Tool! Captain Ansom! Hardware Man! The Incredible Jerk!
Stanley had been in a good mood.
He was back at Spacerock. Parson was back at Spacerock. And the new Knights in Stanley's Service, Gobwin Knob's new natural allies, were back in Spacerock. It'd been reason to celebrate. The suggestion was Jed's, but that didn't mean Stanley couldn't take credit for it. And since, at the suggestion of the new Knights, the Atrium now sported a stage and was set up as a rock concert (with a newly dug mosh pit, courtesy of Sizemore), Stanley intended to show off all of the above in front of both the Juggle Elves and his newly repatriated Chief Warlord.
With the Arkenhammer. With Rock.
You would think, after lightening the treasury to the tune of a cool 2 million Shmuckers, Parson would have the... intelligence? good taste? Disbanded self-preservation instinct, at least? to look impressed, or appreciative. Instead, there he was with one hand on his face, looking at the Juggle Elves, not as if they were his new natural allies, but rather as if he thought the whole thing were a bad joke. The dollamancer, Ace Hardware, got it; he was out there in the audience with all the lack of coordination and boundless enthusiasm of a unit learning how to Rock Out for the first time, and loving it. Even Sizemore, with his eyes closed, off to the side, was holding his shovel up at an angle with a look of intensity, one hand up against the shovel-handle, playing air-guitar... possibly without realizing it, even.
Sizemore could dig it.
Stanley funneled his annoyance with Parson into cascading chords and finally a solo that finished the set, to wild applause and even fireworks (which some of the Knights had apparently brought with them for celebratory occasions). It was pretty awesome. Parson was lucky that the Juggles were cheering him on, since, by the time the Titan's favorite son was off the stage and had ordered Parson to come up for his own little audience, the Tool's mood was much improved. Not that he was going to let Parson think that - ha! - no, you had to put the fear into your subordinates now and then, otherwise they might start getting ideas. But he did feel in control by the time Parson arrived backstage.
So Parson recoiled when, upon arrival, Overlord Stanley the Tool immediately threatened him by pointing the 'hammer right at his face. "What," he asked, managing to make the word sound halfway casual and all-the-way menacing, "is your problem, Hamster? Huh?"
"Uh," Parson said, and then realized what the Tool was talking about when he pointed toward the audience, still audibly cheering and shouting, "Ouphe! Ouphe!", out front.
"That," he began, before Stanley cut him off, to make a point about who was in charge, here. "With the Juggles!" the Tool demanded.
He knew better than to say, "Nothing", based on the look on the Tool's face. "It's. . . " he began again, trying to come up with a reply that didn't reference "Juggalos" or "Stupid-world."
". . . their Signamancy," he finished, lamely. Stanley was having none of it, however.
"What on Erf. . . is wrong with their Signamancy?" he demanded, and then cut Parson off again, pre-emptively: "No, don't answer."
"Their Signamancy?" Stanley said, again, after a moment's pause.
"They look like, uh," Parson began again, now unsure whether the question was intended to be answered. By the looks of his boss, and the unspoken natural Thinkamancy which ordered him to say something, he blurted out, "like Jugga-" and then caught himself. "Stupid-worlders. Who I don't. . ." Parson was going to say something about Juggalos, but thought better of it. ". . . think have, uh, Specials. Any Specials."
He was floundering. But Stanley didn't make him follow up. Instead, he pointed the hammer back toward the ground, set it down, and folded is arms, while raising a star-outlined eyebrow. "This isn't Stupid-world," he said. "And their Signamancy is fine."
Parson nodded, eager to agree with him while the window of opportunity lasted.
"Look," Stanley said, "You don't know. . . anything. Stupid big old genius warlord, Titans! what you don't know could fill a, uh. . . "
"Book?" Parson offered, helpfully.
"Yes! A room full of books! A whole hex full of books, Titans! A whole side full of books!"
'Here we go again,' thought Parson, glumly.
"Do I have to explain everything?"
Parson didn't answer. "Look at you!" Stanley shouted. Parson looked down at himself, in surprise. "Look at you, at your Signamancy! What does it say about you? Are you fearsome? Are potatoes fearsome in Stupid-world? Look at your. . . shirt! Everything!"
Stanley was pacing, agitated. "Handsome! Fearsome! Whatever, just pick one! You look like. . ." he said, not remembering Sizemore's name, as he was in the middle of a lecture, ". . . the Poopsmith!" Pause.
"Sizemore!" he shouted, and both he and Parson were momentarily startled and impressed with the Tool's sudden - and accurate - recall.
"Don't you," he said, "have war-paint in Stupid-world?" Parson nodded.
"What does it look like?" Stanley asked, challenging him abruptly.
