Alternatively; buy me a coffee?
Miguel’s epiphany from his run-in with the Brite gang lingered. He reread The Rules of Being A Hero and his own notes, and took notes on his notes. There was a core idea uniting all the rules: a hero needed support. If he had been killed that night, his family would never have known.
That was why thesaddestnerdworld’s third rule was Tell your people–keeping this a secret wouldn’t be wise. However, Miguel already knew what his family would say if he told them. Who else was left for him to be honest with? Valeria and Lucas?
But how to tell them? This was serious and…
Maybe it was time he consulted the source.
The owner of thesaddestnerdworld, “A”, was obviously someone who knew what she was talking about. He went on the thesaddestnerdworld and easily found her email. That was fine with him, but what should he say? Glancing at his Zole friend list told him that Val was (still) awake.
Miguel: If I send an email to A do you think she’ll respond?
Val: that lady who runs nerdworld? maybe! i used to send her invites to the candlelight vigils and she’d tell me she couldn’t make it so i stopped trying.
Val: seems like she likes drinking on that day in peace.
Miguel: Thanks, Val! I’ll do it. Just have to figure out what to say.
Val: what do you wanna ask her anyway?
Miguel: I was thinking about making a superhero comic for passing out SupaCon, so I thought I’d ask her if I could use those guidelines on her site.
Miguel felt bad about the lie, but this wasn’t the sort of conversation you dropped on a person at 6 A.M. Besides, Lucas wasn’t around; if Miguel told Valeria before Lucas, or vice versa, there would be hell to pay.
Subject: Questions about Guidelines On How To Not Meet An Early Death
Hi, this is M aka the nerd who always sends you well wishes each year. I’m writing today because I have been inspired by the Guidelines hosted on your blog and would like to create a superhero comic series around them, if possible.
If not, just let me know. If it is cool, I had a few questions I’d like to ask for clarification purposes?
He had two replies by the time he woke up:
Subject: RE: Change your email address
Please change your email address ASAP. I would be happy to answer questions from you concerning my guidelines but I think they’re self explanatory. What type of superhero comic will it be?
Send me a reply back from a different email address if possible.
Subject: RE: Addendum
I was informed that you might hesitate to change a screen name that you’ve probably had for so long without proper reasons. Here is a list of reasons:
-Create your own unique brand that doesn’t link you to fandomy interests
-Won’t need numbers
-Can get an account with a more legit domain than rocketpunch
-More professional in the adult world
So he would need a new handle. Miguel turned to his two friends for assistance. After a fierce debate over his email handle, Lucas asked Miguel to expand on the superhero comic idea, which eventually led to Valeria pulling out her tablet to draw concepts for the story.
Lucas: ahhhh the only thing that this story is missing is the delicate moe type
Val: everytime you talk about moe an angel falls to hell just fyi
Miguel: As much fun as it is to make fun of Lucas…
Miguel: I have to ask if you can you send me those sketches, Val?
Lucas: et toi miguel et toi???
Val: yeah i can do that gimme five
Lucas: i just got stabbed in the back by my brother and u wanna talk art
Lucas changed group name to et tu brute
Val sent over the artwork. Miguel fell in love and was determined to base his costume off of one of the designs. Despite spending all his allowance on supplies to do so, Miguel was starting to think that things were looking up.
Miguel: I need help.
Lucas: don’t let society trick you into thinking that! you’re fine as you are miguel anime is an art form superheroes are a way of life there is no shame in loving them
Lucas sent an image. Open?
Val: help with what?
Miguel: Are you guys free to meet up today or tomorrow? I need to tell you something.
Val: now i’m worried. i should be free in an hour or two!
Lucas: i’ll be done rewatching magical girls of despair academia in like 30 mins
Miguel: You make it so easy to mock you, Lucas. Russo’s in an hour?
“That took forever,” Valeria muttered when she and Lucas sat down. “What’s up?”
“Guys, I need to come clean with you-”
“Is it boy trouble?” Lucas asked.
“What?” Miguel shook his head, waving Lucas off. “No.”
“Lucas,” Val said, drawing out his name, “yes offense, but you aren’t a love guru for mastering a few dating sims.”
Lucas moaned, folded his arms on the table, and rested his head in the crook of his arm. “Fine. I can tell when I’m not welcome.”
