You’re the most recognised and internationally praised superhero, but you don’t fight any crime. Instead, you use your powers over stone and metal to repair the damage caused by the catastrophic fights other heroes get into.
They didn’t call you a superhero when you started. You didn’t claim to be one, either.
You didn’t have a costume or a sponsor or training or anything like that. You were just a kid who had just seen your entire world knocked down. So, in a moment of childish determination and belief, you thought you could fix it all.
The first emergence of your powers wasn’t a huge triumphal moment. Moving stone and earth and steel doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about how to stack things up so they don’t fall back over again.
Your first attempts crashed right back down again. That was your first lesson.
Even when you got good at what you did, they didn’t call you a superhero.
You still didn’t have a costume, but you’d gotten your hands on every architectural diagram you could and done plenty of practice. Then you started to show up to the aftermath of battles and put them quietly together again.
But it still wasn’t right. You couldn’t do much if you didn’t have the diagrams for the buildings demolished–if the city planners didn’t let you have them.
So you stitched together a costume, something bright and colorful that would grab the attention of the cameras on the scene afterward as you tried to work.
“Look! Someone’s putting those houses back together!”
The effect was instantaneous. The moment you’d grabbed public attention, there were requests for interviews, think pieces–each giving you a platform to ask for the help you needed.
This was your second lesson.
You didn’t call yourself a superhero, or come up with the name yourself. You were never really good about all of those things. But once the attention was on you, you got offers from managers and sponsors. One, a blonde with perfect hair who introduced herself as “just Sandy”
“I don’t have any money.”
“That’s alright,” she said, her grin showing spectacularly white teeth. “All I need is for you to take on some gigs and give me a cut.”
Sandy set you up. She got you the costume people would know you for, gave you the name, managed all of the PR and set up interviews. Your fame skyrocketed, and soon you were seeing yourself on billboards.
Soon you had access to hundreds of city plans and blueprints. After enough attacks happened, you learned them well enough to hardly need to reference them. After a few years, you could rebuild a tower in a matter of minutes, and cities in a matter of days.
Your powers evolved as your understanding did. Soon, you could read the entire layout of a building just from touching. Then, just from touching the ruins. You no longer need blueprints, then–just your own hands on the metal.
The gigs were simple, too–just fixing up hero bases after they’d gotten wrecked in attacks. Feel good work that paid well.
With the help of many people, you do more. That’s the third lesson.
The problems started with the homeless thing.
You were in between projects and itching to use your skills more. Creating homes for the homeless seemed like the perfect, feel good project to flex on.
It was, for the first few weeks. Then came the backlash. City dwellers crying foul, saying they hadn’t agreed to an enormous den of undesirables in their backyards. There were protests, white suburban moms holding up signs about drug dealers and rapists and criminals.
It wasn’t your choice in the end. Eventually the city mandated that you deconstruct your shelter, or they would do it the hard way.
Regretfully, you took it down. You did not look in the eyes of the people that had sheltered there as they had to go on their way.
It was the same story in every area you tried to build shelters in afterwards.
“Can we just buy the land to build them houses?” you asked Sandy.
She clicked her perfect teeth. “Sorry, there are laws against building new things in the city. You need mayoral approval to start a new construction project.”
“Well, there are already too many empty houses,” she said matter of factly.
You stared. “What? Then let’s just buy those and put people in them!”
“You don’t have that much money,” she pointed out. “Not when you’ve been giving it away every year. Also, it wouldn’t do as much good as you think. Just think of the effect on the market–”
This is not why you fired Sandy. But it was the first time you thought of it.
Opinion started to turn against you when you began using your interviews and platform to talk about this problem, to demand permission to build or otherwise help. Exasperation turned to hostility when you started to reshape the landscape to be softer to the unhoused, anyway–when you created caves in parks where people could easily shelter, or made every bench large and soft so that anyone could have a place to sleep.
Laws and ordinances passed, all regulating the amount of alterations one was allowed to make to public property. About how many changes you were allowed to make as you were reconstructing a city. The fines for altering things started to heap up.
Firing Sandy didn’t help. Your good reputation was always as much her work as yours, but after what she said about—you couldn’t.
You learned not to read the scathing opinion pieces on you. That was the hardest lesson yet.
Of course, shit really hit the fan when you were contracted to rebuild another base.
It was a simple enough decision for you. You found out they had been building drones and firing them on civilians. That at this base Techno has been building surveillance technology that would be able to monitor every single person in the country at every moment, and be able to fire upon them with impunity the moment suspicious activity was detected.
It made you rethink every base you had built in the past.
“No,” you told them.
“You already signed your contract–”
Instead of dignifying that with an answer, you transmuted the entire area into the rockiest, most impossible terrain you could. Every trick you had learned to make land easier to build on–you reversed it, turning what had once been the base into a precarious canyon of jagged, diamond-hard steel, nearly impossible to remove or build on.
“I said no.”
Stopping the construction of the stadium was the next kicker.
“You’re insane!” said the heroes who came to remove you.
“They evicted a hundred families for this!” you spat. “Those were people’s homes. It’s disgusting that it’s allowed for the government to do that–much less to do it for-for a stadium? For entertainment?”
And so you stood there for the next 48 hours, deconstructing every single thing they tried to put on their ill-gotten land.
Then, they sent the heroes to stop you. You were never the best at fighting, so they knocked you out quickly.
They don’t call you a superhero now. Behind bars, you glance over every thinkpiece and profile about the world’s most beloved hero fell. You read speculation about evil, greed, madness. All things you’ve heard about “villains” who came before you.
It makes you wonder about those people. If maybe you had misjudged them, too.
But that’s alright, you realize after the sting of it fades away. That was the second lesson, after all–more than anything, you need people to be talking. And for all the bitterness in these words, you realize grimly that people will never stop talking.
Once you’ve thought things through, you decide you’re ready. The steel of your cell melts away. After all, there is no prison that can contain you. No earth or stone or metal can withstand your will.
Your legacy as the world’s greatest supervillain begins with a left turn down the hallway, right to where the other villains are kept.