Category Archives: 90s Marvel

Webs and Croutons

David versus Goliath. Achilles versus Hector. King Arthur versus Mordred. Hulk Hogan versus the Ultimate Warrior. These were truly clashes between titans. Fights between two, mighty combatants that have gone down in history. This is not one of those fights. So sit on back, relax, and pop the popcorn, because your Friendly Neighborhood Symbifan is about to take you back to a comic epic of yesteryear! Witness the majesty that is Marvel Comics’ “The Ren & Stimpy Show” #6!

Our story begins as 90’s cartoon characters, Ren and Stimpy, sit down at their kitchen table to enjoy their favorite breakfast, Powdered Toast. But what’s this? The can is empty. No reason to panic though. Stimpy dons a peculiar-looking headset and calls out over a large microphone for the assistance of none other than Powdered Toast Man! He’ll fix this problem in no time. Suddenly, the kitchen curtains blow with a mighty gust of wind and Ren and Stimpy await the awesome entrance of their hero! But strangely enough, Spider-Man has appeared instead! (What’s this? Why Spider-Man? Does Disney know about this unannounced cameo appearance? In a comic book that spotlights Nickelodeon animated stars no less? Gasp! Better watch out or this intellectual property will be acquired next!)

Obviously confused by this strange turn of events, the duo question the wall-crawler as to the whereabouts of their breakfast champion. Spidey nonchalantly answers that Powdered Toast Man is simply under the influence of an evil villain and that he’s just subbing until all is righted. To prove that he’s just as useful as his predecessor, Spider-Man fires his web-shooters at Ren and Stimpy’s empty plates, creating toast-shaped webbing masses! Suddenly, Spidey receives an alert from the spare pair of Powdered Toast Man’s shorts he’s currently wearing under his own costume! (Why’s Spider-Man wearing P.T.M.’s undies? Was this a prerequisite for being his stand-in? Is this a common superhero practice? Where’s the Comics Code Authority when you need it? Color me offended!) After Spider-Man makes a hasty exit, the two try their “web toast”……and actually enjoy it!

Meanwhile, not far from this scene, Powdered Toast Man is wreaking havoc upon the city at the command of his arch-nemesis, Dr. Dough-Naught! Spider-Man arrives on the scene and looks on in horror as the destruction to his beloved metropolis mounts! Spidey surveys the situation, trying to come up with a plan that might succeed against the mind- controlled Breakfast Avenger! Swinging down, straight into P.T.M.’s path, the wall-crawler tries first to talk some sense to the other superhero. Perhaps he can get him to break the villain’s hold on his own. No such luck! Dough-Naught increases the power to his control device, forcing Powdered Toast Man to attack! (Here we go, folks! It’s time the fight of the century! That’s right. It’s Darth Vader alone against the Klingon Empire! What? It’s Spider-Man, and he’s fighting who now?)

P.T.M. wastes no time! He unleashes a barrage of high-speed croutons from his armpit, stunning the web-slinger! Spidey quicklly recovers and responds with a powerful left hook to the other hero’s toast-shaped face! Seemingly unaffected, Powdered Toast Man fires an onslaught of raisins from his mouth! The bullet-like projectiles are halted however by Spider-Man’s webbing! Still under the villain’s evil control, P.T.M. blasts razor-sharp, stale toast slices at the wall-crawler! Spidey uses his spider-sense to dodge every one of the deadly weapons, advancing on his friend-turned-enemy! When he’s close enough, Spider-Man hits Powdered Toast Man with all of his strength! While stunned, he then follows this attack with a powerful blow to the other hero’s stomach! The Breakfast Avenger falls at last! (You should all know that this is by far the strangest thing I have ever written!)

But what’s this? Powedered Toast Man isn’t finished yet! No, he has one more trick up his crusty sleeve! Using a finger to block one of his nostrils, he blows with all of his might, unleashing a devastating attack at an unprepared Spider-Man! He has unloaded a mucus-like fluid that has completely encased Spidey. As this sticky dough begins to quickly dry, it hardens like stone! Spidey finds that movement has become quite impossible! Has evil truly won the day? Will Powdered Toast Man forever be a servant to the evil Dr. Dough-Naught? (Will Symbifan finish writing a single article without chain-smoking an entire pack of cheap cigarettes?)

