Oh no, not Master R.A. and the Dorm Room Dojo!
Some complications provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the team!
A secret revealed!
A new team model is slapped together!
Bunkum puts the human drama in superhuman melodrama!
Oh no, not Master R.A. and the Dorm Room Dojo!
Some complications provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the team!
A secret revealed!
A new team model is slapped together!
Bunkum puts the human drama in superhuman melodrama!
Consider that table set!
That’s story writing lingo for laying out dishes and silverware!
Let’s meet the team!
It’s a really good team!
And pretty inclusive!
There’s even an undead-American!
Bunkum is the future liberals want!
Can you tell I’ve been reading comics for 30 years?
There are entirely too many superheroes!
Thank goodness Our Man isn’t one!
A community divided!
The world will never be the same!
Until next summer’s epic crossover, that is!
Bunkum mocks the things we love!
Definitely not an infringement of copyright!
Billionaire playboy with cool crime-fighting gadgets!
Uh oh, another superhero!
I hope they get along and don’t fight arbitrarily!
Tragic origin stories of villains!
Everybody loves those!
That’s why Episode I was a huge success!
Bunkum: It’s like a comic con for agoraphobes!
After a very unusual somersault, Donut found herself at the rubble that used to be the Statue of Liberty. She leaped on top of a giant toe to get a better view. It would have been just a jump, but her newfound powers upgraded it to a leap.
As she steadied herself from the leap’s unexpected impressiveness, Donut scanned the scene for the Redressers. She spotted them as they took turns making out with the chunk of statue that contained the mouth. What a bunch of creeps, right?
Donut assumed a heroic stance, pointed at her newly-evil former teammates, and shouted, “Hey! Lady Liberty didn’t give you her consent!”
The Redressers turned to face her. They recognized her and started laughing. “Look out,” said Kathryn, “that banana’s loaded!” Oooooh, that just burns me up.
Donut looked around, excited about the potential banana. When she saw there wasn’t one, she got really embarrassed. That embarrassment manifested itself as anger, which then led to shame for allowing her anger to distract her from Buddha’s teachings.
Just then, Buddha appeared two toes over from her. “Hey-y-y-y, Donut! How’s it going?”
“Not great, sir. Those guys blew up the Statue of Liberty and made fun of me. It’s making me really upset. I’m not controlling my emotions or letting go of my ego at all.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. There’s plenty of time to shed the baggage of earthly life. Right now the bigger issue is those guys causing trouble.”
“So it’s okay if I get mad and take things personally?”
“What’s important is you’re aware of it and work to improve in the long run.”
“I dunno, that sounds like an excuse.”
“Think of it as training wheels. No one finds enlightenment in one day. We’ll work on clearing your mind tomorrow. Right now, you’ve got to stop these jerks from wrecking more symbols.”
“Okay. Thank you, sir!”
Donut leaped at the Redressers. This time it was a fully intentional leap and her form was inspiring. She shouted, “Monkey rise!” and grew until she was a hundred feet tall. She shouted, “Monkey staff!” and her magical staff materialized in her paw. She swung it at the Redressers and knocked all five of them out over the harbor.
Carl quickly waved his hands and created a huge portal in their trajectory which popped them out behind Donut. The force of five people hitting her at full speed knocked Donut prone.
Kathryn smirked and said, “Let’s get rid of that stick, eh, little monkey?” She grabbed the butt of the staff and turned it into water. Can you believe it?
As her weapon splashed away, Donut rose to her feet. Though she was much larger than her opponents, she was outnumbered. She tried kicking at them, but they dodged nimbly.
“Donut!” Buddha called. “I gave you other powers!”
“Like increased awareness and control over my pulse?”
“No! Like finger lasers! You have finger lasers, dude!”
“Holy crap!” Donut yelled. She spread her fingers out and fired ten lasers at the Redressers. She only hit Frankenstein and Kathryn, but they were all terrified. “This is amazing! Thanks, Budda!”
Frankenstein shot a death beam at Donut, but she shrank down to fifty feet and it went over her head. Dwayne shot his machine guns at her, but she turned her body to kevlar and the bullets bounced off her. Jeez, I can’t believe I used to like these guys. Well, not Dwayne. He always kind of sucked. Anyway.
Mia looked around for anything technological to take over, but only saw a bunch of dumb old copper and concrete. Ha! How about them all-natural, organic apples?
Just then, Skranenflon appeared. “To me, my Redressers!” he called. “Hey, what gives? You’re making us look bad up here!”
