...in the tradition of Shel Silverstein's "A Boy Named Sue", as performed by Johnny Cash:

You might'a heard of me because
I'm the youngest cadet there ever was
to graduate the Space Academy,
and though I lost my ma and pa
I was top of my class in magical law
and slew me a dragon at the tender age of three.

Well I got me a sword and I got me a blaster
I got me a +10 Fender Stratocaster
I'm an ace fighter pilot and a blackbelt in ninjutsu.
Yeah it seemed my life was pretty keen
'till one stormy night down at the old canteen
when I heard a man say, "Hey, there goes that Mary Sue!"

I said, "Sir, I think you're mistaken.
I'm Arius Darkspur von Mandraken,
slayer of orcs and robots and ladies if ya know what I mean."
He laughed: "Naw, what I'm tryn'a say
is you're implausibly perfect in every way
and it makes folks want to punch you right in the spleen.

"Ya see, 'round here we're pretty bored
with you being contrivedly adored
for your genius, talent, wit, and derring-do.
The whole point of this stupid world
is for you to look cool and get the girl
and that, son, is what makes you a Mary Sue."

Well after that, my whole life changed:
It seemed no matter where I ranged,
someone'd be there with a bucket of bile to spew.
They'd serve me spit with every meal
and then they'd key my batmobile.
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a Mary Sue.

I found out that the man to blame
was some writer, Patrick Black by name,
who'd put me in a silly little song,
and I vowed one day, before I died,
I'd look that muggle in the eye,
and wring his neck for doin' me so wrong.

One August night, as the sun went down,
I was drivin' through Manhattantown
and my luck was almost too good to be true:
there in the window of some yuppie pub,
peddlin' his wares to a readin' club,
sat the funny-lookin' nerf-herder who'd made me a 'Sue'.

There was no mistakin' Mr. Black
with his picture right there on the back
of the book he wanted all them folks to buy,
so I got one and I joined the queue
and when he asked who he should sign it to
I said, "I'm Mary Sue! How do you do! Now your gonna die!"

He said, "I think you mean, 'You're gonna die,'
you neglected to apostroph-y,"
then he raised up his hands and shot out a fireball.
It burned the eyebrows off my face
but I drew my enchanted mace
and whacked him out clean through the nearest wall.

I been everywhere and I seen it all,
but I never had a tougher brawl:
he had laser eyes and an army of evil djinn.
But when he drew a plasma gun
and I just pulled a bigger one
he put his down and gave me a big ol' grin.

And he said, "Kid, sometimes life sucks, that's how it is,
even in the heroin' biz,
folks are mean, and they'll take things way too far.
You ain't the first I ever knew
to get some reductive label stuck on you
but don't ever be ashamed of who you are."

He said, "Now maybe you're idealized,
but in fiction that ain't no surprise,
just get out there and keep doin' what you do.
Let the haters laugh, but I tell you what:
not one of them ever kicked such butt
so screw 'em--I'd rather be a Mary Sue!"

That there's a moral to feel good about:
I dropped my lightsaber and we hugged it out
and since that day I've seen the world anew.
And whenever some kingdom's in distress
you can bet they're glad for my awesomeness,
and if I ever write a book, I think my hero's gonna be
some sad sensitive soul or poignantly precocious child, whatever, just not a Mary Sue, I still can't stand that crud!

Yes, that's Johnny Cash slaying a dragon. What of it?

artwork courtesy of Bre Duffy

(note: if you've never heard the term "Mary Sue" before, all of the above will make a LOT more sense if you quickly peruse what Wikipedia has to say on the subject!) 

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