Posts Tagged ‘comic books’

Alright, I’m sorry but I have to do this.  I’m a trades guy and I can’t help it.  Now I’m not entirely sure the reaction this is going to get however, I do believe there are some like me.  DC’s relaunch coming up here in a couple of weeks will be one of the few chances to start from #1.  Now I know titles reset all the time, but for once, it’s company-wide.  As a comic fan, it’s great to get the chance to start fresh and stay with storylines from the ground up and I couldn’t be more thrilled to jump on board.  I understand that they’re targeting new readers with the whole starting over thing, but screw that, IT’S GREAT FOR ME!

I’ve been catching up on Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, yada, yada, yada for I can’t tell you how long now.  If there are any of you reading this and thinking, “This schmuck ain’t a fan,” well sir/madam, I very semi-insincerely kind of say to you, “Nay.”  Here’s my angle on the issue (HAH, ISSUE, GET IT!!!).  I’m the same way with TV shows, video games, and tacos…I mean just the first two.  But seriously, I hate being titillated.  Come on now, who watched an episode of Game of Thrones and with no warning at all…credits.  Damn you HBO and you’re need to space out programming.  Yes, I did play Arkham Asylum, but there is no way in hell I was going to wait two years for Arkham City.  Nevertheless, I hate, hate, hate when I’m left twiddling my thumbs in anticipation waiting for the continuation of a story I’m getting into.

So I’m behind.  I haven’t read Fear Itself, or Flashpoint, but that doesn’t mean I’m not as hardcore of a fan as the rest.  Or does it?  I’d like to think my fandom doesn’t get called into question just because I like the whole set at once.  Side note – I’m still waiting to watch Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, and Breaking Bad.  Don’t judge me, those seasons are expensive and I don’t secrete currency (at least I don’t check).  Bottom line is that just because I collect trades doesn’t make me any less of a fan than those who go to their local comic shop for their pull-list on Wednesday.

Let’s pretend everyone thought the way I did.  Ok, scratch that, that’s a bad idea.  Let’s pretend that comic fans thought about trades the way I do, yeah that’s it.  If trades were the “thing” and running floppies off the shelves, is that bad for the industry?  It’s the same story just in different formats, right?  I’d hate to think I’m doing any kind of harm to the stories I love, but I can’t help my affinity for thick-picture books (yes, I made that up).  Now you can judge me, but be gentle, I have no problem crying into my Rising Stars Compendium.

Alright, so it’s pretty obvious that women & comics are becoming quite the hot topic lately.  Maybe, it’s from the DC relaunch and the Didio outburst that started the fire, but it has definitely come to a head.  It’s kind of like Fox News bashing the president (Sorry Republican’s, it’s not a dig at you, ok it is, but moving on).  Nevertheless, I’ve been dying to say some things about women in and around comics for quite some time now and love having a place to do so.  Ready???

Yes, this might be you...

First on the docket is women who are fans.  Until I joined Twitter about four or five months ago (albeit I had an account for over a year) I never knew just how avid women were about comics.  And to be honest, it’s awesome.  It’s just not common knowledge that women are interested in, let alone passionate, about comics.  I found that the first few people I started to follow were hardcore comic fans in dcwomenkicknass, girlsreadcomics, ladiesmakecomix, thenerdybird, and so many more.  It’s fair to say that Gail Simone has quite the following of rabid female followers (I mean rabid in a good way, just relax).  So, yes, I was awestruck to see this many females interested in what was believed to be a primarily male pastime.  However, this revelation is great.  I personally haven’t seen many women in my local comic shop (besides the occasional significant other brought along for the ride), but at the same time, I would be thrilled if women fans came in.  Now it is funny that I’ve heard about how women get treated in these establishments, not all but some, as if they have cooties or don’t know anything about comics.

What would you really say to a badass, green chick???

This is very funny to me.  I mean let’s think about it.  There are some male fanboys that are a little sheltered and confused when it comes to women.  Thus, when a woman comes in and starts to talk passionately about her comics a (how should I put this?) living-in-the-basement-with-his-parents geek has no clue how to interact.  It’s sad and I can’t think of a way to fix these conversationally-challenged individuals but they exist and they give other fanboys a bad name.  That’s not fair ladies.  We don’t all believe you have no place in comics, you are just intimidating.  We assume it’s our place to hang out and be dorks without women putting us in our place, but we’re men and that’s how we think.  Personally, I’ve had great discussions (notice I didn’t say debates or arguments) with women via Twitter and the like.  Most of the time, those discussions stay calm and mature, while some conversations with guys just go all wrong.  It just blows my mind that it looks as if men don’t want women around.  That’s ridiculous and we need to embrace females in and around comics.

