Tag Archives: Superman

No Such Thing as Monsters (part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued….

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

When in rome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End.

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

-Symbidad

Dark Reflections (part 2)

RCO001_1469409605-1-1Howdy y’all! It’s me, that danged varmit, Symbifan! Yep. I’m back with that part two y’all were waitin’ fer! So, sit on back, get yerself comfy, and lissen while I dish out them fancy word-vittles yer all a wantin’! (Yep. That energy drink has definitely screwed with my brain.)

As we return to our Elseworlds tale, we find Superman and Lana Lang embracing within a hidden sewer tunnel after so very long apart. (Does anyone else think ol’ Clark should have chosen Lana over Lois like me? Lana always seemed to love Clark, Clark. Not Superman. Clark. Lois never seemed interested unless he was decked out in blue spandex. This says all kinds of things about her sexually. But alas…..) They emerge into a hidden complex where the heroes and their small army of human resistance fighters are training for battle.

RCO010_1469409605-1To say things aren’t going well would be an understatement. Batman is training everyone much too hard in hand-to-hand combat, The Flash is firing at falling debris with a handgun at super-speed but panics and emotionally shuts down when the situation calls for him to run, and Green Lantern seems too grim and fierce. It seems like he simply wants this war to end so he can die. (Those are our heroes folks. Kind of dark and depressing, huh? Yep. It’s like someone slapped them all with the Marvel Comics stick repeatedly!)The upside is when the mouthy and cocky Superboy spears with Wonder Woman. All seems to be going well until the young hero actually plants one on a surprised Amazonian princess! She clocks him so hard that you’d swear his head’s gonna snap clean off!

It’s then that Metallex makes his appearance and scares the holy hell out of Lana! (Dude does kind of look like a freaking terminator. I’d wet my panties too!) The robot scans her for hidden listening or tracking devices. Satisfied she’s clean, he and Superman talk war plans and about finding and rescuing the missing Lois Lane. To this, Lana interjects that she’s been doing some undercover work and may just be able to reunite the two love birds tomorrow night! They make plans to meet in front of the debris that once was the Daily Planet building.

RCO014_1469409605-1The next night, the Super Seven enter the wreckage of the once proud city of Metropolis. Scouting ahead and moving carefully, they head to the meeting place. They are stopped suddenly by the cries of a frantic Lana Lang. She screams that it’s a trap! And a trap it is! A large force of Horde warriors teleport in and surround them! Wasting no time, the heroes charge into action! Their training may have been messy and unorganized, but in battle? They work as a well-oiled machine! The sight is awe-inspiring! The Justice League truly lives on, even in times as dark as this. Especially in times as dark as this. (That’s right, kiddies! The big guns are back and they’re mad as hell! Nerdgasm alert!)

RCO017_1469409605-1Yes. All seems to be going amazingly! That is except for The Flash. He freezes in horror at the very thought of running in battle again. (Yeah. To be honest, this does get kinda old throughout the story. Man up, you wuss! Oh, yeah. He can’t hear me. Come to think of it, I should stop talking aloud anyway.) While the battle rages on, Superman swoops  Lana up in his arms and gets her to safety, by Jimmy Olson. It’s then that a Horde soldier makes a mistake. It begins to try and protect Lana! She orders the Hordesman to stop this and treat her as if she were the enemy! Yes, it seems as if Lana Lang is in fact a traitor! (Okay, let me go on record here by saying that Clark should be with Lana instead of Lois in the NORMAL reality. Not this Elseworlds story. See. So my early comment is still correct as I see it. Whew! I almost looked foolish there!)

RCO021_1469409605-1Jimmy pulls a gun, kills the horde member, and then aims it at her! He says that he’d rather kill her and have Superman think him the traitor than let him think his childhood sweetheart was in fact the backstabber. But alas, he cannot force himself to pull the trigger. Lana teleports away just as Wonder Woman arrives. Having seen and heard everything from above, she tries to comfort him. This doesn’t last for long though as a Horde soldier emerges and fires at Jimmy! A true heroine to the last, Wonder Woman takes the shot in his place! She dies soon after Green Lantern smashes the enemy. (No! You’re too important to the world to die like this! I ask you, who’s really gonna miss Jimmy “goofy bowtie” Olson? Exactly! Not even his mama!)

Before the heroes can begin to comprehend what has just happened, a Horde ship descends from the heavens. A holographic figure and booming voice are seen and heard by everyone in Metropolis. It is the supreme ruler of the Horde! He tells the people how disappointed he is in them for allowing this little metahuman skirmish to happen and that tomorrow, every last man, woman, and child within the shielded city will perish in retaliation! (Wow! Talk about a punishment! And I thought being grounded from my Nintendo for a month was a living hell! Granted, my punishment did last longer by comparison so, draw your own conclusions as to who suffered more!)

