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Avenger Assembled

Fusion

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Introduction

Who are you? Sum yourself up in one sentence.

Journalist with octopus powers, wife and mother.

Do you have any nicknames, street names, titles, or nom de plume?

I'm going to answer under the assumption that you're not referring to the men who used to catcall me when I was walking home from school. I've never really gotten a lot of nicknames. It's one advantage of being a 'Joan'. Fusion's got a lot of nicknames. But that's a natural consequence of my powers: I expected that going in.

What is your full birth name?

Joan Melissa Collier

Where do you live?

My family and I live in a row house in the West End. We could afford a larger house, even a condo in Midtown, but I like the privacy of the neighborhood. Additionally, the smaller space lets us afford more luxuries like a nice car and our Wii.

How old are you? What year were you born (if applicable)?

Eugh, do we need to dwell on this? I'll turn thirty years old on August 1, 2010.

Physical Traits

What is your gender? If not applicable, please explain.

I'm female. I'm a jock, though, so sometimes dudebro men pretend they can't tell. I got a lot of that in high school and college especially. It got better after the Olympics, at least.

How would you describe your heritage?

I'm from a multi-racial background. Grampa Joe was a full-blooded Dine (Navajo to outsiders) who left the res when he was 17 to join the Army. Gramma Lee was Japanese, he met her when he was serving in the Korean War. On the other side, from my Dad's family, you've got Irish and Scottish going way back to the Famine. I'm proud of that. America's got a lot of social and cultural problems, but my family history really does represent the American experience.

How tall are you?

I'm exactly six feet tall; the same height I've been since I was 21. Not bad for a nearly thirty-year-old lady with a kid, huh?

What is your body type?

I'm very muscular, particularly for a woman. I still work out regularly, even if I have to hit the specialized gym to do it.

Do you have any particular weaknesses, such as allergies or physical disabilities?

I'll be the first to admit I used to be a heavy drinker, but having a baby cured that problem pretty fast. My physical 'problems' are best covered elsewhere.

How do you carry yourself? Are you graceful, or heavy on your feet? Can you be stealthy, do you walk with confidence?

I miss being able to run unfettered without my costume. I used to run the mile in five minutes, now I spend all my time at work and on the street in A-line skirts that practically brush the sidewalk. When I'm in my clothes, I have to walk slowly and carefully, picking my way at every step. When I'm free, though, and in costume, I run, I jump, and I'm completely unfettered. It feels really good.

Describe your skin, eye, and hair color.

I'm no white girl. Between what Mom used to call the "copper-colored skin", the black eyes and raven-black hair, I actually get mistaken for Latina more than anything else. Multiracial people don't really have enough visibility in America.

How do you wear your hair, if applicable? Do you have facial hair?

I've always kept my hair very short, which is probably another reason I got called a butch through most of puberty. It's been at shoulder length since my mutation, and I like it that way.

Do you consider yourself attractive? Do others?

Oh God, I really don't want to answer this one. Charlie seems to appreciate me fine, even coming up on ten years together.

Do you have any scars, tattoos, piercings, or birthmarks?

No.

Do you resemble anyone famous?

I've been told I look like Salma Hayek on steroids, but I'm fairly certain that was not a compliment.

Do you have a dominant hand?

Hah. No, I've always been ambexterious.

What kind of clothing do you wear?

I wear mostly floor-length skirts and dresses in an A-line cut, the better to hide the fact that I've got four more limbs than your average woman. That's what they use for maternity dresses, so the hem goes above the waist. I wear a lot of bright patterns, the better to break up the lines of my body. I don't like dwelling on the reasons for that, but I've gotten used to my condition after five years.

My costume looks like an armored wetsuit, and it's really great: it gives me so much freedom of movement, especially in the water. It's ridged black, and tight enough that I can run and jump and glide in it without running into any problems. I can even use my arms without chafing at the sides, thanks to the big cutouts around my waist.

Do you wear makeup?

Yes, I wear makeup. I don't like it, but it's a necessity for working in the business I do. I usually just wear some base, red lipstick, and eyeliner. Honestly, I pick up most of my makeup at CVS, I've never really gone overboard with it.

What is your vocal range? Is your voice distinctive in some way?

I can honestly say I've never really thought about it. I do have a Mom voice, as my little girl is just getting big enough to tell me.

Do you have any distinctive habits, nervous tics, or mannerisms? Where did they come from, and what causes them? Do other people notice and remark on these habits? Do they annoy you or other people?

I've always got something in my hands, usually a notebook and eraseable ink pen. (I'm an old-fashioned reporter that way.) Sometimes I fidget, or just make notes for whatever story I'm working on. That's gotten worse after my mutation, since it's so hard for me to run or pace without showing off exactly why I have to dress like a private school teacher.

