Me in Comic Books:
The Comic Book Adventures of Me 2006
The Return of the Balance
Superhumans are returning - to a world that never knew them. Blame the reality shifts.
Of course, they're all forming up in teams. One such team, the one that started the whole public "team" thing back in 1990, is known as "The Balance".
I hadn't intended to sign on for that crap... but it seems I can't avoid it.
Return of the Dire Wolves. A wolf attack gives the world's first superhumans an excuse for a reunion.
WORLD JOURNAL |
September 2006 Issues: Previous Next
World's First Superhuman Team Saves Washington, D.C. From A Wolf Attack
An ancient species of wolf tried to swarm over Washington, D.C. But the world's first superhumans reunited to stop them.
The wolves were Dire Wolves, larger and stronger than today's wolves. Scientists thought they were extinct. But a horde of them came out of a cave in Virginia, and swarmed toward the U.S. capital city!
It seemed nothing could stop the wolves. Policemen put up sandbag barricades, but the wolves swarmed around them. The population ducked for cover. But then the Balance returned!
The Balance is the nation's first team of superhumans. They were four college students when they first formed at Michigan State University in 1990. After college, the three surviving members went their separate ways.
But their leader, the Mighty Tim, was in Virginia when the wolves attacked. He called his old friends Ellipsis and Morningstar, and they responded to the nation's need. And they brought their own friends. Together, they drove off the wolves.
Now, the Balance has six members. They usually work separately, but they're ready to unite again to fight the threats that can only be defeated with unity.
Special to the World Journal Monthly by Sylvester Morrow
- The Mighty Tim and a new partner of his (a U.N. battlesuit veteran from Asante-Ghana) have got themselves into an ambush, where an American Indian (or something) can throw rocks at them and start a rockslide. This all happens at the Mattaponi Indian Reservation near West Point, Virginia - prime American Civil War territory. (3 Sep)
- Ancient Dire Wolves are popping up in Virginia. In the 1860s, two of them swam the Mattaponi River and set up a nest. It was convenient to abundant carrion; Dire Wolves crunch human bones.
- Now, Dire Wolves are swarming - with an apparent purpose. And they're smart enough to set up ambushes! Hence the rockslide attack on Mighty Tim.
- They've run through a weapons shop in Fredericksburg on the way, and took only one artifact: a bullet from "Meade's Penetration". I used to have one of those...
- There are sandbag barricades set up in Washington-D.C., and Ellipsis (of all superhumans) is on patrol there! (4 Sep)
- Possibly that's because one of these wolves resembles Spanker 4 - and acts like the Oversaur, right down his reproductive habits. Only the alpha male reproduces in each Dire Wolf pack. Science fact, as far as anyone knows. The Oversaur reproduces likewise.
- Ellipsis is coordinating with the Mighty Tim, and serving as his backup. Or his backup backup, actually.
- One would think, D.C. police and U.S. Government rifle power could defeat Dire Wolves. But (1) the Dire Wolves of this pack are numerous, fast and sneaky, and (2) there's some kind of alien presence behind them, such as could capture a single bullet from the U.S. Civil War for some purpose, like that damned scavenger hunt wherein I just fended off the Powernaut.
- Meanwhile, Julie Wolcott is stalking her ex-husband Ellipsis! And she's probably the only person on Earth who can. He's the world's most powerful superhuman and she's just normal, but he once gave her mental defenses against him. And these defenses also serve as offenses.
- (Author's Note: Thank you very much the Stephen King "On Writing" challenge of 2000, finally available in thrift stores. In 2006, StephenKing.com no longer wants to know how this one turns out... but the rest of the world will!) (10 Sep)
- But seeing how Ellipsis and the Mighty Tim are working together, Tim's called in Morningstar to backup his backup backup by now. Watch out, it's the Return of the Original Balance! (11 Sep)
- Ellipsis has independently arranged for one Senhora Valkyrie as his own backup. And since the last superhuman conference, Morningstar is backup for the Bride of the Ultimate Darkness. This alliance system is about as big as the one which started World War One. So with all these backups, this could be more than just a Surviving Beatles reunion, it could be one of those major superhero team origin things.
