Wednesday, March 2, 2011

STARDUST #2 "The Man Who Stole Comic Books"-pt.1

There was a Deadpool poster by Dave Johnson on Sean Causer’s bedroom door. Roger McGill knew this because every day for the past two weeks, instead of seeing his roommate, Sean, he saw the door closed and the Deadpool poster on it. Roger was not a big Deadpool fan to start with, but as the weeks passed, Roger began to have a slightly irrational reaction to the poster and began taking things out on the character. “Fine, miss V!” Roger shouted at Deadpool. “Don’t think I’m Tivo’ing episodes for you, either!” he told the poster with unbridled scorn.

This, though, was Wednesday and Roger had every hope of encountering his reclusive roommate this day. Roger knocked on Deadpool’s head with reckless abandon. “Sean, are you coming or what? You don’t want to be late!”

This time the door did open. Roger was surprised to see Sean suited up in his Captain Amazing costume. Sean always came to these meetings as himself. Sean was looking blankly into space, as if deep in thought.

“You okay?” Roger asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go,” Sean said without looking at his friend.

“Why the costume tonight?” Roger asked as they went through the house to the front door.

“Didn’t you read your e-mail?” Sean asked.

“Dude, my bedroom is 10 feet away from yours. I have to read my e-mail now to find out what’s going on with you?”

Whether it was the irritation in Roger’s voice or whatever was on his mind that was distracting him, Sean turned silent. Roger did too, so they rode together in silence in Roger’s car from Elmwood Drive out to Walnut Avenue and Tony’s Comics. Tony’s Comics was a specialty store where Sean and Roger had shopped loyally for the last few years. The doorbell chimed as they entered.

“Hey, Captain Amazing!” Tony exclaimed as they walked in. Tony was a big, heavy man with curly black hair and thick glasses. He was wearing a black Rorschach T-shirt.
Whatever shirt Tony was wearing tied directly into the store’s buyers’ club discount, so that meant a 5% discount on all Watchmen-related merchandise that night.
Sean was usually more enthusiastic when recognized as Captain Amazing, but tonight he simply nodded and said, “Everyone in back?”

“Just the regulars,” Tony said as he moved out from behind the counter to the front door. He put up the “closed” sign so they would not be disturbed.
The best thing about Tony’s was the meeting room in the back. Every other Wednesday night for the past year, Sean had been coming to the meeting room. Roger made the meetings as often as his work schedule – and his girlfriend Lauren – allowed. The meeting room had some stacks of cardboard boxes at the back wall – back issues the general public could only view on request, but tonight’s group could peruse as they wished. The group sat at a folding table with folding chairs. A pizza box was already open on one end of the table next to some cans of pop, while copies of this week’s comic book releases were lovingly protected from such messy fare on the opposite end of the table.

Kevin was already in attendance, right next to the pizza. Kevin was a tall, gangly young man of 25 years, with spiky red hair, a BA in English literature, and a stock supervisor job at Meier’s. Also there was Ruben, a 32-year old computer repairman who took computer repair training to escape from gang life, but still insisted on dressing in gold chains, hairnets, and hoodies. He was also the only one of them married already, though his wife had never actually spoken to any of them.

“We have a quorum tonight,” Tony began. “I call this special meeting of the Justice League of Elgin Comic Book Fans to order. I’ll also be immediately turning the floor over to our special guest, Captain Amazing.”

“Seconded,” Kevin said as a point of order. He looked more interested in the pizza than the proceedings.

“Any objections?” Tony asked.

“We can still discuss this week’s new releases, right?” Ruben asked.

“Later, if there’s time. All ayes, no nays? Great – the floor’s yours, Captain,” Tony said and he moved around the table to get a pizza slice.

“Thank you all,” Sean said as he stood up. “First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for respecting my ‘secret identity’, such as it’s been, over the years. But, as I’m sure you’re all aware, I’m also League member Sean Causer,” he said as he removed his mask.

“No way!” Kevin said in mock-astonishment.

“I always thought Roger was Captain Amazing,” Ruben said with equal sarcasm.

“Yes, ha-ha,” Sean said with a knowing nod. “But I’m telling you this because, as of tonight, I’m retiring the identity of Captain Amazing. It’s been a lot of fun – I can’t deny it – and I think I’ve done some good as him too, but that’s all changed since the Aurora Event.”

The smiles faded from everyone’s faces at that mention. Everyone remembered the green lights in the sky that night - remembered being terrified or excited or both at the worldwide, one-day phenomenon. Though life went on as usual the next day and the day after that and the 12 days after that, everyone was still aware, at least deep down, that something was fundamentally different now.

“I have superpowers now,” Sean said. “Real superpowers. You might have read about the robbery I stopped the day after the Aurora Event. What the papers didn’t say was that I used a superpower to do it.”

The robbery, the newspaper accounts, and Sean’s claim of having superpowers were all old news to Roger, but he was still trying to process the shock of Sean giving up being Captain Amazing. “Why does that mean you have to give up being Captain Amazing?” he asked.

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