“I hope you appreciate this,” Kyle said, as he set the package down on the table. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a material that can resist both extremely high and extremely low temperatures?”
“Can’t say I’ve ever thought about it,” Max said between sips of coffee.
It was 5 am, far too early for anyone to be awake, but it was the only time Kyle could meet. Considering I was paying him in IOUs I wasn’t going to try to dictate his work. He was doing me a huge favour and I promised I would find a way to work in that the only super hero in the world was wearing one of his designs. Kyle said the brand value that would generate would be much more valuable than any money I could dig up. Which is true, as long as I do a good job promoting Max that is.
“Woah,” It was Max who broke me out of thought. He was now looking intently as Kyle pulled the suit out of the suitcase he brought it in. “That’s amazing,” Max said.
The suit was amazing. It looked exactly like something a superhero should wear, but at the same time it didn’t feel cliché. It had a metallic feel to it as if there was more than just the fabric within the suit. It hung loosely in Kyle’s hands but I had a feeling it was incredibly durable. My thoughts were once again broken by Max.
“Can we go test it out?” Max asked.
“Definitely,” Kyle answered enthusiastically. He was clearly happy about Max’s excitement about the suit.
We headed over to the abandoned warehouse behind the building my office was in. Yes, there was an abandoned warehouse behind my office, as if you needed more proof my office was a shit hole. The warehouse worked perfectly for our endeavour though. Where better to be practicing super powers than a large abandoned building? We couldn’t exactly work in my tiny office.
When we got into the building we went to the second floor. It was by far the largest open space in the entire building. Max had set up a hobo esc bedroom on the floor. He enjoyed the privacy and said he didn’t care much for material things. He was an odd kid. Kyle hung the suit on one of the beams in the middle of the room. As he walked back towards us he said to Max “Give it your best shot”.
“What do you mean?” Max asked.
“It needs to hold up to your flames and ice so let’s see what you can do,” Kyle answered with a smirk.
Max walked away from us. In a few moments I was grateful he had.
Max launched a huge stream of ice at the suit. What happened next shocked everyone in the room minus Kyle. He was smiling away. The suit seemed to come to life as the ice hit and it simply steamed off of it as if Max had dropped an ice cube on a red hot pan. Max wasted no time sending a ball of flame at the suit. Again the suit seemed to come to life as it hit. The flame hit and then just dispersed into smoke around the suit.
“It can take a lot more than that,” Kyle said.
Max apparently took this as a challenge. He began sending a barrage of ice and fire at the suit. He was beginning to hover while doing so. Soon the room was one big cloud of vapour. Max lowered himself and the vapour began to disperse. The suit hung right where Kyle had hung it.
Max was clearly out of breath as he came back. “I think that’ll work,” he said.
“Just one more test,” Kyle said as he pulled a gun out of his bag.
“Why do you have a gun?” I asked the concern showing in my voice. I wasn’t a fan of guns. I had never shot one before let alone held one.
“Have you seen the neighbourhood we’re in?” Kyle asked jokingly. “I have one for security. You’d be amazed what some designers will do to steal someone else’s design.”
I wasn’t sure if that part was a joke or not, but I didn’t have time to ask. Kyle stepped forward and emptied the clip at the suit. He was surprisingly accurate. As the bullets hit the suit it again seemed to come to life. The bullets simply dropped to the ground.
“You want to try it on?” Kyle asked as he put the gun back in his bag.
“Finally,” Max answered excitedly.
Max slipped into the suit and at first it appeared to be hanging loosely on him then all of a sudden it shrunk down to the perfect size. “How does it feel?” Kyle asked.
“It feels amazing,” Max answered. “It barely feels like I’m wearing the suit at all. What is this made of?” Max asked.
Kyle just smiled slyly. “I need to get going,” He said heading towards the door, “I’ll see you around.”
“He’s odd,” Max said.
