All posts by symbifan777

No Such Thing as Monsters (part 1)

Ah, 1994. The year that brought us Tom Hanks as “Forrest Gump”, “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men, and who can forget maybe the most important invention of the era, the George Foreman Grill? Yes. Though these things were and still are important to many people to this very day, my focus was drawn at the time to DC Comics and a three part miniseries entitled: “Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey”! What could possibly be so important about this limited comic series that I would ignore the fantastic things listed above? Well, sit back and continue reading. All will make itself clear…..

Our story begins many years ago, as a very young Clark Kent stands at the shadowed entrance to his adoptive parents’ cellar, too terrified to move. He’s positive that a monster lurks there in the darkness, intent on doing him harm. His mother asked for him to fetch something for her and, as Clark is an obedient child, he slowly descends the stairs to retrieve the item. He nearly reaches the bottom before his fear gets the best of him. He runs back upstairs, into the loving embrace of his understanding mother. (Wussy. Although, I was in my mid-twenties before I went down into my basement alone. Hey, there were bats down there! Geez!) After he’s more calm, he decides that he will try this feat again. He will not be defeated by the fear of the unknown. Clark once again walks down the dark stairs. He reaches the floor and flicks the switch to the overhead light. Nothing. That’s when he hears it. The monster! Slowly, he turns. Doomsday roars into the face of a petrified Clark Kent, now a grown man and dressed in his Superman garb!

The scene then shifts. Superman is in the center of his beloved Metropolis. The creature, known only as Doomsday, strikes the hero again and again with boney, barbed fists! Blood drips from several of the Man of Steel’s open wounds! As the beating continues, he feels something he hasn’t felt since that long ago night in his parents’ cellar, terror. Terror because he remembers all to well how this fight ended. With his death. As Doomsday strikes one final time, Clark is that young and frightened child once again. One final time. And then Superman wakes up, gasping for air and covered in a cold sweat. (You think Superman has ever wet the bed? I keep picturing the force from a fire hose. What’s that? Oh yeah. The story.) Leaving his bed, he walks to his window and looks out over his city. He’s had this nightmare many times since his resurrection. He’s sick of it. The last thing he remembers being told is that the Cyborg Superman had shackled Doomsday’s corpse to an asteroid and thrust it into the cold void of space. It’s time he investigated this matter further. Time to stop these nightmares once and for all.

Meanwhile, in the vastness of space, a starship picks up strange readings emanating from a passing asteroid. Sensing that their might be money to be made, the captain orders it brought aboard. The crew complies. But when they reach the docking bay, they immediately wish they hadn’t. The creature, Doomsday, is held fast to it by metal coils! Even though the beast appears to be deceased, the captain and crew recognize it right away! Quickly, they attempt to release it back into space. That’s when Doomsday opens his eyes! Now panicking, one of the space pirates pulls a blaster and fires, attempting to knock the asteroid through the now open airlock! Unfortunately, he misfires, hitting a cable that holds the monster’s arm! (Talk about bad aim! I’ve seen stormtroopers hit their targets with more skill! Okay. So I’m a “Star Wars” nerd too. Sue me!) That’s all Doomsday needs! He rips the rest of the restraints from his body and attacks! The men spend the last moments of their lives screaming.

While Superman is telling an understandably distraught Lois Lane of his intentions to find the monster that once took his life, the space pirates’ spacecraft has broken through the polluted atmosphere of the dreaded planet Apokolips, home to perhaps the most evil and powerful of monarchs in the known universe, Darkseid! (I skipped over part about Lois without mention of her skimpy jammies. I do have some class. Not much, but some.) Scanners on the planet pick up no lifeforms aboard, so the craft is brought down automatically. A small group of soldiers enter to investigate as others stand guard outside. There’s silence for a moment until one of the soldier’s severed heads sails back out through the open door! Doomsday then emerges with uncanny speed and ferocity! The warriors of Apokolips never stood a chance! The creature rips their bodies to shreds and then leaps onward to create more mindless destruction!

