All posts by Symbifan

A Superman Will Rise (part 2 of 2)

Happy Holidays, Unspokenites! And welcome back to my look back at the Elseworlds epic from “Superman: The Man of Steel” Annual #3! I know it’s been awhile since part one dropped, but rest assured, your loyal Symbifan never forgot about you. So, that said, I present my gift to you all. Let us return to the conclusion of our story…..

Gotham City. The only place on Earth free of the Kryptonian ultranet and therefore free of the invaders’ supervision. But that didn’t stop them from trying. Presently, an ultranet command outpost had secretly been erected on the outskirts of this old, war-torn city. This had come to the attention of the Human Resistance. Now, armored humans from this secretive sect raised their devastating weapons and fired at the before-mentioned structure. Bazooka shells exploded upon impact at the building’s support beams, causing considerable damage. That is until the lead Resistance fighter is hit in the back by a strange, foam-like substance! The others turn to see Lex Luthor’s high-tech goons hovering close by! (Speaking of bazookas, who remembers when Bazooka Gum had actual comic strips in them? What about what now constitutes as a “prize” in a Cracker Jack box? This now concludes my rant about how I hate the internet. Now, back to my online blog…..)

That’s when a large, metal cable suddenly surrounds Luthor’s men! It then pulls taught and they’re all yanked off of their hovercrafts and into the air by a flying man garbed in red, blue, and gold, the colors of the Human Resistance! It was Kal-El! But he now went by the name that was stitched into the uniform that Batman had gifted him, Superman! (My name’s stitched into my undies. It’s so I don’t forget they’re mine and just how cool I am. Studly.) Superman sets his captives aside and unleashes his heat vision upon the various satellites atop the building! He then utilizes his superior strength to finish off the supports, toppling the entire structure! Swooping to the ground, he lands to check on the band of “renegade” humans’ leader. He is not exactly greeted with open arms.

The captain removes their helmet revealing a woman underneath. She not only doesn’t thank Superman, but states how his Kryptonian aid is not needed. Human beings will win their own planet back. And they’ll do it without the help of one of their oppressors. Her name is Lois Lane. She orders the others to retun to base. As they leave, Superman suddenly takes her into his powerful arms and rockets into the sky! Once they’re alone, her tone of voice changes drastically . She tells him how much she has grown to care for him since he saved her life a mere couple of months ago. Superman hold her tighter as he descends into an apartment building window. They kiss passionately as he carries her towards her bed. (The next part of this scene is rated “R” for graphic, off-panel sexual situations.)

But not all were pleased with this union. Jor-El looked on with the elders of the ill-fated Krypton with looks of revulsion and horror. Superman’s birth father then switched off his overhead monitor. He’d seen enough from the secret viewing device that was planted within Lois’ bedroom. (He watched his own son get busy?! Talk about sick! Not only that, but the old farts from the council watched too?! I think I’m gonna need therapy just from reading this!) The Council of Elders waste little time in proclaiming their verdict. As Kal-El was Jor-El’s son, this was his problem to resolve alone. After the Elders disappeared from view, Jor-El wasted no time in contacting Luthor. He demanded that the human resolve this issue immediately. Lex merely responded that Jor-El possessed the same exact powers as his son. Why not get his own hands dirty for once?

Kal-El awoke and dressed himself. He found Lois at her coffe table, pouring over numerous documents and blueprints. She remarked about the building that Batman had died trying to gain entrance to. The ultranet files on it were definitely incomplete. What was inside that was so important that Bruce would give his life for it? They decided to find out. Lois had heard of the infamous Batcave, so she gave Kal directions as they flew. Soon, they were inside the secret, technological marvel that was Bruce Wayne’s hidden sanctuary. They approached a large computer system and tried to gain access to the files they needed. Sadly, this was to no avail. Password required. Both were then surprised by the voice of a young man that seemed to materialize behind them. (Bruce left an orphan out. He really should take better care of his sidekicks.)

