Before we get started:
First: This is the second Blogging Challenge post this week because I did not write one last week.
Second: This is a piece of fan fiction and I do not own any of the characters mentioned in this story. Howard, Beverly, Spider-Man, and Beast are property of Marvel Comics. Superman, Batman, Bruce Wayne, Maggie Sawyer, Lex Luthor, Luthor Corp, Cadmus, and SCU are all property of DC Comics. Apologies to the publishing companies. I love all the characters here and this is a tribute to them.
Third: Marvel Comics released a new Howard the Duck #1 today! The preview on http://www.comicbookresources.com is hilarious. Worth looking into.
My name is Howard and I’m a duck.
Are you done processing that yet? Yeah, I’m a duck that talks, smokes your Cuban cigars, wears suits and a fedora. I’ve been living among you hairless apes for a long time and you still seemed shocked whenever you see me. You’ve got a guy dressed up in a red suit with black webbing on it swinging through New York City in broad daylight and a scientist that’s slowly mutating into a giant blue cat but it’s me that you find shocking. You’re a disgusting bunch of under-evolved bipeds.
I live in Cleveland. I got myself and apartment and a job. I work as a private investigator and when necessary I’ve been known to do some super hero-ing myself. As long as I make my own money, pay the ridiculous taxes, and stay generally out of sight and trouble, the city leaves me alone for the most part. But it’s here where the problem lies. I’d been in Cleveland long enough that I had everything worked out and then one night I go to bed and the next morning I wake up and I’m in my pajamas laying in the middle of an intersection in a city called Metropolis. I’ve got guys in armor with the letters SCU printed across it leveling guns at my head and barking orders. They even had two of these goons with dog catch poles sneaking up behind me!
“What the hell?” I said as I sat up from my spot in the street.
The SCU goons all took a hurried step back and started muttering “it talks”.
I furrowed my brow and looked at the ones in front of me with my trademark disdain and said “of course I can talk and the name’s Howard not It!”
“Stand down!” A voice shouted from the back of the mob of SCU officers.
Through the crowd pushed a tall, strong looking woman with a blond crew cut hair do. I took one look at her and was in awe. She’s no Beverly (my catch from NYC, for those of you not in the know), but she looked amazing. I just hoped she would prove herself to be more intelligent than the typical hairless ape.
“Alright Howard,” Maggie said as she came to a stop in front of me. She was close enough that I could see her eyes but she was far enough away that if she needed to pull the hefty pulse pistol from the holster on her nicely curved hip she could, hold that pistol and arms length, aim, and blow my head off. Caution would need to be exercised here.
“My name is Captain Sawyer of the Special Crimes Unit of the Metropolis Police Force. You want to tell me how you came to be lying in the middle of the street?”
“Well, toots.” Sawyer’s hand moved towards her pistol. “Err, Captain Sawyer I mean, I don’t really know but if you wanted to grab some coffee and talk it over.”
Sawyer grinned and grabbed the handle of the pistol.
“Well, Howard, we can get you some coffee down at the station and we can talk it all out. Now can you get into this van by yourself or do we need to use the poles?”
“I’m a duck not a dog. I can get into the van by myself,” I said.
I got up from the street and started towards the van. The SCU officers moved with me keeping a tight circle around me. I looked at the one to my right who had his pulse pistol leveled at my head and said, “what haven’t you ever seen a walking, talking duck before?”
“Maggie Sawyer,” a voice called out from behind me. “Have you been demoted to animal control now?”
Out of the crowd stepped forward a tall, well built man with a balled head and the type of cocky, self-assured grin that you see on every other jerk you wish would get hit with a train. If had anything going for him it was that the man knew how to dress as he was wearing a fancy expensive designer suit.
“Lex, this is police business and we have it under control,” Maggie shot back sharply.
“Oh, you misunderstand me,” Lex said. “I’m not here to interfere with what your doing. I just wanted to make sure that our new visitor gets a proper welcome”.