Meanwhile, the carnage upon the planet Apokolips has not gone unnoticed. Darkseid himself is paying close attention. And though his posture and mannerisms are calm and collected as always, Darkseid seems off somehow. He remarks to his chief torturer, Desaad, that if the creature is not stopped by his elite warriors, a planetwide evacuation is their next course of action. (You ever notice how Darkseid always stands with his hands behind his back? What’s he doing anyway, working on fixing a wedgie?)

Elsewhere on the planet, while Doomsday tears his way through Darkseid’s elite guard like paper dolls, an easily-missed microchip suddenly becomes active on the beast’s person! An energy form then exits the device and enters a mangled soldier’s armor. The armor shifts and changes. It reconfigures itself until, a newly-rebuilt Cyborg Superman hovers in its place! The nightmare is reborn! Wasting little time, the Cyborg joins Doomsday in destroying what little remains of this sector of Apokolips! (It’s on now, Unspokenites! I’m getting goosebumps while I type! That, or I’ve suddenly come down with hives. Either way, this is thrilling!)

Back on Earth, the Man of Steel decends from the skies and touches down near an ordinary-looking house. He’s in search of the the leader of a team of time-travelers called the Linear Men. His name is Matt Ryder. In the past, this mysterious group has always found him. Never the other way around. Superman knows that this is Ryder’s childhood home. If he’s to locate the man’s future self, this is his only hope. Before he can even knock, the grown version of Matt Ryder appears with a powerful being the Last Kryptonian has met before in the past, Waverider. To say that this meeting is in vain would be an understatement. Superman pleads for any information the two can give him about Doomsday, but the reply is that the timestream must be protected and to do this, they must not intervene. Superman leaves this meeting discouraged, but he’s not defeated yet. (If I was Supes, it’d be hard not to use my powers to interrogate Ryder “Punisher-style”. I left a bit out here, but trust me, the dude’s a real jerk. I guess that’s why he’s the fictional superhero, and I’m just your average supermodel/famous writer. Hey! I can dream!)

On Apokolips,the mighty Darkseid walks amongst his panicked people. He has decided that he’s tolerated this attack long enough. He approaches the monster and fires his destructive Omega Beams from his eyes! The blast takes Doomsday unaware, hitting him full force in the back and burying the creature beneath tons of rubble! Satisfied with his grim work, Darkseid turns to leave. That’s when a bone-spiked fist bursts through the wreckage! Before Darkseid can fully turn, Doomsday rakes these barbed, powerful fists down the dark god’s spine! Blood sprays from the wounds! The beast then continues its assault until Darkseid drops, defeated! Meanwhile, this has all been projected on a monitor screen and Desaad has witnessed what he, until now, thought was impossible! He then decides that there is one last hope to save his homeworld. He must find help elsewhere. (I must now quote the movie, “Friday”, “Daaaaaamn!” That is all.)

On Earth, Superman has now called for a meeting with the Justice League. The warrior woman, Maxima, has answered on the team’s behalf. This conversation is interrupted however as Desaad’s call for help comes into focus on the League’s monitoring system. He manages to at least report that Doomsday is on the planet Apokolips and, now that Darkseid has been defeated by the creature, assistance is needed immediately! Superman watches this in horror. He then requests assistance to reach Apokolips quickly. (Maxima actually gets on Superman’s case here about denying an invitation for League membership in the past! Talk about rude! I mean, who turns down an invite to join DC’s most prestigious super-group? The nerve!)