I understand your thinking fellas...but still just a drawing.

Hmm...does this make sense?

On to issue number two: female costumes.  Dear lord, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON THOSE WOMEN!!!  I can hear the nuns and the feminist movements cringe when they see the ridiculousness that is women’s costumes in comics.  They are hilarious aren’t they?  I mean come on…have any of you actually looked at Witchblade?  If it wasn’t for that little trinket, Sara Pezzini would be fighting crime in her birthday suit.  Which, as a male I don’t mind, but it’s just not practical (Oh, no the male just said he likes naked women.  I’m terribly sorry).  Which brings me to my next point; practicality.  Emma Frost, Wonder Woman (non-pants), the new-and-improved Harley Quinn, Power Girl, well basically every female has been drawn absurdly at some point in time.  And why?  For male fans to drool over?  Look, I like the ladies as much as the next guy, but really?  Drawn pictures of women?  I don’t get it, with the abundance of, um, other forms of entertainment; no grown man is looking at comics to get his jollies.  And if you’re reading this and thinking, “This guy is an idiot, these ladies are hot!”  Well you’re also the same guy that thinks he’d have a chance with Ariel sans the tail.  Went off on a tangent there but only to show that this doesn’t make any sense.

Scandal doesn't take kindly to people starin' at her goodies.

See??? I'm not entirely crazy...

Scandal Savage of the Secret Six, seen her?  Yeah, she’s a badass but wears attire that makes sense.  Her boobs aren’t flailing about as if the wrong move will poke out her eye, nor can I see her heiny when she jumps around.  Ms. Marvel is another example.  Sure she’s been drawn over-qualified for a job at Hooter’s, but otherwise its boots and a leotard.  She-Hulk even makes some sense.  And Catwoman, she is all about being feminine without showing off the goods.  I’m just saying it should make SENSE!  Emma Frost wouldn’t have to move a muscle to get a man to do her bidding wearing her usual getup.  We drool, we listen, and Emma wins.  I know guys are foaming at the mouth that I’m an idiot or have no idea what I’m talking about, but that’s ok.  I just wanted women to see how I see this situation and I’m sure some other men feel the same way.

I don't think anyone is learning when you're dressed like...well...you get it.

What the? Daredevil, why is he? Oh...I get it now.

In the end, not many costumes make sense.  Even male costumes are confusing.  Why the hell is Daredevil flying around in the tightest red leather he could find?  What kind of gangster is going to be terrified of that?  I know its fantasy and I get that, but I like it when things are at least explained.  You know what else this does?  It creates negative reinforcement for impressionable girls.  My good Twitter-friend Michelle Lloyd said as much in a blog she did on women in comics.  “Women drawn with tight abs, perky breasts and even perkier nipples – provocative, stimulating, stunning.”  If that doesn’t say it all I don’t know what will.  We’ve all seen them.  And if you haven’t I don’t know what comics you’re reading.

Oh God, now the pants debate.  This is insane.  I am fully aware that Wonder Woman has spent most of her professional career in what can only be described as old lady swim trunks, but seriously?  This is not practical.  Personally, I thought the pants looked good.  The jacket may be a little much, but what is the big deal with the pants?  She’s a warrior princess in modern times, how can she fight evil half-nekkid?  I just couldn’t believe the outcry after DC announced the changes in uniforms.  This could be another topic, but basically I’m putting it in the practical costume category.

Pants or no Pants??? That is, well...the debate apparently.

For now, this is where I believe women in comics are at.  They are looked upon as frightening and opinionated and no man likes to battle with a woman about his hobbies.  We (men) have to get past this or we’re doomed to enjoy comics in our “all-male” bubbles we’ve created to keep the cooties out.  Screw that, cooties are treatable so let’s move on.  Nevertheless, talk to a woman that has the same interests as you and you might find out they know a lot more than you think.  And a final note.  If you are looking at comics for adult entertainment, it might be time to get out of the basement.

This is not ok...NOT OK

Alright, so we’re about 2 weeks or so from the highly-anticipated (is that the word I want to use?) DC Comic’s Relaunch.  Well since I’ve already given my two cents on the whole issue already, I’m going to let the world know just which titles I’m looking forward to the most and which titles I’m a little worried about or aren’t interested in.  So, them’s the rules and here we go…

The 10 DCnU titles I’m most excited to read…

10.  This is my last choice huh?  Oooo this is tough.  And just because one of them didn’t make my top 10 doesn’t mean it won’t become one of my top 10 as the series go on.  But I’m going to have to go with Suicide Squad.  Essentially, they look like the closest thing to Secret Six without actually being the Secret Six.  People have been freaking out over Harley’s getup, but come on…IT’S HARLEY!!!  She’s crazy and leading Deadshot and what can only be described as a Giant Shark (I know, I know, it’s King Shark) into well…suicide missions.

