Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut

By Cat Rambo

The superheroes sit in a back booth at Barnaby's Ye Olde Tavern and Pizza. It's not the usual sort of superhero hangout and they'll probably never eat here again. They've had four autograph requests: two from customers, one from their waitress, and one from the manager, who also insisted on taking their picture with his cell phone.

It's a shame that they won't be coming back, Ms. Liberty thinks. The cheese pizza is hot and greasy, the sensation of consuming it agreeable. It's enjoyable, even, to sit around talking about the world, bullshitting and comparing stories and wishes and pet peeves.

"You know what I hate?" she says, pouring more beer. "The porn star superheroes. And nine times out of ten, they're female."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Dr. Zenith Arcane says. "Names like Pussy Whip and BangAGang."

"And Cocktail."

"Goddess, yes. Cocktail." They swap wry smiles.

X, the superhero without a shape, shaves away pizza triangles, slurps down high-octane root beer. Ms. Liberty and Kilroy are splitting a pitcher and well on their way to ordering a second. Alphane Moon Bass. Most places don't have it.

Dr. Arcane eyes X and Ms. Liberty. She says, "Must be nice to be able to eat like that." She's got a watery salad and a glass of apple juice in front of her. She doesn't usually complain. But lately she's been downright snippy.

"I need to remind you about your hair," Dr. Arcane continues. "It's so early eighties."

Ms. Liberty's hair falls in frosted blonde waves, a mane, unexpected against the strict lines of her red, white, and blue jumpsuit. She touches a tendril at her shoulder.

"Are you her parent now?" Kilroy says, pouring herself another foamy mug. "By the sands of Barsoom, back off, good doctor!"

The children two booths down gasp in horror and delight as X changes shape while still eating. Now she's a wall-eyed, dome-shaped creature, purple in hue.

"A ghost from Pac-Man," Dr. Arcane tells X. "Celebrating the cultural patriarchy. Embrace your chains!" She takes a sip of apple juice.

"Did something crawl up your supernaturally sensitive ass?" Ms. Liberty asks.

"Don't piss me off," Dr. Arcane says. "Nobody likes me when I'm pissed off."

Ms. Liberty takes another pizza slice, eats it in five quick bites. She knows why she likes eating. It's not about the fuel. Anything will do for that. (Literally.) It's her programming that makes her enjoy the sensation of something in her mouth. And elsewhere. She can achieve orgasm in 3.2 seconds by saying a trigger phrase.

She really hates her creators for it. It's distracting. It's dehumanizing. It's objectifying. She understands the intent behind it, to have her engage in enthusiastic, frequent sex, hopefully with them. She doesn't understand, though, why they chose to then give her free will, to force her to perpetually struggle between that pull and the business of being a patriotic superhero, a cybernetic woman: super strong, super fast, super durable.

Even now she feels the firmness of the bench under her ass, the smoothness of the table's wood against her forearms. She glares at Dr. Arcane.

"What. Is. Bugging. You?" she says, spitting out each word like a bullet.

"We don't have the right dynamic."

"What?"

"The four of us—you a cyborg, X a genetically constructed being, alien Kilroy from four galaxies away, and myself, a pan-dimensional sorceress—"

"Sorcerer."

"Magic-user. At any rate, we need some more human people. To add a few more facets to our toolbox."

"You mean interview some new members?"

"An open call for facets, yes."

Ms. Liberty eats another piece, exploring the hot rush of grease, the intensity of cheese and tomato and basil. New members. It's not a bad idea.


The interviews are held in the Kiwanis hall. Ms. Liberty, X, Dr. Arcane, and Kilroy go through their clipboards while two dozen candidates wait out in the hall.

"If you're going to be our leader, you need to look like you haven't time-travelled here from the 20th century," Dr. Arcane grumbles to Ms. Liberty. "You may have been built with the blueprints from the Stepford wives, but you don't have to keep looking like one."

"It's a little late to be thinking of that," Ms. Liberty says. Her internal chronometer says 14:59:05. At 15:00:00, she'll signal Kilroy to open the door.

Dr. Arcane says something under her breath, glances back down at the clipboard. "What sort of grrl-power frenzy name is Zanycat?" she asks.

Zanycat, as it turns out, is a super-scientist's kid sister, pockets full of gadgets, gizmos, gee-whizzeries. She demonstrates flips, moves through martial arts moves like a ballerina on crack, and does quadratic equations in her head. She's a keeper, all right, although she's very young. Her certificate pronounces her barely at the legal age to be a sidekick: fifteen.