History

Where do you come from?

I was born in Portland, Oregon, in the Shriner's Children's Hospital. My mom worked for the company that ran the concession stand there, and she was doing an inspection when I came along a month early. It turned out babies who come when you least expect it run in the family.

Have you made any major moves, or do you live in your hometown?

We moved from Portland to Macek Island three years ago, and from Macek Island to Freedom City three months ago. I'm sorry I left home behind for a job that didn't work out, but I'm not sorry we made the move. I think it did me a world of good to interact with other superheroes, and it opened up a lot of doors for Lois. My little girl got to meet aliens, and go to school with the children of gods! I just hope she'll get that much out of life in Freedom.

Do you feel loyal to your country of citizenship? Do you consider yourself patriotic? How do you feel about the government of your country?

Yes, I'm very patriotic. This is the greatest country in the world, bar none. Does that mean there aren't a lot of problems here, bad problems of race and gender and poverty that need fixing? Of course not. But we can make it a better place, together. And that's why I think superheroes should be on the government payroll.

How do you feel about the place you come from?

Portland's a great city! I'll probably retire there, since Charlie and I are both from there.

Where is your home town? What was/is it like?

Portland's a very lovely city. It was a good place to work, a good place to raise kids, and a great place to be a superhero. I really loved the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Rose Garden. That's where Charlie proposed, and we always try and get back there on our anniversary.

Growing up, were most of the people you knew similar to you, or were you somehow a minority? How did that affect you?

I was a six-foot-tall multiracial girl at a mostly white high school. That's when I learned how to fight.

Is there something you've always been really good at or really bad at? How has that affected your life?

I've been in great shape since I was a teenager, and I'm very proud of that. Hell, I got to go to the Olympics in Sydney! Fifth longest shotput at those Olympics! That was one of the many "proudest moments of my life", and I was just twenty when it happened! I'm not a bad detective or judge of character, either, and both of those things have very much influenced my career in journalism. I've got a lot of talents, and I've been lucky enough to live all of them.

Were there any traumatic experiences in your early years (death of a family member, abandonment, orphaned at an early age)?

You know, I've got to say, I had a pretty great childhood. I got in a lot of fights at school, sure, but Mom and Dad always backed me up. In a lot of ways, my family wasn't traditional: Dad was away most of the time working for the government, and Mom was an Army brat who had a black belt, but we were always very happy.

Briefly describe a defining moment in your childhood and how it influenced your life.

When I was ten, a boy named William Jefferson called me a "freaky gook" and I punched him in the face so hard I broke his nose in two places. My mom and dad backed me up all the way, and my dad threatened to sue when the principal talked about expelling me. A couple of weeks after that, he taught me to wrestle so that I'd know how to hit someone without leaving marks.

What stupid things did you do when you were younger?

I drank and partied, a lot more than I should. It started after Dad died when I was 16, and got worse even when I was competing. I quit drinking when I found out I was knocked up, and I haven't had anything stronger than beer since.

Where did you go to school? How much school did you have, and did you enjoy it?

Mark Hatfield High School and Oregon University, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both, even if my last two years at OU were insane because of the Olympics and Lois coming along all unexpectedly.

Do you have any mementos of your childhood? What are they, and why did you keep them? If you have none, why not?

Yes, I've got extensive photo albums and a closet full of stuff. Most of it's still in storage back in Portland.

When did you decide to become a hero? Why? Did anyone influence you one way or another in the decision?

I didn't intend to be a hero at all, actually. After Daedalus and Dr. Atom saved my life, I was just grateful to have a life to go back to, even though my body was forever changed. But a couple of weeks later, when those OVERTHROW terrorists seized City Hall during the Mayor's press conference, I couldn't just sit by and do nothing! So I grabbed the morphic molecue costume that used to belong to Portland's guardian the Logger in the 1960s, got out of my clothes, and went to work.

It felt really good. And truthfully, it always has.

Is the reason you give people for becoming a hero different than your real reason? If so, why?

I maintain a secret identity, so of course I don't tell people everything about it. About how very, very good it felt to be _moving_ again, to feel _alive_, not tied down by my mutated body or by trying to seem normal. I really, really loved it.

Do you have any deep, dark secrets in the past that may come back to haunt you?

Yes: my secret identity. The other one is, well...Charlie knocked me up back in college. That's why we got married. Don't get me wrong, I'm crazy about him now, and I love my little girl more than anything, but if you do the math, you can tell she was born about seven months after Charlie and I hitched up. Between school, family, and track, one of them had to go. And that's why I didn't go to Athens.

Do you represent yourself as being different from who you really are? Why?

I don't tell out and out lies, but I do let people believe Fusion is an alien, or at least got her powers from them. It makes things easier on me.

