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The Young Protectors: Engaging The Enemy Chapter Two—Page 12

116 Comments on The Young Protectors: Engaging The Enemy Chapter Two—Page 12

I realize it’s just wine, Kyle, but you might want to pace yourself, my friend…

I’m going to be at San Diego Comic Con next week! I’ll be selling Artifice books and prints as well as the Young Protectors keychains and buttons I had made before the Kickstarter was launched. I’ll be there from Preview Night on Wednesday through the rest of the Con at the PRISM COMICS BOOTH (#2144, close to the DC, Sideshow and Marvel booths), so if you’re going to be at SDCC, please stop by and say hi! I’d love to see some friendly faces!

I’ll also be on a panel Thursday, July 18, 2013, 5:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M. called “Bizarre? Queer? Perfect: Taming the Wild Webcomics Frontier” in Room 28DE where I’ll be talking about webcomics stuff with a bunch of other LGBT creators. You should check that out too!

In other news, we have new Fan Art by Michael Kera, a lovely 3D kissing scene of Kyle and The Annihilator. Definitely take a look!

And you gave us another week off from the bonus pages, but look below! We’re already at $345 towards the next bonus page! Dangerously close! 😀

Special thanks go out to long-time supporters Stephen C., Richard L., Kathryn G. & Rusty B. (all four making their second generous donations to The Young Protectors!), Christopher D. (who makes their fourth generous donation to The Young Protectors!) & Saxon B. (who makes their thirty-second (!!!) generous donation to The Young Protectors!) and a warm welcome and grateful bow go out to new supporter Eric L. for their generous donations over the last few days!

Big hugs go out to long-time friends of The Young Protectors Adriane L., Robert B. & joshua G. for their super-generous $25 donations! And this makes Adriane’s, Robert’s, and joshua’s (all three!) twenty-third (!!) super-generous donations to this comic! Thank you so, so much for your continuous support! You all ROCK!

Thank you all for your generous support of this comic!

So! Apparently, there are “internships” for being a super-hero? And the “whole” The Young Protectors team is made up of “rejects”? Hmm. I wonder what else Kyle will reveal?

Tune in next Saturday this Wednesday to find out! Hope to see you there! 😀

DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! Edit 7/12/13 7:50 PM: You’ve done it again! Thanks to your generous donations, in addition to our regular update next Saturday (page 14), there will be a bonus update (page 13!) this Wednesday, July 17th! Woo hoo! You are awesome! Thank you so much! Hope to see you there!:D

If you particularly enjoy any of these pages and use Facebook, please click the Like button on that page. It’s useful to know what’s working and it helps me get the word out!
  • toli Bera

    Ragtag team becomes big damn heroes

    so does this mean that Supers are like Gov’ regulated? or do they have an internal tribunal? Kinda well…spooky.

  • Amanda

    Kyle’s wine seems to be disappearing quickly.

    • toli Bera

      he’s making it evaporate by accident. (Nerves+Fire power= Heatwave.)

      • Amanda

        See I thought about that. Isn’t any alchohol going in his system getting burned out like immediately?

        • toli Bera

          I think we’re gonna have to get a ruling on this one.

  • b3nc0

    Duncan doesn’t help with the wine thing, always replenishing the glass as soon as it’s empty, and they’re not /small/ glasses either! Could he be doing that on purpose? With ulterior motive?! MOTIVEZES?‼? (get him frisky & do-gooders-way info)
    Anyway, it’s good to learn things!

  • Kiri

    What are they supposed to do with their super powers if they’re not in a super hero team? Become vigilantes or villains? Or some other V word? Doesn’t sound like a smart thing to do on the part of the govt. Makes way more sense to harness and control all the super powers as soon as possible.

  • HermeticallySealed

    How much people want to bet that Duncan is still on his first drink?

  • KBatty

    I appreciate that Kyle’s features are flushed from the wine. Poor boy has no idea what he’s signed on for.

  • Well with Tsunami’s attitude I could see him being a SH reject and Fly Boy is a little young. Sucks that they look that far back for Kyle. (Couple of years, w/e)
    There seems to be a lot more politics involved within this universe than is normally involved in the verses of Super Heroes. It is refreshing to see that not everyone is accepted and indeed even though they are considered to be the saviors, that the heroes themselves act more negatively than would be anticipated.