Pink Pantomime, a former reality-show star turned hero, doesn't do much for anyone but X.

Kilroy and Zenith like Bulla the Strong Woman, but her powers are too close to Ms. Liberty's.

Rocketwoman is vague about her origin; perhaps she's a villain gone good? Her armor is like something from the cover of a 40s SF magazine, but bubble-gum pink, teal blue, like a child's toy. Her gun is similarly shaped: it shoots out concentric rings of brilliant yellow energy that contract around a target.

They have gone through twenty-two candidates, making notes, asking questions. The twenty-third arrives, dressed in black and steel.

Dr. Arcane dates women by preference but believes that everyone exists on a continuum of bisexuality. She has slept with demons, mermaids, aliens, shape-shifters, ghosts, the thoughts of gods (and goddesses), robots, and super-models. But she has never seen anything like the sexuality of the woman who steps forward next: the Sphinx. She smells of sweet amber and smoke, her accent is sibilant and smouldering.

Ms. Liberty does not date, has not slept with anyone since discovering how thoroughly her sexuality is hard-wired. The resultant level of frustration, constant as a cheese grater on her nerves, is preferable to knowing that she's giving in to their design. But she also has never seen anything like the Sphinx, her languid power, her lithe curves, her eyebrows like ebony intimations.

Kilroy couldn't care less. X just sings of carrots.

According to her resume, she's a computer hacker and ninja-type. Competent and low-key. She doesn't talk much, despite their best attempts to draw her out.

At one point she looks up, meets Ms. Liberty's eyes. They stare at each other as though hypnotized, but it is impossible to tell what the Sphinx is thinking.

Less so with Ms. Liberty, who goes beet red and looks away.

"Why an all-woman superhero group?" the Sphinx asks.

"Why not?" Dr. Arcane says even as Ms. Liberty replies, "That was somewhat accidental. X and I both wanted to leave our old group and we knew Kilroy was looking for work. X and Dr. Arcane were old friends."

"Is it a political statement?"

"It's like this," Ms. Liberty says. "One of the reasons we left the Superb Squadron, X and I, was because we were the only females on there and we were getting harassed. I'm sure there are good guys out there, who would make a swell addition to our team. Maybe we'll explore that somewhere down the line. But for now, it's more comfortable to be all women."

The Sphinx nods. She and Ms. Liberty exchange looks again. Ms. Liberty imagines the Sphinx as the heroine of a comic book, a solitary wanderer, aloof and sexy and unpartnered.


"Get a haircut," Dr. Arcane tells Ms. Liberty on the way out of the hall.

"Stop nagging me. Why should I be judged on my appearance?"

Dr. Arcane pauses, considers this. "Valid point," she admits. "But here it's not about the group's appearance. It's about getting you laid."

"Artificial beings don't need to get laid," Ms. Liberty says.

"The hell they don't," Zenith retorts.

In the end they take on three provisional members: Rocketwoman, the Sphinx, and Zanycat. Three months trial membership, no health coverage until that period is past, but they'll be on the accidental damage rider as of tomorrow. Rocketwoman tells them all to call her Charisse, but everyone keeps forgetting, and the Sphinx and Zanycat prefer their hero names.

"What's the name of the group going to be?" Zanycat asks.

"We haven't been able to agree on one yet," Dr. Arcane admits.

"What are the candidates?"

"A corporate logo, Freedom Flight, an unpronounceable symbol, and Gaia's Legion."

X projects the symbol in turquoise Lucida Sans on her flank, bats cow-lashed eyes enticingly at Zanycat.

"A friend told me fast food companies are looking to sponsor teams, and there's good money in it," Kilroy says.

Arcane shakes her head. "We don't need to worry about that. I'm independently wealthy."

"You don't need to worry about that, you mean," Kilroy says. "Some of us are trying to make a living, put aside a little for retirement. Or a ticket back home."

"We need some sort of name for press releases, at least," the Sphinx says. They all stare at her.

"Press releases?" Dr. Arcane says incredulously.

"We need name recognition," the Sphinx insists.

"We need a fluid interpersonal dynamic!" Dr. Arcane shoots back.

"Actually, what we need is training that allows us to respond efficiently and effectively to threats," Ms. Liberty says. She adds, "In my opinion."

"How about a working title?"

"Like what?"

"Female Force?"