As the Last Son of Krypton tries to locate a fast form of space travel, Doomsday drags the limp form of Darkseid as the Cyborg Superman follows, goading the creature on as he thinks out loud. He will use this beast to conquer this disgusting planet for him! He’ll be unstoppable! The two villains then begin their assault on Darkseid’s own palace. Just then, Superman exits through a loud, teleportation tunnel that the gods call a Boom Tube. This miracle of travel is created by a sentient computer that is presently attached to Superman’s arm. A Mother Box. As soon as he appears on Apokolips the hero is well aware of the devastation that has already been wrought! He soars through the air in search of any sign that will point him in the right direction. That’s when he spies him, the Cyborg Superman himself! (It’s about to hit the fan here, folks! These two hate each other more than Batman hates to be seen disappearing!)

The two clash with the might of titans! But before this battle can continue for very long, the Cyborg reveals his partner in crime via a holographic image! Superman is speechless as he stares back at the monster, known to all as Doomsday! He stares into those dark, rage filled eyes, and instantly relives the epic fight that claimed his life not so very long ago! The Cyborg uses this opportunity to his villainous advantage and blasts Superman in the back with an energy weapon concealed within his robotic arm! The hero tries to get back to his feet. He must stop Doomsday once and for all this time. (Awesome, huh? Not the scene. I mean my writing talent.)

Before the Man of Steel can stop him, Desaad lunges past both Superman and his cybernetic doppelganger! He opens a Boom Tube all his own and it begins to pull Doomsday in like a black hole! Superman roars in outrage! He won’t have this monstrosity let loose upon another unsuspecting world! He flies faster than he has ever done before, but it’s too late! The creature looks at Superman with deadly recognition in it’s eyes! And then, just like that, Doomsday is gone! Superman collapses to his knees in defeat.

To be continued….

This article is dedicated to my mom, Pam Bowen-Metz. With all of the things that she has had to deal with in her life, you’d swear she was related to Superman himself. I know she’s my hero. (And she isn’t even Kryptonian.) I love you, Mom. Always.

He’s a Hit! (The Short History of Fight Man)

Greetings and salutations, fellow Unspokenites! Symbifan here and, boy oh boy, do I have a treat for ya this time! I’m gonna report about someone that (To my imited knowledge.) hasn’t been covered in an article before! Who could I possibly be talking about? What hidden gem have I uncovered? (Um. Look at the pic above. Duh!) It’s about the man everyone loves to hate…..Fight Man! So fasten your seatbelts, kiddies, it’s gonna be bumpy ride!

We begin with a scene not unheard of in a big city, a mugging. The superpowered goons demand the woman’s purse. Panicked, she screams for police assistance. Her cries go unanswered. She remarks how she detests her obvious next course of action. She yells for Fight Man! Immediately the muscle-bound, caped man crashes into the villains from above! Immediately jumping into action, the hero punches one of the criminals. He sails through the air, presumably into orbit! The other, he hits so hard that the man’s artificial eyes fly from the sockets! As he attacks the last one, he hands a camera to the shocked female victim. He asks that she take pictures of the downed villains for his ever-growing scrapbook! He also remarks how he should really collect those false eyes for their value! (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sensing that the writer is trying hard to paint a picture of just how much of a jerk Fight Man is….nah! I’m clearly just jumping to conclusions here.)

Finishing up his battle, the police arrive in their typically late manner. Fight Man and the lead officer have bitter words. He then turns to the woman and, instead of checking to her welfare, he asks her out! (Okay. Painting’s crystal clear. He’s a jerk.) She offers a handshake instead. Clearly disappointed, he complies. Suddenly, the now eyeless would-be mugger springs back to consciousness! He roars that “they” will see him dead and how his days are numbered! While the superhero has been listening, he’s accidentally broken the lady’s hand. He ignores this threat and shoots off into the air. The police yell that they need the man’s fake eyes for evidence. Fight Man nonchalantly replies that he doesn’t know what they mean in the slightest. As he flies off, an officer wonders out loud if he should open fire. Another replies how it would accomplish very little as Fight Man is bulletproof. (I doubt a superhero, even a foolish one, would steal evidence from the scene of a crime! Silly police!)