9.  Wonder Woman:  Dear God this woman needs a fresh start.  When was the last time she had a solid run?  (Gail Simone’s run???)  Anyway, I’ve wanted to see Diana for the warrior she is supposed to be.  I’m going to guess that DC wants to take that route and hopefully that’s where it’s headed.

8.  Green Arrow:  Apparently I have an affinity for green…maybe it goes with my eyes, but nevertheless, Oliver Queen has been an underrated badass for quite some time now.  I’m thinking the Emerald Archer should be a fun and exciting read.

7.  Grifter:  I’m not going to lie to you (Would you care if I did?), I can’t give you a solid answer.  Although, I’m looking at it as a new character (Yes, I’m fully aware he was in WildStorm) to me and an interesting one at that.  This one might actually be judged by its cover, but it intrigues me.

6.  Green Lantern:  Since Rebirth, I’ve been hooked on Green Lantern.  That’s really all the reasoning I need to keep on board Oa’s Emerald train.

5.  Demon Knights:  You know why?  Because I’ve always wondered about vigilantism in a different time period.  Etrigan has never been a favorite of mine, but this should be extremely interesting as it looks like DC is going to entertain science fiction and a little fantasy.  Oh and there’s swords and stuff…

4.  The Savage Hawkman:  Well, he’s Savage now, sooo maybe that leads to badassery?  I do feel like this title is also a sleeper that is going to jump Mr. Hall up the ranks of the Justice League and the Big 4? (Big 4 as in Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern…these are DC’s primary characters aren’t they?)

3.  The Fury of Firestorm:  Yes people, the Fury of Firestorm.  All I know is that they are walking nuclear bombs…is that not enough to entice anyone to read?  Well that and I used to read it way back when.

2.  Deathstroke:  Why Slade Wilson you ask?  Well, maybe it’s because I don’t feel there isn’t enough that we know about this man.  They say Deadpool was a direct response to Deathstroke, but that’s quite clearly not the truth.  Two totally different characters in two totally different worlds.  The similarities?  Same last name and same occupation, otherwise complete opposites.  Bottom line is that I want to see Deathstroke thrive and I want to see a new A-list villain that isn’t the Joker or Lex Luthor (Not knocking them, just saying, sheesh).

1.  Bat-Family:  A little obvious?  I know this includes 10 different titles, but I can’t help it, I’m just that big of a Bat-fan.  However, I can rank these in order of intrigue through my eyes.

11.  Birds of Prey:  I’m all about the Bat-Family so I’m still psyched about this more than the rest.  My issue is…I don’t know what to expect with these girls.

10.  Batwing:  Ok, I’ll nip it in the bud.  I’m not racist.  I just never got to read about this guy in Batman, Inc.  He could be great, and again I’m sure it will be, just seems like a Black Panther type.  That’s a good thing though.

9.  Catwoman:  By now, I’m thinking I look racist and sexist.  Not at all…I’m ready for Selina in her own series.  I just hope it can go the distance.

8.  Batman:  My favorite character comes in here because he’s solid and I’m expecting it to continue, simply not the most exciting title.

7.  Nightwing:  Dick gets his old namesake back.  I love it…I wonder if he’s going back to Bludhaven?

6.  Batwoman:  Ah, Kate…sweet, sweet Kate.  Do what you do girl…just do it for a lot longer.

5.  Batman – The Dark Knight:  Well, obviously it contains Batman, but it seems like a darker series.  Me likey darker.

4.  Batgirl:  I don’t get it.  Ok, well I do, but still.  A lot of people are bummed she’s no longer Oracle and I get that.  But come on…Babs is kicking ass again!  Who know’s, maybe bad luck will come her way again, turning her back to the wheelchair.  (I’m not wishing it on her, I just understand the impact she’s had with fans while in the chair, myself included)

3.  Batman & Robin:  I love the little shit, and now he gets some quality time with dear ol’ dad.  Damian and Daddy, side by side, kicking ass and…well kicking ass.  It was fun watching Dick and Damian as Batman & Robin, but this will be a whole new ride for the father and son duo.

2.  Detective Comics:  It’s the company’s namesake and a perennial favorite.  Sure it’s a bummer that it’s back to Numero Uno, but it looks like it’s going to be a blast.  I find it easier to invest in titles that will stand the test of time.

