(With acknowledgement to Mike Curry without whom this story wouldn’t exist.)
A bank robbery. Six suspects, all with incredible, inhuman speed and strength. Their eyes glowing an eerie cobalt blue. Fortunately for them, they decided to rob a Metropolis bank and not a Gotham bank. If they had chosen the latter, they’d all have broken bones and possibly brain tissue trauma. Fortunately for them, they chose Metropolis.
About one minute and fifteen seconds after the robbery starts, he shows up. Like a blue and red blur, he moves through the bank, grabbing guns and bending them around the robbers’ bodies. He does this so quickly, cameras can’t catch it.
When he gets to the last robber, the man has a hostage: a man in his sixties who looks like he may fall apart at any moment. The last robber–Reggie Spenser–is a black man with a crew cut. He moves like a professional soldier because he was one. Reggie makes a couple of threats, then finds himself in the same position as his comrades: his gun melted and bent around his body, immobilizing him. Reggie looks up and sees the clear blue eyes and black hair. But what he doesn’t see is malice or hate.
“@#$% you!” he shouts at the Man of Steel. But instead of more violence, the soft baritone asks him a question.
“What led you here?”
Reggie looks confused. “Whuddyou mean?”
“I mean, what led you to the decision to rob a bank? You’re strong. You’re smart. What brought you here, this day, to aim lethal weapons at people and threaten their lives?”
That’s when Reggie realizes that the Last Son of Krypton isn’t just super strong and super fast, but there’s something in his voice that…it isn’t mesmerization. It isn’t anything forceful. It’s just…
Reggie looks into those eyes and hears the voice and realizes, He actually cares.
“We were Marines. They did something to us. Put us in a box. This blue smoke filled it up and we passed out. And when we woke up, this is what we were. They said we were a mistake and tried to kill us. We’ve been off the grid ever since.”
Reggie hears sirens. And the baritone voice again.
“What’s your name?”
Reggie tells him.
“Reggie, you’re going to face the criminal justice system. More than likely, you’re going to jail. I can’t help you with that. Tell your story to your lawyer. Trust him. I know the woman who runs the Public Defender’s Office. They’re overworked, but they’re good people.”
The sirens get closer and he continues.
“You’re probably going to jail.” He puts his large hand on Reggie’s shoulder. “But when you get out, I’ll be there. And we’ll both make sure you get a fresh start.”
Three years later…
Reggie Spenser walks out of Metropolis Prison. He’s carrying only what he carried in with him. Standing outside the prison is a tall man in a blue suit with a red cape.
“Hey man,” Reggie says. “Thanks for the visits. I don’t know if I could have made it without ’em.”
The man in the blue suit says, “You’re strong. You would have made it.”
Reggie smiles and says, “Those cookies really come from your mom?”
“They sure did.”
“Tell your mom she makes great cookies.”
The Man of Steel says, “I found the men who did this to you. They’re in custody. The District Attorney says he needs your testimony to finish off his case.”
Reggie thinks for a moment. “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll do that.”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Superman says. “You’ve got a hard road ahead of you. There are people who want you to fail.”
“@#$% them,” Reggie says.
“Not the language I’d use, but I appreciate the sentiment. Come on. I’ll fly you over.”
Meanwhile, across the river, Gotham Central Hospital just admitted four bank robbers with cranial fractures. Two of them might make it.
* * *
Mike Curry and I were talking.I had just watched a documentary on Mr. Rogers and was commenting on how decent a human being he was, all the way through. That got Mike thinking about how to introduce Superman to a group of roleplayers. He said “I have Batman, but I haven’t gotten Superman figured out.”
Then, he said, “What if Superman was like Mr. Rogers?”
And thus, this story.