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Literature / Wearing the Cape

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Wearing the Cape is the first of a series of superhero novels by Marion G. Harmon. Its world is much like our own until sometime in the late 90's, when the Event created an alternate history. (The actual Divergence Point has to predate the Event; the Vice President on Event Day doesn't correspond to anyone who's actually held the office.) The Event was a worldwide sensory blackout that lasted 3.2 seconds; everyone experienced those brief seconds of sensory deprivation, and when the world came back they found that the Event had also triggered a temporary but worldwide loss of power (known as the Blackout). Most importantly, however, the Event changed The Rules.

In the aftermath of the Event and the Blackout, as stalled and out-of-control cars and powerless planes turned freeways and cities into death-zones, a small percentage of people reacted to the trauma and danger by exhibiting superhuman powers. Called "breakthroughs", many of them exhibited powers similar to those of traditional comic-book superheroes, though others were patterned after older myths and some were just plain weird. The first recorded breakthrough, a Superman-knockoff who took the codename "Atlas", put on a jumpsuit and cape to do good in the days and weeks following the Event, setting the pattern for public-minded breakthroughs who followed. Much of the plot is driven by the separation between expectations and super-heroic reality as the main character, Hope Corrigan, gains superpowers and deals with all the changes in her life. Through her eyes, the reader sees the difference between media-driven stereotypes and the truth about the superhero profession.


The story takes place ten years after the Event, and an entire generation has grown up in a world of "superheroes." Unlike the heroes of the comics, however, Post-Event superheroes are certified, licensed, and regulated by state and local governments; most active heroes are members of Crisis Aid and Intervention teams and act as civilian contractors to city governments. While they do aid local police in responding to superhuman threats, mostly they act as Emergency Response Personnel. They also milk their own media-value for everything it's worth, using costumes and codenames to market their images (and sometimes to cover true secret identities). The presence of breakthrough powers is the only fantastic element in the Post-Event world, which strives to be a socially realistic setting, in that the story explores the political, legal, social, and personal issues created by the reality of people with superpowers. In general attitudes, the setting's superheroes resemble the more nuanced heroes of The Golden Age of Comic Books.


There are currently 7 novels and one short story.

  1. Wearing The Cape features the origin story of Hope, aka "Astra," after her breakthrough leaves her one of the most powerful individuals on the planet.
  2. Villains Inc. The first sequel, continues Hope's journey in the fallout of Wearing the Cape.
  3. Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, Starring Hope's best (vampire) friend Jacky, aka "Artemis," functions as something of an interquel or parallel novel, set between the first two novels.
  4. "Omega Night" is a short story set after Villains Inc.
  5. Young Sentinels is the next novel, set after "Omega Night", continues Astra's progress, and introduces several new heroes in the junior version of the Wt C universe JLA or Avengers.
  6. Small Town Heroes, the fifth book and the fourth in the Wearing the Cape series, features Hope and the Young Sentinels team as they work towards public acceptance.
  7. Ronin Games, the sixth book, takes Hope, Jackie, Shell, and Ozma to Japan to investigate Hope's increasingly complicated dreams stemming from her encounters in Villains Inc.
  8. Team-Ups and Crossovers, is the seventh book and has Hope transported across multiple alternate realities while her friends try to rescue her.
  9. Recursion, is the eighth book and has Hope seemingly travel back in time three years to the aftermath of Wearing the Cape.
  10. Repercussions, is the 9th book (8th novel) and Hope is now seeing what the future is shaping up to as the Big Book is passing into obsolescence.''

Wearing The Cape The Roleplaying Game using the FATE system (used on games such as The Dresden Files) and written by Harmon, has been released.

This book contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Any female cape with a physically-oriented powerset will be this. Astra, Artemis, and, eventually, Galatea are the most prominent.
  • A God Am I: The Ascendant, and his organization "The Ascendancy," outright believe they are gods meant to rule over and guide unpowered humanity. Unlike most examples, however, they believe that they are supposed to be benevolent gods and try to show kindness and mercy, although they are perfectly willing to use lethal force when they need to, and the Ascendant has no problems with causing disasters that kill hundreds or thousands of people just to get a handful of breakthroughs.