“It’s that monkey,” Mia said, not mentioning her inability to contribute to the fight in this setting. “She somehow got Sun Wukong’s powers and we can’t stop her.”
“Aw, man! Is that Buddha guy here? Ooooh, I hate him! He’s like a walking coexist sticker. I’d better power you guys up.”
Skranenflon wiggled his nose and the Redressers were suddenly much buffer. Dwayne and Carl were now well over six feet tall and covered in veiny muscles. Frankenstein was now ten feet tall and looked more like a Hollywood action star than a stitched-together pile of corpses. And Mia and Kathryn were now standing back to back and wearing sports bras, knee-high boots, bikini bottoms, and random straps on their arms and legs. Mia’s hair was now purple and Kathryn’s now had a white streak. They also had a strange urge to make out with each other. Mia looked over at Skranenflon, who was staring at them with a big, pervy grin. Gross!
Mia and Kathryn shook their heads to clear the horniness and all five Redressers punched the air in front of them, each discharging different types of energy. Dwayne’s was plasma, Mia’s was electricity, Frankenstein’s was dark energy, Kath– Oh, who cares? Donut fired her finger lasers back at them and all the various beams met in the middle, pouring more and more power into a bright ball of energy. The ball exploded, knocking all six of them back on their butts. Wow!
“Aw, come on!” Skranenflon shouted. “This isn’t working at all!”
“I know,” Buddha said. “This is ridiculous! We’ll be here all week at this rate.”
“Forget it,” Skranenflon said. “I’m calling in our fleet.”
Skranenflon tapped a few buttons on his gauntlet and within seconds, hundreds of starships came out of hyperdrive in the sky above New York. A loudspeaker from the ship in point position crackled, “This is Pandemonium-1, reporting in.”
“All units, fire!” Skranenflon commanded.
Just then, Buddha drew a mystical sign in the air and another fleet of starships appeared overhead. They immediately started firing on the Pandemonium ships.
“Great job, Nirvana,” Buddha said into his earpiece. “I knew you’d get here in time.”
“Time is a construct, sir,” Nirvana-Red-Alpha replied. “We’re concerned with higher things, like kicking some infernal tail.”
“Atta boy,” Buddha said.
The Redressers and Donut looked up at what would surely be the greatest science fiction movie of all time if anyone wants to buy the rights from me, when they suddenly disappeared.
They rematerialized in the cockpits of the lead ships for their respective sides, Donut with Buddha in Nirvana-Red-Alpha and the Redressers next to Skranenflon in Pandemonium-1.
“What’s happening, sir?” Donut asked.
“I guess it’s time you knew. This was all a proxy war in the eternal battle between Skranenflon’s and my rival alien empires.”
“That’s mind-boggling and all, but shouldn’t you be worried about the innocent people down there? They could get killed!”
“Oh, right.” Buddha wiggled his fingers and the Earth disappeared. “Sorry to scare you like that. Earth was a hologramic arena we created to play out our moral conflict in more concrete terms.”
The space battle raged. Every second, more ships from the opposing alien races exploded into dust. Before long the only ones left were Pandemonium-1 and Nirvana-Red-Alpha.
“Oh, poo,” Skranenflon said.
The universe dissolved to reveal Skranenflon and Buddha sitting on either side of a sophisticated video game console.
“Hmm, looks like another tie,” Skranenflon said.
“Shall we play again?”
Skranenflon sighed. “It’s so tedious. Can’t we just do it directly?”
“You mean with our fists?”
“Yeah, why not?”
The two beings stood up and started kicking and punching each other. Neither was getting hurt, so the fight was pointless.
After a few minutes, Skranenflon said, “Nope, this still isn’t getting us anywhere.”
“No bodies, then?”
Both beings dissolved into amorphous clouds that slowly grew. The clouds slammed into each other, intermingling and then pulling apart. Each collision resulted in a few particles of each cloud winding up inside the other cloud, then being destroyed by their equivalent of white blood cells. After several millennia and countless collisions, both clouds had only experienced nominal losses.
“This is getting us nowhere,” Helen said.
“I can’t believe it,” Methuselah said. “Over eight billion simulations and we’re still no closer to determining if people are generally good or evil.”
“It seems like it’s mostly determined by the almost random conditions you grow up in, with some influence by characteristics that you’re born with,” Helen said.
“Yeah, I know,” Methuselah said. “I was working on the same experiment. Why are you being so expository?”
