Antonym

Omnipedia: Mandalora Hartley Shapiro

Vital Statistics

Antonym

Real Name
Mandalora Hartley Shapiro

Height
5′

Weight
104 lbs. to 133 lbs. depending on era

Profession
Criminal Defense Lawyer

Nature
Divine-Type Parahuman

Alignment
Superhero

Tiers
3-4 depending on the era, later none

Affiliations
Pentad of Guardians
The Excelsiors
Law Offices of Jackson, Thompson, Shapiro and Smith

Status
Deceased (In Nadir Era)

Mandalora Hartley Shapiro was a law student at Columbia during the Emergence Era when she ended up rushing into Empire City's King Kurtzberg Tower at the start of the Skyquake. Though she was able to help evacuate civilians, she was caught in the backlash and placed in a temporary fractal timeline where she was an aspirant in the main temple of Themis, the Goddess of Justice, and the personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law, and custom. Winning the right to be Themis’s Champion, Mandalora gained the ability to even the odds in any contest or battle, so that she would compete on a fair playing field at all times. Emerging from the fractal time alongside her friends the Pentad of Guardians, Mandy joined their ranks as Antonym. She quickly became an invaluable member and close friend of the Pentad of Guardians, and was a founding Excelsior before her disappearance in the early Halcyon Days Era. Mandy completed law school and passed the bar in multiple jurisdictions, including New York State and Rhode Island, and specialized in parahuman criminal defense.

Spoilers for Mandy's later career and personal life
Mandy was romantically linked to aerospace magnate and industrialist Colin Church, and later married noted philosopher, scientist, and professor Evan Shapiro. When an accident permanently ended Mandy’s career as Antonym, she and her family moved to Bay City, NJ and Mandy became a partner at the Law Offices of Jackson, Thompson, Shapiro and Smith. She was the mother of Loredana Shapiro Layton and Eve Shapiro. Mandy and her husband Evan were killed in an apparent automobile accident in the early In Nadir Era.

Powers and Skills

Origin Story

When Mandy and her four closest friends were near the King Kurtzberg Building the night of the dimensional-shattering Skyquake, they ran in to help evacuate the panicking crowd while the reality distorting energies were detonating across the Empire City skyline. They succeeded in evacuating the crowd, only to get caught in one of the experiment’s surges, which caused reality and the timeline to ‘fractalize,’ forming five temporary alternate histories, with each of the friends being caught in a different history. Mandy was caught in a ‘world that never was’ based on the ancient greek myths. She was one of a hundred aspirants who traveled to serve in the black market high temple to Themis, the Titaness of Law and Order and the Personification and Goddess of Fair Play. The Aspirants spent years training and devoting themselves, all in an effort to be chosen as the Champion of Themis, the Divinely Appointed Opposition – the Antonym to any attacking force who could compete with them on their own level. During this time, Mandalora had no memory of her original life in Realspace.

Finally, at the high tournament that was the culmination of their quest, Mandalora was one of the two finalists. During the battle, her opponent’s sword broke when she blocked one of Mandalora’s strikes. Mandalora threw her own blade aside to continue the battle on an even footing. Later, her opponent got ahold of a large chunk of broken granite, striking Mandalora down and preparing to crush her with the stone. Mandalora refused to back down or yield, when suddenly a surge of power gave her the strength to leap up and shatter the rock. Her opponent grabbed Mandalora’s discarded sword, but Mandalora suddenly had a blade of darkness in her hand. And, though the two remained on an even footing, when her opponent lost the ability to leverage advantages or cheat, Mandalora came out victorious. It had turned out that her opponent’s attempted cheating offended Themis, and she granted the blessings of her Champion to Mandalora. She became the one who evens the odds, capable of fighting whole armies at their level but no more.

When she emerged from the fractal universe and remembered her friends, Mandy became the Black Pentad Point of the Pentad of Guardians, representing chaos – reflecting the chaotic nature of Antonym’s own ever-shifting powers. She and the rest of the Pentad were inherently aware that in some way they were destined to save the entire world, and Antonym served as their Advocate and the Adversary in that regard.

