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Who Wants to Be a Superhero, Episode 5: Stan’s School for Gifted Youngstersby Steve Wasser -- 08/25/2006
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Welcome back, True Believer! Are you ready for another epic episode of the most pulse-pounding reality show on television? Hold onto your capes, because here we go!
This week’s episode opens with Stan Lee and an unseen narrator explaining the show’s premise. They declare that we all have a hero buried within. At the end of the competition, someone will be rewarded with the one thing that money can’t buy: immortality in a comic book. The winner will also be spotlighted in a Saturday Night Sci Fi Original Movie.
As in past episodes, we open with our heroes in full costume, cleaning The Watchtower. Fat Momma focuses her energies on light dusting. Feeedback scours the bathroom like Faye Dunaway and shares that this competition is the most important thing in his life. Major Victory flits about the lair, cleaning with panache and physical comedy. He explains that he hopes to impress and get closer to his daughter. The Red Tornado is on monitor duty, waiting to get blown up.
Stan greets the team via his Martha Stewart Kitchen Monitor with Optional Potpourri Burner (MSKMwOPB, for future reference). He warns that they are about to experience their greatest challenge: inspiring others. They will have to confront kids, the “toughest judges of all.” Apparently, Stan has forgotten the true toughest judges of all: comic book readers that frequent the Internet. Even critical fifth graders would shrink in terror as a 32-year old Interneteer picks apart Brian Michael Bendis’s characterization of the Scarlet Witch. I mean…whoa.
Our heroes pile into their Big Pimpin’ Transport Vehicle and are whisked to a local school. In the classroom, Stan talks to the kids via his Monitor That Was Partially Funded by Candy Bar and Soap Sales That No One Actually Wanted (MTWPFbCBaSSTNOAW, because I still find this running joke funny). He introduces Feedback, who punctuates his entrance with a killer kick. Fat Momma beams a warm smile and waves as she confidently strides into the room. Major Victory bounds into the room facing the wrong direction and breaks into a goofy dance that gets the kids giggling. Then he tears away his pants and pretty much loses the crowd (lie). In montage, Feedback and Fat Momma are kind and nurturing to the children while Major Victory continues to feverishly work the room. Mrs. Wasser and I agree that the Major is going to win this contest by a long shot.
At Stan’s instruction, the children cover our heroes’ eyes while, one by one, their comic book covers are unveiled. Upon seeing his, Feedback completely lights up and proclaims that this is a dream come true. Fat Momma laughs in delight at her cover and is confident that her son will be proud of her. Major Victory’s cover stuns him into silence. Tears in his eyes, he explains that being around all of the children is making him miss his daughter all the more.
Stan explains that the heroes are to address the children and explain their origins. Feedback goes first, launching into a lengthy explanation about his former life as a computer scientist, a lab experiment gone wrong, power over electronics, and on and on. In the end, the whole thing is about as accessible to ten year olds as the third issue of Infinite Crisis. The kids quickly glaze over. Feedback delivers his own deathblow by asking the kids if they have any questions. A precocious mop-headed little boy, “Call me Scamp!” asks him if he made all of this up or if he’s nuts. Feedback appears shocked for a moment (“Has this kid met my therapist? Why would Dr. Goldsmith share my sessions with Scamp?”) and says that he hopes what others see as insanity is just creative energy. That’s when Child Protective Services shows up and Feedback dives through a window (lie).
Fat Momma’s up next and gets the kids moving by asking them to clap their hands and join her in her theme song. The tune is catchy and the kids pick it up quickly. She gets down on the kids’ level by asking if anyone has ever been teased. When just about everyone but Scamp raises their hands, Fat Momma calmly and lovingly explains that you have to feel good about yourself. Be an individual and not worry about what other people are saying or what models look like in magazines. The kids connect to this message in a big, big way. There’s something about Fat Momma’s delivery that sounds so logical and reassuring, not at all preachy. When Mrs. Wasser punches me in the thigh and yells, “Be a man,” I pause the Tivo and leave the room to find a tissue, confident in the fact that it doesn’t matter what she thinks of me. She’s not the boss of me.
Major Victory is the last to give a speech. He gets the kids up and moving. Unlike Feedback and Fat Momma, who mostly stuck to one spot, The Major works the entire room. He’s energetic and relies heavily on comedy while explaining a never-ending stream of super powers.
The speeches complete, Stan asks the kids to stand behind their favorite hero. The winner is Fat Momma, who has a nice long line snaking behind her. The kids break into a spontaneous cheer. It is a testament to Fat Momma’s message and delivery that the children chose her over Major Victory’s Jim Carrey-esque hijinks. In an odd tonal shift, Feedback and Major Victory are left to write “I will not pretend to be a superhero” on the chalkboard while the Dark Enforcer lords over them.
Back at the lair, Stan informs the heroes that the Dark Enforcer has been spotted at the Universal Studios Citywalk. Once they arrive on the scene, Stan explains that they are to locate the villain by following three clues involving a woman with an ankle tattoo, a fat man with an earring, and a woman with a purse containing an exact amount of cash. Major Victory, as in the classroom, energetically runs about the Citywalk. He doesn’t hesitate to approach strangers and assail them with his brand of goofy comedy. Feedback attacks the challenge with the same intensity as the Major, but in a more serious manner. Along the way, both Feedback and the Major get some pretty rude reactions from people who have no idea what is going on. Feedback takes slightly longer to finish than Major Victory because he stops to put the cash back in the woman’s purse. Meanwhile, Fat Momma eats her way through the challenge, stopping at a candy store and restaurant. She stops to get a back massage from a street vendor. At one point, after both of the men have finished the challenge, Fat Momma casually chats with a knot of bystanders. She even takes the time to get a candy apple from the last clue giver.1 2 Next-->
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