Titans West: Beach Blanket Ba-Boom! Chapter 1: Sudden Death

by Martin Maenza

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On a sunny Tuesday morning around 11:45, Hank Hall drove his tan Jeep toward the beach in San Francisco. With the top down, he had to speak loudly for his passenger, Renee Laisaille, to hear him. “Glad we could take some time to get away from campus and the books,” he said.

Renee smiled as she moved her blowing dark hair out of her face. “Me, too. It’s a shame Dawn couldn’t join us, though.”

Hank nodded in agreement. “She had a big exam this afternoon in Physics, I think.” He slowed down and turned into the parking lot. “Maybe she can join us next time.” Finding a spot, he parked the vehicle and turned off the motor.

Renee reached in back for the picnic basket that she had packed. “You said Charley’s going to join us, right? I made lots of stuff to eat.”

“Yep,” Hank replied, grabbing a large blanket from the backseat floor and putting it atop a small cooler. “I called him this morning, and he said he’d meet us here.” With items in hand, the two headed down toward the sand to find a spot to set up.

***

Meanwhile, Charley Parker had just taken off into the air with the aid of his Golden Eagle armor. Talk about like a wacky morning, he thought to himself as he winged toward the coast. My Chevette‘s been totally acting up lately, and it had to pick today of all days to hassle me. Gonna have to work mega hours to earn enough to get the carburetor fixed. Wonder if, like, Hank or Mal knows anything about cars.

Thanks to his wings, Golden Eagle made excellent progress, and soon the first signs of the beach started to become visible on the horizon. Now to like find the spot Hank said they’d be at. Can’t wait to scope Renee in her new bikini. Golden Eagle switched to the telescopic vision in his helmet. As he scanned along the surf and shore, visions of scantily clad bathers danced across his view.

“Whoa! What’s that?” The helmet’s enhanced sight picked up a situation that just might benefit from his help. Golden Eagle altered his course.

***

Lisa Morel was not one easily surprised. In her line of work as an oceanographer, the twenty-four-year-old blond had been in many exotic locations around the world and had witnessed some of the most amazing sights that nature had to offer. There was even a time, for a brief period during her youth, that she herself would have been considered something of a marvel.

Back when she was in her late teens, Lisa had an encounter with the Atlantean hero called Aquaman. She assisted him in a few adventures, going by the name of Aquagirl, but soon found her powers fading as quickly as they had appeared. Aquaman had revealed to Lisa and her father Hugo that the powers were natural, yet fated to not last. For Lisa, in fact, was Atlantean-born but had been sent to the surface as an infant; her natural parents knew should would not be able to adapt to living underwater. It was her telltale purple eyes that had tipped off the Sea King to her true origins. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Aquaman Meets Aquagirl,” Adventure Comics #266 (November, 1959).]

Lisa still enjoyed the sea, despite her loss, and had made it her life’s work to study its creatures. She was currently working on her doctorate in this particular area of science. Luckily, she had been doing some studies off the San Francisco shore when she noticed a humpback whale heading into much too shallow water. Despite her best efforts, the sea creature managed to get itself stranded on the beach. Lisa was trying her best to get it back in the water when she spied an approaching figure in the air.

“Hello!” called the Golden Eagle as he slowed his descent. “Perhaps I can give you a hand, Miss.”

Lisa smiled. The young man dropped out of the sky like a knight in shining armor. The way the sun glinted off his armor pleased her immensely. “I’d like that,” Lisa replied. “If you can grab the end of the netting, perhaps together we can get her back into the water.”

Golden Eagle nodded. “Sounds good to me.” He grabbed the end of the net that was wrapped around the sea mammal and began to pull as he gently took to the air once more. Lisa pushed the creature, guiding it across the sand until it reached the water’s edge. She waded into the water, caring little about getting her matching blue shirt and shorts wet. In a few more moments, they would have the whale far enough out and back swimming again.

***

“If Charley doesn’t hurry up, he won’t have much to choose from,” Renee pointed out. On the plaid beach blanket was the brown basket that had been full of food a few minutes ago. She slammed the lid down right after Hank took his third sandwich.

“Hey, that’s what Parker gets for dragging his tail,” Hank replied as he gestured with the sandwich still in his hand. “You snooze, you lose.” He was about take a bite when someone knocked it out of his hand. “Hey!”

A muscular guy with long blond hair in a dark swimsuit and stylized green sunglasses laughed at his own accomplishment. “Your sandwich needed more sand, dude!” He then kicked up a big divot of sand at Hank and laughed again.

“Cut it out!” Renee exclaimed. The six-foot-six blond just smiled and grabbed her by the wrist, pulling her into the air and into his huge awaiting arms. He weighed two-fifty or so and was all muscle. “Lemme go! Owww!

“Shut your yap, babe!” Dwayne Wainright ordered. “You don’t need a loser like him when you can have the B.M.O.B. — big man on the beach. And that’s me.”

Hank jumped to his feet and nailed the guy with a solid right cross; Renee tumbled free to the sand. “Yeah, right! Big jerk on the beach, maybe! Like to hurt girls, do you?” Hank then grabbed the guy by the back of the neck and slammed him face first into the sand. “Think you’re a tough guy? Why not show me what you got now that I’m ready for you, huh?”