  • Anyone Can Die: Wearing the Cape begins with a terrorist attack that leaves bodies all over, the Sentinels are shown to have lost several members before the story begins, the murder of a street-level hero is casually alluded to, and finally, in the attack on Whittier Base no less than three Sentinels die—including two main characters. This only applies to the first book.
    • Fridge Brilliance: From the second book onwards, Seven is a member of the Sentinels and his supernatural luck can rub off on other people. As of yet, no other Sentinels have died.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The Post-Event World is filling up with strangeness. Superheroes. Vampires. Sorcerers. Aliens. Gods and Goddesses. Ozma, Empress of Oz. When encountering an "emissary from Ganymede" or a Hermetic Magician who claims to have had an encounter with the fundamental Source of Reality, the reaction of many if not most citizens of the Western nations is "meh." Because obviously, whatever they may think they are, they're all just breakthroughs and some are more delusional than others, right? Arbitrary Skepticism is what lets the Post-Event World's scientists and rationalists sleep at night, but there is no proof that the Everyone's a Breakthrough theory is, in fact, correct.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Kitsune can appear as a man or woman equally, both gorgeous.
  • Balkanize Me: Happened to China as a result of a messy post-Event civil war.
  • Better as Friends: Hope and Seven. Despite The Big Damn Kiss in "now or never" style from him in "Omega Night" and some Ship Tease afterwards, Hope eventually decides on this for the time being.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Hope, who at the age of 18 stands less than 5 feet tall and is self-described as an "underdeveloped teenage Tinkerbell", is one of the strongest superheroes on the planet. Also, though she spends a good deal of time worrying about accidentally hurting anyone, she opens an alarming can of Whupass at the end of the story.
    • Grendel is a fairly calm, stoic, controlled fellow. But when the fighting begins, he can whip himself into an animalistic fury so terrible that Hope is hesitant to get close, and he can alter his body to become even tougher and stronger than her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although the Sentinels beat the Big Bad, Wearing the Cape ends with a state funeral for close to half the team. The rest of the books tend to end on a more upbeat note, with the heroes usually saving the day and at least foiling the Big Bad's plot.
  • Blue Blood: Hope's mother. There was a bit of a scandal when she married Hope's father, a Self-Made Man who had not yet finished making himself.
  • Born Lucky: Seven got this as his power.
    Seven: I walk through firefights and the guns jam, misfire, come apart, get dropped, or just plain miss. Bombs don't go off when I'm in the blast zone or if they do, I'm in a blast shadow. The world's greatest martial artist would trip and break his neck if he tried to hit me. If I need a ride, a taxi or obliging fan just happens to be there.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Hope gains the Atlas-type power set, enabling her to outfly jets, bench-press buses, and take direct hits from military ordinance. So the first thing she does is go into intensive, fight-club style training so she has a chance against all the other Atlas-types out there.
  • The Cape: In the Post-Event world the more powerful and photogenic superheroes are major media celebrities, who often publicly play to the Golden Age Hero stereotype and have whole marketing campaigns and PR departments to back them up.
  • Cape Busters: The Department of Superhuman Affairs is the federal agency tasked with assessing superhuman threats to national security and assisting local authorities who can't deal with their superhuman problems. The DSA, with ties to the Secret Service, FBI, and US Marshals Service, and run by former US President Kayle—the man who created it—has a shadowy reputation and is every conspiracy theorist's Holy Grail.
  • Cape Punk: An example of the Reconstruction variety.
  • The Chessmaster: Presented as a simple anti-government terrorist at the beginning of Wearing the Cape, The Teatime Anarchist turns out to be oh so much more. The full extent of his interference is apparently revealed at the end of the book, but more facets emerge in the later books, showing just how deep his influence went.
  • Chest Insignia: In Hope's world they are called "crests" and are adopted and copyrighted by superheroes for marketing purposes, even if their crests appear nowhere on their actual costumes.
