Previously, in…THE CHAMPIONS! Warren Worthington III, the erstwhile Angel, decides to put the painful physical and psychological issues he’s been dealing with aside and restart the Champions, his troubled, never-made-it supergroup from nearly a decade ago. His best friend, the Iceman Bobby Drake, has reluctantly agreed to lead 3-D Man (triple human capabilities), Firebird (fire generation, flight), and Ultragirl (strength, flight, enhanced vision) to protect Atlanta, Georgia!
Last issue, the team discovered that Zachary Saxony, the local real estate developer who built the Champions Center, has been secretly employing Firebrand, the Scorcher, and Jack O’Lantern to burn down low-income buildings to make way for his own new developments. This greatly upset Warren, who had placed his trust in Saxony and now finds his faith in his own efforts to improve the community shaken. Meanwhile, Ultragirl, having regained her sight after being temporarily blinded by Mirage, was challenged via online video by the mysterious Derek Disaster. Plus, Hercules showed up at the end, and it’s always something with that guy one way or another, you know what I mean?
THE CHAMPIONS #4
“Derek Disaster’s Livestream of Doom!”
Written by Great (although he’s too modest to say so) Boos Up
PAGE ONE (SPLASH)
Ultragirl, alone, is in the middle of a circle of driverless construction vehicles gone wild, being operated into attacking her by an unseen hand. She is dodging a girder being swung by a crane while facing down a bulldozer headed right for her. The construction vehicles are green and purple, but I don’t want to prime you to think they’re gonna transform and combine into Devastator and then not go through with it. it’s just a reference.
CAPTION: Olympic Centennial Park, Atlanta. 12:05 PM, Today.
DEREK DISASTER (electronic): So, a fleet of drone-operated construction vehicles could be used to build things or destroy things.
DEREK DISASTER (electronic): Guess which one I picked, Ultragirl?
Flashback to the previous day. The Champions are gathered in their main meeting area. It’s comfortably furnished, almost like a traditional gentleman’s social club (think the Drones Club of PG Wodehouse) because Warren is old-money and likes things to be a certain way. The one thing that gives away its modernity is a giant flatscreen in the center, which is showing the video from the end of last issue as displayed on a YouTube-like app (but it wouldn’t be YouTube for legal reasons, obviously.)
On the screen is Derek Disaster, a man evidently in his early twenties, who is wearing a black T-shirt and a leather full-face mask. He is sitting at some unfathomable and sinister (but distinctly homemade-looking) control panel, speaking directly to the camera in front of him. His shirt has the logo of a video game company and there is a brand-name energy drink on the control panel in the foreground. These would all have to be fake brand-names.
CAPTION: Champions Center. 4:17 PM, Yesterday.
BONITA: So this boy—Derek Disaster—publically challenges you to some kind of…contest every month?
SUZY: Yeah. It’s always like, he threatens to destroy banks or monuments and stuff, and I’ve gotta find all the bombs or traps or whatever.
BONITA: Why you?
SUZY: Well, after the Cavalry broke up1, I was kinda the only one still doing superhero stuff in town. And like, I don’t think he likes the idea of girls being superheroes?
DELROY: Well, obviously we gotta find this guy and take him out.
WARREN: Nobody knows where he makes his videos and streams from. I’ve been on the phone to the police and the FBI; they can’t trace his IP address.
SUZY: And you can’t come help me. You heard what he said, he’ll just set off whatever his plan is without me being able to stop him.
SUZY: We won’t even know what his plan is until he reveals it on his livestream at noon tomorrow!
Back to the present. Ultragirl punches the bulldozer that’s charging at her, stopping it in its tracks.
CAPTION: 12:06 PM, Today.
An excavator brings its digger down trying to crush her, but she zips out of the way. She picks it up by the arm, swings it around, and bashes it into the crane that was attacking her, toppling both of them.
We see Ultragirl has her phone strapped to her arm, and it’s playing Derek Disaster’s livestream. He’s wearing the same mask, but there’s a baseball cap over it that says THANOS WAS RIGHT. Also a T-shirt for a different video game developer. He congratulates her on stopping the first wave of attack. But of course, he didn’t really expect the construction equipment to hurt her.
He presses a button.
Seen from above, the ring of construction vehicles all disperse in different directions. Suzy looks on in horror as Derek Disaster says she’s going to have to figure out which one she wants to chase down first.
She flies off after another bulldozer headed for a statue and knocks it off its tracks, then goes flying off to the next challenge.
Cut to the livestream. Derek Disaster says that today’s target is the Olympic Centennial Park, built for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
DEREK DISASTER: This place is gonna be no big loss, Disasterbros. What are the Olympics anyway?
