Issue Ten: The Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit Issue/Assistant Editor's Month
After the events of last issue, Blackbird and a good portion of the Avengers' members-in-training/reserve team (Benni, Motya, Radical Warrior, and Centennial Man) managed to defeat and capture MODOK, Kraven the hunter, and the Taskmaster, as well as avert a potential missile crisis at a military base in the Appalachian mountains, remove a rogue director of SHIELD, and at least alert Project Pegasus about an upcoming jailbreak plot.
Meanwhile, EnergyStar, Jericho Tesla, Agent X, PowerSurge, and several of their allies assisted SHIELD in a mission to China, which ended up involving a detour to the Negative Zone. The full details of which have been classified by SHIELD*.
When the team reassembles in Buffalo, expediting the applications for Motya and Centennial Man's membership is the next priority. Both are issued their official Avengers comm cards and join the Avengers' training team within a week. Jericho, meanwhile, is promoted to active membership in Avengers' North, bringing the two teams current lineups to:
Avengers North: EnergyStar, MinuteMan, Blackbird, and Jericho Tesla
AEF (Trainees): Benni Ricci, Motya Cheykina, Centennial Man, Ka-Zar, Blue Marvel, and Radical Warrior** with Agent X (in his guise as Christopher Michaels) as NSC liaison
So, what does an extended family of superheroes do after they save the community, save the nation, save the world, and save the Negative Zone all over the course of a week?
Why, take a vacation of course!
More to follow.
* Meaning, we haven't finished playing that side adventure yet!
** Of course, EnergyStar has asked Rad to join the main team several times, but he has refused and only grudgingly accepted membership on the AEF after his sister pleaded with him. Should Rad ever decide to 'upgrade', the door to Avengers North is always open to him.
Not long ago (in game time), the team, along with many other well-known heroes of the Marvel Universe, had recieved an invitation to come to Wakanda to celebrate the engagement of King T'Challa (also known as the Black Panther, former Avengers liaison to the AEF) to his betrothed, Monica Lynne (see the invitation attached back in issue #8).
Wakanda is a lush paradise nestled deep in the African jungle. It is also one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa and probably the world. The nation, however, has managed to preserve many of their centuries-old customs and traditions, making the country a fascinating blend of old and new.
When Marvel Comics got wind of the news, they figured the resultant gathering of heroes in such a beautiful location would be an ideal setting for the next Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit Special. Marvel sent their best artists (along with their editorial staff) to Wakanda to document the event and sent the resultant portraits and reports back to New York, where a mildly-annoyed bullpen of assistant editors (who were not permitted to attend because, hey, somebody's got to stay home and get the work done) were charged with assembling the next moth's issues.
So, my dear players (and assistant editors), given the setting (the jungles and tropical beaches of Wakanda), the occasion (the week-long engagement party), the major characters (pretty much every major hero in the Marvel Universe, as well as foreign dignitaries, such as Doctor Victor Von Doom monarch of Latveria), and the minor characters (any members of the supporting cast you decide to involve), here's you chance to have your characters interact with some of your favorite Marvel heroes.
Of course, I will be throwing a few interesting situations into the mix before the issue is over.
The rules: no killing, no causing an international incident, no bringing back dead characters, nothing that would result in a modification of powers, abilities, or talents. You do not have to worry about your secret identity. Otherwise, have fun writing your own scenes!
Janet Van Dyne sits at a patio table outside one of the Wakandan resorts where you are all staying, wearing what you are sure is an extremely expensive bathing suit designed by some well-reknowed individual with a difficult to pronounce name. She sips a frothy cool drink which plays home to a miniature umbrella that could be the scale miniature twin of the one currently proving shade to her table. After a quick sip, Janet slides her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose to peek over the top of them. Janet places her drink down, stands at attention, and raises her right hand sharply to her forehead while saying "I'll salute that."
Letting your eyes drift in the direction of Janet's gaze, you see the object of her attention.
Blackbird, MinuteMan, US Agent, and Captain America, each clad only in their own unique style of patriotic-themed swimwear, stand in knee-deep water, apparently discussing the potential organization of some water sport.