Open for Emergence Era spoilers

Emergence Era

DETAILS Threat Level: Apex
Tier: Fourth-to-Third (Third-to-Second Collectively with the Pentad of Guardians)

Antonym possesses the divine power to always equal the combined odds against her (which she calls ‘opposing’ her enemy). This power can take almost any form, and Antonym is growing increasingly skilled at shaping the effects to best advantage. Among her most common powers, however, are accelerated speed, strength, durability, and agility, along with powerful regenerative abilities. (Indeed, one of the first things that happens when she opposes a fresh enemy or enemies is her injuries heal almost instantly and her fatigue is purged. These persist after the fight.) She can oppose multiple people, which generally makes her far more powerful than any one of those people, but each time she subdues or defeats one of her opponents her powers reduce to match her current opposition. The act of opposition engages automatically, but takes endurance and willpower to maintain. The more powerful she is at any given moment, the harder maintaining that power can be. (She once opposed Paragon, and while in that moment she was absolutely Paragon’s equal, his sheer power level meant she couldn’t hold the power for more than a few seconds before collapsing in exhaustion. Antonym is intelligent, well trained and athletic in her own right, and doesn’t rest or rely on her parahuman abilities. She works well solo and with the Pentad, though other people find her hard to work with. She is not a particularly gifted leader but she is an excellent follower, especially when Shooting Star is giving the orders.

Open for Halcyon Days Era spoilers

Halcyon Days Era

DETAILS Threat Level: Apex-to-Gamma
Tier: Third (no tier after her forced retirement)

Antonym still possesses the divine power to always equal the combined odds against her, though by this time she has mastered her abilities and can hold extreme amounts of oppositive power for significant periods of time. At this point it is estimated by some that Antonym is the most powerful hero – and possibly the most powerful parahuman of any stripe – on Earth. Unfortunately, this only lasts until a battle where Antonym and the Excelsiors are manipulated into literally fighting a series of concepts and natural laws given form. Antonym is able to oppose them, but as her powers were not meant for this (and Themis herself is the personification of Natural Law, which would suggest opposing that would cause issues), she ended up being very badly injured by her own powers. Though she survived, her metabolism and parahuman neurology were permanently impaired. She still has her powers, but from that point on she has to actively suppress them for the most part (which is difficult since they are largely a part of her parasympathetic nervous system) lest they oscillate out of control and put her into a potentially fatal neuroleptic shock. This ends her career as Antonym, and in order to forestall temptation she breaks ties with the Excelsiors and even with the Pentad of Guardians. Despite all of this, Mandy is still a brilliant, doggedly determined lawyer. Taking a position at a a legal firm that specializes in defending parahumans of all stripes, Mandy swiftly is made partner and is one of their most successful litigators. Though her powers are dangerous, she is able to use them to even the odds in court cases and the like safely enough. She measures this with a special wristwatch given to her by Colin Church that can monitor her neuroleptic levels and alert the Excelsiors and DETAILS if her levels cross into the danger zone.

Open for Apocalypse Agenda spoilers

Apocalypse Agenda Era

DETAILS Threat Level: none
Tier: none

During the Apocalypse Agenda, Mandy’s powers (and their inherent danger) are the same as they were at the end of the Halcyon Days Era. Despite this, she has to return to Empire City to save her husband and join her fellow Pentad of Guardians to fulfill their destiny and save the world. She does this, somehow surviving, but is badly physically injured, with 40% of her body badly burned (apparently from the inside out).

Open for In Nadir Era spoilers

In Nadir Era

DETAILS Threat Level: none
Tier: none

With her watch destroyed and her injuries meaning she needs a cane to walk, Mandy largely retires from law (though she remains a partner and continues to advise and work with her firm. She does come out of retirement for special cases. Sadly, a few short years into the In Nadir era, Mandy and her husband Evan are killed in a car crash on the way back to Bay City from Chalfonte.

History

Open for Emergence Era history and origin story

Emergence Era

Early Life

Mandalora Hartley grew up in New Jersey, a good friend of Patricia Beeler – though it was more accurate to say Mandy was a good friend for Patricia Beeler, who like most of the people in Mandy’s life treated her like a social outcast in public, even after she (charitably) mooched off of and used her generosity the rest of the time. By the time Mandy graduated from high school, she had embraced a post-punk/New Wave/proto-industrial-goth aesthetic, with a lot of black jeans, band shirts, straight black hair usually with a single blue or purple streak, significant makeup, and more than a little attitude.

Still, even as cynical as she’d become, Mandy was always the first to help anyone who needed it, no matter how terribly they treated her. Oh, she wasn’t shy with her opinions (and her mastery of sarcasm was significant through it all). But, she’d always tried to help despite all this — owing back to her love of superheroes, which dated back to when she was a young child and her older brother Xander shared his comics with her. She dreamed of being a superhero like she saw in those pages, but since there was no such thing as superheroes, she’d have to make do with trying to live up to their example, even if people crapped on her in the process.