“Yeah, okay,” Miguel said. “So, like I was saying… I need to come clean.” Lucas didn’t bother to lift his head up, but he did tilt it towards towards the sound of Miguel’s voice. Valeria held out a hand; Miguel looked at it with confusion. “What?”
“Do you need to hold my hand?”
“For this confession.”
“Just take her hand, dude,” Lucas said. Miguel took Val’s hand.
“So,” Valeria said. “Miguel, what have you done?”
“I lied to you both. I’m not actually making a superhero comic.”
“Miguel, wait,” said Lucas.“Does this mean I won’t be immortalized in a comic–wait. Why have you been so busy, then? Do you realize how much quality bro time we’ve missed out on?” Val nudged Lucas with her elbow. “Okay. Then what have you been doing?”
Miguel took a deep breath. “I have been… patrolling…”
“Patrolling…?” Valeria asked.
“The streets. The city. Like…you know. Being a hero.”
“Wait.” Lucas picked up Valeria’s cup and drained it in one swallow. “You’re a hero? Since when?”
“Since school got back in.”
Valeria let go of his hand, and took her cup back from Lucas. “Miguel, you’re not a brite. You can’t just become a hero!”
“Val, lower your voice, could you?” Miguel grumbled. “I’ve been working out. I’ve lost some weight! I’m starting to build muscle, and I run fast. I’ve been fine so far.” Aside from that encounter with Julia and her gang… but that was not the point.
“A hero, huh…” Lucas said. “What does your costume even look like?”
“I don’t have one. I’m not good with that stuff. I was wondering if you could help me?”
“Huh,” Lucas said. “Why do you even want to be a hero?”
“Haven’t you guys gotten tired of how things are? No one else is willing to do what needs to be done for San Martín. I realized back in May, after that homeless man was attacked, that something needs to be done. So why not me?”
“Lord, give me strength…” Valeria muttered. “Whatever, I guess I’m going to be in charge of creating the costume, since Lucas is useless. I’m going to help you with this because I don’t want you lying to me again, okay? Can you promise me you’ll be careful?”
Miguel nodded. He hadn’t thought that lying would hurt her. The rules were right: honesty was the best policy. “I promise. That’s in the rules, after all, that no matter what I keep living.”
“Rules?” Valeria said. “What rules?”
“Oh, well…” Miguel pulled out his phone. “They’re actually guidelines but…”
Miguel arrived home to find his Abuela Sofia in the living room, patiently listening to Camila gush about her upcoming graduation.
When Camila stopped for air, his grandmother turned to him and patted his arm, before grinning wide. “Miguel, don’t tell me that you have been working out?”
Camila leaned forward in her armchair. “He must be… there is a bit less of him now.”
Miguel shrugged. “I’ve been making use of Bianca’s gym.”
Camila’s eyes widened. “What? Why?”
“For the usual reasons,” Miguel said. “Abuela, how’s Tia Cecilia?”
“Cecilia? Oh, she’s a menace! I told her, I gave birth to you! so she needs to let me be. She says that my doctor is wrong. He wants me to be more active, but that girl says I need to rest. All the time, rest. Don’t get so worked up, Mama, she says. I am 86, not dead–”
Miguel continued to listen and he nodded at all the right places. His thoughts couldn’t help but turn to his own concerns. What if Miguel were to announce that he was becoming a hero? They had been lukewarm when he had come out as gay… in fact, to this day he questioned if that reaction would have changed if his father was alive. Would they have been more or less supportive of him? He couldn’t bring himself to eat.
“Miguel?” His mother called for him several times, but Miguel only responded when Camila poked him. “Have you really been working out?”
Miguel shrugged. “Yeah. I just thought it was time to lose some weight.”
Camila sipped from her wineglass. “He’s aiming for some guy, I’m telling you, Ma.”
Miguel rolled his eyes. “You should stop projecting, Camila.”
Bianca and their mother both sighed. His mother said gently, “Whatever the reason, I’m very proud of you, mijo.”
Miguel shifted in his chair.The third rule flashed in his mind.
Tell your people.
Your mom knows, your siblings definitely know, and your SO (we will talk about this about later) is suspicious, so just do it.
