October 16, 1973 – Superfight 2! Papatayin natin silang lahat! (nude variant cover)

I’m tall and I like basketball.  This means that people (well, people back home) often ask me if I played basketball.  Technically the answer is yes, but what they mean to ask is was I good at basketball, which I was not.  Put me on Soul Train and I’ll knock you on your knickers with my moves, but for whatever reason, that specific kind of coordination needed for sports escaped me.  One of the reasons I started playing the guitar was because I thought it might help with my clumsy hands on the court.  It did not.  But I am a damn fine guitar player so there’s that.

Maybe if I’d stuck with basketball, I could have been a mediocre player but I wasn’t enamored with all the running.  My god the running.  Not just during the game, which was bad enough, but they wanted you to run all the time in practice too!  For what?  For what?  I hate running.  I never even run for the bus. There will be another bus.  And if there isn’t another bus then I didn’t need to go there anyway.  

My point is that given my history of poor eye-hand coordination, having something – such as a knife – thrown at my head isn’t the sort of thing I should react to quickly.  Physiologically speaking I mean, not emotionally.  I don’t know what all the geeks in lab coats did to me, but it’s been a while now since they did it and I’ve seen no evidence of increased reflexes or agility or reaction time or anything like that.  I’m as strong as twenty strong men and I can run all day without getting tired.  I wouldn’t, because I hate running, but I could.  

Apparently I have at least one other ability.   When Whitey Ford hurled the knife at me, it was like time slowed down and those little dotted lines from the physics textbook appeared.  I knew where it was going, I knew how fast it was going, I knew the angle, the acceleration, the force, everything.  It was an instinctive thing, like I had some kind of knife-radar in my head.  I’ll need to explore that more because I’ve had no such reaction to anything else.  What kind of stupid power would it be if it only worked on knives specifically?

Also, to forestall the whining of any knife nuts out there, no, it was not a throwing knife.  It was a six and three quarter inch M5 bayonet.  And yes, I know that a bayonet is not designed to be thrown.  But if you’re out there saying “well, given that it was never meant to be thrown, it was easy to avoid, you were never in any real danger,” send me your address and I’ll come and throw a bayonet at your head and we’ll see how that works out.  Jerk.  

The table was a twelve foot long mahogany and glass number, Italian I think, and estimating conservatively I would say that it weighed about 12 million tons.  As the knife seemingly hung in midair thanks to my wonderful and not at all inconsequential or obscure new superpower, I flipped the aforementioned table up into its path like I was an angry child overturning a Candyland board.  I was hoping to crush my hosts as well, but while the table performed admirably as a knife-knocker, it didn’t do nearly as well in the field of host-crushing. 

Whitey and his bimbos Betty and Veronica dodged out of the way like hippies dodging the draft while the Great Humungous just stood there and let the table shatter on him like my hit song shattered the top 40 charts.  It was cool looking, I can’t argue that, nor would I even if I could. But even if you’re a giant strong non-baseline human person, you can still get glass in your eye, right?  I doubt his eyeballs are super tough.  If you’re going to let a glass table smash over your face, you should at least cover your eyes with your arm or something.  Safety first, guys.

Remember that time Big Blue tried to kill me before we became best friends?  He smashed through the wall of the restaurant like the Kool-Aid Man.  That was pretty cool too, and I bet he protected his eyes while he did it.  Figuring it was time to get the hell out of there (before dessert!), I tried to do the same move, smashing through the wall of Whitey’s trophy/dining room.  There would be a few more walls to smash through on the way to freedom, but the shortest distance between two points right?  

Here’s what I learned.  Smashing through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man is a function of both mass and strength.  Such as, I could easily hold a car and keep it from moving even at maximum power, but if that same car hit me going at full speed, I would be crushed like a green snake in a sugar cane field.  I’m MUCH stronger than Blue (and he’s very strong!) but he also weighs as much as a Ford Highboy, so when he hurls himself at a wall, there’s what physicists call “a shitload of energy” that allows him to tear through like a donkey attacking a waffle.  I, on the other hand, who was svelte and feminine to begin with, and am now wasting away to nothing thanks to hypermetabolic induced voracity, just bounced off the wall due to a lack of mass.

