His major beef seemed to be the origin story stuff being formulaic.
Way I look at it, there's only three stories out there, and it's all in how you tell them.
I liked the characters, it gave me the feels in the right spots, and I laughed at the jokes.
It entertained, it accomplished its job.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The slug things in Collector's collection are meant to be the worms in "Slither", so, that makes "Slither", part of Marvel-canon, and thus so too all of Gunn-canon, and Gunn-canon splinters off from Troma-canon, so....Toxic Avenger is actually an Avenger. ;-D
Then there were a couple t-shirts, a box of bags of gourmet taffy, and a box full of 1975 stuff.
In the '75 box, there was a historical booklet and DVD of the year, and a box full of candy that was around back then.
Oh, and I got a "big 40", teacup, and a big "40 vintage dude", soda/beer mug.
So, here's how the day went.
Got up, checked Facebook, the crows had torn apart the rubbish, so I had to go out using a plastic grocery bag as a glove, and pick all that up, and re-bag the stray trash and the ripped bags in a larger bag.
I kept grumbling "happy birthday", as I did that.
Then, I opened presents, and that cheered me right up.
Then I pigged out way too much on taffy, and passed out into a nap.
Then I watched the Toxies, did some Facebook-ing, and had the rest of a normal day.
The 1975 box, and 40 mugs were my favorite things.
And that was that.
Like I said yesterday, not too eventful, but nice.
The big birthday party with family is this weekend.
JS and the gang pulled into the back entrance of Humane Basic Care, a hospital.
Only JS, Avian Louse, and Captain Descrambler got out, the other guys waited in the parking lot.
They were let in by the coroner.
He was Descrambler's guy.
He let them into the morgue where he was finishing up his shift.
Morgue-guy wore a standard white lab coat, a blood smeared smock, bloody rubber gloves, and had a name tag that said "Vick".
He looked to be in the same mid-60's age group as Descrambler, stood about five foot five, had slicked back grey hair, and bulgy eyes, and was perpetually chewing a toothpick.
He was performing a colonic gut evacuation on a large corpse.
JS held his breath to try to keep out the stink.
Descrambler seemed deadened to it.
Avian noticed the toe tag on the corpse which said "Armstrong Emil Dashel".
Holding his nose, he said "hey, I think I know that guy!!".
JS had his Omneron watch scan the name and do a search.
It turned up the writer/artist of various comic books.
Omneron verbally listed them off "Missile Meerkat, Bobo Adventures, Gnat Hero Komix...".
Avian stopped him there.
"That's it!! That's where I know this dude from!".
"What's the cause of death?", JS inquired.
Vick calmly, almost bored sounding, said "impalement with something roughly the size of a harpoon. Murder weapon was missing though. Also a ton of heroin in his system".
JS had a funny hunch, and did some manual searching with his watch, then held up an image to Vick's eye-line.
It was an old picture of Smackie The Smackman.
"Would something like this make the hole, and deliver the heroin to his system?", JS asked.
Vick started, awoken from his boredom, and said "son of a bitch!! Why didn't I think of that!? That muthafucka has been my rival forever!! Every time I wanted to do my anatomy seminar thing for grade school kids, he was always one step ahead of me with his 'just say no', bullshit!!".
"Anatomy seminar?", Avian asked.
"Oh, right, I was Vick Vivisection. Wore a suit with organs painted all over it, did songs about the skeleton, circulatory system, all that stuff" Vick said, as he hosed liquid shit down a drain in the floor.
Avain reacted "yeah! I remember you! You were on public access TV for awhile when I was a kid!".
"That was me all right", he said.
"What happened?", Avian asked.
"Mostly, Smackie happened. But, I decided I liked this job better anyway. It might not seem like much, but it has its perks".
No one felt like asking what those perks were,
Vick looked over to JS "I remember you too".
JS lightly shrugged, as if to signal "not ringing a bell. I've got nothing".
"No, you wouldn't remember me. I got you those corpses you and your old lady faked your death with awhile back. Tell Dr. H I said 'hi'".
Having finished all the medical unpleasantness, he shoved Armstrong back into a freezer drawer.