  • The Chosen Many: Hope Corrigan gains Atlas-type powers, making her one of dozens (although she is A-class—in the top 10% and therefore a hot commodity). After trying to dissuade her from taking up a superhero career, Atlas offers to train her and she joins the Sentinels as a probationary member while working on her certification.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Hope. Commented on several times.
  • City of Adventure: Chicago is the post-Event Metropolis of the Wearing the Cape setting, with good reason; Atlas and the Sentinels created the template for superheroes and superhero teams, and with the Sentinels and the Guardians teams, the city has more superheroes per capita than any other city. Chicago is also the center of the Villain-Rap culture, which means the place is crawling with street-villains and fashion-villains. The Sentinels' reputation is also creating a problem, in that supervillain-terrorists and thrill-villains who want to make their reputations may target them and the city they protect (it has been noted that Chicago was the only freshwater port to get a godzilla attack).
  • Cliché Storm: Jacky in Bite Me: Big Easy Nights intentionally invokes as many vampire tropes as she can, sleeping in a coffin on native soil, wearing lots of black and goth-like clothes, even studying to become a private detective, so that she go undercover in the local "vampire" culture, who play it distressingly straight.
  • Code Name: Most superheroes have codenames that are descriptive of their power or just cool-sounding. Atlas gives Hope the temporary codename "Astra", which he says is Latin for star. She keeps it, despite later finding out it's the plural form—star(s).
    • Heroes Without Borders takes it to an extreme as part of their organizational culture. Everyone who works for them uses a codename, powered or not.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While still idealistic, by the time of Ronin Games Astra has learned that there are times you just go for the win. In her fight with Heavenly Dragon (an actual Chinese dragon), when losing meant a plane full of life-saving vaccines would fall into the hands of flying pirates, she ducked under his attack, grabbed hold, and carved her way through his belly to his spine.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Max Fisher, the senior detective in the Chicago Police Department's superhuman-crimes division. A competent "normal" with secrets of his own.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Astra nearly loses in her first hero/villain fight, against Brick, a superstrong gang-banger supervillain—partly due to inexperience, but also due to being handicapped by an intruding second supervillain. Later she gets a rematch and the fight is so one-sided Brick doesn't land a single hit, as a dramatic way of showing how much she's progressed.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Artemis is a vampire superhero.
  • Dating Catwoman: As of Ronin Games, Hope's relationship with Kitsune.
  • Die or Fly: The usual way for breakthroughs to occur. Tends to follow a pattern of allowing one to fight the danger, escape the danger, or become immune to the danger.
  • Domino Mask: Dominoes or their equivalent are often worn by superheroes whose civilian identities are already publicly known. It's an expected part of the costume, but is also useful for making them unrecognizable to anyone who doesn't know them personally, allowing them a measure of privacy in public—a humorous inversion of movie-stars tendency to don baseball caps and sunglasses to go to Starbucks.
  • Deus ex Machina: Exploited in the Omega Night. when Seven picks the one live nuclear warhead from 25 decoys, even though they are not aimed at him. Astra correctly guessed that his power would work because he had a personal stake in choosing correctly.
  • Dreaming the Truth: At one point, Astra realizes in a dream that a villain's actions show he's not trying to hide from the Sentinels anymore.
  • Everyone Is Armed: Chicago has become this in one of the universes Astra tumbles through during Team-Ups and Crossovers, with every civilian in sight carrying handguns. It turns out that this is the aftermath of what would have happened if she hadn't stopped the missile in Omega Night.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Supernatural-type breakthroughs encompassing basically every kind of story, myth, folklore, or religion exist, ranging from the superhero types, to Hermetic magicians, Native American medicine men, European druids, and more.
  • For Halloween Iam Going As Myself: During the crossover volume Hope (in costume) winds up in the world of Grrl Power where Sentinels is a TV show so Hope infiltrates a convention as an Astra cosplayer.
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Astra specifically uses one maneuver Atlas had carefully warned her against, even thinking at the time of his warning that an attack like a missile — well, you never reuse missiles.
  • Good Costume Switch: Averted with Riptide. Even after switching to the side of the angels, he still likes villain fashion.