"UGH. Just call us Labia Legion and shoot us in the collective forehead."


The Sphinx and Ms. Liberty are sharing breakfast, the two of them up earlier than the rest for a change.

"I have a question," the Sphinx says.

"Go ahead." Ms. Liberty butters her waffle.

"Are we even really an all-female group?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Zenith, Charisse, Zanycat, myself, X for sure. But Kilroy's an alien—do they even have genders like ours?"

"She lays eggs, I believe, but she's been pretty cagy about it."

"And X—well, X is a construct. Not even built to be female, she apparently just decided it—but based on what? Attitude? Self-identification? Class? Power relationship to her creator?"

Ms. Liberty has had this conversation before, in the Superb Squadron headquarters.

"If she says she is, who am I to say no?" she says.

"That brings us to you," the Sphinx says.

Ms. Liberty says, "If I say I am, who are you to say no?"

"You're a construct too."

"Constructed to be female."

"Something you could change or reject as easily as throwing a switch."

Ms. Liberty says, "I have to be something more than superhuman. I'm female."

The Sphinx shrugs, drains the last of her coffee, slides from her chair.

"Going on patrol," she says.


Zanycat finds Zenith Arcane in the library, slouched over a couch reading, with three cats laid at intervals along her body. The group has been using Arcane's Manhattan brownstone, which is much much larger on the inside than on the outside, to the point where Zanycat has taken to spending mornings exploring the wings and passages, trying to map them on graph paper. She intends to ask Dr. Arcane about that, but she finds the older mage intimidating.

Right now, though, she has a different question, and Zenith seems like the best to tackle on the subject.

"So what is X?" she asks.

Dr. Arcane slides her reading glasses up her nose and closes her book. She gathers herself up, displacing the cats, and regards Zanycat. She steeples her fingers in front of herself in a professorial fashion.

"What categories do you want me to use?" she says.

"Is X an alien? A human? A manifestation of some cosmic force?"

"Ah. She was created by a human scientist who died when she was only a few years old. He kept her entertained with television and the Internet, so she tends to draw on pop culture forms."

"What's her real form?"

"She doesn't have one."

"Doesn't have one? How can that be?"

"I've known her for a few decades now, and I've yet to see her repeat a shape," Dr. Arcane said.

"Then how do you know she's a she? She doesn't just take on female shapes. I saw her do Invader Zim this morning."

Dr. Arcane beams as though a prize student has just won a scholarship. "Excellent question! Because she identifies as such."

"She said so?"

Arcane nods.

Zanycat presses further. "How do she and Ms. Liberty know each other?"

"From Superb Squadron. Ms. Liberty had been a member for a couple of years when X joined. She had been a member of the Howl, the shapeshifter group before then, but she was just a little too non-traditional for them."

"Aren't they villains?"

"You're thinking of the Pack. They're all shapeshifters as well."

"How many shapeshifter groups are there?"

"Four," Dr. Arcane says with the immediate decisiveness of someone who knows every facet of the supernatural world. This is her main power in fact. Not that she can do that much, magically, but that she knows everyone, can connect you to a source on ancient Atlantean texts or a circle of star worshippers or even the Darkness That Crawls on the Edge of the Universe. "The Howl, the Pack, the Changing—which is a loose affiliation of generally good to neutral supernatural beings—and Clockwork Flight, which has a lycanthrope as a leader."

Zanycat makes a face and Dr. Arcane laughs. "What?" she says.

"There's too much to learn about all of this," Zanycat says.

"That's okay," Dr. Arcane tells her. "Most of the time you can go by your instincts."


Ms. Liberty has never talked about why she left the Superb Squadron before. She and the Sphinx stand side by side, watching an alleyway where giant radioactive battery-powered centipedes are emerging. Ms. Liberty says, out of the blue, "You know what bugged me? X always made it clear she thought of herself as she, but they couldn't take that at face value. They called her it, or that thing. And I thought—how far away is being female from being an it? And so I left, even though I forfeited most of my pension doing it."

The Sphinx says, "Do you and X—"

She pauses, as though trying to pick the next word, and Ms. Liberty suddenly realizes what she's going to say and says, "No! Nothing like that. We're friends."

The Sphinx looks at her. Ms. Liberty's heart is racing. A person doesn't ask another person that sort of question unless another sort of question is on that person's mind.


