Thursday, November 6, 2014

Golden Age Action Comics #8 - Prologue 2

It had been 48 hours since the last bomb detonated in Steinkjer, Norway and 24 hours since the last fire was extinguished. Large portions of the port town had been leveled flat and, from the air, Superman could only count 15 buildings that appeared wholly undamaged.

I can’t be everywhere at once!  Was on Superman’s mind. He landed on a rubble-strewn street and surveyed the scene from the ground with a grim look on his face. Although he had suspected Norway was in danger for weeks, since the sinking of the HMS Glowworm off Norway’s coast on the 8th, but Superman had been distracted in Poland, dealing with the new menace of Luthor, and could not make it to Norway until now.

Superman could hear the sounds of fighting to the north, maybe 40 miles away. It was a situation he was anxious to look into, but there were people here, not only in need, but with useful information he needed.

The town was not deserted -- Superman had seen plenty of people milling about from the air – but they were fearful and staying clear of him. Superman knew he had to do something to show his peaceful intent. He strode into the sloping pile of rubble that had once been a building and began separating pieces of it with his bare hands. He quickly made two piles, one of completely destroyed material that would be no good to him now – largely charred wood, but also limestone bricks that had been completely pulverized -- and another of material that was still intact enough to be refashioned. 

Minutes later, Superman had a good-sized pile of re-fashionable materials, such as steel bars, bricks, and a few sheets of aluminum siding. Next, he used a steel bar as an improvised shovel to begin digging a pit, as he needed access to clay. When he struck clay, Superman moved to the pile of destroyed materials and sifted through it. He separated again the pulverized limestone he had gathered and, with gusts of wind from his super-breath, blew it into the pit. He then fashioned a giant bowl by bending a long sheet of aluminum siding and leaped to the waterfront. The docks and piers were gone, but the Namsen River still flowed past and Superman filled the giant bowl with river water. He then leaped back to his improvised construction site and mixed the water in with his mixture of clay and limestone in the pit, stirring it with steel bars, and fashioning the concrete he needed.

Ten minutes later, Superman had two opposing brick walls built, 10 feet high, 50 feet long, and spaced 50 feet apart, with steel bars jutting out of the ground to serve as posts to help support the roof he planned to build next.  It would be a modest covered structure, but it would give the many obviously homeless people of Steinkjer one more roof to keep over their heads for now. It was also having the desired effect of luring the curious out of hiding, for Superman now had an audience of 11 watching his work.

Du trenger tre, vil vi hjelpe deg å finne noen,” an old, weather-beaten Norwegian man said, daring to come forward and talk to Superman.

“I don’t speak Norwegian,” Superman said ruefully, knowing he would have to rectify that the first chance he had. “I speak English, Spanish, French, German, and Polish.”

“I know English,” another, younger man said, coming forward. “He said we will help you find wood. What are you? An angel?”

“Just a man,” Superman said. “I don’t have wings and I can’t fly, just leap very high and very far. It looks like you’ve lost 80 percent of your town. How many died here?”

“No one,” the man said proudly. “We were able to evacuate everyone in time when we saw the German planes coming.”

“Good,” Superman said, “but that still must have left one thousand to two thousand homeless here.  I will come back and help you build more shelters, but I need to know about the fighting to the north. Who is fighting?”

“The Germans left here and headed north to fight the British forces that landed before them,” the young man said, pointing helpfully.

Superman nodded, as that confirmed his suspicions. “Those are both occupying forces. Do you want the British here?”

The young man turned and discussed the matter quickly with the old man and another friend who had stepped forward, in their own language. Then the young man turned back to Superman and said, “The British tried to pressure us into this fight with Germany. We thought our neutrality would protect us.  But, if we had to choose…we would help the British, because it was the Germans who leveled our town.”

“That seems a fair assessment to me,” Superman said. He recalled his difficulties with knowing which side to be on in the Spanish Civil War and felt relieved to know it would be easier to choose sides this time.  “Tell the others to keep rebuilding,” Superman said. “If the Nazis come through this way again, it will be in full retreat.”

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