael becomes one in Year 1, partly out of his hatred for Vince and partly because no one told him that, thanks to heredity, he's more susceptible to it. This eventually leads to him being transferred to Lander's Eastern Campus as a last-ditch attempt to make something out of him with discipline.
  • All-Loving Hero: Vince. He's described as being unable to believe that not everyone is genuinely interested in helping other people solely for the sake of helping. His faith in the inherent goodness of his fellow man is so great that he actually manages to make Nick develop a conscience.
    • All of the former Class of Legends describe Globe the same way, which is why his betrayal was so shocking to them. All of them are therefore unsurprised when it's revealed that Globe was Vince's adopted father. The apple fell very close to that particular tree.
  • All Men Are Perverts: It's averted for the most part and any perversion can be chalked up to a Hormone-Addled Teenager. Still, this mindset seems very prevalent with the female population especially in regards to Vince, who is so non-aggressive with girls that many suspect he is Ambiguously Gay.
  • Always Need What You Gave Up: As pointed out by Coach George when he kidnapped Hershel and Mary if Hershel was still a Powered he would have long since transformed into Roy.
  • Always Someone Better: As badass and unusually powerful as the Melbrook crew and their classmates may be, they can't really hold a candle to professional, trained supers, which they learned the hard way three years in a row. And even by the standards set by those professional trained supers, Globe was considered nigh-unstoppable. It took an entire team of supers to kill him. Even that failed. In Year 3, during the attack on the school, a boosted Mook strongman is able to easily best Roy and then arrogantly claims to be the strongest man in the world. Then he gets laid out in one punch by Roy's dad, Titan, who scoffs at the idea. Even Roy, who doesn't like his dad much, has to admit that no one is stronger than Titan.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Chad never displays much interest in sex one way or the other, being totally obsessed with training, but he is noted to look completely out of his element when Angela bribes him into dancing with her, while he has a very close friendship with her brother, Shane, whom he's rarely seen apart from.
    • Later Angela and Chad start dating, and Chad starts to socialize a little. Chad had almost no social experience and was entirely focused on training, and Shane was similarly focused on training because Angela was always ahead of him. It is implied that Chad was most comfortable around Shane, as Shane was the only person whom Chad could socially relate to.
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot: Nick's erasure, done deliberately to allow him to return to normal, but only if he earned it by being trusted and trying to protect his friends.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Camille's reaction when Vince almost gets himself killed getting her to heal him, just to put on a good showing in a test.
  • Anti-Magic: Blaine's power. He can target it or let it encompass the entire area surrounding him.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Maybe, Vince's dad is alive, apparently they Never Found the Body, but he's also Globe, a Super who took a Face–Heel Turn and killed a teammate. Vince is conflicted as his father was the reason that he lived long enough to undergo the procedure and was a generally great father.
    Vince: If tomorrow your father robbed a bank, would that stop you from loving him?
    Ralph Chapman: It might if he killed a man in the process.
    Vince: Then I feel sorry for you. You must have a pretty crappy father if he’s that easy to stop caring about.
  • Atrocious Alias: When Lander is attacked by terrorists the HCP students serve as emergency rescue forces. Since they still have to conceal their identity they come up with callsigns on the spot, resulting in such gems as Slugger (Roy), Obi Wan (Alex), Energy Taker Lad (Vince) and Short Brain (The diminutive Telepath Mary)
  • Babies Ever After: In the Distant Finale most of the cast has hooked up amongst eachother with several of them having kids.
  • Bad Future: One of two probable futures resulting from the procedure that gives Powereds control of their abilities.
  • Batter Up!: When taking the Weapons course, instead of the array of weapons in Professor Cole's arsenal, Roy purchases a metal bat at a sporting goods store. He explains his reasons to the Professor: like the bat, he's a blunt instrument, so it makes sense for his weapon to be one as well. He simply doesn't have the finesse to wield something more precise. Surprisingly, Cole agrees in principle and has a bat-like weapon made out of a super-dense material, which only someone as strong as Roy can carry and swing. While he's skeptical of using a weapon at first, he eventually realizes that he's much more effective using a bat than just his fists. Professor Cole explains that the only reason most strongmen don't use weapons is because of tradition.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In Year 3, Nicholas has to play occasional games in his mind with Nick when he's asleep. Nick usually wins, resulting in Nicholas receiving a memory of Nick's about his Melbrook friends.
  • The Beard: Titan's marriage in the backstory. It created a huge scandal when the public found out the truth.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Alex, calling his powers telekinesis instead of the Force.
    • For Chad any mention of Globe tends to do this, as Globe killed his father.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Invoked by Chad and then defied by Angela. Chad issues a challenge to Angela after having a Love Epiphany about her. When she wins, he thinks it means that he has to give up, but she tells him she still wants to date him but that she appreciated the respect of courting her as a warrior. She does tell him that as the loser he has to pay for dinner on their first date, however.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Near the end of Year 3, Vince very nearly kills the man who had just killed Sasha, and if Camille hadn't come along to stop him he would have gone through with it.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: In Year 4, Crispin thinks that he's going to partner up with Globe. Nope, the latter simply tricks him into a meeting, before capturing, interrogating, and turning him over to Blaine.
  • Bland-Name Product: The two biggest comic book companies in the setting are GC and Carvel. It's mentioned that Carvel bought out GC.
  • Body Horror: The way some of the Supers' powers work.
    • Chad's fight with Angela in Book three demonstrates that while he usually uses his complete control of his body composition to be a peak human specimen, he can be decidedly inhuman as well. He extrudes bone armor and wields his own still-circulating blood as a water-saw.
    • Any injury that's even slightly less than fatal can be shrugged off with powerful healers around, and the series doesn't shy away from describing them. Pulverized bones, burst organs... later fights aren't for the faint of heart.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: This concept is basically the whole point of the HCP.
    • This is especially relevant to Roy who is the first student with Super Strength to take more than one semester of the class on armed combat in years because he realized that weapons are inherently force multipliers and so were even more useful to him than his baseline classmates.
  • Bully Hunter: Vince. While he doesn't go out of his way to hunt them down, senseless cruelty is a major Berserk Button even if it isn't directed against his friends. This behavior is a major part of his and Camille's shared backstory.
  • Cain and Abel: Sean Pendleton and Blake Hill turn out to be half-brothers. They barely talk, as Sean blames Blake for what happened to their sister, Alice's mother. Blake blames himself as well, but he's also angry at Sean for taking away his brother, just when he needed him most. Sean keeps expecting Blake to start a fight to settle their differences once and for all. It also doesn't help that Sean is a Subtlety Hero, who are typically distrusted by the other Heroes. Eventually, after Sean learns the full truth (that Blake helped Charles kill and cover up the murder of Intra, while framing Globe), they end up having a fight to the death, with Sean initially winning, but Blake nearly killing him before Alice intervenes and subdues him.
  • Call-Back:
    • At the very beginning of the story, Dr. Hubert says that Vince was trying to fix a toaster when all of sudden he got a small shock, and a quarter of Colorado lost its power. All the way into his second year, Vince is telling an old friend about that incident while they are catching up.
    • At the very end of their second year, Nick invokes Mary's promise to not read his mind with a bet they made back in the first year.
  • The Cape: Vince is a good person to the point where his "naive" belief in Nick did actually result in Nick's Heel–Face Turn. In Year 3, when Vince gets a job at a Hero-themed restaurant (where all employees are required to wear a superhero costume), Mary and Camille note that, unlike them, Vince doesn't look like he's wearing a costume. He looks like a genuine Hero. Thomas is similar to Vince is a number of respects, including his innate sense of right and wrong. They become quick friends because of that, and Thomas is one of the first to ignore the revelation that Vince is a former Powered, claiming that Vince's past doesn't matter. Vince's unshakable goodness was evident even before he joined the HCP, including the girls he encountered during his time as a wanderer: Camille, his first kiss, was inspired to become a Hero herself, while Eliza, the girl he lost his virginity to, called him "Tights" because of that and, eventually, left him to avoid him jeopardizing his principles for her.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Roy picks a club as a Weapon of Choice for his Weapons specialization classes.
