by Martin Maenza
It took Superman only a few moments to find the place. The building was two stories in size with a brick front and many windows. “Looks kind of like a rehabilitation facility to me,” he said as he landed. He opened the front door, stepped inside the lobby, and noticed a rather large woman in a white uniform sitting at the desk counter.
“Superman? Can I help you?” the woman asked as she stood up.
“Does a Robert DuBois reside here?” Superman asked.
“He did,” the woman replied. “Our patients here are not under any restriction, so they are free to come and go on a daily basis. He left one morning a few weeks ago but hasn’t returned. He’s paid through the end of the month, so his things are still in his room.”
“Can I see the room, please?” the Man of Steel asked.
“Of course,” the woman complied, and she showed the hero to the room.
“Thank you,” Superman said as he stood in the open doorway. He used his x-ray vision to thoroughly scan the room, including the things inside the dresser and a box of things kept under the bed. There were some clothes, rather old and worn. There were also some pictures, but mostly of two black men, one slightly older than the other. Superman could tell that one of the men in the photos looked a lot like DuBois would when he was younger. Next to the photos in the box were two sets of dog tags on chains, much like military soldiers would have warn.
When Superman was satisfied with his investigation, he turned back to the woman. “Did Mr. DuBois have any visitors like family or friends?”
“I’ve been here for years and can barely recall anyone visiting him,” the woman replied. “As for family, I don’t believe he has any left. I never heard about his parents. He had a brother who was hurt pretty bad in a war years ago. He was older and passed away a year or so back. I think his name was Michael or something. His brother’s death practically threw DuBois back into post-traumatic shock; the man would have good days and bad days. Mostly on those bad days, he’d keep to himself in his room just screaming at the top of his lungs.” The woman swallowed. “We get a lot of that here. A number of our patients are veterans who’ve had trouble coping with life after combat.”
“I see,” Superman said. “Thank you very much.” And with that, the hero departed.
While he was a bit closer to understanding the type of person he was dealing with, Superman was still no closer to figuring out what Bloodsport was after or where he’d strike next. The uncertainty was enough to frustrate even a Man of Steel. He headed back to Metropolis with all his super-senses on full alert.
Given what Superman had learned about DuBois and his action so far this day, the Man of Steel concluded that DuBois must have slipped back into one of his traumatic modes. Attacking a restaurant and a bowling alley did not seem like the actions of a rational man. That meant he could strike anywhere next, for any reason. It was for this reason that the hero kept up a steady patrol of the city into the evening hours.
Suddenly, his super-hearing picked up the broadcast of the police scanners. “–disturbance at the waterfront district — perpetrator described as armed and dangerous–“
Superman immediately changed his flight pattern. “That could be Bloodsport!” he said to himself as he rocketed to the warehouse district. A quick glance ahead with his telescopic vision confirmed his suspicions.
Bloodsport stood along the embankment facing a number of large tankers. “You care so much for the seas, Aquaman,” he said to no one in particular, “then maybe this should bring you running!” He leveled his weapon and fired at one of the ships. The blast pierced the hull, causing the vessel to explode in a loud, fiery blast. Its contents of oil began to spill into the harbor, with some of it burning from the explosion.
“Bloodsport, you’re crazy!” Superman said as he swooped down. He knew his first task was to take care of the burning tanker before the rest of the ships caught fire, too. He dived under the water and lifted the ship into the air, tilting it so that the oil would cease pouring into the water. Using his super-breath, the Man of Steel began to extinguish the flames as easily as one would blow out the candles on a birthday cake.
Once the fire was out, Superman put the boat back down in the water away from the others. He then used his super-strength to mold some metal plates for a patch, then he carefully spot-welded the plate in place to stop the flow of oil left into the ship.
“Now for Bloodsport!” Superman said.
The weapon-toting man meanwhile continued to randomly shoot up the warehouse district, causing structural damage and fires in his wake. “All this industrial growth, spoilin’ our beautiful harbors!” Bloodsport said. “What a waste! Me an’ Mickey didn’t get our cans blown off in ‘Nam so you desecrate our natural resources! Maybe it’s time this city learns to clean up its act!”
Superman dropped down in Bloodsport’s path. “OK, Bloodsport!” he said with a bit of an angry tone in his voice. “This death and destruction of yours is coming to an end now!”
“Yeah?” said Bloodsport. “You think you can stop me?” He raised his weapons. “I took you down before! This time, I’m takin’ you out permanently!”
Out of nowhere, a large, red-and-white-armored man appeared to charge into the battle with a loud cry. “Let’s see if you’re as tough as they say!” Shockwave yelled, slamming his armored fist hard into the surprised Man of Steel and knocking Superman to the ground. “Haw-haw! Just as I thought!”
Suddenly, Shockwave felt himself grabbed by the foot. With ease, Superman raised the armored villain in the air with one hand. “So, is Bloodsport working with you?” the Man of Steel asked. “If so, something tells me the 1000 is trying to take over the criminal activities in the city again.”
“This ain’t about crime, super-hero!” Bloodsport yelled. “This is about the senseless waste of freedoms we died to protect for you!” He began to open fire with both weapons, and a barrage of bullets showered toward the hero and the armored villain.
“Hey, watch it!” Shockwave yelled as he squirmed. “You could kill somebody with those!”