As he soars overhead, he accidentally drops the artificial eye. It crashes through the window of a passing cab, shattering the windshield! (Okay. I may have been mistaken once again. Man! It’s hard to be impartial about this guy! He makes Kanye West look like a saint!) Fight Man curses to himself as the cabbie threatens legal action. He flies on, towards his home. He descends at his parents’ house and checks the mail. He then heads towards the front door but is met with insults from the neighborhood children. Instead of acting like an adult in this situation, he shouts back threats before slamming the door. He passes his parents with a quick greeting. They remain silent, transfixed by the television. The hero then enters his room and tears open a legal summons! He’s being sued by his ex-wife for back alimony!

(You know, I’ve never believed in suicide, but in Fight Man’s case…..) As he lies back upon his bed, he reminisces on his miserable life: the lawsuits filed, his messy divorce, and the deaths of his many, many sidekicks. Oh well, best to not dwell on the past. Later, he enters a local toy company’s corporate office. The man in charge hardly looks pleased as he bursts in. Fight Man excitedly shows him a design he’s sketched for an action figure based on himself. To say the man is unimpressed is an understatement. Not to be dismissed so easily, Fight Man reveals his supervillain scrapbook, stating that his foes could also be part of the line. Before much more can be said on the matter, three villains break through the wall! (Looks like everyone’s gunning for Fight Man! Can’t say I blame them. I’m starting to want to strangle him myself!)

Irritated at this interruption, Fight Man prepares for battle! The green, slimey one forms a large fist from his gelatinous form and strikes the hero in the face, knocking him through the skyscraper window! He plummets all of the way down to the street below! Enraged, Fight Man rips a girder loose from a nearby construction site. He winds up as if he were playing baseball but instead falls victim to the girder himself as a robotic villain smashes it into the hero’s face! It then follows up by firing several small missiles at Fight Man’s chest! This does little more than annoy the powerful superhero! He retaliates by swinging the girder and knocking the creature’s metallic head far from its body! Before the mighty one can return his attention back to the other criminals, he finds himself suddenly surrounded by the mucousy body of the slime creature! Fight Man’s powerful fists mean very little to this monstrosity! So, having to think outside the box, he throws a barrel of heated plastic at the beast! (I can see why a toy company would have need for heated plastic, but in the corporate building? Are they making the toys there? I’m sorry, but this comic book fight just lost all realism for me now.) The creature mixes with the plastic against its will until it disappates! Shocked, the last criminal barely has time to fire off a energy blast before he’s knocked unconscious by a powerful fist!

Needless to say, the meeting doesn’t end well for our hero. He leaves the toy company with a definite no. As he leaves the building, he’s suddenly surrounded by the press. The question on all of their minds? Who’s out to kill him? The press is brutal. They bring up everything from his early triumphs, like the defeat of the mysterious crime boss, the Hooded Eye, to tragedies such as the murder of his first sidekick, Kid Fight Man! They also report that the mayor has called for a meeting tomorrow with the superhero. (Hmmm. I should really insert a joke here. Something witty. But all I can think about is leaving my work here to go to the gas station for a Mountain Dew…..I might just have to edit this part out later. I’m sure I’ll remember. )

The following day finds Fight Man in the mayor’s office. He speaks of his fears for this sudden emergence of so many superpowered criminals. But when the hero discovers that he isn’t to receive some type of citation, he turns to leave. The mayor is outraged by the outright rudeness of this and yells how he cares nothing for the life of the superhero. He doesn’t want a super-brawl destroying his fair city! Fight Man responds in the most intelligent way he can think of…..he puts his fingers in his ears and exclaims how he can’t be a the city official! He the flies out of the window in retreat. (Geez! Talk abou being juvenile! I would have at least stuck out my tongue and farted before I took my leave. Yeah! Suck on that!)

