Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Dark Avenger: A Batman/Captain America amalgam

       Bruce Rogers father, a brilliant biochemist, was kidnapped by the Legion of Hydra and forced to create the Dark Knight Serum; a genetic enhancement that turns ordinary men into nearly indestructible super soldiers.  The leader of Hydra, greedy and power hungry, would not wait for the experiments to be completed and administered the serum to himself.  The effects were immediate, providing him with amplified strength, senses, speed, endurance, and healing.  However, there were some nasty side effects.  The serum's toxicity sheered the dermis away from his face exposing and then bleaching and tightening his facial muscles, leaving him with a twisted expression of horrid delight.   The accident drove him insane, and he was soon committed to a Nazi Asylum.

      Bruce's father escaped Germany with the help of a secret and elite American squadron called the Agents of Justice led by Agent Martha Carter.  Thomas Rogers perfected the formula for the Americans, but it was stored until appropriate candidates could be selected for trials.  It was not long after that Thomas, and his savior, Martha married.

        Five years later, the former and disavowed leader of the Legion of Hydra escaped from his captivity and fled to the United States to exact his revenge on Roger’s family.  Taking on the mantra of a childhood fear, he died his lips blood red to mimic the same clowns that tormented his young dreams.  Permanently affixing an emerald green wig to his head, he donned the mantle of Laughing Skull and, using his mastery of chemistry and engineering, created terrifyingly maniacal weaponry.

      He went to the Rogers home where Bruce, his young wife, and newborn child were visiting.  Bruce had already left for the evening to, again, secretly attempt to join the military and their fight against Nazi tyranny.  Cursed with a fragile form and a myriad of health problems, he had been rejected too many times to remember.  With the help of his best friend Bucky Wilson, he was able to attempt enlistment time and time again.  During his latest try, he was spotted by Jonathan Banner, one of two other scientists who worked with Bruce's father to perfect the Dark Knight serum.  Rounding out their triad was the arrogant but brilliant billionaire roboticist and entrepreneur Howard "Hal" Jordan.  

          Jonathan saw something in Bruce and believed he would be the right person to undergo the trials but knew Thomas would never approve.    After rejecting Bruce's application, Banner sent him away, notifying him that next time, the good doctor would have to involve the authorities.  Discouraged and defeated, Bruce made it home only to find the devastation the Laughing Skull had left behind.  The Roger's residence was in flames, and neither Bruce or his friend Bucky was able to traverse the inferno to save his family.   The lunatic left a joker's playing card behind so that Bruce would know, without a doubt, who had committed the brutal murders.  Afterward, the Laughing Skull began a terror spree that spread like hellfire across the country.

      With no one able to stop the madman, thanks to an intelligence equaled only by his insanity, Banner and Jordan made a drastic decision.  They pushed forward with the Dark Knight Serum trials, choosing young Bruce as their first test subject.  He agreed without hesitation.

         It was a complete success.  Bruce became the perfect specimen of a man.  He was ten times more powerful than the strongest human on the planet, able to run at remarkable speeds, heal at an impossible rate, and endure indescribable pain.  At the height of the trio’s success, however, Bruce fled, realizing his newfound abilities, if left unchecked, would corrupt him, making him a threat instead of a hero.

         Hiding out in the distant land of Nanda Parbat he was discovered by the ancient blind leader of the League of the Chaste.  Known only as Stick, the wise and skilled sensei took pity on the young man.  He agreed to train Bruce to focus his powers with the promise that his pupil would someday assist Stick in stopping Hive's Hand; an evil organization bent on world domination.  Bruce agreed, and Stick trained him completely in just two years; disciplines that would have taken the most extraordinary man a lifetime to achieve.

      Stick's final words to Bruce were to utilize the greatest weapon that the universe possessed; fear.  The man who can bring terror to those who terrorize would be unstoppable.  Bruce remembered as a child he was bitten by a bat and because of his weakly state, the wound became infected.  The resulting illness nearly took his life. Deciding to use the Laughing Skull’s own tactics against him; he faced his own phobias and built a persona around them.   The very thing that nearly killed him would become his greatest strength.

      So, Bruce became the Dark Avenger.  With the help of Bucky, he recruited his old team.  They relentlessly dismantled the Laughing Skull's burgeoning syndicate until capturing and locking him away in the Phoenix Complex; a mega prison for the most horrendous of villains.  However, the Laughing Skull did not go quietly, first murdering Bucky and then leaving one last "joke" for Bruce to find.

      The Laughing Skull had placed a bomb on a nuclear-powered test plane flying over the Antarctic.  The guidance systems had been sabotaged to ensure the flight plan would take it right over Gotham.  There it would be forced to crash, detonating its radioactive contents and killing millions.  Bruce was able to get on board the aircraft and commandeer its controls, ensuring it would never leave the icy tundra. He disarmed the nuclear reactor but wasn’t fast enough to disable the bomb.  The explosion disabled the engines, sending the craft hurtling into the frozen waters below.  Bruce could not escape in time.

      His body was discovered seventy years later by the newest leader of the Agents of Justice, Nick Gordon.  Because of the serum, he survived in the ice and never aged.

        By the same token, the Laughing Skull remained as youthful as their last encounter.  The psychopath escaped his confinement with the help of the newly reformed Legion of Hydra.

         Gordon revived Bruce and after an uncomfortable acclimation; explained all that had happened.  He then told Bruce about a new team he was forming and wanted him to lead…

                                                       …The League of Avengers.

           Bruce knew what had to be done.  The Laughing Skull had to be stopped one final time, and Bucky and his family's death avenged.  So, the Dark Avenger returned to lead the most remarkable individuals on the planet; with one mission, to ensure that truth, justice, and freedom will always reign!  

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