Lex cast a glance at one of the SCU officers holding a catch pole, and then pulled a business card out of his front pocket and handed it to me.
“My name’s Lex Luthor and I’d like to formally welcome you to Metropolis. I’m sure Maggie and her boys will treat you nice but if they don’t feel free to give me a call. I can give you a personal guided tour of Metropolis if you like”.
“That’s enough,” Maggie said as she tried to grab the business card from me but I quickly shoved it into my pants pocket.
“Let him keep it,” Lex said as he turned and began to walk away. “He’s new here. He’ll need some friends”.
“You’re not the team of friend anyone needs,” Maggie shot back.
“No love lost between you and baldie, eh?” I said to Maggie giving her one of my charming winks.
“Shut up duck,” Maggie said as she grabbed me by the collar of my pajama shirt and threw me into the back of the van and slammed the doors shut.
The SCU was a pretty grim place with it’s brick walls, holding cells, and seas of desks. Metropolis gets its fair share of petty crime just like Cleveland because at every desk was either a suspect or a victim getting interviewed by an officer. One misguided crook made a break for it in the chaos of the bullpen, but I did my civic duty for the day and stuck out my foot and tripped him.
He looked up at me in shock and I said “you wouldn’t have gotten far, you’re still handcuffed”.
Maggie and an SCU officer dragged into an interrogation room that had blue and red domes on the ceiling.
“Are those power dampeners?” I said gesturing towards the domes. “You won’t need them. I don’t have any powers I’m just a duck.”
“Sure,” the SCU officer said. “That’s what they all say.”
Another officer brought in a small Styrofoam cup of coffee and placed it on the table and then all three of them left the room and the door was locked.
I sat in the room for about hour, although it seemed so much longer knowing that the officers were watching me from the next room through the one way glass. I know the deal. I know how this all works, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Finally, the door opened and a tall muscular man dressed in a skin tight blue suit, red boots, red cape, and a big S shield emblazoned across his chest came in. And get this he was wearing red underwear on the outside of his pants!
“Wow, Big S,” I said shooting off my mouth. “I think you put your clothes on in the wrong order. Your underpants are showing.”
The tall muscular man smirked and gently shook his head.
“Hi Howard. My name is Superman. Captain Sawyer called me and she said that you showed up out of nowhere in the middle of a city street this morning.”
“Yeah,” I said suspiciously.
“Well, in Metropolis we get a lot of different visitors everyday and not all of them are very friendly.”
“So, you think I’m a terrorist?”
“Well, Howard. To be honest, I don’t know what you are but I want to know.”
“I’m a duck.”
“Yes, I see that. Can you tell me how you got to metropolis?”
“Just like I told sweetie-pie Sawyer. I don’t know how I got here. I went to sleep in NYC and I woke up in the middle of one of your streets.”
“You’re from Cleveland?”
“Yeah, I’ve been there for a while. I had my own apartment and was working as a private investigator.”
“Where did you live before Cleveland?”
“You said you lived in Cleveland for a while, not all your life, so you moved of lived somewhere before that.”
This “Superman” knew what he was asking with his line of questioning. It was like he had experience as a journalist or something.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “I’m from Duck World originally. It’s like here except instead of you hairless apes running everything it’s all ducks like me. None of you hairless apes on Duck World, just ducks.”
“Interesting,” Superman said. “How did you get from Duck World to Cleveland?”
“Well, that’s a long story but it was Thog the Demon’s magic that sent me from Duck World.”
“Yeah, you know classic Nether-Spawn Demon up to no good. Looking to collapse realities and what-not. I wouldn’t worry about him though that was years ago. He probably has Duck-flix by now. He’s probably streaming some crappy reality TV show.”
“Here our villains tend to be a bit more persistent.”
“Yeah, but he never came after me when I was in Cleveland, so I doubt he’ll come after me here.”
“I’ll need you to tell me as much about Thog as you can, just in case.”
