By Adam Esquenazi Douglas
Who would win in a fight?
Within the geek community, that is the one question that transcends time, class, and any other lines in the sand Rufio draws. From when I was a tot on the monkeybars to being a comic shop guy in my early 20s I have engaged, exchanged, and enraged a hundred thousand different battle royale discussions with my favorite popular culture figures. And I’m sure til my dying day I’ll be defending my belief that OF FREAKING COURSE the Hulk can beat Thor.
But no way is Purple-Pants taking down Superman.
There’s a reason game series Marvel vs. Capcom and Super Smash Brothers have such a wide, rabid fan following. They gave us everything we ever wanted. They gave us the answers to those questions that we had been asking for decades. Questions that had ruined friendships, mutilated playing pretend, and thoroughly perplexed the fandom at large. But there’s only a handful of games in these series, and the waters of pop culture are infinite and ever-churning.
As much as I love services like Hulu or YouTube, and despite the countless hours I’ve spent glued to Cartoon Network, I’m kinda bummed that they exist. They make things so easily accessible, and while that’s certainly convenient, we sacrifice specialness.
You see, Unrealtors, for those of us who lived before the bubble of online options burst all over the globe, little fanboys and girls had to wait with strained patience for that one magical time, those scant, spectacular hours where television networks dedicated programming to the young and young-at-heart: Saturday morning. And despite a few live-action adventures here and there, there was but one king: cartoons.
Which one was the best? ReBoot. Er—that’s up to you. I’m not here to try and convince you one way or the other about the superiority of Batman: The Animated Series (because I know you guys already know it’s the GREATEST SUPERHERO CARTOON SERIES OF ALL TIME HOW DARE YOU DISAGREE.) Beauty is in the eye of the Beyonder, and while Rocko’s Modern Life wasn’t my bag, I know not everyone loved KaBlam (but, dude…c’mon. Action League Now!).
But something in which I do feel confident casting judgment is just who the hell would walk away from a free-for-all battle royale. I’ve decided to remove characters who originally appeared in, or, at least, were arguably more popular in other mediums. So, that means no superheroes, no transforming robots, no D&D cartoons, and so on. Also, for the sake of decency, characters who would probably abstain from such shenanigans are also out. So don’t worry, you won’t be seeing anyone stepping over the corpse of Plucky Duck. And I’m keeping it on Earth, so Eternia? Catch you next week.
Okay, grab yourself some Lucky Charms. The SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE is ON.
Once upon One Saturday Morning…
The blood would leave rust if he didn’t clean it right away.
As he wiped the sticky red liquid and tatters of purple material off his go-go-gadget copter blades, the Inspector looked out across the battlefield. He still couldn’t believe his luck. His go-go-gadget springs activated at just the right moment to catch Darkwing right at the apex of his jump, a feather away from the trigger on his gas gun, eviscerating the Masked Mallard before the Inspector could get a faceful of knockout gas.
A lucky leap, and the Inspector knew he didn’t have a go-go-gadget make-lightning-strike-twice device. He’d have to be careful. And, besides, McQuack was still out there…somewhere. Maybe.
As he go-go-gadget roller-skated across the remains of the Recess yard, seeing the rusted Mystery Machine sitting lifeless in the parking lot, the Inspector wondered just how it had come to this. As Carmen’s wide-brimmed red hat tumble-weeded past him, he really couldn’t remember. One second he was on another case from the Chief, chatting it up Penny (she was always needing his advice), the next he heard something like a dog snarling and then there was radio silence. After that some blonde kid and a foaming-at-the-mouth bulldog parachuted down, guns blazing at each other, with the Inspector caught in the middle.
He was the only one to go-go-gadget walk out of that scrape, too. And barely. So strange…normally fate was so go-go-gadget good to him. Something was missing.
But before he could noodle on it too much, he heard a rustle behind him. Something was lurking in the bushes. Something…or maybe someone.
He could go-go-gadget rocket skate away if it was a real pickle, but he was low on fuel. If it was to be a fight, then fight he would. But he didn’t want his opponent to know. Opponent, he hoped. Not opponents.
And Heavens help him if it was the Freakazoid.
He casually made his way through, navigating a remarkably complicated series of tunnels some amateur explorers must’ve dug ages ago, but tried to get a sense of whatever it was stalking him. Another rustle. Another bristle of his go-go-gadget neckhair.
