“So, Steve,” Loretta said, “why don’t you tell us what brings you to Normies.”
“Same as everyone else, I guess,” Steve said. “I mean, I’m an ordinary guy. Normal; I guess that’s where the group’s name comes from?” Loretta nodded. “Yeah, well, one day I wake up and I’ve got super-powers. So what do I do with them? I mean, I don’t want to go out and rob banks or anything; that’s not who I am. But I don’t want to fight the guys who do that, either. I never wanted to be a super-hero. I mean, they gave this power to the wrong guy.”
“We all felt that way at first, Steve,” Paul said warmly.
“And I especially did,” Loretta said. “I first got my magic powers when I was a teenager. The world wasn’t full of super-heroes then, as it is now. There was just Superboy. Well, maybe one or two others. Like most young girls, I had a crush on him and thought I could use my magic to get him to notice me. (*) It was a lark, you know? I was a kid playing with a new toy. But I saw the good Superboy did, the people he really helped. And I realized that my powers weren’t a toy.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Beware the Yellow Peri,” New Adventures of Superboy #34 (October, 1982) and “The Yellow Peri Peril,” New Adventures of Superboy #35 (November, 1982).]
“But didn’t you feel a responsibility to use them the way Superboy used his?” Steve asked. “To help people?”
“At first,” Loretta said. “But I got over it. Not everybody is cut out to be a super-hero, Steve. What Superman and the Justice League and the others do, they risk their lives. And God alone knows what kind of personal lives they must have, if they have to drop whatever they’re doing, at their job or with their family or whatever, every time Captain Cold pulls an armored car heist. Not everyone has that kind of dedication.”
“And we’re OK with that,” Candace said. “Just because we have these powers that we never asked for and never consciously sought doesn’t mean we have to use them. Loretta helped us, and we help each other, to realize that.”
“You don’t feel a responsibility, though?” Steve asked. “I mean, when you read in the newspaper about some tragedy or something, something you could have prevented–?”
“Steve, cops and firefighters and soldiers are normal people,” Len said. “Almost anybody, in reasonably good health, can do what they do. Doesn’t mean everybody should.”
“We believe,” Loretta said, “that the first, greatest responsibility we who have these powers have, is not to misuse them, not to hurt anyone. As long as we do that, there’s nothing that says we have to use them at all.”
“I don’t know, I mean, that makes sense,” Steve said. “But geez, you know? I’ve got a kid. I can’t help but feel that I need to make sure she grows up in a better world, and that I’ve got power that can help me do that.”
“I’d say your kid needs her father, first and foremost,” Paul said with a smile. “How’s she going to grow up if you get yourself killed fighting the Royal Flush Gang? Or if you’re an absentee dad, bailing on her soccer games or school plays every time a kitten gets stuck in a tree?”
“Paul makes a strong point, Steve,” Loretta said. “The greatest responsibility every person has, super-powered or not, is to each other. We all make a difference in the world, every day, for good or ill. Being the best Steve Zawislak, the best father, the best friend, you can possibly be, is a lot more important than being Radio Man or whatever you’d call yourself.”
“The Justice League and the others were faced with the same decision we are,” Candace said. “They made their choice, and they live with it. Us, too. And we help each other to keep living with it, every day.”
“Bottom line, Steve?” Loretta said. “Not everyone is Superman. But not everyone is Steve Zawislak, either. And both make equally important contributions to the world.”
Steve smiled. He was beginning to like this group.
The meeting broke up an hour later. Steve shook hands with all his new friends. They remained chatting for a bit, then began to file out. Steve walked out of the building with Janet and Loretta.
“I’m glad you came, Steve,” Loretta said. “I know living with a super-power, trying to lead a normal life, can be difficult. That’s why I founded Normies.”
“You do great work, Loretta,” Steve replied. “I can see that, even after just one meeting. Honestly, I feel like a great load is off my mind!”
The three walked down the block and around the corner, then stopped dead. Ahead of them were flashing blue and red lights and the bright glare of a spotlight.
“Oh, no!” Janet cried out, seeing what was happening. Six police cars were parked on the street in front of an insurance building. A man in a gaudy purple and white costume stood on the roof, waving his fist.
“I know that guy from the news!” Steve said. “That’s the Calculator!”
“This is your last chance!” a uniformed police officer shouted through a megaphone. “Surrender and come down with your hands where we can see them!”
“Not a chance, cop!” the Calculator shouted back. “You don’t dare make a move! You know I’ve got hostages in this building, and if I don’t get safe passage out of here — with the money — their numbers are going to get crunched! The first one in five minutes! You hear me?”
“Damn!” Steve growled. “Where’s the Justice League when you need–?”
Steve was interrupted by a sudden thunderclap. A lightning bolt stabbed down from the dark night sky, striking the Calculator dead center. The villain reeled on his feet for a moment before crumpling to the roof; Steve wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard the Calculator mutter, “Not again.”
Janet gaped for a moment, then turned to Loretta. “Lori!” she cried. “That — you — y-you did that! Didn’t you?”
“Janet,” Loretta said with a wry smile, “I have no idea what you mean.”