  • Girl Posse: Hope/Astra belongs to a much nicer version than usual of this trope. According to Hope the three girls of the popular clique at school adopted her after her best friend Shelly died origin seeking.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Max Fisher. Twice.
  • Green Thumb: The aptly named Green Man from Young Sentinels. An eco terrorist with the ability to make plants grow at enormous speeds.
  • Hard Head: Astra reflects on this trope.
  • Heel–Face Turn Riptide, superpowered gangbanger who assists the heroes after the California earthquake and has joined the Chicago Sentinels in the 2nd book. Though he still dresses like a villain.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Villains Inc. finds Astra going through a bit of this. Sure she helped save the President of the United States and took down a big bad super-terrorist, but she's also accused in the sensational media of being underage and having an affair with a much-older Atlas (her mentor and the setting's version of Superman). Add to this that she publicly opposes superhuman registration—a popular cause after a supervillain-triggered earthquake leveled southern California—and she's not the media-darling that she was.
  • Heroic Bystander: A bartender is ready to be one in Small Town Heroes, causing Hope much worry.
  • Heroic Build: Atlas, the setting's Superman character, wears a sculpted muscle-suit that mimics a Mister Atlas body. Elsewhere, Hope notes that not all superheroes can get away with spandex, and the Hollywood Knights are chosen not just for their powers but also for their physiques (often the result of personal trainers and plastic surgeons).
  • Honorary Aunt: Atifa uses "Aunt Hope" and "Aunt Jacky".
  • I Have Your Wife: Averted. Prior to Hope's breakthrough, a mobster murdered a superhero and his family with a car bomb. Shortly after that, several members of the mob family were found brutally murdered by an unknown breakthrough. Since then, organized crime figures in Chicago have an unspoken arrangement to not target any superhero's family.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Hope's best friend Shelly accidentally kills herself trying to get superpowers. She gets better later.
  • Kid Sidekick: Hope (18 years old) becomes Atlas' sidekick in order to learn the butt-kicking ways of Atlas-type heroes. The whole mentor/sidekick angle is played up for the media (her costume is even color-coordinated to match his), but it's clearly understood to be a temporary arrangement, more like an apprenticeship. This is not an uncommon practice for newbie superheroes.
  • Knight Templar: The Dark Anarchist's goal is to keep the human race alive in the face of a crapton of wars, supernatural events and natural disasters, but his idea of how to do this is to create a police state that practices Fantastic Racism against people with powers.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: A gunshop owner thinks Artemis doesn't get it, but is impressed that she can pull off shooting a gun despite recoil and the position she chooses.
  • Legion of Doom: Supervillain teams are not uncommon, mostly of the street gang variety. The Chicago Outfit maintains their own more traditional example, Villains, Inc., as a deterrent against both heroes and non-affiliated villains. The Sentinels shut down the original Villains, Inc. years ago, but in the book named for them, they come back - and go rogue.
  • Little Miss Badass: Hope/Astra. She wears armor and carries a 100lb titanium maul, partially to raise her game but mostly because without it she doesn't look threatening at all.
  • Living Lie Detector: A government agent with the code-name Veritas is noted to be able to know if anything (spoken, written, recorded etc) is true or not. This proves invaluable when Hope has to determine if she can afford to trust a certain person. Though it later turns out that that he can only tell if the speaker/writer/etc. *believes* it is a lie. This allows him to be co-opted by the Dark Anarchist, who believes that what he's doing is the only way to protect humanity.
  • Making a Splash: Riptide, found hard at work in the aftermath of the earthquake fighting fires; later he purifies drinking water.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Called simply The Event. For 3.2 seconds everyone on the planet simultaneously suffered from total sensory deprivation. Still no explanation for what caused it though, or how this was connected to people developing superpowers.
  • Meaningful Name: While superheroic codenames are usually deliberately meaningful, the Teatime Anarchist's name was chosen for him by the media and is accidentally meaningful. They don't know he's a time traveler.
    • Hope's given name also turns out to be descriptive, both of her determinedly optimistic personality and the revelation that she may be responsible for saving the world—or at least a large part of it—in the future.