Dwayne lifted himself out of the sand and smiled broadly. His eyes were beginning to glow with a red crackle of energy. “Oh, I plan to!” He swung back his left arm and knocked Hank thirty feet through the air. “How’s that for a show-and-tell?”

Dwayne grabbed Renee’s arm with one hand and retrieved his green shades from the sand with the other. “Let’s kick this party into high gear, sweet thing!” He turned back, expecting another attack, but Hank was nowhere in sight. “Guess your little friend had enough!”

They started to head off the beach, Dwayne dragging Renee unwillingly behind him. “Time for a ride, honey. I got no competition on this beach.” Suddenly, a dark shadow blocked Dwayne’s view of the sun.

Dwayne looked up just in time to see a red-and-white-costumed figure about to strike. “Not so fast, punk! How about we see if you’re ready for the big league?” Hawk slammed the blond man hard across the face with a right cross. “I’m betting you have a few things to learn first!” The blow sent the green shades flying once more.

Hawk followed the right cross with a left hook to the chest. “Lesson one: don’t mess with Hawk!” After the first few blows, the hero had been able to gauge how much the guy could take; Hawk was pleased that he would be able to cut loose and really work up a good sweat. The jerk certainly deserved what he was about to get.

His red-gloved right fist swung around again, connecting to Dwayne’s gut. “Lesson two: don’t mess with Hawk!” The blond remained standing, but he started to bend over slightly.

The hero then swung both fists down hard on Dwayne’s head. “And lesson three: don’t mess with Hawk!” Surprisingly, the beach bully remained standing. In fact, he appeared to be happy about the assault, almost basking in it. “Hey, what gives? Don’t you know when to fall down?”

Dwayne’s eyes glowed even more so. The red energy seemed to crackle about his body, increasing with each hit by Hawk. He simply smiled at the hero. “Now it’s my turn to school you. The only lesson you need is this: don’t mess with Sudden Death.”

“Sudden Death?” Hawk mocked. “Pretty bold name for a surf punk who glows when he fights! What, the name Dim Bulb was taken?” Hawk slammed him once more, but the man barely budged.

“Don’t lecture me about lameness, dude!” Sudden Death replied. “So far all you’ve done is flap your yap. I thought we were gonna mix it up.” The blond stood with his fists at his waist and his feet squarely apart, almost making himself a prime target for attack.

“Mix it up? You want cooking lessons now? I’ll give you cooking lessons!” Hawk replied, getting more frustrated and taking the bait. “After the beating I’ll give you, you’ll be needing to settle for a good long time!” He slammed the cocky young man once more.

Finally, Sudden Death stopped playing punching bag. “OK, old man,” he said. “You’ve shown me what you can dish out, now it’s time for the main course!” His body was glowing all over as he leaped into the air.

When he began to descend upon Hawk, Sudden Death raised both fists in the air and drove them down. “I hope you like it hot!” His fists connected, and there was a huge explosion.

Kabooooom! The sound shook the air and could be heard a great distance away.

The crowd that had gathered to watch the ensuing battle let out a loud, collective gasp. Renee, who had gotten to safety when Hawk arrived, stood slack-jawed as sand and smoke filled the air. The center of the explosive impact had been right where Hawk was standing seconds ago.

***

The rescued humpback whale continued to swim out into the Pacific Ocean waters and soon joined the rest of its group. Overhead, a golden armored figure turned back toward the shore line. “Now that Shamu’s back with her family, I better hurry back and tell that cute Betty everything’s cool,” Golden Eagle said.

In a few moments, the hero arrived at the beach again. The blond oceanographer had just finished bundling up her net. “Mission accomplished, Miss,” he said. “Uh, I never did, like, catch your name.”

The young woman smiled. “My name is Lisa,” she said as she offered her hand in greeting. “Lisa Morel. I’m an oceanographer and new to this area.”

The hero took her hand carefully. His gauntlet did not allow him to touch what he imagined was soft, gentle skin. “I’m the Golden Eagle, one of the Titans West. A pleasure to meet you.”

“Same here. Thanks so much for your help.” She brushed her long blonde curls back behind her left ear. “She was pretty good-sized, and I couldn’t have moved her on my own.” Lisa batted her eyes.

The hero made eye contact with her and paused for a second. Whoa, he thought. Then Golden Eagle regained his composure. “Just, like, doing my job, you know? Helping folks, stopping crimes, saving stuck animals — all your typical super-dude kind of stuff.”

Lisa laughed. “You’re funny, Eagle.”

Charley couldn’t believe his luck. What were the odds of helping out a gorgeous babe and her digging him, too? The day was totally looking up. He was about to thank her when a loud explosion could be heard off in the distance down the shore.

Both he and Lisa turned around. “What was that?”

Golden Eagle switched to his telescopic lenses but could barely make out a cloud of smoke rising in the distance. “I dunno, but I better go check it out.” His wings extended and lifted him off the sand. “Sorry, I have to run.” He flew off.

Lisa stood for a moment and longingly watched him fly off. Me too, she thought.

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