His aggravated sigh was all the warning he gave before he said, “I’m a hero, Mom. That’s why I’ve really been working out.”
The room was dead silent until Camila laughed, Bianca and his mother sighed again, and his grandmother patted his hand.
“Mijo,” his mother said, “you know real life isn’t like those comics you read? You don’t decide to become a hero.”
“I didn’t just–I want to do this! Mom, how else would we have heroes if people didn’t decide to become one?”
“Oh, my god, mija! Leave Miguel alone,” Abuela Sofia said.“Your sister and you, and all the other children did stupid things. It’s just Miguel’s turn now, is all.”
“Don’t be like that, Mama. My son has outstanding grades that he will need to maintain. The time for being silly is not now. Miguel understands that, don’t you, mijo? Being a superhero is not his path.”
“Being a hero doesn’t mean I can’t still go to university, Mom.”
Abuela Sofia laughed. “Ah, my Ana, I see trouble in your future.”
Miguel stayed quiet and let his mother, sisters, and grandmother argue over him until he lost their attention enough to duck into his room.
The Third Rule hadn’t talked about what to do if they asked him to quit. Maybe that was because A knew that once someone had picked this path, there was no going back.
Miguel winced as Val took her thick black marker and scribbled all over the designs he had printed out.“Why are you doing that?”
“I didn’t design this with you in mind, so they won’t work. What’s your fighting style like?” Valeria sat in a beanbag chair with a sketchbook, coloring pencils, and her eraser within reach.
Miguel settled at his desk and considered her question. “I don’t have a ‘fighting style.’ Maybe I should take up judo?”
“Maybe,” Valeria said. Her voice was distant as she went back to her sketchpad. Miguel let her be.
Subject: Changed my email address
This is M emailing you from a new account as requested. Juan is my middle name so you can refer to me with that if you want? I don’t really mind.
I’m still working out the kinks, but it would be an ensemble superhero story where instead of following Estrellas’ Superhero League rules, they follow their own–aka your guidelines.
“Miguel, come look at these!” Valeria said. “A few of these are beyond what I can create myself, but they’re cool!” She handed him the sketchbook and he flipped through the sketches. Most of them were red with gray and black accents. He kept coming back to one in particular, and looked up to see a smile on her face–this one had to be her favorite, too. “I left a space on the back for a logo. You never did tell me what your superhero name was going to be.”
“I haven’t made one up yet.”
Val sighed. “Of course you haven’t.”
Lucas came in bearing a box. “Hey, losers,” he said, setting the box on Miguel’s bed. Valeria asked, “What’s in the box?”
Lucas winked.“Supplies for Miguel’s superhero debut!” He started pulling things out of his box.
“Is that pepper spray?” Valeria asked.
“Knockout gas. It’ll put the bad guys to sleep for a little bit according to my sources.”
“Lucas,” Valeria said. “You can’t calculate the proper dosage for every person Miguel could fight! You could have him kill someone!”
Miguel shook his head. “Pass!”
Lucas sighed. “Fine. Next we have some restraints–basic, but they’ll do the trick.” He held up a black pair of handcuffs and then tossed them aside. Next he held up a small red baton and grinned.
“Where did you get all this stuff?” asked Valeria.
“Brother’s credit card.” Lucas rolled his eyes. “I just have to pay him back or get pictures of any Bak Sun cosplayers I find.”
“Every time when I think you cannot get any more extra,” said Valeria, “I remember your brother exists.”
“What else is in there?” Miguel asked.
“Well, let’s see…”
Valeria and Lucas ended up crashing at Miguel’s place for the rest of the weekend.
They finished his costume. It wasn’t the design that he and Valeria had loved, but it did the job. It was red and black with a close fitting hood. Lucas refashioned a belt so he had something to hang his gear from. Miguel felt silly, but his friends told him that he had been silly from the moment he decided to become a hero.
He went on patrol again, this time with Val and Lucas’ blessing. People reacted to him differently, with the costume. Miguel stopped three shoplifters in the span of two hours and got rewarded with smiles from grateful shopkeepers.