- Julie Wolcott not only has unique mental access to Ellipsis, she's as qualified as anyone to hijack Morningstar's stone, or the Ultimate Darkness, or any number of mental things. She damn near hijacked my own company once. Me, I'm rooting for her to whup all the superhumans, then go beat America's new enemies. But I'm not there. Somehow, I suspect Julie has wound up with Our Villains and Dire Wolves, and it'll be just something for Our Heroes to fight and make their lives worthwhile.
- The popular media will probably have a heroic New Original Balance story to tell, however. I think the team is calling themselves the World Balance, though they could take back the Balance name if they wanted to. The campus heroes of the New Balance are now calling themselves the Power Patrol, thanks to my friend the Powernaut.
Bad Moon Rising. The suherhuman reunion gathers momentum. And I get sucked in. Oh joy.
- At Janesville, Wisconsin at 8 pm one night, I find a relatively fancy hotel and restaurant. Which is to say, better than the local Super 8 motel. A scientist there talks about an unearthly odor his microorganisms produced. (24 Sep)
- Scientists in conference in rural Wisconsin? Sure, why not. For one thing, it's cheap. It's also convenient to dairy scientists who like to talk about microorganisms in cows.
- I'm interested because I have unearthly microorganisms in my blood. I meet a Brazilian scientist named Dr. Karla Melhor, who's interested because she's been off Earth and worked with microorganisms. She thinks these come from the Moon. I take her seriously, because I've been to the Moon. So we're both interested in tracking these down.
- Dr. Melhor has serious backup, and the ability to pay for more. She's got video communicators, so we can all see anything one of us sees. One friend of hers from the U.N. enforcer squads will act as bodyguard for her. And she has access to the "Challenger II" private spacecraft - but nobody to fly it. Amazingly enough, I've flown it!
- So I'm off to the Moon, as a pilot.
- A man and a woman have snuck onto the lunar colony. The woman's in disguise in a fat suit. (28 Sep)
- Dr. Melhor's been there before, and has chosen a disguise which masks her attractiveness. She colored her skin darker too, to match her bodyguard. He looks like a full native African whose ancestors never got interbred with white folk.
- No, I'm not an infiltrator; that would be the others' job. I'm making myself comfortable in a room filled with small robots. (1 Oct)
- We land in the alien sector of the secret Lunar base, just because I land in the same place this same ship landed before.
- I get to hang out in the pilot's lounge - but no alcohol, because I'm on duty. Still, I get a chance to explore the "stimulant" beverage options, and let the robots figure out what power sources work best for my personal computer. Thankfully, they get it right.
- Meanwhile, Dr. Melhor and her bodyguard go infiltrate. They're loaded up with tins of butter cookies, which all the aliens around here seem to love... Hey, I taught Earth that trick!
- A production run is ending with management getting shown off the facility, and workers getting recycled. (24 Sep)
- According to Dr. Melhor, the human side of the Lunar colony takes some draconic measures to keep the resources running. Apparenly they've bred artificial lifeforms that don't mind being sent to feed the hydroponic bins - with themselves.
- A woman is fighting a pig that has poison-tipped horns. (26 Sep)
- I can see it on the videocom. Uh oh, it's Dr. Melhor! Her African bodyguard can't help, because he has enough pigs of his own to manhandle. I would save her if I could. What to do?
- Captain Marvel (practically every version ever published anywhere) used to let humans swap bodies with him when their friends were in trouble. I used to be able to do that with the Powernaut. It's worth a try now. (17 Sep)
- So I try it. But I don't get the Powernaut; I get Jesus of Nazareth! Instead of tapping into Powernaut power now, I'm tapping Jehovahpower! Just like I used to, plus a bit of body change like what I do nowadays.
- This should be interesting, because Jesus can make pigs go over cliffs! The Bible says so. But he can't just save us all from earthly harm. Please don't make me explain Jehovahpower again; it makes my brain hurt.
- Thankfully, Jesus also has remote control powers, so as to cure people's daughters from afar. So I can just sit here and save my partners! So is it done.
- My passengers make it back to the ship! Dr. Melhor's got a chain-like weapon that helps.
- They come back on the run - after the bodyguard blows up the lab on general principle. Hoo boy, we'd best leave fast.
- The team is ditching from its ship - then the ship teleports away! (29 Sep)
- When alien ships go back and forth to the Moon, they are exempt from interference. The Challenger II isn't. My friend and Chief Pilot Hudson Ramo once flew this same ship on a combat mission to rescue me from the Moon. He got the ship back without damage. I didn't.