“Says the guy in the shiny suit flying around,” I said with a smile. “Alright, back to the office there is some stuff we need to work out still today.”
“What do you mean?” Max asked, “I have the suit now can’t I just go out saving people again?”
“It’s not quite that simple Max, but soon enough,” I answered.
“Not soon enough,” he said with a groan.
We made our way back to my office. Once getting inside Max sunk down into his usual chair and went about drinking his coffee again. He was wearing his suit still but he had thrown jeans and a denim jacket over top of it. He was clearly fed up with me for continuing to delay his stardom. “Do you know what the biggest issue is for superheroes?” I asked him.
“Giant death rays,” He answered staring down at his coffee.
“In terms of the public smart ass,” I answered, tired of his attitude.
“No idea,” He answered.
“Being labeled a vigilante,” I answered. “It happens to every superhero. At first the public will love you but soon the government and police will get tired of you being in the way and they’ll twist the media to make you into a nuisance. Soon the public will turn against you and you’ll go from fame to infamy. The reason you hired me was to prevent that so we need to prevent you from becoming a vigilante.”
“How exactly do we do that?” Max asked, his attitude receding.
“We need to build brand loyalty,” I answered. “You need to start small and build a strong following of people who think you are great and you are doing great things. We keep it small and we build these connections that way when you hit the main stage the media companies need to give the mass what they want and that is more positive reinforcement. If a company tries to label you as a nuisance we’ll have a mob ready to defend you.”
“What sort of little things?” Max asked.
“Small scale heroics. You see a kid fall off his bike, make sure he’s ok. Help an old lady’s cat out of the tree. Help the people stranded on the freeway with a flat tire. You can still save people from burning buildings but you need to do all the little things to. People need to feel like you care about them. That no problem is too small for you. I want Mrs. Smith talking about you saving mittens at tea and Mr. Johnson speaking to the local reporter about how you got everyone out of the house safely after a fire.” I think I was getting the point across.
“What about things like bank robberies or bomb threats?” Max asked.
“For now you can’t be thrown into the media yet. I can’t control how they would react,” I answered. “If we can build a following once you are launched into the limelight we can dictate how the media will respond to you.”
“How can you handle the media?” He asked.
“The same way I made them believe your first few appearances were marketing stunts. We’ll establish a network of small reporters. When they’re all reporting your heroics the big media outlets will be biting at the opportunity to do the same.”
“So how am I supposed to know when there’s a kitten stuck in a tree?” Max asked.
“You can fly Max. Just fly around the city and go where you’re needed. When you help someone introduce yourself, talk to them, and treat them like people not just potential fans of yours,” I answered. “Oh and this should help,” I said, as I placed a small Bluetooth headset on the table. “This will let you communicate with me. It also picks up on police frequencies.”
“So you’re basically like my Alfred?” Max asked.
“If you think I’m doing you’re laundry think again,” I answered.
“So I actually get to do superhero esc things now?” Max asked standing up.
“Yes,” I answered “but you need to stay out of trouble. Keep it small and engage with the people. Make them love you.”
Max grabbed the headset from the desk and headed towards the door. “Check in periodically,” I called after him.
“Will do, Dad,” he answered sarcastically.
So this was it. Soon I would actually need to do my job and make sure the public loved him. If I can handled such a volatile public figure as a super hero I could basically write my ticket to any job I wanted. If I failed, I’d be no better off than I previously was.
“Hey Kevin,” The voice came through my ear piece.
“Hey Maxx what’s up?” I asked. It had only been five minutes I hope he hasn’t already gotten into trouble.
“Thanks, I know this is kind of as much a learning experience for you as it is for me. I’m not exactly the typical client.” He said.
I didn’t get a chance to respond. “Unit 406 come in, there is a report of a cat stuck in a tree on 347 Elm Street.” The police scanner came through.
“Did you call that in?” Max asked.
“I wish” I answered.
“Duty calls I guess, I’ll talk to you later Kevin” Max said ending the call