“He’s right,” Superman said. “But before I can stop him, I have to do this.” With a flick of his hand, the Kryptonian tossed the massive armored villain aside. “Now, I’ll take those!” With a blur of speed, Superman was upon Bloodsport. With the wave of his left hand, he knocked one of the guns away.
Bloodsport held fast to the second gun. “You claim to be an American symbol!” he said. “You fight for truth and justice! Do you even know the truth about ‘Nam? Do you think there was justice served in that country?”
Superman was caught off-guard for a moment. “We can debate civics after I take this away!” The hero had to hit the man with his left fist while pulling the gun away from him with his right hand. He pulled his punch, not knowing how much Bloodsport could take. Superman tossed the damaged weapon aside. “I think you can use some help, mister,” he said.
“Go climb your thumb, hero!” Bloodsport said from the ground. “You got in one hit! If we’d knuckled under when Charlie did that, you’d be eatin’ rice cakes today! Instead–” He gestured with his empty hand. “–you can eat–” A weapon began to appear in his empty hand. “–this!”
Before Superman completely registered the weapon that had materialized in Bloodsport’s hand, the black man pulled the trigger. A crimson beam fired from the weapon, hitting Superman in the chest. “Ugh!” The Man of Steel staggered back as he grasped his chest in pain. He felt weak all of a sudden; only one thing matched the description. “Red sun radiation!”
“Darn right!” laughed Bloodsport. “And another blast will make you as weak as a puppy dog! Then we’ll see how tough you are!”
“Allow me!” said Shockwave as he charged up, plowing into the weakened Superman. “I’ll kill ’em for ya!”
Bloodsport growled. “You idiot! He’s mine!” He reached with his free hand for his bandoleer and another weapon.
Three more villains approached the scene: one large, ape-like man, a blonde man dressed in purple, and a brown-haired man dressed in blue and white. By the time that Power Fist, Throttle, and Blindside got close enough, Bloodsport had begun to attack Shockwave. The weakened Superman groaned from the ground, trying to recover from the radiation blast.
“We taking on Superman?” Blindside asked.
“Not if we can help it,” Power Fist replied. “We need to get Shockwave and go! Mirror Master will kill us we leave him behind.”
“Fine,” said Throttle. “Then let’s do this!” The villain in the puffy purple costume took aim at his armored ally and activated his power.
Bloodsport simultaneously tossed a grenade at Shockwave. “This’ll teach you to interfere in a war you’re not wanted,” he said. The projectile was about to hit the ground where the target stood when suddenly the villain was no longer there. It exploded with a loud blast, creating a crater in the pavement and stirring up a lot of dust. “What the–?!”
Shockwave was equally surprised. He only planned to dive out of the way, but he was almost instantly down the street. “What’s going on here?” he asked.
Throttle was suddenly at his side. “Time to move, big fella. Now!”
A bazooka materialized in Bloodsport’s hands. “Just like the Cong! Crawlin’ out of the jungle!”
“Did you say jungle?” Power Fist quipped as he dived into the man. With his enhanced simian strength, he knocked the barrel of the weapon away before it fired, causing the shell to hit the building behind Bloodsport.
“Fist!” Blindside called out. “Now!” The simian ducked out of the way and rolled aside, just as the villain in blue released his power. Bloodsport spun at the sound of the voice and had a direct look at a blinding flash of light that lit up the entire area.
“Aaahhh!” Bloodsport cried out, putting his hands to his eyes. It was too late; he was temporarily blinded. “When I get my hands on you all, I’ll kill you!”
The four villains regrouped. “Time to go!” Power Fist insisted.
“One sec,” Shockwave said, stomping his large foot hard onto the ground and causing the whole area to shake with a tremor. Part of the building that had been hit by Bloodsport’s shot began to crumble, dropping brick and mortar down upon the blinded man. That would slow him down.
“We have to go now!” Power Fist said. Superman was starting to come around. The four villains departed before the Man of Steel was in any shape to pursue them. They hoped leaving Bloodsport behind might buy them extra time as well. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Rank and File, Book 2: Amateur Hour.]
Bloodsport pushed away the bricks that were on top of him, coughing heavily. “When I get my hands on those jerks–” he said, the dust choking at his throat.
“You’ll be doing time for mass murder,” a voice said. A hand firmly grabbed the man by the shirt and hoisted him out from the wreckage. Bricks fell to the ground as Superman held the villain up with one hand. “End of the line for you!”
“Don’t count me out yet, Superman!” Bloodsport spat. As he gestured with his free hands, weapons started to appear into his hands, only to crumble into dust. “What? My weapons! What happened to my weapons?”
“That would be my doing,” Superman said. “Once I realized you were teleporting those weapons in from another location, I had a way to stop you. With my heat-vision, I ionized the air around you and scrambled the teleportation gizmo! You’ll get the psychiatric help you need, just like you were getting before, but this time it’ll be in prison!”
“Nooo!” Bloodsport screamed. He looked up to the sky. “Why’d you abandon me, man? Left me high and dry, just like so many of my friends back in ‘Nam! You bastard! Help me! Help me!”
Superman shook his head, writing off Bloodsport’s ranting to the post-war traumas he’d suffered with for years. If only the Man of Steel knew the truth.