by Doc Quantum
The superhuman hero known as Hyperman, Canada’s first super-hero, had been at this game for twenty years now. He had publicly debuted at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec, and had operated as Canada’s hero for several years while also working as a journalist under his true identity of Charles Joseph LeBlanc, originally for the Montreal Star, and later for the Toronto Star, until his retirement from that profession in 1977.
Unlike the heroes of the Justice League of America, who were well-known internationally, Hyperman kept a fairly low-key profile and rarely participated in anything not directly having to do with the protection of Canada. Still, he made front page news in every Canadian newspaper when his secret identity was exposed to the world as Charles LeBlanc in 1977 after ten years as Canada’s hero. McKenzie still chided him for thinking a mere mustache and a business suit was sufficient enough to disguise him in his civilian life.
Despite this, by that time Hyperman had still managed to keep himself out of the papers as much as possible, and few people took notice when he quit his journalism career and became the RCMP’s only superhuman operative. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, of course, was at that time not only Canada’s federal police organization, like the FBI in the USA, but also its only security and intelligence service until 1984, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was formed as an independent organization similar to the CIA. LeBlanc’s semiformal relationship with the RCMP was transferred to CSIS, which opened up a superhuman branch headed by Emmett McKenzie. It was on assignments like this one that he was called into action.
“Control, I’m outside the Alliance base,” LeBlanc said as he surveyed the situation from a pine-covered ridge high in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. In the valley below was a huge Alliance ship and several smaller gliders, around which could be seen several Gordanian troops on guard. From this base a second wave of attacks was to be launched as soon as the orders were given. Now that the Warworld was gone, though, those orders would have to be given via local command. But the Alliance was already crumbling on Earth — they were no longer in communication with other Alliance bases and could not agree on a coordinated attack. “It looks to me like they’re waiting for something to happen.”
“Can you move in closer?” the voice of McKenzie said over the headset LeBlanc wore. “Our American cousins wired us the instructions for disabling these bases — so as long as you can get in there to do the job, you should be able to take them out without a problem.”
“Without a problem?” LeBlanc snorted derisively. “Tell that to the aliens down there.”
“Should we send in backup? An RCMP detachment in Golden can be there within minutes.”
“No… no, I think I’ll be able to handle this myself,” LeBlanc said as he stood and took a sharp look around the base. If only I had x-ray vision like that Superman fellow, he thought to himself. “Keep an eye on me, though — if I’m in trouble, you can send them in, though in any case they should be sent in for the cleanup in half an hour or so. LeBlanc out.”
Hyperman stepped back several feet on the ridge and prepared himself. He was no longer a spring chicken at the age of forty-five, and his youthful good looks had gone when he went bald and grew his graying beard, but he still possessed enough strength to take on a group of Gordanians armed with conventional weaponry. He wore his customary action uniform, a purple and green jumpsuit with a large H insignia on his chest; sometimes McKenzie joked that those colors were only popular with villains, and that no respectable American hero would be caught dead wearing them. It was true — Lex Luthor, the Joker, the Riddler, the Catwoman, and Parasite, to name but a few, had made the combination of purple and green the villains’ choice of colors. What could he say? LeBlanc had to be an individual, and these just happened to be his favorites. LeBlanc whispered a short prayer in the hopes of seeing his darling wife and children again and made a run for it.
Springing powerfully off the ridge, Hyperman leaped an eighth of a mile directly next to the Alliance base and landed hard on the ground but on his two feet. Not as graceful as I was back in the day, he thought to himself, but still all right for an old guy like me.
Two Gordanians set to guard the base came running at the noise. LeBlanc ran faster than a speeding bullet toward them and landed two swift punches upon their thick jaws. They went down in an instant. Surprise was still on his side, but not for long. He quickly made his way toward the Alliance base’s doors but found no way to open them, though he’d observed the Gordanians traveling back and forth through them several times earlier. Oh, well — he didn’t want to waste time trying to figure out how it worked. Without any kind of vision powers like that of his American ally Superman, Hyperman would have to resort to other means to get inside.
His fists strong as steel, he began pounding at the ship’s hull and found that it began to give after several fast and furious blows. It wasn’t exactly the most elegant solution to his problem, but it was effective. Within moments, he had punched an opening through the strange metal and began peeling it back to make an opening large enough to fit through.