1.  Red Hood & The Outlaws:  That’s right kiddies…Red Hood & The Mutha Freakin’ Outlaws.  I don’t know, something about Jason Todd and his brand of vigilantism has me pumped for this series.  Arsenal and Starfire have always been solid characters, so I don’t know how this strange trio gets together in the first place, but I wouldn’t want to piss them off.  I see that Starfire is virtually naked…eh, moving on…

The 10 DCnU titles I’m least looking forward to…

  1. I, Vampire:  Um, well let’s start off with the fact that I’ve become more and more hateful of anything utilizing I in its name.  I know it’s not like iPod or iTunes or iCrapinatoilet, but still I’m pretty sick of seeing the “I” involved with anything.  My next beef with this title is that, and I may be in the minority on this one, but I’M SICK OF ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES!!!  Dear God, hasn’t this fad faded away yet?  Isn’t True Blood all you vampire-cravers need?  It may very well be a good story, but for now, it’ll probably be the title I read last.
  2. Voodoo:  I don’t get it…
  3. O.M.A.C.:  Still don’t get it…See I was under the impression that O.M.A.C. was a Ultron-wannabe.  However, this seems to be some menacing, blue-mohawk, Iron Man/Hulk hybrid.  Not saying this won’t be good, since now the focus is on Brother Eye’s One Man Army Corp going on a roid-rage that could shatter the DCnU!!!  (I know…that last line was lame.)
  4. Resurrection Man:  Right off the bat I understand his powers.  Well, kind of.  Now I know what you’re saying, “You could Google it, JACKASS!”  Think I don’t know that?  That’s not my point.  This is based purely on the title and first impressions.  I’m intrigued only because I’m wondering if he resurrects people, or keeps dying and resurrecting himself.  Or mayhaps both?  Either way, a guy who only resurrects people doesn’t seem all that riveting.
  5. Mr. Terrific:  Holy crap, his name is Mr. Terrific, YAY!  Yeah, no…not feeling it.
  6. Captain Atom:  A. There should only be one Captain in the comic world and he’s over on the other team.  B. Why are they always Captains?  Doesn’t anyone ever get promoted?  But in all seriousness…he’s not wearing any pants.
  7. Justice League International:  Hmm…um…hmm…I’m looking forward to the Justice League, really I am.  However, wouldn’t it make sense to have the A-listers looking over the world while these guys stick to the states?  Just putting it out there.  Again, this should very well be an entertaining read because Batman is in it, BUT HOW MANY FRIGGIN’ PLACES CAN HE BE AT ONCE?!?!?!?!?  I hope there’s some kind of pay scale for the heroes of the DCnU because that boy might need a pay raise.
  8. DC Universe Presents:  They present what?  Deadman in chains…Can we just call it Deadman?  Or is this an attempt to test the waters with various B and C list characters by putting them all in random storylines through DC Universe Presents?  Hmm…
  9. Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E:  It’s not Frank’s fault.  Not entirely.  By now it looks like I’m tearing DC’s “Dark”, but to reiterate, is not the case.  I’m excited about Demon Knights, and can’t wait for Justice League Dark, but the acronym game is kind of stale to me.  Being ex-military I’m all too aware of the crap acronym’s we put out but hardly ever do they actually form a word in the dictionary.  Why do comics abuse this?  I’m getting all 52 for the first go-round so I’ll read it and quite possibly change my mind…we’ll see.
  10. AQUAMAN:  Ah, yes, the water guy.  There’s not much that Geoff John’s has written that I don’t like and hopefully, this too will be great.  That said…Arthur’s boring…he runs the sea like it’s his own personal mafia.  I liked where he was going in Brightest Day and Blackest Night, but it’s hard to remain optimistic that it’ll last much longer.  Personally…I miss the hook, the long hair, and the beard.  On the plus side, he is rocking a trident.

So, what have we learned?  Alright, well this is MY blog and by no means is how the world views these titles.  Who the hell am I?  I’m a fan and just felt the need to tell my fellow comic fans what I am and ain’t looking forward to.  “Ah, you’re an idiot” you say.  Maybe, but hey, you didn’t have to look at my choices in the first place.  However, I’m always up for a good discussion about what is coming for the DCnU.  From the minute this whole relaunch, reboot thingy happened I was optimistic.  It just seems that now, people who have wanted to get into comics now have a great chance without catching up with trades or 900 of someone’s previous comics.  And on the other hand, if some characters really catch fire, maybe people will go back and grab old trades and comics.  Those stories won’t fade away.  They’re still there and will always be.  They’re trying something new and let’s hope it’ll work huh?  So why don’t we all just go into this open-minded?  We know they all won’t last, and we know that eventually new faces will pop up in some form.  Like I said in a previous blog…everyone just calm down.

“That won’t be necessary.”  Lyssa announced as she was coming to.

“Excuse me?”  Carl was confused.  He wasn’t sure whether to listen to me or the woman who was apparently our hostage.