  • The Champion: Camille has appointed herself as this to Vince, after he saved her from some bullies as a little girl. She chose to go into the HCP instead of just training her healing abilities, because she knew that Vince's boy scout attitude of rushing in if he might save someone else would get him killed and she wanted to be close enough to save him.
  • Character Development: In spades. All the major characters and most of the minor ones go through a lot of development over the course of the four years at Lander; the students don't only grow more powerful, but they also become better people overall.
  • The Chessmaster: Nick has been trained since childhood to be one. Most of his moves are calculated far in advance, and his behavior is carefully constructed to produce a certain image. In Year 2, he is the team's strategist/tactician, while Mary is the captain. Even when an order appears to be coming from Mary, she typically uses her telepathy to allow Nick to "think" to her what to say. Hershel is actually a pretty good tactician as well, although not nearly on Nick's level, having gotten plenty of practice during his years as a LARPer. Ironically, Nick hates chess, since it has rigid rules and frowns upon cheating. He prefers a game, where he can play the other people, such as poker.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Nick invented a code with no cipher and used it to send himself a transcript of everything that happened at the end of every week, on the off chance that someone would erase his memory.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Charles Adair, who managed to bring down almost the entire Sons of Progress high command by bankrolling them and tracking the money.
  • Crush Blush: Camille has one for Vince.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Most of the freshman class vs Coach George, just to demonstrate to them that just because they were awesome in their hometowns, that doesn't mean squat against truly experienced supers, which is why they're in the HCP in the first place. Professor Fletcher repeats the lesson in Year 2 when he replaces George.
    • Michael and Vince's fight during the team match. Michael doesn't realize that Vince is already so far above him that any fight is pointless. He doesn't land a single hit on Vince (and ends up accidentally hitting a teammate in the process) and assumes that Vince can only absorb and emit fire. He also assumes that they're about evenly matched up with their opposite powers: Michael's regenerating ice armor can stand up to Vince's fire blasts, while Vince's agility and ability to melt Michael's ice blasts makes him untouchable. Then Vince demonstrates that Michael is not untouchable to him by blasting him with an electrical charge, showing that being encased in solid water is bad, when the opponent is wielding electricity (a lesson Professor Fletcher previously demonstrated).
    • During the final match in Year 2 Nick uses Rich to Mind Screw Vince, causing him to view the other team as terrible monsters so that he would use his powers to their fullest. He effortlessly defeats Chad, who could otherwise solo the rest of the class.
    • Some of the fights in the Year 3 mid-term are this, including the very first fight, where Will uses his Subtlety portion of the exam to figure out three clues and use them to shut down most of the simulation robots, leaving him just one to deal with, which he disabled with his custom-made taser. Everyone is suitably impressed.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Lampshaded with this wonderful line before beautiful young Alice kicks Nathaniel's ass, in reference to Nick referring to her as "princess" because of sheltered, wealthy upbringing as the daughter of a CEO.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Many characters outside of the main five students will occasionally get a story arc dedicated to them.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Nick names his and Alice's son Chance Gerry Campbell after his late father figure, who dies of cancer during Nick's fourth year in college.
  • Deadpan Snarker: George while he's in prison.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Chad. Until midway through junior year, he more or less never turned of his emotional repression and spent nearly every spare minute of his time training. However, over the course of the year he starts to gain an understanding of the value of spending time with friends, and for that matter having friends at all. He even ends up moving into Nick's old room at Melbrook after Nick's expulsion in order to add some chaos to his ordered life.
  • Disappeared Dad: Subverted; Hershel and Roy's father left them when they were ten because everyone found out he was gay. Hershel tracks him down in year 2 to get help for Roy and give him a well deserved What the Hell, Hero? for running away from his problems. Owen (their father) is now the main character of a spinoff Corpies by the same author.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue to Year 4 is set ten years after the main story.
  • Domestic Abuse: In Year 2, Will very quickly figures out that his twin sister's new boyfriend is a complete Jerkass, who emotionally abuses her and makes her feel bad for devoting any of her time to anything other than him. Feeling very protective of her, he is determined to end the relationship before the abuse gets physical, which he knows is inevitable. He knows enough about psychology not to try to convince his sister, as this would only push her further into the guy's arms. Instead, he builds a device that can take control of any car remotely and threatens the guy into breaking off all contact with her, or else his car will have a little driving accident, and there will be evidence of alcohol in the car. Despite this, Will knows that guys like him won't be stopped by this and knows he might have to make good on his threat.
  • Dork Knight: Vince is a fairly classic example. He is idealistic, strong-willed, sees the best in everyone, and it utterly socially clueless.
  • Double Consciousness: Hershel/Roy who is a Sexier Alter Ego with super powers. They used to transform uncontrollably but now only does it if Hershel drinks whiskey. Consider themselves brothers rather than the same person. This also applies to their mother, who immediately claims that Roy is not Hershel but still her son.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Alice's mother was a powered with the ability to see probable futures in her dreams.
  • Dream Walker: A man who calls himself Abridail has this ability. He works with Globe and Alice's mother. He has attempted to deliver Alice a message from her mother several times, but Alice is such a heavy sleeper, that she forget it whenever she wakes up. It's only when she's placed in a lucid dream by a Super that she's able to remember every detail.
  • Dream Weaver: Rich Weaver's power is to trap people in a vision, he traps Alice (she has all the luck apparently) during Halloween in year 2 and she's visited by a phantom who tells her that her mother is alive. She thinks Rich did it on purpose and it does not end well for Rich.
  • Energy Absorption: Vince's power. It goes far beyond anyone else ever suspected. Nick even points out that Vince deliberately only absorbs energy from finite sources in order to maintain control, such as only charging himself with electricity with batteries instead of just plugging directly into the power grid (the last time he did that he inadvertently caused a blackout). He can also absorb solar energy but never seems to do it. While protecting Camille from an enraged Chad, he accidentally finds out that he can also absorb kinetic energy. If he masters it, he can, effectively, become immune to physical damage.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Roy was an enormous Jerkass in the first book. It wasn't until Mary blackmailed him by threatening to tell his mother that he actually started to cool down.
  • Everyone Is Related: Alice is getting there pretty rapidly, with several of the "previous generation" group of heroes qualifying as Uncles or aunts by blood or marriage and one member of the Five-Man Band technically a cousin by adoption. And that's just as of book three, there are still a few mysteriously missing parents and so on to work through, which makes Nick calling her "princess" a bit of a Genius Bonus, as he may be referring to the source of the trope as well as her family wealth (having known about most of the relationships for almost two years before she did).
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Although it's debatable just how villainous Globe is, there is no debate that he raised a good, heroic son.
  • Eye Beams: During the Labyrinth challenge, Vince absorbs the electricity from Thomas's stun weapon and emits it in the form of energy from his eyes.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Rather egregious in most of the fight scenes. The heroes-in-training can't seem to have a single battle without a running narration of their tactical decisions. Wouldn't be so bad if it was an internal dialogue, but usually they're doing so out loud... to their opponents. The smarter ones at least give the play-by-play after a ploy has already succeeded.
  • invoked Fandom Rivalry: Being a Star Wars fan, Alex naturally takes jabs at anyone preferring other science fiction franchises. He's really annoyed in the Distant Finale, where it's revealed that his daughter Leia refuses to follow in her father's fandom footsteps and likes Doctor Who instead. Will only fuels the fire by building Leia a working sonic screwdriver.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • To Powereds. By Normals who considered it the cost of having Supers and by Supers as a kind of "there but for the grace of god I go" type of thing. They don't want to admit that only a stroke of luck made them beloved and idolized Supers instead of reviled Powereds. There are also Normals who feel that Supers are too dangerous. While they admit that Heroes are good, they claim that Heroes are a minority compared to the number of Supers.
    • This is a part of Camille's backstory, who was bullied as a child by the other kids for being a Super until Vince showed up and beat the crap out of the bullies.
    • In Year 2, the former Powereds are openly disliked by several of the other Supers due to their origins, not wanting to admit the greatest fear all Supers have - what if all Powereds, who have been put down by the Supers for decades, were suddenly able to control their powers?
