Kickers, Inc. Issue Guide #3
Out of the Blue
After a nice splash page with Coach Kirby, we see him whining to the owner of the Smashers about Jack Magniconte's recent performance and Kickers, Inc. moonlighting. After being talked down by her, one Christie Chase, Kirby finds out that there's apparently some special deal involved with Jack about to come down, which settles the matter for him - at least for the time being, at any rate.
Once he stalks out of her office, we cut to Jack and his wife, Darlene, as they return from a false alarm that Darlene talked him into checking out with her. Of course, things aren't all good between the two, as they're arguing about the results of their trip, which has caused Jack to be somewhat late for his plane ride to the next Smashers game, to take place in Washington.
Suddenly, as they're sniping at each other, their left passenger side tire blows, and in an effort to grab the wheel, Jack accidentally smacks Darlene upside the head in the process. As she put herself back together, and while she helped Jack change the tire, the two continued to squabble about Jack's continual excuses about his lack of control regarding his powers, and other sundry items.
Heck, once they were moving again, the two even quibbled about directions to the airport! Meanwhile, we cut to the rest of the Smashers, as they prepare for their game in Washington D.C. There, as the other three members of Kickers, Inc. wonder what happened to Jack, we find that Coach Kirby is rapidly working to push Bobby 'Bullet' Baker in as his replacement - at least for this game.
Back in New York, we see that Jack has run out of gas, since he was sure he knew how to get to the airport, and wound up getting lost. After more arguing, he ran to the nearest gas station - a good six miles - and picked up enough to get himself and Darlene moving again - with his impressive speed, it was easy. Once they got going, they even got a police escort to the airport - even if this was totally unnecessary.
During football practice in Washington, as they got ready for the game, the quarterback directly behind Jack in the team lineup wound up breaking his thumb. This, of course, meant that Baker would have to actually start up as team quarterback after all, as Kirby wanted. This all took place as the team still hoped that Jack would make it to Washington in time to play in the game.
As Jack and Darlene got in their plane, they tried to make up, but were assailed by one Sally Rothman, a little girl who just loved Jack on television. To try and get rid of her at least for a little bit, Jack gave her his jersey, though this just made her latch onto the couple even more. Soon enough, to get her out of his hair, Jack arranged to have her see the cockpit.
Shortly after he got her up front, however, one of the flight attendants went nuts and decided to hijack the plane. After announcing a new destination for the plane, she shot at a large woman who was playing her music too loud and shattered a window, thus causing the plane to lose cabin pressure altogether. In the mayhem that ensued, Darlene tried to stop Sally, the flight attendant.
This almost got her killed, though when the co-pilot came to check out what was happening, Susie shot him, instead. With the cockpit door open, Susie made her way in, taking Sally and everyone else inside hostage. When Susie decided to shoot the kid, Jack had to act, even though it meant he might expose his 'edge', and accidentally killed her when she fired her gun.
The bullet bounced off of him, see, and into her. Once the plane landed, Jack explained what happened - sort of - to the feds, though he was detained unnecessarily by a bad cop who'd bet fifty bucks on the Washington Centurions, and wanted to delay the man as long as he could. Once in the stadium, Jack took his normal place, but not having worked out before the game, he had too much energy.
Still functioning at peak strength levels, he wound up doing more harm than good to the team, and by the time he finally got his act together, the game was over. So, even though he saved a plane full of people, he couldn't win one of the Smashers' most important games. However, this was the least of his worries, as a man working for the CIA saw that things didn't add up regarding this incident.
At least, as far as Jack's story went. So, he started digging...
Clowntime is Over
Our tale begins with a bum on the run, fleeing from the scene of a horrible crime. Of course, it was not him that committed the crime, but instead a feral, animal-like young woman... and she knew that she'd been seen in the act! However, our wino friend did indeed make it to the police before she could get to him, too, and told them everything he'd seen. Not that they believed him, of course.
Since the local cops weren't helpful, the wino went to call the President for help, but when he saw an ad for Kickers, Inc. in the phone book, he decided to call them instead... Meanwhile, during their quarter-final season game, the football-playing Kickers are discussing Jack's 'edge', and how it seems to have caused more trouble than it was worth lately. They were interrupted by Coach Kirby, however.
Getting back out on the field, the Smashers then trounced upon their current opponents, the L.A. Runners. Soon after, feeling like celebrating, Suicide tried to get his fellows to go celebrate with him, since he managed to score the winning touchdown, but nobody was feeling up to it. So, he wandered off on his own, and wound up at the Kickers headquarters, where he ran into Darlene and her new secretary.
Since he was bored, he decided to look into a mystery call the team had received, from some guy in Jersey about a bizarre murder at a circus. Showing up as the place was packing it up in preparation for a move, he found the wino who called Kickers, Inc. earlier, and listened to the man's story. Playing along, Suicide patronized the man until he found the corpse of a very large woman packed in a box.