Meeting the (Future) Pentad

When she was 18 she left New Jersey for Empire City, New York, where she was a Freshman at the State University of New York at Empire City. Her roommate was a stylish, beautiful Indian-American woman named Nagini Dayal. Naturally they clashed almost instantly, which makes it all the more interesting that by October they were best friends, along with the California-native Keira Holt, Long Islander Dorian Hwan, and the enthusiastic if troubled New York Finger Lakes region native then known as Timothy Lloyd, though by the time Sophomore year hit, she had transitioned into Theresa Lloyd. These five people seemed incompatible, but their joint friendship became very tight, very fast, and by the time second semester rolled around, they’d rented a beat-up brownstone together. From this point until Mandy’s forced retirement from heroing, the five were essentially inseparable, bonding over shared experiences and late-night diner food.

When Paragon emerged to save the world on national television and the age of heroes began, Mandy became obsessed with them, haunting libraries, seeking out occultists and scientists… but it all seemed to be for naught. Reluctantly, at least for now, Mandy had to move on.

The five continued living in their rental brownstone even after graduation and moving on to graduate school. Mandy matriculated at the Columbia School of Law, where she proceeded to excel academically and annoy people socially.

The Skyquake and Secondary Parahuman Expression

"Spoilers on the circumstances of the five friends being at the King Kurtzberg building in time for the Skyquake"
When Aiden Archer begins doing highly publicised – and ridiculed – work trying to find the commonalities between the The Five Methods of Supraexpression and unlock the secret to parahuman enhancement entirely, Mandy saw her opportunity to undergo some form of parahuman expression and become the super hero she always wanted to be. She is often escorted back out, before she’s finally dumped on one of the researchers — the philosopher Evan Shapiro, who is at best dismissive of her efforts, even as he begrudgingly gets to know Mandy, and she him. Despite his NDA, it is Shapiro who tells Mandy that Doctor Archer has accepted the aid of Doctor Stanley Giles, better known as the so-called original mad scientist Doctor Guile. Recognizing the monumental danger, Mandy tries to figure out what to do, when she discovers that her old ‘friend’ Patricia Beeler was part of Doctor Giles’s crew… apparently having renamed herself Beatrice Giles after apparently reconciling with her estranged and unstable father. Convinced that ‘Beatrice Giles’ was in tremendous danger and knowing what her father had done before Beez’s parents’ divorce, Mandy convinces her housemates that they had to go and try and rescue Beatrice before whatever happened could happen.

Being on hand to help evacuate the King Kurtzberg Building during the Skyquake, Mandy underwent secondary parahuman expression, divine type, becoming Antonym. She and her companions realized that Doctor Guile had used Archer’s experiments to literally force his daughter through all five methods of supraexpression, turning her into the malevolently seductive Beguile. They defeated Beguile and drove her off, then rescued the survivors of Archer’s experiment – though the experience had transformed them as well, and they formed the Astounding Alliance.

The Pentad of Guardians

The Pentad of Guardians quickly became mainstays of the Empire City super-scene. Moving to the borough of Catrins, where Jetgirl's mother, industrialist, multibillionaire, and parahuman Theodora Holt was able to give them a warehouse and some basic equipment to start their base. During these few years, the Pentad almost exclusively went by their heroic identities, and ‘Ant’ was no exception. She did, of course, finish her law degree and was passed to the bar.

Over time, circumstances kept throwing the Pentad together with other heroes of Empire City, most notably Colin Church, aka the Cavalier. Church, a charismatic boor and curmudgeon, had a habit of both charming and repelling people at the same time, and few people would stand up to the wealthy aerospace and weapons manufacturer. Ant, on the other hand, was more than happy to call him on his bull, and over time this evolved into a contentious but clearly loving friendship.

Relationship with Colin Church

Ant had been on hand alongside the Pentad’s healer Hearth when Colin’s wife Juniper died giving birth to their son Connor. Juniper had recognized Colin and Ant’s affections (though Ant refused to cheat on Juniper with Colin), and asked her to take care of him. Within six months the two were a romantic couple, and their relationship lasted years, while Ant helped raise Connor whenever Connor was back home from the boarding schools Colin insisted he attend. Ultimately, ‘Aunt Mandy,’ as Ant insisted Connor call her, came to regard Connor as her son, and Connor regarded Mandy as the mother he never knew — and the true parent and source of love and affection in his life.

During all this time, Evan Shapiro had also gone to work at Churchyard Court, where he’d worked closely with a very impressed Andy Pope. Ant and Evan continued to spar and argue, which slowly grew into their being increasingly close.

Then, naturally enough, Colin cheated on Ant with an unsuspecting DETAILS Special Agent Lynette Hardesty, only to be caught out by Ant (and repudiated by a furious Hardesty), leading Ant to confront Colin. They broke up, Evan being on the other side of the launch bay where it happened.

