SG: Sporkman #20 - A New Crash (DCB 5/12)

Greg Fishbone gfishbone at
Thu Apr 10 06:57:25 PDT 2008

*  The Author reserves the right to excerpt, alter, or
*  invent all reader feedback presented in this feature.

Q. We are eventually going to find out what happened to Mickey's
Cousin Astatine, right?

A. Let's see... Since we last saw her in 1995, Astatine dropped out of
school, worked as a migrant fruit picker until her arrival was
correlated with a sharp drop in crop production, worked as a
dishwasher until the restaurant owner tied her to a nightly
emptying-out of the walk-in freezer, and worked for a supermarket
until she got caught hosting an unauthorized barbecue in the meat
department. She is currently enjoying a phenomenally successful career
in the recycling and waste management business.

A. Really?!!

Q. Nah, not really. I'll be trickling out little breadcrumb clues for
a while until it's time for the big reveal.

**               The Sporkarific Sporkman
**               Episode #20: A New Crash
**                  By Greg R. Fishbone
**              Dillweed City Blues #5 of 12
** Mickey Dunne, a former child superhero, has reinvented
** himself as Sporkman, savior of the Supersonic Airship
** Unsplodable. Can he save the future by confronting the past?

     Spoonstryke jammed her hand down on the shifter knob and the
engine roared into third gear. The Spoonmobile Mark IV was a
street-legal tank, but only because Spoonstryke had fudged the
armaments and top speed sections of her registration papers. The Mark
IV "officially" topped out at 60 miles per hour, but the needle
already read 80 with two gears to go.

     "I must say, you're in a particularly foul mood," observed Mauve,
her father's campaign manager, over the Mark IV's comm system.

     "Leave me alone," Spoonstryke growled.

     "I would, dearie, but you've already missed two days of scheduled
events and your father is suitably upset. You can still make the
Citrus Federation dinner this evening if you head for the airport
right now, even at a slower and more reasonable speed."

     Spoonstryke swerved her six-ton armored vehicle to avoid a knot
of stopped vehicles on one of Dillweed City's twisty Midtown streets.
So far her superior reflexes had managed to avoid hitting any
pedestrians, vehicles, or squirrels. The Mark IV's engine was running
hot now, at 95 miles per hour, so she shifted into fourth like a
jockey prodding a racehorse into the final turn. "Is Dad still polling
behind McCain in Florida?"

     "Behind McCain and Romney both, according to the latest from Zogby."

     "Then there's not a whole lot I can do for him by shaking hands
with a bunch of orange pickers, and he'll probably expect me to get
all done up and... um..."

     "Cute," said Mauve. "The word you're looking for is cute."

     Spoonstryke cringed. "I am not, and have never been, cute."

     "I know, dearie. When I was your nanny, back when you were eight
years old, cute's not the word I would have used either. Unholy
terror, perhaps, but never 'cute.' But the voters don't know you as
well as I do, so we've got to go with what will earn the most support
for your father."

     Spoonstrike was silent for a moment. The Mark IV, which had
briefly crossed the 100 mile per hour threshold, slowed back into the
90s. "I need a few more days. If I'm not down there by primary time on
Tuesday, wish Dad good luck for me."

     " it him?"

     The Mark IV cut a sharp corner, taking out a traffic signal and a
menu board advertising the best coffee in South Jersey. "Who?" asked

     "This Sporkman they keep talking about on the news. The one who
saved the Unsplodable. Is it your old friend?"

     Spoonstryke shook her head. "I don't know, Mauve. Five witnesses
have given me five different stories and I can't believe any of them.
It's like they're all conspiring to hide the truth."

     "If you ask me, that boy was never worth your trouble."

     "But I didn't ask you, did I?" Spoonstryke fumbled with the radio
controls, feeling for the disconnect button, while flexing her foot
against the gas petal. In front of her, a car ran through a red light
from the left directly into her path. A police car, she noted, with no
lights or sirens, just blundering through the intersection as if it
were the only vehicle on the road.