    • This is at the heart of the Bad Future that Shelby predicts. Powereds are treated so poorly that giving them a way to control their abilities leads many of them to acts of violence. Meanwhile, people without any powers begin taking exception to being bumped down the tier list from #2 to #3 and some Supers object to Powereds being given control of their abilities, somehow making them not special anymore or something. End result of this clusterfuck is a three way world war.
    • In Year 4, as a result of the Sons' of Progress attack the previous year, a new grassroots movement has started, demanding that the HCP leave Lander. During the group's meeting, one of the attendees points out the falsehood of their "Take Back Lander" slogan - Lander was originally built specifically for the HCP, with the actual university being a secondary function, meaning there's nothing to take back. The organizer coolly replies that it's simply a slogan they've chosen, it doesn't have to be accurate. The organizer turns out to be Misdirection from Corpies. Her original mission was to get the group to disband. When Will infiltrates it, she turns it into a Secret Test of Character for him. When he passes, she makes him an internship offer after his graduatoin.
  • Fiction 500: Charles Adair. He's surprisingly wealthy even for a man who can turn toxic waste into gold by the ton.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Shane prefers to fight using martial arts rather than his powers, which aren't really suited for friendly sparring.
  • Final Battle: An epic one takes place at the end of Year 4, after Globe and his people raid Charles Adair's bunker. Globe ends up being attacked by both Charles's boosted guards and Heroes, with the Heroes also fighting the guards. The students and professors (all five deans) eventually join, with Mary providing emergency evac services for wounded Heroes and students, ferrying them to the healer Hallow, with Captain Starlight providing overall strategic guidance and a souped-up Nick tweaking probabilities in the good guys' favor. Titan then brings in reinforcements straight from Corpies: his Wild Bucks team plus Hexcellent, riding atop her twenty-story fire-breathing rabbit Hopcules.
  • First Girl Wins: Camille, who gave Vince his first kiss, ends up beating out both Eliza and Sasha.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Roy perfects this technique in-between Year 2 and Year 3 thanks to a training by an old friend of his father's, a retired Hero, who taught him to treat his entire body as a weapon, instead of just a collection of weapons. The guy even compared him to a charging bull, pointing out that experts know that you don't fear the horns, the hooves, or the shoulders... you fear the whole damn bull. While it seems less impressive visually, Chad points out that, from a technical point, it's much more impressive, since it requires lots of control and split-second timing from Roy. This is similar to what Titan does in Corpies in order to take down a bunch of criminal Supers, who are about to attack a civilian. In fact, during his first fight at the intramurals, Chad decides to borrow this technique of Roy's in order to take out a Me's a Crowd opponent in lieu of his typical finesse. This turns out to be the right move, as his opponent was hoping he'd leave himself vulnerable.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Subverted with Camille and Vince. It seems for a while as though he had forgotten about his meeting "Cami", but he later reveals that he remembered and that he figured out who Camille really was between his first encounter with her in the HCP and the time she revealed her real power. Played straight with Nick's two years with the Melbrook gang before having his memory wiped.
  • Foreshadowing: When coaches George and Persephone kidnapped Hershel and Mary in Year 1 they were fully aware of all safety procedures put in place to keep them safe.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: While many of the characters only interact with each other through the Ensemble Cast Five-Man Band, within that group:
    • Vince and Mary are very rarely seen interacting with each other. Maybe because her interactions with others is about getting them to admit things (Hershel that he has potential, Alice that she needs companionship, Nick that he can trust them). Vince's main problem is that he holds himself back, which he readily admits to. Otherwise he is very open and simpleminded, so Mary probably doesn't need to interact too much with him.
    • While Nick and Hershel occasionally talk, Nick and Roy are rarely seen together. Probably because Nick isn't a fan of Roy's previous Jerkass behavior and doesn't bother with him since he is of no use to him. Roy seems to be too focused on combat and partying to care about anyone; in their third year when Nick's memories are erased Roy admits they didn't really hang out together.
  • Fun with Acronyms: corporate-employed Supers are officially known as Privately Employed Emergency Response Supers (PEERS). The acronym frequently makes Heroes laugh, since they consider themselves to be far above "corpies" (who haven't gone through the HCP Training from Hell).
  • Gallows Humor : Globe upon seeing Vince missing an arm in book four: “I know you’ve always looked up to me, but this might be taking things a bit far.”
  • Genki Girl: Nathalie, nicknamed "Bubbles" both for her ability to create bubbles out of thin air, and for her "bubbly" personality, is one of the Supers at Lander who isn't enrolled in the HCP. She's outgoing, friendly and a total Motor Mouth with boundless energy reserves.
  • A God Am I: One of the Sons of Progress lapses into this during the assault on Lander. It lasts about five seconds before Dean Blaine shuts her powers down.
  • Graduation for Everyone: Averted by design. Only 10 students graduate every year per school. Anyone who is very good but hasn't made the cut can apply to retake the senior year again. The Distant Finale reveals that the so-called Class of Nightmares includes Vince (Jack of All), Alice (Legacy), Roy/Hershel (Ettin), Chad (Intra), Shane (Styx), Camille (Adrestia), Thomas (Citrine), Violet (Plummet), Alex (Knockoff), and Will (Technomancer). Selena and Brittany don't make the initial cut but do graduate the following year as Songstress and Fade, respectively. Others, such as Rich, aren't mentioned.
  • Gratuitous French: Camille on occasion throws around a few French words. She explains that her mother is a second-generation French-American, hence Camille's name.
  • Gravity Master:
    • This is Alice's real power. Her levitation is a just an early manifestation of it. She eventually learns to use it in a Mind over Matter kind of way, which is handy during a team match, when she is paired off with Mary. Nick wants Alice to use her new power to press down on the opposing fighters, while pretending it's all Mary's doing (who can do it but would end up hurting them if she did). Alice is reluctant to hide her ability, but Nick convinces her to keep it as their secret weapon.
    • It's also Professor Blake Hill's power, hence his moniker Black Hole. Given that he's Alice's uncle, it seems she inherited his ability.
  • Guile Hero: That's what Professor Pendleton's Subtlety discipline is meant to teach. While not very popular due to its non-glamorous nature, underhanded methods, and the fact that a substantial percentage of Subtlety students end up pulling a Face–Heel Turn after graduating, a well-trained Subtlety Hero can make a huge difference on any team of Heroes. Smart team leaders try to keep at least one Subtlety Hero in their roster, since going in blind into a situation is dangerous. An exam in Year 3 demonstrates the effectiveness of Subtlety by allowing those students to solve a complex riddle that leads them to three code words. Each code word then shuts down a certain number of robotic enemies during the exam. Dean Blaine explains that this represents the Subtlety student dealing with those enemies ahead of time through planning and intelligence-gathering. Will, who discovers all three code words, ends up having to fight only a single robot and earns a near-perfect score. However, for some prospective Heroes, whose abilities are non-combat-oriented, this is the only discipline, in which they have a chance of succeeding. This includes Will (Pendleton's top students thanks to his computer-like brain), Nick (nearly on par with Will but far more sneaky), and, surprisingly, Alice (possibly thanks to the fact that she unwittingly shares some genes with Pendleton, her uncle). Year 4 also reveals that one of the HCP deans is a former Subtlety Hero, the only one to ever be an HCP dean. During a student-Hero mixer in the same book, Gale (in a cameo from Corpies) approaches Alice and explains that someone with her set of skills would fit right in with her Elemental Fury team. When Alice points out that she's majoring in Subtlety, Gale explains that, after the "giant robot" crisis (see Corpies), she has learned the value of having a Subtlety Hero on hand. A Subtlety Hero, who can hold his or her own in a fight would be a perfect combination.
  • He's Back: Averted in Year 4 with Captain Starlight. When Senator Malcolm offers him a chance to be young again thanks to a healer, capable of retroactively undo any harm to done to a body by anything, including age, as long as Starlight puts on the suit again, the man refuses, claiming that the current crisis is for the new generation of Heroes. He does, however, ask to get 10 years knocked off his current age.
