Superfreaks: Night Man and Moon Boy
martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 12 09:36:36 PDT 2006
NIGHT MAN AND MOON BOY
I couldn't bear to look at him. He was the closest
thing I had to a parent. He had provided me with
food, clothing and purpose for years. But that didn't
make what he did right.
"Your honour, I insist that my client should be
considered immune to this kind of lawsuit on the basis
of him having freely publicly revealed his identity."
Leroy Laurel: he was always defending villains like
the Kidder, somehow always getting him off the death
penalty and back into minimum security Raftpork
Assylum. Which, of course, he always managed to
escape from. Ten times he was sentenced there and he
must have served, maybe, a total of nine weeks. Leroy
Laurel was effectively setting him free every time.
Johnathon hated that man. With a passion. But now
he's using him as his defense.
"The court does not recognize such statements to be
legally binding," the judge said.
"Your honour, the general public recognizes that
retired heroes who freely reveal their identity do so
under the assumption that they will not face
"Mr. Laurel, the such statements also provide heroes
with the opportunity to appear in court in their
civilian identity and testify. Your client has that
right. Do not try to deny Mr. Dickenson's right to do
so as well. Sit down."
"Yes, your honour."
He sat down and my lawyer stood up.
"Your honour, I call to the stand Greggory
Dickenson, aka Moon Boy." Moon Boy. That was what
they called me when I was a kid. I asked Cliff why he
had to call me that and he told me that it was
standard procedure to present all known aliases when
calling a witness.
This was Cliff Murdock's first civil case. He
had a good track record as a prosecutor though: almost
every case he had been in had ended in conviction.
Mind you, if bank robbers would finally learn not to
look directly into security cameras then he wouldn't
be so lucky.
"Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth so help you God?"
"I do." I don't know why they had me swear on a
Bible. Johnathon didn't exactly raise me to be a
Christian. It's not as if we were the kinds to turn
the other cheek.
"Could you describe how you came to meet Mr.
Jenner?" my lawyer asked.
I nodded. "I was with my parents. We had just been
to see the movie Pinnochio. It was dark already but
we didn't live that far from the theatre so we didn't
take a taxi. We just walked home. Well, started to
"Then a man came from out of nowhere. Well, he must
have come from somewhere but I don't know where. I
didn't see him coming. Like I said, it was dark.
"I'd lived a fairly sheltered life. I hadn't seen a
lot of violence on TV. To me, it was my parents
talking to another adult, which is always boring. I
just wanted to go home: it was way past my bedtime and
I was tired. I didn't know anything was wrong until
the man had shot both of my parents. Dead.
"Night Man didn't appear until after my parents were
already dead. I'm not bitter about that. I mean, I
was standing right next to them and I didn't know
anything was wrong, not until the shots were fired. I
guess it was the gunshots that got Night Man's
"Again, it was dark, so I couldn't quite see what
happened next. Eventually, I got used to being able
to see clearly in the dark. After all, I wouldn't be
much use to Night Man if I couldn't see a damn thing
in front of me every time we went out.
"I don't think the mugger saw Night Man too clearly
either. His voice seemed to come from all directions
so the mugger shot wildly. It probably would have
made more sense for Night Man to have approached
criminals silently and taken them out before they even
knew he was there, you know, in case he got hit by a
wild shot, but he never did. He wanted the criminals
to know that Night Man had taken them out and that
there was nothing that they could do to stop him.
That's how you make a reputation.
"By this time, I knew my parents had been shot. I
"Now, I ask you, who looks at a child who's crying
like that and thinks 'crime fighting partner'?"
"How did you become his ward?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "I was an orphan. I had
seen my parents shot. Few parents would want to deal
with that. I can understand that. So it was easy for
Johnathon Jenner to get approval to take me in. There
wasn't exactly a long line-up of people wanting to
adopt me. Oh, and Mr. Jenner was rich. That helped a
lot. I certainly wouldn't be that much of a financial
burden on him."
"How long after you became his ward did you become
"Not long. He wanted me to know right away that he
was Night Man, the man that had supposedly saved him
from the mugger. He made it sound like I owed
him. It's not like he had brought my father back to
life or anything. That's what I needed: a father, not
a team leader.
"Anyway, he asked me how I felt. How was I supposed
to feel? He asked me if I was angry, if I wanted to
join him in the fight against evil."
"Then you became Moon Boy?"
"That was when my training began, yes. I didn't get
the costume until he thought I was ready. I was a bit
surprised by it when he finally gave it to me.
It was white. His was black. He explained that it
was because I was to be Moon Boy. I asked why I
couldn't be Night Boy and he told me that it would be
good for me to have my own identity so that there
wouldn't be any confusion if, one day, I chose to do
some solo crimefighting. Besides 'Night Man and Moon
Boy' had a nice ring to it, so he said."