“Well, let’s think about this.  You’ve figured me out.  I’m a leech.  What possible difference is rope going to make?”

I didn’t like whatever authority I might’ve had being challenged.  I’m also not a fan of people making me look stupid.  This woman was making me feel worthless and doing all this with simply her looks.  “Carl, the rope.”

“You’re not the brightest are you?  I only seek information; I’m not exactly what you’d label a ‘fighter’.”  She gestured at her tight-fitting blue dress that cut off at the knees.  The six-inch heel on her shoes didn’t exactly scream ‘badass’ but this lady was good.  “Feeling inadequate, Artie?  Scrambling for answers as to what you should do now?  I know it all seems a bit confusing but it will all make sense very soon.”  That wry smile caught my attention.  She was starting to piss me off.

“Carl, how long does it take to get some rope?”  I looked back to see that Carl hadn’t moved.  The extraterrestrial just stood there looking at Lyssa and then back at me.

“I agree with her, Arthur.  What good will tying her up do?”

“For fuck’s sake, now you’re questioning me?”  I turned to Elijah, where hopefully, I’d get some assistance with the situation.

“I don’t know Art, she doesn’t exactly require subduing.  Unless, of course, you take her to the bedroom.”  Elijah couldn’t help but chuckle at his own joke.

“Fuck, boys…”  My frustration was taking over.  I didn’t know why, I never wanted to be a leader or in charge of anything.  I’m a nobody, but maybe with the deaths of two of the most beloved superheroes I was hoping to pick up the slack.

“Listen, Shatterproof, is it?  How long have you been a Lesser?  All your life?  Am I correct?  You’ve always wanted to be more, you’ve always wanted what Excalibur and Dextratos had.  Now, let me ask you.  How would you like to take their place?  Become the hero you’ve always dreamed of being.  You, Eli, and your little shiny friend over there can take the reins.”  The woman was persuasive.  Or was it just her captivating hazel eyes that made me think she was persuasive.  Was I even listening?

“No, I…I don’t want this.”

“Arthur, ever since I met you, we’ve talked about being something more.  Pub-hopping and brawls with other Lessers isn’t exactly the “high-life” I came here hoping for.  You are a great human being Arthur Moore, but this is our chance to move up.”  Carl had never been so upfront.  Or so eloquent.  He was right.  We always discussed moving up; we just never knew how to do it.  But taking advantage of death to become heroes wasn’t the path I wanted to take.  Not just deaths, murders.  Have we all forgotten that these men were murdered?

“Wait.  This is wrong.  Carl, we’re not just ‘moving up the ladder’, these men were murdered and no one seems to care.  I want to be a hero, but this isn’t how I want to get there.”  My head fell, confused as to what was going on.  Lyssa was giving me the chance of a lifetime and I was letting it slide.

Lyssa shook her head in vague disappointment.  “That’s too bad, Mr. Moore.”

The warehouse we utilized as a home began to tremble.  It used to store lumber and beams for construction.  When it went under, no one noticed that we’d turned it into our domicile.  The concrete walls were shaking violently; my head was on a swivel looking for an answer to the rumblings going on.  And then it stopped.  Once my bearings were in place I looked to Lyssa on the couch.  She hadn’t moved or changed her expression.  She wore that shit-eating grin proudly.

“Is this your doing?”

I had no time to think.  What I figured for a nuclear bomb dropped through the roof and put me twenty feet into the ground.  While the dust was clearing I saw the massive shadow of the man standing over me.

“I was willing to let you live as a team member, to join our ranks.  Just as well, we needed a patsy.”  Dressed in all-black with a matching cape flowing behind him, the gold eight-sided star wasn’t anything I remembered.

“Oh, hey Landon.  Was that necessary?”  I may not break that easily, but God dammit that hurt.

He grabbed me by the collar on my jacket and pulled me close.  “You should’ve joined me.”

“Joined you?  You’re a bloody pedophile.  And a queer one at that.”  Zenith slammed my face into the wall behind us repeatedly.  Finally, blood began to trickle from nose.  Blood?  I can’t remember the last time I bled.  Kneeling and patting my face for any other issue, I was grabbed again and tossed across the warehouse.  Carl started after Zenith.

“I don’t think so, freak.”  Zenith caught Carl with a golden ray that emitted from his right arm.  Elijah just stood next to Lyssa, who remained undaunted by the situation.  So much for any assistance.  Landon was walking toward me, ferocity in his eyes.  This was a side of Zenith I was unfamiliar with.  “See, here’s the problem.  I fucked up.  I know I fucked up and I tried to fix it.  But no.  Excalibur and Dextratos stood on their pedestals and wouldn’t absolve me of any past indiscretions.  Do you understand now?  It’s my turn at the top.  It was very simple really.  There were just too many heroes.”