Marriage and Family

Evan brought Ant out to get diner food and complain, and while Ant vented to Evan, she seemed to have an epiphany and told Evan they were getting married. Evan was unsurprised by this (and believed her, naturally), and the two planned and held a wedding. While the other members of the Pentad of Guardians were none too pleased about this (they had reacted to Colin the same way, and Ant and three others reacted the same way to all of the others’ romantic partners as well), they were thrilled for Ant, and she and Evan moved to the other side of the Pentad base and began to build a life and — with the birth of their daughter Loredana 'Danni' Shapiro — a family.

Enter the Excelsiors

About this time, just before the Emergence Era came to an end, Justice Wing sent two of its members, Freya and the Lieutenant to meet with Empire City’s most significant heroes. They told the Empiricals that while things were going well for heroes now… they knew it wouldn’t last. They needed better ways to train young new heroes than taking them on as sidekicks and endangering them. They knew they needed a means by which society could learn to integrate prosahumanity and parahumanity into a single humanity. And they knew that of all the places on Earth where heroes and villains had appeared, Empire City was the one that had the greatest diversity of heroes (and the broadest ‘convergence’ between origins) in the nation, and they’d managed to put it together.

They proposed creating a team — affiliated with Justice Wing but not under their control — and the two teams would both work with each other as needed and support (and fund) the Justice Wing Institute for Parahuman Research in Grantham, Massachusetts. The other Empiricals were interested, but deferred to Colin Church and Antonym’s judgement. The two decided this would be their best shot, so they agreed, and Antonym along with the rest of the Pentad of Guardians became a founding member of The Excelsiors.

Modus Operandi

Antonym, as a combatant, is somewhere between a professional wrestler and a bulldozer. While her powers enable her to adapt any number of powers or styles as part of her work, Ant tends to be blunt and straightforward, preferring to let the more clever strategies come from Shooting Star or Jetgirl. She takes orders well and adapts quickly, but given her druthers she prefers to be almost a force of nature instead of a strategist. (If that strategy would disrupt the odds against her, however, she will adapt a strategic sense which will guide her more appropriately.)

Open for Halcyon Days Era history

Halcyon Days Era

Early Victories

When the sun rose on the Halcyon Days Era, both the Excelsiors and the Pentad of Guardians were riding high. Heroes were beloved, the new team got along well, and the Pentad remained extremely close. They had a series of battles against increasingly dangerous foes but they always seemed to come out on top. Ant in particular was beloved by her other Excelsiors both for her savage wit (and unwillingness to back down) and for her sheer power and versatility. Ant relished her powers, her role, and her ability to make a difference on a truly grand scale.

While this was happening, Evan Shapiro went to work for the Excelsiors, as did Ant herself (in her civilian identity as a lawyer and legal advisor). The two helped build the organization and put a lot of effort into it. At home, Danni was now a toddler and quite happy, the Pentad of Guardians adored Danni and… well, tolerated Evan… later on, Mandy would say this was by far the happiest time in her life.

Injury and Forced Medical Retirement

Details are sketchy at this time, but at some point during all this the Excelsiors had to fight actual concepts given form. Ant’s powers had a difficult time adapting to and opposing those entities, and the efforts actually caused Ant pain, but she refused to back down. In the end she saved her companions but in the process her powers, driven in ways they were never meant to express, fed back on Ant, causing a systemic breakdown of her paraneurological structure. Ant plunged into a life threatening condition that resembled neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which was triggered if she exceeded safe thresholds when using her powers. It was believed she could have a full and healthy life, but if she continued to try to be Antonym or use her powers as a hero, she would almost certainly die within days or even hours.

At the same time, Ant’s powers were neurological. She couldn’t simply stop using them any more than she could stop feeling tactile sensations when something touched her skin. It was determined she would need to keep away from overly dangerous situations and maintain iron discipline at all times. Further, Colin Church was able to construct a monitoring system (housed inside of a Rolex watch) that would detect neuroleptic disruptions and send alerts to DETAILS and the Excelsiors as needed. The Excelsiors devoted much of their resources to finding a way of restoring Ant… when suddenly Ant declared to everyone that she couldn’t stay there or associate with anyone from the Excelsiors, the Pentad of Guardians, DETAILS, or anything like those. To that end, she, Evan and Danni moved to Bay City, New Jersey, where Evan took a job teaching philosophy at nearby Riverside University. Her friends and allies in the Excelsiors were confused and hurt, but none so much as the Pentad of Guardians themselves and Connor Church himself. They were certain she didn’t want to cut off all ties, but they had no idea why she was. Shooting Star, the Pentad leader and Ant’s best friend, believed it was because Ant was angry at the Excelsiors and especially the Pentad for coming out of that battle unscathed while the life Ant loved and had literally wanted her entire life was torn away from her.