The next stop on Fight Man’s agenda, his ex-wife’s lawyer’s office. We look in on our hero as he “bravely” begs on his knees to not be sued by the ex love of his life and her maniacal lawyer! His pleas however go unheard as the woman, Beverly, demands money from the bankrupt superhero! She tires of trying and failing to receive any sort of monetary compensation for her time spent with Fight Man. But before the hero can verbally defend himself, a gigantic, reptilian claw reaches through the office wall, snatching the frightened woman up and pulling her outside to the city street! Looking out the hole the creature has created, Fight Man spies a man within a red, armored suit and a large, dinosaur-like monster, and they’re demanding the hero’s immediate surrender! Give up now or they’ll kill the woman! To this, the superhero replies for them to please do so. Shocked, the armored villain replies that he means what he has said. Fight Man retorts that he can go ahead. In fact, he has his camera ready to take pictures! (Okay. I know I’ve been admittedly hard on Fight Man throughout this article. But, having an ex-wife myself, I completely understand this genius battle tactic. ) Admitting defeat, the hostage is set free and the two strange criminals prepare for a physical confrontation!

And boy, they sure aren’t disappointed! Fight Man wastes little time. He punches through the mouth of the “dinosaur” knocking the man operating the robotic creature through the back of the faux-prehistoric skull! The armored villain takes this time to unleash a barrage of bullets and missiles at the hero’s back! Fight Man simply uppercuts the criminal through and out of his armor! He leaves the scene after heated words with Beverly. The lawyer waits until the superhero is out of earshot before he asks, why were they even together in the first place? She replies that she simply felt sorry for him. (Awww. Now I feel sorry for the hero. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster during this article! Damn, I’m good!)

He returns home only to have to dispatch of two more supervillains before it hits him, maybe somebody truly wants him dead this time! Before he can ponder further upon this revelation, he gets a phone call. Answering, he finds he’s been invited to give his side of this situation on a popular talk show! Jumping at the chance, he arrives right on time. The female host instead talks about all of Fight Man’s many failings! She brutally hits him with every bad decision he’s ever made! He roars in outrage how does this has anything to do with his present situation! That’s when a sinister, hooded face enters all television screens! The Hooded Eye lives! The Eye proclaims that this has everything to do with Fight Man’s current plight! Everyone despises him! Everyone wants him dead! And to prove it, he offers a ten million dollar reward for the death of the superhero! (Okay. I’m back from the bathroom. What’d I miss?)

The next day, the news of the Hooded Eye’s offer seems to be everywhere. Fight Man tries to brush this off as he does everything but after awhile, even he has to admit that he’s getting nervous. He attempts to put this all out of his mind and go about his day as usual. But, as he’s brushing his teeth, he looks at his reflection and sees hordes of superpowered villains, poised to strike! (How did they all get into his small bathroom unnoticed? It’s a comic book! Sheesh! You believe Superman’s secret identity is secure behind a pair of dorky glasses!) And strike they do! The fight seems to be unending! It’s hard to tell just how many supervillains rise only to fall, defeated! Finally, within the ruins of his parents’ home, only Fight Man stil stands! He is victorious! Or is he? A second wave of powerful criminals attack, but this time they’ve added ordinary citizens into the mix! The hero fights and fights until, after an entire skyscraper is dropped on him, he falls at last!

Fight Man awakens some time later, held prisoner in a sort of high-tech iron maiden! (Aaah! Iron Maiden! Now that’s a band! Not like the so called “bands” today! Remember when MTV actually played music videos? What’s that? How old am I? Moving on…..) Before him, surrounded by yet more dangerous villains, stands the Hooded Eye himself! While the superhero remains held in place, the Eye reveals who he truly is! After all, didn’t the Hooded Eye perish not ten years ago? The Eye pulls off his hooded disguise, revealing a hideously deformed and scarred man underneath! The hero doesn’t recognize the monster standing before him. The Hooded Eye explains that he is none other than Kid Fight Man!