Several female heroes in the area around them also take note and swoon. This goes completely unnoticed by the four heroes, who, moments later, find several enthusiastic participants volunteering for their pick-up game of water polo.
After arriving at the Wakandan resort she will be staying at with the rest of the Avengers, she goes out to sit at the side of the swimming pool and watches all the heroes and heroines walking around. She observes Captain America, MinuteMan, Blackbird and group organizing some water game, behaving just like real life people and not characters from a fictional book, her eyes get glassy and her hands tremble. Getting up she quickly heads into the women's restroom and stares at herself in the mirror. Shaking her head she reaches over and pinches her arm as hard as she can, trying to wake herself up.
Just as Benni is pinching her arm real hard, She-hulk comes into the restroom, "Benni, are you.... what are you doing?" Jen starts asking then looks startled at she sees how hard Benni is pinching herself.
Benni quickly stops pinching herself and looks up and sees She-hulk in the mirror, in a shaky, slightly detached voice, "Yes, I am fine, Miss She-Hulk."
"Jen, please," Jennifer lightly admonishes, "Benni, you don't look fine, you look like you are going into shock," the green giantess says softly as she moves up beside the taller woman and finds herself in the unusual position of staring up.
Benni smiles lightly as she looks down at the She-hulk, "Thanks Jen. And I might be in a bit of a shock." The tall women shrugs deprecatingly, "Some days it feels like I am dreaming. Being in this world with people I thought were characters in kids books."
Jen nods, "Is that what you was trying to do, wake yourself up by pinching yourself?"
Benni sighs and shrugs, "Yeah, unfortunately I am not strong enough, I can't feel the pinch, I can't pinch hard enough to hurt and therefore wake myself up. But of course that is an old wives tale." The tall heroine turns to face Jennifer for the first time, "But, I will be alright. Days like today, get to me more, when I hang out with all of you. Harder to pretend everything is normal."
Jen nods and rubs Benni's back consolingly, "Why don't you go back to your room and get a nap. Rest some, it has only been a month since you arrived and you have been very busy helping to get the North American Avengers running, helping to stop MODOK and learning about this new world. You need some time to rest and relax, give your brain a moment to readjust." She-hulk leads Benni out of the restroom.
She-hulk escorts Benni to her room and before leaving she admonishes the tall brunette woman, "Get some rest Benni, it will help you relax and rebalance yourself." Jen smiles comfortingly to the taller woman.
Benni nods, "Thanks Jen, that is probably what I need. Jet-lag must be hitting me.. OUCH!" Benni yelps as She-Hulk suddenly pinches Benni really hard. "What the ....," the tall brunette woman gasps as she spins to look at Jen, rubbing her arm.
The She-hulk smirks, "Well, you are still here," Jen winks as she walks out before Benni can say anything else, and once the door is closed behind her, she shakes her head in shock at how tough the brunette woman is, she had to use practically all her strength to even get a reaction.
Benni rubs her arm as she lays down on her bed, shocked that she actually felt the pinch. She closes her eyes and focuses on her breathing, taking time to work down her body, relaxing all her muscles as she settles in for a quick nap.
more to come....
Christopher Alexander Micheals sits by the pool working on a lap top enjoying the fact that he for once is the most normal looking person there. He is in his real appearance the one his parents gave him. Tall but built like Bruce Lee not the big ticket attraction around all these other heroes. He is siting there not really speaking to any one. When Benni heads inside he looks up and notices the pick up game. I must be getting old to be using this computer on such a beautiful day. He than finishes his work and closes his lap top.