- But Dr. Melhor has some serious backup - capable of teleporting the whole ship somewhere so it doesn't crash! Her backup is the World Balance! Or the New Original Balance. Or whatever. She's one of them, as Senhora Valkyrie! Whatever you call them, they're the most powerful and experienced superhumans in the world. They bring the ship down safely.
- Still, we ditch first, on general principle.
- As a woman falls, she gets cursed with the powers of the Risen One. (30 Sep)
- Uh oh for Dr. Melhor. She lands safely, technically, so I don't have to rescue her. But she does not land safely mystically. She has fiery powers now. She can't even speak without wreaking havoc!
- My best guess is, the people on the Moon have hired a "black mage". Which is to say, evil magic. This mage cursed Dr. Melhor. Black mages just suck.
- All her teammates are interested. And they need someone with links to mystics and to extra-dimensional power. And they remind me of debts of honor, and so on. And she was under my command by vehicular law, even though I was following her orders. And yada yada.
- But more importantly, she was a fellow worker, and she needs a friend. I will not abandon a fellow worker. I hold Dr. Melhor's hands to let her know this. Boy, those hands are hot.
- Now I can call her Karla. I now know she has layers of stories and sadness far beyond this. But I still won't abandon a story, as long as it's true.
- So, for the duration, I'm now the seventh member of the Return of the Original Balance! Along with Karla a.k.a. Dr. Melhor a.k.a. Senhora Valkyrie a.k.a. The Risen One; Prince Whatsisname a.k.a. Warrior Ashanti; Pam Brown a.k.a. the Bride of the Original Darkness; Morningstar who works with Pam Brown; the Mighty Tim who works with Warrior Ashanti; and Ellipsis who works with Karla.
- Oh, shit. Ellipsis. And I do not say this casually. Ellipsis likes to control the world - or at least he used to. I have often inadvertently got involved with his affairs, and it often changed the destiny of nations. Once, I disrupted his marriage - and thereby shook the world repeatedly.
- But I see no good way out. I will not abandon Karla. To his credit, neither will Ellipsis. So let it be. If that means the universe burns because of us... at least I can say, I told you so.
Reality House. Now that I've been sucked in to a superhuman reunion, I get to hang out with them for fun. It's like a Reality TV show with celebrities - who can maul or immolate you.
- I'm rooming with a woman and a man near Boston. (3 Oct)
- My lady roommate is Karla, who's recently been cursed with fire. The collective wisdom of the Balance says, Karla needs a nice recovery environment, and supportive team members living nearby. They've obtained an estate in Framingham, Massachusetts. Prince Adu Asantemantse the Warrior Ashanti is moving in, but he can't stay long. And the rest of the superhumans are busy, and they'd like another volunteer for barracks garrison.
- Fine with me. I can write these wonderful journals and do my other work from anywhere. I could never afford Framingham on my own, but I usually liked Massachusetts. And I've never had the privilege of living there rent-free before.
- So I've moved in with most of the junior members of the Balance. Mighty Tim, Morningstar, Ellipsis, and junior member Pam Brown all have their own affairs, but they can all stop in to visit any time. Most of them can teleport under their own power.
- The estate is equipped with a beach volleyball court. On the day I move in, Tim and Adu oppose Pam and Karla. Apparently it's a rematch. And apparently Karla can still hit a volleyball without setting it on fire. Usually.
- I paid attention to Adu's real name in the process. He and I could be good drinking buddies. We've both worked for the U.N. peackeeper squads! Back in the world where the U.N. had its own peacekeeper squads, that is.
- Much talk about the history of Adu's native land Ghana follows. It's a standard story about a colonial power suppressing an existing tribal kingdom, drawing artificial boundaries, declaring a republic, and withdrawing, whereupon the republic promptly declares one-party rule with a cult of personality, and keeps on suppressing the old kingdom, while the colonial ex-rulers nod indulgently and say, "Yes, that sounds efficient".
- In this story, Adu is the son of the king. And he correctly points out, Western society is full of legends about The Return of the King. So why shouldn't his own part of the world try to live the legend?
- Adu does this superhero stuff as public relations for his tribe. His real ambition is to sit on their Golden Stool and wield the Anokye Sword. By the standards of his people, that would mean the Apocalypse. But Adu correctly points out, our world has now survived several apocalypses.