  • Wow, that adds another dimension to the more, well, problematic aspects of the Young Protectors’ team – besides many of them being underage, they were deemed unsuitable for professional heroics for whatever reason. But Spooky makes the grade, anyway – I wonder if he’s more talented/together than the other Protectors, or if magic users in general tend to be highly sought after by the legitimate teams. Who knows what kind of shady politics go into hero selection? And I’m interested as to why Spooky has opted to stick with a non-certified team rather than pursue an apparently promising career with the adults.

    And there are two regional teams…I wonder if that’s because there’s a lot of ground to cover, or if different teams handle different situations? Or maybe they’re in competition with each other? (I’ve been rewatching Tiger & Bunny lately, so I’ve got competitive heroism on the brain!) So many questions with each new page! I’m glad it looks like the bonus page is in the bag this week – more conversation, please!

    • b3nc0

      There might also be the local federal-supervised team & the town-supervised team?

      Are you out of your mind, “more conversation”, /more conversation/?
      WE WANT SMOOTCHIES‼ WE WANT SMOOTCHIES‼

  • YangYueLan

    That sounds like a self-fulling prophecy. ‘because you had a bad past, we are going to reject you from the ‘good’ side because you might go ‘bad’. (and therefore make you ‘bad’ ’cause the ‘good’ side did not want you.’ Instead of ‘you had a bad past, so we will keep you close to the ‘good’ side to show you how to not be ‘bad’ and to help you be ‘good’.’

    • YangYueLan

      Ok, I think this is the longest comment I have ever written.

  • Swiftnissity

    I’m getting more and more interested in these adult teams 🙂 spinoff when?

    • mogoskier

      Is that a FREE icon. :0 🙂

      • Swiftnissity

        Haru x Water – best pairing of the show 😀

  • Klaus

    Duncan wants Kyle to get drunk, that much is clear. Hardly making his first time special, as he claimed he intended. So what is he really after?

  • Eisheth

    Shhhh, Kyle. SHHHHH! D:

  • *10 mins later*
    Anni: we’re gonna need another bottle of wine.
    Kyle: But you’re not done with your glassss yet. Hmm, I think I’m getting hotter? You’re hot.

    As chatty as Kyle already is, he’s either gonna be rambling on or not say much as all very soon. It’s ‘only’ wine but drunk is coming really fast.. unless Kyle’s power makes his body run hotter and ‘burns’ out the alcohol faster perhaps?

    I’m pretty sure Anni knows a lot of this already, but he gets Kyle to say the words. It can either be because it makes Kyle calm down and not focus so much on the bed, to give Kyle a biger feeling of them connecting and/or to get info about the group and their weaknesses within themself.
    Anyway.. where else this is going, it’s also really getting us some info about TYP and it’s members and the other groups. It’s really interesting.

    • Maria White

      I think its to help with… the uhh… how do I put this gently.

      Its to help with the release. If you consider what he said, that he can’t let go of control like that, maybe Anni is going to get him drunk enough to you know let loose. Maybe show him he doesn’t have to have such a tight ass.
      I said it… crap. I’m gonna go sit in the corner.

      • Mimi

        Sounds plausible. Upon the first little flames appearing by accident, he can reassure Kyle: no worries, it’s okay, that’s why we’re here, remember?

    • fujoshifanatic

      I cosign this! Dang Danish Wolf, I hardly get to comment any more and sound intelligent; you always take the words right out of my mouth! The only thing I can add to this is that I totally admire the natural way Alex can get all this information out strictly through dialogue, without having to resort to those narrative boxes you see in other comics (and I think is a kind of lazy way of storytelling for a graphic work) Alex’s film maker experience really shines through in this respect.

    • Jason Wexler

      Thank you for this comment, it seemed pretty obvious to me that all of this would be stuff Duncan would already know.

  • a more tongue-in-cheek author would have, in panel two, made duncan do an Aside Glance to us.

    ´seems like the perfect opportunity for it.

    speaking of my thoughts on “personal responsibility,” no one’s making kyle drink up … ´also seems to me, kyle wants to down these 13% Alc./Vol glasses of wine.

    yeah?

    • KiannaLeigh

      He certainly is throwing them back.

      • potential character development: kyle will, in fact, have a struggle with alcoholism

        ´seems plausible to me, sis

        a fire user, drinking like a fish

        • KiannaLeigh

          “a fire user, drinking like a fish”

          sounds less plausible and more ironic to me. Ironic and dangerous. Also, you pouting is cute to death. ^_^

    • fujoshifanatic

      I kind of like the fourth wall remaining intact; makes it more like a movie, which I am enjoying immensely, as I can lose myself in this world a lot more easily if the characters don’t acknowledge my awareness of it.

