With superheroes everywhere these days Balladeer’s Blog’s “Script Doctoring” of Marvel’s handling of Foolkiller continues with Part Thirteen.
FOR PART ONE OF THIS ARTICLE CLICK HERE
Some of you have commented on how awkward you find the nom de guerre “Foolkiller” but since the name was based on the figure from 19th Century American folklore, it won’t be altered.
This time around I rewrite all of The Defenders # 88 and provide several answers regarding the mysteries surrounding Foolkiller (Greg Salinger) and surrounding the dangerous fanatics of the Tribunal.
DEFENDERS Vol 1: Number 88 (Oct 1980) – Fools and Fanatics … (That title is taken from the Bertrand Russell quote ” … Fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” The story title in the original comic books was Hulk: Prince of Whales and was a peepee caca level “Save the whales” story.
In my alternate version we follow along from last issue’s conflict with the Tribunal (SPOILER: They’re Thog worshippers) and their obsession with obtaining Foolkiller’s Purification Gun so that it could not be used against their unknown (to readers) master. Keeping him safe will let them have “worlds upon worlds and universes upon universes at their mercy.”
For pacing purposes the tale will be told in alternating scenes in the Here and Now, and Flashbacks to fill in gaps.
Here and Now: In the Florida Everglades, a few days after the end of last issue, Foolkiller leads his fellow Defenders through the night-darkened swamps. He walks in the lead with Valkyrie walking behind him, effortlessly carrying Bruce Banner on one shoulder so he doesn’t strain himself and trigger his transformation into the Hulk. (Bruce’s scientific genius is needed.)
Overhead, Nighthawk hovers just above the treeline, keeping an eye out for Tribunal agents. Hellcat leaps along from tree to tree or – in treeless gaps – teleports via her Shadow Cloak. She asks Foolkiller why he’s not even sweating in the heat and humidity. Greg replies that he IS, but the living fabric of his costume feeds on it, like always.
Flashback: Patsy (Hellcat) reflects on how unusual Salinger’s revelations about his weapon and costume were. On Kyle Richmond’s (Nighthawk) yacht Mindy a few days back Foolkiller explained how Ross Everbest – the deranged religious fanatic who was (briefly) the original Foolkiller – revealed in his private journal that he had discovered in the swamp a muck and vegetation hidden interdimensional craft of some sort. His religious delusions made him view it as a “temple” of some sort, Salinger explains.
Using the massive wealth of his slain mentor, Ross arranged for members of their religious crusade to secretly excavate the site to the limited extent the swamp would allow. Inside were apparently long-dead four-armed semi-humanoids, slightly taller than humans.
No dust or insects were inside since the living fabric of the dead entities’ uniforms fed on both. The corpses sported four holsters holding one “Purification Gun” each. All the craft’s systems still worked (more on that in a little while) and the inside was much larger than the craft appeared on the outside. Yes, like a Tardis but other sci-fi stories have also used the concept.
The operating systems were beyond the understanding of Ross and his workmen but a few screens were playing repeating loops of videos accompanied by narration in some indecipherable language.
Here and Now: Valkyrie mentions that she hopes Foolkiller is sure he’s leading them in the right direction since she’s tiring of the monotony of the swamp. Greg says he hasn’t been to the craft in several months but he IS sure of its remote location. As if to support his contention the Defenders see the half-concealed craft before them.
Flashback: Salinger recalls his first visit to the craft, long ago. He was already clad in the Foolkiller costume – complete with Purification Gun – that he had found where his former cellmate Richard Rory told him it would be. He had lingerered in the ruins of Ross Everbest’s hideaway and had found his journal, which the religious fanatic had actually thought of as a new “gospel” or like a new Book of Mormon.
Following the description in the journal the new Foolkiller had located the craft. Once inside he realized that Ross Everbest’s delusional religious interpretation of the structure and its contents actually had much more scientific explanations. Ross’ “temple” was obviously a craft of some sort … Ross’ “angels” were obviously the pilot and crew of the craft and Ross’ “heavenly raiments” were obviously just uniforms made of some unearthly silk or plantlike substance.
(The hat-sash was like the “flower” or flower-petal part of the fabric, hence its differing length as depicted at various times until Greg “trims it back” again. I know that didn’t really need an explanation given how comic books go but what the hell.)