“Allright, I’ll write you a report.” I said, “but first, since I wasn’t planning on traveling I didn’t pack any of my clothes. It might be okay here to run around with your underwear showing but I’m not comfortable running around in my PJ’s. Can you help a duck out with some clothes? Oh, and because I didn’t pack I didn’t get to grab my wallet.”
That’s pretty much how my first meeting of Superman went. He’s a pretty stand up guy. He seems like he’s just trying to do the right thing and do good by everyone; however, when I googled him later I found out what kind of powers and strength levels that he’s been documented as having used in public and I was concerned. Superman’s got an awful lot of power and it’s great that he’s got such a pleasant demeanor and wants to help everybody, but I wonder what if he suddenly decides that he doesn’t want to do that anymore. I figure if I’m going to be spending a lot of time in Metropolis I should probably do something about it so that it doesn’t become an issue.
Oh, and the clothes that I asked superman for? He tried to get me some baggy sweats from Cadmus and they offered to put me up for a few days but I really didn’t like how institutional the place felt. So I left Cadmus with the sweats but I hated that they made me like a schlub walking around the city. Ya see, I’m used to having nice clothes and the only person that I knew in Metropolis who had good taste in clothes, you guessed it, Lex Luthor.
Lex didn’t have any hesitation having a custom suit made for me or renting me a nice apartment in the city, but it didn’t take long to figure out what he really wanted. He knew I wasn’t from around here and he wanted to know how I had traveled through dimensions. He was constantly asking questions about how I was able to travel through dimensions but I really didn’t have any information for him. His parents must not have paid for enough acting classes for him because I could tell that he was frustrated with me for not having the answer that he wanted.
So I pretty much assumed that the suit Lex had made for me was fitted with some kind of tracking device and that the apartment was loaded with surveillance equipment. I found tracking devices in the buttons of the shirt, the seams of the pants, and tucked into the collar of the jacket. I didn’t remove them because I knew he’d know. I don’t know if I found all of the cameras and listening devices in the apartment or not, but I found a few. I thought about dancing in front of the cameras but I knew if I did that then they would know that I knew so I just left them alone. It’s a little nerve wracking knowing that Lex could see everything that I was doing though…
I had been in Metropolis for about a week and I had already seen Superman fight off a swarm of killer robots and an alien that used a “cosmic bowling ball and pins” as attack weapons. It was clearly evident that Metropolis is constantly under attack and that it needs Superman. Even though Superman took on these threats and sustained pretty severe beatings doing so, the people of Metropolis are pretty split on Superman. Some believe that he’s a hero and worthy of their praise while others believe that his presence in the city draws these threats to it and that they would be better of if Superman just left. Still, I couldn’t shake the fact that Superman had too much power and eventually could become a risk himself.
Most days I was pretty much left to my own devices and I took to wandering around the city to get myself oriented to it. It was likely that I was never going to get back to my Cleveland, so I figured it was best to understand the world that I lived in now. I would get visits from Superman looking for more information on Thog. Superman was still trying to evaluate if he was a threat or not. I would also get visits from Lex as he was looking for information on inter-dimensional travel. I could tell he was getting frustrated by my ability to provide him quality information, so I started to make up some information to keep him placated.
I googled Lex Luthor and his company Luthor Corp and found that their primary income was from weapons sales. I found lots of well documented information about the struggle between Superman and Lex Luthor, and several conflicting reports about the character and intentions of Lex Luthor. Most shockingly, was a report that claimed that Lex’s intention was that he wanted to destroy Superman because he wanted to be revered in the same way Superman was, and that Lex would use any means necessary to achieve his goals. The page with this report was taken down within a few minutes of me finding it. A guy like Lex, well, he’s probably got a team of people scouring the internet looking for negative information that’s posted and then tearing it down. So honestly, I wasn’t really surprised. If I had money and was a public figure like Lex I would have my own Public Relations department too.