  • KiannaLeigh

    They’re the reject heros? No ….. But of course Spooky isn’t. He’s so awesome I almost hate him from how much he makes me love him.

  • CH

    Wow so the young super hero development programs are trying to create the equivalent of school shooters with super powers. I guess they need somebody to fight, right?
    Speaks even more highly of our team that they’ve come out of this bs still on the side of good.

  • fujoshifanatic

    All the information that Kyle is spilling is making me even more curious about the Commander and what’s her story, like what makes her a “reject” how was she able to round up these little Lost Boys (and though Fly Boy can well, fly, I still see Spooky as the Peter Pan character :-P) and create a team that can make their misfit talents mesh so well. It will be interesting to hear the story behind that, but not right now because ohmygodKyleyouarespillingtoomuch! You look so cute getting drunk and all, but please, think about what your are saying and who you are saying it to. Less. Talking. More. Nookie. Please?

  • Angie Penrose

    I agree with everyone who thinks the “official” super teams are being incredibly stupid by their recruitment/rejection policies. It’s like they’re trying to set up the next generation of villains. [eyeroll] You know, I was thinking before that Mutt and Jeff in Hong Kong were outliers on the “hero” side, but maybe not…? 😛

    I also agree that Duncan’s trying to lead Kyle down this particular conversational path, getting him to see that the official and sanctioned ways of doing things aren’t always the best. (Aside from letting us readers hear about it, of course.) I don’t think he plans to try to turn Kyle completely to the villain side — nor do I think he could, and Duncan’s smart enough to know that — but putting some more flex in Kyle’s world view, or at least introducing him to the concept of shades of grey between the stark black and white, will make any future relationship between them a lot smoother.

    And I kinda-sorta half think Kyle’s going to end up passing out, and the UST is going to have to stretch on for a while longer. 😀

    Angie

  • Saxon_Brenton

    Let’s get the silly comment out of the way first: Oh noes! Kyle is chugging down the wine for realz! It looks like the trope of the drunken Kyle babbling stuff is *not* going to be averted. Gaspshockhorror. What nefariousness are you up to, Anni?

    Ahem.

    More seriously, a psych evaluation for people in combat or rescue roles is a sensible move, for superhumans just as for non-supers. That said, I think YangYueLan’s comment is spot on: excluding such people because they’re at risk of going bad seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    So what I’m wondering is: is the Young Protectors team set up as a proving ground/dumping ground/halfway house for super teens at risk? (Kind of like the reasoning behind Young Avengers team was.) Is this the reason why Commander, with all those high level contacts with the military and search & rescue, is allowed to operate the team: because it serves a useful social purpose beyond merely rescuing endangered civilians: it gives the team members a sense of purpose and community service that they would not otherwise get because of the way they’re excluded as risks from the sanctioned teams?

    But wait. Last page Kyle said the Young Protectors weren’t officially certified. If Commander had been given the go-ahead to run a young supers at risk program, wouldn’t it have been either been given certification before it started or gained it afterwards when it was shown to work? Or are we back to the idea that those administering the superhero certification are idiots who don’t realise the risks of excluding teens like this, and Commander has had to fight tooth and nail behind the scenes to keep the Young Protectors team going? I think there’s something going on here, and we need more information.

    Random thoughts: To date Kyle hasn’t shown any of the stereotypical personality traits of either a ‘hotheaded redhead’ or a traumatised youth. Most optomistic possibility: I would hope that having done his training in the Young Protectors, then reached adulthood without having any problems, that Kyle would start getting offers for membership from senior teams. (regardless of whether he would now want to take those offers up). More cynical possibility: given the context from Kyle’s comments about the media on the previous page, plus author’s comments by Alex about how there are strict laws about the media bandying about the secret identity of an underage superhero, I’m wondering if Kyle’s past (as opposed to his actions) make him too much of damaged goods for the fully sanctioned teams. As in, once he’s an adult superhuman he’s fair game, and the fact that he burnt down his foster parents’ house and hurt his sister means that he’ll be too much of a public relations liability for the adult teams to want to take on.

