Me in the Marvel Universe:
The Adventures of Me 2002
in Comic Books!
Of course I have adventures in comic books. We all do, even if we're just innocent bystanders, because most comic books take place right here and now. But I've figured out how to make my own adventures worth remembering.
You can meet Marvel and DC heroes in these adventures, plus heroes of my own designing. My viewpoint character actually lives in the Marvel Multiverse, but not the Marvel Universe. Marvel superheroes show up often; DC's less often.
Marvel and DC universes are both missing their World Trade Center towers. Mine is too. The heroes of the Total Conversion Foundation brought down the hijackers, with some loss of life and property, but not of skyscrapers. While the world expected a strike on Afghanistan, we wiped out terrorism all around the Mediterranean in response. But one downed terrorist swiped Total Conversion's "Scudbuster" powered armor, which can fly 1000 miles in four seconds, and brought down the towers himself before anyone could react.
And I still got laid off afterward (just like in the real world). Now, I need work.
I'll admit, the job search stuff is technically for fun. The Mashantucket Pequot Indians say they may or may not have a job for me, but I'm still technically a tribe member, so I get a tiny cut of all their casino proceeds. It's enough to enable me to live in a trailer park on their reservation, watching the native juvenile delinquents hang out by the river, fish, make out, and practice their ancestral shoplifting techniques... but I'm still looking for more. My freelance computer, travel, and game stuff all help to fill the gap between the Res and a real life. That's the gap I live with.
Anything for a Buck 2002. Featuring practically all of my former employers, plus lots of temp jobs.
- My brother and I work at Raytheon... doing yard work. GTE's willing to hire me, but only if I remember stuff about ballistic missiles from 20 years ago. No other employer would be that demanding in today's economy... yeah, right. (2 Jan)
- I have a job in Indianapolis, where there's a TV award show tonight. Faith Hill's coming in to hand out prizes to the audience. I get a bar of soap. Then a former boss of mine and I get free salads before going to dinner in the mall. (6 Jan)
- I go to Warsaw with some children and Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, to work at a memorial concert for the Uprising. He offers me beer, and is pleasantly surprised when I have lime juice with the children instead. (12 Jan)
- Raytheon and SBC are teamed up on a job. And some Polaroid people and I are stuck on it. We live in a dormitory, where the customer can find us on Sunday nights. (13 Jan)
- I go on a road trip to downtown Boston, where Marvel Comics has relocated. I tag along with their writers to theatres, and get an usher job.
Unfortunately I get into trouble when I knock down several sections of folding chairs, several times. It's not always my fault, but I always get blamed. The patrons have to help put them back up. All in all, I wonder if it will last. (14 Jan)
- I've been named an associate trustee of the Aristotle Library, which supposedly dates back to ancient Greece. (17 Jan)
- I'm navigating a bus from Dallas to summer camp in Tennessee, and we're lost. We should never have gone through Louisiana. Charlie Daniels is on the bus too, with barbecue and a prickly salad. But at least we have lots of maps. (20 Jan)
- I'm in the Navy now. I've been rushed through on a linguistics track. Bad points are, I have trouble making friends at first, and I get put in solitary confinement a lot.
But still, it's free room and board. I can save half my pay, and spend the other half buying ice cream for the ladies on board. (27 Jan)
I eventually get a contact, with a guy named Mikhail.
When I interrupt him to play target practice with his coffee cups and a breath mint during a meeting, he swipes my electric razor and trims his beard. Our team meetings tend to be disorganized. (16 Aug)
The Merlinpower War. Alternate Merlins from two universes are having a duel where I live. Featuring:
- The Apocalypse Begins Tonight. (18, 23 Jan) People are disappearing at random. In Israel they're convinced it's the Apocalypse. They think so at the phone company, too, or else they'd never have rehired me.
- Our Demons At War. (25 Jan) One universe's Merlin controls a demon named Etrigan, and has a protege named Tim with lots of Merlinpower of his own. Etrigan's stealing people to use as hostages, hence the disappearances. Another Merlin has a daughter who knows the X-Men... plus over 600 Captains Britain, which are roughly like Merlin-powered Shazams. It's shaping up to be an omniversal war here.
- Who's Got the Best Merlinpower? (27 Jan) It turns out I do, because I have the power of the real Merlin: I'm literate, I know the past, and I can advise the powerful. And my advice is: Cut it out before you break something!
The Second Pequot War. My Indians finally offer me a job. But it kinds of hits the fan.
Make It Never Was. This is the story of the day I got married. In retrospect, I should have known that would be a sign of the Apocalypse.
