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Revenge of the Nerd

"Disaster comes from the mouth," hastens an ancient Chinese proverb. Unfortunately for aquatic attention-monger Unibouzu, disaster stole his mouth. Back in the tight-lipped days of the '80s Cold War, when Genesis videos were political statements and Ronny Reagan ruled the U.S. roost, a stealthy Russian nuclear submarine surreptitiously sank off the warm coast of Brisbane, Australia. The sub had briefly lost its sonar radar and accidentally sailed into the open maw of a 200-foot Great White shark, the largest specimen ever spotted of its kind. As the tale goes, two of the ship's supersonic missiles instantly exploded when the vessel crashed into the man-eater's last row of teeth, shredding the shark to bits and sinking the Commie craft. As the wreckage floated to the ocean floor, the busted boat leaked plutonium and infected marine life for miles.

Down in Sydney, a young boy named Hamish was navigating the stormy seas of childhood. Hamish was an archetypal geek: he snorted when he laughed, got picked last for every team, and ate alone in the school cafeteria. Hamish's pariah status emanated from his nerdy obsession with oceanic organisms: not only did the Aussie ankle-biter collect sand dollars, starfish, and jellyfish, but his ultimate goal was to open a Portuguese Man O' War museum. To make matters worse, Hamish wouldn't shut up about this marine-biology mania: he bragged about his love for water creatures on the playground, in the hallways, and even in the locker room. Not surprisingly, all of his peers thought he was a total freak, a real wanker. They teased him endlessly, hawked spitballs at him on the school bus, and said he French-kissed sea salamanders.

One day in high school, after receiving a particularly nasty atomic wedgie by an older Australian-rules football player, Hamish slipped off the school grounds and hitchhiked to the beach to work on a science-fair project about tide pools. Still not understanding why he had no mates, the lonely misfit spent the afternoon sadly collecting specimens: coruscating conch shells, hollow crab carcasses, smooth speckled rocks, snarled seaweed bunches, brittle seagull feathers, rusty bottle caps, dented beer cans. At dusk, Hamish spotted a bright red sea urchin sitting in shallow water - he scooped it up excitedly. Ouch! It bit him! Immediately, Hamish's head throbbed, his hand bled, and he saw stars.

At sunrise the next day, Hamish awoke on the beach. The youngster was groggy and speechless. The sea urchin was gone, but Hamish's entire body felt thorny, prickly, and much, much stronger. As he rose, he noticed that his torso was red, swollen, and spiny. His legs were deep-sea blue. He had a fin-like backbone. And where was his mouth?

As it so happens, the Russian sub rendered the sea urchin radioactive, which in turn mutated Hamish into a sea urchin-type creature. As it also happens, Hamish went back to school, found the Aussie-rules player, and knocked him around a bit. Then Hamish unexpectedly passed out, awoke as a human boy again, and wondered if it had all been a dream. But Hamish was no longer an average adolescent ear basher; he was a freak of nature. And since there aren't too many options in the world for teenage-wonks-turned-sea-beasts, Hamish fled to the States to join Kaiju Big Battel, a superstar monster spectacle he'd read about on the Internet. Desperate to shed his dorky past, Hamish began introducing himself as Unibouzu - a Japanese pun he thought would impress his new Big Battel acquaintances. Much to his disappointment, few seemed to grasp the joke. Or, more likely, they just didn't care.

No longer a human bore, Unibouzu still didn't really fit in with his new peers: he wasn't evil enough for Dr. Cube's Posse, his brackish braggadocio disgusted the Heroes, and Team Space Bug simply jeered at him, saying they weren't "down with having a fighting pickle on their team." Reluctantly, Unibouzu settled into the catchall category known as the Kaiju Rogues. But even among the free-willed, independent Rogues, Unibouzu's immature need for social validation still marks him an outsider. Whether mugging for the cameras, showboating for the fans, or shamelessly trying to steal the Danger Cage spotlight, Unibouzu still can't figure out why he has no monster mates. The truth is: no one likes a showoff.

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