  • Healing Hands: A number of HCP students are healers, although each one's power is different. Some heal by removing all injuries. One's touch grants a temporary Healing Factor (which still leaves the person sore and doesn't remove long-term effects, such as scarring). Camille is actually an absorber, not a healer. She is able to take an injury and store it for later, before giving it back to someone else (this is why she has modified her uniform to allow her to quickly strip off to expose as much skin as possible, as her power requires skin-on-skin contact). They can also usually apply their healing powers to themselves.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: During the second semester of Year 1, the alternative course is for those students, whose abilities are not directly linked to Good Old Fisticuffs. According to Coach Persephone, it's pretty rare for bad guys to engage in hand-to-hand combat anyway, so their training may, in fact, be more beneficial than Coach George's combat training for the other half of the class. Also, some of the students in combat training have abilities that don't directly translate into things like Super Strength but can become good substitutes. For example, Chad's power is the total control over his body and mind. It isn't much by itself, but total control of the body means that he can ingest massive amounts of minerals and have his body absorb them beyond a normal human's ability to do so, thus building super-strong muscles and super-dense bones. Total control of the mind means he has Super Reflexes and a Sherlock Scan. As a side effect of modifying his own mind, he also can't be scanned by a telepath, since his brain is no longer wired the same as everyone else.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: If not for the fact that Mr Transport starts dating Hershel's mother, you'd be forgiven for thinking he and Mr Numbers were a couple.
  • Hover Skates: Alice uses her gravity power to move this way during the warehouse-clearing exercise, giving her better kinesthesia than if she just flew, while still silencing her footsteps.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed:
    • Camille isn't actually a Healer. She's an Absorber. She absorbs injuries and stores them, allowing her to inflict them on others at her leisure. Woe betide anyone who forgets or doesn't realize this, especially if they threaten Vince. She spends the entire first year flying under the radar, "collecting" various injuries in her capacity as a healer. She eventually explains the nature of her power to an opponent, who claims that he will no longer allow her to heal him and replenish her arsenal and will also reveal her secret to everyone else. As they find out later, the guy has kept quiet, unwilling to go into details about how he lost a fight to a girl.
    • In the next team match, Nick does his best to keep the others from using their new powers (or, at least, use them in such as way as to be undetectable), thus revealing them before Nick is ready.
    • During the intramurals in Year 4, the competitors have to balance out the need to win with the desire to keep an ace up their sleeve. During his first fight, Chad holds off on using his bone armor or bone blades, partly to stay agile, and partly to keep his opponent from knowing all his tricks. Alice also does her best to appear to be a telekinetic during her first fight, although the ruse doesn't last past the second round.
  • I Believe I Can Fly: Alice can fly. Originally, she could only fly when excited due to being a Powered. After the procedure, however, she can fly at will. It's mentioned that this power is surprisingly rare among Supers, and even April is generally unnerved when levitating. In fact, she's actually a Gravity Master with levitation as a side effect.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Camille spends a long time feeling this way about Vince. Its not that she doesn't have a massive crush on him, but she wants to be sure that she has a stable enough friendship to stay with him and heal him when he gets injured, because she knows that he won't look out for himself if there are people to protect.
  • I Know What You Fear: This is the power of Nathaniel Evers, Nick's rival in Vegas. He knows what people are afraid of and can make those nightmares come alive in their minds, locking them in until they can break out.
  • I Let You Win: George allowed Vince and the others to defeat him and rescue Mary, possibly on the orders of Globe. He notes that he could have just ripped Hershel's arm right off, rather than simply breaking it in several places, but "The man at the top of the ladder" ( Globe presumably) wouldn't have been pleased.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Angela feels this way towards Chad.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the presence of people with superhuman abilities, a lot of the pop-culture remains the same, including well-known and cult films and shows, such as Star Wars, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Firefly (this one isn't mentioned by name, but three characters dress up as Mal, Wash, and Jayne, and Alex is adamantly against calling Wash and Jayne "Browncoats"). Corpies also mentions Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles twice.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: averted. Speedsters almost always have enough extra durability to not hurt themselves any worse that a human would from hitting things at full speed, and often have the reflexes to avoid collisions anyway. Also averted with Vince, who learns to absorb an object's kinetic energy, effectively robbing it of any inertia. An object that's thrown at him with great force will simply stop and fall to the ground. He can also leap around a battlefield by first projecting kinetic energy from his feet and then reabsorbing it upon landing.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Dean Blaine's graduating class was known as the Class of Legends due to an unusually powerful crop of students that year. It's one of the reasons Lander is so well known.
    • As of Year 4, the current students are slowly becoming known as the Class of Nightmares, partly due to their powers and partly due to their willingness to take a fight to an extreme and risk life and limb to win. Dean Blaine desperately wishes to squash that rumor, but their actions only reinforce the nickname. At that point, all Blaine can hope to do is to keep the nickname from further devolving into "Class of Bloodbaths".
  • Insistent Terminology: Alex, calling himself a Jedi. Everyone else thinks he's a a telekinetic and an empath. But it seems like he's right since people are continually proven wrong on the exact nature of his powers. The class powercopier can't work Alex's powers at all until he tells him to treat it like the Force. He is also able to affect things that no normal telekinetic can, such as energy and sound.
  • It Only Works Once: After Roy was beaten by Rich during their first match early in Year 1, Roy has been trying to find a way to beat a guy, who can put almost anyone into a trap within their mind. During the team match in Year 2, Roy figures out a way to do it, although it only works in this one very specific case - he keeps his eyes closed, thus negating Rich's power, and blindly charges towards where he thinks Rich is standing. While Rich is pretty nimble and can avoid the charges, causing Roy to run headlong into the concrete walls of the room, Roy is, for all intents and purposes, immune to damage and has nigh-infinite endurance. The match is also not timed, so time is on Roy's side. Eventually, Rich will get tired of the constant dodging and make a mistake. Also, as he gets more tired, he starts panting, allowing Roy to more easily track him by sound. Everyone agrees that this wouldn't work in a real-life scenario.
  • It's a Small World After All: What are the chances of Vince meeting up with Eliza, the girl he lost his virginity to, who disappeared on him not long after that, after so many years? And in the employ of his best friend's aunt no less!
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Whenever an Armageddon class Super appears, collateral damage and human life are considered a secondary concern to immediately and permanently neutralizing the threat.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ralph Chapman is somewhat unpleasant individual that comes off as something of a Windmill Crusader who goes after Heroes because one of them, Raze, went off the reservation years ago and killed a bunch of people. However, he's honestly just trying to make sure they're accountable, and despite his suspicions of Vince due to Vince's status as Globe's son, he's actually invested in keeping people safe, so much so that he's Crazy-Prepared enough to keep release forms on hand to allow the HCP's students to act as emergency relief during the Sons of Progress' assault on Lander (when they would otherwise have been confined due to not being officially licensed Heroes yet).
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: An unusual effect of Mary's powers in conjunction with Rich's. She later develops the ability to do it at will to anyone who is sleeping.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother Will is a hero...until someone hurts Jill. Technically, though, Jill is older by a few seconds.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Hallow gets a surprising moment of this when he meets Captain Starlight. Less surprisingly, many of the students are extremely geeky and become very excited at the prospect of a sequel coming out to one of their favorite bad movies.
  • LARP: Hershel is an avid LARPer and has attained a measure of respect among his friends as a master tactician. During the summer break between Year 1 and Year 2, he also gets Vince into it as well. During this summer, his vacant position as "king" has been taken by another boy, who refuses to give it up when Hershel returns. So, Hershel instead leads the orcs against him and, with Vince's help (who's called a demon by the others for his lightning-quick reflexes and fighting skills), manages to utterly outmaneuver him and crush all resistance. The other boy is smart enough to concede defeat.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When someone is dropped from the Hero Certification Program they generally have their memories of names and faces of their fellow HCP students obscured, so they can't reveal the secret identity of anyone who goes on to be a hero. When Nick is expelled, all of his memories of the HCP are wiped from his brain.
  • Legacy Character: An option for heroes who are able to secure the rights to a former hero's name before graduating from the HCP.
    • Angela and Shane have been competing their entire lives for the rights to their grandfather's hero name. Defied when Angela earns it, but reveals she just wanted the option so she could turn it down and choose a name all her own. Shane follows suit.
    • Chad plans to take his father's hero name, Intra.