I bet I could have easily kicked through the wall or torn open a hole given time, but sadly the Kool-Aid man method is not going to work for me.  With my moment of surprise wasted on wall bouncing, Veronica came at me with a whip she grabbed off the wall.  A fucking whip!  What kind of bullshit is that?  Is she a dominatrix now?  Are we doing a scene?  How are women ever supposed to be taken seriously making choices like this?  Grab a spear, or even the dumb thing that looks like a pear with spikes on it, or something else, anything else!  The walls were covered with weapons and you go for a lion tamer prop?  Betty was attending to Whitey, who seemed annoyed by her fussing, while Giganto extracted himself from the table he was wearing like a bib.

Veronica flicked her whip (if you know what I mean) at my face and I raised my arm to protect my eyes, getting slashed across the forearm.  Whereupon I was heard to remark; 

“Ow, fuck!  What is wrong with you!?” 

In retaliation, I grabbed a flamethrower off the wall.  Now that’s some good feminism, throwing fire on someone.  I wasn’t fooling around.

“How about a little fire, scarecrow!”

Nice.  Unfortunately, when I pulled the trigger nothing happened.  I guess flamethrowers have backpacks where all the flame juice is that they need to work, and not even this white-suited asshole is crazy enough to hang a tank of volatile chemicals on the wall.  Veronica tried to whip the flamethrower out of my hands which is stupid on two counts – one, it didn’t work anyway so why did she bother, and two, she just saw me flip over the table.  How did she think she was going to out-muscle me?  Instead, I ripped the whip away from her.  I was going to tear it apart like a Joray Fruit Roll as a feat of strength, you know to intimidate my foes, but I was interrupted when Betty karate-kicked me in the chest.  It felt like getting hit with a wrecking ball.  As I slumped to the ground I believe a made a noise like; 

“hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

Betty and Veronica came to pull me up to my feet while Whitey took a sword down off the wall.  This was a poor decision on their part.  While I’m sure it would have been aesthetically pleasing to be holding my arms out in the Jesus pose while their boss decapitated me, these people don’t seem to be catching on to how strong I am.  I whipped my arms forward like I was doing a dramatic interpretive dance about the commercialization of Christmas and they flew towards their boss, limbs akimbo like two Qiana and spandex clad whirligigs.

Whitey casually side-stepped through a door out of their way (and out of the room) and his two gal pals slammed into the wall behind him.  And I mean hard.  Betty actually flew through the wall.  Explain that.  She can’t weigh significantly more than me.  Leverage?  Can you throw something with more force than you can hurl your own body?  Where are the super-scientists when I need them?    

Huge-or charged at me like a runaway semi.  My plan was to duck under him and let him smash a hole in the wall for me, much like I had done with Blue, but he merely stopped short and picked me up off the floor.  Or tried to anyway.  He grabbed the front of the dress I was wearing and the thing ripped off me like the pants off a male stripper.  It was a fucking Halston, not a pair of mechanic’s overalls, why did he think he would be able to pick me up like that?  The fabric is weak, it can’t take that kind of rough treatment!  These people have no idea what they’re doing.    

And look, I’m not normally one of these sorts who run around without any underwear but what was I going to do?  I was in the bath and it was a whole thing.  I wasn’t going to root around in a stranger’s house looking for borrowed underwear.  In response, I tried to punch Goliath in the dick but he blocked it with his forearm.  I heard bones crack.  It was like punching a hot wad of Silly Putty with a toothpick in the middle.  I don’t know how many bones there are in your forearm but I’m confident I broke them all.  He barely even grunted.  I on the other hand said something like;   

“Ow, shit my hand!”

