pffft, a “master tactician”

Panel two is essentially how a conversation between T and I went while putting this story together.  T wanted to know how strong everyone was, because, you know, that’s useful information.  Me, I hadn’t really put it down into English before, and was just kinda deciding how strong everyone was based entirely on story needs as they came along.  Walky’s response is… about what I said to him exactly, as I tried to put some forethought into it for the first time.   These were all gut feelings.  I know Walky and Sal have to be pretty strong, while Tony and Joyce are also up there.  I was having trouble thinking of Joe as superstrong at the time — he was primarily just That College Student Guy in my brain for forever — and so he and Mike kind of get thrown down to the bottom of the strength range.  Dina, also, it felt weird to imagine as a powerhouse.  (Though now I think it’d be, well, kind of awesome.)

Mike would much later be seen to be able to throw very heavy objects.  So he’s obviously not quite “human-level.”

Again, “based on story needs as they came along.”  Shortpacked! had required that Mike and Robin’s superpowers be kind of ignored by the narrative for a few years to keep things simple, but it at one point became narratively useful for me to suddenly burst free of that restriction and show Mike throw some heavy shit around, just as a matter of purposeful contrast between his old fantastical world and his new mundane retail world.

“Do you even lift, bro?”

In my pre-Wikipedia childhood, two of my favorite comics were Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe and The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Marvel’s guide would say things like “The Thing can lift (press) 75 tons,” assigning similar number values to the Hulk, Thor, She-Hulk, Spider-Man and so on, so everyone was clear who was stronger than whom. DC was more likely to settle for phrases like “possesses superhuman strength,” which put Superman’s sparring partners in the same weight class as, say, a bear.

OTOH, nailing things down too much can sometimes get in the way. It’s Walky characters dig deep and discover they’re capable of more than they thought often enough that it may qualify as a sub-theme of the series. Related: Alisin and Rumy used to be close to equal in fighting ability, but Rumy’s done a lot of training since then, and Alisin has a lot more to lose now that she’s not actively dying, which has dulled her edge just a little. All of this might’ve played differently if David and I had felt obliged to stick to skill and strength stats from the start.

But before we moved into the action-packed conclusion, I felt we all had to know at least roughly what kind of strength the Squad members currently had, so David and I could get the dynamics right and the readers would know it. I was surprised to learn Mike was “human-level,” I’d thought he was higher. It takes moxie to be an asshole to people that much stronger than you, but that’s Mike for you.