"Is this what you wanted?"
"Hell, no. I was just trying to please him."
"And by making you a crime fighter, did he place you
"Absolutely. Every time we fell into one of those
death traps, I thought we were finished. I should
never have even been there. I was a minor. He wasn't
even my real father. He was handed over by the state
for my protection for God's sake!"
"Were you ever seriously hurt?"
"All the time. I'd get shot all the time. He'd
take me back to the secret Night Chamber in Jenner
Manor. The Night Car was fast and Edward, or butler,
was ex-military and trained in triage. I was always
back on my feet within a week.
"But he'd be angry. At me. He'd say I should be
more careful. That this shouldn't keep happening.
That every time I let myself get shot that I was
jeopardising the mission. That he ended up having to
stop what he was doing, take me back to the Night
Chamber and let the villains get away. So I would end
up apologising to him.
"Thing is, what he didn't seem to notice, was that
my white costume didn't exactly blend into the
darkness as well as his black costume. He always
insisted on making a grand entrance. That was his
trademark. But who did he think was going to get hit
when the bad guys started shooting?"
"Why didn't you tell him you didn't want to be Moon
"What did he say?"
"He just got angry."
"Is that all he did? Get angry?"
"No. No, he didn't. I mean, he was Night Man. He
was used to solving things with his fists."
"He hit you?"
"Often. All the time. But not as severely as that
one time when I told him that I didn't want to be Moon
Boy. No, I learned my lesson after that. After that,
when he hit me it was because I had screwed up, either
on a mission or during a training exercise. I guess
he figured my life as the ward of Johnathon Jenner was
comfortable enough that this was the only way to keep
me from getting soft."
"Did he ever injure you?"
"Yes. He broke my arm one time. And then he told
Edward that it was one of the Porcupine's goons who
did it so Edward told me that I needed to be more
careful and I ended up promising to renew my training
as soon as the arm healed."
"I see." My lawyer nodded and sighed. "Mr.
Dickenson, did you ever consider becoming a solo
I shook my head. "It's not like I could now, is it?
Mr. Jenner saw to that. When he revealed himself to
be Night Man, he didn't actually say that I was Moon
Boy, but he might as well have. So how could I go on
being Moon Man with everybody knowing my identity?"
Leroy Laurel stood up. "Objection, your honour! By
revealing his identity, Night Man had intended to
protect not only himself but also his friends and
"Overruled!" the Judge insisted.
"Did you want to go on fighting crime?"
"I don't know. I wasn't given the choice. To be
honest, I think Johnathon Jenner made his mask
statement out of spite, because he knew that I wasn't
interested in becoming Moon Man, that the old costume
didn't even fit me anymore. I mean, he didn't have
family and friends to protect. There was only me.
And who's to say he hasn't actually put me in more
danger? Villains back then had honour. They had a
code. Nowadays, some new guy might want to make his
reputation as the guy who killed Moon Boy. I live in
fear now. I really do."
"Aren't you making things worse by coming out with
this case then?"
"I just want people to understand what I went
through. I was too young to be dragged around like
that and too young to be placed in such life and death
situations. It was the same with Water Boy, Amazing
Girl, Arrow Boy and Quick Kid. They should have all
been in school. It didn't matter if they had powers
and abilities. They should never have been placed in
that situation. Not at that age. Not when they are
too young to make their own decisions. I just don't
want any superhero to ever take a teenaged sidekick.
Never again. Because no matter what you might think,
it isn't what we really want."
"Thank you then for coming forward. No more
questions, your honour."
The judge nodded. "Mr. Laurel, do you want to
question the witness?"
"I do, your honour."
This was it. This was the part where he tried to
make me out to be the bad guy. Now I know how
Commissioner Morgan must have felt all those times
testifying against the Kidder.
"Mr. Dickenson, you are the sole heir to the Jenner
Toy fortune, are you not?"
"And yet Mr. Jenner may have written a will giving
it all to charity. You don't know."
"No, I don't."
"And that's why you're here, isn't it? Mr. Jenner
makes a mask statement and now here's your opportunity
to make sure you get his money."
"I don't follow you."
"Really? You said you weren't interested in
becoming Moon Man."
"And you didn't think Mr. Jenner was happy?"
"I don't know."
"You said he made his mask statement out of spite."
"You thought you were written out of the will,
didn't you? And this whole case is so you can make
sure you can get some of that money, isn't it?"
"Look I was thirteen when I started as Moon Boy.
Thirteen. I should never have been placed in that
situation. Who would have been blamed if I had been
killed? Plant Woman? The Porcupine? The Kidder? It
was Mr. Jenner's stated responsibility to protect me.
He wasn't doing a very good job of that by taking me
with him on missions."
