Mighty Man #1 (one-shot)
NOTE: This book reprints the MIGHTY MAN serial that ran in SAVAGE DRAGON #’s 109-118
“The Never Ending War Against Evil!”
Gary Carlson: Co-Plot/Script
Mark Englert: Pencils/Colors
Erik Larsen: Co-Plot/Inks
Robert Kirkman: Letters
Josh Eichorn: Also transforms into a nurse, at times– but there’s no magic involved.
The Liberty League
– Battle Tank
– Jennifer Dragon
– Mighty Man II
The Rock House Diner
– Beast Boy
The Kid Avenger
The Liberty League
– Battle Tank
– The Hornet
– Mighty Man (Death Issue)
– Mister Big
Chicago Police Department
– Captain Frank Darling
– Officer Howard Niseman
Dr. Larry Bradford
Dr. Larry Bradford
Mighty Man V (Billy Berman)
The Vicious Circle
– BodyCount (Death Issue)
– Chaos & Control
– Evil Eye
The Slammer (Death Issue)
Splits-Borg (Death Issue)
The Wicked Worm
Ymir-5 (Death Issue)
Unofficial Guest Stars
Jimbo Da Mighty Lobster
The wizard Fon~Ti sits within his stronghold and recalls how centuries ago he created an entity of immense strength to fight the forces of evil ravaging Earth. There were numerous hosts over the years but there were periods of years, and sometimes decades, where the entity would lie dormant as its host would have no idea of their inheritance. After one such hiatus a boy named Bobby Berman received the gift back in 1940 and was inspired by comics to become a superhero that he dubbed Mighty Man.
Mighty Man would go onto assist the Allied Force in World War II and he was soon joined by another superhero, SuperPatriot. These two would often fight alongside one another and would later be joined by other heroes to form the Liberty League. Berman served as Mighty Man for decades until criminals learned of his secret identity and brutally murdered him whilst in his mortal form. The entity would be passed on to Ann Stevens but she would not discover this gift for another nine years. When Dragon revealed the truth to Ann, she reluctantly assumed the mantle of Mighty Man. Although worthy of the powers, Ann fears the responsibility and would rather help heal the sick as trained medical professional.
In the present, Ann Stevens walks to work as her bus is running late and comes across a bank robbery in progress. When she hears that the criminal responsible is holding twenty-three people hostage, Ann decides to intervene and transforms into Mighty Man. The hero confronts the Slammer who is using his energy from his power-pack to keep his prisoners caged. The Slammer also announces that he can his energy to augment his physical strength and he challenges Mighty Man to see who is the strongest.
The Slammer delivers a powerful punch to Mighty Man that sends the hero flying although it does not actually cause him any harm. The hero points out that he is invulnerable so that fighting him is a useless plan, forcing the Slammer to change tactics. He dissolves the cages that had been holding his hostages before damaging the bank’s main support beam. Mighty Man is forced to hold the structure in place to protect the hostages, enabling the villain to flee with his stolen money.
Despite Mighty Man’s efforts, the support beam eventually collapses before all of the hostages have gotten to safety. He digs out these men and women and is devastated that three of them have been killed by the crushing debris. Mighty Man flies off and the police officers on the scene note that for someone who had been fighting crime for decades that he acted like a rookie when retrieving the corpses. The hero flies to Hillman Hospital and transforms back to Ann Stevens so that she can help treat the survivors. She runs into her boyfriend Larry Bradford who notes that none of the injured hostages have died and it looks as though they should all survive.
A retrospective broadcast is aired which features child reporter Bobby Berman discussing how the original Mighty Man flew to the aid of an American tank division that had been defeated. He used a Nazi tank as a bat to strike the rest of its battalion away before a giant robot dubbed Ymir-5 was unleashed. Mighty Man caught a tank shell and threw it at the robot, knocking it onto the bunker that had created it. He then dismantled the prototype machine so that it could not possibly be repaired.
The retrospective broadcast on Mighty Man’s career continues, watched by Ann Stevens and Larry Bradford. They witness the hero take out Adolf Hitler but debate whether or not the villain was the genuine article. Sam Haze then frames a sequence which features Ann assisting Dr. Plucker in treating Robert Berman when he was dying in Hillman Hospital.
Ann recalls how she was present when Berman finally succumbed to his injuries and passed away, believing that he was holding onto the hand of his grandson. He ended up passing along his abilities to the confused nurse just moments before Billy Berman arrived. Ann witnessed the heartless teenager get dragged away by two orderlies and she now knows that he was angry that he could not inherit the Mighty Man powers. Ann realizes that she had drifted off as Larry was talking to her and apologizes to him, wondering whether she should tell him about her dual identities.