Twin menaces, Prince Torpitude and Princess Lethargia, rampage through downtown, smashing store windows, taking whatever pleases them, draping themselves with sapphire bracelets, fur stoles, shoving iPods and bars of shea butter soap in their pockets.

Everyone acquits themselves well. Kilroy shadowwalks behind the duo, distracts them while Rocketwoman swoops in and Ms. Liberty comes at them, Zanycat cartwheeling after, from the opposite side. The Sphinx cuts off their communication gear, keeps them from calling for back-up. Within twenty minutes they're contained and the cops are processing them with shots of hyper-tranquilizer and ferro-concrete bonds.

No press shows up, except for a blogger who interviews them, takes a couple of pictures with his pen-camera.

"What's the name of the group?" he asks, glancing around.

"It's unidentified," Zanycat says in a shy whisper, and he peers towards her, says, "Unidentified, all right. And your name?" Behind her, Dr. Arcane hears Rocketwoman give out a gasp, a happy little fangirl gasp that takes Arcane a moment to process.

He punches info into his Blackberry, takes a few more pictures of the scene of the struggle, and interviews two bystanders.

Ms. Liberty thinks later that she shouldn't be surprised when the post appears calling them the Unidentified.

"It's not a terrible name," Dr. Arcane argues.

"It sounds like a Latin American human rights movement," Ms. Liberty snaps.

X shrugs and moonwalks down the wall. She wears a purple beret and angel wings—no one is quite sure what the shape is, including Dr. Arcane, until Zanycat identifies it as pulled from a recent Barbie video game.

"What do you think, Rocketwoman?" Dr. Arcane says, rounding on her. "How's it stack up for you?"

"It's fine," Rocketwoman stammers. Dr. Arcane steps closer, "But how's it stack up against whatever we end up with?" she pursues, and is rewarded by seeing Charisse pale. "A-HA, I knew it!" She thumps her fist into her palm triumphantly.

"Knew what?" Kilroy asks.

"She's from the future."

They all turn and stare at Rocketwomen. Timetraveling is the most illegal thing there is; there are corps of cops from a dozen cultures that will track a time-fugitive down.

Rocketwoman raises her chin, stares at them squarely. "I don't care," she says, "it's better than going back." Another realization hits Dr. Arcane.

"Goddess," she says, "not just any time-line but one of the Infernos at the end of Time, is that it?"

"I don't know," Rocketwoman says. Everyone can tell she's flickering between relief at finally being able to talk about it and worry that someone's going to come find her.

Dr. Arcane is unstoppable. "And what was our name, in the history books you studied?"

"The Unidentified," Rocketwoman admits.

Dr. Arcane's stare sweeps the room, nails each of them with its significance. "Ladies and ladies," she says, "I think we have a name."

It's hard to argue with that, although X wistfully expresses her symbol a few more times before Ms. Liberty finally tells her to give it up.


Ms. Liberty has taken a front bedroom for her own. It's not that she really sleeps: she can activate a program that is intended to be a simulacrum of sleep, which her creators assure her is far better than the real thing, but it has a disturbing slant towards erotic fantasies that makes her leave it off.

She doesn't sleep. Instead she writes. Romance novels. It's how she keeps herself able to buy cybernetic parts that are very expensive indeed. Let's not even talk about the cost or possibility of upgrades to her very specialized system. Her creators are gone, blown up long ago under highly suspicious circumstances, and she's never been able to track down the malefactor who carried out the deed.

Why romances? There's something about the formulaic quality of the series she likes. She writes for Shadow Press's superhero line, amuses herself by writing in the men of Superb Squadron, one by one, as bad lovers and evildoers. She has little fear they'll ever read one and recognize themselves. She also writes superhero regencies, daring women scientists and explorers, steam-driven plots to blow up royalty, Napoleonic spies and ancient supernatural crystals quarried by emerald-eyed dwarves from the earth's heart.

She works on one now, pausing on the love scene. She writes a kiss, a caress, and stops. She thinks of the feel of lips on her own skin and gives way to the urge to trigger her programming, leaning over the desk, feeling orgasms race along her artificially enhanced nerves.

She touches her face, feels the tears there.

Downstairs in the Danger Room, she works through drills, smashes fast and hard into punching bags, dodges through closing barriers, jump and leaps and stretches herself until she is sore.

The door whispers open and the Sphinx enters. Without a word, she joins the practice.