“Why are YOU being so expository?” Donut mumbled. She stirred, realizing she had been talking in her trance. The Redressers, Buddha, and Skranenflon had stopped fighting among the rubble on Liberty Island and were staring at her.
“Heh. I guess you heard all that, huh?” Everyone nodded. “Then I guess we can just cancel the fight and move on with our lives.”
Everyone shrugged and shook hands. Donut looked at the camera and winked.
I read over the last sentence. “Looked at the camera and winked?” I said. “What am I thinking? This is text! Ugh, this arc is so stupid. I’m not even posting this episode.”
I crumpled up the paper I was writing on and threw it on the floor in disgust, quitting my Redressers story forever.
As I walked away to drink seven more coffees, the wad of paper looked at the camera and winked.
Mia, Dwayne, Kathryn, Carl, and Frankenstein looked from the three-story demon in a tuxedo to their infernal surroundings.
Kathryn shook her head. “Ha! I did not expect this.”
The demon twirled his walking stick and let it rest on his shoulder. “I suppose I ought to get the tour out of the way so we can begin your eternal torment. My name is Skranenflon and I’ll be your attendant while you’re here. Anything you need, just wail and gnash those pearly little whites. You’re all here because you did lots of nasty things up there like breaking out of jail and eating shellfish. Ooooh, He hates that! (It’s a texture thing. They’re so chewy!) Anywho, up there is a limitless void separating us from the mortal plane and everywhere around you is a burning lake of fire. Any questions?”
“So is there like, sex stuff here?” Carl asked. “Lotta pervoids? Where do you keep them?”
“In the boiling lake of fire like everyone else,” Skranenflon said. “We used to specialize the punishments to match the crimes — you know, starving the gluttons while showing them food just out of reach and beating the greedy with bags of gold — but we’ve had such an influx of sinners over the last five thousand years and their sins are so varied and intermingled that we had to simplify everything. I tell you, some days I don’t know why I show up at all. Long story short, if you’re looking for perverts, you’ll have to ask around while the flesh melts off your bones.”
“Hmm. Well, it’s an icebreaker, anyway,” Carl said.
“That’s the spirit. Now, before we get started, there’s a technicality to take care of. We give all newcomers the option of either serving as minions of evil or being tortured for eternity with a chance of parole in a few million years, give or take based on your case. It’s a very difficult decision and–”
“We’ll do it,” Dwayne said.
“Are you sure? Everyone else has chosen the torture and hope for eventual redemption rather than doing evil.”
“Nope. No, thank you. We’ll do it.”
“Does that go for all of you?” The Redressers shrugged and nodded. “Wonderful! I’ll get the paperwork started. Hey, Adolf! We’re going to need a few badges over here!”
Before long, they were outfitted with black leather outfits of varying degrees of coverage and were reading the user manuals about their new satanic powers. Mia was now a cyborg with a robot arm, a laser eye, and a spiky red metal mohawk. She also had the ability to interface with any technology and take it over. Dwayne had grown into a gravelly-voiced muscle man with throbbing veins, a face tattoo, enormous guns, and lots of pouches. An inordinate amount of pouches. Kathryn had the power to transmute materials from one substance to another. Her new uniform showed even more cleavage than her old one, but she didn’t mind anymore since she was working for the devil. Carl had the cosmic power to transport people anywhere and create special “survive in space” bubbles if necessary, Finally, Frankenstein could now shoot beams that could kill and other beams that could bring stuff back to life. It was pretty impressive, honestly.
“What do we do with this incredible power?” asked Kathryn.
“You’ll be working with the terrestrial reclamation team,” Skranenflon said. “The main focus is spreading as much evil over the Earth as possible in order to drive more souls down here. We made some great strides in the 20th Century, but these darn millennials just aren’t taking the bait like their parents did. Do you know how many twenty-somethings killed someone because of their race or religion last year? Two million! When you say it out loud, that sounds like a lot, but it used to be much higher! So you need to stir up the hornets’ nest. Spread fear. Destroy some buildings. Blame it on some kind of group. Have fun with it! And don’t worry about the morality. You’re already in Hell. Okay, Genghis. Let ‘er rip.”
Genghis waved a glowing sword and the Redressers disappeared. “Boy,” Skranenflon said, “I thought they’d never shut up.”
The Redressers appeared in the alley where the Sand Witch had killed them. Their bodies were still there. Frankenstein tried out his new abilities by re-animating the arm of Dwayne’s body and making it wiggle around. “Yoo hoo, Dwa-a-ayne,” he said.