At headquarters, the rest of the Champions are watching the livestream on one screen and live news footage of Ultragirl on the other.
CAPTION: 12:08 PM, Today.
DEREK DISASTER: It’s a bunch of ‘roided-out jocks playing games and waving flags.
Delroy grits his teeth.
DELROY: I was pretty mad at this guy for bugging Suzy to begin with.
DELROY: I used to be one of those “’roided-out jocks.” It’s why the IOC kicked me out and took my gold medals away.
BOBBY: Don’t take it personally. He’s just doing this nihilist edgelord thing, you know?
DEREK DISASTER: Bunch of you abyss-gazers have been sending me messages. Let’s take a look.
DEREK DISASTER: PuppetMasta89 asks what I’ve been playing. I’ve been pretty hooked on Fall From Grace 2, bro. Graphics are absolutely sick.
DEREK DISASTER: There’s also this new mobile game everyone’s playing, CircleChase…
DELROY: Are we really just gonna sit here and do nothing while Suzy’s out there sweating?
BOBBY: I don’t think there’s anything we can do but play along. Ultragirl says he doesn’t seem to want to hurt or kill any people. It’s all about symbolic property damage.
BOBBY: Look, I don’t like it either. Maybe you should try to get your mind off it. Bonita’s giving Hercules a tour of the building. Maybe you could meet up with them?
DELROY: I’ll pass.
DELROY: Still, pretty crazy, Hercules showing up outta the blue.
CAPTION: 4:23 PM, Yesterday.
Warren dismisses Bonita, Suzy, and Delroy.
WARREN: Okay, meeting adjourned. Ultragirl, let us know if there’s anything you need between now and noon tomorrow, okay? Delroy, Bonita, you’re off the clock.
As they exit the meeting room, Hercules enters. Delroy’s still in a sulk, Suzy’s a little starstruck. Bonita’s met him before; they exchange a friendly hello.
Warren runs up to Hercules and tells him how great it is to see him. How it’s gonna be just like old times. Bobby’s glad too, but a little more restrained.
WARREN: I’m so glad you’ve decided to join the team.
BOBBY: What changed your mind?
BOBBY: Warren said he already asked you and you turned him down.2
HERCULES: DID’ST I?
HERCULES: WELL, YOU KNOW WE IMMORTALS CAN BE AS CAPRICIOUS AS THE ZEPHYR!
HERCULES: YES. WHY, IN TRUTH, I SAW YOU ON THE NEWS, WHERE YOU VALIANTLY FOUGHT THAT POORLY DRESSED ILLUSIONIST.3
HERCULES: SEEING MY OLD FRIENDS ENGAGED THUS IN COMBAT, I DID THINK PERHAPS I TOO HASTILY DISMISSED THE IDEA. I DON’T KNOW WHAT OTHER MALEFACTORS THIS CITY HAS TO OFFER, BUT CERTAINLY THE LION OF OLYMPUS CAN BE OF SOME ASSISTANCE!
Warren’s assistant, Laura Green enters. She gives Warren some info on an incoming appointment. Warren introduces to the two. She leaves.
Warren tells him briefly about what’s going on in Atlanta. That for months, a bunch of new villains using the equipment and costumes of retired or dead supervillains have been committing crimes in Atlanta.
WARREN: Ultragirl tells us the ringleader’s called the Masked Marauder, who was an old enemy of Daredevil’s. But we don’t know if it’s the same guy, or where he gets all the costumes and equipment…
A dimly-lit criminal laboratory and workshop. The Lark Brothers, Bartleby (broad, balding) and Milo (thin, meticulous), are waiting for an audience. They have a large suitcase with them.
CAPTION (Warren): “…or if he’s working for somebody else.”
CAPTION: New York City. 12:10 PM, Today.
MILO: Was making this trip really necessary, Bartleby?
MILO: You know how I hate to leave our criminal empire unattended.
BARTLEBY: This is important, Milo. I want the Tinkerer’s personal assurance that—
Suddenly, someone calls to them, and the Tinkerer enters the room. He absent-mindedly walks through his lab, messing with machines and bits and bobs, and the Lark Brothers follow him around.
TINKERER: You must be the Lark Brothers, from Atlanta. Although I don’t hear Southern accents.
BARTLEBY: We’re recently moved from Seattle.
MILO: We saw a power vacuum and rushed to fill it.
TINKERER: Working with The Exchange,4 no doubt.
BARTLEBY: Well, that brings us to why we’re here. Milo, show him the suit.
Milo struggles to lift the suitcase. Bartleby rolls his eyes and picks it up for him, placing it on the table. They open it.