When he was young, he thought becoming Fight Man’s sidekick was the best thing to ever happen to him. That was before the constant beatings. Not just by adult criminals, but by powerful supervillains. He began resenting his superpowered mentor. And then one fateful night, ten years ago, the original Hooded Eye blasted a hole in the city’s dam. The force of the rushing water had swept Kid Fight Man and the hooded villain out to sea! Using what strength he had left in his small body, the sidekick removed the deceased Eye’s clothing. He then spent ten long years, as the new Hooded Eye, building a criminal empire until he was powerful enough to strike! And who helped him accomplish all of this? Beverly! Fight Man’s ex-wife stands revealed! (A once-thought-dead sidekick revealed to be a new supervillain? This has never happened in the history of comics! Cough…..Red Hood…..cough…..Winter Soldier…..cough. Damn cold.)

Enraged, Fight Man uses all of his uncanny strength and bursts free of the mechanical contraption! The Hooded Eye calls for his minions to attack but nothing can stop a mad hero with super-strength! He makes short work of them! The superhero quickly advances on his former partner. He then does what Fight Man does best, he knocks him out with a single punch! After, the hero marches from the criminal stronghold, triumphant. He’s then quickly arrested by the local police! His crime? The reckless endangerment of a minor! When asked by the amassed press what he plans to do about these allegations, he replies with a smile that he’ll do what he always does, fight!

End.

This article is dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. You see, when I was young, it took several doctors to figure out the mental conditions that I’m afflicted with. To do this I had to be constantly monitored. So I was locked up in a local mental institution. Being only twelve years old, I was terrified. But one thing kept me from losing it, the visits from my brother. He’d bring in highly-detailed artwork he’d drawn for me to hang up in my room and a pile of the weekly comic book titles I collected. This kindness on his part was never forgotten. I love you, bro. Always.

When in rome

With my Prophet series now at a close, I thought I’d return to DC Comics. And what better way to usher in my triumphant return than to write about a character that I personally feel deserves more respect, the Alpha Centurion? What’s that? Who’s the Alpha Centurion? You see, that’s my point. This character made a large impact in the pages of Superman’s titles. He was even a member of the famed “Superman Family”! But, like many characters in the 90’s, he pretty much disappeared as if he never existed at all. So, join me as I take a look back at the Alpha Centurion Special! (Damn! I rambled way too much! I wonder if anyone’s still reading this?)

We begin our story as the Alpha Centurion has decided to leave Metropolis and strike out on his own. He has chosen to look into possibly serving as the protector of Washington D.C. (Yeah. Great place for a superhero to find some crime to fight. Of course, the biggest criminals are most likely employed in high offices!) As he looks down upon our nation’s capitol, he suddenly finds himself under attack as an energy blast hits him in the chest! It doesn’t take long for his hidden assailant to make herself known. She calls herself Ephemera and she fancies herself the keeper of history. It seems that she has just stolen important documents from the national archives and believes the Alpha Centurion was sent to stop her!

The hero quickly recovers and retaliates. He flies in quick, energy blade and shield at the ready! As he attempts to grab the misguided villain, he passes right through her! (Women! Always playing hard to get!) She states that she will have these documents and they will be added to her personal library in order to better preserve history. Not to be defeated, he quickly takes another airborne pass. Same result! It’s then that Ephemera recognizes him. She exclaims that, as a Roman soldier of days long past, he is a piece of living history! He exclaims that He will not be added as a relic to her strange collection. But, she replies that she has other uses for him in mind! (Oooooh! Me thinks someone’s about to get a supervillain booty call!)

The Alpha Centurion ignores her and examines the woman’s wardrobe in detail. He notices a strange clasp holding her cape to her body. Remembering that it reacted ever so slightly when he passed through her intangible form, he attempts the same attack once more. But this time, as he passes through, he smashes the clasp! It explodes in a flash of light! Outraged, but now powerless, she begins to plummet toward the earth below! Victorious, the hero rescues her and her loot and descends. He releases her into the waiting arms of the authorities.