As the Mighty Man show continues, a now teenaged Billy watches footage of an apparently evil Mighty Man fighting his fellow hero, Ultiman. He cannot comprehend a time that his grandfather turned bad and this suspicion is confirmed when it revealed how Dr. Nirvana used a special gun to steal the abilities. Billy recognizes this device and looks through an old chest that belonged to Robert Berman and pulls out the very same weapon.
Ann Stevens discusses with Phyllis Deeder the wisdom of telling Larry Bradford that she is also Mighty Man. It is pointed out to her that she revealed her secret to Phyllis and that has not worked out badly for her so perhaps she should just trust her boyfriend. The pair is unaware that Billy Berman has begun stalking them, following Ann wherever she goes.
Larry takes his beloved girlfriend out for a romantic meal where he proposes to her with an engagement ring. Before an answer can be given, Ann notices an explosion outside of the window and excuses herself before transforming into Mighty Man. She tells herself that she will come clean to Larry and then let him decide if he still wants to marry her. Mighty Man goes after a bank robber whom he assumes is a mere super-freak but whom turns out to be an android called Splits-Borg. This robotic foe is eventually destroyed but not before nearly harming Larry with some debris.
In the aftermath, Ann goes to check up on Larry but the couple are soon confronted by Billy who had witnessed Ann’s transformation back from Mighty Man, confirming his suspicions that she had the powers. He shoots Larry in the arm, causing Ann to transform into her alter ego. Billy fires the weapon created by Dr. Nirvana which prevents the transformation from occurring. He then clicks his own wrists together and becomes the new Mighty Man.
A report comes in to the Chicago Police Department of another bank robbery and Howard Niseman is determined to respond before Dragon or any other super-freak gets there. He and his rookie partner notice something strange flying towards them and it soon becomes clear that it the bank’s vault, dropped down to the street by Mighty Man. The Slammer bursts out of the vault but is promptly punched unconscious by the hero who informs Frank Darling that a new host is controlling Mighty Man. He declares a war on crime and that he will dedicate every single day to his cause.
Phyllis Deeder is disgusted that Billy Berman is such a hypocrite as his declaration was only possible after he shot an innocent man and then stole powers from another. Ann Stevens surprises her best friend as she is content to let Billy remain as Mighty Man. She has no way of reclaiming the abilities and is enjoying her newfound freedom. Ann is also quick to point out that after Billy shot Larry Bradford with a flesh wound, he rushed them to hospital for treatment.
The new Mighty Man employs lethal force to stop a group of teenagers that had only robbed a liquor store. The police officers that had been chasing the youngsters are appalled that Mighty Man would kill relatively harmless criminals but their concerns are dismissed by the hero. Meanwhile, Larry attempts to propose again to Ann as he never received an answer last time. Now that she has no extra responsibilities, Ann does not hesitate to say yes.
Mighty Man flies into deep space with the Slammer whom he leaves behind to die before returning to Earth with his victim’s power-pack. He then resumes his non-stop campaign of terror against all criminals in Chicago. Ann Stevens has been taking advantage of her newfound free time by spending time with her new fiancée. Larry Bradford and she have never been happier and they cannot wait until they are finally married.
After spending too much time in his powered form, Billy Berman reluctantly returns home so that he can get some food and rest. A group of young thugs had witnessed his transformation back from Mighty Man and rush in to try and kill him. Billy is shot but as it was only a flesh wound he is relatively unharmed and once more becomes Mighty Man. He then proceeds to brutally kill the youths in order to preserve his secret identity.
Mighty Man resumes his mission and delivers more super-freaks to the Chicago Police Department where Frank Darling informs him of issues containing all of the criminals being brought to them. The problem of prison overcrowding seems like an easy problem to solve for Mighty Man and he departs. Dragon pays a visit to Ann Stevens and gives her Robert Berman’s journal that was found in Billy’s apartment, covered in the blood of his victims. News of a disturbance at the nearby county jail then comes through and Dragon races over to investigate. Ann then finally confesses to Larry that she used to be the host of Mighty Man.
Mighty Man carries out summary executions on all of the prisoners locked up in death row, hoping to clear out some space in the county jail. Dragon arrives to confront him, pointing out that there may have been some innocent men amongst his victims and that it is not Mighty Man’s place to kill anyone. His words seem to momentarily have an affect on Mighty Man but his arrogance soon has him ignoring everything, announcing that no one can stop him, leading to Dragon attacking.
