Gather around, my fellow Unspokenites, and let me tell you a tale! A tale of one of the coolest, yet frequently forgotten, characters in all of the Aquaman mythos! I speak of course of King Noble, ruler of the underdwelling people, the Lurkers. When I last left you, Aquaman and Noble had gotten into a fierce fight. A fight that Aquaman ultimately won. But when the sea king attempted to make the defeated Noble swear allegiance to him, the surrounding Lurkers pulled their weapons and took aim at the King of Atlantis!
Aquaman mentally commands Mera to strike now and strike hard! Mera musters all of her might and commands the very water within the Lurker ships to expand, exploding several vessels in their armada! Next, Tempest is let loose on the unsuspecting Lurker soldiers! First he tries to freeze the water around their bodies, but this does little as these creatures are used to the frigid depths of the ocean! He then changes strategy and blasts flame from his hands at them! That has the desired effect! This attack defeats several of the Lurker warriors! (And people thought Aqualad was lame. Well, the little boy has grown up to become a badass! It’s gotta be the facial tattoo. It makes Mike Tyson look stupid, but on Tempest, it just works!)
Finally, Aquaman gives the command for the Atlantean army to attack the Lurker soldiers! While the battle commences, King Noble gives a rallying speech to his people. There will be no surrender. (This part really reminded me of “Braveheart”. Minus Mel Gibson’s superior acting skills. You know, back when he had an acting career?) Noble turns and orders one of his people’s large war machines to open fire upon an Atlantean structure! The mighty spire collapses from the blast! Sharpened rubble propels downwards, toward a petrified Atlantean child! Surprisingly, Noble pulls the youth to safety at the last moment!
This action doesn’t go unnoticed. Mera, witnessing the whole thing, questions Noble. Why would one who brings war to Atlantis, save an Atlantean? He merely replies that the young one was innocent in all of this and does not deserve to become a victim in this fight. Mera, obviously shocked by this, attempts to reply. This is however cut short as a mentally-commanded whale slams into the King of the Lurkers with all of its tremendous bulk! Aquaman orders Mera to flee to safety, thanking her for this “distraction”. She opens her mouth to protest just as an enraged King Noble bursts back onto the scene! He roars about cowardice and deception! (I’ve gotta agree with the King here. Talk about a cheap move! Waiting until Aquaman was busy elsewhere in order to show off to his woman! How distasteful!)
King Noble hurls himself at Aquaman with unfathomable ferocity! The two udersea kings seem to shake the very foundations of the city around them as they trade mighty blows! That is until Aquaman makes the mistake of calling himself the king of all that resides below the water! Noble had not heard this boast until this very moment! He is now noticeably even more angry! How dare this man claim to be a king of something that he himself has ruled underneath of for the entirety of his life? He turns with a look of unbridled fury! (It’s really on now, folks! Aquaman’s in for the fight of a lifetime! And I mean a fight more difficult to win than the fight to tame that wild, long hair while it’s sopping wet!)
The fight continues. It rages from one end of the kingdom to the other! Neither of them holding anything back! Finally, while King Noble is distracted by a living wall of commanded fish, Aquaman leads the fight to his bed chambers. When Noble comes crashing through the wall, he finds his opponent armed with a new, seemingly cybernetic, golden hand! (Groovy! Did you youngins out there get that “Army of Darkness” quote? Let’s pretend you did so I don’t weep over how ancient I’ve become. Deal?) The King of Atlantis strikes the King of the Lurkers with such force, that he actually momentarily stuns him! He then uses this opportunity to begin forcing Noble towards the surface world above!
Mera ponders out loud, what could the Sea King’s ultimate goal be? Tempest answers that it appears as though his mentor means to see how Noble handles a serious case of the bends! Noble howls in pain as he clutches his skull, in agony from the sudden change in pressure! It’s then that Aquaman stops. Instead of killing this powerful enemy, he talks sense into him! They both obviously care a great deal for their respective people, but this pointless fight needs to end. Noble seems utterly shocked as his foe lowers him back to Atlantis. (Awww! Makes you feel warm all over, doesn’t it? Unless someone just peed in all of this water…..)