If you do have these secrets, what do you fear would happen if the truth became known? How far would you go to protect those secrets?

If someone figured out my secret identity, I'd be highly annoyed. I'm not keeping secrets out of adolescent pride like most heroes: I'm doing it for my family!

Do you have any sort of criminal record? If so, is it public knowledge?

No.

Family

What are your biological parents' names?

Melissa Lee Running Water and David Ian Collier.

Were you raised by them? If not, please explain and describe who raised you.

Yes, I was raised by both of them.

What was their standing in the community? What did/do they do for a living?

We had it pretty well. Dad had a good salary from the government, and Mom was an executive at FoodPro, which ran a lot of concession stands in Portland.

Where are your parents now?

Dad died when I was sixteen while he was on assignment in Cambodia. Mom's still alive; she's CFO of FoodPro these days. She's doing very well, age hasn't slowed her down at all. I hope I can be like her when I'm that age.

Did your family stay in one area or move around a lot?

My parents were Portland-born and bred, though we did travel when I was younger, visiting my dad's family in Chicago and my mother's family on the res and in Japan.

How did you get along with their parents? How do you get along with them now (if applicable).

I had a wonderful relationship with my parents. I was lucky to have them: they encouraged me to follow my dreams, whether it was into sports, journalism, or starting a family. My mother knows I'm a superhero, and she thinks it's great.

How do your parents view you now, or how would they?

My mother and I call each other at least once a week, usually much more.

Do you have any siblings? If so how many and what are their names? Describe your relationship with them.

No, it was just me. Dad used to call me the son he never had, till Mom told him to cut that crap out.

What was your birth order in the family?

I was the only child.

Where are your siblings now (if applicable)? Do they have families of their own? What do they do?

N/A

Do you stay in touch with them or have you become estranged?

N/A

Do you love or hate one member of the family in particular?

Mom, I guess, since she's the nearest blood relative (besides Lois) who I have left.

Is any member of the family special to you in any way (perhaps, as a confidant, mentor, or arch-rival)?

Not really, I had a great relationship with everybody. Not all families are overrun with drama.

Are there any black (or white) sheep in the family (including you)? If so, please explain.

That'd be Grandad, who left the res behind and never looked back. I'm proud of him for doing that: it got him out of poverty and gave a better life for his family. I'm not ashamed of my Amerind roots, but I'm very glad I grew up in a city.

Do you have a notorious or celebrated ancestor? If so, please explain, including how it has affected your life.

Nah, nice, quiet family.

Do you have a partner and children currently? If so, please describe them.

Charlie Smith (I kept my name when we hitched up, since I'd already been published) is thirty; he a couple of months older than me. He's a couple of inches shorter than me, and doesn't keep himself in as good shape, but he's a sweet, gentle man who dotes on our daughter and treats me really well. I couldn't have gotten through my mutation without him there helping me and supporting me every step of the way. He's an accountant, and a good one from the money he makes. He's going bald in front, and he's talking about shaving his head to hide it.

Lois is my angel; she's Mom's little girl. She takes more after Charlie in her body shape, but she's smart and studious, and she goes to karate practice every Saturday. She's nine years old. I never wanted kids, honestly, and maybe I lost out on things by having her, but I'm not sorry I had my little girl. She's always been there for her Mom, even when awful things were happening to me, and I will always be there for her.

If you do not have a partner or children, do you want them someday? How firm are you in your opinion on this, and what might change your mind?

I didn't really have a choice in the matter.

What type of person would be your ideal mate?

Charlie, I guess. He's a good man, loved me even after I changed, and stays out of my way.

Relationships

Do you have any close friends? If so, please describe them, and how you came to be close to them.

As I mention below, I've moved around too much to get a lot of use out of this.

Do you have a best friend? If so, how did they become your best friend? How close are you to your best friend?

I've moved around enough in the last few years that I've lost touch with a lot of my old friends, sad to say. Thank God for Facebook!

If you were to go missing, who would worry about you?

My husband, my daughter; my employers a little later. There's a pleasant thought.

Have you lost any loves? If so, how did it happen, and what did you do?

I'm still married to the father of my daughter, right?

Do you have any bitter enemies? If so, please describe them and their history with you.

I don't think you mean professional rivals here, so I don't think so. The Defenders spent a lot of time cleaning up natural disasters and fighting kaiju: Japan has a serious problem there.

If you have enemies, how do you think they might attempt to work against you in the future?

Targeting my husband and daughter seems to be the classic approach in this situation.

What is the worst thing someone has done to you?

Turned me into an octopus fusion through corporate negligence and greed. I wish I had someone in particular to blame for that, but it was the system responsible for that.

Where do your loyalties lie? In what order?

I'm loyal to my family, the power of the press, and my friends.

Who or what do you trust the most? Why?