"So, how do you and Captain Descrambler know each other?", JS asked.
"We were Elisa Jack kids back in the day. I'm sure he's told you all about that".
"Bits of it", Avian said.
"Well, Steve got into the whole home video thing, and I was always that kid that played with dead animals, so I got into this line of work. I went through a phase where I thought I might be meant for showbiz, so I did the Vick Vivisection thing. But, this job pulled me back in. Hey! I've still got some of the old stuff! Just a sec!".
He took off his bloody gloves, washed up,and went into a back office.
He came back out with a box full of Vick vivisection paraphernalia, and handed it to Avian Louse.
Video tapes of episodes, companion books to the episodes meant for the classroom, coloring books, autographed photos, stickers, buttons, the whole shmeal.
"Wow, I always wanted this stuff as a kid, but you used to charge a fucking fortune!!",
"It's yours", Vick said with a satisfied smile, his toothpick wiggling back and forth.
"Oh, ignore the episode and book called 'soul', I was on a Jesus kick in the 80's", he added.
JS finally broached the subject "so...would you like to be part of our superhero group?", he asked bluntly.
"Hell yeah! Especially if Smackie has gone homicidal maniac. I'd love to be the one to bring the sonovabitch in!".
"Do you still have the suit?", JS asked.
Descrambler chuckled at that, and JS was confused.
"Suit? Ah, hell no, just before I threw it in, I took it to the next step!".
Vick proceeded to take off his lab coat, then the shirt underneath.
His whole torso, and sleeves down the arms were covered in tattoos of muscles, veins, bones, organs, ribs, lungs, just like the suit, but in vastly more intricate detail, and realistic color.
And Vick had kept in incredible shape for a 60 year old.
He showed off his muscles with a couple poses, and said "and all of this from swimming, and balancing the four food groups!!".
He flexed his muscles hard, and made the organs in the tattoos pulsate.
He grunted with effort escalating to triumph with a disturbing "heeaarruugghh!!!".
Avian Louse threw in "well, this has been a post-modern post-mortem".
Everyone looked at him like he'd shit out a spider monkey onto the queen of England's lap.
Avian just sighed and shrugged.
Everyone started packing up to leave, and to redeem himself, Avian said "wait, are we still recruiting? Cuz, I know a guy".
Minutes later, they were back on the road, with Vick Vivisection with them.
He was down to just his tighty whities and sneakers now to show off his tattoo suit.
The gang could tell it went all over, but they weren't having nudity.
Not a prudishness thing so much as a public relations thing.
Vick also had with him his medical bag full of dissection implements.
JS and the gang arrived at their original destination to meet Bog-Gob's guy.
To Sigma-Max's shock, it was Lovely's VHS Video.
JS was equally shocked.
The van pulled into the parking lot of a complex with a strip mall on either side.
To their left, Hannalee's (a grocery store), Bradford (a department store), and a donut place.
To their right, Lovely's, a hair salon, and a small bank.
JS was surprised, because Hannalee's was where he first saw the green mask that inspired the Jade-Shade mask, and the parking lot that joined the two strips was where he ran into Brad and Chad and their pals on his very first patrol.
JS, Sigma, Boggy, and Boggy's guy shared stomping grounds, and none of them had even known it.
They parked, piled out of the van, and Boggy lead the way into Lovely's.
Sigma's co-worker, Steve Ellicott, let them in without the slightest bit of surprise.
He almost seemed to JS like he was expecting this meeting.
Steve was a big guy, both in height and belly.
No health nut was he.
He looked to be in his early 60's, with a full head of grey hair, and a grey mustache with a brown stripe on one side where the color hadn't given up yet.
He wore a t-shirt with the store logo, jeans, and sneakers.
He put up the "closed", sign, and showed them to a back room where they could talk without prying eyes and ears.
Sigma unmasked, and once again, Steve wasn't surprised.
Ditto when Boggy unmasked.
"Okay, so how do you know this guy?", Sigma/Chuck asked Steve of Boggy.
"He's my son".
Sigma/Chuck looked shocked, then hurt that he'd kept such big secrets.
