Category Archives: DC Comics

The Shield Is Mightier Than the Sword

I know, right? It’s unbelievable. I’m back with another article in the same month! I’m not even spouting off some wild excuse as to my tardiness! Will wonders never cease? Why, you ask? Well, it’s because I truthfully felt compelled to. No. I took all of the appropriate medications, with the proper doses. (At least I think I did.) I really did feel like I was supposed to do this somehow. That’s when the realization hit me, this will soon be the anniversary of my stepfather’s death. My subconscious must have been letting me know. You see, my spepdad and the character known as the Shield are synonymous to me.

Why? Because he was the one who bought me my first Impact comic, the Shield action figure, and even purchased every other single issue from the Impact line for me. And when he was taken from this world, all of these things meant even more to me. He protected me, cared for me, and made me believe in a fatherly love that I until then had never known. He was my personal superhero. In my heart, he was the Shield. Not a symbol of patriotism, but a symbol to me of what a man should aspire to be. (Wipe your tears, Unspokenites. You still have an article to read.)

Our story begins as two United States military helicopters fly through the evening sky of Colorado. They are armed to the teeth and in search of their appointed target. Suddenly, they spot the enemy…..one man?! The lone figure stands defiantly in their spotlights. Wasting no time, they unleash heavy gunfire! The man runs at an incredible speed, sidestepping the bullets. He then disappears from sight. The helicopters search frantically. Just then, the Man reappears, a large boulder in his hands. He hurls it at one of them! It caves in the metal on one side and crushes the rotor, sending it spiraling to the rocky ground!

Before the pilot of the other craft can react, the Man leaps over the crashing aircraft and slams his body with incredible force into the other chopper! Tearing his way inside he knocks one of the soldiers out after he grabs for a concealed firearm. The other pilot simply smiles! He then begins laughing as he remarks how the man threw a boulder as a projectile. With the pilot smiling, the helicopter lands. The simulation has ended. The man then steps into the light. He stands clad in an armored uniform modeled after the American flag. (Well, there ya have it folks! Our tax dollars hard at work. Can you imagine if all of our troops wore this amazing armor? Of course, the question of camouflage comes to mind…….)

The strangely-armored man taps his earpiece. He asks how the exercise looked back at home base. He’s answered with resounding applause from the soldiers on the other side of the call. That is all except for one gruff-looking, old general who leaves the control room . The general appreciates the performance of the Shield armor that they have developed, it’s the man inside that he cares very little for. The original man to be called the Shield was a friend and an ally of his. That was until his mysterious disappearance in 1963. He was located by the U.S. military for a brief time during the Vietnam War before the hero took off his armor and vanished for good. Though the original Shield’s armor was extraordinary, it’s design proved impossible to duplicate.

The military however moved forward and designed an armor all their own. Now for the ideal man to wear it. No-one proved themselves more perfect for that role than the general’s own son, Lieutenant Joseph Higgins. Too perfect in his father’s eyes. That’s when Sergeant Higgins set up a falsified report in order to have his own son courtmartialed and demoted! This would show him humility and make him more easy to control! (Wow! The Shield’s father is one piece of work! My genetic father was a military man himself. He’s damn near this evil too. But while Joe gets bulletproof armor, I get therapy and meds. Ah. To live in the comic book world!)

Later, Joe takes some much-needed time off and decides to visit his mother. She talks to him a bit about her divorce with his father and almost slips up and begins to talk about his courtmartialing. Feeling discouraged, he leaves her office and returns to his room on base. (I bet! Maybe his mom would like to bring up the death of a beloved childhood pet while they’re hanging out!) While there, he runs over the series of events that brought him to where he is now in life. Very little time passes before he’s on the move again. Upon leaving his room, he runs into his bestfriend. The two catch up a bit before they take a jeep together to a different part of the large military installation. At this exact moment, Joe’s father wraps up a secret meeting in his office with a tall, shadowy man. Sergeant Higgins demands that the man before him take his son out of the picture! With very little to say, the man turns. As light falls upon him, it is revealed that he is in fact more machine than man at all! This cybernetic monstrosity is called Mann-X and he leaves the office driven by his new orders and ready to carry them out!

