In panel three, Dabbler really means that altering someone’s mind without their consent is illegal. Super powers are new enough to the public that things like psychiatrists with mental powers aren’t really a thing yet. There’s definitely been uses for mental powers in the past, whether it’s a super, or a vampire from the Twilight Council helping out a soldier with PTSD and the like. (There’s also less sanctioned but still official uses for it like flipping a spy’s allegiance or Secret Service super bodyguards keeping all manner of foreign mental influence away from key personnel in the chain of command.)

That said, most supers (and supernaturals) with mental powers working for the government are part of Arc-DARK or various other intelligence agencies. The consensus is that the American public will be okay if big strong hero smash car on bad guy, but would lose their collective shit if one of Arc-SWAT’s field agents named “Z. V. BIHMP” (Zero Violence Because I Have Mental Powers)” walked up to a rampaging criminal and said “You should surrender yourself and cooperate with the authorities.” and the bad guy said “Okay.”

I know the question you’re asking. Can Sydney’s shield cut stuff when it pops into existence, and did she almost do something really horrendous to Dabbler and Parfait? Well, it can cut through water, certainly. Solids? Honestly I haven’t decided. Maybe it’s one of her power ups. If she can’t, that would mean that someone could zip tie her ankle to a chain link fence and she wouldn’t be able to raise her shields. It would be a temporary state of affairs as she could laser or lighthook the fence in short order, but it opens up a number of tactics that could be used against her.

So, I don’t normally talk about my birthday because I like keeping focused on the comic, but I thought this one time I’d indulge. First off, my birthday is May 4th, which means I was born under the sign of auspicious nerd cred. My birth year… was 1972. Which means I just turned 50. Yeah… I’m at least as shocked as you are. That sounds fucking old to me, too. I mean, apologies to anyone older than me, but 50 is one of those milestones that I think everyone agrees officially makes someone “an old.”

I don’t know what 50 is supposed to feel like, but I definitely don’t feel it. If you’re suddenly picturing some white-bearded grandpa in a straw fedora and a Hawaiian shirt gingerly bent over a drafting table, you can just knock that off right now. Still have a full head of (brown) hair, and no conspicuous wrinkles. The only thing that’s starting to hint at my age is a little more gray in my goatee. I’m not going to pass for 30, but 40? Eh, maybe.

The thing that makes me feel a little better about suddenly being 50 is remembering that Tom Cruise is 60. He was 52 in Edge of Tomorrow, 53 in M:I; Rogue Nation. Or maybe a year younger in each depending on when they were filmed. My point is, the dude doesn’t look fucking 60. Sure, actors have professional fitness coaches/consultants, and some of them get a little nip and tuck here and there. Still, it makes me think that 50 maybe isn’t so old. Also, Keanu Reeves was 50 when he made John Wick. Kate Blanchett was 48 as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, and she was hella fine in that. Anyway, if I sound defensive, it’s because 50 still sounds old to me.

But let me tell you why being 50 is actually pretty cool. Being born in 1972 means I was 5 when the Atari 2600 came out. When you’re 5-10 years old and neither you nor anyone else has ever played a video game before, they were amazing. Well, some of the games were. The lack of a “seal of quality” on the 2600 library did doom the console because there was some shit game for it. But some of them were definitely fun. Nowadays? Have you ever played a collection of those retro games? Even with the spark of nostalgia on my side, they held my interest for about 5 minutes apiece. The point is, I got to grow up with the video game industry, alongside the Commodore 64, the Amiga, the Apple IIgs, the X86 PC Clones. Ah, good times. Especially when Sound Blaster came along and made it so PC’s could do more than beep. Star Wars: Dark Forces on a Sound Blaster 64AWE was the business.

Speaking of Star Wars, that also came out when I was 5. I don’t recall seeing it in the theater, but I do remember seeing Empire. That’s less important than the overall influence that Star Wars had on science fiction in general. Before Star Wars, sci-fi was… well, kind of boring. Yes, Star Trek first aired in 1966, and definitely had a major impact, but other that there was Doctor Who and… a bunch of stuff like Flash Gordon. Not the one with the Queen soundtrack either. It was mostly a bunch of black and white stuff that made space look like basically any other job, only it involved a lot of foil and clothes dryer tubes. But man, after Star Wars came out? If you make a habit of watching bad movies, (or MST3K/Rifftrax) you know that you can gauge a movie’s real success based on the number of terrible rip offs that get made after its release. Jaws? Yeah, there’s a lot of bad shark movies out there. Alien rip-offs are practically a sub-genre of their own. But you know who the absolute king is? Yeah, mother fucking Star Wars. You think Battlestar Galactica would have gotten made without Star Wars? Or Starchaser: The Legend of Orin? (So many of you are like, “the fuck is that?”) or Prisoners of the Lost Universe, or Starcrash or you get the idea. The point is that it changed how people thought about sci-fi, and it changed everything that came after it.

So yeah, my formative years were filled with Piers Anthony and Dragonlance novels, Chris Claremont X-Men, Atari, Commodore 64’s, and Nintendo, Stars both Trek and Wars, the tail end of the Cold War, post Moon-landing America (when it was still majorly on people’s mind and not “something my parents generation did with fucking slide rules”), Robotech (yes, the Harmony Gold version, but it was fucking amazing), and slasher films where actors were covered in real fake viscera and not fake digital gore. I’ve lived through porn being a thing you sneak a look at if you have a friend who knows where his dad kept his Playboys and/or Hustlers to the BBS era of watching a single picture of a naked lady load literally one line of pixels at a time to unlimited HD porn all the time everywhere, and lived through 5.25″ floppy disks and Bill Gates saying that 640K of RAM is more than anyone needed, to “Ug, this Ipad only comes with 64 gigabytes of storage and doesn’t even have an SD Card Slot.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer to be 20 because it’d be a lot more likely I’d still be around to check out the PlayStation 21, but it is what it is. I don’t ever pine for “the good old days” like a lot of proper old people, but being alive when computers basically weren’t a thing to where we are today? From there literally being maybe 13 TV channels to “all media ever on instant demand?” From print porn to omniporn? It’s been an awesome ride so far, and here’s to another 50 years (when I’m sure I’ll insist I don’t look a day over 90.)

Almost done with the May incentive. Probably be up with the next monday comic.

April Vote Incentive is up! Looks like someone had better make sure their life insurance includes acts of Snu Snu.

Alternate versions over at Patreon include less cloth-y versions as usual, but also some of those color changing chokers.

Her shirt, since no one has figured out the kanji yet, says “I ahegao you. (As long as you ahegao me.)”


Double res version will be posted over at Patreon. Feel free to contribute as much as you like.