Inside is the suit of Blue Streak. Tinkerer looks at it.
BARTLEBY: We managed to buy from The Exchange a large assortment of supervillain equipment. Some of it salvaged from various police evidence vaults and superhero skirmishes over the years, but we were assured that a large number of pieces—including this recreation of the Blue Streak’s armor and rocket-powered skates—were made by you.
MILO: But it’s defective. The rocket-skate went out of control. And our new Mirage had a very embarrassing public malfunction as well. We paid very handsomely for this equipment…
Tinkerer examines the skates under a magnifying glass.
TINKERER: Well, I’ll take a closer look, but I assume you already expect the same thing I do.
BARTLEBY: The suit is not your work.
TINKERER: Mm. Hm. Here, you see? This shoddy fuel casing’s cracked. Might as well be made of plastic.
TINKERER: Whoever was wearing this suit is lucky the skates didn’t explode.
TINKERER: Actually, there’s much to admire about the engineering of these skates. I can see how this could pass for one of mine. The designer is clearly gifted, brilliant even.
TINKERER: But these materials. I use only the best and it’s worth every penny. Someone made a very smart, functional suit. But they didn’t spend a lot of money on it.
TINKERER: It’s a shame you did.
Hercules is shown lifting a massive weight in the Champions’ gym. It will be important later that we see him unambiguously doing a heavy-lifting superhuman feat.
CAPTION: Champions Center. 12:15 PM, Today.
Firebird is there with him doing a few flying laps around the facility. Hercules expresses admiration for her form.
HERCULES: COME! LET US ADJOURN FOR DRINKS.
FIREBIRD: It’s just barely after noon. And anyway, I don’t drink much.
HERCULES: NONSENSE, I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE A CATHOLIC! IS IT NOT CUSTOMARY AMONG YOUR PEOPLE TO DRINK WINE IN THE BELIEF THAT IT IS A MANIFESTATION OF ONE OF YOUR GODS’ BLOOD?
FIREBIRD: Please don’t make this awkward.
HERCULES: I…APOLOGIZE. I UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF HOW YOU MUST FEEL IN THE PRESENCE OF A SCION OF THE OLYMPIAN GODS.
FIREBIRD: I’ve…worked with Thor before.
HERCULES: IF IT HELPS, I TRY TO TAKE A CERTAIN PERSPECTIVE ON THESE MATTERS. IT IS EASY WITH THE BENEFIT OF IMMORTALITY.
Firebird looks sad.
FIREBIRD: Hm. I think I’d like to hear about immortal perspective sometime…
Ultragirl totals more construction equipment gone amok. Stops an excavator from cracking the fountain.
Delroy is watching the news and the livestream at the same time.
Derek Disaster gloats for a bit, then goes back to taking questions.
DEREK DISASTER: Dash_Void asks about the hat. You like it? A place out of Portland called Lethal Protector makes these.
DEREK DISASTER: Anyway, should we put on some music? Got some sick new tracks from Maximum Clonage.
Delroy suddenly has an epiphany. He gets up and leaves the room.
Derek Disaster announces his grand finale: a trio of wreckers targeting the Skyview ferris wheel. Two of them batter her while the third goes after the ferris wheel itself. It draws back as Ultragirl gets buffeted. Then she dodges and flies to intercept the wrecking ball. She PUNCHES it right off its chain, and it lands harmlessly near the fountains in the park. She smashes the last three wreckers. She’s exhausted. We pull back and see her in the middle of all this wreckage. She’s beaten the challenge.
Derek Disaster says a few pithy words about Ultragirl being a good sport. Then:
DEREK DISASTER: Hold on. Bl0vi8or says there’s someone else streaming I’m going to want to see. Let me check it out here.
We see, in a similar video display, Delroy, dressed as the 3-D Man.
3-D MAN: Hey out there, this is 3-D Man from the Champions of Atlanta.
3-D MAN: This video guy you all seem to like, he said some pretty nasty things about the Olympics. You know, I used to compete. I had three gold medals. For a while anyway.
We see that 3-D Man is sitting at a laptop in the Champions’ support center. Arian, the computer guy, is supervising.
3-D MAN: When I was riding high I had a lot of endorsement deals. Everyone wanted Delroy Garrett to be seen wearing their shoes, their jerseys, eating their cereal.
DEREK DISASTER: Oooookay, has-been, thanks for sharing, bro.
3-D Man leans in and his face fills the screen.
3-D MAN: I just want to say, “Derek Disaster”…game recognizes game.
DEREK DISASTER: …
DEREK DISASTER: What do you mean?