    And then this possibility of adverse media scrutiny makes me wonder about Killer’s taunt to Anni back in chapter 1: “How does it feel to finally meet a “real* hero?”. Does scrutiny/oversight/red-tape (pick the term that fits your current level of cynicism) at least provide some measure of positive role modelling for superhuman activities?

    But I think that’s enough babling out of me for the time being.

    • mogoskier

      I feel like there is more of a reason that they rejected Kyle then what were seeing because rejecting him for the house fire make very little sense. While ,yes, he hurt somebody quite badly it was not his intention or because he was angry at his foster sister and that how his power were activated. In fact the way his power were activated and factor in his personality(something you have to do in a psych evaluation),would only make him more responsible with his power. I can see the adult team worrying about bad press because of the incident but I think the fact that they would be taking an abandoned orphan under there wing would ingrate that.
      I hope this make some sense, I’ve been up since 6am and now it 2am. Good night everyone.

    • b3nc0

      Maybe they don’t wanna take him in for they have the same interrogations as Anni & PP about the origin of his power?

  • Satyr Ryder

    Is it just me, or has Anni not even taken a sip of his wine in the last several comics?

    • Saxon_Brenton

      Hmm. We see him raise his glass to his lips on this page (p.12) and back on p.11, but unlike Kyle we never see him drink. That said, most of the panels have been focusing on Kyle, so Anni could have been sipping ‘off panel’. However, if the levels of wine in his glass are any indication – he seems to have a half full glass on page 11 panel 1, a *maybe* slightly under half full glass on page 11 panel 5, a more than half full glass (maybe three quarters full?) on page 12 panels 1 & 2, and less than half full glass on page 12 panel 5.

      If Alex and Adam’s past attention to detail is in force here, then he’s drunk *something*, but how much is open to question. He could be have drunk a full glass in the same time Kyle has drunk his two glasses. OTOH, with careful planning Anni could be making all the right movements to drink without actually doing so (such as raising his glass to his lips just before he plans to speak, as a form of fake-out – which he might be doing on page 11 panel 3, and again on page 12 panel 2), and he could have sipped as little as a quarter of a glass.

      (And the fact that we’re paying this much attention to detail probably has the comic’s creators giggling at our obsession…)

      • Tee hee. 😉

        (And we’re always glad you notice.)

  • Klaus

    The more I think about this, the less I like it. The less I like Duncan, actually. He does not need the alcohol to lower Kyle’s resistance to seduction. THe preagreed aganda for this meeting is Kyle’s sexual debut.

    The best outcome possible would be for Kyle to discover that after five years of training, he does not loose control of his powers. Getting drunk is not going to help that. If Duncan actually intends to have sex with him, it seems that he wants him to loose control.

    It may be as simple as preventing Kyle from deciding that he does not need a fire proof lover after all. Or it may be that he needs something to get hot. Very hot. Supernaturally hot. But I think it more likely that it has to do with that tantalizing conversation Duncan had with the Platitude Princess before stepping through the teleporting gate.

    • dereule101

      Maybe Duncan isn’t trying to get him drunk, 18-year-old Kyle just doesn’t know to sip the wine and pace himself.

      • Klaus

        Then Duncan should not pour so much or so soon.

        • dereule101

          And let his guest’s glass go empty? I should hope he has better manners than that. 😉

  • Klaus

    So Amanda is a reject too? Or does Kyle not consider her part of “the team” in this context? Either way, I am even more curious to get answers for those questions I asked during the interlude. Who put Amanda in charge? What exactly are her powers (and I am not talking super powers here)? It seems that she alone decides how to spend the teams money, at least for minor purchases like a computer. Who pays the bills

    • IamM

      I thought she was a telepath of some sort. Which raises the point that most generalized telepaths in comics (Professor X or Emma Frost, as opposed to specialists like Karma or Danielle Moonstar) are usually portrayed as having some base level sense of the surface thoughts or emotional state of people nearby. If that’s the case with Commander, then she probably would’ve picked up that Kyle is gay just by hanging around and registering his emotional response to people and situations. Especially that porn interlude.

  • Lilka Lilianna

    Something tells me that before this scene is over we’ll see the true villain-y side of Anni and Kyle’s feelings are gonna get hurt by sneaky betrayal of some sort… although I still stubbornly refuse the thought that Anni may wish to physically harm the boy.