Never! Mustering up all of his inner strength, Spider-Man shatters his rock-hard prison, freeing himself completely! That’s when Spidey spies the source of his salvation, a large milk truck! Before his opponent knows what’s going on, the wall-crawler grabs the hose from the back of the vehicle and turns it on, saturating P.T.M. in gallons of milk! This attack not only defeats the Breakfast Avenger, but frees him of the supervillain’s mind control! Powdered Toast Man collapses, too weakened to even stand. But before Spider-Man can even utter a word, his spider-sense tingles! Confused as to the source of the danger, Spidey never sees the lead pipe as it comes crashing down on the back of his skull! (I would like take this moment to say that lactose intolerance is no joke. And neither are the loud and deadly farts that are a side effect of this very serious condition. That is all.)

Again and again the pipe comes down on Spider-Man’s already severely wounded body, wielded by an enraged Dr. Dough-Naught! Powdered Toast Man reaches towards his friend and ally but is too weakened to be of any use! Suddenly, P.T.M. remembers the spare can of powdered toast that he carries in his trunks in case of emergencies! He quickly seizes it, pops it open, and devours the contents! Powdered Toast Man is now at full strength once again! (Hey, it has to be tastier than spinach! Popeye cartoons speak filthy lies!) The hero leaps through the air, straight at Dough-Naught, and connects with one mighty punch! The villain is then thrown into the air where a wounded Spider-Man encases the villain in webbing! He then comes plummeting to the street below, unconscious and defeated!

Now that the danger has passed and the villain lies beaten, Ren and Stimpy run out to meet the two superheroes. They exclaim how the two of them should really make their partnership more permanent as they just worked so well together. Spider-Man replies that a superhero of Powdered Toast Man’s caliber just isn’t in the same league as a seasoned veteran like himself. This causes the Breakfast Avenger to lash out verbally to defend himself. Soon, an argument escalates about just who would actually win between the two of them in a fair fight. Powdered Toast Man then sucker punches Spidey through a nearby brick wall.

Nuff said!

Dedicated to the fans of the Unspoken Decade. Without you, there would be no Symbifan. It’s as simple as that. Until next time, peace out!

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.

Catch Ya On The Flipside!

807512-flipsideWhat’s that? Where’s the next part in my spectacular look back at Prophet? It’s called an intermission, guys. Geez! (Kids today!) In all seriousness, I had planned on writing Part 4 of my Prophet series, but I thought you “Loyal Minions of the Unspoken” might enjoy a break. (God knows I would! Talk about burned out! Ugh!) But never fear, Part 4 will be along soon enough. For right now though, sit back in your reclining chairs, grab your fav snacks (I suggest Funyuns for truly hardcore snackers!), and revel in the story of Marvel’s Flipside!

RCO003_1469634253-1Our story begins as a lone figure, the unsavory type, stares down at something strange lying on a medical table. He speaks to himself as he tinkers around with it, commenting on his attempts to get it online and results he promised to someone called Packrat. He reveals that this is some sort of mechanical being called Junior. As the man talks, Junior scans him. It seems to be analyzing detailed files on great superheroes of the Earth’s past. Eventually it comes to the conclusion that the looming man is of no great importance and powers itself down. Annoyed, the man gives up and leaves the room.  (Wow! You know you’re a nobody when a machine would rather switch off than pay attention to you! I’d need intense therapy after that diss!)

RCO008_1469634253-1Elsewhere, Miguel O’Hara, (No relation to Scarlett O’Hara. Thank God for that kindness! Otherwise, this story would be way too long and completely overrated! Am I right?) the Spider-Man of the year 2099, is discovered, buried in wreckage, protected from the blast radius of a large bomb only by his powerful webbing. Unfortunately for Spidey, his “savior” is the aforementioned Packrat, also the leader of a group of scavengers called the Foragers. And Packrat isn’t in the least bit concerned with the hero’s personal well-being! This is illustrated by the fact that his unconscious form is secured to the front bumper of the vehicle as they return to their headquarters, content with their injured prize!

RCO013_1469634253-1Upon their arrival, Spider-Man is brutally awakened by Packrat, bellowing in his ear! Shocked to action, Spidey leaps through the air, landing some distance from his abductor! Our hero takes in his strange surroundings. He spies what he is told is an old television program, “Mr. Ed,” playing on every monitor. A minion approaches and offers the captive a Pop-Tart. He mutters about the collective insanity of these men. (A talking horse AND Pop-Tarts?! That’s what I call a par-tay! Whoo! Too bad these guys are fictional! They’re a stoner’s dream come true!)

Needless to say, Spidey wants to leave. He thanks the madmen and turns to take his leave but is halted by the expected drawn weapons and the fact that he’s quickly surrounded. (Awww! I take back my earlier compliment. Stoners are rarely prone to violence. I’m so embarrassed.)  He is given two choices in order to leave: Fight his way to the exit, or repair Junior! Confused, Spider-Man looks to the nearby robot. But as this exchange has been going on, Junior has been scanning our hero! The computerized brain of the mechanical man decides this strangely-garbed being in front of him could only be two heroes from the past: either Spider-Man or Venom! It then makes the strange decision to mimic the combination of both!