"You said nobody else wanted you, is that right?"
"I was thirteen. Too young to become a crime
fighter but too old to be adopted."
"Are you sure it wasn't because of your attitude.
You wanted revenge against criminals and you wanted
the one guardian who could give you the chance to help
you fight crime."
"Look, the man who killed my parents went to the
hospital that night. He was barely breathing. I'm
surprised he pulled through. I look back at it now
and I wish he'd have been charged with assault. Night
Man, I mean. It was all about making a reputation:
you beat a criminal within an inch of his life so that
criminals think twice when they see you and surrender
on the spot. Not that he didn't beat them up anyway.
Look, the guy was nuts. I'm not like that. The man
who killed my parents lived to face justice. What
more do you think I wanted? Look, if I wanted to I
could have just joined the police. When I was old
"But you couldn't wait, could you?"
"I'm not the one who's psycho. That's Night Man.
The only reason he didn't join the police is because
he'd rather beat up criminals than arrest them. And
that's the truth."
"You saw your parents gunned down. You didn't feel
angry about that?"
"No further questions your honour!"
"Of course, no further questions! Because I'm not
telling you what you want to hear!"
"You may step down," the judge told me. So I did.
"I call to the stand Mr. Johnathon Jenner, aka Night
Now I had to look at him. God, he's still fit.
It's a wonder he doesn't still fight crime. He used
to tell me, as we both got older, that he was too old
for this 'shit' but I figgered he was just kidding,
that he was just quoting a line from a movie.
"Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth so help you God?"
"Mr. Jenner, Greggory Dickenson claims he didn't
want to be Moon Boy. Is that right?"
"No. He begged me to let him help me fight crime."
"Did you even want to have him become Moon Boy?"
The bastard shook his head. "I only took him on
because nobody else wanted him, like he said himself.
You see, I felt responsible: if I had only been there
a moment sooner, his parents would soon be alive."
The bastard grimaced. "Maybe he blamed me. He was
always angry with me, you see. I was scared he could
have revealed my identity if I didn't let him come
"But weren't you putting him in danger?"
"Of course he was in danger! That's why I was so
angry with him! I didn't want him there, goofing off.
We could have both been killed! But he was
determined, every time he got hurt, to fix himself up
and get back out there. Do you really think I could
have forced him to face danger if he didn't want to?"
"I see. No further questions, your honour."
The judge nodded. "Mr. Murdock, do you wish to
"Absolutely!" my lawyer said. This was it. The
whole case rided on what my lawyer would be able to
get him to say. "Mr. Jenner, if you didn't want my
client to be Moon Boy then why did you provide him
with a costume?"
"I gave him a costume because he completed the
"And he didn't become Moon Boy until after he had
completed his training?"
"So why didn't you just continue training him until
he was old enough to decide for himself if he wanted
to be a crime fighter?"
"He couldn't wait any more. He was always asking me
when he was going to go out on missions."
"Why didn't you just tell him he wasn't ready?"
"He was ready."
"He was fourteen by the time he had completed his
"Why did you give him a white costume when you had a
"He was Moon Boy."
"Why couldn't he have been Night Boy. Or Moon Moy
could have had a black costume."
"What difference does it make what colour his
"At least you could give us a reason to believe that
you were concerned about your ward's safety. You
didn't even have to give him a costume at all: he
could have just stayed back in the Night Car if he had
wanted to come along."
"Nonsense. He needed a costume to protect his
identity. That WAS for his protection. And I needed
to know where he was at all times. If he got hurt, I
took him back to the Night Chamber right away. In
fact, it was a good thing he had a white costume so I
could keep an eye on him."
"Not just hurt. Shot."
"A few times."
"And you didn't take him to a hospital?"
"There was no need. Edward took care of him."
"Was Edward a doctor?"
"He'd had emergency medical training."
"But was he a doctor?"
"So Moon Boy was repeatedly shot during missions.
And yet you didn't tell him he should quit?"
"Of course I did! I did all I could to get him to
listen to me. I admit that. I'm not proud of that.
But ultimately, this was what he wanted."
"So why didn't he go on to become Moon Man."
"I don't know. That was his decision. Maybe
because he never was that good a sidekick and wouldn't
have been that good a hero. He knew that."
"Despite all your training?"
"But you told us that he was ready to become Moon
Boy. That he had finished his training."
"That was then."
"You just said he never was a good sidekick. And
yet you gave him a costume and took him along with you
"Look, there's only so much training I could have
given him in the Night Chamber. Only by going out and
fighting crime could he get the experience he needed."
"And yet he never was a good sidekick."
"Yeah, well, he was a liability. Do you really
think I would have wanted him there?"
"You told him he had finished his training."
"I had trained him the best I could."
"You told him he was ready."
"Ready to join me as Moon Boy."
