“Captain Ice” he said.
“No” I groaned.
“Captain Fire” he tried again.
“That’s even worse” I said.
“Captain Ice Fire” he said enthusiastically. Thankfully the look on his face told me he wasn’t actually serious.
“Make more coffee” I said ignoring his last suggestion. It had been a week since he came into my office. This morning had been when we had decided to meet. Thankfully I didn’t have any other appointments today, or ever, because it was now well past dark. My desk was covered in note and research material. By research material I mean comic books. How else are you supposed to figure out about super heroes?
The first thing we had to cover was his origin. He didn’t know much about his past. He was raised by his late grandfather, his mother died in labour and his dad was a deadbeat. As to how he can do what he can do, he had no idea. He said he had done research (again comic books) when he first discovered his power, because he knew that he had to be able to control them. He was a smart kid, he lived by Uncle Ben’s advice “With great power, comes great responsibility”. This made my life quite a bit easier not having to cover up stories of mysterious fires or frozen lakes in the middle of summer.
“We’re out of coffee” he said. “We’re out of coffee” he said again waving his hand in front of my face.
“Sorry, I zoned out. Grab your jacket we’ll go to the coffee shop down the street a change of venue will probably be good considering we’ve been making no progress.” I said as I stood up stretching.
This morning had been rough. We had gone through so many names. The endeavour started out with logical ideas. Something to do with ice or fire, but nothing sounded right. Things started to get weird when we worked through a list of animals. The Flaming Penguin was a personal favourite, which was responded to with an icicle through my animal book. After that the office became a no power zone.
“Why is it so hard to pick a name?” he asked as we were walking. Once again snapping me out of my thoughts.
“It’s the one of the main things that represent you, it’s your brand name. It needs to be catchy and make people feel, but it also has to be easily remembered and recognized later” I tried to explain.
“Think of it this way” I started “would you rather get a sports car at Martelli’s Premium Imports or at Big Joe’s Auto Shop?”
“The premium imports” he responded. The coffee shop’s neon sign was glowing in the distance now.
“Ok” I continued “now if you’re looking for something quick and cheap would you rather go to Martelli’s Fine Italian Cuisine or Big Joe’s Chip Truck?”
I held the coffee shop door open for him as he answered me “If I want quick and cheap, the chip truck”.
“A name tells a person a lot about the brand before they even experience the brand. People are going to make assumptions about you based on your name, we want to make sure that those assumptions are positive ones” I think I had gotten my point across.
“Good evening, what can I get you?” The woman asked from behind the counter. Clearly she had been drinking the coffee they sold because she was overly peppy.
The kid stepped up. “I’ll take a grande Americano extra foamy” he said with a smile “and whatever he’s having” he added looking at me.
“I’ll take a large coffee” I said to the woman behind the counter who was clearly annoyed with the fact I didn’t use the proper terminology
“I just need a name” The waitress asked the kid, back to her peppy self
“Max” he replied
It was in that moment that I realized I didn’t even know his name. I was so caught up in all the excitement of the last week that I hadn’t thought to ask, and he clearly hadn’t thought to tell it. I wondered what it was short for. Maxwell, Maximillian, Maximus? As we grabbed a table I asked him “So what’s Max short for?”
“Luke” he responded.
“Luke?” I definitely wasn’t making the connection here.
“Yeah, Luke” He replied. “Luke is my name on my birth certificate. Max came from my grandfather’s nickname for me Max Power. I guess I was always running around at top speed” he continued. “You know how you said people make associations with names? Well I associate Luke with my Dad, so I go by Max” he finished
“Max Power? You’ve calmed down quite a bit” I replied.
“Well when you can fly and do what I can do, you’re able to burn off any excess energy” he laughed.
“Fair enough” I replied, wondering what his life must be like.
“So I need a name. One that gives positive associations with me while being catchy and memorable” He said, clearly mimicking me.
“What about Max?” I asked
Max was clearly confused by my suggestion. “What happened to all that stuff about a name being so important and needed to give convey a positive messages?”
The gears were clicking in my head as I was formulating the idea “It conveys trustworthiness and integrity. People can relate to a guy named Max, and if they can relate to you then they’ll want you to succeed.” I wasn’t sure if I was getting my idea across. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea, then again neither was Captain Ice Fire. “It shows transparency.” I went on “The reason people trust Jim’s Carpentry more than IGQ Global Construction is because people know Jim and know if something is wrong they have an actual person to contact not a toll free number that calls to a computer operator. Plus Max is catchy and memorable in and of itself.”
“What about the ‘whole needing to protect my identity’ business” Max asked
“Well you went to almost every PR and media agency in the city saying you had ‘powers’.” I don’t know why I did the air quotes around powers. Max actually DID have powers. “If there’s news of someone flying around in a ball of ice and fire you’ll be their first stop. So we may as well embrace your identity rather than try to hide it and give those companies a great headline when they out you.” I finished.
“So Max?” He asked rhetorically. “I guess that will keep me from slipping up and revealing my identity.” He went on still skeptical “Isn’t there a reason all the superheroes cover up their identities in the comic books though.”
“If were using comic books as our bases, it is usually because they have something to protect.” I explained. “No offence, but you came to the city knowing no one and having nothing. I’m the only one who really knows anything and if I get kidnapped it’ll be the most exciting thing to happen to me in a while.”
“So since I’m just going with Max I’m not wearing some silly costume, right?” Max asked
I laughed. “Oh you most definitely are”
“What you wear and your symbol are basically your brand. Like your name they say a lot about who you are and what you do. We need something recognizable and meaningful” I answered him as I looked up at the wall. It was 11:30. It wasn’t like I had an avid social life but it had been a long day. I had thought leaving college I’d have numerous late nights out entertaining clients or up till dawn with my other hot shot colleagues, having attractive women lining up to give me there numbers. At this hour though all I wanted to do was go home and binge watch Netflix for a couple of hours and go to sleep.
“So I’m thinking something with red and blue” Max said bringing me back to the conversation.
“I’m thinking this is something our future selves would like to do. Like tomorrow afternoon” I said in response. “Hopefully, making you look like a super hero goes smoother than today’s endeavor”
As I was finishing cop cars came speeding by the coffee shop sirens blaring.
“Duty calls” Max said with a smirk and was out the door before I could stop him.