Met by the flashing cameras and a barrage of questions from the amassed media, the hero decides to bow out and fly up to his awaiting spacecraft. He leaves them with a promise to get to all of their questions at a later date. While aboard, the Alpha Centurion attempts to relax. Peace however doesn’t come to him as his ship’s scanners notify him of a non-human entity requesting admittance inside. Suspiciously, he grants it. (Wow! Talk abou trusting! I lock the bathroom door when I’m alone! That’s my biz!) In walks a green-skinned alien being from a race he’s all to aware of, a Virmiru. The very race that made him into the powerful being he is today!

The creature wastes little time in getting to the reason for his visit. When the man that would become the Alpha Centurion, a Roman warrior by the name of Marcus Aelius, was given the chance to leave ancient Rome for the stars, the Virmiru left a representative of their own to learn the ways of man. But now that Marcus has returned, his replacement should now return home as well. But, the alien has refused. His people now fear that madness has overtaken their comrade and that he might attempt to harm the Earth to end his long exile here! (A bit extreme, isn’t it? Well, I guess I’ve thought about nuking my house on the holidays when my father’s side of the family show up, even with me inside, to end my misery.) He must be apprehended before this can come to pass!

Unsure, the Alpha Centurion at last agrees. That night, the rebel alien receives the coded message that the others of his kind left for him. It calls for a meeting. He accepts but wishes for it to be at a place of his choosing, a formal event for the upper class of D.C. Shedding his armor and weaponry, Marcus Aelius attends the strange meeting place. Even though he appears as one of them, he is still noticed by all for his role as a very public superhero. A female press agent even approaches him and begins talks of representing him. Her words fall upon partially deaf ears however as the hero spies a statue from his era on display. He soon loses himself in thought. (Uh-oh! I sense an origin flashback coming on. We’ll let him get away with it this time though. It’s not like Spider-Man doesn’t do this every ten pages or so and nobody seems to care!)

The Alpha Centurion recalls the events that led to his creation exactly. He, a Roman commanding officer, was just returning from a successful battle and was being welcomed with open arms by the emperor himself. The celebration was cut short when a strange craft suddenly appeared above them in the skies! Thinking it was their gods, the Romans stood transfixed as it landed. But what came from inside were not Gods at all. They were an alien race! Called the Virmiru, they had come to find the greatest example of a human being. They would then take this human with them and leave one of their own behind. The chosen one would be trained in fighting techniques and futuristic weaponry over a period of many years and then returned, a protector for his home world! (Um. Shouldn’t the Romans be a little less trusting here? These are Romans! They’re not exactly known to be, shall we say, friendly with other people’s beliefs! Food for thought….)

It is agreed and a contest is scheduled. Marcus, as expected, passes all tests with flying colors. Soon after, he finds himself in deep space, leaving his home far behind and recording his thoughts as the training begins. And as promised, Marcus Aelius was introduced to many wonders. He was granted an education almost beyond his comprehension, learned the ways of sophisticated technology, and trained in numerous ways of combat. Finally, the day came when his benefactors proclaimed that he was at last ready to return to his home world. Many, many years had passed since he had stepped upon Earth’s soil and Marcus found himself to be nervous. But regardless, after the gift of his own personal starship, he returned home. (Anyone else hearing the Motley Crue song, “Home Sweet Home”, in their heads? No? You kids today with your cell phones….mumble….grumble….)

And so it was to the city, Metropolis, that he first re-entered the human race. The first being he met was of course the legendary Superman. It was even he and the reporter, Lois Lane, that gave him his new name, the Alpha Centurion. (End origin flashback. And what have we learned, boys and girls? If a stranger offers you a ride into space to become a mighty superhero, go on and take a chance. Sheesh! The dude’s lucky he didn’t end up on ancient Roman milk cartons!) The Centurion is brought back to present day by a man requesting he go with him. The Virmiru will see him now.