Everyone had a good laugh except Dwayne. He growled, “Cut it out!” and shot Frankenstein’s legs off. Frankenstein made the arm flip Dwayne the bird and then de-re-animated it before making his legs grow back.
“Well,” Mia started, “what do you guys wanna do?”
Carl said, “I guess if we’re supposed to spread fear and violence, I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
He waved his arm and a vertical disc of blue light appeared. “Step in. This’ll be fun.”
Meanwhile, remember the monkey who ran away a few segments ago? She was hanging out on a fire escape, eating a cantaloupe she found in the trash, when a chubby old man approached on the ground below. She shrieked and jumped up.
“Hey, up there. Don’t be startled. I’m a friend.”
The monkey squatted low, then slowly raised her head to look at the potential threat.
“Here, this will help us get to know each other.”
The old man wiggled his fingers in the air and the monkey suddenly felt like her brain was exploding, but without any pain. Just expansion. She gasped and then made a few vocalizations.
“Puh! Puh! Fuh! Muh muh muh. Oh, wow! I can talk!” She clasped her hands over her mouth. “This is amazing! What did you do? Who are you?”
“No biggie. I’m Buddha. Nice to meet you.”
“Wow! Like, THE Buddha? You’re a big deal.”
“Oh, I do okay, I guess. I try not to let it go to my head.”
“Oh, right. That’s kind of your thing, isn’t it? Wait, how do I know that?”
“You’re wise, little monkey. I just made you a little wiser. Speaking of, along with speech, I went ahead and gave you Sun Wukong’s other powers. Crazy strength, somersaulting halfway around the world, changing shape and size, all that. I threw a couple of extra ones in as a surprise. I figured you could use them.”
“Use them? For what?”
“Well, you know those people you used to hang around with, the Redressers?”
“Old Scratch has given them superpowers. He wants to wreak havoc, drown the world in blood, yadda yadda yadda.”
“That’s, uh, not great.”
“Right. And since you know them, it seems like you’d be a good one to stop them.”
“Yikes! That’s pretty heavy stuff, sir.”
“I know, but the finale’s coming up so we have to make sure things are set up for the big battle.”
“Okay, I’ll do my best. But isn’t fighting kind of antithetical to your teachings?”
“You’ll find a way. You’re a pretty clever monkey. By the way, you should think up a name. ‘The monkey’ is pretty impersonal.”
She thought for a minute. “How about Donut?”
“Donut! What an excellent name. Something that brings you immense childlike joy. Very good, Donut.”
“So what do I do now?”
“I’m sure your former colleagues will make themselves known before too long. Then just go to wherever they are and do something about it. You good?”
“I think so. Hey, there aren’t any sexual politics underlying a female monkey getting powers from a semi-divine male, are there?”
“Probably. But I think you saving the world from weaponized masculinity makes up for it.”
“Come back when you’re done. We’ll grab some churros and empathize with whatever’s around.”
“Sounds like fun. Thanks!”
It was about that time that the Redressers blew up the Statue of Liberty. News crews in New York started broadcasting live footage immediately, and Donut saw the the images on a TV in a sports bar she was passing in Big City. She planted her feet for a somersault and took a deep breath.
“Time to fling some righteous poo.”
Wanted for two jailbreaks and destruction of public property, the Redressers were hiding in Dwayne’s one-bedroom apartment, going over their options.
Dwayne picked up the list. “Alright, what have we come up with? Get jobs under assumed identities. Okay. Lean into crime. Not super enthused about that one. This one just says ‘Dark Web’. Carl? Can you expand on that?”
“You know, like on the internet. But, like, untraceable.”
“I’m not sure yet. The library was closing, so I had to stop reading the wikipedia page.”
“Okay. Now, there seems to be an option missing from this list. One that I think we ought to look into. Can anyone guess?”
Carl peered into distance, racking his brain. Frankenstein drummed his fingers on the table in thought. Mia continued trying to ignore the whole conversation. Kathryn woke herself up with her snoring.
“Znxx, wha? Where are we?”
“You guys,” Dwayne said. “I think it’s obvious what we’re meant to do. We’re back together as a team, operating outside of the law, each of us with their own specialty. Frankenstein, you know what I’m thinking, right?”
“An agricultural commune?”
“No! Let’s be outlaw vigilantes! Let’s be supers. Fighting crime. Hunted by the very police who we’re helping in our mission to protect the streets. It’ll be great! We can have secret identities and everything. Well, those of us who aren’t blue or undead. No offense.”