  • The Mentor:
    • Blackstone was a retired US Marine when he had his breakthrough and became one of the founders of the Sentinels. Ten years later, as the last surviving and active Sentinel of the original five, he is both the spiritual mentor to the newer Sentinels and the team leader.
    • Sifu is another one; mentoring Crash, Rush's new speedster-sidekick, it is hoped that he will balance Rush's more impulsive influence.
  • Military Superhero: Blackstone, a superhero/stage-magician, is a former US Marine; he mustered out and began his stage-magic career some time after a battlefield injury rendered him incapable of field operations. He appears to have worked in military intelligence, and is the security/intelligence specialist of the Sentinels.
    • Platoon and Watchman are also former military. The US military has several squads consisting entirely of superhumans, such as the Tinman squad - A collection of low-grade Ajax types equipped with Verne-tech Power Armour.
  • Most Common Super Power: Hope/Astra, a Flying Brick, has a stuffed bra built into her costume to make her look older and much more well-endowed. Elsewhere she comments that the practice of incorporating wonderbras into superheroine's costumes is almost universal.
  • Mundane Utility: Grendel's teeth grow into fangs for fights — and eating meat.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Jacky/Artemis would like to inform you of just how much she can't stand most other vampires, and most classic vampire tropes. Considering her backstory- being stalked, nearly brainwashed, and forcibly turned by the Vampire Vannabe-turned-real-deal who murdered her parents - it's hard to blame her.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: In Villains Inc. an encounter grants Astra the ability to sense magic, allowing her to make several observations key to the plot. It ends up being temporary though.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Michael Jackson is implied to have become a light-based breakthrough.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Dark Anarchist doesn't use darkness as a motif and isn't an anarchist (he wants to create a totalitarian government). Astra gave him the nickname to reflect his status as Evil Twin of the Teatime Anarchist.
  • One Super One Powerset: Averted in Villains Inc., Astra finds herself outclassed and consequently follows Ajax' example, leveling up by adding armor to her costume and even using Ajax' maul to increase her ability to Hit Things.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Breakthroughs are often shaped by the beliefs of the individual person. A person who became a werewolf may be a Loup-Garou, which is sort of a French bogeyman, or a Benendanti, a more benign creature from Italian folklore that fights evil witches.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Hope's friends and Shelly's mom immediately recognize that she's Astra. As the latter indicates, no one who really knows her would be fooled by a domino mask. Indeed, it's been mentioned that it's relatively easy to figure out who's behind a mask, so most really just use them as part of the costume.
    • when they later gain a magical way to obscure it, they find it rather fun that's it's nothing but a pair of glasses.
  • Personality Powers (Justified): In the post-Event world, the psychological component of breakthroughs means that the powers of new-minted superhumans are seldom at odds with their personality types. Aggressive breakthroughs gain offensive powers, non-violent breakthroughs gain defensive powers, and so on.
  • Power at a Price: Ozma's Wishing Pills exact pain
  • Randomly Gifted: In Hope/Astra's world, the vast majority of superhumans are randomly gifted through the unpredictable survival mechanism of the Breakthrough. There are no publicly known exceptions. Children of breakthroughs are slightly more likely than the average person to also experience a breakthrough (although the odds of getting struck by lightning are still better). It should be noted that this does not mean the child inherits the parent's powers, as this also applies to children born before the Event.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Hope/Astra is given a lesson in momentum and force and why it's a good idea to know how tough something is before you fly yourself into it like a missile. The book is actually full of little reality-checks, like superheroes getting warrants before going after supervillains, villains whose lawyers get the charges dropped, and strangers committing random acts of badness.
    • In Small Town Heroes, Blackstone points out that heroes fighting other heroes is extremely rare, no matter what you see in the movies. Two CAI teams going head to head at the start of that book is not only a full-on PR disaster that calls in a massive internal affairs investigation, but also a deliberately engineered plot by one of the teams to get boosted ratings for their reality show.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless/The Spark of Genius: Verne-types (gadgeteers) are superhumans whose power is the ability to create Weird Science stuff—like powersuits and antigravity pods—but only for themselves; nothing can be mass-produced from the designs and formulas they create.