Homeland Security is Fun. I've just survived the Apocalypse, but life goes on, and I still need a temp job. And for once, work helps revitalize me.
I'm on security patrol for a potluck dinner at a fish and game club. I'm on a hybrid bike, which is my vehicle of choice, so don't try to outrun me on a dirt trail. While I'm on duty, I do some stuff:
I misdirect some women with my megaphone.
I start some rumors about the U.S. President, who happens to be visiting.
I sign in a guy I don't know, named Abdul Mohammed, just because he looks like an average phone company contractor and one of the other security guards asks me to.
I hulk out to the size of the Nova Scotia Giantess, whom I meet afterward. Apparently someone has a time machine, and swiped her from Barnum & Bailey's original circus. It's nice to see someone using time travel for fun this year; I certainly haven't.
I'd have to say, homeland security is fun. (27 July)
Note: One of those things actually happened in real life! Click here to find out which.
The Adventures of Pibb the Troll. There's a fun old cartoon, that I remembered just the other day...
I'm at a vampire-LARP party in a nightclub, but they're still setting up. It doesn't look like fun, until I see a TV with my favorite old cartoon, Pibb the Troll.
Pibb started out as a Christian catoon with crude animation and blunt messages like "Don't be a monkey's uncle, read your Bible", but it progressed from there. In the episode that's playing now,
Pibb has to go on board a sailing ship and join a production line where they wash their hands, use the washwater to make bread dough, eat the dough before it's cooked, shit out pencil leads, and use the pencils to review sea shanties.
Inspired, I leave the stupid vampire game and go around the corner, where MTV has people going in groups through a building in an assembly line to review videos... but I bring my own pens. And Thanos wants to borrow one.
What's Thanos doing there? It seems he's tracking an annoying little compatriot of his who swiped a gem and is now messing with the past, because he wants cartoons made about him or something.
Whew, at least he's not tracking me for messing with the past... so it's not my problem this time. (3 Aug)
A Week in the Life. For some reason (though I can't imagine why), it's become fashionable for magazine writers and other public relations people to spend an entire week with their interview subjects. Even the Fantastic Four had it done. They even went into alternate dimensions with their guy.
Now it's my turn, because I'm actually kind of famous for my role in certain travelogues and Reality TV games. I could show my interviewer some alternate universes like the FF does, but I don't feel like publishing the fact that I can. So, I keep busy with relatively normal stuff. Like a week full of travel and championship gaming.
Saturday, 24 August: I've come to Portland, Maine to run games at a convention. I'm trying to find a hotel room on the outskirts, because I'm too cheap to book myself into the expensive convention hotel. And I'm on bicycle, because I like the exercise. But my bike just got a flat tire. Can I make it to downtown Portland on foot, or do I have to settle for this shopping mall all weekend?
Sunday, 25 August: The games are on. I've got two large multi-player games set up on tables, and I'll never be able to finish them before the convention ends. I'd better clean up now.
Monday, 26 August: I'm off to Westborough, Massachusetts for something on Tuesday. I'm trying to find a hotel there before I have lunch. There's a new one that wants $1100 for the night, and only in Canadian dollars. As unreasonable as this is, they're still putting people on a waiting list. I think I'll find something else.
Tuesday, 27 August: I'm a guest at a Festival of Political Art, where some of my own work is on exhibit.
Wednesday, 28 August: Next, I'm off to Cape Cod. For once, I have a hotel in advance. But to get to dinner, I have to take elevators which run down its hallways. And my brother's come to meet me there, and I have to help him find his guitar cover. Whaat!? I didn't know my bro ever played guitar; he's such a militarist.
Thursday, 29 August: It's Reality TV time. I'm with a team of contestants on Cape Cod, looking at a map of the shoreline as far as Mystic, CT. We're supposed to get there, or at least off Cape Cod. There are patrols at the canal to stop us.
- I once did a poster showing Don Henley and Darth Vader walking through a crowd, saying, "They're all fodder for our preserves." That was during my "Don Henley Must Die" stage, when I was trying to find affordable housing near the Concord woods where he keeps a vacation house. Of course, Don Henley was opposed to this, because he believes in keeping the area "preserved" for its high-rent occupants.
- Anyway, my detail artwork is astonishing, even if I must say so myself. And I'm pleased it's been remembered. To me, it's just another thing I've done on the side... but only my side jobs are paying off now.
Friday, 30 August: Back on Cape Cod after the game, a festival is winding down. I'm too late to see most of the attractions, the hotel rooms are more expensive than yesterday, and I can't find my car. Was it towed?