  • melinda stumpf

    That is because everyone likes Spooky Kyle

  • Mimi

    Okay, there is just WAY too much space between them in that last panel.
    Please don’t tell me this ends with Kyle toppling over dead drunk and
    Duncan carrying him to bed, then sitting back down to read a book…

    In
    fact, a scenario just occurred to me: Kyle wakes up with a headache,
    asks what happened, and Duncan tells him it was awesome while in fact
    nothing happened. No clue what that would bring Duncan though. Or us… Hm, nope, not funny 😉

    I think Duncan’s determined to get Kyle to make the first move here, nothing more, nothing less. Should work.

    PS: very nice first panel.

    • thebitterfig

      Well, supposing Kyle does pass out, and Duncan doesn’t take advantage, he becomes quite trustworthy, doesn’t he?

  • Khun David

    The way Duncan is holding that bottle, it looks like 3 glasses for Kyle, one for Duncan… and the bottle’s empty.

    And Duncan outweighs Kyle by a good 70 pounds of muscle.

  • Khun David

    Just checking out Montrachet 1978. Back in 2001, it sold at auction for almost $170,000 for 7 bottles (over 24K per bottle). I get the feeling that Duncan could have given Kyle some Boone’s Farm, gotten the same result, and saved a ton of cash. Then again, also get the feeling that Duncan never drank a glass of Boone’s Farm in his life.

    • Chibi

      well I don’t think he was always rich lol XD

    • John

      I think Anni’s philosophy now is ‘If you going to do a thing, do it with style’

    • Klaus

      This is what my search turned up:

      http://writewhat.com/most-expensive-wine/
      The word’s tenth most expensive wine.

      • b3nc0

        The tenth one could be the selling of another millésime than the sixth 1978…

  • Michelle Grifka

    Okay, I don’t usually comment, but I think people need to calm down a little about the wine. Sure, something nefarious could be afoot. It’s always possible. But I don’t think Anni’s intentions are to get him drunk–I think it’s more along the lines of the rose petals. When you’re seducing someone, you do it with wine and candlelight. And that’s the whole point of the evening.
    Also, Kyle’s not tiny. I’m guessing he and I probably weigh the same amount, and three glasses of wine is nowhere near enough to get me drunk–and I’m female.

    • Garry Leonberger

      It really does depend on the person’s tolerance, their experience with alcohol, how quickly they drink it, and the size of the glasses they’re drinking. Kyle has (probably) never had a drink before, and he’s gulping it down pretty quickly. Did you see the size of the glass he drank? That was at least two normal sized glasses.

      • Michelle Grifka

        That’s a fair point.
        I just have a tendency to panic AFTER the shit hits the fan 🙂

  • I just started reading this comic after picking it up via an article on io9- really great stuff so far.

    I have a rather left field thought on the Kyle/wine thing (also having read some of the comments) that is based mostly on my own speculation. Please feel free to correct me. Wouldn’t Kyle’s alcohol tolerance be higher than most given his (I speculate) higher body temperature? I’m not a physician, but can we assume his blood would burn off most of the alcohol before it had much of an effect on him?

    • austin

      i doubt that is true because his powers aren’t always active only when he chooses and when he experiences extreme emotions.

      • Oh okay- I assumed a “Human Torch” situation where his bio-systems just run hotter than normal human, even though he hasn’t specifically “flamed on”. Thanks for the reply 🙂

    • Welcome, Matthew! Glad you found us! 🙂

      And I’ll Word-Of-God this by saying that Kyle’s metabolism does not affect his tolerance to alcohol.

  • GayhawkAZ

    I just found this courtesy of IO9! It’s so cool to see this and I am loving the story and the art! 🙂

    I am bummed that I missed out on the Kickstarter and all those really nice stretch goals. Isn’t there any way I can still donate and get those trading cards and those other things? 🙁 I won’t lie, the more “naughty” stretch goals caught my attention, but overall I would love to just support this. Can someone let me know? :-

    • goddesstio

      Not as of right now, but YP is going to be several volumes – you can always hit up the kickstarter for the next one (I’m assuming there will be one, since this one went so well) or donate at the bottom of the comic for bonus pages!

      • GayhawkAZ

        But then I will still miss those cards and other art. :(((

    • Goddesstio is right that it is too late to still pledge for the Kickstarter, but you will definitely have a chance later to get the cards and art. While the Kickstarter backers will receive all the rewards first, once that has happened, my plan is to make anything not labeled “KICKSTARTER-EXCLUSIVE” available for sale to the general public.