    • Though capes have revolutionized disaster relief, as seen during the California earthquake, delivering aid far faster than would be possible in the real world and rebuilding advances at a very rapid pace. There's also Heroes Without Borders, which is a sizable organization dedicated to defying this trope and the Sentinels Verne-type spends much of his spare time making advanced prosthesis for amputees.
  • Regular Caller: Crisis Aid and Intervention heroes (the setting's city superteams) aren't patrolling freelance crimefighters. Instead they are special services contractors tied into a city's emergency-response department, and most of Hope/Astra's action-scenes start with a summons from Dispatch.
  • Religious Bruiser: Seif-al-Din believed his powers were given to him by Allah, and was strong enough to fight and even kill Atlas.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Lampshaded with Mal, whose explosive powers do not throw him around.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: Someone decided that unleashing Kaiju upon the world was a good idea. They appear worldwide, but mostly attack Japan, who responded by forming superhero teams, as well as grabbing every Verne-type in reach and having them build mecha.
  • Samaritan Syndrome:
    • In the post-Event world there seems to be enough super powered heroes to go around; there are even "reservist" heroes who live normal lives unless called upon for help in cases of extreme disasters. That said, some superhumans (like Hope) feel the need to Use Their Powers For Good deeply enough to force them to put on a costume and fight crime when they would really rather be doing something else.
    • Some super-teams, such as the Hollywood Knights, are unionized and have a maximum number of hours they can work before they have to "clock out". As Seven explains to Astra, it's a necessary evil because otherwise, superheros can get exhausted and start making costly mistakes. Astra notes that when you're an Atlas-type, you're *always* operating heavy equipment.
  • Secret Identity: Secret identities are optional and a lot of superheroes in Wearing The Cape don't bother with them. Some have undergone physical transformations that make secret identities impossible, but many also had public breakthroughs that "outed" them from the start. Others just find them too much of a pain in the butt to maintain for the few benefits they give. One variation on traditional secret identities is a legal second identity, established with the help of the government, much like that of witnesses in the Witness Protection Program.
    • It's mentioned that the Paper-Thin Disguise most heroes use wouldn't stand up to even basic investigation but that media outlets don't make a practice of finding out what their civilian identities are because one that did would immediately find themselves frozen out from contact with all the other heroes, even the ones with no secret identity. In a world where superheroes are major media stars, this could have serious financial implications.
  • Self-Duplication: Redux type superhumans. Examples include Platoon, who duplicates himself permanently on a regular basis (there are dozens, if not hundreds of him, all of whom share memories), and the supervillain Flash Mob, who can make 20 or so temporary duplicates.
  • Single-Power Superheroes: A significant percentage of breakthroughs are single-power types, loosely or tightly defined. Blackstone practices "stage magic" (illusions, levitation, teleportation), The Harlequin is bouncy to the point of physical invulnerability, Rush is "fast", etc.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Post-Event superheroes use all three plus other materials. Choice depends on body-type (latex and leather can "hold in" bulges spandex can't), gender, attitude, and superhero personae. Many male heroes wear cotton or leather bodysuits much like race-car driver's outfits, for example. One female character wears a spandex catsuit under a tailored kevlar vest-skirt.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted heavily. Hope goes through her own changes, especially in the early books, but Shelly is probably the most extreme example of averting this trope. In Wearing the Cape, she comes back as a "quantum-ghost" AI. In Villains Inc. she gets herself a robot-body so she can be more than virtual. In Young Sentinels she loses the body, and gets split, becoming Shell (her "old" quantum-self) and Shelly (a flesh-and-blood copy). In Small Town Heroes Shell and Shelly begin displaying signs of some kind of gestalt-mind. In Ronin Games she is temporarily transformed into a cat, and then hitches a ride with Hope to the High Plane of Heaven, where she decides to hang out for a while (no knowing yet if any of that has permanently changed her in any way).