The shouts of several Gordanians with weapons drawn alerted him that his presence was quickly becoming known to the whole platoon of aliens. He leaped quickly out of the way as a blast from one of their weapons hit the ship where he had been, almost finishing his job for him.
This is getting me nowhere fast, he thought as several more Gordanians began pouring out of the base and fired several more shots in his direction. He’d easily survived hails of bullets and attempts to stab him with a knife or a sword, but he’d also discovered that powerful explosives were able to break his skin; his invulnerability had its limits — he thus had no idea what effect those laser weapons would have on him, and he had no desire to find out.
Deciding that the best defense was a good offense, Hyperman jumped into the midst of the Gordanian troops like a cannonball and, once in their midst, began throwing powerful punches at them. They were unable to use their weapons in such close quarters. Within moments, he had fought them all off and managed to escape with a mere flesh-wound as one of the shots grazed his shoulder.
“Now to business,” he mumbled to himself. LeBlanc tore into the Alliance base through the enlarged opening he’d made and headed directly for the communications center as per the directions the Americans had provided the governments of the world. After some limited but halfhearted resistance by the aliens, Hyperman found the destruction switches for the Alliance ships as expected and soon destroyed or otherwise shut down every ship from the forty-ninth parallel to the Arctic Circle.
Afterward, Hyperman watched as smoke rose from the crippled Alliance base. “Control, my job’s done here. I’m heading home.” LeBlanc took a flying leap from the area and headed toward Golden in a series of leaps each one-eighth of mile long. He waved at an RCMP helicopter as it flew past him toward the base and hoped this damned invasion would be over soon. Super-heroism was a young man’s game, and he had a family to get back to.
Outside a hidden city in the heart of Africa between the Congo and the Sudan, a fierce battle was being waged by the intelligent gorilla inhabitants of the city and a group of Khund warriors. There were several dead on both sides, but the battle was far from over. Several minutes ago, the heroes known as Doctor Mist, the B’wana Beast, and the Impala had come to Gorilla City’s rescue after an impassioned plea for help from a reluctant Grodd, the current regent of the city while King Solovar was recovering from his wounds. The battle for the city had begun some time ago — one last offensive for the Alliance forces in Africa after the destruction of the Warworld — but the scientifically advanced gorillas there had fought for every little piece of ground the Khunds had taken. “Gorilla City must not fall!” the voice of Grodd repeated many times over voice amplifiers, “Gorilla City will never be a slave to anyone, whether they be man, beast or alien!”
Doctor Mist was the most powerful mage of this world, but in recent centuries he used that power sparingly, preferring at first to nurture the Magi — known in more recent times as the Homo Magi — that magically endowed branch of the human race. To this end, he had founded the first of the schools of magic in Persia. Nommo Hall bore his ancient name and was the oldest and most renowned of the residence halls at Grimoire Academy, the most recent of the many schools of magic he’d helped nurture throughout history. He had also seen the effectiveness of the Justice League of America and desired to create a unified team of international heroes to protect the rest of the world from threats similar to those the JLA often faced in America and sometimes around the world. He had thus acted from behind the scenes to found the Club of Heroes through his agent John Mayhew and then provided funding for the team when it became the Global Guardians. Not even the team had ever known the full extent of his involvement with them, although of course he was now the official team’s sponsor. But he rarely ever used his power to fight evil directly. The Crisis on Infinite Earths was one exception. This current invasion was another.
“Impala!” he shouted behind him as he shot hellish flames from his hands, a spell he’d learned from a demon called Etrigan. “Impala, have you seen the Beast?“
Impala, the Zulu warrior whose real name was Mbulaze, ran at a superhumanly rate of speed through a group of Khund soldiers, grabbing their guns as he passed them. He made another pass at them and made his best attempt to knock several of them out before they’d realized what had happened, but he only had moderate success. “No, Doctor! I haven’t seen the B’wana Beast for a long time now! I think he was trying to find a way to fight these guys at the source!” Impala shouted as he leaped high above several enraged Gordanians just as they fired their weapons where he had been — accidentally shooting each other as they did so. It was an effective maneuver.