Go back to the beginning by clicking that rodent-thingy on this here blue thingy http://wp.me/p1EYy5-27 (is it not blue? ah, christ, this is embarrassing)

“So, Ms. Snow, are you going to be a doll and help us or do I have to have my associates disembowel you and your friends?”  George just stood there puffing away on his stogie as if this situation were no big deal.  With the MRC’s elite surrounding him, he had no need to worry.

“My patience is wearing thin, Abbie.”

The gun remained aimed at Mr. Smith while Abbie assessed the situation.  Still unaware of Slice’s whereabouts, she had taken Smith’s advice and focused her attention to the men before her.  Few options presented themselves but Abbie was willing to stall.

“Alright, Mr. Smith.  I’ll give you whatever you want, but leave me and my friends alone.  They have nothing to do with this.”

The portly man tried to hold back a laugh only to lose his composure.  “That’s funny, they have nothing to do with this, but they cower in that very van.  The van that you were holed up in attempting to track our tracker.  So, tell me Miss Snow, do random people always happen to just jump in vehicles where you are working?  But, sure, you don’t want your friends to get hurt.  That makes sense.  Sadly, I don’t care.”

Smith looked to his right and nodded at his henchman.  The man stepped up and fired four shots into Volition’s cowering body.  Her body slumped over leaving Marionette and Savage a bloody, frightened mess.  Abbie feel to her knees as if to plea with Smith but no words could come out of her mouth.

“Now, I have enough bullets to turn your little gang into a one-man, or should I say one-woman-band.”  The man wasn’t overly obese.  He simply enjoyed the good life and wore it for the world to see.  The all-black suit reeked of wealth, but left a sense of cool with the white undershirt showing through the open jacket.  His jet-black beard and what was left of his hair was well-groomed and taken care of.  The only jewelry to his name was an heirloom that hung from his massive neck.

The few steps it took to reach Abbie were seemingly never-ending.  At this point, Abbie couldn’t decide whether she cared to live at all.  Friends around her were dying, and for what?  None of this made sense to her.  From behind his back, George brandished a golden-inlaid Desert Eagle.  With his right hand he calmly grabbed at Abbie’s shoulder-length blonde hair and pulled it back so she would look into his eyes.  His left hand put the gun to Abbie’s temple.

“Last chance.”

It all happened so fast.  I closed my eyes expecting to see the light, instead I saw blood.  Within seconds, Smith’s henchmen fell quickly and Smith turned to witness the commotion.  As he turned, he saw the blur that could only be his “hired-help” and began to fire aimlessly in his direction.

“Abbie, GO!” echoed through the alley and she jumped into the van.  Savage got a grip of herself and took to the driver’s seat as fast as her body would allow her.  Outside, Smith was still firing on the phantom before him.  As he attempted to reload his right hand was greeted with the steel from Slice’s katana.  As the van began to take off Slice stammered back and shook his head as if reeling from a blow to the face.  The phase had been finished and Marionette made it back to the van.

“You shot at me you fuck!”  Slice’s words reverberated in the alley for a second before he regained his poise and darted for the van.  All of Smith’s energy was focused on stopping the geyser of blood gushing from the stump that used to be his right hand.

**********

“Savage, head for my office.”

“What does he want Abbie?”

Marionette was still trying to catch her breath as the rear door was torn off.  Slice was good at his job and refused to let these women get the best of him.  Not a chauvinist, but rather a perfectionist.  Marionette was about to phase when Slice fired at her only to clip her left shoulder.

“Not this time, bitch.”  Abbie scrambled back to take on Slice before he could make his assault.  She laid a boot into his firing arm with enough force that he dropped the gun.  It only took a second before that was replaced with a large and rather demonic knife.  Slashes were exchanged but only managed to hit with minor wounds to Abbie’s upper leg and stomach.

Without any warning Savage stood on the break hoping to end the battle in the back.  Both Slice and Hellhunter dashed to the front only to collide with the windshield.  Slice took the brunt of the damage leaving only his legs in the van.

“Are you alright, Abbie?”  Savage inquired.  “What is it with this guy?”

“Just some scratches, I’ve had worse.”  She put pressure to her belly with one hand holding her forehead.  “Fuck, this is ridiculous.  We have to get to my office before Smith rallies.”

Marionette asked again.  “Abbie, for fuck’s sake, what do they want?”

“They want Henry Jones.”

“So, what’s the deal, do you have a clue as to where he is or not?”  Derringer had no problem getting to the point.

“Shut up you fool, let her do her thing and we’ll be on with it.”  Volition didn’t take kindly to almost anything that Derringer did.  Treating him more like a baby brother than a lover.  Like a child sent to his room he mumbled under his breath.