They questioned the youth, but the boy wouldn’t even give his name. All he would say is that he and Bruce had worked together in the past. He did admit that even he didn’t know Bruce’s password. Kal was then struck with inspiration. Wasn’t it rumored that Batman once had a trusted butler? Lois gave Kal a more human name to go by for this next step. She named him after the cigarette brand she used to smoke, Clark. (I smoke Aunt May’s personally. Remember kids, with the act of smoking comes great responsibility.) He added the last name of his beloved foster parents to that and Clark Kent was born. The couple then dresses accordingly and makes their way to a nearby retirement home. It didn’t take long into the conversation to come to the realization that this old man, Alfred, was hopelessly senile. But presented with the name to the building in question, he said one word that struck Clark Kent like a fist, “plague.”

Superman set Lois gently down on her feet in her apartment upon their return. He looked shaken. When questioned, he told her of a genetic flaw that plagued his people. A flaw that was a leftover from Krypton’s Clone Wars. (I wonder if that villainous Emperor Palpatine was up to his old tricks against the Jedi? Yeah. I know. You all saw a Star Wars joke coming. Have I become that predictable? Sigh…..) It was almost as if their very planet wanted them all dead. Being born here, Kal-El was immune. And now that Clark knew what that building contained, he knew what he must do. Come morning, he would break into this complex and release this plague upon the world. It wouldn’t take long before he was the last remaining Kryptonian on Earth. Lois tried to comfort him throughout the night. But when she awakens the next the morning, Clark is gone.

Panicked, Lois grabs for her phone. Surprisingly, the man that answers on the other end is none other than Lex Luthor! Lois begins by telling Lex that the plan has gone awry. Luthor replies that if anything has gone awry with their plan, it’s that she’s letting her feelings for this alien cloud her judgement. Ignoring this, she reports that Kal-El is gone. Before Lois can continue, Jor-El bursts in through her front door! Terrified, Lois goes for her gun, but using his heat vision, he melts the weapon! Grabbing her up by the throat, he demands to know his son’s whereabouts. Lex answers through a planted spy device that he’s pleased to see Jor-El finally lifting a finger himself. What’s his next move? Jor-El looks to the device’s screen with obvious rage and replies that he’s bringing his son home, no matter the cost! The screen goes dead, leaving Lex Luthor to ponder if he has just overplayed his hand. (This place has more bugs than a roach motel! Am I right, folks?)

Clark sat at the Kents’ dinner table in Kansas. After his adoptive father returned from tending to the fields, Clark rose to his feet and asked both of the people that had raised and cared for him if he could keep the Kent name. Of course they were overjoyed. He then asked for their advice. If he were to release this plague, Earth would be free. But he would have committed mass-genocide upon his own people. What should he do? Before much could be said, a voice from the doorway spoke. It was Lex! He was sorry to interrupt, but there was a situation….. (Is it me, or is Luthor in almost every scene, working every single angle in this issue? I don’t know how he keeps track of which side he’s on at the moment! No wonder he was elected President of the United States in later storylines!)

Superman rocketed through the skies at top speed! When he reached Gotham City, his fears were confirmed. Jor-El had gone mad! He was hovering above the people with a large vehicle raised over his head as a weapon, firing heat vision down at the screaming crowds! He demanded he see his son right now! Superman rams his shoulder into his father’s ribcage with all of his might, sending the crazed Kryptonian flying! He then catches the plummeting vehicle and sets it down on the street carefully. But this action took far too long! Seeing his chance, Jor-El blasts his son off of his feet with a full blast of heat vision! (It’s definitely on now! I don’t see a Father’s Day card in Jor-El’s future! Maybe a tie, but that’s a given.)

The battle then takes to the skies! Back and forth fists are thrown that could topple mountains! But Jor-El simply doesn’t have the fighting experience that his son does. Superman throws him through a nearby water tower. And before he can fully get back to his feet, Clark unleashes the fullest extent of his heat vision! Jor-El falls, unconscious at last! Superman arrived at the building in question in a flash. He punched through the thick steel of the wall and flew in. Lex Luthor sat nonchalantly in a lawn chair on the other side! In his hand was a drink with a little umbrella leaning lazily inside. Superman went for the proper panel to release the plague. Nothing. Luthor had rewritten the circuit board! (Does anyone get what side this guy’s on? I feel like I’m trying to do algebra here!)

