EVERY DAY SUPERMAN
Issue 3: The Heroes We Want
Clarence scanned the rack hurriedly. He found the issue of Superman he had come to the comic shop to buy and quickly pulled it down off the shelf. He looked up at the clock that sat above the check-out counter on the opposite side of the rack that held all the latest comics. “8:45. I got fifteen minutes before closing. Ok, I just gotta see what happens next,” Clarence thought as he turned back toward the rack and opened the issue to the first page.
It was another splash, hearkening back to the last page of the last issue. Superman was charging Brainiac with his fists cocked and his eyes glowing a menacing red. The doomsday clock above Brainiac and the two life-size glass tubes; one holding Jimmy Olsen, the other his mother; read five seconds. Clarence turned the page.
It was a double page spread of Superman, instantly stopped in front of Brainiac. His fists were down, and his eyes were alight with the fire of inspiration instead of heat vision.
Brainiac’s face was static, as it always seemed to be. But the thought balloon on the next page betrayed his confusion.
“What are you doing?” Clarence read Brainiac ask Superman telepathically.
“Turning the tide,” Superman thought back. Clarence turned the page.
It was a series of smaller panels showing Superman speeding through a series of different actions: tearing out power coils from the ship’s mainframe computer, using heat vision to melt controls, freezing drones sent to stop him with his super breath. On and on the super feats went, faster than Clarence had time to comprehend. The intent, however, was clear; Superman was tearing the ship apart piece by piece, with only one thought balloon hovering over all the carnage.
“Tell me Brainiac,” the mind of Superman declared. “Is it better to lose your eyes or your ears? Your arms or your legs?”
“Stop this!” the thought of Brainiac rang out. The robotic despot rushed forward like a wave with the intent of crashing down on the Kryptonian.
And that was all Superman needed. Clarence turned the page to another beautiful double page spread. Brainiac was across the room while the last son of Krypton was hovering above the now-empty glass tubes; Jimmy Olsen and his mother slung safely over his shoulders.
“You…acted without thought?” Brainiac concluded.
“It’s called improvising Brainiac. I couldn’t have a plan with you in my head. Funny, that in the end it was your own Sophie’s choice that beat you. Just the writer in me, I guess.”
On the next page, the hovering Superman was smiling. More than that, the first word balloon that Clarence had seen in a few issues showed that the man of steel was…laughing.
“Cavalier, aren’t you? I would have killed either one of these humans. Both in fact, if the opportunity arose,” Brianiac asked, out loud, of the hero.
“That’s the problem with robots,” Superman’s word balloon read. “They don’t understand tone. I’m relieved, Brainiac. That this time, my plan worked.”
“I can assure you,” the cyborg began. “Next time, it will not.”
Superman’s smile left his face. He looked down on his telepathic nemesis with a resolute glare; blue eyes piercing like swords. “Then next time, I’ll just have to come up with something else.”
“Gimme what’u got in the drawer! NOW!” a guttural, male voice shouted. It pulled Clarence’s attention from the book, and he turned around.
At the counter, the cashier was being held at gunpoint. The gunman was tall and wiry. He wore all black, with a black ski mask to cover his face. He had a small handgun that was pointed right at the cashier’s chest, and the cashier was clearly terrified. What Clarence noticed the most, though, was how the hood kept shuffling around as though he was unable to stand still.
“The MONEY I said!” he shouted.
That’s when Clarence realized why the shuffling was so important. He recognized it. “And I know that voice,” he thought.
“Tyson?” Clarence heard himself say out loud.
The hood turned quickly, and the gun went off.
Tyson opened his eyes. The cashier was gone. “Probably ducked down below the register,” he thought.
Then Tyson looked down at his chest. He felt around with his hands. Unbelievably to him, he was fine.
He looked up at Tyson and saw the same bewildered look of surprise in his eyes that Clarence felt creeping up his bones. They both looked around the store for any sign of where the bullet might have hit. They didn’t see anything, as though it just disappeared.
Clarence looked back at Tyson with the resolute eyes he’d seen just moments ago, before guns and masked stepped off of the comic book pages into the real world. Tyson wouldn’t return Clarence’s stare, or couldn’t. Instead, the gunman was shivering where he stood; shuffling from side to side. The gun, pointed at Clarence’s chest, was bobbing up and down…left and right.
Clarence’s arms started to move. Slowly. He dropped the comic and brought his hands up to the zipper of his red sweatshirt. He unzipped it quickly, and pulled wide the lapels.
Then he took one step forward.
“Hey man! HEY!” Tyson screamed. “Step back!”
Another step forward.
“Are you crazy Superman? I will SHOOT YOU!”
One more step.
A final step. Clarence’s chest was now pressed against the barrel of the gun. The “S” shield was all that stood between Clarence and cold steel.
Not one word was said. Clarence could hear Tyson’s body quaking. He heard Tyson’s shallow breathing and sniffling. He saw Tyson’s eyes contort with struggle.
Finally, Tyson lowered the gun. He looked Clarence in the eye. The thirteen year old’s glare was focused and intent…and righteous. Tyson turned around then, and bolted out of the comic shop.
“Thank you kid!” the cashier said as he stepped up from behind the counter. “You’re crazy…”
Clarence turned to face the cashier with a huge smile on his face and his “S” shield front and center.
“…Really crazy,” the cashier continued. “But you’re brave. Not like there was much in here anyway. God damn digital.”
Clarence dropped his arms. He picked up his comic from the floor and walked over to the cashier. He took out the three dollar bills he had and placed them on the counter as he started to fish around for the change.
“Are you kiddin me?” the cashier laughed. “Keep it, kid. Consider it a thank you.”
“Thank you sir,” Clarence beamed.
He took back his money and zipped up his sweatshirt. “I hope there are enough street lights on the way home for me to finish,” he thought. Then he walked out of the comic shop into the night.