      So it might take a little while, but if there are things you might like, you will have a chance to get them. 🙂

      Thank you very much for your kind words about The Young Protectors! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it! Welcome!

      • GayhawkAZ

        Thank you. 🙂 I hope I get the things I really want. :-

  • KiannaLeigh

    Oh man, I’m having such a good day. Ate at Cheesecake Factory, had Oreo cheesecake, got lots a presents, saw a movie, Young Protectors was awesome and it’s my birthday. Yep. Best. Day. Ever!

    Thanks for contributing to the awesome Team Y911.

    • b3nc0

      Happy Birthday ¨3

      • KiannaLeigh

        Thanks. XD

    • I hope you had a very happy birthday, KiannaLeigh! Thank you so much for being such a great reader and commenter! 😀

      • KiannaLeigh

        Thanks. Knowing my birthday fell on an update day this year sort of made my day. Even if my birthday had sucked, at least I would have had YP to cheer me up.

    • happy belated, Sis!

      am glad to know you ‘got your life’ with everyone!

      :: pops out of a new cake clad only in boxer briefs ::

      • KiannaLeigh

        *squeals* Oo Lala. Do you know what time it is? Champagne Time! Also, I’ve got to find someone to help you get that frosting off. XD

        • the conservative in me prevents my saying something, in response, which some may consider “untowards.”

          • KiannaLeigh

            My Dear, do you think that I might be one of those Never. Speak if dare.

            Plus, you have a conservative in you. *eyebrows raised* Shall I be surprised? Or no?

          • (yes.
            you should be surprised.

            as mister limbaugh needs to get his pasty dick away from me!
            :: blegh ::

            i need a moderate’s dick, instead.)

            rather, i was going to volunteer that you needn’t find someone else to rid m’self of that chocolate-whipped cream frosting.

            >:=D

            nie.

            verily: M’Dear, Sweet Hentainess.
            you’re not of those delicate blossoms, whose petals might wilt and become ruined from the slightest touch of a dirt’s speck.

            that’s good.

            quite a boon, mrs. leigh.

          • KiannaLeigh

            …. All I really heard was a invitation to lick chocolate whipped frosting. Yep. I’m all over that. >:-D Best (read: yummiest) birthday present ever.

          • ^_^

            heh.

            role-playing is fun1!

  • Titan4Ever

    I’ve been biding my time (lurking) for a while now, and finally decided to post. I’ve been reading all the comments and I cannot help but laugh–why does this encounter have to be an either/or situation? It seems to me more likely to be a good case of both/and.

    While Duncan could always be lurking, watching and waiting for an opportunity to pounce on any young hero, it seems far more plausible that Duncan’s initial encounter with Kyle was accidental, and being the experienced man he so clearly is, he took advantage of the situation for his own amusement and surprisingly REALLY enjoyed the outcome himself.

    Flash forward, after some thought and planning, he chooses to pursue Kyle–attractive and ripe for the taking–and ask for a date. I have no doubt that the Platinum Priestess’ adjustment to Kyle’s wardrobe also served as a divination spell of sorts to determine exactly what kind of being Kyle is, and her quick summation to Duncan before he passes into the portal confirms as much. It’s possible that what he learns about Kyle from her could feed into some villainous machination, but unless he has random plans for the seduction of all possible being types tucked away for future use, it’s not likely that he’s ONLY stringing our Red Hotness along without some other kind of interest too.

    Of course the date does go awry–whether by design or inconveniently depending on Duncan’s possible motives–BUT the connection made between Kyle and Duncan seems genuine enough, and the chemistry continues. Since Duncan couldn’t have known what exactly Kyle’s powers are prior to PP’s analysis, had he staged the bad date, his only logical motive might be to see how Kyle handles himself (especially with having to take his clothes off). If that were true, I cannot help but think the Annihilator couldn’t find a better, more controlled scenario.

    Now we fast forward again to an over-the-top romantic evening (after all, do we really need to see Kyle washing what appears to be his only set of nice street clothes in preparation?), he’s more relaxed after surviving his first two encounters with THE Annihilator, and he opens up more. Our flirty couple continues to engage in more personal conversation as one would expect. So far, it doesn’t seem to me that Kyle has revealed anything of which Duncan wouldn’t either be aware already or capable of learning if he’s even half the villain he is accused of being. Like others have said, I don’t believe the use of the wine, the flower petals, the planned agenda of the evening itself were utilized with malintent. These are just the customary gestures a propos for the scene, and in character based on everything revealed to us so far about the highly civilized Duncan Wells.