“I get claustrophobic…and I’m hungry.”  His sheer size was terrifying.  The man had to sit in the middle of the van just to keep it balanced.  “Can’t we just walk or something, this is so boring.”

“Here child, play with this.”  Volition tossed him a fifty thousand volt Taser and a bottle of water.  “Go nuts.”

My powers were fading in and out.  One minute I had a lead on Slice and then something glitches.  Like he was blocking me from catching onto his scent.  It’s been a while since I focused this hard to track down anybody.  Nobody has really put up much of challenge.  Slice was proving more than difficult.

“How’s it coming Abbie?”  Marionette inquired as the bickering between the lovebirds had ceased.

“I don’t know.  One minute I sense him a few blocks away, and the next he’s on top of us.  Wait a minute.”  The glow from my eyes made everyone uneasy.  They must’ve thought me possessed.  I only know my eyes glow because people tell me; it’s kind of hard to see my own eyes.  Just as I was locking in Slice’s location, the glow rescinded along with my power.  I dropped my head and gave in to the frustration this whole situation was causing me.

Like a clap of thunder, something landed on top of the van.  The noise caused a stir but none of us dared make a sound.  Everyone except Derringer sank while assessing the situation.  The oaf looked at Marionette as if to ask what to do.  She slowly nodded as if to direct him out of the vehicle to check out the disturbance.  As gently as the ox could he opened the back doors and slowly lowered himself to the pavement.

Derringer looked around but saw nothing.  The wind was picking up and the alley was quiet, save for the smash of a bottle breaking.  He looked at us from outside the van and gave a shrug.  Marionette pointed up and Derringer stepped back onto the rear bumper and peaked over the top of the van.  With the faintest of sounds Derringer’s head was separated from his body.  His head had already hit the ground before his body could register what had happened.  Again we shrank to the center of the van.   Volition was in a state of shock.

We all felt as if someone was watching us from the space that was once filled with Derringer’s massive body.

“You look frightened ladies.  Have you done something wrong?”  The crackling, sarcasm in his voice made my blood boil.  I began to run for the doors.  I didn’t get very far before Savage and Marionette had pulled me back.  “Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Do you know who I am?”  The cloaking device had been turned off and there stood the target.  “Now, let’s think about this.  My job is to kill-persuade you to register with the MRC.  I would hate for anything bad to happen to any of you.  Well ‘cept you Abbie.”  Again I leapt towards Slice with nothing but rage in my eyes.  As I went for him, Slice slide-stepped and smashed me in the back of the head with the flat of his blade.  “Did you not just hear me?  Or see that man’s head on the ground?  Now be a good little bitch and come quietly.”

My heart was racing as I tried to keep cool.  Nothing about this situation was allowing me to do that.  Our big man was dead, and the rest were locked in a group huddle inside the van.  He was faster than me, stronger than me, and had an arsenal on his person.  I had two options, to stand down and hope for mercy or to attempt to throw down with this mercenary.  The latter seemed like a much better idea.  I took note of his blade hand and darted straight at it.  As he evaded my tackle I was able to snag a Glock out of the harness on his thigh.  I rolled into a crouch, spun and pointed in his direction.  He had gone stealth again.

In the darkness all I could hear over my panting was that sinister, mechanical chuckle.  I wanted this man’s head over my mantle.  “Congratulations, you now have a weapon.  It’s a good thing I carry several.  At least now when I strangle you with your own intestines I can say I gave you the chance to surrender.“

Keeping my head on a swivel I tried to point out the voice.  My rage didn’t allow for my powers to function, or maybe I was just unable to grasp what was happening.  Bright lights shined on the van and my back as I turned to see what it was.  Of course, a large black SUV was barreling right for us.  I thought to jump out of the way but I didn’t care at the moment.  It’s a good thing it stopped well before any damage was done.

Two men stepped out of the driver and passenger side of the vehicle.  The driver opened the door behind him to allow for another man to dismount.  It was a short, stout man with a fair amount of black hair flowing into a ponytail.  He stopped and stared at me before removing a cigar from his jacket and lighting it up.

“Hello, Miss Snow.”  He paused and stared at me as he took an exhaustive drag from the cigar.  “Don’t mind Slice, it’s me you should worry about.  You don’t remember me do you Miss Snow?  George Smith, Shining Sun Collection Agency.  You have something that belongs to me.  Maybe you should listen to your messages.”

GAUNTLET – Part One: The Beginning <– Click here to catch up on the Gauntlet.  (Tarentino-ing it)

Too Many Heroes

Chapter Four:

Showing all the Cards

by Arch

 

The chatter in the Null & Void was insufferable.  As with any place where drinking and music are meshed together, it was infuriating.

