Short Stories 366:308 — “New Girls,” by Crystal Frasier

Okay, so it’s likely no secret that during the pandemic here I fell happily into a Mutants & Masterminds hole. It’s a superhero role-playing game from Green Ronin Press, and the joy of it is in the flexibility: you can make pretty much any character you can think of. But the “default” setting of the M&M universe has been evolving for decades now, and this anthology, Powered Up! An Earth Prime Anthology, crosses a few key periods in said setting, and honestly? The stories are really great. And, more than that? They’re often really queer, which let’s be honest, is so not the norm when we talk about superheroes.

So, let’s get to this first tale from Crystal Frasier, where we meet Centuria She’s kinda-sorta the daughter of Freedom City’s most noted hero, the Centurion (it’s complicated and involves multiple parallel universes but go with it). Centurion, who sacrificed himself to save the world from an invading alien force a couple of decades ago, was the leader of a team of superheroes, and Centuria is now on the same team of superheroes her “father” belonged to herself. And today, she is moving through the city in search of… baked goods. There’s these bagel-donut hybrid things she really wants to bring to the next meeting because she’s officially passing the “new girl” torch on to the newest woman to join the team, and baked goods are a great way to welcome new people.

Of course, crime hits, and Centuria is now juggling baked goods with saving citizens and stopping violence, and the whole thing is this brilliant mix of doing-the-right-thing! and but-no-my-baked-goods! and it’s funny and punchy and such a great starting story for this anthology. Even better, the new girl ends up showing up to help Centuria out, so they get to meet anyway, under perfect—if not perfectly ideal—circumstances for two women about to be on the same superhero team.

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