He does this just in time to see Warbird go walking by. Hello there Ms. I mean Warbird how has your day in beautiful Wakanda been so far. Warbird says, It has been fine I was taking a walk in the sun shine. Though it seems to be picking up. When Warbird turns in reaction she notices the fact the Chris's eyes are almost popping out from behind his pulled down shades. This rather childish look cause her to smile and giggle. Noticing her reaction Chris recovers his composure with a slight smirk. Well than would you mind a little company on your walk. Maybe the company will help make this a great day instead of a fine day. Chris gets up from his chair and stands at his full and towering 6'8" height. Once he is standing he completely removes his shades to show his almost glowing green eyes. So then Warbird what do you say say's Chris. Well why not we are here to relax and mingle say's Warbird. Are you ready to go then Mr. big stuff Oh sorry my name is Chris Micheals. I work with the AEF North helping them out with the government.
Jericho Tesla takes this time to take in nature in a way he never had time to. The stresses of living beyond so many family and friends, his near immortality and powers and the struggles with so much war finally came down on him. Waxing philosophical, he takes a pack and some food with him to go on a walkabout http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_about. He wanders only a few miles from the area and spends much time camping with the animals.
This time is partly a period of mourning for him but also of solitude and spiritual resurgence. When people ask him what he;s up to he explains something he learned from the Chinese and the Ausralians.
"You see in the bush, sometimes people come to a fork in their lives. Like a midlife crisis but much more surreal. Sometimes the temple monks of Tibet have gone on walkabout as well. It's like....some point in my life i made a choice and my spirit went one way while i went another. I was a scientist, an engineer like my father before me......only WWII and the Iron Curtain came down and so much of my life changed. FBI hounding me about my politics, the Rosenbergs, the Holocaust......SO much of my life suddenly involved protecting the world from the slime of humanity....I've lived my life for the sake of saving the world and now i'm lost......I think i need to just wander around in this place. We're so far from the world out in this jungle. Maybe out here i can find myself again........"
For days, Jericho carefully camped and wandered about int he jungles. Without much more than some clothes, a communicator and his whip, he began a journey both around Wakanda and within himself.
Lenny sits at poolside, his Adidas bodysuit replaced by a pair of tight, skimpy Adidas swim shorts and his half-mask replaced by a pair of polarized Adidas sunglasses. He had considered wearing his standard costume, but so many other superheroes took advantage of the sun and sported swimwear. When in Rome, he thinks to himself, do as the Romans do. Even if you are actually in Africa.
The young man dips his feet in the shallow end of pool and stares about the resort, taking in the scene like some extra on the set of a star-studded movie. He sees beautiful people everywhere, some swimming laps like Olympic athletes, some socializing about the patio like celebrities worthy of the paparazzi, some moving about with the grace and grandeur of the majestic, exotic wildlife in the nearby savannah.
"You're Centennial Man, right?" comes a female voice from behind Lenny.
"Uh, yeah," Lenny stammers. Turning to face his female caller, he sees an Amazonian redhead in some sort of futuristic tankini that maybe Barbarella would wear. The outfit, a shiny reddish gold bustier made from some sort of alien latex with some ridiculously skimpy short shorts, does wonders to complement the lady's lengthy legs, accentuating her statuesque and muscular frame, all the while doing little to take away from her facial beauty. "What gave it away?"
"The stripes," she answers. "You're the only hero I've heard of who's sponsored by Adidas. Actually, you're the only hero I've heard of who's sponsored by any corporation."
Lenny stares at her blankly. Did this buxom giantess just say she has heard of him? His mystically enhanced brain swells as neurons spark to life, his recently dormant cerebelum now desperately trying to kick his brainstem aside and take over the controls of its juvenile, muscle-bound shell of a human being.
"I'm sorry, but did you say you've heard of me?" Lenny finally asks.
"Of course," the lady answers. "You and the other Avenger trainees just saved the State of New York, most likely the entire United States. Good job on defeating MODOK. I heard you had quite the slugfest with Taskmaster and Kraven."
Lenny blushes slightly. "Ah, that. It's all in a day's work, really."
"And Adidas pays you to do this," she replies. "You don't just volunteer like most of us?"
"Well, athletes have sponsors," Lenny offers. He pulls his feet out of the pool and begins to rise. "And movie stars do commercials. So, I figured --" He immediately stops speaking as soon as he lifts himself fully upright, realizing that this woman towers over his six-foot-four frame. So tall stands this redhead that Lenny finds himself staring right at her cleavage, completely fixated, utterly mesmerized by the augmented spectacle.