Lex explained that the Kryptonian race, though arrogant, didn’t deserve to die. Kal could teach them a better way. Tired of Luthor’s numerous head games, Superman grabbed him up by his armor and smashed him through several floors of the building! He demanded that Lex fix the panel. Luthor’s reply was a blast of green energy from a cavity within the armor’s chest! As he stood up, he grabbed an large iron bar. He explained that Jor-El had equipped him with a weapon powered by a small rock called Kryptonite. He then finished by gleefully striking the hero again and again with the weapon! Kal stirred to rise, but Lex revealed a large chunk of rock within his armor! It seems that Luthor wasn’t content to simply subdue Superman, he was going to kill him! But as he raised the bar for a final strike, he was shot from behind! Lois Lane stood with a smoking energy rifle! (Now she’s on Superman’s side?! Anyone have a scorecard I can look over?)

Luthor lies there demanding to know why. Her only reply as she helped Superman to his feet was that she loved him. Not to be defeated yet, Lex’s armor shot out several blasts of energy! Unfortunately for him, he missed his intended targets. He did however hit the weakened support beams above him! A large chunk of the complex came crashing down upon him. It was over. Superman never did use the deadly Kryptonian plague. Instead, he began work on teaching them a better way. Luthor was right after all. Speaking of Lex Luthor, though badly injured, he managed to survive too. As Superman raised the new flag of humanity atop a large building, he looked down to see a strange black car race by below. Batman sat within with a familiar youngster dressed in a colorful costume. Batman slowed the Batmobile long enough to smile at Superman and say, “Welcome to the party, pal.” (Batman survived too?! I feel like my brain just turned to jelly! This comic had more twists and turns than a “Pirates of the Caribbean” flick! Jack Sparrow 4-Life, y’all!) Superman smiled back and flew onwards. Batman was right. The fight had only just begun.


A Superman Will Rise (part 1 of 2)

Are heroes made, or are they born? What about superheroes? That’s the question I pondered as I read this fascinating, Elseworlds annual as a kid. I never came to a concrete conclusion truthfully. What about you? Read on, Unspokenites, and then see if you can decide. Here’s my look at “Superman: The Man of Steel” annual #3…..

Batman knelt in the circular entranceway to the secret tunnel within the aircraft carrier he now occupied. He waited a few moments for the cybernetics built into his spine to realign before continuing onward. Silently, he exited the passage and entered an office. Spying a file cabinet, he opened it, picking the lock with ease. The Dark Knight smiled to himself as he saw the paper blueprints. Paper. An invention of humans. How long since the invasion had it been since he’d seen actual paper? The Earth’s “friends from beyond the stars” only used their ultra-net for information, thus making paper illegal contraband. He tucked the document into his cape and turned to leave. That’s when the blinding lights hit him from the windows and a voice commanded him to surrender! (Man, if paper ever became contraband, I’d be sitting in the big house, sobbing as the powers-that-be burned my beloved comic collection. I hope you choke on the smoke, you invading bastards! Sorry. I may have taken that last bit too far…..inhuman monsters!)

It was Team Luthor, human servants of the planet’s alien oppressors. Once again came the mechanically amplified order to surrender. Bruce waited and smirked. He then pulled a device from within his cape and pushed the button. The aircraft carrier exploded, momentarily knocking back the armored Luthor drones upon their hovercrafts! They waited in silence. Perhaps the old man had done himself in. No such luck! Batman burst to the surface, aided by a large rocket-pack! Team Luthor had little time to react as he shot off into the sky! They recovered however and flew off themselves in hot pursuit! The cat-and-mouse, aerial chase only lasts seconds before Batman’s pack is hit by lazer fire! He drops and rolls onto a platform upon a nearby island military base and looks up only to see Lex Luthor himself, lounging in a lawn chair, drink with umbrella in hand! He raises his glass in salute. (Damn. That’s a pretty nonchalant way to greet a guy that can make you eat out of a feeding tube for months after a brief exchange of blows! Thoughts, peeps?)

