Okay, if you don’t think it’s possible for a superhero short story to be adorable but also affecting and, at the same time, really cute, then may I point you in the direction of Powered Up! An Earth Prime Anthology and Eytan Bernstein’s story about Kid Robot? Because… Aww! Seriously. This is so adorable. Taking the hero pre-generated and packaged in the Emerald City setting of the Mutants & Masterminds role-playing game and giving him his first ever day of school as a backdrop is so cute I couldn’t even.
Okay, so Kid Robot is a superhero, but he’s also, well, a kid and a robot. He’s got the emotional range of roughly a ten year old, and little-to-no life experience. He’s also packing a serious amount of technology and is in the care of the scientist who created him, and also a mechanic he met when he had to run away from the megacorp who want to use him as a weapon. Oh, and he’s on a team of superheroes, too. It’s a lot for anyone, really, and just because he’s a robot doesn’t mean he’s not gonna freak out over making sure he has the right pencil case, okay?
The adventure mixes the anxiety of being new in school, the desires a kid has for his guardians to be a cohesive family, making new friends (and an enemy or two, and maybe befriending former enemies), and a healthy dose of bad guys into one larger whole that just works. It almost has an 80’s sitcom feel in places, with piped in audience “aww!”s, but in the best possible way, and I was there for it. All in all, this was just, well, cute.