RCO025_1469409605-1The group escapes into a safe house to rethink their situation. While they do this, Superboy decides to go catch some Z’s elsewhere. He is soon met by Batman. He discusses attempting a secret mission that only involves the two of them. Happy to please, the youth agrees. That’s when Batman gasses him from a compartment within one of his gauntlets! We next see Batman, within Horde armor, attempting to gain entrance into a Horde ship with his metahuman prisoner! After some typical Batman persuasion, he and Superboy’s unconscious form are teleported within! (I hate to point out the obvious Star Wars plan here. You know where Han and Luke dress as stormtroopers and pretend Chewie’s their prisoner to gain access into the Death Star? God, what have I been doing with my life? Sob…… Psyche! A nerd’s life is the life for me!)

RCO031_1469409605-1-1When aboard, Batman quickly disposes of the Horde armor. He then gasses the unconscious Superboy with an antidote, waking him immediately. Before the youth can pose a question, Batman reveals that the power to the shield over Metropolis is contained within this very vessel! They quickly locate the power source and spring into action against a legion of Horde warriors! They do well but the size of the enemy force finally gets the better of them. Superboy is forced through a window by Horde soldiers while Batman finally is overtaken. But, before he breathes his last, he presses a button concealed underneath the bat insignia on his chest. The explosion that follows sends the craft smashing into a nearby skyscraper! The shield falls soon after! (Rest in peace, Batman. Why, oh why didn’t you carry your aerosol can of Bat Horde Repellent that day? Why?!)

RCO037_1469409605-1Superboy returns with the news of Batman’s sacrifice but Superman has already called the heroes into action. The Horde has come to make good on their threat! The Super Seven make their final stand. Each of the remaining heroes fights like a champion. Showing no fear, they battle on like the Horde has never seen! Metallex is the next to fall. Once again it is only the number of enemies rather than their fighting prowess that wins the fight. Green Lantern fights like a man posessed! Using his inner demons as fuel, he incinerates Horde soldiers by the handful! But, he is so full of rage that he fails to see a golden arrow launched at his back! Seeing this, the Flash battles his own inner demons and runs like never before towards his friend and ally! The arrow strikes home and the Flash dies instantly. He dies a hero. (Damn! Who wrote this, George R. R. Martin? People be droppin’ like flies!)

RCO040_1469409605-1-1Superman and Superboy manage to make it into the Horde mothership undeterred. They fly through the corridors until they suddenly find themselves in front of the leader of the Horde forces himself! The ruler of the invading force stands in full battle armor. To his right stands Lana Lang in the shadows! Superman mistakenly thinks it to be his beloved Lois. It’s then that she steps into the light and reveals herself. It is also revealed that Lois perished ten years ago! She has it out with Superman, that if he had only shown her any interest since the team’s formation, no one would have been killed! Before much can be said in return, the Horde commander disintegrates her with a wave of his armored hand! (Talk about jealousy! You know, I’m starting to think Lana might just be a bad person…..)

RCO048_1469409605-1The outraged heroes fly into action! But before the fight can truly begin, Metallexs’ still form falls to the ground from above. It’s then that the kryptonite heart lowers from another panel in the ceiling, right over the already weakening Superman! Superboy goes into a fighting frenzy! He beats the surprised alien from one end of the room to the other! But before victory is his, the Horde commander hits the young hero with a powerful hand blast! He then walks forward to finish him…..only to be impaled through the heart from behind by Metallex! The Horde leader is dead! Sadly, upon closer examination, it’s revealed that Superman is as well. Lana calls to the young hero. Surprisingly still alive but quickly dying, she whispers that Superman can still live. Moments later, Superman flies through the top of the Horde mothership in all of his glory! The corpse of his enemy held over his head, he exclaims to the now halted battling masses that the ruler of the Horde is dead! In that very instant, everything changed.

RCO051_1469409605-1Time passes. The new Superman meets Metallex atop a high building. Before the boy can say much, the once Lex Luthor tells him that he doesn’t care that he didn’t get the credit for finally defeating the enemy. After all, the world needs it’s symbols. They bring it hope and hope is what the human race will need. Green Lantern makes a brief appearance as well. He’s been doing better with his anger and guilt. In fact, he is wearing his old costume and plans on finding and training the next generation of superheroes. When he leaves to do so, Superman goes to leave as well. He is halted by the veiled threat from the former villain. To remember that there can only be one man of steel in the city of Metropolis. Also, that he just finished killing the most powerful man on the planet. He’ll have no problem doing it again. (What did we expect? This is Lex friggin’ Luthor we’re talking about here!) If these words bother the new Man of Steel, he doesn’t show it. He simply smiles and flies off…..up, up, and away into the future!

RCO055_1469409605-1My next dedication may be surprised that I have chosen him. I’ve chosen to dedicate this article to my brother, Eric James Miller. Not just because he loves this story and has read and re-read it more that even I, but because this story has reminded me that the future is uncertain and, though we have our differences, you should never take a loved one for granted. Life really is too brief.

End.