“Who the hell was that buffoon?”

“Hah, that was the ‘Sparkling Butterfly’ or ‘Razzle-something’.  You want me to kill him?”

Landon Trellix was an aspiring hero.  He very capably carried the physique and the stature of any of the “A-listers”.  Sadly, his reputation as a boy-chaser kept him from the top of the heap, so he was stuck with me as my accomplice, (or minion, take your pick).  I’d met him on the computer venting about his inability to step out of the shadow of the Excalibur’s of the world.  His exploits were indeed heroic, but one grotesque image of him with a minor downgraded his rank to “B-villain” lackey status.  The long, flowing blonde hair past his broad shoulders made him look like a modern day Prince Valiant.  The black shirt that clung to his massive chest and biceps gave the impression that he worked out every minute of every day.  Everyone knew he’d never stepped foot in a gym, let alone pick up a weight.  It was his powers that made men shudder in fear.  It wasn’t hard to decipher why he had been dubbed, “Zenith”.  The man was the pinnacle of physical perfection but clearly came with a flawed mentality.

“It’s of no consequence.  If you want to take a stab at it, what do I care?”  I intoned with slight frustration.

“He was with your pal Artie when “Flashy-pants” went down.” Landon’s stare was trying to tell me something.

“You don’t say?  Well then, I guess we’ll just have to take care of him too.  I didn’t realize our boy Artie could get out of his own way and actually acquire friends.”

“I don’t think that…thing…really knows it has a choice.  It just kind of follows him around like a puppy.”  Mr. Trellix was incapable of saying anything without that little smirk, but I learned to move past it.

Another round of drinks was dropped in front of the four of us.  Dinosaur face and Fire Eel jumped right in, wasting no time in an effort to get inebriated.  As I downed my glass of vodka tonic I noticed the checkered paint on my face smudged and misplaced.  My dirty, black hair disheveled and unruly in front of my eyes.  I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at the man that was, and saw the man I was about to become.

“Are the Cleaners ready?”  I asked Landon while staring at my reflection.

“They’re on the roof.”  They all stared at me as to what I was going to do next.

I put down the glass and leveled my face to the table, looked at the four of my allies with the greatest of pleasure.

“Then we are ready to leave the lower-ranks and ascend to the next-level.  Our days of mixing it up with rank-and-file cops and drunken heroes-in-training are over.  Jason Wylde is dead.  It’s time we introduced the world to Wyldecard.”

**********

Carl and I finally stumbled outside a little after two to find a dark and vacant parking lot in front of us.  Apparently aliens have the scientific capacity to create temporal scanners and interplanetary communicators, but have no tolerance for the drink.  Not three steps outside before Carl showed me his insides.

“That oughta help, mate.  The ol’ puke and rally.  You should be ready for a few more rounds, eh?”  I put his scrawny, misshapen arm over my shoulder and attempted to drag him toward the bus stop, but we didn’t make it very far before we heard the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Carl, half-blitzed, looked at me as if he had no comprehension of what was going on.  We turned around to see the roof of the Null and Void packed with the arachnid-esque features of the Cleaners.

“Well this is fuckin lovely.”  I blurted in anticipation of an attack from above, but they didn’t budge.  They just stood on the top of the roof as if staring a hole through our hearts.

“What should we do?”  Carl attempted to sober up and stand on his own but was immediately back in my arms as he stumbled for solid footing.

“Um, do they talk?  Should I say something?”  Elijah was trying to put on a brave face, but the steam was rising under those thick-rimmed glasses.

“Fuck if I know.  Jesus, ok, let’s…um.”  I put Carl’s weight solely on Elijah and started toward the bar once more.

“Um, ok, um…Hello?”  My question went unanswered as the black figures stood motionless and unwavering.

“Um, do you need to speak with us?  We have nothing to hide.”

The door swung open with Rex and Fire Eel leading out Landon and Wylde.  They stopped about twenty feet in front of us.

Wylde paused, looked up and behind him to the roof.  A slight smile began across his face as he turned back to face us.

“Are we interrupting?  It looks as though you were in the middle of an interrogation.”

“We don’t know anything, we didn’t kill Excalibur.”

The smile on Wylde’s face grew wider.  Again he looked back up to the roof.

From behind the Cleaners came a large dark figure.  Clad in his trademark gold and charcoal vest, white undershirt and black cargo pants.  His ebony skin, bald head and glowing eyes left no room for confusion.

Wylde was giddy with pleasure as he announced, “Boys, I believe you’ve heard of Dextratos.”

 

 

Catch up with Too Many Heroes and more great stories below

Too Many Heroes – Chapter One: Didn’t See That One Coming…: http://t.co/s7xwOAu