Miguel was congratulating himself on time well spent when he saw him. Miguel didn’t know his name, other than the fact that that this was the third time now he had run into the beautiful boy in public. First at the funeral for Scarlet Avenger and Lady Jewel so long ago, next at the graveyard just a few short months ago now, and now out here? San Martín was a big city, but Miguel couldn’t help but feel like this was a sign. He just didn’t know if it was a good or bad sign.
Subject: Your comic
You might be better served by coming up with your own rules for being a hero than following someone else’s guidelines as least as far as your story goes. If you were to get this published you would have to pay me a lot of money and I’d rather not take money from a young creator such as yourself. I’m more than happy to serve as a mentor as you think things through with your comic though!
Another late afternoon found Miguel on patrol in the heart of San Martín. He was in his full costume, and found just his presence was enough to bring a smile to people’s faces. Some people stopped him to take selfies with him, and others thanked him for being there. Still others seemed to think twice about committing crimes or quickly, quietly returned what they stole once they saw him.
They all called him the Neo Scarlet Avenger.
Miguel: They’re calling me the Neo Scarlet Avenger, guys.
Lucas: embrace it for it is who you are
Val: oh well that’s nice of them.
Miguel wasn’t sure if nice was the word he would have used, but he let it go. He came out of the restroom, got a bottled water, and settled down on the curb to drink it. As the evening wore on, the crowds were getting rowdy. Curfew would kick in once the streetlights came on.He was getting up to toss his water bottle when he heard a cry of “Amelia!” and could hear barking and a child’s screams getting closer.He saw a blur of motion as he turned to see a small child zooming past him, chasing after a small dog. The kid was heading directly into traffic. Miguel ran after her, neatly scooping her up in his arms, and yanking on the dog’s leash as well. They stumbled and then fell to the curb. Traffic stopped as drivers fought to see what had gone wrong. But the squirming child in Miguel’s arms was safe
A sharp cry of “Amelia!” was all he heard before the young child was pulled out of his arms. It didn’t take long for Miguel to recognize her–she was Sara Santana Pérez, the mayor’s wife. The girl he had just saved would be the mayor’s daughter–Amelia Salvador Santana. “Oh thank you, thank you,” Sara cried, “Oh, my baby, my darling baby girl!” Amelia protested about her mother’s grip. Sara held out a hand to help Miguel off of the ground. Behind her he could see her security team; they were attracting a lot of attention. People were taking pictures.
“I’m glad she’s okay. Are you okay?” Amelia nodded. Miguel realized he still had the dog’s leash, so he handed it over.
“Oh, thank you. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name? Are you a new hero?”
“Yeah, I’m…”Someone in the crowd called out, “Neo Scarlet Avenger!”
“I don’t know how I can ever repay you, Neo Avenger,” Sara said. “My husband will want to thank you as well!”
Another flash of a camera, and Miguel flinched. “Maybe some other time?” Before Sara could protest he said, “Take care!” before he pushed his way out of the crowd. He couldn’t stick around and have his face plastered on the news. His mother would kill him.
Subject: My comic
Thanks for offering to be my mentor! You’re very kind to offer that! Should I send over some of my sketches and outlines for the comic so you can get a general idea of what the comic will look like?
“So, front page news,” Lucas said as they walked together to Valeria’s house. “I’m so proud of you, my son.”
“Okay, first off, I’m older than you.”
“You could have died by running into traffic, but you saved the mayor’s daughter. They might knight you for that. Have you seen what some of these other news bloggers are calling you, though? They’re calling you things like the rogue knight and junk. Like Neo Scarlet Avenger isn’t good enough for them!”
“Wait, have you been actively searching out articles on this? On me?”
“Have you not been?” Lucas looked at him with concern. Miguel shook his head, and Lucas sighed. “I’ll send you some links. It’s important to stay aware of what the public thinks of you. Maintaining a good public persona is a key part of being a hero or else you end up public enemy numero uno.”
“What would I do without you?” Miguel asked.
“Be stuck with Val and suffer.”
“I heard that.” Valeria opened up the gate and ushered them in. “You’re both early.”
Miguel shrugged. “I really don’t want to be home when my mom gets there.”
“Right, the article,” Valeria sighed. “Let’s go to my room and discuss exactly where you went wrong, Miguel. I didn’t raise you this way.”
“See?” Lucas said. “We are your parents.”