    Of course, Alex could be playing all of us. Anni could be gearing up for the kill, where he siphons off one heck of an emotional release from a long, anticipated climax (in every sense of the word). And he could be genuinely interested in a liasion with one very hot youth for what it is, even if it leads to nothing else–no ongoing relationship, etc.

    So, in my mind, even if the Annihilator does have plans for using Red Hot as a means to some end, wouldn’t it be far wiser and more sinister to allow himself as Duncan to really entrench himself in Kyle’s life for a longer time before springing a trap? Why wouldn’t any villain with a brain want to learn as much as he could about potential foes first, especially if he can have a lot of pleasure along the way.

    Sorry for writing a book, but like Kyle, that’s what happens when you don’t release anything for a long time 😉

    • I…. I feel like, even though this is technically a bunch of theories and anything could happen, you still just surmised every logical way this could go. Since Alex isn’t likely to have unicorns start falling from the sky, there probably aren’t many other possible routes.

      • Titan4Ever

        Alex mentioned how he was forced to change the plot for Artifice in his notes (and I think in the printed version as well) because his first version of events wouldn’t play out without sacrificing character consistency or intelligence. I understood instinctively what he meant–but had never seen it described in print so well. Characters DO take on lives of their own when created by capable hands–and there’s no doubt Alex is capable.

        I’d never call Duncan altruistic but, as written so far, he does possess a nobility that stands out especially in contrast to the other ‘heroes’ we’ve encountered to date in this world. He’s been bad, but he seems to have gotten it out of his system to some extent. Now it all could be a most elaborate set-up for a fantastic con-job. We have no evidence so far–no scenes of Duncan revealing his private thoughs sans audience–beyond what Kyle reported from his research. But we also haven’t been shown any reason why the Annihilator would bother with this hunky 18 year old–given his purported resources, which appear substantiated–if he ONLY wanted something else. Both characters require fulfillment. The real question is, “Can they find what they both need in each other and for the same reasons?” Anything less, and the characters would lose realism, and we, our patience with Alex. So, you’re right–there really isn’t anywhere else to go–it’s just what path to get there.

  • TheGodEaters

    So Commander is running a rescue for abandoned super hero kids? Interesting. There’s so much information coming out in this conversation. I’m really loving it.

    Anyway, I went back and reread through the conversation Duncan and Kyle have had since setting foot on the helicopter pad outside and I really am rethinking my preconceptions of good and bad. Are the all the so called heroes really the good guys and are the all the villains really the bad guys? Maybe not all of them…. I’m thinking the white hats and black hats might be a tad mixed up in some cases.

  • flame821

    Regarding the psych eval. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are ‘damaged goods’ I took some of those psych evals in school, according to my scoring the FBI would have refused me specifically for having too strong a sense of ethics. I would do what I knew was right, rather than follow orders. You get the same thing in the Armed Forces when you go for special training. They do check to make sure you aren’t likely to snap under pressure, but the also want to make sure you will follow orders almost blindly. They WANT people who see the world as only black or white, not the thousand shades of grey that it actually is.

    So far from seeing Kyle as damaged, he may be ‘too’ good a person, choosing ethical decisions instead of following whatever orders the team is given.

    • xLizardx

      That’s actually very interesting [about the FBI recruitment process]. I can understand why the army would desire uncomprehending cogs to be part of its machine, but I’d have thought an FBI agent would require the capacity for independent thought – because that’s what it’s about, right? The exclusion of ethical recruits? They don’t want anyone who might possibly disobey – but don’t the FBI have to handle all sorts of unusual situations, for which there may not be a precedent, or that precedent may not be appropriate?

      Discounting people with an excellent sense of morality seems rather short-sighted of them to me. Kudos on your psych evaluation, anyway. It’s far better to be compassionate and courageous than compliant and credulous. 🙂

  • Hours

    Exposition, the dinner date.

    Not that I’m complaining. Bring on that sweet, sweet background info.

    • xLizardx

      To be fair, although their conversation is informative, it also feels very natural. Exposition, yes – info-dump, no. 🙂

  • Lore

    The conversation is drawn out and tedious

    • Klaus

      Our disussion? Or Kyle and Duncan’s?