    • Played With in regards to Alice, who discovers several former heroes are in her extended family. However, they are all disgraced or soon-to-be disgraced, so she chooses to redeem the family legacy with the name... Legacy.
  • Let's Wait a While: Hershel and Mary. Despite being the longest lasting committed couple in the series (of their generation, at least), they are mentioned as waiting and apparently don't get physical until after college.
  • Living Memory: Nick comes back for a while as one when he gets erased. Eventually, he earns the right to come back for real.
  • Love Epiphany: Chad has one for Angela when Roy convinces him to look at her without using his powers to control his emotional state.
  • Love Forgives All but Lust: During the Christmas party in Year 2, Selena gets drunk and sleeps with a random guy. She then feels guilty and tells her boyfriend Alex the next day. He immediately breaks up with her and refuses to have any further contact, no matter how many times she apologizes. This despite being one of the most All-Loving Hero types on campus. At the start of the spring semester, he tells her that he knows that she's sorry and that she feels bad, but this doesn't change what happened, and he can no longer trust her. He tells that, someday, he might forgive her enough to be civil in her presence, but, either way, the relationship is over and can never be repaired. Also, he says he doesn't know if she told him because she felt bad and didn't want to lie to him or because she knew he would find out anyway (he's a telepath). It's obvious that she doesn't know either. She leaves in tears, and he bursts into tears a few minutes later. It's mentioned that she knows that what she did was so horrible that it made a guy as nice and kind as Alex treat her like crap afterwards.
  • Making a Splash: Walter, a student one year behind the main characters, can control water, moving it and altering its temperature at a distance.
  • Mama Bear: Mrs Daniels threatens Mr Transport when she finds out about the mountain climbing incident.
    Mrs Daniels: I may be a normal person; however, trust me when I say that being a mother is a power all its own.
    • He later asks her out on a date precisely because she's a strong, independent woman, explaining that his work doesn't leave much room for personal life, so a woman like that is the only one who can handle it. She accepts, privately admitting that the perks of dating a guy, who can take her to any exotic location in the world in the blink of an eye, are pretty nice.
  • The Maze:
    • For Halloween, many HCP students head to Screamtopia, one of the best haunted houses in the country, with the management employing several Supers to make it even more intense by making physics less... stringent. For example, when entering the actual maze (the star attraction), there are a number of doors that people can go through. When the students split into groups and head off through different doors, they find themselves in different rooms (with no doors), but not with the people they entered with. They guess that the doors are actually portals that randomize the groups to add an unexpected element into the experience. Finding a way out requires navigating through various themed rooms and solving the puzzles there. The staff also uses the portals to avoid having to build an extensive network of secret passages (thus allowing the maze to be larger).
    • There's also the Labyrinth challenge during their first year, involving students being dumped at random locations and being forced to largely navigate in the dark (although some rooms are lit). The challenge is of the "last person standing" type, and while powers can be used, stun rods are issued in lieu of knock-outs (with the caveat that those with yellow rods are only able to stun those with yellow armbands, while those with red rods can stun anyone).
    • The Labyrinth reappears midway through Year 4. Still "last person standing," but with full power use allowed (defeat is by knock-out, 3-minute restraint, or "hypothetical deathblow") and students earn a point count based on how many opponents they take out. Also, the lighted rooms feature the professors as optional opponents worth 6 points each, which can be divided if they're taken down by a team of 6 of fewer students.
  • Me's a Crowd:
    • This is Julia's power. It's initially stated that all the duplicates are equal, but this is later proven to be false, as there is only one true Julia. The clones all share a consciousness with Julia. In combat, she uses that to gang up on opponents, while during team events, she acts as a Subspace Ansible, relaying information between groups. Outside of class, Roy likes sleeping with Julia because he can satisfy his Twin Threesome Fantasy. As for Julia, she can sleep around as much as she wants while still remaining a Technical Virgin (only her clones have ever had sex).
    • Chad's first opponent during their senior year's intramurals has the same power, although she has learned to create copies much faster than Julia, thus justifying her chosen codename Militia.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: When Camille thinks that Vince had just found out what her power was and expected him to be mad about her hiding it. Instead, he reveals that he already knew and is overjoyed at the fact that her power can still hurt strongmen, making it much more dangerous.
  • Mind over Matter: Telekinesis and telepathy seem to be linked somehow, as every telekinetic shown or mentioned is also a telepath. Mary is, potentially, the strongest in the world, but she still lacks proper focus and training, as demonstrated in Year 2 by a professor (an old lady) with the same power set, who easily trounces Mary and even demonstrates things that Mary can only dream of (such simultaneously controlling dozens of separate objects). Alex is a little strange about his power, which appears to be a weaker version of Mary's. However, there is one thing that he can do that no other telekinetic can't - manipulate energy. This may have something to do with their mindset, as other telekinetics focus on directly manipulating objects, which depends on their mass, and energy has no mass. Alex thinks he's a Jedi, so his method involves him calling out to the Force (he explains that, if he tries to focus on direct manipulation, it doesn't work), which somehow allows him to affect energy as well. When a power copier tries to use standard telekinetic techniques with Alex's power, it doesn't work. When Alex explains how his power works, the guy is able to do it. Later, Alex also learns to push away sound waves (yet another feat no normal telekinetic can match), which comes in handy, when he faces off against Will in a match, who uses a sonic device to disorient him. The differences between Alex and Mary are highlighted during a team match in Year 2. Alex is weaker but has some tricks up his sleave and has a lot more finesse. Mary is a lot stronger, but she has to be really careful to avoid dealing lasting damage to someone and can't wield her power with as much precision as Alex. Mary's professor is an elderly woman, who has the same power set but infinitely more experience and training. She demonstrates an ability to manipulate dozens of objects simultaneously, something Mary wasn't even sure was possible.
  • The Mole: It turns out that Adam is working with Globe's group and is only in the HCP to get close enough to kill an unspecified person he holds responsible for the deaths of his family.
  • More Than Mind Control: In Year 4, it's revealed that Crispin's loyal Number Two Sherman didn't used to be a true believer. Crispin boosted a mind manipulator, then used him to rewrite Sherman's memories to make him think he'd always believed in the cause. Apparently, the effect isn't permanent, as one's own true personality keeps trying to reassert itself, but Sherman has actually been in this state for nearly five years.
  • My Hero, Zero: Dean Blaine's old alias. Justified in that his power is suppression of other powers.
  • Never Found the Body: Globe was finally defeated by the rest of his team, specifically by a Hero named Black Hole, whose power often results in this trope. It didn't work.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Why Angela competes so hard with Shane for the title of Captain Starlight (their grandfather's old alias), even though she never intended to claim it. Also, at least part of why she put so much work into winning over Chad.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: In Year 3, during the attack on the school, Vince and Mary try to rescue two non-HCP students in a burning library. While Vince manages to absorb the flames, the floor is already too damaged and collapses under them. Vince grabs onto one of the students and rotates in mid-air, so that he's the one on the bottom. At the moment of impact, he absorbs the fall's kinetic energy (something he wasn't sure was possible), and both are perfectly fine. The other student is saved by Mary's telekinesis.
  • Old Flame: Dean Blaine has never stopped caring for Chad's mother, who was his girlfriend for a time during his days at the HCP. Their break-up all those years ago hurt him, as was the fact that she started dating his best friend Intra. After Intra's murder at Globe's hands, Blaine didn't feel right to try to rekindle their relationship.
  • People Puppets: Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport's coworker Mr. Move has this power. It's not Mind Control, since the victims can still think and feel, but they're unable to do or say anything he doesn't want them to. He tries to use his power on Dean Blaine and gets socked in the temple as a result.
  • Photographic Memory: A side effect of Chad's power of control. He can force his brain to perfectly recall any memory he wishes, even something he hasn't really paid attention to at the time.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Despite being near five feet tall, Mary Smith's powerful telekinesis leads to her being the top ranked girl in her class. Her Power Incontinence was a telepathic and telekinetic Training from Hell. Because she couldn't turn it off she spent years constantly training her power. It's likely that she's now one of the most powerful telekinetics and telepaths in the world.