"Captain Descrambler? You have kids? We've worked together for years, and this is the first I heard of any of it!", again with the pained look.
Steve pulled out a homemade tape from a locked drawer on his desk, and slid it into a nearby VCR.
On an old CRT TV, static-y video of a young Steve Ellicott in his 30's in the 1980's played.
He wore a silver spandex outfit with purple boxer shorts and a chest symbol of a snake coiled around an old 80's style giant satellite dish.
A fake domino mask was painted around his eyes in blue greasepaint.
This was obviously Captain Descrambler.
In the video, he ranted about the cable companies and their unfair dirty business practices, and it became quickly clear that this was a pirate video that he had hacked onto the primitive cable system of the day.
The tape played multiple variations of this spiel, and then slightly cleaner looking clips of a legitimate movie hosting show on cable access.
Steve explained that his fame from the prior incidents had gotten the people behind him, and to sort of buy him off, he was given the show to shut him up.
It lasted 10 episodes before the anti cable company rants leaked back in, and he was fired, and sued.
He'd avoided fines and jail time by the skin of his teeth, and then went under the radar for the next thirty years.
He stayed a pirate though.
Hacking satellites, trading tapes, right on up to the modern online piracy era.
Along the way, he survived, and buried enemies, like Bunker-Buster, and Firebox.
Through it all, he kept the store afloat.
But now, it looked like the streaming sites like Cinnygrid were going to finally get him.
JS held his tongue about Chokie's involvement with Firebox.
But Steve had one last defiant spit in the eye for Cinnygrid.
He showed them the Sigmamax mark 1 player rigged up as a piracy server hidden under his desk.
He was the Steve in Stevetorrents, the world's biggest file-sharing site.
Had been all along.
The Sigmamax player/server was simply the crown jewel.
All of this Boggy knew.
And Sigma knew about Stevetorrents.
But now, he told them about the bits none of them knew.
He had been one of the original Elisa Jack kids in the 50's.
And her school had indeed been a superhero recruitment school.
She had to be sneaky and covert about it, but it was no mistake or coincidence that so many superheroes had been popping up lately, and that they were all having this conversation now.
She was molding young minds to bring about the next Freed Radicals.
Steve's daughter, Edna, was carrying on the tradition at Elisa Jack as a teacher.
JS knew her well.
But, and he said this with a note of shame, the baby-boomer generation blew it.
Drugs, bullshit snake charmer songs by political hustlers, and idiot junkie novelists, being spoiled by their mommy's and daddy's lifestyles, a false sense of victory after Watergate, and the allure of money made their revolution decay and crumble.
"It was all supposed to happen then", he said "no more business criminals, no more religion, we were supposed to bring that garbage all down, and birth the new world. And it all fell to shit over stupid meaningless bullshit. I'm sorry kids, we blew it for you, we really did".
JS spoke up at last "it's never too late, my generation will try again. We're your second chance. Help us".
Steve thought about it for an awkwardly long time.
Finally, he said "fuck it, yeah, what the hell else am I doing? Waiting for cholesterol to put my fat ass in a coffin? Yeah, I'll come with you boys. Lemme go get the old suit on".
He pulled a taped up cardboard box out of a broom closet, and took it to the men's room, and locked the door.
45 minutes later, he was Captain Descrambler again.
Except graying, and with his pot belly hanging out.
He didn't seem to mind.
And him not minding made no one else mind.
As he had changed, the guys had killed time in the store looking at old tapes.
Avian Louse played an old 80's cabinet arcade game in the store called "Deadly Fire Ants", with giant ants that literally breathed fire.
He fantasized that they were burning down Hannalees and Bradford.
They'd turned down his application multiple times when he was a teenager.
Boggy was laughing at the box art to a flick called "Nostrilocalypse: Dawn of the Demonic Booger Eaters".
Commander Continuum was considering renting some sci-fi thing about three eyed critters from Epsilon Iotia Gamma or some such.
JS had hopped into the van, changed out of his duster, mask, and gloves, and gone incognito to Hannalees to pick up bread, milk, and Zam Bonies, Eidolon's favorite gothic skeleton cereal.