Luthor gives his usual speech about how old Batman has gotten, his many physical ailments, and the large number of times that Bruce has escaped, only to have Lex capture him yet again. The Dark Knight seems to consider Luthor’s words this time. Surprisingly, he takes a glass of refreshment himself! Has he finally admitted defeat? Never! Batman smashes the glass into Lex’s faceguard and holds him hostage as Luthor’s troops rush to intercede! Lex orders them to halt, but all too late! Batman throws a grenade that splashes a freezing compound all over the soldiers’ armor, shorting them out! Batman then drags Luthor to a large drop-off and dangles his enemy! Lex merely comments how Batman has a code against killing with a sly grin. Bruce drops him! Shocked, Luthor barely has time to activate his armor’s energy net! The Dark Knight then walks away with a knowing smile. (Man! I thought Luthor was done for for sure! Okay. So the man has always has a contingency plan for everything. Ugh! Batman fans…..)

He turns as he hears the click of a readying weapon. A young Luthor trooper holds an aimed lazer rifle at Batman’s head! The hero speaks in a calm voice. He asks the soldier’s name. Shaking with obvious fear, the man answers. Batman then uses this name and states that he’s now going to leave. The young man yells for the superhero to freeze. Batman states that he needs to calm himself, especially because his weapon isn’t even loaded. Shocked, he checks his rifle. That’s when the batarang smashes into the trooper’s faceplate, shattering the glass! The Dark Knight hears Lex Luthor comment about never turning your back on an enemy. He turns and is assaulted with sound waves so intense, Bruce can almost feel his bones break! Luthor then finishes his attack by using the butt of his sonic blaster to beat Batman into unconsciousness! (Umm. The Team Luthor guy checked his lazer weapon because Batman said it wasn’t loaded…..Loaded with what? Lazers? Yeah. Ponder that one for awhile. Lol!)

Moments later, a helmeted figure swoops down into a waiting window in a structure situated within a grand metropolis. The figure seems distressed, agitated. He had tricked the room’s security system in order to fly, undetected, and follow the Batman at a distance. Why did this man fight on, so determined, against his people? The Kryptonians had occupied this planet ever since Kal-El had been born. Yet this lone man’s struggle compelled him to learn more. Kal removed his helmet, revealing a full head of dark hair. For whatever reason, he was the only Kryptonian with hair. No sooner had Kal-El donned his usual attire before his father, Jor-El’s, image appeared upon Kal’s holoscreen. The man looked displeased. (I’m thinking that the full mane of hair is concealed to quell possible Kryptonian attacks upon Kal’s person. I, as a balding man, understand this completely. Down with those with luscious locks! Revolution!)

Kal-El greeted his dad. Jor-El scolded his son for the “dad” comment. He was his elder and should be spoken to with respect. Kal let this comment slide, asking what his father wanted. And if it was so urgent, as the man’s tone suggested, why not simply visit his son’s room? Jor-El once again scolded his son. He knew the Kryptonian protocol against physical contact. He then continued that the problem with Kal’s room security was solved. The systems should be functioning again soon. The holoscreen then switched off. Kal lowered his head, sighing with obvious relief at the call’s end. It’s then that a friendly and familiar voice from behind him spoke. He’d been caught acting out once again? Kal nodded in agreement as he turned to see the Kents, the elderly human couple that had been assigned to raise him. (But his Kryptonian father seems so kind and fatherly. Weird. I must have misunderstood that part. I mean, where were the clues? Oh well.) Kal told them that Bruce Wayne had been captured again. Why did he continue this seemingly impossible fight? Pa Kent answered. Why not ask the man himself?

After he told his parents how much he loved them, Kal-El walked throughout the city. He was in deep thought. He finally made a visit to his father. After Jor-El scolded him for not only visiting in person, but calling him “dad” once again, Kal asked about the Kryptonian occupation of the Earth. He needed answers. Jor-El answered that the people of Krypton were dying, the result of a microbe used in chemical warfare during the planet’s Clone Wars. (Clone Wars. Ha! I wonder if the Jedi knew of this tactic? Lol! So I’m a nerd. It’s been well-established.) Jor-El had discovered this first and talked the Council into evacuating the planet. Earth seemed a better option as Kryptonians would become strong under this planet’s yellow sun. When they arrived, they discovered that Earth was horribly polluted, nearly always at the brink of world war, and suffered from many forms of disease. The people of Krypton soon took over and eradicated these problems. Were they not the Earth’s saviors? Kal asked why the Batman fought them so furiously then. Jor-El’s reply was that Bruce Wayne was a madman.