  • The Pornomancer: Apparently, Nick has slept with almost every single girl in his aunt's employ. His real personality and knowledge of psychology make seducing them ridiculously easy. After he causes a rival heir to have a bad night at cards, his aunt gives him a present by making sure that only new single girls are working the casino floor that night. She only asks that Nick pace himself. Roy is no slouch either in the female department, using his rugged charm and a fake Southern drawl, not to mention his cowboy hat, rock-hard abs and superhuman endurance, to sleep with plenty of coeds during his time at Lander. The girl he's been with the longest is Julia, whose Me's a Crowd ability makes for some fun nights, but even then their relationship is mostly sexual in nature (Roy not being big on the whole dating thing). This is actually something Mary is only too keenly aware of, doing her best not to think of her boyfriend Hershel (Roy's other half) having memories of sex with other women.
  • Power Copying:
    • One student at Lander has this ability, Adam. It requires him to touch another person and then change his appearance to match theirs in order to use them. He can only copy one person at a time. When training telekinesis with Mary and Alex, he is able to easily work as "Mary", but, when he becomes "Alex", he can't even lift a pebble. Alex explains that his power works differently from all the other telekinetics and that he needs to call out to the Force. While the copier thinks it's ridiculous, it's the only way Alex's power will work. During the capture the flag game, he copies Michael's power and goes up against Roy and Alice. Roy quickly figures out that "Michael" isn't acting like his usual self. Adam tries to trick him by copying Roy's power, but doesn't realize that Hershel can only turn into Roy after a shot of whiskey, which allows Roy to trounce him. Nick also uses him and Rich to cheat on Vince's math final, while making Vince think that he took the test.
    • Another copier appears in Year 4 to borrow Rich's dream-inducing ability for use in the conspiracy investigation. She's a private contractor, hired to do the job and not ask too many questions because they've run out of excuses to use Rich.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In Book 4, this is revealed about the Powered cure. Specifically, it was developed by forcing the original Intra to sacrifice himself in order to reverse-engineer his super-control ability from his corpse.
    • Subverted by Globe and his group—they have a child, Quentin, among their members, and aren't shy about using his powerful amplifying abilities to further their agenda. However, they keep him away from battle and are trying to give him some semblance of a normal life amidst all the intrigue.
  • Power Incontinence: This is what a Powered is. They have a Super ability, sometimes one that is more powerful than what a comparable Super has but no control at all. Many Supers think that Powereds are simply lazy and don't train hard enough to control their power. One Powered explains that the reason he can't control his teleportation is that his power isn't simply "teleportation", it's "random teleportation", so he really can't control where he ends up no matter how hard he tries. He also can't help teleporting when he sneezes, although he has learned to sneeze on demand, if he wants to get out of any awkward situation.
  • 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). A Damage Rating system is introduced in Corpies and then reiterated in Book 4, which 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.
    • 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.
  • Power Nullifier: This is Dean Blaine's power. He can use it both as a passive ability or to directly stop someone else's powers from working. This makes him one of the most powerful Heroes of his class, as he can negate any Super's power and use his hand-to-hand combat training to win. His codename during his Hero days was, appropriately, "Zero" (although, his original name choice was "Globe", which he ended up giving to another Super). In addition, Globe can do that too, to an extent.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Nick uses the trope name when hinting to Camille that she needs to allow Sasha to Curb-Stomp Battle her in full view of Vince in order to get Vince angry enough. It also has the nice side effect of ending any chance of Vince and Sasha getting back together, as he can't be with someone who hurts those weaker than them with such obvious glee. In fact, Camille could have probably won that fight, but that would require revealing that she can give back the injuries she has absorbed with a single touch.
  • Reality Warper: This is Globe's power. Within a certain area (spherical, hence the name) he has near total control of reality. Most people don't know his true power and assume that his powerset may be randomized or that he's using other Supers for help. Only a few Supers are able to resist his control, including Zero and the late Intra. Additionally, his control doesn't apply to his own body, so, if he's wounded, he can't heal the damage without help.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Angela is friendly and extremely extroverted and Hot-Blooded, acting as the Red Oni foil to both Shane and Chad, who are courteous and polite, but withdrawn, rarely going out of their way to interact with others.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Subverted; In both the main series and the sides-story Corpies, Supers of every kind are shown using their abilities to tackle society's more mundane problems.(Revolutionizing robotics and medicine, healers helping at hospitals, (PEERS) & Heroes working as emergency services, etc etc.)
  • Refuge in Audacity:The plan to save Mary in Year 1 involved blinding Coach George and dropping rocks on him so he’d drop her when he raised his arms to deflect them.
    • When George got a hold of Hershel Nick opted to Shoot the Hostage with a bullet coated in whiskey.
  • Relationship Sabotage: A rare benign example, Will does this to protect Jill from an abusive boyfriend. He is smart enough to see the relationship eventually degrading to the point of physical abuse (emotional abuse is already taking place) and takes steps to prevent it.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Notable in that many Powereds don't have these. Many of them meet their end from their own abilities backfiring. Vince, Alice, and Nick in particular mention that they all believed their powers would kill them one day without the procedure.
  • Restraining Bolt:
    • Vince does this to himself in Year 1, refusing to carry more than a lighter's worth of fuel at a time because he's afraid he'll lose control. Unfortunately, this ends up causing Michael to think that Vince has humiliated him (not thinking that Michael was a serious enough opponent), starting Michael's (one-sided) rivalry with him.
    • He eventually starts to carry around electricity as well. He also took in an entire forest fire at the end of year 1.
    • The only reason he even starts to push himself to test his ability's limits is because of Coach George's threats that he would be kicked out of the program if he didn't. Heroes aren't supposed to be afraid of their own power. They have to be in total control of it and not deliberately hamstring themselves when going into battle. George orders Vince to drain a car battery every morning before gym class (he can return what's left after class, if he wants).
    • By Year 2, he's no longer afraid, especially since he realizes that, if he wants to protect his friends, he can't be afraid of his power. This is partly what allows him to Curb-Stomp Battle Michael during the capture the flag game, who is under the mistaken assumption that they're on the same level.
  • Retired Badass: Dean Blaine and all the HCP professors except for Fletcher and Pendleton are all retired heroes. Fletcher worked for the same company as Mr Numbers and Mr Transport while Pendleton was a hero for awhile before quitting. Roy and Hershel's father, Owen, was this for awhile as well, though Year 3 reveals that he's taken it up again.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Vince. His upbringing might not have taught him much about operating modern appliances or social interaction, but it certainly taught him how to fight. Chad is the same way. When the others realize that Chad and Vince are the same in this respect, they have a hard time believing it.
    Nick sucked in a sharp breath through his teeth. “Holy damn they made two of them.”
    “Two of what?” Vince asked.
    “Maybe it’s something about being really powerful that makes them like this?” Alice proposed.
    “Nope, I’m about on par with at least Vince and I’m not that dense,” Thomas replied.
    “What are we talking about? Guys?” Vince asked.
    “I’d say it’s more a factor of focus,” Mary ventured. “They commit so fully to their specialties that they find themselves mentally lacking in other areas.”
    “I’m right here, you know. Perfectly in ear shot,” Vince pointed out.
    “Yeah, but you don’t really know what we’re talking about, which sort of proves the point,” Nick said, addressing Vince at last.
  • Secret Identity Identity: Hershel suffers a bit from this, and spends a long time feeling like dead weight that doesn't benefit Roy any.
  • Seers: Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport's coworker Mrs. Tracking can find almost anyone's location.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Nick thinks he unintentionally caused his parents' car accident with his power, when he was 4 months old. When Mary is in his mind, the mangled remains of the car seem eerily similar to the remains of Coach George's truck that Nick sabotaged, although it's pointed out that Nick can't possibly have a reliable memory of something from that young an age, so the car's remains are likely a reconstruction.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: Roy is this to Hershel to some people. Hershel is this to Mary though.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Gale's power.