A short time passes. Both kings shake hands. Aquaman declares that not only will Noble continue to lead the Lurkers, he is making him his right hand! Shocked but touched by this sign of respect and friendship, he accepts. Well, that’s it. Who’s to say that comic books can’t have a happy ending? And I’m sure that the two undersea kings’ friendship will be a strong and lasting thing for years to come. In fact, let’s peek ahead at a cover of Aquaman just a few months later……
Greetings and salutations, Denizens of the Unspoken Universe! The Symbifan is back in the hizzy! (That’s my failed attempt at humor. Don’t worry. There’s more to come.) I thought I’d return to the Marvel Universe for this article. But not the Marvel Universe you know and love. No. For this particular article, I dare to ask the question…….”What if?”
This story begins as most tales of alternate realities begin, with the Watcher! The Watcher is a cosmic being blessed/cursed to bear witness to important events in the history of the Marvel Universe, yet he can never intervene, no matter how much he is compelled to. (So he’s pretty much a godlike peeping tom with excuses as to why he can’t step up like a real man. Oh! Burn!) But the Watcher not only sees one universe, he sees all of them from his hidden perch atop the Earth’s moon. It seems that in most cases, history can and will change drastically as the result of one single changed event. Like so…..
In the Marvel Universe we know a frail, yet patriotic, young man from Brooklyn, Steve Rogers, would become the only super soldier when the scientist who created the unique serum, Dr. Erskine, was shot to death by a German spy. But things in this universe went down slightly different as Rogers was fast enough to push his creator to safety, causing the bullet to miss its intended target! This moment would change this universe forevermore. (You ever try to say “super soldier serum” five times fast? It’s impossible! Did you try it just now? Ha! Made you do stuff!)
The U.S. government would now go on to create severel more super soldiers with Rogers, AKA Captain America, and a young Nick Fury leading them. Before long, World War II was at an end, with America being the ultimate victor of the conflict. The war over, Rogers and Fury began their long journey home. However, their ship was attacked by some remaining Nazi U-boats. Only Steve would survive to return to the States. (Seems a bit shifty to me. Hmmm.)
Steve Rogers would return as the biggest hero in American history. He would go on to create more super soldiers to serve in his world police force, S.H.I.E.L.D. His popularity grew until he was even elected as President for an unheard of three consecutive terms. It all seemed like the beginning of a fantastic new era for America. But all was not as it seemed. President Rogers had a twisted idea of “human perfection”. His ideas of a “master race” mirrored Nazi beliefs as his men began to exterminate not only those that he saw as potential superhuman threats to his dream, but citizens that were deemed as “undesirables”! (Like people that don’t reply when you say, “Excuse me.” Ugh! That really toasts my buns!)
One of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most feared soldiers/hunters was a man named Frank Castle. He wears devastatingly powerful armor, created by a man named Tony Stark. With it, hes been dubbed the Iron Man. It’s during his mission to execute the famed Sub-Mariner in the North Atlantic that a startling discovery is made…..a block of ice that seemed to contain the frozen body of Captain America! (Cap just seems to be destined to enter the new world with horrible brain freeze no matter what!)
Iron Man uses Namor’s confusion to his advantage, stunning him with several repulsor blasts. He then hauls The Sub-Mariner and the frozen man onto a waiting S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft. Namor is placed within a containment cell while a quickly-melting Captain America is laid out on a slab. Castle gets involved in a heated conversation with the two super soldier pilots, making him completely unaware that the man dressed in red, white, and blue has opened his eyes! (It’s on now! Yeah! Go, Cap! Sorry. I got a little too hyped there. It’s all of the caffeine admittedly.)
Captain America’s time frozen in ice has done little in slowing his fighting prowess! He quickly not only disarms and defeats the soldiers, but Iron Man as well! He then quickly frees the aquatic prisoner. They move in on Castle. Cap is quickly brought up to speed on the recent state of his beloved country and that it seems as though he is the cause of all of this horror by Namor. Castle states that he was only following orders as Cap is his childhood hero. Rogers then asks if this is the America that Frank truly wants to fight for. His reply is to incinerate the two super soldiers! Namor flies into a frenzy! This man can hardly be trusted! Captain America separates the two and states that they all have a common goal here. If this war is to be won, they will all need to work together. Both men agree and the Avengers are born! (Frank Castle with Iron Man armor is the stuff of nightmares. Just sayin’.)