My family and the power of the press. Dr. Atom and Daedalus above all heroes: they literally saved my sanity and soul.

Who or what do you despise? Why?

I despise corrupt people. People who betray a trust for money or power, particularly the public's trust, are terrible people.

What qualities do you admire most in other people? Are these qualities you possess?

Courage and integrity. The ability to deal with life with a smile; to be true to yourself without trying to reshape everyone you meet into your image.

What qualities do you hate most in other people? Do you have any of those qualities?

I hate liars and decievers, particularly those who do so for corrupt reasons. I don't have those qualities: they're disgusting to me.

Do you have a secret identity? If so, who knows it? Do you hide it from people who are close to you? Why?

Yes, I do. My immediate family knows I'm a superhero, as well as the members of the Defenders and the corporate suits that ran the place. I maintain an ID so I can keep my journalistic integrity intact, as well as to protect my family from reprisals.

Do you work well on teams and in groups? Are you a leader or a follower?

I work well with teams, they just sometimes have trouble with me. I'm definitely a leader.

Are you on a super team? If so, how do you get along with your comrades? Do you trust them, or do you have secrets from them?

I really got along well with a lot of the Defenders: Hachiman, Invincible Man in Steel, Colonel Korea...I was sorry to have to leave them behind, but I couldn't stay in Japan after everything that had happened. We still keep in touch.

Are you a member of any church, fraternal organization, club, committee, political party, or other group? How much time do you spend on that?

I'm a member of the IFJ and I rarely miss meetings. I'm not a registered member of a political party, though, because I think that's not appropriate for a journalist or a superhero.

Personality & Beliefs

Who are your heroes?

HL Mencken, Bowman I, Ida B. Wells, Siren.

Did you ever become disillusioned with former heroes or idols? If so, why and what were the circumstances?

Not really: I've been lucky that way. I was disappointed when I found out some of their character flaws, but that's part of what makes them human.

Do you like being a hero? If so, what is the most rewarding part? If not, what makes you keep doing it?

Yes, I love it. I love the freedom it gives me.

Is there anything that would make you give up hero work, or even switch sides?

If it endangered my family, but I can't see how that would happen without my being able to do something about it.

What are your short term goals (what would you like to be doing within a year)?

I'd like a stead(ier) job and a good school for Lois.

What are your long term goals (what would you like to be doing twenty years from now)?

I want a Pulitzer on my desk next to a picture of my daughter graduating from Harvard. It'll be a big desk, seeing as how it belongs to an editor.

What is your greatest fear? Why? What do you do when something triggers this fear?

Turning into an octopus. The worst part about my mutation wasn't almost dying; it was the fact that I might have lived through my bones dissolving and my skull expanding, until I spent the rest of my life as an octopus with human intelligence. I get...I get upset when this fear is triggered. A lot.

Is there anything you would give you life for?

My family. Saving the world, I suppose, though that's a very abstract concept for me here.

How do you feel about money and material wealth? Do you desire it or disdain it? Are you miserly with what you have, or do you like to share? Is it a mark of success, or a means to an end?

I'd like to make enough money to retire on comfortably one day. Having money isn't a good in and of itself: it's what you can do with that money that counts.

How do you generally treat others?

Does the Golden Rule count here?

Are you a trusting person? Has your trust ever been abused?

Not really, and yes, indeed it has. I've gone undercover enough to have a pretty good idea of just how dishonest people can be.

Are you introverted (shy and withdrawn) or extroverted (outgoing)? Do you have a lot of self-confidence?

I'm very outgoing, and I have a lot of self-confidence.

How do you act around attractive, available members of your preferred sex?

I'll flirt a little if I'm in a good mood and they seem up for it. Hey, I'm not dead. But I'm a married woman, you know?

What are your most annoying habits?

Some people tell me I'm bossy and opinionated, but that's just because they're resentful of a woman who's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Do you feel contempt for any general category of people? Who are they, and why?

Corrupt politicians and businessmen. They're the scum of the Earth.

What is your favorite food? Do you prefer any particular type of food? Do you take the time to enjoy your food, or do you eat as fast as you can?

Burger and fries. I know I'll pay for it later, which is why I still exercise so much. How fast I eat depends on where I am.

What is your favorite drink (alcoholic or otherwise)?

Back when I drank, I used to drop straight shots of bourbon till I couldn't stand up straight. Nowadays I usually stick with Shirley Temples when I'm out.

What is your favorite treat (dessert)?

Chocolate mousse. What can I say, a girl's got to go with the classics!

Are there any specific foodstuffs that you find disgusting or refuse to eat?

Honestly, I've really expanded my palette in the last couple of years. Fish you catch yourself reallly is the best. I'm not a big fan of salads.

What is your favorite color? Are there any colors you dislike?