Chokie had given him a grocery list when he borrowed the van.
He came back, turned back into JS, and met Captain Descrambler.
Avian and Boggy rented their selected tapes from him.
Sigma locked up the store, they all got in the van, and Descrambler said "are you still recruiting? Cuz, I know a guy".
Hank Stockard sat out on his porch in a rocking chair reading the latest issue of Gnat Hero Komix.
Across the street, his neighbor, Karen Stevens, started smashing her husband's shitty pickup truck.
He heard a woman who wasn't Karen mumble "attagirl", and a car drove off.
"I gotta get outta this miserable shitty town", he grumbled, as he concentrated harder on his comic.
Then, the two thoughts intersected, and inspiration struck.
JS, Commander Continuum, Excruciationizer, Sigma-Max, and Bog-Gob were on the road.
Commander's truck was getting too packed, so they had taken the wooded path back to the Den Of Seclusion house, and gotten Dr. Herbert's van.
"Hey, pull over at the next gas station, I've had this damned costume on all day, and I have to piss like a racehorse", said Boggy.
Meanwhile, at the next gas station....
Avian Louse was a man in an insect costume.
Said costume was a head to toe skin tight outfit in bright orange, with a dark brown body armor covering his torso and pelvis and segmented at the waist.
The mask of the outfit covered up his whole face except holes for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth, and over the eyes where goggles the same dark brown shade as the chest armor.
Short 6 inch antennae broken up into triangular segments and bent backward like a slicked back hairdo stuck up from the top of the goggles, and were the same orange as the non armored parts of the suit.
Over his hands, on top of the gloves of the suit, were leather gloves the same color as the chestplate and goggles, with the fingers cut off, and holes in the knuckles.
Avian Louse was sitting in an old photo booth, and his pictures had just developed.
He pulled open the door flap, stuck out his head, poked it around the corner, and grinned at the pictures popping out of the slot.
A plaque above the picture slot said "4 for a dollar".
Just then, JS and his new recruits pulled up in Dr. H's van.
Bog-Gob leapt out and startled Avian Louse.
Bog-Gob had his arms behind him holding onto the doorway of the van, and was similarly stunned to see Avian Louse.
Avian Louse leaned against the photo booth, his right hand touching the booth for stability, his left hand clutching his chest.
This pose lasted a split second, and both quickly recovered.
Avian Louse disappeared in a puff of smoke, and re-appeared behind Bog-Gob, tapped his shoulder, and disappeared again.
Boggy just said "screw this noise, I gotta piss", and ran to the bathroom.
Avian Louse re-appeared where he had been standing.
JS and the rest piled out of the van.
"How did you do that!?", JS demanded.
"Who's asking?", Avian asked.
"The Jade-Shade", JS said.
"Oh, shit, you're the dude from that blog! I've been reading about you!".
"Gotta say, that chapter describing Lentilville was awfully angry and bitter, and the one where you first meet Chokecherry was awkward and clunky as Hell, and that one with the Funster got way too dark for my tastes. Lotta jarring tone shifts. Your writer really sucks".
JS shook his head, and said "yeah, that stuff's pretty bad, it's hurting my image, I've really gotta get around to killing that guy someday".
Avian Louse disappeared and re-appeared a few more times before saying "holograms and smoke pellets, if you really wanna know. I'm Avian Louse by the way".
"Like...the lice on birds? Odd choice", JS retorted.
"Whaddya mean? It's perfect! A bird louse is a parasite, but it hitches a ride, and flies up above everyone. All the presidents and dictators, and CEOs. It totally throws a monkey wrench in all variants of conservative Social Darwinist bullshit. I'm all about that!", Avian said proudly while pointing to himself with a thumb.
"Can I take it you're auditioning for the team?", JS asked casually.
Avian started shaking everyone's hands and receiving introductions.
Boggy came out of the restroom adjusting his outfit, and wondering what the hell had just transpired.
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".
Way better than 3 & 4, not quite up to the standards of 1 & 2, but still pretty damned entertaining.