A lot of different costumed heroes (almost all of them with their underpants on the outside of their clothes) came to Metropolis and fought bad guys when necessary. The most interesting one to come to Metropolis was Batman. He didn’t have any super powers and he dressed up in a black costume and wore a black cowl with pointy ears and a cape. He wanted his enemies to fear him. Batman was a detective, a soldier, and a master tactician all rolled into one. If Batman were to have a super power it would be “super-preparedness”. I don’t think many of these younger hairless apes would be requesting that superpower from a genie if they had the chance.
Batman wasn’t too impressed with me when I met him after he and Superman took down Metallo. If anything Batman was suspicious of me. He was also a jerk because he told Superman that “the animals had escaped from the farm”. I did some research on Batman and Gotham City, the city he protects. I deduced a few things. Some very interesting things indeed.
Lex intensified his inquiries into inter-dimensional travel and I found myself struggling to make up fake information that could be coherent with what I’d already told him. Pretty soon he started sending people to bring me to Lex tower to meet him there. It was clear that Lex was working on something big involving Superman. That’s when I told Lex about my concerns regarding Superman’s power and what if he ever decided that he didn’t want to help Metropolis anymore but instead rule it. Lex was absolutely giddy with excitement when I said that. Lex proclaimed that he had been saying the same thing for years but that the people of Metropolis refused to see the truth for what it really was.
It was well documented that Superman’s main weakness was to kryptonite so I told Lex that if we made nano-bots that carried small doses or kryptonite we could inject them into Superman and then if he ever turned bad we could remotely activate the nano-bots to release the kryptonite. That would weaken Superman to that of a normal man, allowing him to be subdued. Lex loved the idea and almost seemed upset that he hadn’t thought of it himself.
Immediately, we went to work outfitting existing nano-bots with the small kryptonite capsules and a remote controlled trigger. Lex seemed to completely forget about the inter-dimensional travel scenario and focused all of his attention the nano-bots. I began spending all my time at the Lex Corp lab. Now I’m not an engineer but I know how to talk to people so that they want to help me.
We hatched a plan of the most effective way to get the nano-bots into Superman and we decided on an aerial mist focused just on him; however, he wouldn’t willing allow the nano-bots to be injected so he would need to be weakened so that he couldn’t stop them. Lex had “fought Superman to protect the innocent people of Metropolis from him” (his words), and had a suit of armor equipped with kryptonite blasters that he would attack Superman with and once Superman was weakened I was to spray him with the nano-bot mist.
A week later Superman stopped by the apartment to see if I could provide him anymore information about Thog.
“Sure Supes,” I said. “You mind if we walk and talk while we do? I could use some fresh air.”
We left the apartment and started to walk towards the local park and I told Superman every bit of information that I had left about Thog, which was mostly made up because I didn’t know that much about Thog to start with.
We were standing in the park near a pond when Lex made his appearance. He was fully dressed in his battle armor and had his arm cannons aimed at Superman.
“Ah, Superman, enemy of the people,” Lex announced.
“Luthor?” Superman genuinely seemed surprised by Lex’s sudden appearance.
“For your crimes against Metropolis I condemn you to death,” Lex said and began to fire kryptonite blasts at Superman. I had to jump out of the way in order to avoid being hit. Lex was firing wild.
Superman flew straight up in the air, circled around behind Lex and threw him hard into the ground. Lex spun around quickly and fired into the sky at Superman, who flew around quickly avoiding the shots.
Now, I’m not stupid. I knew Lex Luthor is not the type of person you can trust, but I didn’t expect him to grab me and aim one of the arm cannons at my head.
“There is no need for that Lex,” Superman called down. “Let him go.”
“If the ends are your destruction Superman that all things are necessary including the sacrifice of this worthless duck’s life.”
If necessary, Lex would kill me. I was part of the plan to administer the nano-bots to Superman but if necessary Lex would do it himself. Although I’m not so sure that if Lex had Superman weakened that he wouldn’t just shut him and be done without and not even bother with the nano-bots. Lex, after all, was more concerned with himself than he was with Metropolis. I wonder how Lex thought he would protect the city from alien marauders or killer robots.