I like a nice, cheerful red and orange. I'm not a fan of grey.

What sort of music do you like? Is there any that you hate?

I enjoy old Irish folk ballads. I try not to waste my emotional energy hating music, though if Lois comes home singing gangsta rap one more time...

If you have a favorite scent, what is it?

Old Spice. Charlie is a smart man, and wears this all the time.

Do you have a favorite animal?

I like cheetahs. I wouldn't want to _be_ one, by any means, but all that speed and energy is a joy to imagine. Not to mention a man who chases you down to get you in the mood...

What is your most treasured possession? Why?

The album I've kept of Lois' baby pictures, especially the Polariods of me holding her when she was just a few minutes old.

Do you enjoy "roughing it", or do you prefer your creature comforts?

I like my creature comforts. Well, except underwater. If I didn't need to eat, I could stay down there with nothing but fish for company for hours or das at a time.

Is there a job or a task you would absolutely refuse to do?

Charlie takes out the trash. It's a silly rule, but it's kept my hands clean and him in shape all these years.

Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? If so, how do your beliefs affect your life?How important is it to you?

Not particularly, no. I like to think it makes me more rational than people who run around going on and on about magic and mysticism and gods.

Was your faith influenced or molded by anyone special?

My parents didn't go to any particular church, and I've never felt the need myself. Charlie and I got married in a courthouse.

If you belong to a religious organization, how often do you attend? Do you have a specific place of worship, or friends within the organization? How much do you agree with the beliefs of your organization?

I'm agnostic: I really have no feelings about any kind of religion one way or another. I think there are far more important problems to deal with right here in the world than who, what, or how you should worship. I certainly don't need some old man telling me what to believe.

Could you kill? Have you killed?

If it came down to a choice between the life of my family and killing someone else, I'd do it.

What circumstances led to you forming that conviction, or taking that action?

I've never had to test it, but I know I'd be able to come to my family's defense with lethal force without a second thought.

Are there circumstances under which you believe it is permissible to kill? What are they?

Killing is different than murder. Between euthanasia and monsters that aren't human, there are times when killing is necessary. That said, I don't think sane, rational human beings or anything like them should be killed.

How would you react to watching someone kill another person? Would your reaction be different if the killer was a friend or an enemy of yours?

I'd take it pretty badly, if past experience is any indication. If I saw a murder happen in front of me, friend or enemy, I'd see that justice was done.

How would you react if something important was stolen from you?

I'd try and find it and make sure the thief received the punishment he deserved.

How would you react to public humiliation?

I generally don't take it well. These days I fight back with words rather than my fists, though. Unless the person's really egregious.

How would you react if a good friend or relative were purposely or accidentally killed? Has it happened to you?

It's never happened, but I don't think I'd take it at all well. I'd make sure I caught the guy who did it, that everyone knew who he was, and that he'd never be able to hurt anyone again. And no, that isn't some stupid macho code for "I'd kill him."

What do you consider to be the worst crime someone could commit and why?

I hate anyone who endangers kids.

If your life were to end in 24 hours, what five things would you do in those remaining hours?

Tell my husband and daughter how much I love them.

Spend time with my family

Call my mother and tell her how much I loved her.

Write my last column

Go swimming

Career & Training

Do you have any special training in your hero skills? If so, where and how did you get it?

I picked up some special combat training in the Defenders, particularly from my friend Hachiman. I learned underwater fighting from the king of Atlantis when he came to visit Macek Island during the Ameratsu crisis two years ago.

Who taught you the most about your heroing abilities? What was your relationship with that person?

I had to learn about most of my abilities on my own, since there aren't many people with the proportional strength and power of an octopus out there. I've met the king of Atlantis several times, and he's a good man who helped teach me about underwater combat. And I got a great interview out of it!

Do you have any particularly unusual skills? How did you acquire them?

I speak French and Japanese fluently. I learned French in high school and kept with it in college, and I learned Japanese from my mother.

Do you do something besides hero work for a living? Have you ever done anything else, or do you plan to?

I make my money as an opinion columnist. It's a decent living, especially since I'm syndicated in several local papers. I used to dream about endorsement deals, maybe coaching, but that was a long, long time ago.

What is your preferred combat style?

I don't have a lot of flashy tricks. I hit people as hard as I can, putting them down as fast as possible. I'll grab them with my arms and reel them in for a really hard punch, or just lift them up off the ground and slam them into walls. If I'm near a body of water, I'll grab them and pull them under with me.

Have you ever received any awards or honours?

Do I need to cut and paste my CV in here? Between the Olympics, motherhood, and damn near winning a Pulitzer, I've won a lot of awards. I've been lucky enough to have a lot of "best days of my life."

What skill areas would you like most to improve in? Is there anything you can't do that you wish desperately you could?

