First furloughed, then declared redundant by the Justice League, he is asked to hand back his cape and boots. His instinct is to seek immediate solace in the Fortress of Solitude, but it has floated away on a rising tide of globally warmed ice melt. Back in Metropolis, the hours stretch as long as Mr Fantastic’s arms. When he realises that he has lost the power to fly, he gets drunk on cheap bourbon paid for with his welfare cheques and grieves his reminiscences into the pages of classic DC comics. The answerphone still blinks with un-played messages from Lois. She has long since ceased to call.
By Christmas, his super strength has all but gone. He shivers the winter away, hanging with Bruce in an unheated Bat Cave, where the Batmobile stands rusting. Bruce lost everything in the crash of ’22. When the evenings finally grow lighter, they wander out in faded, unwashed costumes, to stand at city intersections, trying to remember what it felt like to defeat the forces of evil. Gainfully employed superheroes hurry past, polishing their shields and swinging their hammers. Those that notice them toss low value coins and sniff the air with disdain.
No longer the hero of his own story, he returns home alone, finally aware that the only real nemesis was the one that lay within. Lockdown isolation and self-deprecation have achieved what Lex Luthor never could. Understanding, at last, how high the price of an altar ego runs, he smiles his sadness at his unshaven image in the mirror. Reflecting on the irony that his X-ray vision never did desert him, he lifts the lid on the lead box and reaches for the green Kryptonite.
Michael Forester writes at the fulcrum of perceived reality. His life journey has taken him from the Amazon rain forest to South Africa, from the Himalayas to the Philippines. Michael is profoundly deaf. His works can be found at michaelforester.co.uk