Most importantly the “demons” Ross described as being depicted in the repeating video loop may well have been just alien races the craft’s crew fought wars with. To Ross Everbest the repeating images of the four-armed gun-wielding entities fighting and killing bizarre creatures or beings meant they were “angels” defeating “demons.”
Ross Everbest decided that God had led him to kill his former mentor and discover the “temple” so he could continue the “angels'” crusade. Cultivating the living material into a two-armed equivalent of the angels’ costumes (complete with insignia copied from the dead aliens’ clothing and ship) Ross donned it and set out with the unearthly gun.
Everbest adopted the name Foolkiller from the 19th Century slayer of evil politicians and tycoons since he knew his “mission” would pit him against rich and powerful people who were as corrupt and deceitful as his dead Evangelist mentor.
Here and Now: Just before the Defenders can enter the interdimensional craft an army of alligators – obviously under the malevolent Black Magick control of the Tribunal – attack them. Doing their best to protect Dr Banner from any stress or fear Foolkiller, Hellcat, Nighthawk and Valkyrie defeat the alligators. Kyle and Patsy do so without killing them but Val and Greg just slash and shoot them to death.
Flashback: Bruce Banner recalls how a few days earlier on Kyle’s yacht Foolkiller explained all the flashback items to them all the night they defeated Mutant Force and the Tribunal’s Shock Troops, whose leader committed suicide rather than be captured. The next morning while the yacht was making its way down the coast enroute to the Everglades Banner had examined Foolkiller’s Purification Gun.
The best he could determine was that the gun was made from a flesh-warm metal unlike anything on Earth. Apart from the trigger and the thumb-dial which regulated the intensity of the energy beams the gun fired there were no moving mechanisms to the gun. Foolkiller confirmed that, stating that the entities who used the guns apparently carved them from a metal they mined on their home, a land with white skies and black stars. He had named the metal Rossium, after Ross Everbest since he discovered the craft.
Banner explained that the nature of the metal acted like a passive energy accumulator (think of Black Bolt’s antennae), constantly being charged by all manner of energy it was exposed to – sunlight, moonlight, friction from movement, electrons, radio waves, you name it. That was why the gun never needed charged.
As previously established the gun will only work for Greg, so Bruce and Patsy both fail at their attempts to fire it into the open sea. Foolkiller explains that the metal is as “alive” as the material of the costume. Just like the “talking to plants” fad the gun has to get used to a handler before it will work. Ross’ journal said it took a few weeks for it to fire for him but he thought his daily prayers were what made it work. It took weeks to fire for Greg, too.
Banner confirmed what Ross’ journal said was the pronouncement of the scientists Everbest had consulted with his dead mentor’s money. What Ross dubbed Purification Bursts were really a form of energy that affected anything with molecular activity, from microscopic levels on up. That is why it also destroyed vibranium shields back on Kiber Island. The energy’s destruction of germs inspired Ross Everbest to think of it as a “cleansing tool” that would purify “souls” as well and named the energy Purification Bursts and the weapon itself the Purification Gun.
The scientists and workmen refused to go along with Ross’ religious interpretation of all these obvious scientific phenomena so he blasted them to death as “fools” and “unbelievers.”
Here and Now: As the Defenders enter the craft Nighthawk takes it all in and reflects on how renegade Mexican military pilots who were secretly fanatics serving the Tribunal attacked his yacht on the open sea the previous day. He and Valkyrie (astride Aragorn) took to the skies and defeated them – only to see them blow themselves up to avoid capture while parachuting down.
Here and Now: Around one corner in the sprawling interdimensional craft the Defenders come face to face with the members of the Tribunal, like always depicted as men and women in business garb seated around a conference table. Various Defenders comment on the Gerberesque absurdity of this visual and make sarcastic remarks along the lines of “how did you people get in here?”
The Tribunal members state that they slipped in while the Defenders were busy battling the alligator army, then sinisterly add “… but we never claimed to be ‘people’. ” They then transform before the eyes of our heroes, revealing that they have been demons of Thog all along.
The Defenders fight them and during the battle Banner is attacked and becomes the Hulk. The fight eventually leads back out the “temple” door and into the swamp just outside. No sooner have the last demons fallen than a vile, unholy voice addresses our heroes. Thog appears and boasts that the Defenders have unwittingly led his subordinates and him to the fulfillment of their plans to rule worlds upon worlds and universes upon universes. +++
I WILL ADD THE NEXT INSTALLMENT IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS TIME ALLOWS.
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