Time has passed and Joe now finds himself standing on the same ground that he fought against the copters earlier. He waits, encased in his powerful Shield armor, to perform in another combat test. This test however is to impress even more important men in the government. This simulation must go off without a hitch. Jets soar through the skies towards the hero, ready for a fight. Joe takes in a deep breath and tells himself that he must execute this maneuver perfectly. He must make his father proud. (Me thinks Joe needs a wake-up call about “dear old daddy”. The guy makes the Devil look like Elmo!) But suddenly, the jets turn and veer away from him! Confused, the Shield contacts the control team. They reply that the jets have been recalled because something strange has been picked up on radar. Before he can question further, a huge, armored fist sends him sailing through the air!

As Mann-X approaches the downed Shield, he says that he doesn’t want to hurt him, just give up the armor. Shield’s reply is that if he’s so interested in the armor, maybe he should show this mystery man just what it’s capable of! A furious fistfight ensues and Mann-X replies that he knows what the Shield armor can do, he’s the one who built it! (Didn’t see that coming, did ya? I mean, who wouldn’t trust the United States government? Fools, that’s who!) Shocked but determined, Joe waits until Mann-X gets closer and then electrifies his armor! The sudden jolt knocks the cyborg for a loop, dropping him momentarily to the ground! The Shield knows that this will not be enough, so he sprints into a military garage. An enraged Mann-X enters the building soon after but is met by a surprise attack! The Shield attaches powerful jumper cables to the man/machine’s armor, sending a powerful jolt of electricity into his armor! Mann-X drops, defeated!

Soldiers surround Mann-X and prepare to take him into custody while the Shield is approached by the U.S. government brass. Surprisingly, though the test went badly off the rails, they were nonetheless extremely impressed! They shake his hand and leave. Just then, Mann-X springs to life! He tosses soldiers as if they’re mere ragdolls and breaks through a garage wall, escaping into the night! The Shield tries to follow the villain, but is stopped by his father. The general states that though he’s impressed others this day, the intruder has escaped. He then takes his leave. Joe removes his headpiece and sits down. He speaks to his friend. The realization has come that no matter what he does in life, it’ll never be enough for his father. He lowers his head in shame. (Preaching to the choir here, Joe. I know that feeling well. It’s nice how the Shield wants to impress his unworthy dad, but screw that guy! Who needs him? At least he has a great mom…..um…..wait.)

End.

This article is dedicated in the memory of my stepdad, Bob Metz. You always wanted me to show off my knack for writing. I hope this story makes you proud. You are still a true inspiration to me and I will always love you. You will always be my superhero. Rest in peace.

No Such Thing As Monsters (Part 3)

I’m back! Yes, my time is now more my own, so I have returned with the last installment of my look back at DC’s “Superman: Hunter/Prey” slug-fest extravaganza! I come to you now, not as a busy father, but as a man with a migraine and stomachache that could topple the gods of Olympus. (Okay. So maybe I’m exaggerating my condition a tad. All I know, dear fans, is that I feel crappy and thus I must whine.) Anyway, enough talk of my seemingly-fatal condition. On with the finale….

As Superman stands upon a crumbling mountaintop, on the planet Apokolips, he clenches his fists at his sides and vows that this is the end. This time, Doomsday will fall. (Is he posing and flexing at a time like this? I guess if you’ve got it, flaunt it.) Darkseid then interrupts by commenting that if the Kryptonian truly means to follow and confront the beast, he will once again face death. Though Waverider hates to admit it, he fears the Dark Lord of Apokolips may be right. As Darkseid and his minion, Desaad, turn to leave, Darkseid picks up a button-sized disc from the ground. He whispers to the other that, though Superman believes that the Cyborg Superman is now no more, he had the foresight to contain the madman’s consciousness onto this very device, should he have use of the villain at a later date! (Man, turns out you can’t even trust an evil tyrant nowadays! What happened to this world? Sheesh)