Larry Bradford attempts to come to terms with the revelation that her fiancée used to be Mighty Man; the mere thought of such a thing confuses him. Dragon is dumped to the ground in front of them by Mighty Man. Ann Stevens pleads with Billy Berman to change his ways but her words are ignored as the merciless new Mighty Man issues a warning: if any of Dragon’s friends come after him then he will not hold back against them.
The badly wounded Dragon is rushed inside Hillman Hospital to receive emergency care where Ann maintains a constant bedside vigil. She had thought that anyone would have been a better Mighty Man that her but now realizes that she was wrong. SuperPatriot arrives and wishes for Ann to accompany him in joining several of their allies. Billy Berman is a psychopath and SuperPatriot firmly believes that the heroes should unite to take him down.
SuperPatriot addresses the gathered superheroes and briefs them all on the recent activities of the new Mighty Man. The excessive and sometimes lethal force being handed out for relatively was merely the beginning but he is now building his own prison and has hospitalized Dragon. The heroes are worried that they will be useless against Mighty Man due to his vastly superior strength. SuperPatriot points out that Billy Berman has been operating in his powered form too much and has not allowed his human body any time to rest which should leave him weaker.
Ann Stevens and Larry Bradford watch on as Wally teleports the heroes away and they discuss what should be done with Billy. They do not believe that they can take the powers away from Billy without killing him which makes them just as bad as him. Ann takes her boyfriend to Billy’s apartment where they find the gun that allowed Billy to steal the Mighty Man powers from her and they depart, hoping to catch up with their allies.
The heroes commence their raid upon Mighty Man’s new headquarters but he is ready for them, defeating every single one of them despite his weakened state. By the time that Ann and Larry arrive, everything has gone quiet. Ann takes the gun and fires it at a sleeping Mighty Man but it does nothing except wake up the death-dealing hero. He points out that the weapon only works mid-transformation before destroying it. With his enemies all now defeated and incarcerated using the Slammer’s power-pack, Mighty Man will be able to sleep in his human form to recuperate. He takes Ann prisoner but meets surprising new opposition in the form of Larry.
Larry Bradford opens fire with his gun and shoots the power-pack that had been containing all of the super-freaks locked up in Mighty Man’s prison. A large number of Vicious Circle members are released and immediately go after their captor. Mighty Man is able to hold his own initially and decapitates BodyCount as well as defeating several of his enemies but sheer numbers combined with his own weakened state soon leaves him overpowered.
The heroes get loose of their cells and join the fray, seeking to recapture the now fleeing villains as well as secure their original target. Mighty Man is dying from starvation and Ann Stevens clicks his wrists together to bring back Billy Berman. She asks Vanguard to have Wally teleport them to Hillman Hospital but his robotic companion had been damaged by Mighty Man and is off-line. Billy grabs a hold of Ann and apologizes before passing away, transferring his powers back to her.
Ann transforms back into Mighty Man and reveals how disappointed she is in Larry for not trying to save Billy’s life. Ann is unhappy to have the responsibility of being Mighty Man once more and blames Larry for not saving Billy so that she could have avoided this fate. The hero gathers up the dead man and flies off to Hillman Hospital, hoping to revive him before it is too late.
Mighty Man stands over the comatose Billy Berman after having successfully managed to revive the mass-murdering former hero. Dragon is surprised that he saved Billy’s life as it was perhaps more than he deserved. Ann Stevens cannot understand why the powers had to return to her as there were many other heroes present at the time that she feels were more worthy. She then realizes that everyone there is now aware of her secret identity and worries that this could leak out to her enemies.
Ann returns home where she informs Larry Bradford that she is still angry with him for not helping with saving Billy’s life. Has he been closer, it is possible that he would have become the new Mighty Man and she would have remained free of the responsibility. Ann is suddenly gripped by an outside force that compels her to leap out of a window, transform into Mighty Man and fly towards a giant cave that floats outside of time and space, serving as the sanctum of Fon~Ti.
The ancient sorcerer announces that he created Mighty Man centuries ago and asks Ann if she would rather relinquish the abilities. Ann asks what would happen to the powers in this case and Fon~Ti states that Billy will have Mighty Man return to him. If he never awakens from his coma, the entity will merely pass on at the time of his eventual death. Ann cannot risk Billy awakening as Mighty Man again and agrees to keep her dual identity. Fon~Ti is positive that she is worthy of being Mighty Man and sends Ann on her way, finally accepting her true nature as a superhero.