Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you a story. A story that may very well burrow into your soul and take up permanent residence; a chilling tale so unbelievable it would be incredible, if only it weren't absolutely true. I talk of the arrival of the world's first supervillain.
His name (until he publicly changes it to "Professor Sin" or somesuch) is Jim Blanning, and he looks like this.
Terrified yet? Well, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself…
Dateline: Aspen. New Year's Eve. All seems as it should be: the skiers and snowboarders have retired to their respective lodges for hot cocoa and corn muffins, the snow bunnies flit around the room in their woolen finery, each a gift to the world, an affirmation of the renewal that the clock is making ready to strike.
But tonight, the clock will not strike midnight, my friends. Tonight, the clock strikes only FEAR.
Kaboom! In the distance, the rumble of an explosion. Kaboom! Panicked looks on the faces of children huddled around the fire. What was that sound? Whatever it was, it sounds like it’s getting closer to—
BLAMMO! The cabin’s logs are wrenched out of place and projected inward by a mighty blast! Logs, instantly aflame, rocket into the mass of partygoers and start pummeling their faces indiscriminately. Oh, cruel inertia, they curse, as their faces are reduced to a pink jelly by the impact...
Well, that’s what
would have happened, if the police hadn’t discovered and disarmed four bombs and evacuated the area. I know what you’re thinking: that’s your evidence of supervillainy? A failedbombing attempt?
Did I mention the bombs were DISGUISED AS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS?
At this point, I think it’s prudent to start compiling evidence of Blanning’s supervillain status in bold bullet points, both for clarity’s sake and because it’s scarier that way.
POINT 1: HE PLANNED A BOMB ATTACK.
POINT 2: HE DISGUISED THE BOMBS AS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.
So here we’ve got a guy planning to bomb a wealthy resort town on New Year's Eve, using bombs disguised as presents. But why? Was there any motive?
Of course there was, and like any great supervillain, Blanning made his intentions painfully clear through a series of sardonic notes addressed to the authorities. See if you can determine which of the following statements was NOT in one of Blanning’s notes:
A. A promise that Aspen residents would “pay in blood” for what they’ve done.
B. A last will and testament sarcastically making the town’s Sheriff, a longtime enemy of Blanning, sole heir to his mining company.
C. A description of his plans to “walk around after the explosions and enjoy the mayhem.” Note the use of supervillain word “mayhem.”
D. A demand that area banks hand over 60,000 dollars or be responsible for “mass death.”
If you guessed any of those, you are wrong. The correct answer is that he said all of those things. All of those things were in the note, which may or may not have been delivered via crossbow bolt shot into a telephone pole outside police headquarters.
POINT 3: THAT. ALL THAT STUFF I JUST SAID.
But who was this man, Blanning? According to friends, he was “a wild ladies’ man,” “
a known swindler,” and the disgruntled head of a mining company that had seen its revenue dwindle as Aspen became more of a resort town.
Imagine him, sitting in his lair, becoming more and more bitter as he watches flocks of tourists wander around Aspen on his series of town-wide hidden surveillance cameras. Is it any wonder he turned on the people who drove him to poverty? To unemployment? To swindling?
They took everything from him, and he was about to take something back.
POINT 4: HE HAD THE EXACT MOTIVES OF A SCOOBY DOO VILLAIN.
According to police, Blanning shot himself to death soon after his plot was foiled. Thus, the denizens of Aspen are safe once again, secure in the knowledge that a troubled man will trouble them no longer.
Or is that just what he wants us to think?
POINT 5: THAT IS JUST WHAT HE WANTS US TO THINK!
According to my own sources, the “body” police found in Blanning’s cabin was so mangled it is nearly impossible to determine its true identity. My guess: a loyal henchman, sacrificing his life so Blanning could make his escape. This theory is corroborated by a mysterious set of tracks leading to the stream by Blanning’s house and the absence of his favorite canoe.
All this, only a week after
a guy dressed as Santa shot a bunch of people at a Christmas party with guns and a flamethrower hidden in Christmas packages, then set up his car so that anyone who tried to pick up the note he left on the seat would trigger a massive explosion. Then he too killed himself, and also burned himself alive for good measure. It's either an astounding coincidence, the beginnings of a global conspiracy, or else the world is a much sadder place than I'm willing to admit.
That's why, as much as I’d like to believe that this asshole (who shot, among others, the little girl that happened to answer the door for Santa Clause) ate a bullet after his flesh was slowly charred from his body, my gut is telling me that either Blanning’s finally unlocked the secret of the Time Crystals (what did you think he was mining for all those years?), or we’ve got some sort of holiday-themed Legion of Doom on our hands. Except instead of harmlessly taking time out of Superman’s day, these guys are genuinely killing people in grotesque ways.
I say we get a group of superheroes together before Valentine’s Day rolls around and we’ve got to deal with chocolate hearts filled with acid and man-sized Cupids with explosives-tipped arrows.
If you, like me, want to help save the world from the clearly impending danger of fucking lunatics, please sign up for the
New New Superfriends below. Please include your superhero name, any special powers, and what drove you to fight evil. As an example, I’ve provided my own entry form here:
Name: Michael Swaim
Superhero Name: The Architect of Funk
Powers: Free form jazz, mild asthma, and laser eyes (only manifested once).
Reason for Fighting Evil: Craves the attention.
By accepting admission into this sacred guild, you are also accepting the following solemn responsibilities: to protect innocents at all costs, to identify the potentially insane and befriend them or, failing that, leave them gagged and bound to a streetlamp for police to pick up, and to chokeslam any motherfucker who you see aiming a gun at someone on Christmas.
In exchange, you are endowed with all the rights and privileges of a New New Superfriend. Namely, that you are above the law, free to take matters into your own hands, and get a 10% discount on selected kitchen items at Crate and Barrel.
When not saving the Free World, Michael serves as head writer for and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!