     Spoonstryke pulled every emergency brake she could reach,
including the spoon-parachute and road anchor. She even turned the
locked wheels into a macadam-gouging skid. The Mark IV slowed, but not
enough to avoid a collision.

     Just before impact, Spoonstryke looked into the police car and
saw a familiar figure in the passenger seat, wearing a policeman's
uniform and everything. Her heart missed a beat. "Mickey
really are back!"

* * *

     With a long second or two with nothing to do but watch and wait,
Spoonstryke flashed back to her childhood as Spoongirl. She'd been in
another Spoonmoble back then, the Mark I, which had been nothing more
than an old Dodge van painted in her father's trademark plaid.
Spoonman had been at the wheel, and darned if they hadn't been
approaching that very same intersection...

     "Dad, the light is yellow," Spoongirl had said.

     "Don't worry, I can make it," her father replied.

     "Dad, I wouldn't try--  Look out!"

     Spoonman slammed on the brakes, causing the Spoonmobile to skid
violently, just missing the front of the light blue sedan that had
entered the intersection from the left.

     "Whew, that was close," he said. "It's a good thing I've got
these super-fast Spoonreflexes.

     "Maybe you should go out and see if the people in the other car
are okay," Spoongirl suggested.

     "Yes, good idea!" he exclaimed, getting out of the van. "With any
luck, they'll be so thrilled to meet the great and mighty Spoonman
alive and in person that they'll completely forget that I almost
slammed into their-- Gah! It's-- It's you!" he exclaimed, recognizing
the man who had emerged from the other vehicle.

     "Well well, if it isn't the caped clown of Dillweed City," said
Police Captain Philip Dunne, looking down on the superhero with a
particularly nasty sneer. "What's the big hurry, Spoonsap?"

     While her father and the police captain argued, Spoongirl had
looked into the backseat of the blue sedan. There were two kids about
her own age--in fact, one of them was in her class at school. Nancy
Putnam's class at school, she reminded herself, with a silent
self-chiding about keeping her heroic and civilian identities

     As Spoongirl she had to pretend to know nothing about harmless
little Nancy Putnam, who got picked on and teased daily by Mickey
Dunne, the boy in the back seat of Captain Dunne's car. The blonde
girl sitting next to Mickey was somebody Spoongirl had never seen
before, but if she was hanging out with Mickey Dunne, she had to be
nothing but trouble...

* * *

     Mickey rolled his eyes as Martini approached yet another red
light without slowing down. He looked to see that there were no cars
coming, and there weren't. No cars, but there was an enormous plaid
tank bearing down on them at an insanely reckless speed.

     "Spoonmobile," he warned Martini, since there was only time to
utter that single word and nothing more. Unfortunately, the
Spoonmobile was hurtling far too fast to stop and Martini's reflexes
were far too slow for any evasive maneuvers at all.

     For a strange and disconcerting moment, Mickey felt like he was
again reliving the day his Cousin Astatine had come to live in
Dillweed City. In this very same intersection, ironically enough, his
father's car had almost been hit by another, slower, and much smaller
version of the Spoonmobile. And while Mickey's father and Spoonman
discussed the incident, Mickey and Astatine had watched from the back

     "Who's the guy in the plaid costume?" Astatine had asked.

     "That's Spoonman," Mickey told her. "You must have heard about
him; he's the greatest superhero in the world!"

     "Spoonman... Spoonman... Nope."

     "Jeez! Gnerfskin Falls must be the most isolated spot on Earth! I
think there are aboriginal tribes in Borneo who don't get television,
and even they know who Spoonman is!"

     "What's television?" asked Astatine.

     Outside, Mickey's father continued his verbal tirade against
superheroes in general and Spoonman in particular, while the great
hero cringed meekly. "This is so embarassing," said Mickey, looking
away. "I can't watch any more of this. What's happening now?"