“Hey, it’s catching on in Scandanavia,” Kathryn said.
“Which one? Never mind. I don’t want to know. So let’s talk powers. The old lineup was flawed, which we saw after a couple of excursions. Frankenstein, you’re good as the muscle. Mia, I like you as the brainy tinker. But the rest of us need new skill sets since none of us are actually magical or godlike. Carl, I like the blue. It’s a good initial distraction. Can we build on that? Make you a dark elf or something?”
“I learned to juggle flaming sticks in the freak show. Can we use that?”
“Okay, okay, I like what I’m hearing. Fire, blue skin, maybe a devil theme? A demon? An imp? Let’s put a pin in that and come back. That leaves you and me, Kathryn. I’m kind of the leader. The general giving orders. So you–”
“Hang on,” Kathryn said. “Why do you have to be the leader? My TED talk ratings are just as high as yours. And I think a female leader would be a good change. Good publicity, too. Think of if we made the news. If people see a man grandstanding about vigilanteism, they’ll get scared. But if a woman does it, that could be empowering. Inspirational, even.”
“Then what do I do? Carl’s got fire covered, so my only other skill is inspiration. Could we use a bard? Is that a thing outside of RPGs?”
Kathryn thought for a moment. “The nearest I know of would be a hype man. Like Flava Flav or Bobby Byrd. You could stand off to the side and cheer us on or repeat what just happened to amp us up. How does that sound?”
“Ifrit!” Carl said.
“Ifrit as in the fire demon?” Kathryn asked.
“Yeah! I could make my hair crazy and twirl fire and be really scary. Ifrit! What do you think?”
“Well, Carl, I must congratulate you on your knowledge of Islamic mythology. Ifrits are a kind of fiery jinni that appear in the Koran as well as more secular works like the 1001 Arabian Nights.”
“Oh. I just knew it from Final Fantasy IV. Rydia summons them and they do damage to all the monsters. It’s especially powerful against–”
“Okay. Thanks, Carl. Good job. So we’re good? We’ve got Ifrit and Frankenstein. Mia, you can make another costume and be the tinker or engineer or whatever. Dwayne, you’re Hype-Man (hyphen included). And I’ll be Professor K the psychic and keep my boobs inside my damn shirt. We can use earpieces to simulate telepathy like televangelists do. I like this plan!”
“She likes that plan!” Dwayne said. “How’s that, fellow outlaws?”
“One question,” Frankenstein said. “How do we make money doing this? We still need to eat and presumably pay the rent.”
“Once we get a name, we can sell merchandise,” Dwayne said. “Until then, we work on commission. If we stop a robbery, we get half.”
Mia stared ahead blankly and muttered, “We’re doomed.”
A few nights later, an alarm went off in downtown Big City. The Sand Witch ran out through the employee entrance of Adjectiveless Carl’s Pawn Shop with her sand blaster in one hand, a bag of jewels in the other, a tank of sand on her back, and a big, floppy hat on her head.
As she turned a corner into an alley, she found herself face to face with a flame-twirling blue man, a woman in a steampunk outfit, another woman pressing two fingers to her forehead intently, a man in a neat suit and skinny tie straight out of 1983, and, well, Frankenstein.
“What is this?” she asked.
“We’re the Redressers,” Kathryn said, “and we’ll let you choose WHICH of us beats you up first. No PAWN intended.”
“No pawn!” Dwayne repeated.
“That’s right!” Carl said. “We’re outlaw vigilantes and you’re about to regret doing all that crime!”
The Sand Witch put down the sand blaster, pulled out a gun, and shot all five of them. She then picked up the bag and ran home.
~ ~ ~
Mia stirred. The last thing she remembered was getting shot. She opened her eyes a crack. She seemed to be in a giant cave with high, red walls that disappeared into darkness. The ground was hot. She sat up and saw Dwayne, Carl, Kathryn, and Frankenstein on the ground near her. They were rousing as well.
Now that she was awake, she noticed the acrid, sulfurous odor in the air. She stood up to get her bearings. Fire and lava seemed to be everywhere. “Guys?” she said. “How did we get inside a volcano?”
“Oh, it’s not a volcano,” said a voice behind her reminiscent of Frank Nelson. She spun around and saw a bright red man in a tuxedo leaning on his walking stick. He had small horns on his head and a long, forked tail. “I’m afraid you’re in Hell.”