Mandalora Shapiro, Esq.

After settling in their new Bay City home, Mandy went out to look for work – something she could do that would be useful but wouldn’t unduly endanger her life. She was approached by an unexpected acquaintenace from the old days. Not a hero, but an actual villain who had been a part of a villain group the Pentad of Guardians fought several times. The former villain in question was Heather Thompson, aka the magnokinetic called Magneta, who like Mandy had become a lawyer specializing in criminal defense. She and several other like minded lawyers from criminal and civil law had come together to form a law practice that specialized in providing a proper, zealous defense for parahuman criminals and alleged criminals without falling under the sway of Chattergun Calhoun and his syndicate, which had been cornering the market on villain-defense, using that position to pull young parahumans into Calhoun’s organization and setting them to work. Mandy agreed, joining the firm as a junior partner (very quickly moving up to full partner) and began to represent various supervillains and parahumans accused of being supervillains. She was very successful at this, and found that her abilities could be safely used in a courtroom setting without causing a life threatening neuroleptic surge.

However, Calhoun wasn’t about to give up, and quickly ran a disinformation campaign to try and tar Jackson, Thompson, Shapiro and Smith as corrupt ‘ambulance chasers and villain apologists.’ They had more than a little success at this, but the firm refused to knuckle under.

The Family Grows

When Danni had turned six years old, the Shapiros welcomed their second daughter, Eve Calantha Shapiro. They were quite happy, though Mandy felt significant strain between her work, Calhoun, and the risk of neuroleptic surges ending her life prematurely.

By the time Evvie (as they called Eve) was four years old and in a tumbling class at the local gymanstics club, a talent scout for Gymnastics America named Iosif Albescu saw her and told the Shapiros that Evvie had tremendous native talent. Mandy was dubious, but Evan felt this was the right path for Evvie. Standard procedure in cases like this would have been to show the girl to Gymnastics America and have them arrange a coach, but Albescu had been an assistant coach in Romania before coming to America, and he dreamed of coaching an Olympic athlete and medalist. Ultimately, he resigned from Gymnastics America and the Shaprios began to pay him a salary as Evvie’s coach. She trained at the Riverside University gymnasium, where Albescu quickly got a reputation for being dour and easily angered.

Mandy was no fan of Albescu from the start, but Evvie quickly began to show the potential he’d claimed she’d had, and so begrudgingly she let them continue their training.

Shapiro for the Defense

“You don’t understand. I saw Mandy, up close. And she was thrilled to see me. I’m positive of that. She was thrilled to see me, and she was even more excited when Connor and [Nagini] showed up on the second day. But she wouldn’t talk to us, except as part of court proceedings. And when I approached her, she backed away fast… I’m telling you. She was scared. No. She was terrified.”

Sonata DuLay

Despite Calhoun’s best efforts, Jackson, Thompson, Shapiro and Smith quickly got a good reputation among villains and parahumans facing oppression. This meant Mandy was traveling more now, all over the Northeast… including Empire City, where she took Archvillain Cipher as a client. This put her in a courtroom with the Excelsiors once more, but while she didn’t seem angry with them, she also refused to speak to them outside of the judicial proceedings. Sonata DuLay claimed that Mandy wasn’t angry. She was scared. However, Mandy’s refusal to speak to them seemed to confirm Shooting Star’s suspicions: Clearly, Mandy was still angry with them all.

Meanwhile, pressures began to build outside of the courtroom as well. Evvie had become an exceptional gymnast for her age, but Albescu was reaching the limits of his ability as a coach. Rather than acknowledge this and seek help or bring her into the Gymnastics America support system, Albescu became increasingly frustrated, putting blame in all directions. He claimed the problem was the facilities, or ‘outsiders interfering with the work.’ By outsiders, he meant the actual coaches and athletic directors who worked at the facility that was letting Albescu train Evvie as a courtesy. When those came to nothing, he put the blame on Mandy and Evan, insisting that they spend less time with Evvie. He began to insist that Evvie eat all her meals alone with him, and he kept her out later and later, since when she got home Evan would homeschool her, read to her, and ‘put notions in her head,’ according to Albescu. Albescu got louder and louder, clearly thinking he could browbeat the Shapiros – only to discover that Mandy Shapiro wasn’t browbeatable. She excoriated him in a screaming rant, and gave him ‘his one and only warning:’

“I don’t know why you don’t understand this, Albescu, but we don’t work for you: you work for us! We pay your salary and benefits. We arranged for your training facilities and equipment. Hell, you’re actually making things harder and harder for Evan at the university because your garbage behavior is reflecting on him! Without us, you don’t have a student, a place to teach students, the means to buy food or put a roof over your head! You’re not gracing us with your generous presence, you twisted, mewling afterbirth! You’re a Goddamn parasite!