RCO018_1469634253-1The android changes its appearance! As it finishes, a sinister grin forms on the creatures new face! Suddenly, it launches itself into the air, straight at Spidey! But instead of attacking, it lands in the superhero’s arms and caresses his masked face! It proclaims that its name is now Flipside. And that he and Spider-Man are going to be the best of friends….or it’ll murder him! (You’ve gotta respect love at first sight. Makes you tear up….*sob.*)

RCO003_1469634600-1Anyway, on to the next thrilling issue! We rejoin our hero as he fights for breath, being the victim of a deadly bear hug from Flipside! Spidey finally manages to overpower the android, throwing him across the room. Flipside remarks that he’s beginning to suspect that Spider-Man doesn’t particularly like him. He covers his masked face. Strangely enough, sounds of sobbing are heard. With what seems like genuine concern, one of the Foragers checks on the saddened robot. His attempts to comfort Flipside are met with a clawed slash to the throat! Flipside roars that he didn’t ask for help! It then questions if anyone else has a problem, including Spidey! As he asks, he points at the hero, growing a fanged mouth with long, forked tongue! (You’ve just gotta love this guy! I think he’s even crazier than me if I’m off my meds! Well, I did wear a fanny pack once. I win.)

RCO004_1469634600-1-1Packrat kneels over his fallen comrade, his anger growing. Spider-Man uses this time to look over the computer files on this mechanical menace. Flipside, however, figures out that Spider-Man is attempting to shut him down! Enraged, he smashes his fist through the screen. He then propels himself towards Spidey, ready to gut him for this bitter betrayal! As he attempts to kill our hero, he yells that he will murder him again and again until he begs for him to stop!  (Okay. Flipside has officially gone loco! Everyone knows that you can only murder a person two, maybe three times, max! Duh!)

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The two bust through a metal door in the scuffle, finding all of the angry Foragers within the next room. They all open fire on the crazed robot at once! When the smoke clears, a bullet-ridden Flipside laughs! He then begins using his deadly claws to shred his way through the scavenger troupe, making his way to their terrified leader! Packrat opens fire with a powerful handgun and the blast creates a large hole in the center of Flipside’s abdomen! It doesn’t even slow him down! (That’s tenacity, folks! The kind of can-do attitude that made this once-proud country great!)

RCO011_1469634600-1But, before the android can perform the killing blow, Spider-Man stops him with a strong hand on Flipside’s wrist! When questioned why he’d stop this, Spidey remarks that he doesn’t particularly care about the bad guys, or himself for that matter! Convinced that the superhero is suicidal, Flipside decides he’ll help out his “pal.” The creature plunges Spidey’s head into the gaping hole in his own body as the damage heals around the hero’s throat! (I’m so sorry! I wasn’t aware that this comic involved penetration! Wasn’t this approved by the Comic’s Code?! Well, might as well finish my article at this point. Again, apologies.)

RCO012_1469634600-1Spider-Man spends the next few moments being tossed around like a ragdoll, being bashed into wall after wall, all the while without air! For the briefest of moments, he considers giving up, and succumbing to the welcoming darkness! Finally, he finds his inner strength! He wants to live! Using his superior strength, he pulls his head out of the robots’ innards, taking an important-looking cable with him on the way out! Flipside is stunned, but only for a moment! He lunges at the hero, attempting to retrieve the cable! Using the android’s momentum against him, Spidey ties it around Flipside’s throat as he dodges and rips his head clean off! In the same motion, he throws the body into a computer console! It sparks as Flipside’s body jolts! The threat seems ended.  (Noooooo! Whyyyyyy! Excuse me. I’ve never been very good with death. This one time, my goldfish….never mind. Another time. I miss you, Bubbles.)

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Packrat and the other scavengers pull their weapons, intent on stopping our hero’s departure. He simply tells them to move. Surprisingly, they obey. When Spider-Man is out of earshot, Packrat turns. He’s horrified to see Flipside sitting upon a pile of his men’s shredded corpses! Flipside lives again! Pointing a bloodied, clawed finger at the man, Flipside says, “Start running.”

The last thing that is heard is Packrat’s anguished screams!

End.

clean-1-1I would like to dedicate this article to my daughter, Jade Leigh Miller, for her 18th birthday. (Damn, I feel old!) You are a woman now. It’s time for me to now move aside and let you make your mark upon this world. Give em’ hell! I couldn’t be more proud of the adult that you’ve become. I love you.   -Dad