      • Zillagrrl

        Yes. 😉

  • Klaus

    Those glasses are very large. With normal size glasses, the bottle would be half full after pouring the third glass. From the angle Duncan is holding the bottle in the first frame, that is very far from the case here. And look at Duncan’s glass in the second frame. He has much more than a standard glass of wine there, even after taking a few sips. So yes, Kyle is probably on his second glass. He has still drunk about half a bottle of wine in a few minutes.

    • Garry Leonberger

      It occurs to me that Kyle has probably completely denied himself alcohol as well, being just as worried about losing control of his power while drunk as he is when he’s approaching climax.

  • Arthur Dent

    My anti-virus software (Bullguard) keeps warning me not to enter this site. Do you have any idea if this is still an after-effect from the attack weeks ago or a new problem?

    • I think it’s likely still an after-effect of the Google error weeks ago. Scans that I’ve run aren’t showing any problems.

      When I’m concerned about an external site, I use:

      http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/scanner/

      which you might consider. (You can see it gives this site a clean bill-of-health.)

      Also, if it’s not too much trouble, I’d appreciate it if you reached out to Bullguard and checked in with them. If they are still using a weeks-old (and in error) Google malware report, then it’d be awesome if they removed that from their warnings. 🙂

      Thanks!

      • Arthur Dent

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve reported the error to Bullguard.

  • Vasyl

    spooky clearly has the skills to pay the bills

    • 1stworlder

      Just an affirmative action token

  • xLizardx

    Everyone wants Spooky! 😀

  • Garry Leonberger

    Cut them some slack on the conversation, people. This is their second date, and their first was cut short by a freaking assault by Super-Anti-Heroes. They’re still in the “getting to know you” phase. Think about first (and second) dates you’ve had in the past. I’ve usually spent a lot of time talking about common interests on first dates, and their most obvious common interest is Superhuman stuff.
    Plus, this provides a much richer back-story and view of the setting we’re in.
    Also, although this conversation has taken more than a week of our time, it’s only taken a minute or so of their time. They’ve really just sit down.

  • Wayne Lunkwitz

    I look forward to whatever happens….however coming here twice a week ….hoping to see something…..wanting to see something….it is getting almost as tedious as the space between their first date and where we are now.

  • Cman65

    Us rejects have to stick togever

  • Yukiness

    Am I the only one freaking out about the effects on those candles? Those candles and the heat waves are so awesome!

  • Jac

    Is it bad that I want to smack Anni for pouring like that? It’s splashing all over the place!

    • b3nc0

      Good luck with that! Have you seen the Titan you project to admonish? If he wasn’t sitting, would you even be tall enough to “smack Anni”?

      • Jac

        Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m certain he’s taller than I while he’s sitting. Were I a comic book character I’d be far too intimidated to even try anything XD

  • Lotys

    Some say this is tedious, I call it teasing. I enjoy being teased. It will make the sex that much more rewarding when we finally get to it. Keep talking, boys!

  • Garry Leonberger

    So, I’m curious, what are Anni’s powers, exactly? They seem to be at “original” Superman levels: faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
    You know, before superman could fly faster than the speed of light, punish planets or even the fabric of reality, and… well, fly faster than the speed of light.

    • Saxon_Brenton

      You know, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms (not even after Kyle’s comment about being carried around feeling all Lois Lane) but I suppose a comparison to the original Superman schtick makes sense. Of course we don’t have exact numbers for exactly who is stronger, faster, or able to leap higher, but if feels like a reasonable generalisation. Most of his Superman-ish abilities were highlighted in the fight scene during the prolgue, then just add in th fast healing powers mentioned after the fight scene in chapter 1.

  • Vik-Thor

    hmmm… just noticed the candle flames / smoke in the last panel seem to be sortof leaning toward Kyle. Could Kyle be letting his power go a bit after couple of quick (large) glasses of wine?

  • IamM

    I’ve been wondering if there might be some sort of power or energy siphoning plot. Duncan did select and prepare the location. He could’ve had the Platinum Priestess enchant the candlesticks…

    • Garry Leonberger

      With the foreknowledge that Kyle would light them? Although, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to get Kyle to show off.

  • Rashel Izro

    oh my god! I love his comic so much, i’m giddy every page. EVERY PAGE! I actually think this romance is moving too quickly, but I trust you authors, I am loving your art and your”teasing”. and the humor has got my side splitting.<3
    I am so very glad that I decided to finally click on this..but now I gotta get a paypal lol