Enough. He was police. Inspectors inspect. He rotated his head one-hundred-and-eighty degrees.
He couldn’t believe what he saw.
And, then, he saw nothing.
Above it all…
The last time he had held her she smelled like the sea…
He shook it off, and bumped his head doing so.The KND Organization certainly lived up to its name. The Sailor Man had to bend over to walk around the treehouse facility. Since admittance into the KNDO expired once you hit teenage years, it only made sense to tailor the facilities as such. Besides, the Sailor Man had spent plenty of time in much less space on the open seas. But at least then he still had…her.
But it wouldn’t do to look back when everything was right in front of him. And, really, it was. The massive computer screen covered the entire room, dotted here and there with gumball machines and soft-serve ice cream. The entire earth was on display…and there was a lot more red than blue these days.
Casualties were immeasurable. Cities had become ashes, and no one was safe. A miniscule village somewhere in the forest of Belgium, a city some mere meters wide had been entirely obliterated. Ditto Townsville, Bluffington (rumors of some birdman versus a rabid dog ((or was it a pig?)) led to devastation), Middleton, and so many more. Even Bikini Bottom had evaporated.
But Burbank remained untouched. And the Sailor Man, remarkably enough, further narrowed his eyes upon it.
“I’m completely certain that that is the center of this disaster,” he calmly said. Pure military, the Sailor Man knew life in wartime.
“What? Are you speaking english? You sound like a talking water fountain,” the little blonde one said. What was her name? Blubbers? Babbles? Bubbles? Something like that.
“I say we fly right in and kick their butts to bits!” the brunette shouted. Buttercup. That one he remembered. She reminded him a lot of himself. She had lost an eye in a tangle against a talking sloth bear in a pilot’s jacket. He lent her a spare eye patch. Her rage was palpable. Determined. Funny how losing an eye gave anger such focus.
“We really have no choice. That’s what the Professor would say. When the evidence is evident, you have your proof,” the little redhaired one said sadly.
“Well, then, ladies, I will require your assistance in transportation,” he said, mission set.
They stared at him as if he had spoken a large amount of unintelligible gibberish.
They must still be shell-shocked. They’re so young. Just girls.
He pointed to Burbank, then to all of them, then made a flying gesture. The Navy taught him the true communicative power of images, (how do you think maps work after all?) and they seemed to understand him.
Within minutes, they were approaching The Golden State. The Sailor Man was being carried between two of the girls, each grasping one of his massive arms. It was uncomfortable and he couldn’t smoke. He’d had better days.
And now without her, he’d only ever have had better days.
He shook that demon monkey thought away as the city of Burbank came into focus. Only…was it still a city?
A water-tower loomed high over the area, hundreds of meters high, a makeshift lightning rod capturing the dozens of electric energy explosions the swirling, dark violet clouds gave screaming birth to high above it all. The lightning danced swiftly down the tower, powering a massive grid that once might have been a movie studio. Now it was a series of drone buildings storing and feeding energy to perhaps what was now the epicenter of the entire Earth.
The girls scanned the ground trying to find a proper landing space.
And since between the three of them they only had five eyes, of course they couldn’t see it.
“Look out! Bogey approaching our twelve o’clock at rapid speed!”
“What?! What are you saying?!”
It was too late.
His vision was still swimming, but he knew the stench from his time sailing down the Amazon:
As the darkness faded away and things became clear (meaning, when he pulled his hat off his eyes), he looked around. He was in a glass tube. Impenetrable by the looks of it.The girls were each in their own tube beside him, each unconscious. But at least they had lived.
Figures were casting shadows that seemed a hundred feet tall. But they were far away. And…small? What? He couldn’t quite make out who exactly had him trapped. Who…or what?
From far away…
To be continued…
Adam Esquenazi Douglas is a playwright who was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, was raised by a Jewish man and a Cuban woman, and, somehow, he doesn’t have an accent.
He is co-host of two podcasts, The JimmyJew Podcast Extravaganza and Schmame Over, which can be found at http://jimmyjew.libsyn.com/ and http://schmameover.libsyn.com/ respectively, as well as on iTunes. He is a contributing writer to www.GamersSchmamers.com.
He currently lives in Brooklyn where he drinks far too much coffee.