Doctor Mist was worried. He’d learned long ago to follow his premonitions, and he had not wanted to bring the B’wana Beast into this battle due to dreams that the Beast would meet his death at Gorilla City. Mike Maxwell, the latest incarnation of the Jungle Master known as the Beast, had insisted on coming along, though. The special serum that he drank to become the hero he was had kept him somewhat youthful after more than twenty years as the hero of the African nation of Zambesi and one of the Dark Continent’s few heroes. The irony of the matter was that the current incarnation of the Beast, that ancient hero of Africa who was succeeded by a new incarnation almost every generation, was a white American game warden. Africa’s history in recent centuries was one of domination by European powers, and indeed it wasn’t until the latter half of the twentieth century that Africa began getting its independence from those powers. Perhaps it was an acknowledgment of Africa’s colonial period that was the reason a white man had become Africa’s latest champion.
The ancient mage flew over the Khund shock troops below with a spell of levitation and began searching for Maxwell. A spell of invisibility kept the Khunds from shooting at him as he passed over them. After a quick search, he found a group of Khunds fallen in battle next to a smoking ship. That in itself was not unusual; what was unusual was that a large rhinocerous-like creature with the mane of a lion stood over their fallen bodies. There was no such hybrid animal found naturally anywhere in the world — the B’wana Beast had obviously used his power to create it by combining two separate animals into one. Doctor Mist smiled at that. These transformations only lasted for a certain amount of time; it meant that the Beast had created it recently, and that he might still be alive.
He landed next to the hybrid creature and resumed his visibility, calming the excitable animal with another spell. “There, there,” he spoke in an ancient tongue as he ran his hand through its mane. The animal was essentially a new creation from two different animal minds and seemed utterly confused at the state it was in without the B’wana Beast’s full control over it. “Where’s your master?” he asked it. The creature could not answer his query.
Doctor Mist surveyed the destruction caused by the battle and found nothing but more bodies of Khunds and Gorilla City inhabitants. He then entered the destroyed craft.
“K-k-k…” he heard a human voice croak out. Instantly, he was at Mike Maxwell’s side. “K-k… ki… ki-ki… kiuuu… eee…” the B’wana Beast finally croaked out.
“Do not try to speak, Maxwell,” said Mist. “You’re injured.”
“Th-the animals… I c-can’t hear them a-any longer…” he said. Doctor Mist removed Maxwell’s cracked helmet and put his hand on Maxwell’s blond scalp. He could tell that Maxwell was mortally wounded; no amount of magic could help him now.
“Your helmet was broken, Maxwell. You can no longer control the animals. But you managed to take out an entire platoon of Khund warriors single-handedly.”
“Th-they kept on c-coming… I c-could only fight th-them off for s-so long…” Maxwell rolled his eyes around, unable to move his head. “Wh-where’s Djuba? I hear her… calling me…”
Doctor Mist closed his eyes for a moment. “She is worried about you,” he said after a moment; Djuba was back on Mount Kilimanjaro, several hundred miles from here. “She knows of your injuries.”
Maxwell did his best to laugh; it sounded more like rasping breathing. “I’m r-really in b-bad shape, a-aren’t I, D-Doc?”
“I’m sorry…” Doctor Mist said, “…your wounds are mortal. I can do nothing to help you. I am very sorry, Maxwell.”
“Th-that’s all right,” the B’wana Beast said after a moment. “I should’ve known m-my time was up s-soon, anyway. I-it’s time f-for a n-new Beast. Th-things have ch-changed so much in Africa s-since I became the Beast. P-perhaps this is… for the better…”
“Perhaps,” said Doctor Mist. “Rest now, Maxwell. You’ve earned it.”
Maxwell’s eyelids fluttered as he fought against falling into unconsciousness. “T-take care… of Djuba f-for me, will you… Doc?”
“You have my word.”
A resounding horn of triumph blew in the distance, marking the victory of Gorilla City against the invading Khunds. A cry of joy erupted there. None of them knew that one of the human heroes who had come to their rescue lay dying at that moment.
Maxwell could only smile. “W-we did it… didn’t we?”
“Yes,” Doctor Mist said, smiling back at him, though Maxwell could not see anything. “You helped save Gorilla City, and indeed Africa and the Earth itself. Never forget that.”
The B’wana Beast smiled weakly, staring into the distance with blind eyes and seeing something no mortal eyes could see. “Sh-she’s beautiful…” he breathed. A moment later, he was gone.
Doctor Mist closed Maxwell’s eyes and began to enshroud him with his own cloak. This protector of Africa to the last would get a hero’s burial.