Hello, denizens of the internet jungle! Are you ready to get primal? Because it’s time for another installment of…
…in which I use the character creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG’s Ultimate Powers Book to roll up a random batch of powers and abilities, then sit back and watch as some incredibly talented folks work their creative magic upon the quantified chaos.
This week’s superstar simian was swung in courtesy of Leonard Pierce (writing) and “Calamity” Jon Morris (art).
As part of their mandate to study the superhuman condition and the ways it can be controlled and contained, the think tank/penitentiary known as Project Pegasus does a great deal of laboratory research. Happily for humanity, much of this research is conducted on animals, making it – or so goes the argument – more humane.
Sometimes, though, things don’t go quite as planned.
Dr. Alison Crowmartin-Fitzjimson, an earnest young psychiatrist at the Project with a background in media studies, was the first person to suggest that the global population might be suffering an unacceptable spike in its stress level thanks to constant media exposure to tense and frightening news about destructive superhuman rampages. So it was that she began testing the psychological and physical effects of such exposure by performing Ludovico-style experiments on her lab gorilla, “Pogo”.
At first the experiments were inconclusive; Pogo’s general reaction to being forced to watch sixteen hours in a row of various Spider-Man villains wrecking up central Manhattan was to become cross and uncommunicative, but as the gorilla was a sullen 12-year-old, this may have been attributable to mere adolescent contrariness. Dr. Crowmartin-Fitzjimson decided to ramp up the exposure, forcing on Pogo endless online news articles, web videos and podcasts about super-villainy; also, on the advice of fellow Pegasus scientist Dr. Henri Sorel, she decided to “throw some radiation in there”, bathing the ape’s daily media sessions in gamma and cosmic rays.
Unfortunately, like 94% of humans, 57% of gorillas, and a surprising 23% of broadclub cuttlefish, Pogo possessed latent mutant powers that were unleashed by constant exposure to the cocktail of radiation and bad news. Within weeks, he was manifesting bizarre powers in reaction to his environment: his already formidable gorilla strength doubled, allowing him to toss his caretakers around like rag dolls after viewing news footage of destructive supervillain rampages. Angry internet trolls made him behave like an actual troll, hiding under bridges and waylaying unwary muggers and pickpockets into a sound thrashing while in a berserk rampage. Flame wars made him actually burst into flame. He reacted to superhuman brawls by spinning around ferociously, kicking up a cloud of dust and causing nearby objects to fly about in a whirlwind of cartoonish violence, powered by his no longer latent telekinetic powers. Worst of all, when the stress and tension instilled by a steady stream of sensationalist super-news got too much, he was forced to use his mysterious powers – or his head would literally explode.
Breaking free of his captors, Pogo fled into the wilds. Unluckily, the nearest wilds were those of Central Park, and the internet’s angriest gorilla soon found himself lost in the city with the highest concentration of superhumans on the entire planet. Wandering the thoroughfare in a crude costume of garbage and discarded product from the Garment District to disguise his simian nature, Pogo stumbled across the villain Blacklash in the midst of a criminal rampage; simply to alleviate the stress building up inside him, the super-gorilla used his own powers to give the whip-wielding ne’er-do-well a sound thrashing. A gawk-eyed onlooker wearing a hat and a brown suit goggled “Holy smokes! That gorilla’s going apeshit!” – and a legend was born.
Since that fateful day, Pogo has hidden out in a utility closet in the Bronx’s Mott Haven library, aided by local pre-teen ragamuffin José Rumiante and friendly microfiche librarian Becky Mae Pirgeson. He emerges after hours to use its shamefully outdated internet terminals. Using the only method of communication he knows, he nightly surfs the web, hoping to find respite and reason to calm his fiery brain. But on the news feeds, message boards and chat rooms, he finds only fuel for his rage, and takes to the streets once again to tamp down his superhuman-inspired fury by doing the only thing he can do: go APESHIT!
Are you an artist, writer, or terrifying combination of the two who’d like to try your hand at the Ultimate Powers Jam? Then drop me a line at bitter(dot)andrew(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll commence the dice to rolling. (If you’re still waiting for an assignment, I apologize. Things have been a little crazy at the day job lately, but I’ve got a nice long weekend to play catch up. Hopefully.)