  • Shock and Awe: Electricity is one of the hardest elements to master due to its unpredictability. Most have trouble emitting it at any distance past several feet, as it then tends to split off into multiple bolts and go off in random directions. It takes skill and a lot of practice to learn to control it at a distance. Professor Fletcher, being an electrical elemental, can not only emit and control electricity, but become a bolt of lightning himself, attaining Super Speed and Super Reflexes in the process. He has also learned to get those abilities without actually turning into electricity himself. Being an absorber, Vince can also absorb and emit electricity (just prior to the first novel, he accidentally causes a blackout in a large area by draining the power grid completely). During the capture the flag game in Year 2, Vince defeats Michael this way, as Michael's ice armor ends up being a pretty good conductor. Also, Nick defeats Gilbert by baiting Gilbert into grabbing Nick's throat and then tazing himself, with the current traveling to Gilbert as well (even though that's not how a taser works).
  • Shout-Out: In the Prologue, Nick is in the hospital for running into an oncoming bus due to celebrating a lottery ticket win.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: In Year 2, Vince is forced to confront the truth that his adopted father was none other than the Hero-turned-villain Globe, who had killed Intra, Chad's father. Surprisingly, Chad is quick to reconcile with Vince after the truth comes out, as his logical mind is able to see that, despite being raised by Globe, Vince doesn't have a bad bone in him. In Year 3, Vince comes under heavy scrutiny from the government, whose representatives think that he's too much of a risk to allow him to continue in the HCP. One of the reasons Chad moves into Melbrook is to show that, if Intra's son doesn't hold a grudge towards Globe's son, then their concerns are unfounded.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: During the river trip, Stella gets pissed off at Roy for saying that girls have no business being on a battlefield. They are told to go into the woods for their fight. They end up evenly matched, and fight for about an hour, breaking a little for Roy to explain that he doesn't hate women, he reveres them too much to allow them to be pulled into fighting, as, being better than men, they should make sure there's a world for "dumb men" to come back to after they're done fighting. While Stella claims that it's still sexist (which he doesn't deny), she's far less annoyed with Roy. After they get tired of beating one another into a pulp, they spend the next several hours thoroughly enjoying one another's company (it helps that one of Roy's powers is super-endurance, and Stella is no slouch either). In Year 2, Stella is one of the few students, who stand by the former Powereds after The Reveal, despite her initial reaction to Powereds in Year 1.
  • Slice of Life: The story is mainly about the various characters growing as people with the gimmick being superpowers. While there is a Myth Arc going on, only usually around the end of the year does something life threatening occur.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe, Starpuncher is a Cult Classic series of cheesy low budget sci-fi movies that Herschel, Alex, and surprisingly, Sasha, are fans of. They get very excited when a new one comes out, and manage to rope most of their friends into attending the premiere in costume.
  • So Last Season: Vince does this to Michael at the end of his capture the flag game.
  • Super Empowering:
    • Quentin, a little boy used by Globe and his crew for temporary boosts of power. He has Quentin boost Nick in Year 3, allowing him to see and affect probability lines, rather than just give or remove luck.
    • Crispin, the leader of the Sons of Progress. In large part, this is why the group is so dangerous, as he's able to temporarily boost a low-level power Up to Eleven. It's also incredibly addictive, inspiring great loyalty.
  • Superpowered Alter Ego: Roy is this to Hershel, he's taller, has better luck with the ladies and is super strong.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Hershel and Roy inherited Titan's Adaptive Ability, while Alice got her gravity powers from her uncle.
  • Superpower Lottery:
    • Professor Fletcher starting in Year 2. He's a lightning elemental, so he's got the ability to transform into, absorb, and direct electricity. He's also got the ability to give his physical body the same properties as electricity, such as enhancing his speed. He TKOs the entire Sophomore class during his introduction, and snarks that he must be getting old because he came close to actually having to make an effort.
    • Vince's powers are immense in scale and don't seem to have any real limit on type or number of different energies he can absorb.
    • Globe trounces them both by being a Reality Warper.
  • Superpower Meltdown: In the prologue, Vince who is underground and not allowed any source of energy near him to try and stop his latest hiccup and Nick, who was in hospital thanks to the down side of super luck (bad luck is still luck).
  • Super Speed:
    • Sasha is described as a mid-range speedster. She's fast enough to outrun cars on the highway, but there are plenty of speedsters faster than her.
    • Professor Fletcher has speed as a side effect of his primary power (electricity control). He's able to imbue his body with the same kind of speed as a bolt of lightning. Unlike normal speedsters, he doesn't need to accelerate or decelerate.
    • During the attack on Lander by the Sons of Progress in Year 3, Sasha and Alex end up facing off against a boosted speedster, who turns out to be even faster than Professor Fletcher on his best day. Sash is woefully outmatched against him. Alex tries to hold him in mid-air, but the guy vibrates his body so far that Alex is unable to maintain the hold. He then speeds up to try to kill Alex, but Sasha interposes herself and ends up taking a fist through the chest instead of her boyfriend. The guy then tries to take on Vince, who easily absorbs the guy's kinetic energy and then nearly kills him.
  • The Syndicate: Nick's being groomed as the next leader of his family. His rival is Nathaniel, a Super from a rival Vegas family.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Powers tend to interact in this way, with certain powers being stronger against others. The classic example is a strongman, energy wielder, and advanced mind. An advanced mind can simply lift a strongman off the ground, an energy wielder can blast an advanced mind with impunity from range, while a strongman can simply shrug off blast attacks. Of course, all powers are different, and power advantages can be nullified with clever tactics. Because of this, most Power Level rankings tend to get quickly discarded, instead favoring a scale based on the amount of damage a Super can do if left unchecked. For perspective, this means that Dean Blaine, the best Power Nullifier in the world and one of the most successful Heroes in history, is ranked on the same level as a normal human.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Abridail's power, which he uses to keep himself and Globe in touch with the Melbrook gang.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: This trope is in effect all over the series, to a sometimes ludicrous degree. Even in the middle of fights or intense action scenes, characters still somehow manage to make speeches or have entire conversations that they logically shouldn't have had the time for.
  • Technical Virgin:
    • Julia thinks of herself as one, despite having frequent sex with Roy. According to her, her original body has never engaged in intercourse, it was all her copies, with which she shares a mind. She claims to be saving her real body for marriage, as God intended. Whether or not other people agree is left up in the air. Besides, there's nothing in the Bible about using multiple bodies as a Loophole Abuse.
    • Herschel is an example that more people actually agree with. He is a virgin, but he shares memories with Roy, who can and does get pretty much any girl he wants. Mary is a little nonplussed that Herschel has memories of having sex with hundreds of women, but tries not to let it bother her since it's not his fault.
  • Technopath: Jill can manipulate technology within a certain range. While this would generally limit her to areas with readily-available (and useful) technology, her twin brother Will is a Gadgeteer Genius, who makes her purpose-built equipment that she can use without any sort of interface. On one occasion, she uses her power to shut off security cameras in a public place, in order to prevent a fight between Supers from getting everyone in trouble.
  • Teleportation: Mr Transport is able to teleport himself and a number of other people or objects within a certain area of himself anywhere in the world. He doesn't even need to touch them. In Year 1, Nick and Hershel play beer pong against a couple of Supers (with powers allowed), one of whom can teleport small objects and uses it to consistently score by teleporting the ball right above the cup. After Hershel changes into Roy, and Roy suggests switching to whiskey, the other kid quickly loses his focus and starts to miss. In the Labyrinth, Nick and Mary manage to defeat another teleporter by predicting his pattern. In Year 1, the Dean also brings a Powered teleporter to talk to the class, whose ability is entirely random as far as location and is only activated by him sneezing. Nick correctly guesses that he has learned to activate the ability on demand by forcing himself to sneeze with a feather (he still ends up anywhere in the world). Mr Transport reflects that, of all the teleporters he knows, no one has the same exact version of the power. He teleports without any special effects. Others teleport with visual, auditory, or other effects, such as a thunderclap, a bright flash, or a sulfuric smell. Gilbert is the class's resident teleporter, although it's stated to be short-range (i.e. only within visual distance). His main flaw is predictability, which is how Nick and Mary beat him during their encounter in the Labyrinth.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Subverted heavily in the last two years. Explicitly in Year 2 by Shutterbug, “It’s the unhappy truth that there are Supers who are dangerous, and have to be stopped, or innocent people will die. If you can’t take them to jail, then you stop them the other way, by permanently neutralizing them. Most of us don’t like it, but make no mistake, it’s part of the job.” And is even more thoroughly reinforced during the tests in Year 4.