"He could have been killed."
"That would have been your responsibility."
"You don't understand."
"What don't I understand. Explain it to me."
"Look, he saw his parents killed."
"You don't know what that's like."
"And you do?"
"You're damn right I do! I saw my parents killed!
It was a gangland hit at a wedding. My parents
weren't involved in the gangland but some of their
associates were. They killed everybody." Beat. "You
don't f... you don't know what it is like."
"Maybe not. I don't know what it is like to lose a
parent, let alone two. But I know what it is like to
have a son. That is no responsibility to be taken
lightly. And this was a responsibility placed on you
by the state. The last thing you should have done was
to have placed your ward in the line of fire, let
alone encouraged him by giving him a costume and
telling him he was ready."
"First you say he was. Then you say he wasn't. Now
you say he was. Which was it?"
"He was ready. I had trained him. He was ready."
"And who are you to decide when a fourteen year old
boy is ready to fight crime?"
"WHO AM I?! I'M NIGHT MAN! WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?"
"Order! Order!" the Judge said. "One more outburst
like that and I'll hold you in comtempt of court!"
"No further questions, your honour."
"You may sit down."
I didn't watch Johnathon Jenner sit down. I imagine
he was watching me though.
The Judge sighed deeply. "The purpose of the mask
statement is to protect heroes from reprisals. It
doesn't give people a blank slate. If it did, then
villains would start making mask statements and
claiming that they can't be charged with the crimes
they had commited. Of course they can. And the way
we treat our heroes should be no different.
"There is no doubt in my mind that a crime was
commited by Johnathon Jenner. Johnathon Jenner was
entrusted by the state with the responsibility to
protect Greggory Dickenson. Instead, he was placed in
the line of fire and repeatedly injured, shot even, as
Johnathon Jenner himself admits in testimony. And yet
Greggory Dickenson was never taken to a hospital.
Presumably, this was to protect their idenities. It
also nicely protected Mr. Jenner from facing child
endangerment charges at the time!
"I therefore order Johnathon Jenner to hand over
half of his assets to Greggory Dickenson, effective
immediately. These are punative damages and do not,
in my opinion, go far enough in light of the crime
that was commited. They are fair in the sense that
Mr. Jenner himself decided to make Mr. Dickenson his
partner and not just merely his ward. I also order
Mr. Jenner, based on his outburst today, to undergo
psychiatric evaluation. I will leave it up to a
trained psychiatrist to decide whether or not Mr.
Jenner will have to join his opponents in Raftpork
"I must say, frankly, that my sympathies in this
case did lean towards Mr. Dickenson, who was merely a
teenager when all this happened. Given the nature of
the danger that was faced, I'm actually surprised
other sidekicks haven't come forward to sue the heroes
that brought them along on missions. Perhaps now they
This was originally intended as an 8FOLD story but Tom
had some reservations. For starters, he questioned
some of the bad language used by the Batman clone in
the story and, even though he didn't say, he might not
have liked the Batman clone being refered to as a
psycho. He's mentioned that he prefers stories that
"show the benefits of the mentor sidekick
relationship" so having Night Man get angry at Moon
Boy and break his arm wouldn't have gone down too well
with him. He objected to the Joker clone having the
obvious name the Kidder and suggested that this
practice reduces the impact of the serious story and
makes it a parody. I disagree. Finally, he pointed
out that 8FOLD already has a Batman clone in the Green
Knight so there would be the question of where Night
Man had been operating all this time seeing as how he
couldn't imagine Jolt City having enough crime to
warrant two Batman clones let alone a whole set of
implied JLA clones. :)
I also sent this story to Jamie. That was a month
ago. Jamie just got back to me, not about this story
but about another story in which a retired Night Man
appears. Jamie had reservations because I tell
stories using dialogue and I don't use a lot of
narrative description. Well, frankly, I don't want
to. I figure that readers just need to be able to
figure out where the characters are: they don't need
to know the colour of the furniture. I know that
narrative description can be used to create a certain
mood but so can a lack of narrative description: if I
want to slow things down and have the characters
reflect about their surroundings then I'll throw in
some narrative description. :)
So this is a new imprint and in the one month since I
started thinking along these lines I've written five
more issues belonging to this imprint. Superfreaks is
not going to be about superheroes per se but about
regular people in a world in which superheroes are
active. Sounds a lot like 8FOLD, I know. :)
I've written up an FAQ that I'll post, maybe, in a few
weeks. I read the FAQ and realised, wow, I've created
two dozen characters already. So IMO that justifies
giving them their own imprint. Maybe I can get Bendis
to write a series about the JLA clones: he'd certainly
make me look better by comparison. :)
Oh, by the way, I should thank Tom and Jamie for their
input even though I decided I couldn't wait to get
their approval before I started posting. :)
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