The trio commandeer the S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft and use the computer systems aboard to search for others with extraordinary skills to aid them in their cause. This search takes them to the vast wilderness of the world’s 51st. state, Canada. They exit the ship and it doesn’t take long before they find the one they’re looking for, a mysterious man from Cap’s past that goes by the name, Logan. Logan wastes zero time for pleasantries, but instead attacks! As he fights, his body goes through a strange metamorphosis, sprouting long, white hair all over a huge, monstrous form! (Hey! My hair’s turned white too. I want super strength to go along with it! Of course, my hair’s the side-effect of raising two teenagers.)
The Avengers throw everything at the rampaging beast, but to no avail! Logan roars that he’ll destroy anyone who works with a monster like Steve Rogers! That’s when Cap finally says that he’s the real Captain America and that if he joins them, there will be no shortage of super soldiers to maim and kill. And just like that, Logan replies that he is now known as the Hulk and that he’ll join them. (That didn’t take long. I don’t want to say that Wolverine’s a psycho, but maybe some medication wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.)
Unfortunately, the Avengers would arrive too late to recruit their next man. Hank Pym and his wife had been murdered. Their bodies still lie on the floor. But before they can take their leave, Iron Man catches a burglar as he’s breaking into the house! The burglar says that his name is Sam Wilson and that he detests having to steal in order to live. But in this country, a black man’s lucky not to be sent to a death camp, let alone get honest work. Captain America is then struck with inspiration. He hands Wilson one of Pym’s costumes and pills that Pym was going to use to alter his size. Sam takes these items and becomes the mighty Giant Man! (What’s that you say? Where’s Scott Lang to take up the mantle, like in the Ant-Man movies? Isn’t Pym supposed to be an old man? Read a comic, people! Damn!)
(I omitted a part here involving Magneto that I felt served no purpose to the present story. I am not, nor have I ever been, a mutant-hater. That is all.) The team uses Castle’s security clearance to gain access to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. But as they rush by, they witnesses great power humming within a nearby room. Looking in, they see a man with long, blonde hair and body armor, shackled with energy cuffs! The super soldiers are seemingly attempting to drain not only him, but the power from a large hammer held firmly in his grip! Cap and his allies spring into action, fighting off the soldiers and freeing the prisoner! He claims that he is the Norse god, Thor, and he will help them.
While more super soldiers enter the room, Iron Man shouts that Cap needs to find the room that holds the super soldier serum and destroy it. With the heroes covering his escape, he follows Castle’s directions to navigate the humongous helicarrier. He finds many soldiers along the way, but always he triumphs and moves ever onward. Soon, he finds the lock to the correct door. He scans his fingerprints. The device confirms that he is the President of the United States and opens. Inside, even Captain America must gasp. Standing there is none other than his un-aged creator, Dr. Erskine! (Crap! I want some of that de-aging serum! I pop more than Rice Crispies when I stand up!)
Cap approaches the older man. To his surprise, the good doctor is beyond pleased to see him. He comments how proud he is of him and his good work. How his serum helped in saving America. That’s when the forlorn superhero turns on a wall of television screens. The several news channels report on the horror that the United States has truly become. And at the center of it all, President Steve Rogers. Dr. Erskine then drops to his knees and sobs. He had been blissfully unaware of the outside world for decades. This sad moment is interrupted however by the sudden appearance of President “Steve Rogers” with a loaded gun! (That’s heartbreaking. Decades with no t.v.? How can he be expected to keep up with the such educational programs like DC’s Peacemaker, starring John Cena? Those monsters!)
Captain America doesn’t have to wait long for an explanation on just who his doppelganger is. He is none other than the Red Skull! The Skull was thought dead near the end of World War II, but he had his top scientist place his mind into a cloned body of Rogers! He then ordered Nazi U-boats to fire upon Cap and Nick Fury’s ship, trading places with the real Captain America in the confusion! The rest, as they say, is history. (Don’t you just love when the villain explains their entire master plan? It’s idiotic in practice, but us readers enjoy the explanation. Villains: Catching up slow comic fans since forever. Amen.) The Red Skull then tells a distraught Dr. Erskine that he’s no longer needed. The Skull has figured out the super soldier serum for himself!
