|Substitute Lad is a net.hero created by Rob Rogers. He is the title character of the 1994 mini-series Substitute Lad.|
|Alter Ego:||Jack "Shemp" Truman|
|Aliases:||Easily-Discovered Man II|
|Primary Writer:||Rob Rogers|
|Status:||Member of the LNH, on suspension|
|Usability:||Usable With Permission|
One of many new heroes to approach the Legion of Net.Heroes for membership in the early days, Substitute Lad became an effective utility player for the team thanks to his ability to duplicate the powers of any hero who was unavailable.
Substitute Lad worked closely with LNH member Easily-Discovered Man and became friends with his sidekick, Easily-Discovered Man Lite, despite their rivalry over fellow hero Superconductor. During the invasion of earth by the giant, transforming RoboMACs, Lite urged Substitute Lad to stop using the powers of other heroes and to simply "be himself." That advice proved tragic, however, as Substitute Lad's out-of-control energies overwhelmed and destroyed Superconductor.
- "You killed her!" screamed Lite, crying. "You let all that energy loose and it was like an atomic bomb dropping on Washing.net...blew the robot apart, blew everything apart. If Superconductor hadn't stepped in and channeled all of the energy into the ground, you'd have destroyed the city...but it was too much, she couldn't take it...she's dead, she's dead, you bastard, and it's my fault because I told you to do it..."
- —Easily-Discovered Man Lite, Substitute Lad #3
Substitute Lad served as the replacement Easily-Discovered Man for several months when the hero was incapacitated by the villain Deathstocker. He was quite successful in his role, reducing crime in inner-city Net.ropolis by 70 percent.
He was suspended from the LNH after an incident in which he accidentally over-focused Super Apathy Lad's powers on a girl who had accidentally turned much of the male population of Net.ropolis into monkeys, making her go comatose. Nevertheless, Substitute Lad served as the 268th leader of the LNH during the Infinite Leadership Crisis, rallying the members of the "rebel LNH" against an invasion of duplicates from the Evilverse.
Because he feels his abilities are not his own, Substitute Lad has very little confidence in himself and his role as a super-hero. He feels inferior to other heroes, and sometimes tries to impress others by swaggering, showing off, or otherwise making an idiot out of himself. He is likely to follow those with strong, decisive personalities. He has a good heart, however, and will rise to the occasion when the chips are down.
He's surprisingly dedicated to his role as a substitute, studying the tactics and strategies of the heroes he could imitate.
See also How To Write Substitute Lad.
Powers and Abilities
Since the day he turned thirteen, Jack "Shemp" Truman has had the ability to take on the powers of any other being who happened not to be around at the moment. For the most part, Jack – or Substitute Lad, as he's been known since joining the Legion of Net.Heroes – has chosen other net.heroes as beings to "fill in" for. However, there is no reason why Substitute Lad could not mimic the powers of a super-villain, a natural athlete, or a fictional hero when the occasion calls for it.
In fact, there seems to be no real limit to Substitute Lad's power. As revealed in the Substitute Lad mini-series, Jack's "duplicating" powers are really a self-imposed limitation designed to keep him from being overwhelmed by his true abilities, which remain, for the most part, unknown. As part of his self-limitation, Substitute Lad will never duplicate the powers of the same being more than once. The length of time Substitute Lad is able to duplicate a being's powers varies inversely with the power level of the being – while he could duplicate the abilities of Easily-Discovered Man indefinitely, he could only muster the powers of Continuity Champ for a minute and a half at best.
Substitute Lad cannot duplicate the powers of beings whose abilities are created by technology – like Irony Man – and he can only approximate a shadow of magical abilities or the awesome force of the Power Kirby. He will not duplicate the powers of a being who is in the vicinity.
Substitute Lad's duplication of powers is also based upon what Substitute Lad thinks that being's powers are, not what they actually may be. He has so far duplicated the following heroes (and cannot do so again):
- Captain Caffeine
- Cheesecake-Eater Lad
- Continuity Champ
- Easily-Discovered Man
- Haiku Gorilla
- Kid Chivalry
- Occultism Kid
- Particle Man
- Pointless Awards Man
- Punctuality Lad
- Shokk, the Electric
- Special Bonding Boy
- Subliminal Girl (Mouse)
- Screen Saver
- Super Apathy Lad
- Useless Background Character Lad
Using another being's powers "burns" Substitute Lad "out" for a short time afterwards, making it impossible for him to access another being's powers right away. Because he can only use each set of powers once, Substitute Lad prefers to use lesser powers in an innovative way rather than blast his way out of situations by using the abilities of the net's most powerful creatures.
Substitute Lad originally wore a blue and black costume with red piping, something on the order of what the Krypton Man's outfit would look like if designed by Nike. He later moved to a kinetic-energy-absorbing suit of banded red leather that "looked like the armor from Bram Stoker's Dracula, or a skinned weightlifter".
Straight women often consider him attractive, but he doesn't see himself that way. He is friends with and respects Old Comics Man, and knows many of the other Legionnaires, though not very well.