“It makes sense when Val says it since she’s older!” Miguel followed Valeria to her room. It was like the inside of a clothing store had exploded. “How many costumes are you even making this year?”
“I’m going to go as Lady Jewel,” Valeria said. “I need help narrowing down my outfit.”
“We live to serve,” Lucas declared. He picked up one half of an outfit and whistled. “Ah, yes, this is from 2004’s Alien Invasion battles, right?”
“Right. Do you think it would reveal too much?”
Miguel considered it. “I have no idea?”
Valeria sighed, “Okay, that’s a no. Next is from her solo era.”
“Ah, yes the time of the great split,” Lucas said. “Rumors are still going around about that, you know? Sadly, since they were so private we’ll never know the truth of their brief breakup.”
Miguel shrugged, saying, “They earned that privacy after all they did.”
The three fell quiet for a moment. Valeria snapped out of it first, “Okay, Miguel’s turn. Are you going to go as Neo Scarlet Avenger?”
“If you do, that means less work for me. I have a new design ready,” Valeria said.
“Since you already made one, I guess I can’t say no,” Miguel said.
“Awesome,” Lucas said. “Con is in a week and a half, let’s get to work.”
Miguel somehow managed to avoid his mother in the aftermath of his picture ending up on the front page. Bianca had confronted him about it already, but she had left his punishment largely up to their mother. The con plans were continuing to move along, and Val had already finished what she was calling “the 2.0” of his costume design. He decided to take it for a quick patrol around her neighborhood, where it was always peaceful.
Miguel was passing an apartment complex a bit away from Valeria’s house when he tripped over something sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk. He heard a grumpy mew as he rubbed at his scrapped face and turned to see the fattest cat he’d ever seen in his life, staring up at him. There was a collar around its neck, and a silver-plated name tag, which Miguel couldn’t read. The cat stared at him without moving. Miguel stared back and wondered if he should call animal control. There was a sharp cry of “Jing Yi!” from the apartment complex’s gates, and Miguel looked over to see that boy he kept running into. Seriously?
The boy walked out of the apartment complex and scooped up the cat like it didn’t weigh fifty pounds. Only then did he seem to notice Miguel on the ground. They stared at each for a moment, and then the other boy raised an eyebrow.
“What’s the Neo Scarlet Avenger doing here?”
“Patrolling the area,” Miguel said, thankful for his hood hiding his face.
The boy laughed, and it was a cruel laugh, that made Miguel hate the bite to it. “What a joke. You’re doing this all wrong.”
“Wow, thanks, I’ve never heard that before.” Miguel stood up and brushed off his suit and turned to go. His first impression back in the graveyard a few months ago had been right; this boy was a jerk. He turned and walked away..
“If you’re going to around calling yourself the Neo Scarlet Avenger, I can help you learn how to live up to her legacy.”
That made Miguel turn back to look at the other boy, cat still in his arms.
“Why would you want to do that?” Miguel asked.
“Let’s just say I have an interest in her legacy,” he said. He tapped his cat on its side and it stopped scratching his arms. “And like I said, you’re doing it all wrong–I’m offering my corrective services. Take or leave them, up to you.”
“What am I doing wrong?”
“What aren’t you? But I can help.”
Miguel was silent, trying to figure out what he should do, before he finally said, “You don’t even know my name.”
“You don’t know mine either.”
Miguel waited to see if the boy would give him his name, but after a moment just sighed, “Fine. Okay, sure. Whatever, I’m Miguel.”
The boy gave a small smile at that. Miguel couldn’t help but smile back.
“I’m Teo,” he said. “Do you have your phone on you? You can text me and we’ll set up a time to discuss things in further. Jing Yi is in need of dinner, so I’ll text you after I feed her.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” Miguel said. Teo told him his number and Miguel sent a text.
“We’ll arrange to meet sometime next week.” Teo shifted Jing Yi in his arms, “Goodnight, Miguel,” and cat and owner both went back into the complex.
“You went for a walk, you got some boy’s number, and now you’re texting him?” Valeria asked. Lucas was sitting there silently,and Miguel was getting worried for him. “No, wait, and not just a boy, but a boy who wants to help you be a better hero?”