“So let me make this crystal clear. If there is one more complaint from the University… one more time Evan or I walk into the building and see you screaming at our daughter, or one more time you so much as imply we’ve been anything but the most understanding Goddamn benefactors on the planet, we will fire you, throw you out, and sue you so hard you’ll owe us your Goddamn native country in damages!

“And don’t you dare try to bluff me about the terms of that contract! I’m three times the lawyer whoever wrote that thing is, and to be safe I had my contract law associate look at and annotate it, and you agreed to everything we said. The contract says you’re working at will, and New Jersey’s an at will state so the courts will bounce a counterclaim so fast they won’t even let you sit down after the judge walks in! Now get the Hell out of my house!

Around this time, Colin Church, Mandy’s erstwhile fiancé, is killed in action. Mandy is devastated, but does not break her isolation to attend the funeral or reach out, other than a letter to Connor. Its contents are not known at this time.

The Breaking Point

Everything came to a head not long after Evvie turned nine years old. She and Albescu traveled to Evergreen City in Washington State for the Gymnastics America Under-9 National Tournament.

Content Warning: Rohypnol, attempted sexual assault / attempted date rape
The same day they left, Danni Shapiro, now a teenager pulling all As and riding the heights of popularity at her school was at a cast party for a play she’d been in, when one of her schoolmates spiked her drink with Rohypnol. This triggered Danni’s primary parahuman expression – Danni having been in a pre-expressive state without realizing it – which gave her a surge of strength that let her push her assailant away while her natural regeneration purged the drugs and alcohol out of her system.

Danni’s primary parahuman expression had saved her, but even though she was a lot like her mother in so many ways, one way they different was their attitude towards parahuman abilities and superheroing. Where Mandy had dreamed of being a hero dating back to long before Emergence, Danni had no interest in that whatsoever. Evan encouraged Mandy to tell Danni about her own parahumanity and her own experiences, but Mandy refused, out of fear that if Danni had learned her mother had not only been a super hero but was Antonym, a founding member of the Excelsiors, but that she had that taken away from her? Danni would believe she had to become a superhero to make good on Mandy’s dream. In Mandy’s own words: “I refuse to become an origin story!” Reluctantly, Evan agreed.

Note

The next events in Mandy Shapiro’s history are depicted in the story Forebears, which is still being run as of this writing. Accordingly we are not listing these events in this entry at this time.

At the end of these crises, Evvie returned home, while Albescu was dismissed. Some weeks later, he was caught in a DUI in Bounty, NE and deported back to Romania. Mandy wanted to pull Evvie out of gymnastics entirely, but Emma Earhart, former Olympic medalist herself, offered to train Evvie for free (after getting a position at Riverside as a collegiate gymnastics coach) in hopes of healing Albescu’s damage. Mandy agreed. Danni, in the meantime, decided not to attend the Institute and said she only wanted to get good enough with her abilities to avoid using them, as she had decided not to disclose them. Mandy therefore held to her intention not to tell Danni about her own past, though she did agree to tell Danni after Danni graduated from college. Meanwhile, Mandy’s increasing concerns about an incipient disaster proved to be tragically correct.

Modus Operandi

During the time she is operating as Antonym during the Halcyon Days era, Ant has utterly mastered her abilities, letting her adjust and shape her opposition and adaptations to shifting circumstances and using a combination of direct and indirect powers to fit the situation at hand. She is well aware at this point that the more people she opposes, the more powerful she becomes, but she’s also very good at stringing out the battles to ensure she doesn’t have a massive power loss. After the accident, her power-use becomes almost entirely internal, and she learns to use twinges of pain as bellwethers for whether she’s pushing too hard.

Open for Apocalypse Agenda Era history

The Apocalypse Agenda

As of this writing, not much is known about Mandy’s involvement in the Apocalypse Agenda, other than that she was indeed involved. It has been suggested that Mandy did in fact find a way to fulfill her destined role in the Agenda, and naturally the world was not destroyed, but there were several prices she paid that are indeed known.