  • Steel Ear Drums: Artemis refuses ear protection in the gunshop range because she actually has these.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Played with. Early in Villains Inc., Astra is presented with a superhuman murder where the victim was reduced to soup-in-a-box. Then she learns that Blackstone, one of her teammates and mentors, was killed in the same fashion in a potential future. The threat is very motivating.
  • Stripperiffic: Played with. In the post-Event setting, superhero costumes are flamboyant but the field. It has been mentioned that many young and fashionable superheroes have much less practical club-versions of their costumes for partying, and superhero-cosplayers dress much more stripperiffically.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Discouraged; it's a (mostly) unspoken rule that capes wield "classical" weapons, high-tech weapons, and/or their own powers, not conventional firearms. Artemis uses guns, but after joining the Sentinels she switches over to high-tech stun guns when on actual team business. Though this goes out the window when the chips are down, like during the Whittier base attack.
  • Super Registration Act: Breakthroughs are required to be registered in some states and nations, such as New York and Japan.
  • Superhero Speciation: The Sentinels' power-sets are extremely diverse, and it is implied that most other Crisis Aid and Intervention teams are as well. The openly stated rationale is that superhuman combat is paper-scissors-rock, so you'd better have a mix on your team to cover any weaknesses. Also, power-duplication doesn't always play well in the media...
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: because — superheroes wear tights! Atlas's identity was public from the beginning, but he donned a uniform, a mask, and a code name, so that people would slot him in the cubbyhole "superhero" and not be so unnerved. Others followed suit. Post-Event superheroes consciously model themselves after comic-book heroes, and this extends to their wardrobes so tights are common among heroes with the physiques to wear them. But in the Sentinels alone, Astra starts with a shorts-and-vest costume, then a skirt, and finally in Villains Inc. a reinforced Leotard of Power note  and tights, Atlas wears a leather jumpsuit, Blackstone wears a tuxedo, Chakra wears a tribal dancer outfit, Ajax wears body-armor, etc. The only Sentinel in tights throughout is The Harlequin, because that's part of a traditional harlequin costume.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Astra dreams of cherry blossoms and a talking fox when Kitsune wants to communicate.
  • Temporal Paradox: The Teatime Anarchist doesn't produce these by an rather unusual rule: not all times are equal. There is a Past, which is fixed and can't be changed, a Future, which is only possible, and the Present, which is where real actions are taken and become permanent.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Hope's expectation is that superheroes follow the Golden Age superhero code, and this is strengthened by Ajax' statement that "heroes don't use guns." But in her first fight she discovers that Atlas is perfectly willing to let the bad guys kill each other, and in the surprise-attack on Whittier Base half the team breaks out automatic pistols, the better to cap their attackers. In the same attack, Hope herself kills an unspecified number of terrorists along with the Big Bad in the heat of combat, then kills two heroes in the Dark Anarchist's secret base.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: How people usually get their powers.
  • Vampire Detective Series: Heavily averted. While Artemis/Jacky seems to display all of the outward tropes of a vampire detective in the Big Easy, she 1.) Has no drama related to her sire ( she staked him, burned him to ash, and scattered him on Lake Michigan the first chance she got), 2) Has acquired no unrequited love interest ( unless you count the Master of Ceremonies, who may be pursuing her), and 3.) Has only displayed one flashback so far—a post-rape trauma induced one, and she later killed the man who induced it. Rather than becoming a PI as some sort of atonement, she seems to revel in the opportunity it provides to "stick it" to other vampires and supernaturals who step out of line.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Astra now carries Ajax' huge battle-maul. Partly because it really does help her hit harder, but mostly because a five-foot-nothing girl who doesn't weigh 100lbs soaking wet looks more intimidating when carrying a weapon that weighs more than she does.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: Most superhumans who can make a career out of their powers, and even the superheroes are working for big paychecks. The more successful ones are idolized, with their own merchandise lines, fan-clubs, and even TV shows fictionalizing their adventures. This doesn't mean they're all in it for the perks—just that a superhero career can be financially rewarding.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: explicitly invoked when discussing why the mob does not go after superheroes in their private identities.


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