Whitey ducked back into the room at this point.  I tell you this much, it’s very strange to see a man holding a sword while wearing a Pierre Cardin suit.  He looked at me curiously.

“You don’t have any fighting skills at all, do you?” 

I grabbed a rifle off the wall (a Mosin–Nagant 1891 according to the placard) and hurled it at his stupid face.  Turns out whatever “they” did to me has made me really good at throwing things, even things that shouldn’t be thrown – like rifles.  He blocked the rifle with his sword but here’s the thing bubba, the sword is still right in front of your face!  The rifle, which I assume was going somewhere near Mach 73, hit the sword, the force is transferred from the rifle to the sword, and then the sword hits the face, transferring the force to the face.  Not all of it, but a lot.  Don’t these people know anything about physics?  I got a C in physics, I admit, but think about what you’re doing! Whitey went down like he had just taken a Steve Carlton fastball to the mush.

“Bullseye.”

October 4, 1973 – SUPERFIGHT!!!!

Editor’s note – I know what you’re thinking “Jeremy, the Kool-Aid Man character didn’t come out until 1974 you moron!  You’re the worst writer ever.”  Well I am the worst writer ever but you’re forgetting that this is an alternate history deal.  In this world the Kool-Aid Man commercials started airing in 1972!  The changes that led up to this alteration and the staggering ramifications of it will be explored in my forthcoming graphic novel Kool-Aid: 1972.

A quarter of the world’s maritime trade passes through the Malacca Straits.  Half of all seaborne chemical and gas shipments pass through. So of course the area is infested with well-organized, well-armed, and ruthless pirates.  When they aren’t chased off by local brutal corporate-sponsored hired goons anyway. It’s estimated by people that estimate things that over one hundred ships a year go missing around Madripoor.  Hijacked and redirected to another port.  This does not include the innumerable others attacked and raided on their journeys.

When I first heard people in Madripoor talking about pirates, it threw me for a loop.  I never hear anyone in the CS talking about pirates.  The word pirate makes me think of ships with sails and guys with swords.  But I guess, thinking about it logically, there’s no reason for pirates to have gone away.  If you can’t stop people from stealing your shit, they’re going to steal it.  That’s a rule of some kind.

Grain of salt because it’s all rumors, but I understand that it’s sometimes part of an insurance scam.  You got a shipful of hot pants headed for Africa and suddenly hot pants aren’t cool anymore.  They’re just going to take up room in your warehouse in Johannesburg.  So you get in touch with your fixer who knows a pirate boss.  They “attack” the ship, you get the insurance, and they get some ransom money.  You dump the hotpants into the sea and everyone wins.  Except the insurance company.

I figured that pirates wouldn’t be afraid of the Shadow Lords and also could get me out of here.  You may be thinking “Dealing with pirates, Ela?  That sounds like a terrible idea.”  You happen to be right but where were you yesterday asshole? 

In my defense I’m a singer, not a . . . person who deals with whatever this situation is.  Whatever Steve McQueen would be if he was a real badass and not just an actor.  Whatever that is, I’m not that.  I’m all alone here and I don’t know what’s going on.  Plus, you don’t understand what kind of place Madripoor is.  If you were here you’d think that buddying up to pirates was perfectly normal.

Elvis’s friend Say likes to party so we went to a couple bars, a couple clubs, a couple parties, and it just so happens that I managed to rub elbows with a couple people in the piracy world.  Sidenote, about twenty percent of the men here are super into me because I’m white.  And about twenty percent think I’m super gross for the same reason.  It’s interesting. 

I met a guy I thought was named Preman.  I learned later that “preman” means gangster in Indonesian.  Although it’s actually from the Dutch language and means rooster.  Language is complicated.  “Preman” and I hung out a few times, smoked something like weed, drank some weird booze, and got to know each other.  Once we were good pals, he said a friend of a friend of a friend of his could help me out and wasn’t scared of the Shadow Lords and I should meet him at a restaurant the next morning to talk details.