First, it is known that Evan Shapiro disappeared in the opening hours of the first State of Emergency. Mandy brought her daughters to her brother Xander’s house, told them all she was going to go find their father, and asked some of Xander’s coworkers (and family friends) to keep an eye on the girls. She then headed off, even as the emergencies began to stack.

When Urizen's Aberrations sweep out over the land destroying and consuming everything in their path, they made a beeline for Xander’s house – possibly in hopes of distracting or even trapping Mandy, though this is not known. Xandar sends the girls off with their friends Cinder Kendall, Mandy Fujimoto, and Rev. Jack McLuhan, and he and his friend and coworker Mark Thompson stay behind to distract and hopefully hold off the Aberrations. Kendall and Fujimoto manage to evacuate Danni and Evvie, but Thompson verifies later that Xander Hartley did not survive.

When Urizen is defeated and the battle is over, Evan and Mandy Shapiro reappear, but Mandy is in critical condition with burns over 40% of her body on the left hand side — burns that reputedly came from the inside out through her flesh, somehow. Her monitor watch has also been destroyed.

Opposing the Fear

Over the next twelve weeks, Mandy manages to survive, but she barely regains consciousness before she’s called on to help Justice Wing negotiate with a Coalition of Governments that is both panicked by all the destruction and not thinking straight, wanting to do something, somehow. She agrees, over Evan’s protests. She, along with Cosette Wight, Lillian Tartikoff and others manage to complete the negotiations, resulting in Justice Wing being expanded and moving into a self-regulatory role in parahuman affairs. It’s an equitable compromise – if one imagines no one being happy about it ‘equitable.’ However, it means that the immediate threat is over.

The Junior Olympics

It is also known that during a break in the negotiations, Mandy, Evan, and Danni all travel to Las Bendiciones, California to watch Evvie compete in the Junior Olympics, where she wins gold in the vault. Evan’s brother Garrison Shapiro and his wife are on hand to watch the competition as well, as is Lillian Tartikoff and her significant other.

Open for the In Nadir Era history

In Nadir Era

Consequences

With her monitor watch destroyed and no way to get a new one, it would no longer be safe for Mandy to continue working in the legal field – but she finds that to be no major loss. Her injuries were extensive enough that even after years of physical therapy she can only walk with a cane. Her burns do heal, but leave an almost lace-pattern-like series of white curly scars on the left side of her face and much of the left side of her body. She has also lost significant strength on that side, and has little interest in working outside the home. Having helped save the world and negotiating the Justice Wing agreement, Mandy is finally content to relax.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t always agree with such things.

The Bus Accident and the Olympic Trials

Scant months after winning gold in the Junior Olympics, and training hard for the Olympics proper being held in New Zealand two years later, Evvie has a tremendous setback when a bus she’s riding in is T-Boned by an SUV that goes out of control, hitting almost exactly where Evvie is sitting. She has some broken bones and a shattered pelvis, and there is thought she may never walk again, much less compete in gymnastics. However, Evvie tells her parents and Emma Earhart that she’s going to New Zealand, and begins a grueling course of rehabilitation.

She’s successful in this, and manages to go to the Olympic Trials, where she sets a record in the Vault during the qualifiers and is on track to take fourth or even third in the overall, her spot on the Gymnastics America team almost assured… when her springboard shatters and she is hurled fifty feet high in the air and slams bodily into a light stanchion. She is safely retrieved, but does not complete the Trials. However, the official ruling by Gymnastics America is that the equipment failure was entirely unacceptable, and they offer the sixth slot on the Olympic team to Evvie, if she’s still willing to take it.

Lost Chances

What the Gymnastics America committee doesn’t realize is that the springboard didn’t fail. Evvie underwent primary parahuman expression and the force of her landing and takeoff broke it apart, while the surge of parahuman strength and speed were what flung Evvie across the arena. While there is an ‘Enhanced Division’ in the Olympics, few compete in it and it is seen as something of a freak show. While Emma Earhart, knowing that Evvie worked so hard to go to New Zealand, wants to try and compete anyhow, Evan, Mandy, and Evvie decide she will decline the spot ‘for medical reasons.’ Evvie is incredibly excited to have parahuman abilities, so she hardly feels like she’s lost out.

With both her daughters now showing parahuman abilities, Mandy finally accepts the time has come to tell them both about her past. She also tries to give Evvie her old mask, though it’s too big for her, and she doesn’t explain what the mask is or represents. She is able to give Evvie a blue mask that was once an emergency spare for Jetgirl, and cautions her to always where it when she’s training with her abilities. On Friday, she calls Danni at college and says they have things they need to discuss so they need to fly her home. Danni has plans and it’s midterms to boot, so she tells her mother she can come home on Monday or Tuesday instead, and her mother accepts this.