- I get past the canal over a little-known portable bridge which the natives use. (You don't think they have to wait in traffic to get on or off the Cape, do you? No other neighborhood in the world has residents who put up with the same crap the riff-raff tourists do, so why should Cape Cod.)
- But I get chased by a two-guard patrol on the other side. One throws a grenade at me, but I bat it back with a stick. (It's a good thing I always carry a hiking stick. In fact, I have a business in them.) When the grenade hits, it actually blinks her out. But it's just a game, so it only works for five seconds.
- That's about where I lost my magazine PR man, so thus ends his record. I'd rather not talk about the rest of it. Personally, I think it was rigged.
I hope the readership wasn't too bored by the magazine article. If not, I can always publish my own journals. But frankly, aside from an occasional spectacular adventure, I think the day to day stuff is way too boring. (24-31 August)
My Red Right Hand. I spent a lot of time last year roaming the world like a mastermind, cooking up a Master Plan. That's entirely out of character for me. In retrospect, I'd ask myself what the hell I was thinking... but I'm too busy, because I have this new Master Plan now. Hey, at least it keeps me too busy to mope about how much I've lost.
Silly Days Are Here Again. Okay, we've all lost a lot. But the World Trade Center has become a tourist attraction known as Ground Zero, and the souvenir t-shirts are on sale. Personally, I suspect the time of national trauma is over, and it's time to move on. And I'm going to nudge it a bit, with some parades. (9 September)
Ultimate Brawl Night: The parades are over, but it seems I've offended some people. Uh oh. (13 September)
- The last parade was in scenic Hoffman Estates, Illinois. I invited some Illinois Nazis to come to the parade. Well, actually, I challenged them. I even saved a spot in the parade for them. When they didn't show, I gave their spot away to some blues musicians.
- Well, the Illinois Nazis showed up late and said I'd impugned their honor. Well, actually, they said I'd badmouthed them and I was a traitor to the Aryan race.
... but I digress. Of course the silly Aryans weren't really interested in my racial ancestry, they just wanted a fight.
- Technically they might have been right about my being a traitor, but they'd have to blame most of my ex-German ancestors, who stopped being German in 1871 when the Kaiser took over Bavaria, and stopped being German-Americans in 1917 when America started fighting the Kaiser.
- I probably shouldn't even get into the story of my Mennonite ancestors who left Germany when the French invaded there regularly, led by Napoleon...
- Well, okay. As the challenged party, I had the choice of weapons. So I chose, mutagenic mystery serum.
- My superpower of the day was "Ultimate Hulk", so I had a batch of potions just like Bruce Banner drinks in "Ultimate" comic books when he wants to turn into the Hulk - but it's a different Hulk every time. And my serum worked the same way. You take your swig, you take your chances.
- Well, Our Nazis started to chicken out about then. What, the big brave Aryans weren't willing to take their chances with mystery mutagens alongside me? Oh well.
- But then... The Grand Marshal of the Illinois parade was a middle-aged woman (which is to say, just a bit older than me) named Jody Beaudine. She's a TV anchorwoman, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Black Hawk War or something. And all through the parade, she'd acted like she had voices in her head. Well, apparently the voices said something to her right then, because she said to us...
- "You! You're less than men!" to the Nazis, which made me smirk. But then to me...
- "And you! You're a freak who offends nature!", which made me smirk some more. Woo hoo! But then...
- "These less-than-men won't take your challenge, but I will!"
- She has a two round duel of honor in mind. The second round grants victory in the duel. Victory in both rounds grants the opponent's death. Uh oh.
- That's about when the politicians who were in the last parade, bolt and run for cover. The media, on the other hand, is eating this up. Our bout is getting national coverage. They're calling it the Ultimate Brawl. The Silly Towns Guild has arranged for it to be on Pay-Per-View.
- The bout's been set up as a cage match in a Little League baseball park, near one of those big water towers that prominently says "HOFFMAN ESTATES" on the side. It seems the local member town of the Silly Towns Guild wants a bit more publicity from the whole thing. And I can't blame them; that's what I trained them to do.
- For the first round, we both take our serums. Mine is more Thing-like than Hulk-like, but I have jellybean skin instead of rock skin. Fat lot of good that does me after the first impacts. It doesn't even work on my legs; I look like one of those cartoon superheroes whose shoulders are three times as wide as their legs. But I have great balance.