     "Uncle Phil is threatening to impound 'that plaid-colored eyesore
on wheels' and place the 'idiotic master of exploitive vigilantism'
under arrest," she told him, matter-of-factly.

     "Hoo boy."

     "And now there's somebody else getting out of the van. It's a
little girl in a red costume with black trim and a little black mask.
Oh, she's so cute!"

     "Spoongirl?" Mickey turned back to the window. "You see, Teeny?
She's our age, and she's a superhero. Does that give you any ideas?"

     "Um... Hmmm... No, not really."

     "We can be superheroes too! Right now! I mean sure, I don't have
any powers yet, but you've got more than enough power for the both of
us!" He paused, to consider something that had been bothering him. "I
mean, at least, you did have powers the last time you came to visit.
You still have them, right?"

     "Yeah, but--"

     "Good, good... Just don't let Mom and Dad find out--especially Dad!"

     Outside the car, Captain Dunne was continuing his lecture,
expanding it to include Spoongirl as well. "I knew this would happen,"
he said. "The way the children of this city inexplicably look up to
you, it was only a matter of time before one of them tried to emulate
your unwelcome and ineffective acts of pseudoheroism. And here you
are, irresponsible as always, actually helping her! I don't care if
she is your daughter; I've got half a mind to charge you with
endangerment of a minor, mister."

     "I'm not a minor," said Spoongirl, angrily. "I just turned nine!"

     "Listen here, little girl, I've got a place for you as well. It's
called the Department of Social Services, Division of Juvenile

     Spoongirl ripped the front fender off the Spoonmobile and
brandished it like a weapon. "Are you calling me a juvenile
delinquent?" she asked.

     "Go ahead, kid. Hit me," Captain Dunne challenged her. "Assault
an officer of the law, start your rap-sheet off with a bang!"

     Spoongirl's eyes burned with rage, but after a long moment she
dropped the fender with a deafening clang and stalked back to the van.
"She's at an awkward age," Spoonman tried to explain, as he struggled
to drag the heavy auto-part out of the road.

     "Don't I know it," said Captain Dunne, sympathetically. He
sighed, looking back at his own car. "I've got one that age myself.
Two now, actually..." He was silent and contemplative for a long
moment. "I'll let you off with a warning this time, Spoonman. Now get
your daughter off the streets and out of that silly costume."

     "Yessir, what ever you say, sir."

     "Quickly, quickly, before I charge you with obstructing traffic!"

     "Right, sure, thank you, sir."

     With an effort of refocused attention, Mickey snapped back to the
present, to the instant before an impact that would likely resemble a
steamroller striking a snail shell. The Spoonmobile was skidding
sideways now and starting to roll, wheels over top, with no way to
arrest its still-considerable forward momentum.

     Mickey no longer had Astatine around to protect him from
sure-death experiences like this one, which was a pity because he
couldn't imagine anyone else happening by with the speed and power
necessary to save the day.




Find out in the next episode of the Sporkarific Sporkman, only on Superguy!


Two, two, two flashbacks for the price of one!  These come from
Preteen Patrol #2, posted in January 1995. I think they hold up pretty
well and, if you're not familiar with Mickey's Cousin Astatine, here
she is! I miss having Astatine in the story but her deus ex machina
qualities made it hard to put other characters around her into
plausible danger.  She was Mickey's safety net, now removed.

This episode is also our first sort-of look into Spoonman's
presidential campaign, still set in January before a narrowing of the
field in the Republican Party race.  It seems like a tight ship with
Spoonstryke's former nanny, Mauve, at the wheel of day-to-day
operations.  Mauve in the original series was a tightly-wound ball of
stress and her resurgent confidence probably has something to do with
the fact that she is no longer directly responsible for keeping Nancy
in line--although she does still dabble, as we see here. It makes you
wonder how much of Spooman's business success, in addition to his
political success, is due to Mauve's competent help.

Greg R. Fishbone -
* President: Class of 2k7 -
* ARA: New England SCBWI -

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