Warnings aside, the Man of Steel prepares to meet the monster head-on. But, before he can even think, the Mother Box strapped to his arm begins to ring out! Superman is then encased in an orb of blinding light! When he emerges, his wounds are healed and he wears a type of armored version of his traditional costume, complete with sophisticated weaponry! It seems the sentient computer has decided to help! Then, from out of nowhere, the Mother Box opens a portal to the place that Doomsday now is! (Wow! Screw buying a smart phone! Sign me up for a Mother Box! I bet it even gets free WiFi and HBO Max! ) Wasting little time, Superman and Waverider fly in, on a path with what will most likely be certain death!

Meanwhile, Doomsday has been doing what he does best on the distant planet of Calaton, mindless death and destruction! However, his rampage has been recently halted. The creature now finds himself locked in combat with the energy being that handed him his first defeat so very long ago, Radiant! The two titans battle back and forth until Radiant finally decides this fight has gone on long enough. He unleashes the full might of his power in one mighty blast! And though this has worked once, Doomsday is always evolving. The beast stands unharmed! Doomsday then swipes at Radiant with such force and ferocity, that the already weakened hero begins to dissipate! The victory goes to Doomsday this time around! (Damn! Things are looking pretty bad. The comic? Oh. I meant my stomach cramps. Yeah. Superman has his work cut out for him it seems.)

Superman and Waverider enter the atmosphere of Calaton via the Mother Box’s teleportation capabilities. Scanning the planet, smoking ruins and mangled corpses litter the landscape. Suddenly, Superman spies Radiant’s fading form. Waverider joins the Man of Steel as he descends. Before Radiant is no more, he whispers that the creature is headed to the power facility that runs the entire planet. As this facility is powered by the planet’s core, its destruction could mean the end of all life on the planet! Radiant then passes away into nothingness. (I’m not crying! It’s my headache! I swear! Made my eyes tear up. That’s all. Ha! They bought it.) Doomsday slams his powerful fists again and again into the thick walls of the power facility! But he’s halted suddenly by the sound of an angry and familiar voice. Turning, the monster stares face-to-face with the Last Son of Krypton!

It’s then that the creature does something Superman doesn’t expect, looking at the hero with recognition in his cold eyes, it speaks! It utters the word, “Metropolis”! Then, turning as if to show that it doesn’t see the Man of Steel as a threat whatsoever, it continues its rampage! (Man! I don’t know about you guys, but I’d be hurt! Thats when you get back in Doomsday’s face and say, “Hey! I’m not just a piece of meat that you can just discard! I’m a person too, damn it, and I deserve some respect! Now, I demand you pay attention to me and beat me to death like everyone else! Yeah.) Regaining his composure, Superman takes full advantage of the beast’s arrogance and lets loose with the full might of his heat vision! Doomsday is only momentarily stunned! He raises a clawed fist and his knuckle spurs lengthen several feet, piercing Superman’s shoulder and releasing a powerful toxin into the wound!

Doomsday used his elongated knuckle spikes then whip Superman to the ground with tremendous force! It’s then that the hero becomes very aware of the poison spreading throughout his body! Wasting no time, the Man of Steel leaps to his feet and pulls a strange handgun from a holster that the Mother Box has gifted him! Pulling the trigger, the weapon unleashes a devastating pulse of sonic waves! The creature seems to be hurt! But alas, only momentarily! Flesh grows over his ear canals, protecting him from harm! Superman then rips the claws out of his shoulder and takes flight to get some distance! Waverider uses this opportunity to rush in and touch the monster, entering his mind! He plans to try and understand the creature in order to find its weakness! What he finds shocks even the time-traveler! (Like how I left that paragraph so that the suspense and anticipation builds? I’m actually pulling this writing thing off while on my death bed, yo!)

Waverider staggers away from Doomsday, obviously shaken! Superman demands to know what he has found. Finally, the truth is revealed, Doomsday was created by none other than kryptonians! He’s a product of Superman’s home planet! (Didn’t see that coming, did ya? What? You read this in the 90’s or already read the speech balloons in the picture above? Nobody likes a smarty-pants. Well, I’m cool, but that’s my jam.)