It was a set-up of course.  What I didn’t know then is that the Shadow Lords were basically the seaside agents of the local pirates when the first came to Madirpoor.  The pirates would steal the stuff and then pass it off to the Shadow Lords as the middlemen.  Not only that, but most of the pirates around here are groups that grew out of the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon, a resistance group from the Philippines that fought against Japanese occupation.  The Huk and the Shadow Lords both hate the yazuka so they bond over that.  The point is that the entire idea was more or less the worst thing I could have done.

“Preman” and a friend came in to the restaurant, we sat down, and next thing I know someone is behind me and has a rag over my mouth.  Here’s the thing though, with my new metabolism nothing like that seems to affect me much.  I don’t know if the Shadow Lords didn’t warn them or if they didn’t know. 

I grabbed the ragman’s arm and flung him across the room like I was tossing a Frisbee (or a bag of rags, a ragbag if you will).  When I swung him around, I felt his arm come out of the socket.  Which was a little nauseating, but if we’re being honest it felt good too.  I was angry and frustrated and it felt good to hurt someone.  Does that make me awful?  I don’t know. 

“Preman” got the hell out of there but his buddy went for a gun.  I flipped the table into him and the gun fired.  You always forget how LOUD those damn things are.  As he raised the gun again, trying to get disentangled from the table, I tried to yank the gun out of his hand.  Instead I crushed them both.  The gun and the hand.  I never heard a human being make a noise like he did as he fell back against the wall cradling his hand to his chest.  It was truly chilling.

I took a hold of his forehead in one hand like Jackie Moon palming a basketball.  I wanted so badly to squeeze it.  That’s all it would have taken.  One little squeeze and a man is dead.  It would have been no more effort than checking the ripeness of a peach.  Just a little squeeze.  I wanted it more than I wanted any cigarette or any drink.  A part of my brain told me it would make everything better.  It would make all the pain go away.  No one would ever fuck with me again.  He was a bad guy, wasn’t he?  Why did he deserve to live? 

I wanted it. 

But I didn’t do it.  Just as I let the guman go, their ace in the hole came smashing in.  And I mean that literally.  He crashed through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man.  I have no idea why, the door was wide open.  He was easily over seven feet tall and he had electric blue scales.  It was like the skin of a technicolor crocodile on acid.   Only you know, on a big dude.  He didn’t look like a rhino but something about him made me think of a rhino.  Maybe just because he was massive and leathery and mean looking.

He came charging at me like a bull (a bull rhino) and I threw another table at him.  He batted it aside like he was swatting a volleyball.  I managed to leap out of the way of his crashing tackle and he slammed into and through the other wall out into the street.  I hope this restaurant is owned by the pirates or the Shadow Lords, because I’d hate to think some innocent people got their place wrecked just because this is where some assholes chose as their kidnap location.

As the blue alligator rhino man was getting back to his feet in the wall-hole, I grabbed him around the waist and hurled him back over my shoulders like a sack of grain.  It feels weird when you can throw someone ten times your size, but I knew from working on the docks I could lift him easily.  He slammed into the ground hard enough to shake the building.  Which was getting pretty shaky already from being run through on both sides.  I think I saw “Run through on both sides” on the marquee of a movie theater once.  You know the kind I mean.

I was ready to rumble but I saw that blueman’s head was twisted at a funny angle.  Not funny ha-ha but funny “oh shit I just killed a guy”.  I won’t lie, I stood there staring, mouth agape for a moment.  I’m not a murderer you know.  But while I stood there I heard a crazy crackling, snapping, popping noise and his head jerked back to the right way and his eyes opened.  I guess he can heal super-fast.

Since he wasn’t dead, I went outside and pushed the building down on him.  I should have grabbed something to drink before I did that.  Fighting is thirsty business.