  • Time Stands Still: Mr. Stop, a coworker of Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport, can speed up time within a bubble of a certain radius. Everything outside seems to slow down to a crawl.
  • Too Clever by Half: Nick Campbell's entire character seems built on this premise, as he is constantly lying, manipulating, and strategizing to make events play out as he desires. His cleverness, more than his super power, is what accounts for his success in the HCP.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: The story refers to Vince as being oblivious or dumb, so much so that his grades were a plot point in Year 2. Despite this, he consistently sees through people's façades, even Nick's ever-present obfuscation attempts.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While the entire cast is constantly doing this as their skills and understanding of their powers improve, the biggest improvement is definitely Roy, who got effortlessly curbstomped by Chad in Year 1, but managed a double knockout against him in Year 3.
  • Tournament Arc: A good chunk of Year 4 is focused on the intramurals, a combat tournament between the five HCP schools. Each school nominates three combatants from its senior year, with the host school nominating four to even out the numbers. Chad, Shane, Alice, and Vince are chosen to represent Lander. All of them win their first fights, eventually leaving just Lander and Korman in the running. However, the remaining Korman representative then handily defeats Chad and proceeds to beat Alice as well (although not as easily). Vince and Shane end up matched against one another, with Vince neutralizing Shane's power with light (and is forced to continually emit it, thus negating his own power too) and forcing a regular hand-to-hand fight, which Vince wins by capitalizing on the fact that Shane primarily spars with Chad. Thanks to a hint by Nick, Vince uses all of his training and tricks borrowed from other students to defeat the Korman student, becoming the intramurals champion.
  • Training from Hell: The HCP is this on purpose, with the hope that the harder training is the better Hero's the candidates will eventually make.
  • Tranquil Fury: Near the end of Year 3, Vince goes into this state after one of the attackers, the speedster, kills Sasha. It's stated that Vince never really exhibits anger except in this manner, which means that not every enemy gets a warning before Vince unleashes his power on him.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Some of the Melbrook students learn about their additional (or true) abilities during critical situations. Alice discovers that she can manipulate gravity when she thinks that Rich messed with her mind by pretending to have been sent by her late mother and nearly beats him to a pulp for that. Vince discovers that he can absorb kinetic energy when an angry Chad slams a stone table against his back, while Vince is protecting Camille. The table's downward momentum vanishes on contact with Vince's back, and it harmlessly falls to the floor.
  • True Companions: The Melbrook House students, especially after they have to climb a mountain together (apparently a Secret Test of Character organized by Mr Transport's and Mr Numbers' bosses).
  • Underestimating Badassery: In Year 3 Camille is pitted against Roy, Chad and Vince during a test. Chad attempts to use a sleeper hold to incapacitate her quickly. He learns the hard way that the selection of her opponents was not a fluke.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Vince goes into the first day of training with barely any energy in him because he doesn't expect trials. He uses his fighting training to almost beat Michael.
    • Michael takes it as an insult that Vince had no energy stored and assumes that Vince tricked him, pretending not to have any power but running from his ice when he was just waiting for an opening. He attacks Vince outside class several times and eventually goes more than a little loco because of it.
    • He later attacks one of his own team members during a team match, preventing her from winning the match so he can go after Vince. Vince for his part thinks it's silly until Michael starts to be dangerous, and he was the one who lost the match.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Roy Daniels starts off Year 1 as all power with no relevant skills, an issue demonstrated handily when he challenges Chad Taylor and is beaten senseless.
    • This applies to Vince and Mary as well. Vince's abilities are immense in scale and variety, but he doesn't even know he can use most of them. Professor Stone ably demonstrates that Mary may be a strong telepath and telekinetic, she doesn't know all the ins and outs of it, as she handily outclasses Mary in a demonstration.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: Vince was raised as a transient after being unable to find a foster home due to being Powered. An old homeless man takes him in, adopts the role of his father, and teaches him his strong morality as well as his combat skills. This upbringing is constantly credited with Vince's morals, kindness, and overall demeanor.
  • Utopia: Averted. The "good future" that Alice's mother predicted is only good in comparison to the Bad Future. There's still crime and poverty and shitty people, but it's better than a world at constant war where parks have to be re-purposed as graveyards because at least there's hope.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: During a party at the end of freshman year, Michael Clark blows the secret that the Melbrook Five used to be Powereds (individuals with no control over their powers). Since Powereds are held in contempt by Supers, Clark hoped that revealing it would get the Five ostracized or outright expelled from Hero training, thus satisfying his vendetta against Vince.
  • Well Done Daughter Gal: Alice to her father. He invites her to dinner one night and she thinks he wants to spend time with her, he needs a hostess so he can finesse a business deal. She is seriously hurt. Nick calls him out on it, but Mr. Adair doesn't see anything wrong with it.
  • What Is Evil?: Notably averted by Globe. He makes no excuses for killing Intra or ordering Mary's kidnapping and tells Mary that they, and "much of what is to come" are entirely his fault.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Chad becomes curious over the course of the junior year about emotions and friendships, since he never had any friends except Shane and Angela, who he met in college and was used to keeping his emotions under control with his power.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Nick and Alice's relationship.
  • Woman Scorned: Sasha is pissed off at Vince for hiding the fact that he used to be a Powered, even though at no point did he actually lie to her (during his time at Lander, he was as much a Super as her, no matter his origins). She spends a decent chunk of Year 2 seething with hatred at him and his friends, calling them "freaks". Her friends are initially tolerant of her behavior, but, eventually, Thomas has had enough and points out that, if she really wants to behave this way, she can do it in another company, as the one she is currently in is sympathetic to the former Powereds. He understands that she feels hurt more than others due to her relationship with Vince, but she obviously has never tried to understand why he lied to her (he would've been expelled if he told her the truth, and the relationship would've ended anyway). They manage to have a heart-to-heart conversation while stuck at The Maze together. He doesn't excuse his actions, but she, at least, appears to understand his reasons (revealing the truth to her would've also put his friends at risk, and he had no right to do that).
  • The Worf Effect: The Sons of Progress strongman, hopped up on power enhancement, contemptuously bends Roy's unbreakable bat to show off his strength. This rather nicely underscores just how ridiculously powerful Titan is when he beats the stuffing out of the man without breaking a sweat.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Vince, which actually proves to be a problem at one point when team matches end up with him actually fighting one. He opts instead to just exude a great deal of heat (courtesy of the aforementioned forest fire he absorbed earlier) and go for a TKO instead of fighting. Nick was counting on this and was afraid that Vince would actually win that fight, thus negating his plan to tie the team match.
    • When Roy is sparring with a female freshman who tries to pull this on him, Roy just laughs and says that with all the powerful women he knows, trying to play that card is ridiculous.
  • Wounded Gazelle Warcry: In the second team match of the second year, Camille is sent out alone knowing that Sasha will be sent in to fight against her. Camille is reluctant to use the other side of her power to win outright, so Nick discreetly advises her to make Sasha's "win" as Pyrrhic as possible. In doing so, not only does Nick manage to rig the rest of the matches to go exactly as he wants to, he also pushes Camille and Vince closer together (and deep-sixes any hope of Sasha getting back together with Vince again).
  • X-Ray Vision: Alice and Mary meet a Powered with this ability. In order to keep himself sane (from seeing people's insides at random intervals), he walks around with pink eye shadows. Apparently, he uses a special mix of shadow that includes lead. So, when his power goes haywire, he can just close his eyes until it passes (otherwise, he'd still be able to see through his eyelids). Apparently, there are different versions of this ability ranging from "seeing through clothes" to "seeing an actual X-ray image".
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: When Mary is in Nick's mind under Rich's influence, he starts to choke and beat her. She wonders what would happen if she died in this state, whether a part of her would be forever gone or if she would wake up at all. Luckily, another part of Nick's mind intervenes and causes him to stop.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: Nathaniel has the power to put someone into a hallucination of their fears. He does this to Alice in year 3, choosing her oldest, deepest fear of falling from great heights, which no longer has the same hold on her since she can control her flight. She breaks out and then turns the tables on him by showing him his worst nightmare.


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