However, the two heroes can argue no more about the subject, because Doomsday has stood idle for way too long for his liking! He springs! Thankfully, Superman is prepared and hits the creature in the face with a thunderous punch! The two combatants then begin to destroy one another in hand-to-hand combat! Superman, soon realizes that the monster is quickly gaining the upper hand once again! Rather than face death once again, the Last Son of Krypton pulls yet another weapon from his armor, a lazer sword! (Uh-oh! Watch out Supes, or Disney will sue! Everyone knows that “The Mouse” owns all rights to any lazer sword-like weaponry. Or worse yet, you could be Disney’s next acquisition! Gulp!)

Superman cuts deep into the creature’s tough hide! And while Doomsday stops to heal, he finishes the maneuver with a full blast of heat vision! But the monster is once again way too fast! He pummels Superman within an inch of his heroic life! Waverider tries to intervene as the creature raises the fallen superhero above his head, but Doomsday uses the Man of Steel’s still form as a projectile and shatters the wall to the planet’s reactor! The explosion is deafening! (Is….is Superman dead again? For good?……sob……I had twenty bucks riding on him…..sob……) The blast dissipates Waverider’s energy form and Superman’s body drops limply to the ground.

Doomsday senses victory. He pulls himself from the rubble and approaches the Kryptonian’s unmoving form. But, just as soon as the beast is about to deliver a finishing blow, Superman moves with blinding speed and strikes the creature under the jaw with a powerful uppercut! But the beating doesn’t end there. No. The hero continues his onslaught with renewed strength and determination! While the monster is momentarily stunned, Superman places Waverider’s time travel device around one of Doomsday’s protruding shoulder spikes and activates it, hoping to remove the creature from this already devastated world! (Damn! Did anyone else hear the “Eye of the Tiger” in their heads while that beat-down was going on? No? Hmph. You all sadden my nerdy heart.)

The pair find themselves floating in a specific point in the timestream, a place that can only be described as a living nightmare. That’s when a newly reconstituted Waverider appears! He takes Superman from this place. Only Superman. He leaves the monster to face his end. You see, this is the end of the universe, and no amount of quick healing can stop the end of all that is. This is truly the end of the living engine of destruction known only as Doomsday! (Until DC decides to use the character once again, rendering this epic ending for the powerful supervillain moot. Don’t you just love comic books?) The two heroes thank one another for their part in ending this seemingly unstoppable menace. Mother Box uses the last of its power to reform Superman’s familiar costume before it is no more. Waverider flies off to parts unknown. As for Superman? He enters the window of a worried Lois Lane and embraces her. There is much to be proud of. Afterall, who truly gets to physically defeat the monster in the darkness that they feared as a child? This superhero did.

End.

This article is dedicated to my son, James Christian Miller. He turned eighteen years old this month and is now thrust into the sometimes frightening unknown world of adulthood. May you conquer all of the monsters that lurk in the darkness of your past and future. But remember, there are always those who love you to help you in your fight. I love you.

No Such Thing as Monsters (Part 2)

What’s that? Where have I been? Well, there’s an interesting answer to that question. You see…..it’s a boy! No, no. There’s no need for you Unspokenites to send me blue bubblegum cigars or Superman onesies. You see, he’s nearly eighteen years old. Now, before you write in, questioning as to why Mrs. Symbifan and I have adopted a nearly grown man, let me explain. My son from my previous marriage has been living with us part-time while his room at his mother’s house is being remodeled. And since this is the longest length of time I’ve had the opportunity to spend with my only son, I’ve been taking full advantage before he’s too old to want to spend so much time with his “geeky” father. So, cease calling the FBI and lets return to the second part of this fantastic three part epic…..

