Al Bruno III
The Lincoln Continental swerved and crashed into a telephone pole. A moment later the Mayor Bellgoody tumbled out of the driver's side door, his clothes were disheveled, his bloated body drenched with terrified sweat; his toupee was barely hanging on, it flapped as he ran.
His secret empire of crime and corruption had been laid open for all the world to see and now he had to get out of River City. All he had to do now was get a hold of another car and with his briefcase full of cash in one hand and a gun in another that wouldn't be any problem at all.
A rushing sound filled the air. Bellgoody's eyes widened in terror. A heartbeat later the masked hero Lightning was standing in front of him blocking the way. Lightning's bright blue costume almost shone in the night, his handsome ebony features were pulled into a triumphant smile, "Going somewhere?"
Lightning was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam war, an experimental super soldier formula had left him with super speed and now he fought to protect the innocent as he tried to come to terms with the lives he took overseas.
Blinded with panic Bellgoody ran into a nearby alley hoping to find a place to hide, a place to escape, but it was a dead end. A figure in a winged metal suit dropped out of the sky, the stylized helmet was designed to have the fierce features of a bird of prey. It was Peregrine. He had invented his rocket armor for use in outer space but then he thought better of it when he realized that the Man was never going to let a black man go into space. Another member of the damned Midnight Marvels- could the rest be far behind?
"Listen," the Mayor said, "I have almost two million dollars here, you can take it all. Just let me go."
"Two million dollars?" A voice from a nearby fire escape hissed. It was Black Ice the cold hand of justice, his dark purple costume was featureless, even the mask he wore hid his entire face from view. No one knew where he came from or who he was, he was a mystery even to his teammates. He wore a specialized gauntlet on one arm that fired bursts of dark frost, "Is that the money you made selling junk to schoolchildren? Or from your prostitution ring?"
The three heroes were drawing in closer, Bellgoody tried to muster a laugh, "Does it matter? It's money you could do anything with it. Give it away to all your friends in the ghetto, I don't care, just let me go. I can't go to prison. I can't!"
Black Ice jumped from the fire escape, "Prison is the least of your worries. You'll get the chair for what you did."
There was a roar and a gold plated motorcycle skidded to a halt in the alley. Apocalypse Jones she had a gun in each hand, her ebony skin was marked with dozens of cuts and bruises. "You!" Bellgoody shouted, "You're alive?"
"Alive and kickin' sugar," she grinned but there was a limp in her step. She had come to the 1970's from a future that had been destroyed by war, zombies and worse.
"Hey guys," a thick set man in spandex and wearing a cape brought up the rear. It was Lightning's partner, Thunder. Thunder had been on the path to becoming the world's first black sumo wrestler but after his brother had overdosed on drugs he had turned his attentions to cleaning up River City, "Save some of that cracker for me."
Black Ice cackled, "Plenty to go around."
That pushed Bellgoody to the breaking point, he spun and fired at the frozen hand of justice, the bullet catching him in the shoulder.
Then there was a second shot and Mayor Bellgoody fell to the pavement, a wide hole where his forehead had been. Apocalypse Jones blew smoke from the barrel of her gun, "You're history sucka."
"Damn," Lightning said, "whatever happened to a warning shot?"
"I just saved the city the cost of an execution."
Thunder ran over to Black Ice, "Are you OK?"
"Yeah yeah," he gazed at his torn costume, "just a flesh wound."
Thunder's jaw dropped, "What th- guys get over here!"
The rest of the team approached, they were all stunned.
"What?" Black Ice said, "Is it worse than I thought?"
"Take off your mask," Peregrine said.
Black Ice sounded incredulous, "No. I'm-"
But Lightning was too fast, he whipped off the other hero's mask. Apocalypse Jones dropped her gun in surprise. Thunder's voice was a whisper, "You're white?"
The frozen hand of justice shrugged, "So?"
"I can't believe this is happening..." Peregrine buried his face in his hands, "Dolemite's never gonna let us live this down,"
"What's the big deal?" Black Ice said again, "And give me back my mask."
"What's the big deal?" Apocalypse Jones shouted, "We're all black."
"So? I don't mind."
Thunder turned away and turned back, "You don't mind? We're 'the Midnight Marvels', we're an all black superhero team!"
"We are?" Black Ice's brow furrowed in confusion.
"That's why we call ourselves 'the Midnight Marvels' for God's sake."
"Oh," he blushed, "I thought it was more if a thematic thing."
Lightning had to laugh, he threw the featureless mask to the other hero, "Thematic?"
"What are you guys saying exactly?" Black Ice asked, "Are you kicking me out?"
The silence that followed was long and uncomfortable. The Midnight Marvels exchanged helpless glances. A rat had come out of a nearby alleyway to sniff at Mayor Bellgoody's corpse. No one noticed.
Peregrine was the first to come out and say it, "Yes."
"But that's discrimination!" Black Ice cried.