3-D MAN: You be quiet a minute. Hey, all you…what does he call you, “chaos freaks”?…out there.
3-D MAN: You think this guy’s cool because he wrecks stuff and acts like he’s disaffected, but you know what he is?
DEREK DISASTER: Uh, don’t listen to this…to this…
3-D MAN: He’s a shill. They’d call him an “influencer” now, and it’s a little more subtle than when I used to do shoe commercials, but it’s not that different.
DEREK DISASTER: He’s lying. He’s lying. Fake.
3-D MAN: Y’all notice how much this guy talks about the latest video games he’s playing? The music he’s listening to? Who makes his clothes?
3-D MAN: He’s got an energy drink positioned just so that you can read the label. And like…he’s wearing a mask, you know he’s not drinking it.
DEREK DISASTER: All right, bro, I think we can…cut it out…
3-D MAN: This guy’s just holding marketing events he’s classed up with some college freshman politics and a lot of engineering talent that’s going to waste.
3-D MAN: Whatever. 3-D Man out.
We see on someone’s laptop screen. Derek Disaster is stunned and nervous.
DEREK DISASTER: Uh…Zizek says….
Under the video app window, the user clicks UNSUBSCRIBE.
On a different laptop, we see a user click UPDATE PROFILE.
We see Bobby Drake, sitting at his laptop at a desk, working on his dating app profile and frowning.
CAPTION: Champions Center, Apartment Levels, 4:47 PM, Today.
PROFILE TEXT ON SCREEN: I’m looking to start a new chapter in my life. I just moved to Atlanta, but more importantly, I just came out to my friends and myself about a month ago.
BOBBY (thought balloon): Yeah, this is exactly what every guy in the city is looking for, some kind of project.
PROFILE TEXT ON SCREEN: I love garbage movies, trashy European techno from the early 2000s, and Pablo Neruda.
BOBBY (thought balloon): Awesome. Maybe if you make your interests sound unusual enough, they’ll think you have a personality.
He hesistates, then types.
PROFILE TEXT ON SCREEN: You know what? I’m actually awesome. I’m an omega-level mutant with the power to control ice and I’ve been a superhero since I was fifteen years old. You know Magneto? “Earth’s most dangerous supervillain”? I’ve kicked his ass.
BOBBY (thought balloon): No. No.
He sighs, then types.
PROFILE TEXT ON SCREEN: I’m new in town. I work downtown as an accountant5 and
His phone rings. He answers.
BOBBY: Oh, hey, Ultragirl. Suzy. What’s up? Nice work out there today, again.
SUZY (phone): Thanks! Hey, we didn’t get a chance to talk, so I just wanted to ask because I guess you know him better. How did Hercules get his powers back?
SUZY (phone): He lost his powers in the Chaos War6 and he’s been using like ancient Greek weapons or whatever, but I guess he got them back? You know I like to keep tabs on all the superhero gossip.
BOBBY: Uh…I’ll…call you back.
Bobby starts typing HERCULES CHAOS WAR into his browser.
CUT TO: A private plane.
CAPTION: Between New York City and Atlanta, 7:35 PM, Today
Inside the plane, the Lark Brothers are planning their next move. Milo is particularly livid about getting ripped off. Bartleby says potentially all of their supervillain agents may now be potentially compromised. What they need is a third party, a free-agent they can hire that they will be able to depend on.
CUT TO: A timeshare condo outside Atlanta. A shadowy figure is ringing the doorbell.
BARTLEBY (caption): …but who?
CAPTION: South Atlanta, 10:39 PM, Today
SFX: DING DONG
SFX: DING DONG
VOICE FROM INSIDE: Hold on! Hold on!
Inside, we see a woman in her early 40s walking to the door. She has bleached blonde hair with dark roots showing through. She’s wearing a tank top and pajama pants and has clearly just been woken up.
WOMAN: Gotta be up for work tomorrow…
The woman opens the door and looks surprised. It’s not an entirely pleasant surprise.
WOMAN: Okay, what the hell do—
WOMAN: Oh my god.
A craggy-faced man in his late 40s is slouched at the door. He looks like he might fall over at any second.
MAN: I need someplace to—
He collapses in the doorway. The woman drags him inside so that he’s leaning up against a wall. She looks scared, and it’s not clear whether it’s for the man’s sake or for hers.
DENISE: Oh, what the hell have you gotten yourself into now, Pete Petruski?
NEXT: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF PASTE POT PETE
Due to there being three Tuesdays in July, the next issue of Champions won’t be out until August 7th to preserve the “odd Tuesdays” scheduling. But we think it’ll be worth the wait, True Believer!