Now that I'm working in Freedom City, I need to get a better feel for the streets. I used to have my finger on the pulse of the community back in Portland, and that's a trick I'll have to pick up here.

How do you act around people who are more skilled than you in areas you'd like to improve? Are you jealous, or do you try and learn?

What I don't know, I can learn. This has been my rule since I was young, and it's always come in handy for me.

Lifestyle & Hobbies

What is a normal day for you? How do you feel when something interrupts this routine?

Up at seven to make breakfast and get Lois ready for school, then Charlie takes the car into town while I grab the bus. (He likes the car, and I don't really fit into it anymore without a lot of modifications I couldn't be bothered with.) Eight hours in the office or in the field, depending, and then Charlie picks up Lois at school while I make supper. On a good night, I've got two or three hours to myself after Lois goes to sleep, but I can usually stretch that out in an emergency. Charlie's always real good about being alone in the house with the kid.

Do you have any hobbies, or interests outside hero work? What are they, and where did you pick them up?

I collect antique pens, but most of those are still in storage. I inherited my collection from my father, and I keep it up for Dad's sake.

What do you do for fun?

Sometimes just sitting at home with my family, eating delivery pizza (pepperoni and olives, please) and watching a movie on Netflix is the most fun thing I do all week. If I've got time for my own hobbies and recreation, I'll read trashy romance novels or play euchre with Charlie.

Do you have a costume? What does it look like?

Yes, it's made of morphic molecules and looks like an armored black wetsuit. There's a hole around the mouth for my ink jets to work. (I don't like to think about that much, but it's come in handy more than once.) I inherited the suit from the last superhero defender of Portland.

How do you normally dress when not in costume?

A-line skirts, peasant blouses, and long dresses that sweep the floor. I try to use as many bright colors and patterns as possible to break up the lines of my body below the waist. I'm not always successful at that, but people looking at me usually can't tell about the octopus parts.

What do you wear to bed most nights?

Really loose pajama pants and a cut-off T-shirt.

Do you wear any special jewelry? What is it, and what does it look like?

My wedding ring is a gold band with "Forever Yours" inscribed on it; I inherited it from my mother. My engagement ring is a plain gold circlet with a small diamond: Charlie spent two months salary on it.

Do you have a special place where you keep your valuables?

We've got a good security safe at home, and a storage locker in Portland.

What's your preferred means of local travel? How about long distance?

When I can't use my powers, I take the bus. I can't walk or bike long-distance anymore, which is very frustrating to me. When I can use my powers, though, I'll swing from rooftop to rooftop, or glide on skin stretched out between my arms, and...it's really very nice. Sometimes I'll even suit up to commute, because it's faster and more fun than the bus.

Miscellaneous

Have you ever made a will, or tried to make arrangements for your death? What provisions did you make?

Sure, Charlie and I both have wills on record with our lawyers at Cabot, Crowley, and Cunningham. Everything I have goes to Charlie if I die, and I get everything if he dies. If something happens to both of us, God forbid, Lois goes to my cousin Pete and his wife Laura in San Francisco.

If your features were to be destroyed beyond recognition, is there any other way of identifying your body?

Not a lot of women have ten foot octopus arms.

What would you like to be remembered for after your death?

Being a good citizen and making worthwhile contributions to the community. Being a good mom, a good wife, and a good superhero would be nice too.

Do you believe you pose a threat to the public? Why or why not?

I suppose I could be one. But I'm well-trained enough that I won't accidentialy injure anyone with my powers or cause significant property damage. I wish more superheroes were as thoughtful about their communities as I am.

What do you perceive as your greatest strength?

It's very, very tough to make me give up. That's how I went to the Olympics; that's how I had a baby, and that's why I didn't turn into an octopus.

What do you perceive as your greatest weakness?

I have trouble letting things go and 'giving it a rest'. This is especially true if I know someone is keeping something from me, or from the world at large.

As a player, if you could, what advice would you give your character? Speak as if he/she were sitting right here in front of you. Use proper tone so they might heed your advice...

Balancing your family and your job, not to mention your superhero work, isn't an easy task. Just remember that you're a hero to your family first, and that you've got your own secrets to protect.

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The following appears in the pages of the Freedom City Ledger a week after the events of The Long Arm of the Law

Editorial- Villains and Heroes: How Close is Too Close?

It's something of an open secret in Freedom City's superhero community that sometimes superheroes and supercriminals get a little too close for comfort. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Who can forget what happened in 1993, when supervillains like the Red Devil and the Teen Terrors joined forces with friends from FORCE OPS to battle the forces of the Terminus? Or seventy years ago, when Crime League members like August Roman turned away from their criminal past to embrace American patriotism during the Second World War? This newspaper and its editorial staff endorse a balanced approach to crime-fighting, one that offers an opportunity for redemption for costumed criminals who choose to turn their fantastic powers to the cause of justice.