“His name is Teo and he says I’m not living up to Scarlet Avenger’s legacy correctly. It was like I was personally offending him… I have a confession to make: tonight wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him. Do you remember in May when we did the candlelight vigil? I also saw him then. And I’ve seen him a few more times over the months since. He’s not the type you can easily ignore.”
Lucas finally spoke up, “So he’s super hot? Wow, Miguel I didn’t take you for the shallow type.”
“Lucas,” Valeria said, “your type is big-titty anime girls, so please call Miguel shallow again.”
“Val, how dare you! I do not discriminate against medium-sized titties like that!”
Miguel held up two hands to ask for peace between his friends. “We’re going to meet during SupaCon at the cafe and have a quick bite to talk about what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. You guys can come if you want. Be my moral support and such, I might need it.”
Valeria reached over and patted his head. “My poor Miguel, did he bully you?”
“He called me a joke,” Miguel said.
“But you want his help?” Valeria said. “Why?”
“I’m just curious about what he has to say, really.”
Lucas grinned. “And this has nothing to do with him being hot, huh?”
Miguel frowned, “He’s… okay looking.”
“All right now,” Valeria said. “We have got to stop getting distracted. SupaCon is in two more days. Lucas, are you really sure you wanna go as yourself? No costume at all?”
“None at all.”
“Fine by me,” Valeria said, “Then… we might actually be done? Good job, me?”
Miguel was feeling pretty good about things until he came home and found his mother waiting for him in the living room. She had the newspaper on her lap and a mug of tea in her hands.
“Miguel,” his mother said.
He closed the front door and locked it and came and sat on the loveseat. She looked tired instead of mad. Her greying hair was braided down her back, and her uniform was freshly pressed. Her shift had to start soon, and yet she had sat up waiting for him. Miguel couldn’t help but feel guilty.
“You saw the article, huh?”
“Don’t, just don’t, mijo. Do you have any idea of how dangerous that was? You could be dead! ”
“If I hadn’t been there someone else would have died, Mom.” His mother flinched as if he had hit her, but he continued on. “I didn’t save her because I was acting like a hero, but because that’s the type of person you raised me to be, you know? I couldn’t have just let someone die in front of me.”
“Mijo! I did not raise you to be so disrespectful. You made me a promise. What if you had died?”
“I get it! I swear I do. But like I could die at any time doing anything. If I have to die, then I’d rather it be because I saved someone else.”
“You are too much like him, mijo,” his mother waved her hands in a flurry, “You both just do whatever you please… I knew we shouldn’t have named you Miguel.”
This was an old complaint of his mother’s. “Mom, think of it like this… you and Dad, you went into healthcare because you wanted to help people. You’re doing what makes you happy, so why can’t I?”
“I want you to be safe more than happy, Miguel. I want all my children to be safe, no mother wants to bury her children!” She sighed, and shook her head. “You’re just going to keep doing what you want, aren’t you?”
“I want to help people.”
“But who is going to help you, mijo? Who is going to keep you safe?”
Miguel paused, and then smiled at her.“You are. Bianca will. I’m doing this because this is how you raised me, and I can’t just turn my back on people in need.”
“Oh, be quiet. I’m not okay with this, Miguel. I told you to stop.”
“I’ll think about it, okay?” His mother sighed, and then stood up to hug him tightly. “I’m not going to die, Mom.”
ICYMI: Recent News in San Martín
Captain Grace foils bank robbery without damages? Is this a new shift in the heroine’s methods?
By Febe Mendoza Ramos
Click to read more
New Scarlet Avenger (?) saves Mayor’s daughter! Updated Pictures!
By Alano Ortiz Soto
Click to read more
Cortez Ortega Gil on if Estrellas’ Superhero League telling Capt Grace to stand trial is too late!
Click to watch video
Hot New Forum Topics You Missed:
Did Superhero League go too far? Judgement hour for CG!
San Martín Westside’s Crime Rate at 5 yr high!
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Issue #03 should be posted next month.
Fun Fact #02:
“Neo Scarlet Avenger” was not what Miguel was going to be called originally. For a while I was calling him the Orange Avenger and then realized how silly that was. During the course of editing, my editor suggested “Kid Scarlet Avenger” as a joke. The development of Miguel’s superhero name will be explored in upcoming chapters!
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to send me comments either below or over at my twitter!