"Yoo-hoo," the woman whistles. "Up here."
"Uh," Lenny stammers, finally looking up at the lady's face. "Good, god, now I feel awkward."
The lady's lips curl into a smile. "It happens all the time, trust me. Anyways, a few of my girl friends asked me to come and get a man. We need a male presence and perspective. You interested?"
Lenny swallows hard. Did this buxom giantess just ask him to accomany her and her league of female friends? His mystically enhanced brain swells as gray matter fights with gray matter. His limbic system flares up with neural activity, causing his frontal lobes to respond defensively. Emotions and naughty impulses battle with keen logic and reason as he plays out sceanrios and calculates odds.
"Sure, count me in," Lenny replies immediately. "I'm your man."
"Great. When you're ready, we're at the beach along the lagoon." The redhead starts to walk away.
"Wait a minute," Lenny demands. "Who are you?"
With that said, she flashes another smile, then walks away.
"Thundra?" Lenny mutters under his breath, watching the lady fade into the distance. "I'm glad I ask because I thought you were Red Sonja."
The next day, Benni reports in for her photo, drawing session with the Marvel Comic artists and photographers. She is in the dressing room, staring at her face in mirror, lightly tracing her facial bones with a finger when Warbird comes in, just having finished up her photo shoot.
Warbird looks inquisitively at the tall brunette woman as she moves up to the mirror beside Benni. The blonde superheroine thinks she recognizes the look in the rookie heroines eyes, the look is similar to what she felt during the time she had lost her memory when she looked at herself in the mirror, "You okay, hun?"
Benni blushes as she looks over at Warbird, "um..yes. Just getting used to my face." Seeing Warbird's arched, inquisitive eyebrow raise, she explains further. "It is my face, but it isn't. I used to be 5 ft, 100 lbs when wet, with no figure." Benni gestures down her body, "Now I am a 7 foot tall amazon wet dream." She shrugs self-deprecatingly, "And my face has changed slightly."
Warbird nods slightly as she pats Benni on the arm comfortingly, "I know what that feels like. I lost my memory once. And I would stare into a mirror examining my face."
"How long did it take for that feeling to go away?" Benni asks curiously.
Warbird shrugs, "I don't know. I regained my memory before that happened."
Benni nods and sighs, "Ooh, well, I am Benni. I don't think we have been introduced before." Benni smiles at the shorter blonde heroine as she holds a hand out.
Warbird smiles up at Benni as she shakes the rookie heroine's hand, "I am Warbird. Nice to meet you Benni. I have heard good things about you from the rumor mill."
Benni blushes, "ahh... well. Don't believe everything you hear." She glances at the clock, "Well, time to face the firing squad." Benni smiles as she turns to leave, "All I have to do is stand still and get a couple of pictures taken of me."
Warbird laughs and pats Benni's arm consolingly, "If only, good luck, Benni!"
Hours later, Benni staggers into the changing room and sits down heavily, glancing at Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp, surrounded by a pile of swimsuits as she looks through them.
"I now have a new appreciation of what a model goes through," Benni sighs in relief from surviving her photo shoot, "do fashion photographers hire themselves out as torturers on the side?"
Janet giggles at Benni's antics, "Hehe... maybe they should."
Benni glances over at Janet as the small brunette tosses aside a swimsuit and picks up a different one, "Are they really going to use all of those pictures. She must have taken hundreds of shots."
Janet shakes her head, "Only about 1% of those will be print worthy."
Benni's eyebrows rise, "Only 1%, worse odds then I thought."
Janet finally settles on a swimsuit as she turns to take her turn with the photographers, "See you later, Benni. I am off to beard those evil photographers. See you at the next party."
Benni laughs, "Good luck!"