Waverider sits in silent contemplation at a desk within one of the silent rooms in the place he calls home. But though the home itself appears fairly plain, it is the emptiness that surrounds it that is awe-inspiring. For this dwelling exists in a place that is quite literally out of time itself. It is known as the Vanishing Point. It is here that he considers breaking his one and only rule. A rule to never intervene in the timeline of the universe, no matter how small his involvement or how noble his cause. He studies photographs depicting the death of the hero, Superman, at the hands of the monster Doomsday. And, though the Man of Steel did find a way to return from the dead, it is a process that cannot be repeated. If the kryptonian dies this time, it is forever. Even now, as Waverider weighs his options, Superman faces that same monstrosity once again on the planet Apokolips. (So, he watches events unfold but has vowed to never intervene? Sounds like a certain Marvel character, huh folks? Though Waverider far surpasseses the Watcher in raw sex appeal…..What? A straight man can’t say that? You guys need to grow up! Moving on…..)

A battered Man of Steel stands amidst the rubble and amassed corpses left in Doomsday’s wake. As he attempts to think strategically about his next course of action, his enhanced hearing picks up a stirring behind him. He turns and sees Darkseid himself! But before many words can be exchanged, the evil New God suddenly drops face first next to Superman’s feet! (You ever fall face first after a night of drinking? Man, do I have some teenage years stories to tell! I actually remember holding with all of my might to handfuls of grass, thinking I was going to fall off of the planet! Talk about quick thinking on my part! What was I talking about?) At this time, within Darkseid’s stronghold, the Cyborg Superman amuses himself by throwing Desaad around like a ragdoll. This, however, is interrupted as the dreaded one spies a battalion of Darkseid’s elite Parademons approaching upon a viewing screen. Amused, he transfigures his robotic arm and uses it to hack into the planet’s defense systems. Using this, he amplifies the transmissions they’re using to stay in contact, and literally melts their brains! They fall from the skies like sprayed insects.

Meanwhile, Superman carries Darkseid’s near-lifeless body over his shoulder. He discovers a slab of metal amongst the debris and places the New Gods’ still form upon it. After examining the evil one’s injuries and listening to his slowing heartbeat, Superman realizes that Darkseid will soon die if something is not done quickly. But does he really want to save this monster? Darkseid is responsible for the deaths of countless victims in his long life. A dictator and genocidal madman of the highest order. Superman considers letting him die. But instead, he tears the Motherbox from his arm and places it upon Darkseid’s chest. If there is any hope at all of reviving this villain, the Motherbox is that hope. (You see, this is why it’s a good thing I wasn’t granted superpowers. I’d have let Darkseid die. Let’s say I was Peter Parker, holding my dying Uncle Ben in my arms as he drones on about power and responsibility. I’d agree and swear an oath to him, wait for the old dude to die, and then completely go the opposite way. Kneel before Spider-Man! Um…..I think I went a smidge off topic there…..I am in therapy.) Superman turns to leave the sentient computer to do its work but is surprised by the sudden appearance of Waverider as he descends from the smoke-filled skies!

Superman is usually the voice of reason for more violent heroes, their conscience given form. But in this instance, he’s plainly had enough. When Waverider tries to explain his vow of non-interference, the Man of Steel simply states that if he’s not going to be of any help, he needs to leave now. (Wow! Supes is definitely not the superhero I’d want to make mad at me! Dude may seem like a boyscout, but he has the power to rip off both of your arms before you know what happened, and make you check your own prostate for colon cancer! -Shudder!) Waverider makes up his mind in that instant. He reaches out to Superman, placing a hand on his chest. It’s then that Superman witnesses the origins of Doomsday as if he were there in person!

It began 250,000 years ago, on a distant and barbarous world. An alien to this planet, a gray-skinned creature called Bertron, and a few other human-looking scientists, began an experiment that would one day give birth to Doomsday. They used a newborn baby in these ghastly tests. The child would be shot to the surface of the planet, where the savage and bestial denizens would rip the baby to shreds upon the opening of the capsule! After this carnage, what was left would be brought back and a new child cloned from the remaining tissue. This would go on for ten years until the baby began to change on a genetic level in order to survive! Bertron called this new being “The Ultimate”. (Bertron? What’s his partner’s name, Ernieus? Hahaha! Sorry. A Sesame Street joke was uncalled for.)