Marcus follows the man into a comfortable-looking, higher class den. He is introduced to the alien sitting in the high-backed chair. The Virmiru begins with the typical pleasantries but the Alpha Centurion is not deterred from the matter at hand. He asks why the creature has not been in contact with his home world point blank. The alien sidesteps the question and tells the warrior that he may now return to the party. He has learned all he needs to about the Roman by their brief encounter. He will contact the Centurion later.

Deeply annoyed, the Alpha Centurion sits within his craft a short time later. The gall of dismissing him in such a rude manner! (There’s no accounting for alien manners! Look at how rude the Vulcans are! Okay. So we’ve established the fact that I’m a nerd some time ago.) It is only a small amount of time before the Virmiru rebel requests another meeting. This time, it’s upon the roof of a government building. The Centurion follows the alien’s words to the letter and waits. Before long, the Virmiru arrives, but he’s wearing battle armor!

As it turns out, the rebel extraterrestrial has already assumed the Centurion has come to bring him in and he doesn’t plan to go quietly! The armored alien attacks! And as he does so, he tells the Alpha Centurion the truth about his “noble benefactors”. He reveals that the so-called protectors that were taken, were done so to conquer their home planets upon their return! This would then pave the way for a massive invasion force! He is nothing but a pawn in the grand scheme of things! The hero denies this with outrage in his tone! He is a protector, a hero! (Things’re getting deep now, folks! It seems you can’t trust anyone these days! Not even an alien species! What a universe we live in!)

The brutal battle continues back and forth until the Virmiru stands triumphant! But, as he’s about to deliver a killing blow, he yields. He has come to admire the human race in his time on Earth and will not kill a human that was betrayed. The Alpha Centurion gets in one last mighty blow before he finally hears the other’s words. He reaches down to help his opponent up. They have much to discuss. (Was that last hit really necessary? The green guy gave up already! Man, this really makes the hero look like an a-hole! Too long since the last sexual conquest, my Roman friend?)

A short amout of time passes before the Alpha Centurion requests entry to the waiting enemy Virmiru craft. On his way in, you can see that the rebel is now his prisoner! But, it is soon revealed to be a ploy! The Centurion attacks! (They pulled a trick like when Chewy acts as if he’s Han and Luke’s prisoner in the original Star Wars! Yeah. I know. Further proof of my nerdhood….) Throughout this clash of warriors from two worlds, Marcus Aelius continues to attempt to force the alien to admit the truth, but again and again he denies it! The hero’s resolve will not break! He’s sure now of whom is using whom. Finally in anger, the creature admits it! Still shocked by hearing the truth, the Centurion is nearly fatally wounded by a well-placed energy blade swipe!

The rebel Virmiru comes to his aid and the two aliens are now locked in mortal combat! (Good game. Awesome fatalities and cool characters. Umm. What was I talking about?) The enemy’s armor is way more advanced than the rebel’s however and the tide begins to turn. But, before the final blow is struck, Marcus Aelius recovers and strikes the enemy alien down! He turns to check on his comrade but the villain is not yet defeated! He pulls a hidden dagger from his armor and strikes! The rebel notices this move and strikes with a hidden blade of his own! And that’s that. Just that simply, the fight has ended.

Later, we find the Alpha Centurion tending to his wounds within his own ship. He leaves his healing waters and begins to place his armor back on. (Healing waters?! I want a hottub with those! I have fibromyalgia, damn it!) He turns to his new friend and asks if there might be any truth to what the villains said of an invasion. His reply is hardly comforting. Only time will truly tell. Until then, he truly is the protector of Earth like he has always wanted. It’s time to act the part.

End.

This article is dedicated to both of my children, Jade and James. These poor kids have had to grow up their whole lives hearing about this superhero or that, opening presents that only their comic nerd daddy thinks is cool, and watching every Marvel or DC film ever produced! And they’ve never complained in all of these years. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is! I love you both.

-Symbidad