Is Ms. Liberty showing off or trying to escape? She moves in a blur, demonically fast, she moves like a fluid machine come from the end of Time, she moves like nothing she's ever seen, forging her own identity moment by moment. And feels the Sphinx's skin, inches from her own, fever warm, an almost-touch, an almost-whisper.

"Is this the thing," Ms. Liberty says to the Sphinx, "that it matters because you will only sleep with females?"

"I will only sleep with someone," the Sphinx says, twisting, turning, cartwheeling, "who knows who they are."

Ms. Liberty's arms fall around the other woman, who is iron and velvet in her embrace. Then Ms. Liberty pushes away, stammers something incoherent, and rushes from the room.

The Sphinx looks after her, waits for hours in the room, gives up the vigil as dawn breaks. Several stories above, Ms. Liberty saves the twenty thousand words she's written, a love scene so tender that readers will weep when they read it, weep just as she does, saving the file for the last time before sending it to her editor.


Ms. Liberty lets X cook her dinner. This is a mistake for most beings. X has flexible and fairly wide definitions of "food," and she has no discernable theory of spices. But for a cybernetic body, fuel is fuel, and sensation is sensation. There are no unpleasant physical sensations for Ms. Liberty. All she has to do is make a simple modification, performed by mentally saying certain integer sets.

She knows that she can do the same with her emotions. She could make loneliness bliss, frustration as satisfying as completing a deadline. But would she be the same person if she did that? Is she a person? Or just a set of desires?

She eats chili and bread sandwiches, washes them down with a glass of steaming strawberry-beef tea. X has produced candies studded with dangerous looking sugar shards colored orange and blue and yellow and green. Inside each is a flake of something: rust, brine, coal, alderwood.

Ms. Liberty eats them meditatively, letting the flavors evoke memories.

Rust for the first day she met X, when they fought against the Robotic Empress. Brine for the Merboy and his sad fate. Coal for the day they fought the anti-Claus and gave each other gifts. Alderwood has no memory attached and it scents her mouth, acts as a mental palate cleanser. She goes upstairs and writes five chapters set in Egypt, and a heroine in love with the dusky native guide. At midnight she eats the chocolate-flavored flatbread X slides under the door and writes another 2,000 words before lying down to recharge and perform routine mental maintenance.

She pushes herself into sleep as smoothly as a drawer closing. Her last thought is: is she a superhero or just programmed that way?


They fight Electromargarine, the psychedelic supervillain.

A band of intergalactic pirates.

Super-intelligent orcas from the beginning of time.

The actual Labia League, which turns out to be supervillains who refer to themselves as supervillainesses.

Alternate universe versions of themselves.

A brainwashed set of superheroes.

A man claiming to speak for Mars.

A woman claiming to speak for Venus.

A dog claiming to speak for the star Sirius.

And all the time, Ms. Liberty keeps looking at the Sphinx and seeing her look back.

Dr. Arcane has her own set of preoccupations. There's Zanycat's hero-worship, Kilroy's chemical dependency, and whatever guilt rides Rocketwoman. Zenith suspects the last is some death. She tries to figure out who, tries to observe where Rocketwoman's eyes linger, which conversations shade her voice with regret (all of them, which is a little ominous), how she looks when reading the morning newspaper.

Dr. Arcane catches her in the hallway, hisses in her ear, "Listen, Charisse, I need for you to tell me who dies. If it's me, I won't be angry, I just want to get my affairs in order."

"I can't tell you," Rocketwoman says. She looks away, avoids Zenith's eyes.

Zenith snarls with frustration, She doesn't like not knowing, it's the one thing in all the world that can make her truly angry.

Plus all that stuff about the sanctity of the timeline that time-travelers spill out is hooey. You can alter time, and many people have. If it was as fragile as all that, you'd have reality as full of holes as Brussels lace. No, when you change time you just split the timeline, create an alternate universe. The unhappy future still remains, but at least it's got (if you've done it right) a happy twin to balance it out. This is, in fact, why most travelers appear and Zenith is sure that Charisse is no exception. She's here to change something. She's just not saying what.


They fight something huge and big and terrifying. That's par for the course. That's what superheroes do, whether they're programmed by three almost-adolescents in lab coats or by centuries of a culture's honor code or by some childhood incident that set them forever on this stark path.

Dr. Arcane fights because she likes the world.

Rocketwoman fights because she's seen the future.

X fights because her friends are fighting.

Zanycat fights because it's what her family does.

Kilroy fights because there's nothing better to do until she gets to return home.

The Sphinx fights because she doesn't want to be a supervillain.