Kal-El expressed his desire to speak with Wayne in person. His father’s reply was that that would be out of the question. Such a thing would humiliate a man of his social standing. Furthermore, he also didn’t appreciate his son sneaking off to follow this Batman in his idiotic exploits. (Oh! Busted! I remember sneaking out in my teens. Of course, the only “madman” I was pursuing was the one in my own head! Ahh. Memories of a rebellious youth…..God, I’m old now…..sniffle…..) The conversation was over. Kal returned to his chambers only to be greeted by a holoscreen message from his mother. She stated that the Kents had been reassigned. He was an adult now afrerall. End transmission. Kal looked deeply saddened at this. He turned in his chair and discovered a book. “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. A gift from the Kents.

Having been almost completely healed through the wonders of Kryptonian science, Bruce Wayne spent his time in prison getting back into fighting shape. While he exercised, he sensed Kal-El approach. He turned cold, menacing eyes on him. Nervous, Kal cleared his throat and asked why Batman fought against the Kryptonians when the fight cost him so much. To this, Bruce gave a sly grin and answered, “You know.” That was all he said. But that was enough. Kal-El spent the rest of the night in deep contemplation. (Smooth. Batman’s too cool for school in this scene. And I know what’s smooth. Yep. I’ve seen a lot of movies.) Kal was startled from his thoughts as the holoscreen began to broadcast an emergency news report the next morning. It stated that the Batman had escaped prison once again! Kal was relieved until the report continued. As Bruce Wayne had caused acts of terrorism and violence continually, as well as escaped from prison countless times, he would now be brought in by any means necessary! Kal knew what that meant. They were going to kill him!

As the Team Luthor soldiers prepared for an all-out war upon the island military base, they were taken by surprise as a blur of motion began destroying their weapons systematically and attacking them physically! Batman wasn’t surprised to see that this “blur” was in fact Kal-El. Kal shouted at the Dark Knight in anger. Why did he keep breaking into this specific installation? Was Kal’s father right? Was Bruce Wayne a madman after all? Batman ignored this sudden angry outburst and tossed a package to Kal-El. Before he could comment, Bruce said how that his body had been through a literal hell since he began this one-man-war against the Kryptonians. He was growing too old for this too. He then looked Kal in the eyes and said that it was now his turn. Kal-El didn’t know how to respond. (Awww! Batsy got his bestie a present. I bet it’s Legos. What? That’s a genuinely cool gift amongst bros! Sheesh!) As it turned out, he wouldn’t get the time.

Lex Luthor himself turned the corner just then, energy pistol aimed at the Dark Knight’s head! Kal-El throws himself in front of Bruce, ordering Luthor to drop his weapon. Lex complies but only momentarily. He raises it again and fires a stun-ray at the Kryptonian! He then knocks Kal into a wall! He can only watch in horror as Lex Luthor opens fire on Batman at point blank range. When the smoke clears, the hero lies motionless. His body is transferred to the Kryptonians greatest city for burial. This was most likely in the hopes of halting a human uprising before it could begin. Kal-El remained in his room, staring at the red cape that came with the costume Batman had gifted him. (I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry. I’m not…..sob.)

This injustice did not go unavenged. In the next few months, several key ultra-net installations were destroyed. This saboteur was becoming such a problem, that Jor-El himself contacted Lex Luthor. He demanded that this criminal be stopped. Luthor merely replied that Jor-El knew damn well who it was. It was his son. No need to worry though. Luthor would be ready when the time was right.

To be concluded…..