But there is such a thing as being too close. Intimate relationships between superheroes and their enemies are a violation of the sacred public trust our society gives to people in masks, relationships that strike at the very foundation of what it means to be a superhero. Would the Centurion have bedded Marionette, or Lady Liberty Tom Cyprus? We trust our lives, our fortunes, and our families to the costumed guardians of Freedom City. If they can't be trusted to keep something as routine as their personal relationships inside the law, how can we trust them with anything more important?

And what about our children? Consider the message it sends our young women if the hypersexualized, aggressively promiscuous lady supervillains are given the same treatment by the media or by their fellow superheroes as noble, courageous defenders of freedom like Lady Liberty or Fulcrum. Our society should reward decency and honor, not crime, corruption, and the poor impulse control that so often marks these jailbaits turned jailbirds. Our superheroes need to say no to supervillains. It's been said that true love waits. For a superhero, true love can certainly can wait until after justice has been served.

This newspaper is a long-time friend of superheroes, particularly those who've proven their value to this city and to the world time and time again. That's why today we chose to name names. If our friends, whose valor has been proven time and again, do not have the courage to defend their relationship publicly, how can they tell themselves that what they do is true and right? That's why the Freedom City Ledger's editorial staff is asking our friend the Scarab to abandon her intimate relationship with the super-criminal known as Bombshell. Do what's right. Give our people something to believe in.

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20 Questions With Joan Collier

Alone at night while Charlie and Lois slept, Joan clicked on the tape recorder, the old-fashioned reporter's Dictaphone a birthday present from her mother some years earlier. "This is Herald reporter Joan Collier, conducting an interview on November 4, 2010."

1. Who are you?

"I don't know sometimes. The life I'm living now is not the life I thought I'd be living at twenty-five. Or at twenty, for that matter. I can't believe I'm thirty freaking years old; when did that happen?"

2. Do you have any regrets?

"No. Yes. I don't know. Sometimes I feel terrible about the things I'm supposed to be proud of, and happy about the things that don't really matter. I guess if I regret any one thing, it's tripping."

3. What does that mean?

"I tripped at Sydney. Not on the field, God knows, I'd have died if I'd done that, but I tripped and banged my knee so hard I thought I'd broken something that morning when I was in the shower. When I was out on the field that day, I _felt_ my knee stretch when I made my first throw. I could have beaten that damn Slovak with my eyes closed if I'd had two good legs for the second throw."

4. So is that why you stopped being an athlete?

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is. I...I tell myself sometimes that it's because I had a kid, that I couldn't compete and take care of Lois and get my waist back. But that's not really it. I wouldn't have gone to Athens and won, not when I was already injured. I was world-class on a good day, but I wasn't a world-beater."

5. Why did you have a child?

"Because I wanted a baby. When I knew Lois was coming, I was so happy, I...no, that's not really the question, is it? I mean it's true, but it's not really what you were asking. I had a baby because I got pregnant, and I got pregnant because I slept with Charlie. Charlie was really sweet and kind, and he helped me feel better after my little Sydney oops. Just in time for my little Portland oops....yeah, Lois is still asleep, thank God."

6. Is that why you married Charlie?

"I'm not saying I would never have married Charlie...but yeah, that is the reason I married him. Maybe I'm old-fashioned about things, but if you can make a relationship work and you're going to have a baby, you need to be married. That's why we need to let gays marry too, so they can be parents for their kids. Anyway...yeah. I mean, I was only twenty! I wasn't going to run off and get married without a reason! And Lois was my reason. That's how I have a ten year old."

7. Do you love them?

"Damn right I do. Charlie is a sweet, wonderful man who's always been there for me, and Lois is the best daughter I could ask for. She's smart, she works hard in school, and she's learning to cook just like her dad. She's a good girl, and she's going to be a great woman. And Charlie's a good man; he has been since we were both eighteen. He was the first man who didn't roll his eyes, even in his head, when I was talking to him about politics and women."

8. Do they love you?

"...I don't know. Lois thinks I pressure her too much. And I do put a lot of pressure on her, but that's because I want her to be the best! She's got to get out on the track and lose that baby fat, and take some boxing lessons so she'll know how to deal with boys who can't handle girls without spitting on them! But she wants to be like her dad, and learn how to cook, and play her Playstation games, and...well, she's just a kid, she's got plenty of time to grow up. I just want to make sure she's prepared when it happens."

9. And Charlie?

"Charlie loves me. He's stayed with me through some pretty awful times, some times when I was pretty awful. He wouldn't do that if he didn't love me. A lot of people go through life without ever having anything bad happen to them, so I think they never really have proof that the people they love care about them. Charlie and I went through fire together. And water."