- I'd love to continue this conversation another night. But after just one night, Adu leaves. Just in time to avoid another chance at the Apocalypse. Which is to say, my relatives are coming to visit!
- My relatives wanted to meet me for dinner downtown in Boston, but I'm running late and can't print out a map. Then they change the plan, and all show up here. (3 Oct)
- My brother and sister have picked this time to have an impromptu family reunion - in Massachusetts, which is convenient to them if my brother happens to be visiting Massachusetts at the time. And I've mentioned I live in a big estate in Framingham now. Oh, perfect for two big families!
- I try to beg off because of a sick friend. But Karla is having none of that. She can't talk, and she can't write, but she can gesture. And we have an omniverse-class telepath on my new team, oh joy. And he can tell me what Karla's trying to say.
- Karla loves big families, and her own relatives think her dead. So the more family I can bring her, the better, oh joy.
- So there's lots of chaos, and bouncy nephews, and shopping trips, and excursions for warm cocoa, and such. It's an alien lifestyle to me. But Karla loves it.
- In Karla's present state, her touch on human flesh will burn... but she can still wear heavy clothes, join in a group hug for an instant, and smile. After hugs, she has to go to a side room, because only her cursed ceremonial garb remains after any human contact. But the rest of the team can get her all the clothes she wants, and she wants the hugs.
- I just tell my relatives, "Superhuman. Unwanted Power." They understand. We all have some prior exposure to superhumans.
- In all the chaos, I yield my bedroom to some of my relatives, and sleep in the upper story of the garage. I can hear traffic... or is it rain? But it's still quieter than my nephews. (4 Oct)
- I'm associated with an African trade mission. Our compound doubles as Asante-Ghana North American headquarters! (5 Oct)
- The opening ceremony for the mission is scheduled for the day after my relatives show up. And they're still there, though they're leaving today. Oh well, the staff of Asante-Ghana can show them out; I've got a ceremony to go to.
- Most of the Balance shows up for the ceremony, as honored warrior allies. I'm there alongside them. In front of news cameras. Oh joy.
- Later, the mission chief makes everyone face left and tap their arms as we pose for ID badges. Hey, it makes as much sense as the "face forward" pose.
- After the ceremony, Karla and I go into Boston for fun. There's a gaming convention there, which is always fun to people-watch. Asante-Ghana will pay our exorbitant non-pre-registration admission fee. (5 Oct)
- Karla can still ride a bicycle, which (along with my own bike) gets us into town. I know from experience, when it comes to interaction between humans and mystic beings, bicycles are a great equalizer.
- Somehow, at the hotel I get onto side ramps for baggage carts. Security people try to detain me as I cut through a building, but as they wait for an interrogation room I slip away.
- Back in the street, Karla is happy to see me, until the rest of the Balance warns her away. I'm still being pursued!
- Fine. If the Balance won't rescue us both, I can always just disappear into another dimension, and make my way home from there. But there goes the day.
- Okay. Since I'm obviously unfit to be Karla's custodian, I'm clear to go out on one-day tech jobs. And get into trouble at bars afterward, of course. (6, 7 Oct)
- I'm sitting here in a sports bar, unwinding after two days of heavy work in my own life and not the Balance's. There are others, both big companies and little charities, who need me more than the Balance seems to.
- Here at the bar, after a day at the little charity, they made me check my toolbelt at the door, because a properly loaded toolbelt is a melee weapon. One guy decided to thump my toolbelt to see how effective it'd be in combat. Please don't touch my tools, sir... Most everyone at the bar agrees with me. So no fight.
- Back among the superhumans... Pam Brown can take over Karla's physical training; Adu can take over her socialization; Morningstar can bring children to visit. And they'll all provide a much more nicely structured life for Karla than I did. The superhumans will be happy. I just hope Karla doesn't mind.
- Assuming the universe doesn't burn at Karla's cursed hands... This is actually a good time for me to take a week to sort out my mother's affairs. My sister would be pleased with me for once. (7 Oct)
Thus ends my membership in a superhuman battle squad and social club. I lasted less than two weeks with them.
But nothing is forever. If Karla ever truly needs a friend, I'll be there.
And I'm sure the superhumans will disturb me again, whenever they need me for some other reason. They always do.