On Saturday, needing to drop some paperwork off for the law firm in Chalfonte, New Jersey — she’s retired from court but is still a partner and is still engaged in administrative work — she and Evan decide to visit the Gymnastics America committee while they’re there doing press, and let them know Evvie’s decision. Sadly, there is inclement weather on the way home and the pair hit a patch of black ice on the road, going off an embankment, killing them both instantly.

With the Excelsiors having dissolved, the Pentad of Guardians all having moved away from Empire City to separate cities and states, and Mandy’s ongoing isolation, the news of Mandy and Evan’s deaths don’t reach the Pentad, Justice Wing, or even Beguile for more than four months, by which time Evvie has apparently been given a new identity and can’t be found, while Danni is back in Michigan finishing her MBA. For now, this is where the story seems to end…

The Dark Room

…until Jetgirl, having let her maintenance schedule slide out of grief, anger, and depression over Mandy’s death, nearly dies stopping a giant monster alongside Transposition Troopers Turbine Triumph. In the moments before she snaps out of unconsciousness and prevents a crash, Jetgirl has a vivid vision of kneeling in a dim room that seems familiar to her, with a woman in a black body stocking with black hair and a purple streak and a white exclamation point tells her to do better:

The room was dark. Jet was kneeling in a faint pool of light.

“Guys?” she asked. “Hearth?”

“You got off lucky this time.”

Jet blinked. She knew that voice.

She looked up. A woman – five foot nothing, slender, wearing a black bodystocking with a white belt and a bob-haircut – stood there, facing away. “You got off lucky. You weren’t prepared. You weren’t you.” The woman turned, the white of the exclamation point logo gleaming on her chest, the batwing mask on her face, the purple streak in her hair – Jet realized it was the exact same shade as the Violet Turbine Bombardier’s uniform accents. “Pull your head out of your ass, Jet. We still have work to do. And wake up before you hit dirt, idiot!”

What this means or if it were even real is not known. And for now, this is where Mandalora Hartley Shapiro’s story ends.

Trivia

  • Mandy’s youth as a goth punk/industrial/New Wave fan was no affectation or lie, and she never got over it, but after she became a mother she exclusively listened to her music with headphones on. As a result, after her death, Danni simply put her vinyl collection up as a single lot at the estate auction, where it was bought by a speculator for $375. That speculator then sold the albums individually in various online auctions for nearly $7,400.
  • During her time as Antonym, Mandy always had a streak of hair dyed blue or purple while she dyed the rest of her hair black. After her forced retirement, she dyed her hair something close to her original chestnut brown and let it grow out.
    Spoiler for the Shapiro children's later stories
    Absolutely by coincidence, since crossing the aisle and becoming a villain her daughter Leather always dyes her hair black for the field, with streaks of some other color — often the exact same shade of blue.
  • In the twelve years her daughter Evvie trained to become an elite gymnast, Mandy never learned a single gymnastics term. She was extremely proud of her daughter, but as late as the Junior Olympics she was asking Evan when Women’s Rings were about to start.
  • Mandy was nothing if not resourceful. Since her powers caused her pain later in life, she learned to use them almost like a danger sense.
  • Mandy’s combat style is largely inspired by professional wrestling. In particular, Mandy fights like an old school heel mat wrestler — there’s a lot of Arn Anderson, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Dean Malenko in her combat style (assuming one of her adaptations doesn’t temporarily change that style.)
  • Though the circumstances aren’t actually known, after her injury Mandy apparently once used her powers very close to (if not over) the danger threshold over having been delivered a pizza with pineapple on it. She remained unrepentant over this for the rest of her life.

Author’s Notes

  • Mandy Hartley Shapiro is the direct counterpart to the Superguy character Mandy Harken.
    Spoilers: Mandy's reasons for investigating the King Kurtzberg Tower in the first place
    This is directly alluded to when Mandy, having learned about Aiden Archer’s experiments, first went to investigate. She was hoping Archer had some means of giving her super powers, and for a brief time thought Evan Shapiro would be her best bet. She was wrong — but this directly mirrored the initial partnership between Mandy and Kid Solipsism.
  • Heather Thompson, the senior partner at Mandy’s law firm, is based on Heather “Magneta” Thompson, a villain-turned-hero from my original Champions campaign back in 1981 (or thereabouts). She is also based on a similar Superguy character who worked at the Academy which became the Justice Wing Institute here, though the Superguy version of Heather was also a slant reference to a character belonging to Christopher Angelini.

References and Stories

Omnipedia: Dominating the World of Fact One Article At A Time!
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