Excerpted from Superwatch Weekly, author unknown, used by permission
Some people might find themselves feeling old when they realize that Cudgel, the kick-buttingnest (that's a word, right?) kid hero in America, is all grown up. It's hard to believe he's old enough to drive legally (not counting the Nightfleet Cruiser of course), much less that he's old enough to vote and apparently a college graduate! (Early, of course, because he's just that cool!)
In fact, Cudgel is so grown up he isn't even Cudgel any more -- and he doesn't even live or work in Greystone City! He's now Truncheon -- more on what that means below -- and is living and working in Grantham, Massachusetts!
"I still love Greystone with all my heart," the handsome former sidekick told Superwatch Weekly with his trademark smile. "But there comes a time when you have to leave home. Nightstick has a great partner who's a better Cudgel than I was on my best day, and the city's doing really great. I'm ready to try new things."
Cudgel -- sorry! I mean Truncheon -- isn't the only hero crawling the Back Bay and enjoying fall on Grantham Commons, of course. The recent Justice Wing recruit called Whippoorwill is lending her magical protection over the city. In what has to be irony, Truncheon's helping this rookie spell-slinger learn the ropes outside of the Justice Wing Volary -- and that's not all he's doing, either! He's also lending his expertise to Justice Wing's new experiment -- the Justice Wing Institute for Parahuman Research, located (naturally enough) on Beacon Street a block away from Grantham University's main campus. There, with support from GU, MIT, Harvard, and other Grantham area universities they're gathering the next generation of parahuman heroes, to help train them in a controlled environment. Sounds to me like Superwatch Weekly needs a permanent Grantham field office, stat! (I volunteer, boss!)
"Nightstick was and is the best teacher, the best friend, and honestly the best father a foster kid could ever learn from," Truncheon told us. "And a lot of the Justice Wing heroes -- from Paragon and his sister Paragirl all the way to the Beacon's partner Splitsecond -- have made teaching young heroes the best way to use their gifts a part of their mission. But we all know that the parahuman population is growing, and the Junior Justice Wingers have to be something more than a social club or junior varsity if that's going to continue. The Institute is our chance to formalize the training process -- to not just prepare the next generation of heroes, but actually begin preparing for the generations beyond."
So Grantham's not just getting Truncheon, they're going to be getting a ton of Junior Justice Wingers! We know Paragirl, Splitsecond, Crosspointe, and Shillelagh are all going to be there, and who knows who else will be showing up!
I talked with Truncheon about his new equipment (he looks good in blue -- way better than the old red and blacks). He talked about his collapsable fighting sticks and other gear. And of course I asked him if he was involved.
He laughed and said he wasn't. I then pointed out that Shillelagh was going to the Institute, and there's been all these rumors for years (though I say she's too young for him and more importantly isn't me!) and was there something there.
He laughed again. "Oh man, there's a lot of history there. Remember, when I met her I was fifteen years old, and from my point of view she was an annoying little kid. I was not nice to her at first, though eventually she ended up... well, my little sister. Besides, I'm not nearly smart or cool enough for her."
Well, at least Grantham is smart and cool enough to get Truncheon!
After the Apocalypse Agenda
Excerpted from "Chapter 8: Amulet," Low Society by Todd Chapman
published by Crown City Publications Group
I have to admit, I didn't expect to be sitting on a rooftop talking to Truncheon. It reminded me of the first time Cate Cosette returned one of my calls back when I was slinging music journalism -- sure, I was interviewing bands and the like... but here was an icon and she was calling me.
Truncheon's like that. He's an icon.
I called him because (as you may have guessed by now) I like to talk to the heroes who fight the villains I'm interviewing. When I interviewed Leather I thought I understood everything right up until I talked to Darkhood and found out how much I didn't know. But Amulet, like I said before, is in a class by herself -- especially for a third tier crook. And though she's had a few high profile fights with heroes at this point, none of them really seem to be her nemesis. Not really.
So I went to talk to Truncheon, because once upon a time he and Amulet were the first two Junior Justice Wingers. That was before everything happened. Before the Agenda. Before the wars. Before Amulet turned and before Truncheon and Amulet both helped save everything ever, and lost the people closest to them in the process.
It's hard to imagine Truncheon ever having been a kid. A lot of people forget he was ever 'Cudgel,' but he was -- the first to have the name. Everyone thinks of Danny Coldman when they think of Cudgel now. That's what happens when you're a sidekick who gets killed by the Jack O'Knaves as part of the runup to the attempted destruction of all reality everywhere. These days, Truncheon lives and works in Steeltown, where he's making headway against entrenched syndicates and more than a few costumed loons.
He looks amazing, of course. Warm brown skin, hair and eyes -- especially the eyes. Tall, lean and lithe but broad shouldered. He's the kind of handsome that's so innate that he clearly barely notices it. He wears that blue and black mesh uniform and uses high tech weapons -- which seems silly in one sense, because they're sticks. High technology sticks. Except, of course, that they're also tasers, and line-casters, and all kinds of other things. They're collapsable and extendable, letting him go from Eskrima or Silambam fighting through quarterstaff or bo staff all the way to just hitting people with clubs. 'Truncheon' seems weirdly reductionist, in comparison. He has bracers that have additional gear, and the various pouches with stuff in them that you come to expect with gadget-using heroes and villains.
And on top of it all, he's nice. Which is itself kind of amazing. Of all the people who survived the Apocalypse Agenda, Truncheon's the one who lost the most. Danny Coldman and Nancy Harrier -- Cudgel and Shillelagh -- both died. He was injured badly moments before Harrier's death. Another of his students -- Ohm -- died as well. Paragirl -- one of his ex-Junior Justice Winger pals -- died. Amulet didn't die but did cross the aisle, which may be worse for someone like him. Even the Institute he helped found -- whose students ultimately saved everything -- didn't survive that horrible last day of the agenda. And Nightstick -- who he described in almost paternal terms most of the time -- radicalized, even as the city Truncheon had helped to clean up fell into chaos. When she suggested I write this book, Leather explicitly told me to avoid Greystone City, because they were crazy there.
But here he was, hanging out on a rooftop where we'd arranged to meet. "I like your writing," he said after swinging up into a front roll and landing smoothly. He shook my hand and grinned.
"Thanks. Not all heroes do. Some think I'm being too charitable to villains."
"Villains are still people," he said. "But I was reading your stuff back in the day. I can't imagine just hanging out with Ruler Slap or the Cheshire Kittens."
I laughed. "They can't imagine hanging out with you, I expect. You're a legend."
"Nah. I know a few legends. I'm just trying to keep up." His smile slipped a bit. "So you interviewed Amulet for your book?"
He sighed. "I'm jealous. I can't get her to talk to me. It was excruciating to lose Paragirl and I can't even describe losing Shillelagh. Losing Amulet on top of that when I know she's still out there..." He shook his head. "Does she look okay?"
"She... looks kind of amazing, actually."
"Yeah yeah. But does she look okay?"
I considered. "I... don't really know," I admitted. "I think she's still trying to find herself."
He nodded. "I know what that's like. I just wish she'd go looking with us instead of running away. She won't even fight us. Last I knew she wasn't taking contracts in cities where she might run into one of us." He shook his head. "But I guess that's why you're here, right?"
"Yeah. Yeah I guess it is."
He smiled again -- comfortable with me even if the topic was somber -- and leaned against one of the huge air conditioning exchangers on the rooftop. He folded his arms, his smile turning a bit crooked. "All right," he said. "What do you want to know?