10. Do you want to talk about that part?

"No. But I suppose I'd better. I remember waking up in the hospital after the chemical leak and feeling so dry, so dessicated, and then my sides started itching...I thought I'd died, actually, and maybe gone to Hell. I remember screaming and screaming, and then not even being able to talk in air, before they just threw me in the freaking hospital pool while they waited for the super-doctors to arrive. But there was too much chlorine there, so they had to move me to the aquarium."

11. How far gone did you get?

"You ever watch Squiddly Diddly? It was really big back in the late 1960s. A humanoid octopus with a huge, misshapen head, tentacles trailing down in place of limbs, big eyes staring at a world you can't even touch without pain, but all the while recognizing your family and loved ones? Not even able to talk to them because all you have is a goddamned beak? I hate goddamn Squiddly Diddly. Lousy Cartoon Network."

12. How did you feel when all that was going on?

"I wanted to die. Before I talked to the super-scientists, I thought I was going to, and even after they'd stopped my brain from collapsing in on itself I was sure I was going to spend the rest of my life as the first humanoid octopus. And I didn't want to live like that. Not like a...a freak who couldn't really touch her family anymore. I didn't even let Lois see me at first.

13. And when you were cured?

"I wasn't cured. Let's get one thing straight. What happened to me couldn't be reversed. I can't ever make the tentacles go away, and the gills only close when I'm in air. Maybe I got superpowers out of it, but that doesn't take away everything I lost. I can't run in the park in a tracksuit anymore. I can't lift weights at the gym anymore. I'll be like this for the rest of my life, and there's nothing anyone can do about it."

14. Are you always so pathetically sorry for yourself?

"No, but it's been a rough week. And I've been drinking. And I don't always feel bad. I feel really, really good when I don't have to hide anything. When I'm in costume or under the water, that's a really good feeling. I can be free to move my body, all my body, even the ugly parts, and I don't have to be ashamed. Hell, if I do it where people can see, they usually applaud!"

15. So is that why you're a superhero? So people will love you?

"It's part of the reason. I mean, if I just wanted applause, I'd be Joan Collier, Pulitzer Prize winner despite being a mutie freak. I wouldn't go out and do what I do, day after day, if I didn't genuinely want to help people and make the world a better place. But is it really so wrong to want people to admire me after seeing them scream in disgust at the sight of me? Don't four tentacles entitle me to grab a little karmic justice?"

16. Do you ever have any reservations about what you do?

"Balancing two, no, three lives? Sometimes. I've missed work because I was in costume, and things with Charlie and Lois, just like I've missed out on superheroing because I was working or with my family, or any other combination you want. But I really do love my life. I wouldn't change much about it."

17. And what about your work? Is it really as moral as you say it is?

"I try to be careful. I mean, how unethical would I be if I used stuff I learned as Fusion to write stories as Joan? About heroes, anyway; of course I'll do that about bad guys and evil corporations and such. I'd never, ever give away someone's secret ID, or anything else about them, unless lives were ont he line. I haven't always followed those rules, no, but is anyone ever perfectly consistent with their own code of ethics? I'm a human being...mostly, I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes."

18. Like the thing with Scarab and Bombshell?

"That was...a mistake. I should have done more research, yeah. But people got that all wrong. It wasn't about Bombshell, though I swear I'm taking Lois' TV if she talks about dressing up like Talya Browning for Halloween next year. Again. It was about Scarab. Heroes need to be held to a higher standard, and that means no screwing around with trampy supervillains. But again, I made a mistake there: Browning's reforming, or acting like it, anyway. It didn't seem to do her any harm, though."

19. Do you worry that other heroes will be angry with you if they ever realize who Fusion is, and if they ever figure out who wrote the article?

"Sometimes. People like the Scarab and Bombshell more than they like me already. Legacy heroes and pretty girls always are more popular than angry jocks with extra arms. It's the way of the world. But if I work hard enough, and if I keep my future coverage as honest and _fair_ as possible, I think the people who matter will take that into account if my ID ever does get exposed, God forbid. The people who won't take it into account don't matter."

20. Is there anything about yourself, besides being a hideous freak, that you'd change if you could?

"...you know what? No. I am what I am, and I am who I am. If people can't handle that, if they can't handle _me_, then they're not worth my time. I earned the right to be the woman I am today; I earned it by pumping iron, running track, going to the Olympics, birthing a baby after ten freaking hours, getting my body warped by toxic chemicals, and by being the best damn journalist I know how to be. If you don't like that, get out of my way!"

"Thank you for your time, Ms. Collier." Joan popped the cassette out of the Dictaphone, studied it for a long moment...then crushed it between her fingers. "We have to do this again sometime."

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