Lady Jacqueline Falsworth, looking somewhat anachronistic as 18-year old in a 1940's style bathing suit, stands with her companion from England, the third Union Jack, smiling and reminiscing with Captain America and James Hammond (the golden age Human Torch) about their days in the Invaders. Namor the Sub-Mariner stands with the group, cross-armed and frowning...but then, he pretty much always looks that way...
MinuteMan stands a few feet away, watching in awe, too nervous to approach.
Weezi, the Avengers North secretary, pats MinuteMan on the back, startling him momentarily, as she moves to pass by him and approach the quintet. To MinuteMan's surprise, Cap and the Torch immediately react to Weezi's presence, embracing her in turn. Even Namor displays a (barely perceptible) upturn of the corner of his lip which some could construe as a smile only slightly milder than that displayed by the Mona Lisa.
Looking somewhat rough after nearly a week wandering the jungles of Wakanda, Jericho Tesla, now sporting the start of a respectable beard, pauses at the base of a rock outcropping to examine a piece of what appears to be green sheet metal on the ground. An unusual find so deep in the jungle, Jericho ponders it for a moment before letting his eyes drift a few feet away...to another similar piece...then another...and another... Jericho seems to have stumbled upon a debris field of some type...but...this deep in the jungle, a debris field for what?
Lenny eagerly races across the deck. His hormones percolate with every step as he anticipates his rendezvous with Thundra and her group of superheroine friends.
"Don't mess this up," he says to himself. ”And don’t pinch yourself. You’re the star quarterback getting it on with the cheerleading team. You’re Hugh Hefner’s paperboy getting an extra-special tip from the bunnies at the Playboy Mansion. You’re Hercules getting busy with all those Amazons."
Lenny zigzags through the obstacle course of demi-gods by the swim-up bar and patio in a streak, his feet never touching down. He makes his way behind the resort to a series of dunes. Dirt devils spiral behind him as he bobs up and down the hills like some mogul skier on amphetamines. Eventually the dunes flatten down and expose a beach of white sand. In the middle of the beach lies an expansive pond of crystal clear water.
Skidding to a halt, Lenny stares at the idyllic Wakandan tableau in wonder. “Wow,” he says.
But the beefy young hero does not gaze at the lustrous lagoon and its beach of unbroken whiteness, with the jagged mountains and wild jungle as their backdrop. His eyes narrow in on the women congregated about the setting. His eyes turn to saucers as he ogles them, admiring their choice of clothing or lack thereof.
“Centennial Man!” one of the women hollers, waving her hands.
“Hey, Thundra,” Lenny shouts back. “And hi ladies.”
Lenny desparately fixes his hair and adjusts his sunglasses. He then puffs out his chest and struts down to the beach to join Thundra and her five female friends. The six women lay on towels in the sand, their shapely, chiseled and tanned bodies a serried line of alternating fronts and backs.
"Oh good, the cabana boy," a fellow redhead says. She wears cat eyes sunglasses and a revealing yellow-and-black bikini.
"Oh, Hellcat," her tall blonde neighbor replies, smiling. She wears a threadbare bathing suit made from what looks like animal hides. Pamela Anderson wearing Raquel Welsh's cavewoman outfit could not pull off the wild, alluring guile of this vixen. "He's certainly a cute and buff one, isn't he? I'm sure he'll help you with your suntan lotion if you ask."
Lenny flashes a toothy smile and quips, "I did want to get in touch with the feminine side."
"Oh, cute, buff and funny," another lady adds in. Lenny looks down at the exposed contours of speaker's back and tapered waist. She turns around to face the youngster, the lengthy strands of her apricot hair strategically protecting her from full frontal nudity. "Well, Shanna, if she won't ask, I will. Hey, hun, could you put some lotion on my shoulders? I'm trying to even out."
Lenny gulps and nods. Thundra reaches for a nearby bottle of Coppertone and walks over to the hero to hand it to him.
"Ladies," Thundra says as she gives him the lotion. "This is Centennial Man. Centennial Man, these are my friends." She points to each of the sunbathers as she calls out their names. "Hellcat, Shanna the She-Devil, Spider-Woman, Medusa and Valkyrie."
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