The Red Skull aims the handgun directly at Cap’s face! But Erskine moves suddenly in front of the hero, taking a bullet to the chest! A bullet that perhaps should have hit its target so very long ago. (As Metallica might say, “Sad But True”. What? I already admitted earlier that I was old!) Enraged, Captain America throws himself at his evil double! The two scuffle until the true patriotic super soldier picks up the cloned madman and hurles him into a power generator! The body convulses and sizzles until it falls lifeless to the floor! But the threat has not yet ended. Cap returns to his allies. The battle continues to rage between super soldiers and the Avengers!
More and more heavily-armed super soldiers continue to flood into the room! The heroes know in their hearts that they won’t survive this fight. But, like true warriors, they’ll go down fighting! That’s when Captain America calls out a battle cry that seems to empower his loyal comrades, “Avengers assemble!”
Time passes as time does, and America slowly begins to become what it was meant to be, a home for people of all races and religions to come together as one people. And though the heroes that fought to make this dream a working reality once again perished during that epic battle so long ago, the people will never forget their sacrifice.
Well, that’s it. With this story now concluded, this very tired Symbifan is gonna go to bed. Later, alligators! After awhile, Loki Crocodiles! Lol! Until next time.
You’ll all think I’m crazy, but I want a Fate action figure ASAP! That said, I’m aware that this particular 90’s DC character isn’t winning any popularity contests with the fans. But you know what? I like him, so I’m writing about him. (Sticks out tongue in defiance!) Seriously though, if you’ve never actually read his title and base all of your feelings on the misconceptions that Jared Stevens as an embarrassment to the mantle of Doctor Fate, you’re really missing out. I love Dr. Fate too. But there had to be room for both characrers in a comic universe so vast and diverse. Anything can happen in a work of fantasy afterall. Now that I’ve said my peace, I present to you my thoughts on “Fate” issue #0! Enjoy, Unspokenites.
Demons seem to pollute every corner of this place. Ash and brimstone poison the very air. The horrific creatures writhe and slither everywhere. Their sheer numbers make one wonder what’s up and what’s down in this living hell. That’s when Jared Stevens startles awake. He’s seated on a rickety, small plane with two others. The men remark on his health but he dismisses their concern. They are thieves and drug runners. He on the other hand deals in the theft and sale of relics and antiques. (That’s a man with morals right there. At least he doesn’t run drugs. Of course, he did arrange to help these other drug runners in the transport of said drugs…..Oh well. No-one’s perfect.)
One of the men asks if the pilot can be trusted. Jared replies that he trusts him completely. He owes him one. Just then, the subject of their conversation enters the cabin and opens fire on all three of them! The criminals drop, riddled with holes! But Jared dives to find cover! The pilot promises that he wasn’t paid to take Stevens out. If he surrenders, he won’t be harmed. Positive that this is a blatant lie, Jared pulls a knife from his boot and throws it at the traitor’s hand! It hits home and the pilot drops the gun! That’s when one of the others uses his last breath to fling a grenade at their attacker! (A grenade?! Who carries a grenade onto a plane in case of emergencies? A man that thinks ahead, that’s who!) The plane quickly explodes into flames, hurling Jared Stevens through burning shrapnel and the night sky beyond! He crashes down in a forested area, apparently uninjured!
After quickly checking himself for injury, he then makes sure the bag containing the relics he recently stole are likewise unharmed. Seeing that everything’s intact, he sighs in relief. However, this relief doesn’t last long as he’s suddenly aware that he’s not alone. An almost-skeletal, elderly couple walk slowly towards him! (I’d scream like a little girl here! Too many zombie flicks growing up!) In a gravely voice, the man says that they have been on his trail in order to reclaim what is rightfully theirs! Before Jared can say much in his defence, symbols that he recognizes as Egyptian ankhs appear in the man’s eyes as he says that this matter will be better settled at the Tower! Stevens then loses consciousness.
After the trio has mysteriously disappeared, a vehicle drives up. Two suited men emerge and scan the area. They seem annoyed as one comments that they have arrived too late. Their boss will be most unhappy should they not find their prey soon. It’s then that the two shed not only their clothes, but their skin, revealing horrific, demonic forms underneath! The bigger of the two places a clawed hand on the ground. He comments to the other that residual magics have been left behind, magics that can be followed. (Things have really heated up, Unspokenites! We’ve got two naked demons in the mix now! See? Symbifan hooks you up when he tells a story!)