Even more time would pass until only Bertron himself was the only original scientist. It had been two years since the child had been seen. In that amount of time, the population of creatures had dwindled to nothing. That was when the Ultimate came home! Using the boney spikes that had grown upon its body and it’s superior strength, this now unkillable monstrosity had returned to pay back those who had hurt him so many times! You see, somehow he remembered! The Ultimate made short work of Bertron and his colleagues and then waited upon this now lifeless planet until he would stow away upon a returning supply ship and leave the place behind forever. It would terrorize many more worlds in the coming years until coming to the planet Calton. Here it would meet defeat at long last! (Damn! And I had assumed he was returning with a Father’s Day card! Hmmm. Live and learn.)

The technologically advanced world of Calton lasted for a mere three years under the creature’s onslaught until only the capitol city remained. It was within the great hall of this city that a plan was put into action. The king and his family concentrated their very lifeforces into concentrated energy! This energy then took the form of a single, powerful entity, the Radiant! The Radiant wasted little time in throwing himself into combat against Doomsday! Doomsday had never before faced a being composed of pure energy and therefore couldn’t evolve his body quick enough! This clash of the titans would still last for a solid week until the Radiant shot Doomsday with a blast so mighty, the monster at last fell! Doomsday’s body was suited and shackled before being fired into the void of space, customary of these people as a sign of no honor. This craft would later crash land to the Earth, where Doomsday would reawaken to cause yet more destruction! (Damn Caltonians and their stupid burial rites! They could have ended the threat of Doomsday right there, while he was technically dead! But at least they covered up the creature’s…..um…..you know. Can you imagine how monstrous Doomsday is “down below”? Talk about scary!)

Just as Superman’s mind returns to present day, there is sudden movement behind he and Waverider. Turning, they see that Darkseid has awoken! At this moment however, the Cyborg Superman has decided that, since he has now eliminated all real threats to his rule of Apokolips, he will now make the common folk here fear him, beg him for his leadership. To do this, he fires warheads at the planet’s food silos! Superman takes flight immediately towards the missiles! But when he arrives, the Man of Steel realizes that he is too late! The warheads are too close to impact and their armor too dense to break! That’s when the unthinkable happens, powerful lazers hit the missiles, destroying them before they can touch down! Superman knows these lazers all to well. They are the signature attack of Darkseid himself, his Omega Beams! The evilest of all of the New Gods has just saved his people from certain starvation! (Awww! That’s sweet. Nevermind the untold deaths and torture that has been perpetrated by this sadistic monarch. This single act of heroism totally redeems him in my eyes. I did mention I was in therapy, right?) Superman doesn’t miss a step. He crashes through Darkseid’s citadel wall, straight toward a certain horrified, half-robotic supervillain!

The Cyborg Superman and the true Man of Steel now begin what’s expected to be a long, titanic battle. But instead, Darkseid fires his Omega Beams once more! Superman quickly snatches the Cyborg up and places him straight in their destructive paths! Cyborg Superman seems to disintegrate completely! But this victory is short-lived. The villainous one reforms his body using the surrounding electronics and attacks! Superman reacts on instinct. He throws the Cyborg through a wall, nearly destroying his body once again! But once more, he reforms! This time he creates a body similar to a spider-like tank! Darkseid has grown tired of these games. He unleashes the full fury of his Omega Beams, annihilating all that remains of the Cyborg Superman! Superman then lands. He spies Desaad not too far away and demands Doomsday’s whereabouts. Cowardly Desaad immediately responds that he teleported the monster to the planet Calton. The people there dealt with the creature once afterall. Waverider proclaims that this was done so long ago that Doomsday has definitely evolved past the point of being harmed by the attack that was used last time. Superman then steps forward with authority. He vows that this ends now. He will stop Doomsday once and for all!

To be concluded…..

This article is dedicated to the newest member of the Symbifan family, Eden Love Miller, my great-niece. May your life be long and full of happiness. And though this family is not kryptonian, know that our power to love one another makes us truly invincible.