Superman landed in front of Lex and started to walk towards him.
“There is no reason to hurt him,” Superman said as he raised his hands in the air in surrender. “Just let him go. This is between you and me.”
in a split second, Lex pushed me away from him and fired at Superman. Superman came straight at Lex in super-speed swinging his right fist at Lex’s jaw. Superman’s fist connected with Lex’s jaw with bone shattering ferocity and Lex flew backwards and crashed into a stone statue of Superman causing it to break into several pieces. The head of the statue broke lose and fell down hitting Lex on his skull crushing it. The blast from Lex’s arm cannon hit Superman in the chest as Superman’s fist had hit Lex’s chin and knocked Superman backwards to the ground where he laid writhing in pain. His skin immediately went pale and he was shivering on the ground.
I got up from the ground and ran over to Superman. He looked up at my face and weakly mouthed the word, “help”. I sprayed the nano-bots into his face and he gasped and choked as he inhaled and swallowed them.
“I’m sorry, Superman,” I said. “But I had to do this for Metropolis”.
I walked over to Lex and checked on him and he was dead. The head of the statue had crushed his skull killing him. The armor was broken and shattered, expect for a large piece of the chest plate, which blood was pooling out from under. I walked away from Lex and began to tear the tracking devices out of the clothes that he had custom made for me and placed them in a pile next to his body.
I ran out of the park as fast as I could, caught a cab, and had it drive me to a post office box, and then to Lex Corp tower. Without the sustained presence of kryptonite from the blast, it would only be a matter of time before Superman’s strength came back and he began to look for me. I took the back entrance into the Luthor Corp building and I took the freight elevator up to the 52nd floor, where Lex had been working on the inter-dimensional technology.
“Is it ready?” I asked Dr. Hodges, the lead scientist working on inter-dimensional travel, whom I had convinced to continue working on it even after Lex had pulled the plug.
“Yes,” said Dr. Hodges.
“Good, I’ll be back in five minutes,” I said. “Keep it running until I get back.”
I took the freight elevator up to floor 55, over road the security protocols, and entered a lead walled command center, where Lex Luthor stood watching a video feed from the suit of armor’s chest piece and blinking lights that transmitted the location of where I had left the tracking devices. The video feed showed people SCU officers attending to Superman and keeping the crowd of people away from him. Superman was alive but very weak and struggling to get up.
“Well, Howard,” Lex said. “I knew you weren’t the average duck but I never thought you would be this resourceful. Did you know the Lex that died today was a clone?”
“Of course,” I said. “Once I realized that Cadmus had the ability to clone I knew that you would have that technology too and that you would have used it. I knew that since our plan was only to administer the nano-bots to Superman and not kill him you wouldn’t waste your time and that you would send a clone. You would only do it in person, if there was going to be a kill shot.”
“Very good Howard,” Lex said. “I’m impressed.”
“Well, I didn’t get work as a private investigator because I couldn’t figure things out.”
“You surprise me,” Lex said turning around to face me. “I would have never expected this level of deception from you.”
I pulled a revolver out of my jacket it, aimed it at Lex’s head, and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit true in the center of his forehead killing him instantly.
“I’m just full of surprises.”
I went back to floor 52 and had Dr. Hodges send me home. I hope he listened to me because I told him to leave the lab after I was gone. I didn’t tell him why but I rigged floors 52 and 55 with enough explosives to completely destroy them. I made it back to Cleveland and settled back into my apartment and daily routine again. It’s just like nothing every happened.
Oh, and if your wondering why I had the cab stop at the post office drop? I mailed the only effective nano-bot remote to one Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor on the outskirts of Gotham City. I wrote him a letter explaining to him that their were nano-bots in Superman that could not be removed or they would dump their lethal payload of kryptonite and that the remote could trigger the nano-bots to release the kryptonite in doses heavy enough to subdue Superman.
I ended the letter with the line: I figure Batman is the best person to have this. Eh, Brucey?
Hey, I don’t get work as a private investigator because I’m bad at it.