Yeah screw it, I rank them 1, 2, and Genisys a very close third. Then 4, then 3.
Definitely worth seeing.
The negative critics can go fuck themselves. They have other reasons for going after this franchise that have nothing to do with the film. Fuck them and their petty biases.
Also ignore reviews from people who say "I can't keep track of this time travel! It's a mess!", they're dumb, or worse, playing dumb to look cool. Fuck 'em.
Does my infographic hold up? Myyeeaah...sorta. Forget 3, 4, and SCC. We're in a tangent timeline that splits off from the beginning of 1.
Did the trailer spoil all the twists? Ehh...it spoiled a big one, but the details are still important into how it's set up. And there's another twist, but the whole damned internet is trying to spoil it. Watch your step.
Even spoiled, I dug the flick though.
Arnie is awesome, Emilia Clarke is all right, Jason Clarke is great, Jai Courtney..mehhh *wavey hand*. But, you won't care. Don't worry.
Lotta continuity candy for astute observers with a quick eye.
We could have used more of J.K. Simmons, but we'll probably get more of him in sequels.
Let's hope those sequels happen.
Um, yep, that's it without going into spoiler territory.
Go see it.
Seven year old Dusty Irwin, five year old Kimber Allison, and six year old Chuckie Brand were being forced to watch a bad anti-drug play.
It involved people in various costumes made to look like over-sized drugs trying to tempt children, and their leader was "Smackie The Smackman".
Smackie had been doing this shtick since 1980, and he was dead inside.
Smackie was asking a little girl "c'mon, what do you got to lose?".
Anticipating the next hacky line, Chuckie shouted out "your life!!".
The teachers, and the lame little white-bread children didn't appreciate the audience participation.
Dusty and Kimber certainly did though.
And they were about to take things up a notch.
Kimber smiled at Dusty, then, stricken by sudden inspiration, said "hey! Watch this!".
She got up out of her seat, ran up on stage, shouted "I'll save you, little girl!!"...and punched Smackie in the nuts as hard as she possibly could.
He went down, and she started kicking him.
The various joint-persons and pill-persons, and a pack-of-cigarette-person and booze-person rushed to help.
Dusty, who at first was just laughing his ass off, ran in to join the fray.
He tripped booze-person who knocked over cigarette-person, who in turn knocked over a pill-person.
The other pill-persons and the joint-persons were now half-distracted, and split up to try to help their other friends instead of just Smackie.
Then, Chuckie Brand joined the fray.
The other kids in the audience were so stupid, they thought it was part of the show.
The teachers were stunned like deer.
Kimber, Dusty, and Chuckie were punching and kicking gonads, kicking knees, tripping, shoving, and having a grand old time knocking down these idiot adults in their cumbersome costumes.
Smacky rolled off the stage, and slammed to the floor.
Something broke on him, and he wailed.
The teachers finally reacted, and bolted to the stage.
Dusty sat in detention.
It wasn't the first time, it wouldn't be the last.
He took all the blame, and since they already thought he was "a troublemaker", they let Kimber and Chuckie go.
If Elisa Jack had been alive, she would have let them all go, and probably given Dusty some subversive comics.
Or, maybe a remaindered copy of "Combatant".
But, alas, she passed two years prior.
Kimber, as always, was outside in the playground waiting for Dusty.
Chuckie moved away the following year, just before the Green Monster incident.
But, he never forgot Kimber and Dusty, and he never forgot the lessons he learned from that play.
They weren't the ones the teachers had intended.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Twenty two year old Chuck Brand was back at Lentilville, and now worked at Lovely's VHS Video, a nostalgia video, video game, and VCR rental/repair shop.
He worked there with the manager and founder, Steve Ellicott.
Between doing their jobs, shooting the shit, and watching movies, they worked on what they called "projects", but which were really inventions.
None of them so far had worked, most had exploded when they plugged them in.
But this new thing had potential.
They'd taken an old Betamax player, and combined it with blue laser diodes, modern circuit boards, a couple old PC CPUs on overclock as far as they could go with crazy fan rigs to keep them from melting themselves, and as the end result, made a tape player that could digitally store an image as crisp as Blu-Ray.