- My opponent, of course, has lucked out and gotten a Third Wall She-Hulk serum. She stops and looks to one side a lot, and acts like she has even more voices in her head, though that could just be the serum.
- After my opponent smacks me around a bit, I finally figure out, I need some way to use my arms and not my legs. So I get her in a clinch. I do have the better upper-body strength, so the hold stays put, even as we bounce around the cage. And as strong as we are, the least movement on her part bounces us all the way across.
- This goes on until I manage to grab the cage bars. Fortunately, I keep the hold, so now I can set up a nice prolonged squeeze. But at a critical moment, a mosquito or something stings me where my jellybean-armor has popped already, and I lose my grip. So, she promptly thrashes me.
- Uh oh, one more fight and I could be in trouble. Actually, I could be dead.
So Long, And Thanks... : And I've got a health issue now. That cyst on my right hand just popped. (9 September)
- It pops after the fight. And it doesn't just pop, it flies off into the atmosphere. I can't see where it comes down. That must have taken a lot of reaction matter. Speaking of which, all the remaining jellybeans on my skin just got sucked dry.
- And I suddenly get a message in my mind: "Why weren't you worried about the aliens!?"
- Huh? What aliens? But first things first...
- It seems my body's blood cells have formed their own civilization!
- They talked with each other by osmosis. They evolved mind control as soon as I thought of smashing that big cyst on my hand. That cyst was their control center. The staff would check in and out, but there'd always be someone there on duty.
- They extended their mind control to things that my brain thought of as threats. Last year when the war came, they went proactive and controlled my mind to send me against these threats. Which would explain Plan Joab.
- This year, they decided the objective was total world conquest. But thanks to my unique worldview, they did it differently than Doctor Doom would have; they sent me on this quest to establish the Silly Days Parade. And it wasn't a bad idea! It's certainly worked better than most of Dr. Doom's plots have.
- They've always acted to protect me against mortal threats. This is the first time they failed. This time, something outside me knew they were there, and they came under attack by some sort of aliens. They had to flee or die. They liked me as a host, and they would have liked to stay, but enough is enough.
- Now that I think about it, this is the first time I've been in mortal danger since the cyst formed. And here I am, without the extra mental powers which got me in this mess. Well, doesn't this just suck.
Return of the Jellyfish: The second fight is the next night. I've got one day to set my affairs in order.
- For the first Sunday in November, my church choir's singing "Roll Over Beethoven", in conjunction with one of those afternoon concerts we sometimes host. I'll have to tell them, I might not make it. (16 September)
- Someone who vaguely resembles Hawkeye is working the crowd, doing archery demonstrations. He's shooting toy arrows, but they go seven blocks; he has a real Hawkeye bow. He says he has a message for me, from the Panther girl. I met her in the future, and gave her a ride back here (so to speak). It's a long story. (16 September)
- I meet her later. She says, she's been recruited to fight a secret war against some alien invaders. I admit, they tried to recruit me too, but I was kind of busy at the time. Well, it seems the war is in my own backyard now: the main alien settlement is in Lake Michigan.
- Alien jellyfish have taken up residence in the local water towers; they've mind-controlled the local humans into letting them live there. The water quality hasn't suffered, because the aliens live off impurities in the water.
- Well, that explains a lot of stuff, starting with the voices in my opponent's head. I've actually encountered these jellyfish before, during a hostage situation at a shopping mall. I'd guess these creatures like messing with susceptible evil minds, not wholesome righteous minds.
- Anyway, the Panther girl says the Jellyfish have some short-range mind-control transmitters set up on top of their water towers, just so they can communicate with their human minions. And that would explain why the fight was set up near a water tower.
- So, we come up with a plan for the next fight night...
- I refuse to take the second serum until fight time. Before the fight, a Southern rock band from the 1970s plays, and I impress my opponent with my air guitar skills. And she suddenly concedes. She says she suddenly doesn't have the urge to fight. It seems that today's Jellyfish hunt succeeded.
The Great Jellyfish Hunt. We've forced the alien invaders of Earth out of one town, but there's still an entire Great Lakefront to go.
The Doom Trap. It's kind of like the Game of Life, but deadlier.
- Dr. Doom has trapped three women on a grid. I recognize two of them from a place I used to work.
The captives and a bunch of Doombots have to act out the Game of Life. If they step off a square that's "live", they're fried. The pattern has the three women bouncing around the ring, but unable to get out past Doombots.
- The Marvel Universe Hercules and I eventually come to the rescue. Herc wants to go in and bust things, but I figure out how one person can go in the pattern and let two out. We repeat until everyone's out. (22 December)