Ms. Liberty thinks she fights for all these reasons. None of these reasons. She fights because someone wanted a sexy version of Captain America. Because someone thought the country was worth having someone else fight for. Because a woman looks sexy in spandex facing down a flame-fisted villain.

Because she doesn't know what else she should be doing.

Because her instincts say it's the right thing to do.


Ms. Liberty finishes her novel, sends it off, starts another about a bluestocking who collects pepper mills and preaches Marxism to the masses. She spends a lot of time pacing, a lot of time thinking.

X has discovered paint-by-numbers kits and is filling the rooms with paintings of landscapes and kittens, looking somewhat surreal because she changes the numbers all around.

Zanycat is about to graduate high school and has been scarce. Next year she'll be attending City College, just a few blocks away, and they all wonder what it will be like. Zenith remembers being student and superhero—it's hard to do unless you're well-organized.

Kilroy has joined AA and apologized to several villains she damaged unnecessarily while fighting intoxicated. Before each meal, she insists on praying, but she prays to her own, alien god, and an intolerant streak has evidenced. She's apparently a fundamentalist of her own kind and believes the Earth will vanish in a puff of cinders and ash when the End Times come. That's why she's been working so hard to acquire money to get off-world, lest she be caught in the devastation.


Ms. Liberty goes to Reede and Mode to find fabric for a new costume. There's a limited range to the fabrics—not much call for high end fashion in super-science, but she comes across a silvery grey that looks good. She finds blue piping for the wrists and neck, not because she wants the echo of red, white, and blue, but because she likes blue and always has. And it makes her eyes pop. The super-robots take her measurements. They'll whip it up while she runs her next errand.

There are some places that are neutral territory for superheroes and villains. A few bars, for example, and most churches. And this hair salon, high atop the Flatiron Building. Arch rivals may face down there and simply step aside to let the other have first crack at the latest Vogue Rogue.

"My friends keep trying to push me to try something different, Makaila," she tells the hair dresser.

"Do you want to try something different?" the hairdresser demands, putting her hands on her hips. She has attitude, cultivates it, orders around these beings who could swat her like a fly, drain her soul, impale her with ice and kill her a thousand other ways, as though they were small children. And they enjoy it, they sink into the cushioned chairs and tell her their woes as she uses imaginarium-reinforced blades to snip away at super-durable hair, self-mending plastic. Usually she just trims split ends.

Ms. Liberty looks at the tri-fold mirror and three of her look back. She thinks that this is the first time she's decided to alter herself, step away from the original design. She thinks of it as modernization—a few decades of crimefighting can date you, after all.

Here's the question, she thinks. Does she want to be a pretty superhero? Is that what being a superhero means to her?

And here's another question: what is a superhero's romance? She's been writing them as though they were any other love story, writ a bit larger, with a few more cataclysms and laser-guns in the background. Girl meets boy, there's a complication, then she gets her man. But what does the superwoman do after she's got him? Does she settle down to raise supertots or do they team up to fight crime? Can you have your cake and eat it too, as Marie Antoinette, the Queen of Crime, would insist?

Her makers thought sex was a worthy goal, a prime motivator. And instead all they'd done was make her start to question her body. And now was she questioning her own mind the same way, wondering if she wanted love or sex, and what the difference was.

Her three faces stare and stare from the mirror and she hesitates, conscious of the waiting Makaila. Finally, she says, "I want it short and easy to take care of" and leans back in the chair.


They fight:

Shadow elementals.

A team of super-scientists.

A group of sub-humans.

A cluster of supra-humans.

Ms. Liberty's creators in zombie form.

A villain who will not reveal her name.

The hounds of the Lord of the Maze of Death.

A rock band.

A paranoid galaxy.

A paranoid galaxy's child.

A paranoid galaxy's child's clone.

A witch.

And in the end, everything turns out fine, except for the hovering death that Rocketwoman still watches for, that Dr Arcane still watches her watching for. The Sphinx and Ms. Liberty do go to bed together, after issues and problems and misunderstandings, and at that point we fade to black and a few last words from our sponsor, along with X in the shape of a giant candy bar.


"Every woman knows she's a woman," Ms. Liberty says. "She's a woman. And every hero is a hero. They're a hero. That's who they are."


Cat Rambo writes in the Pacific Northwest. Her collection Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight () appeared in 2009. She is the managing editor of Fantasy Magazine and is addicted to the super heroic in many forms.