But because it was reeled tape, had massively more storage.
Chuck dubbed it Sigmamax.
Why build this?
They got a kick out of topping modern technology with detritus of the old.
It was just to prove a point.
Next, to hammer that point home all the way, they tested the capacity by copying every VHS tape in the store onto it with plenty of room to spare.
Finally, Chuck and Steve rigged it up as a PC external hard-drive.
It was a bit slow on retrieval, but it worked.
And with some hacking, they got into the movie collection too.
"If we could rig this up to battery power, either of us could literally be a walking video store", Steve said.
Chuck's mental gears started turning, and he smiled at the thought.
Hunter Haggard popped into the shop one day to return a tape.
The tape was "The Castigater".
A bloody revenge picture from 1985.
"Nostalgia", he said, "it...inspired me as a kid".
Hunter saw Chuck tinkering with a small handheld Betamax camera stripped down to just the player part.
It was going to be Sigmamax Mark 2.
"Whatcha got there?", Hunter said to Chuck.
Popping in the "Whole Video Store", tape from the original player, and booting it up, he said back "nunya".
Hunter shrugged, and left.
Chuck finished his shift, said goodbye to Steve, and drove home.
On his way, he saw a yard sale, and at the yard sale, he saw a painting that jumped out at him.
He pulled right over, and bought it for five bucks.
He didn't even bother haggling it down.
It was of a strange robot man standing on an alien planet with no atmosphere with two weird orange lightning bolts cracking behind him.
The robot man was almost faceless, except for two starburst-y glowing blue diodes for eyes.
There was a date on it.
He took it home, and hung it on his wall, and stared at it.
It combined with his mental image of what Steve had said.
"Walking video store".
The TV was on in the background, and he half-noticed a news story about The Jade-Shade.
Images starting assembling in his mind like puzzle pieces.
He got out a pad of paper, and started making drawings and diagrams.
On their way out of The Excruciationizer's apartment, he told Jade-Shade and Commander Continuum "I know a guy".
They headed out to Commander's black pickup truck.
Commander checked his internet watch, and Omneron had already downloaded chapter 5 of Quantum Dissolve into his memory from Shmegalamonga.
On the ride over to where Excruciationizer said his guy was, he revealed to Commander the final fate of Ms. Whitesmith and Mr. Pacer.
Ms. Whitesmith made horrible homemade soups that for some reason smelled of vomit and piss.
If Commander closed his eyes and focused, he could still smell it.
One day, she got hold of some tainted kale, and put it in her puke soup, and got horribly sick.
But, she didn't realize this until after school, and she was out shopping.
She was shopping at B.B. Lentil, a clothing and outdoor recreation equipment store founded by one of the descendants of the guy that founded the bean factory that Lentilville was named for.
Mr. Pacer had been fired for incompetence a year before, and worked there now.
Ms. Whitesmith bumped into him, just as the food poisoning kicked in, and she blasted him with puke like a compressed air cannon.
They both slipped around on the puke coated tile floor.
Ms. Whitesmith more-so, because she kept blasting more and more puke.
Mr. Pacer glided along flailing his arms like a novice roller-skater, and crashed into into a display that set off a Rube Goldberg-ian chain reaction that completed itself in a giant wall mounted moose head falling down, and impaling him on an antler.
He bled out within minutes.
It was better than he deserved.
Ms. Whitesmith fell backwards, cracked her skull on the floor, went into a coma, and strangled to death on one last spurt of puke.
They died the way they lived.
Ridiculously, and leaving a toxic mess behind for others to clean up.
Commander thought this tale was too fanciful to be true, but he had Omneron look it up, and it was true.
Two very carefully and gracefully worded obituaries attested to it.
They were gone.
"Good", he said with no guilt.
Just then, Excruciationizer instructed Commander to pull into the bad part of town.
They pulled over and parked, and waited.
Once the sun fully went away 45 minutes later, the sounds of crime kicked up.
One of those crimes got interrupted.
Commander started the truck, and floored it to the sounds.