"Uh," Parson said. He thought of the U.S. military's practice of soldiers applying camouflage-paint to their faces, and said, "Green?"
Stanley shook his head. "Really?" Imagining Parson with a green face wasn't helping, so he put his hands over his eyes and said, "Just. . . green?" Stanley didn't have any green make-up in his room. "Titans, just. . . forget it. Ok," he said (apparently changing his mind, again), "let me tell you how it works. On Erf, the real world, there are green people. Witches. I don't think you'd want to look like a witch. Who would you want to look like?" Parson thought that maybe the answer best suited to Stanley's ego was, 'like you,' but he didn't think he could pull it off.
"I think," Stanley said, and scrutinized him, "nah, you wouldn't want to look like me."
Parson's eyebrows shot up. "You couldn't pull it off," Stanley said. Eyebrows lowered, and Parson grinned, shaking his head.
"Look," Stanley said. He abruptly took his hand and dragged it across his own face, smearing and removing some of the make-up and, with skin visible in diagonal streaks, looked unexpectedly kind of scary. With the make-up now on his hand, he turned to the wall and finger-painted an impressively accurate outline of himself, and then a larger outline that looked like Parson.
Then he drew a potato. "This," he said, turning and pointing to the potato, "is you. This," he said, pointing to the Parson-shape, "is you with better Signamancy. That's me, but. . ." he said as he squinted at his handiwork, ". . . I need more paint for the picture to look as good as I actually look, so," he balled up his fist and smeared that picture into a white blur, and then looked at Parson. "I'll talk to the Dollamancer, Face Hardware, and get him working on some new Face Hardware for you. And him," he added. The dollamancer was a pretty together guy when it came to Signamancy, he admitted to himself. What little Stanley had seen of him indicated that the guy wanted to make some new armor accessories, and while he was at it, maybe he could give Hamster a couple of style tips.
"You're not a prisoner. You don't have to look like a prisoner any more. On Erf, thugs don't have to wear brown shirts," Stanley said. Parson looked down at his own (brown) shirt. "Dirtamancers don't have to wear. . . I don't know, trenchcoats. Crap-golem guy looks like he's always, I dunno, just been caught. . . with his pants down." He scratched his head, having just had an epiphany. ". . . huh."
He picked up the Arkenhammer and started walking out. "You could learn something from these juggle elves, Parson."
Parson sighed. Stanley whipped back around, once again, and said, "That doesn't mean I want you to look like some Elvish impersonator! Do your own thing! Just. . . not this thing that you're doing." He gestured at Parson's simple outfit, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Guy looks like a potato and decides to go with a brown shirt," he muttered, turned around, blew the door off its hinges with a shockamancy blast, and (literally) stormed out.
Next turn, Parson was at Ace's Place when the Tool - not literally, this time - stormed in. "This," he said, and held up a book.
No, not a book, like a library book. A comic book.
Stanley had created a comic book, with Ansom, himself, Parson, Ace, Maggie, and Sizemore on the cover.
Apparently, he had taken the question of a team makeover into his own diminutive hands. "Now that is some Signamancy" he said, proudly. Parson would never know it, but Jed had suggested to Stanley to draw up his own outfits for him and Gobwin Knob's casters; Stanley took the idea and ran with it.
He dropped the hammer, which gave off the sound of thunder as it hit the ground, like, well, a mic-drop. Ace's jaw hung open, looking in awe at the new armor that Stanley had (apparently, with this design) approved for him, and the accessories and raiment that his Overlord had come up with, and which he was more than happy to make, in turn.
Parson looked at the book, with the new outfits for himself and for all of the others, and just. . . marvelled. "Incredible," he said, shaking his head. "Incredible."
(Note: User received 40 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob)
"On Erf, thugs don't have to wear brown shirts."
As opposed to Stupid-World, where some of the worst thugs in history did.
The other word play was clever -- another upvote for "Elvish impersonator."
Considering the number of times this happens (in canon and out), Parson's Signamancy should include a permanent palm-print on his face.
In response to OneHugeTuck's reference to Celia Lieber:
I appreciate giving credit to the mothers of famous people, because without them -- and I don't just mean 'with respect to the physical requirement of a mother to give birth', I mean also for mothers and adoptive mothers who raise their kids -- there wouldn't be anyone to thank for the accomplishments that we appreciate. And of course, independently of their children, they are human beings, with their trials and successes and imperfections, and honoring them even though they may not be famous can be an important thing to do that humans probably do much too infrequently.
I commented earlier with the reference to Stan Lee as a way of giving credit to him for his originality, but also because Stan Lee -- in this post -- has an Erf-analog, and Celia, Jack, and Larry Lieber do not.