Wayne Vance played Planetary Patrolman in his back yard for the something-hundredth time.
He used his favorite plastic sword.
It was made of white glow-in-the-dark plastic, roughly the length and width of a gladius, but molded to look like it was a solid energy, with a sort of blowtorch flame pattern to it.
That sword was an extension of Wayne's self.
A link to his confidence.
He was himself with that sword in hand.
He felt like he could literally take on the world with that sword if he had to.
It should have been no surprise then, life being what it is, and people being what they are, that the shitty little neighbor kid, Randy Tucker, snuck into the back yard when Wayne wasn't home, and threw the sword out into the woods, where it landed in a swamp, and sunk.
Wayne blamed his father, made up reasons why he had done it in his mind, clung to them like grim death, and seethingly resented him for decades after.
He saw it as his life's goal from then on to make it rich and get out of that shitty town.
Mistakenly, he saw that the way to this goal was in buying into the system.
And thus began Wayne's heartbreaking transformation into someone who took life too seriously.
Luckily, SILICO/Omneron brought him back to his senses after a 30 year long effort.
How that ties into this other story, you're about to see.
8 year old Dusty Irwin held as still as he could, and watched TV while Edna Ellicott, big sister of his best friend, Perry Ellicott, applied green Halloween makeup to his face, and black circles around his eyes.
Perry had skipped school the day of the big anti-drug play incident.
No special reason, he just got a big kid to buy him some cigarettes, and went skateboarding.
It was now summertime, so school was out for everybody.
They were going to play a little prank.
Dusty had spread, with Kimber Allison's help, a legend, to put the spook into some of the kids.
Particularly the bullies.
Actually, Kimber came up with the myth.
The myth of The Green Monster.
Now, it was time to bring the legend to life.
Perry skipped school on the day of the massacre, then drifted around in life.
He eventually learned special effects makeup, became a stuntman, retired due to an injury, and retreated to the woods.
His sister Edna however, became a teacher at Elisa Jack.
Harmon and Todd Tucker ran screaming at little girl pitch from their worst nightmare come to life.
It was six foot seven, man shaped, and covered in shaggy moss.
Its rib-cage was lined with wild blackberry vines, wild strawberries peppered its legs, clovers, devil's paintbrushes, and dandelions covered its back, wild blueberries sprouted from between the ribs, lilacs covered it pelvis like a sort of makeshift underpants, fiddle-heads sprouted from it's shoulders, and marijuana leaves made up it's hair.
One large pot leaf covered its forehead making a sort of uni-brow.
Another cluster of lilac gave it a sort of goatee beard.
It hade wooden claws, wooden fangs, and solid yellow eyes with a mirrored sheen.
It had burst suddenly out of the brush lurching towards the children with a gurgling roar.
They had both pissed their pants to soaked, and ran squealing.
After the sounds of the children screaming subsided, Sigma-Max stepped out of the brush, and said "nice work".
The creature turned towards him unsurprised, and in a normal man's voice said "little bastards were after my pot again. Tucker's kids. Fuck Tuckers, Tuckers suck".
"Always did", said Commander Continuum stepping out of hiding.
JS and Excruciationizer stepped out next.
"This guy is my supplier", Sigma explained to the rest of them.
"The monster he's playing is called 'Bog-Gob'", he added.
"But you can call me Boggy", Bog-Gob said.
To Boggy, Sigma said "these guys are Jade-Shade, Excruciationizer, and Commander Continuum. They're friends, I vouch for them".
JS spoke up "we're looking for superheroes, wanna join our team?".
Sigma and Boggy exchanged dollar wads and filled baggies of pot on almost muscle-memory reflex action.
As they did this, Boggy mumbled "hmm, superhero-ing? Yeah, I guess I have a suit on, and scare people, don't I? Yeah, why not? I need something to do with my nights, and if you guys can do it, how hard could it really be? What does it pay?".
"We have an eccentric billionaire who takes care of us. Mad scientist type, has a big underground compound, gives us gadgets".
"Shit, he's not a cult leader, or a Nazi, is he?".
"Not so far as we know. We outnumber him, and would kill him if he were".
"Yeah, what the hell, I'll give it a shot. If worst comes to worst and it goes south, I'll have some stories to tell. Let's go back to my place so I can pack my stuff".
They followed Boggy down a wooded path.
Commander thought it looked familiar.
It was. It came out between the backyard of two houses, the one where Boggy now lived, and the house he, Wayne Vance, grew up in.
He was stunned.
They went into Boggy's house through the back, and Boggy unmasked.
JS recognized him as an old school chum, Perry Ellicot, and also unmasked, and they had a little reunion.
Sigma in turn recognized both JS and Boggy, and he unmasked as Chuck Brand, making it a triple reunion.
Commander tuned out all of this as he stared entranced at an object tucked into the corner of the kitchen.
He walked right up, and grabbed it.
It was his old plastic sword.
"How...how can this be?", he said, eyes starting to water behind his sunglasses.
Boggy noticed, and said "oh that old thing? Found it out in one of the swamps. I was selling it online, had it bid up to $37.50. But...you look like you really want the thing, you can have it. Especially if your Mad Scientist is as rich as you guys say he is".
Commander smiled the biggest smile he had in years, and slid the sword down the back of his shirt through the collar the way he did as a kid.
He felt the familiar cold kiss of plastic, and he was truly himself again.
"Say, who lives in the house next door?", he asked Boggy.
"Eh, bunch of recluses. After them, are the Tuckers. Fuck the Tuckers..".
"...Tuckers suck", Commander finished.
JS told Boggy where the base was, and Boggy added "wait...I know where that is. There's another wooded path out there that takes you right there".
He took off his moss gloves, and drew them a map on a notepad.
As he doodled it down, he said "oh, hey, Dusty, there was a private dick looking for you one time. Called himself The Hadesburster. Didn't seem phased by my suit, even though he seemed to think it was real. Fucked up guy. Had a trench-coat a lot like yours. Told him to go fuck himself. Guy he described could only have been Jade-Shade, which of course is you".
"Yeah, I ran into that guy. Don't have to worry about him anymore".
Boggy seemed calmly satisfied with the darker implications of that answer, and didn't ask anymore questions.
"Hmm, funny thing. Us kids all co-created this green monster that sprouted in the swamps, and now you're a green monster that comes out of the swamp", JS observed.
"Great minds, huh?", boggy said with a wink.
And with that, he went to go pack.
Commander went to call his father on his Omneron watch to make apologies and forgiveness.
Boggy came out 30 minutes later with a couple huge suitcases, put on his mask and gloves, and said "so, you still recruiting? Cuz I know a guy".
What I am Reading: - I’m almost always reading (at least) two books at once and working on comic books in between. Should you be reading what I am reading? I don’t know, but he...
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