Academy Prime

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Art from the comic showing Academy Prime on an island in the Mississippi.

Academy Prime is a title published by Black Sheep Comics. Essentially it the deals with a school designed for students who have superpowers. They are referred to as exihumans from the latin "exi" meaning thence, or out from, and humans, thus, exihumans.

The scale of the stories tends to be intense but very personal, which has led some to call it a "teen soap opera" but admirers point out it realistically deals with issues such as acceptance, peer pressure, and tensions between generations.

The school itself (which is international in nature) is situated on a fictional island in the Mississippi River located between Saint-Louis and St. Louis, inside a high-tech tower of over one hundred stories. By locating the school on an island in what amount to international waters, the school is protected from laws against exihumans, although they must maintain their own security systems, as Louisianne and the NAL-SLC may or may not assist them if they come under assault. (This has been hinted at in the comic, but not explored in any episode.)

The campus includes a super-airliner used for field trips and training exercises. Many of the teachers are former (or current) superheroes (most obviously Ill Proffessur), and the school enjoys the sponsorship of the World-Wide Watch. Students usually enroll sometime between ages eleven and fourteen, graduated at age nineteen (or sometimes twenty).

It should be pointed out that, despite assumptions to the contrary, the school is not necessarily a training ground for superheroes. Its avowed purpose to teach those with "special needs" in this case exihuman powers.

Contents

Characters

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of recurring characters are either students or teachers...

Students

The stories currently focus on a group of "upper classmen" (i.e. ages fourteen and above), with the leads as follows.

  • Samantha Stein
    Cleo Panderson
    Nefer Panderson
    Samantha Stein (aka "Jumpstart") is considered the "lead" character for several reasons, not least because her fellow students expect her to be the leader. Her adopted parents, the late superheroes Ironstar and Night Eagle, are among the most famous in the world. She feels and resents the pressure to become a superhero herself, yet she's also an overachiever. An ongoing story element is her foster father's journals, which she can now read after Nefer Sanderson cracked its cypher. From this she has gained insight into her fabled parents, as well as the psychological reasons her father could only use his powers at night. Another ongoing story thread is the search for her real parents, from whom she presumably got her own powers -- a limited form a teleportation (so far, she can only teleport within sight of her destination).
  • Cleo Panderson (aka "Covert") is Samantha's best friend, a fun-loving girl of great courage but only a mediocre student. She is, however, a canny observer of human nature. While she's not always as accurate as some would like, her insights often lead to the denouement of the story. Her father, a scientist, used an unorthodox procedure to save her life following an illness when she was an infant. The result is her power to become invisible. Interestingly, her power is psychic rather than physical. She creates a mental "field" around herself which makes others ignore her. It is useless against technology, but extremely effective against those wielding such.
  • Nefer Panderson (aka "Evil Eye")is a clone of Cleo, created by her father when he thought his daughter might die. Biologically she is a year or two younger than Cleo, but is still in the same school year as her sister. Nefer has an icy personality, feeling second best, which perhaps explains why she has become one of the Academy's most impressive young scholars, to the point of nearly displacing Samantha Stein. Nefer's scholastic focus has lead Cleo to feel Nefer is their father's favorite, while Nefer feels the opposite. Despite the competition between them, Nefer has found a friend in Samantha. Nefer is secretive of her power, avoiding speaking of it. When pressed she will admit that visual concentration opens portals to a dimension of pure energy, allowing her to fire energy beams from her eyes. When she's angry and her control slips, this can happen most spontaneously.
  • Esteban Diaz (aka "Typhoon") is the son of Tejano refugees. Fleeing across the border, his parents hid in a railway car carrying toxic waste while his mother was pregnant. As a result, Esteban was born with health problem including chronic anemia, but also gained "substance specific psychokinesis", in his case the ability to manipulate water. Still learning to control his powers, his personality tends to veer between two extremes (some believe he has borderline bipolar personality disorder). Sometimes he is a manipulative, portraying himself as a victim. Other times he is full of energy and willpower, refusing to acknowledge any weakness. He is something of an outsider, but is the romantic interest of Samantha Stein.
  • Henri Dreyfus (aka "Delphi") is the son of a teacher at the Academy who in turn was one of the school's first students, so Henri knows all kinds of secrets about the place. He seems to have an uncanny understanding of rules and some teachers think he'll be a fine attorney. His powers are extraordinarily acute senses -- he can see infrared and ultraviolet, hear things far below and above the normal spectrum, track someone by scent alone, discern the vintage of wines used in pasta sauce, etc. He is also something of a focus of a romantic rivalry between Cleo and Nefer.
  • Loren Armaugh (aka "Proteus") is arguably the strangest student in class. He is a completely brilliant student, being moved ahead two grade levels. But he is lonely, a fact not helped by an extremely stoic demeanor and having an odd (but loud) sense of humor. Even his powers were at first mysterious, but eventually it was revealed he's a shapeshifter, although the limits of that ability remain unexplored. He himself likes to turn into a large house cat. Some students have befriended what they think is a stray, treating him as a secret pet, not knowing this is in fact Loren.
  • Mariko Takada (aka "Skybolt") is something of a villain, but not quite. A very beautiful girl with electricity powers, she sees herself as Samantha's rival. She has tried to make Nefer and Loren her allies, with some degree of success, in hopes of forming her own team of superheroes when she graduates (she assumes Samantha plans the same and doesn't believe her denials). It is also clear she has something of a crush on Esteban. Dionysus seems to have taken an interest in her for some reason.
  • Vladimir Basarab (aka "Skylord") is a sometimes ally of Mariko, an Oltenian with a mysterious past who can fly. There've been strong hints his family was associated with the SNOR in some way. His aunt is evidently a telepath.

Teachers

  • Dr. Circe is the headmistress of Academy Prime, a little old lady who dresses like a version of a fastidious version of a stereotypical witch, complete with pointed hat and a (seemingly) sentient cat named Dee. She certainly demonstrates extraordinary "magical" powers, which usually require preparation of some kind. However, she generally has a wide variety of such "spells" handy.
  • Dr. D'Ambret is a history teacher and something of a mentor to many students. He was nearly killed in an explosion and scientists managed to rebuild his body using robotic replacements. Almost 75% of his body is synthetic, giving him a bizarre appearance. Despite this, he remains a kindly man, somewhat sad but very happy at his job.
  • Ill Proffessur is a rather elusive character (and member of the WWW) who has a vastly powerful technology available to him in his "teaching wands". He maintains a presence at varying Universities under different guises, and while we don't learn much about him, we do know he is an alien. He is a visiting lecturer at Academy Prime and so is a semi-recurring character. He always wears dark glasses. No one knows why.
  • Madame B. Lia Tekum Chief Librarian and overseer of Academy Prime's internal computer network. She has teams of technicians working under her, and the students suspect that she's actually in charge of the defensive systems -- though this has never been tested.

... TO BE CONTINUED ...

Settings

  • Academy Prime: A 100 story tall building on an island in the Mississippi. Academy Prime is run by an artificial intelligence capable of self preservation. The paneling on the outside of the building is capable of lifting away from the superstructure, allowing for easier internal access for repairs, and also for defensive measures. While the building is 100 stories tall, no one yet has probed the depths, and the rumors in the student body is that the whole island is actually floating on top of a great underground complex run by Academy Prime for the World Wide Watch.
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