Jared Stevens shakes his head as he tries to regain consciousness. He sees that he is bound by rope and seated in some type of stone room without windows. The elderly couple stands before him. The man speaks. They are known as Kent and Inza Nelson. He states that the items that Jared has in his possession are none other than the helmet, cloak, and amulet of the mystical avenger known as Dr. Fate! He continues that he and his wife used to be merged into one being and that combined, they were in fact this hero! (Can you imagine merging bodies with your significant other? Ugh! The chick flicks you’d have to endure!) It seems that a recent event involving time separated and aged them, casting the artifacts back to the place of their origin, Egypt. That’s where Jared found them and took them, seconds before the rightful owners were to reclaim the powerful artifacts.
The couple then place the helmet between them. Inza looks to Jared and comments how it’s a shame that he doesn’t believe in any of this and uses his talents on petty crime. She could see him being destined for much more. (Forshadowing, or is this old mummy actually hitting on poor Jared? And right in front of her hubby! Talk about a cougar!) Especially with the one who is coming. A dark one known only as Kingdom. Kent and Inza then concentrate, using every bit of their combined willpower to try and become how they once were trying to make Dr. Fate live again! Jared frees himself with his hidden knife. He warns the elderly duo to return the artifacts to him! Thats when the demons burst through the stone wall!
They’re the demons from earlier! They have tracked the three humans to this place and now, they’re out for blood! The demons announce that they are called Bloodstain and Thunderspawn (Do you think you can become a successful doctor or lawyer with a name like Bloodstain? Well…..maybe. Moving on.) And they’re here to kill everyone in this room! The couple attempt to use what’s left of their arcane powers to ward off the demons but alas, they break right through their weakened magical forcefield! Jared tries to attack physically, but is knocked aside as if he were as light as a feather! One of the evil creatures hurls a strange orb at the heroic couple! It states that this object will remove what is left of their already ebbing lifeforces! Unfortunately, it hits its targets!
As the sphere takes the life that’s left within the bodies of Kent and Inza Nelson, Kent stares Jared Stevens straight in the eye with a surprising look of peace upon his face. He says that he is content that his time is over, because his legacy will live on! Then, the two legendary heroes disintegrate in a blinding flash of light! The bigger of the two demons complains that his lust for death has not yet been sated. He grabs Stevens by his arm! The other demon notices that Jared has the amulet of Dr. Fate in that very hand and warns his evil partner not to destroy the relic! But this warning comes too late! The amulet is crushed along with Jared’s arm! The result is an earthshaking explosion! (There’s alot of flashing and explosions in this scene. Readers with sensitive eyes may wish to look away.)
Jared Stevens crawls from the rubble, clutching his utterly ruined arm in anguish. He hears sounds of what must be an epic battle being fought nearby. He curiously investigates. A large humanoid is fighting a man dressed in crimson, his arm wrapped in golden ribbons. He also brandishes a large golden blade. He hears the man call the large being Kingdom. It appears as though this Kingdom is winning. As the man falls, he utters through his pain that though Kingdom has defeated Dr. Fate, he will not fall so easily! That’s when Jared spies this hero’s face…..it’s his own! (Surprise! What? You knew?! Look, just because this comic originally came out in 1994 doesn’t mean that you have the right to be a smarta$$!) Jared awakens. He clears the strange vision from his head and wraps his damaged arm in the mystical cloak. He then grabs Dr. Fate’s helmet and leaves this disastrous scene behind him. He needs time to process all that has transpired and hide from any demons that might still be nearby.
Later, Jared Stevens’ ex-wife, Holly, returns home. Noticing signs of a break-in, she grabs a butcher knife and slowly looks around. The man sitting in the darkness of her living room speaks, scaring her half to death. Then, fright becomes anger as she recognizes the voice. Assuming that her ex-husband is once again in hiding from some illegal activity gone wrong, she demands that he leave immediately. That’s when he takes her by the shoulders with shaky hands and says that he needs to hide somewhere safe and collect himself after all that’s transpired. She then sees him fully as he steps out into the light. A long, red ankh completely covers the right side of his face! Little does she or he know it, but a hero was born this night! It was fate.