There, in an alleyway, foiling some muggers, was Excruciationizer's guy.
He was clad in black armor that made him look like a blocky robot.
The eyes of the otherwise faceless helmet looked like two bright blue LEDs.
The wearer saw past these via two pinhole video cameras beside the lights, fed into an HUD inside the helmet.
Over the armor, he wore a baby blue silk suit, and a white t-shirt.
A rectangle hole was cut in the center of the t-shirt to expose what looked like a video cassette sized tape deck.
Beta to be exact.
On the tape deck, it said "Sigma-Max".
It was airbrush stenciled on in an imitation of the dramatic pointy font a real electronics company would print onto their merchandise.
Very classy work.
The sleeves of the suit were rolled up, to reveal gauntlets with 80's style video game controllers embedded in them.
They were for operating the HUD menus.
Sigma-Max reached into his jacket, and pulled out what looked like an old price checker gun.
On its side, in the same electronics font, it said "Scrutinizer".
He flicked a switch that turned on a green laser sight, and aimed the beam at the crotch of one of the muggers.
He pulled the trigger, an electronic hum filled the air, metal objects in the immediate vicinity of the target sparked, and the guy fell to his knees, and puked.
It was a magnetron from a microwave oven boosted in power a couple more notches.
The guy would never have kids now.
Sigma-Max pulled out his next gadget.
This one looked like a toaster oven, and was labeled "Interpreter".
He turned a dial on the front, pressed a button, and strobe lights came out of the open front of it.
The victim of this went into a paralyzed semi-seizure state.
Then, Sigma smashed the guy over the head with the "Interpreter".
He plopped like a sack of potatoes.
The outer shell was in fact a toaster oven.
He pulled out his final gadget.
This one, labeled "Nullifier".
It had a radar gun shell, but what it was, was just a butane flamethrower.
Primitive, but effective.
He set the final guy alight, and he ran off flailing and screaming, leaving a receding sickening orange glow down the alleyway behind him.
JS spoke up first.
Sigma spun around, and aimed the Nullifier at JS.
Then, he jerked his head back, paused, and said in a stereophonic altered voice "oh, hey, you're the guy from the news, I owe you a lot".
He relaxed, and put the weapon away.
"I'm The Jade Shade, this is Commander Continuum, this is The Excruciationizer, and we're recruiting. Wanna join our team?".
"About time someone finally asked", Sigma replied.
He looked at Excruciationizer, and said "hey, you look familiar, don't I know you?".
Excruciationizer smiled, and said "yeah, man, I borrow tapes from your store".
Sigma-Max flinched, and tensed with worry that his secret might be out already.
"I put it together from that you were building that..", and with that he indicated his Sigmamax tape drive "...at the store, and details from your exploits on the police scanner. That, and I tailed you one night, and saw you change. Don't worry, we're all friends here, no one knows but us".
"All right then".
JS stepped forward and asked "you got USB in that getup?".
Sigma said "sure".
JS uncoiled a USB plug from his Omneron watch, and handed one end to Sigma.
Sigma plugged it onto his left gauntlet, and worked some buttons.
Omneron hacked in, and gave him the identity files on JS, Commander, and Excruciationizer, their origin chapters from Quantum Dissolve, and the WiFi password to the Omneron server.
Now, his helmet HUD display would be an Omneron uplink.
"Oh, hey", Commander asked "I don't suppose you could turn this..", and with that, he held up the "Corey's trap", cassette "..into an MP3 could you?".
Sigma took it, popped it into a slot in is hip, pressed some more buttons on his gauntlet, and out popped a USB key from his wrist at the same time the tape ejected.
"There you go", he said as he handed him the USB key and the cassette.
"That it? can we go?", he asked all three.
"Um...yep", JS said, and they headed to Commander's truck.
"I'll ride in the back", Excruciationizer offered.
"Wanna buy some weed?", Sigma offered JS.
"Um....no..not right now", he answered.
"I will!", answered Excruciationizer.
And with a quick exchange of some bills, and a baggie, they were in the truck, and away.
Sigma told JS once they were mobile "you still recruiting? I know a guy".