Maxx-imum Speculation

I get the Maxx. He sees a world around himself that may or may not be real. Most of the time, this leaves him disoriented and confused. Yet he pushes forward heroically. I’m diagnosed as Schizoaffective. (Truth be told, I probably fall under a dozen different categories. I think my shrinks over the years just shrugged, picked the biggie, and went with it.) Essentially, I see and hear things that aren’t there and have bipolar-like mood swings. But unlike the Maxx, I need six different pills a day to feel slightly “heroic” about my condition. Yeah. It’s just lovely. I think that’s why I’ve always identified with this character. Well, enough of the personal stuff. The Maxx is a truly unique character. Fascinating and mysterious. This left the everyday people of the world open to speculation about this strange being with claws and a tooth-filled mask. Never were these theories more described in detail than in this special, “The Maxx” #1/2. Enjoy, Unspokenites!

On the stoop of an old apartment building, three people sit. Two of them are young boys. The last is a nameless bum. One boy begins talking as if he were already in mid-conversation from earlier. He states that he believes that this new super-powered being in the city is in actuality a psychotic monster. The smaller boy disagrees. His mother told him that he was surely a working-class hero that dispenses “maximum justice”. Hence the name, the Maxx. (Ah. I’m reminded of debates such as this with my younger brother when were kids. Only a few ended in the loss of innocent bystander life.)

To this, the older boy replies that this Maxx caused considerable damage to a neighborhood deli by throwing a bus through the large front window. How was that possibly heroic? The younger of the two simply retorts that he was throwing the bus at a mugger. Surely this was more important than a silly deli window. The inevitable reply was yet another hypothesis as to the Maxx’s origins. Maybe he was an alien avenger, or an artificial being with steel bones? (Wow. These kids are really reaching now. Whoever heard of an alien superhero or one experimented on in a lab with metal bones of all things? Cough…..Superman and Wolverine…..clears throat.)

Now, the bum suddenly decides that he might just add to this heated debate. He begins by saying that he believes that the Maxx is really just an average joe. A man with a go-nowhere job and a sparsely furnished, tiny apartment. Maybe this man found a mask one day by happenstance and when he tried it on, it seemed as if lightning struck his brain. He then awoke in a place similar to Australia but also with a feel like it was the dawn of time. Here he was strong. Powerful. He had on a strange costume and had gained claws by thrusting his hands into bubbling volcanic rock. (This is the point where, if these were smart kids, they’d slowly back away, go inside, and rot their brains with online gaming. Oh wait! This was the 90’s! I guess these kids would actually use their imaginations. Sick burn!)

The children disagree with this rather depressing and strange scenario. Surely the hero is rich and posesses an array of expensive gadgets and vehicles. Or perhaps he rises from the grave every night to fight crime from the safety of the sewers and consumes stolen linguine. (Wait. What? This may be the only time I will ever read a comic with the words “stolen linguine” in the dialogue for the rest of my life! I mean, hopefully not.) The bum admits that both of these are interesting ideas. But he thinks the Maxx is just another homeless bum, living in the dumpsters. He can’t hold down a job, has no real friends, and is never sure what’s real or not. He tries to do good, but mostly he just makes situations worse.

But before the boys can put up much more of a verbal defense, they’re interrupted by the approaching neighborhood scourge they’ve dubbed “Crackhead” Jerry. (Sounds like a grossly misunderstood, pillar of the community. Just because the guy has an unfortunate injury to his head. Jeez!) Jerry wanders over to them and comes to a halt. With cigarette hanging lazily out of his mouth, he asks if the children have anything for him. Knowing that Jerry means money, both boys reply that they’re broke. But suddenly, the youngest of them leaps from the step, balls up his small fists, and proclaims that they won’t be bullied any longer! The Maxx wouldn’t tolerate this! Slightly amused, Jerry hints that he may just have a knife. He knows where they sleep. But before he can utter another venomous threat, he sees the large bum rise behind the boys. The man pulls off an oversized glove, revealing a large razor-sharp claw! “Crackhead” Jerry runs off in terror!

The glove is slid back into place before the two celebrating boys turn, ecstatic at their victory. That’s when the mother of the two kids calls to them to come inside. Their dinner is ready and it’s their favorite. (Sloppy joes and peanutbutter shakes! Ewww! I know! Sloppy joes? Yuck!) Begrudgingly, they do as they are told. As they close the door behind them, the “bum” can overhear her telling them that after they eat, it’s straight upstairs to do their homework. They don’t want to end up like that homeless man, do they? The Maxx lowers his head and walks into the night.