After calling the cops, Suicide was waylaid by She-Man, one of the circus' resident freaks, who beaned him upside the head with a baseball bat. S/he managed to hide the unconscious Kicker when the cops arrived to investigate his call, though they didn't find the body that Suicide did; you see, they fed the impressively large corpse to Whitemane, an albino lion belonging to the circus.
However, all was not lost, as one of the policemen investigating Suicide's call tried to get ahold of him via the Kickers' 1-800 number, and when they determined something was amiss, the rest of the Kickers assembled to find their pal. Arriving on the circus scene as various members of the freak show planned a museum robbery, the Kickers found Suicide locked up in Whitemane's cage!
Of course, Idget (the show's resident short person) injected the lion with a drug cocktail to make it extremely violent, and since Suicide was in its cage, he was in a bad, bad way. Trying to save their pal, the Kickers fought their way through Idget, She-Man the half-man / half-woman blade master, Nip and Tuck the trapeze twins, Felina the cat-lady, and Senor Leon the lion tamer to free him.
After his pals got trounced, Idget threw the keys to the cage into the cage, so Jack had to reveal his powers yet again in order to get in there and save Suicide, though he accidentally killed Whitemane in the process. After this, the Kickers got the cops back there so they could arrest these goons, they went home, though Jack was feeling real bad about killing that lion.
Still pining about his lack of control, Jack totally exhausted himself over the next couple of days, so his edge wouldn't cause him to injure anybody else while on the field. So, once their final season game was on, that being the Smashers vs. the Chicago Comets, Jack didn't actually hurt any of his teammates, or seriously screw up any plays thanks to his super strength - though he did hurt one of the Comets.
Jack didn't realize this until after the game, however, and when he found out, he was despondent with grief. As such, he decided that he wanted to make sure that he didn't hurt anybody else when playing football, so that night, he chose to go talk to the NFL football commissioner about his 'edge' to some extent; he didn't tell him about his super powers, so much as his brother's 'intensifier' treatments...
All or Nothing
Wanting to make sure there were no illegal substances in his bloodstream in the face of his revelation to the football commissioner, the league had Jack go through a battery of tests to make sure he wasn't on steroids (or crack or some such). While a league doctor took blood and urine samples, the rest of the Kickers were having a much better time, doing commercials for Kickers, Inc.
Of course, while they were making commercials for their non-profit organization, the pro ball players were making serious charitable contributions of their own, mostly to a group that worked for disabled children - a bunch of which were there to meet the Smashers. As the Wreckers finished up their own television spots (they'd be playing the Smashers there in the Super Bowl), Jack finally showed up.
After meeting the kids present, including Sally Rothman (who was apparently disabled as well), Jack told Darlene what he was up to that day, which only ticked her off even more. This, of course, was because she'd been telling Jack he needed to do something about his lack of control with his powers - not pass the buck on to others, like the football commission.
Their discussion escalated into an argument, and by the time they got to their hotel room, Jack wound up smashing some hotel furniture in anger after more shouting... proving Darlene's point more than anything she could say herself. Thinking her right, Jack went to think things out, though he didn't come up with any magical epiphany by the time the next Smashers practice session was due.
While the team worked out their strategies for the game, Coach Kirby dragged Jack into the owner's office, in order to badger him about his talks with the football commissioner. Kirby went into a bizarre, patriotic ramble about moms, apple pies, and team responsibilities, while the owner, Christine Chase, griped at him about how the doctor who tested Jack earlier wanted to see her right away.
Going into her office with the owner and Coach Kirby, Jack found out that the tests he took showed extremely high levels of 'pseudo steroids' in his blood, most likely a by-product of his paranormal powers, and that the story of 'Ugly' Mack Thornton - who was there also - added evidence of irregularities, irregularities which could be solved by a second round of tests - tests Jack refused.
He felt he was being railroaded, as did Coach Kirby. However, he had made up his mind, and decided that he wasn't going to play in the Super Bowl after all, much to the chagrin of his teammates - and Darlene, too. In fact, Jack practically vanished off the face of the earth over the next week, and when the Smashers played the Wreckers, nobody could find Jack anywhere.
He was watching the game from the stands, you see, in disguise; nobody seemed to notice that he was there, in fact, save for one Scott Templar, that CIA fellow who'd been looking into the weirdnesses surrounding Jack's story on that hijacked plane - and the rest of his life, as of late. Needless to say, though, without Jack in the game, the Smashers lost the Bowl to the Wreckers.
In the fallout of the loss, Coach Kirby went ballistic, cussing up a storm at everybody in the locker room, even Darlene when she came looking for Jack. Of course, Jack wasn't there, as he decided to go through with that doctor's second round of tests after all. The bad part about that, though, was that the man seemed to be rather... happy to check Jack out... doing so with an almost sinister look in his eye...
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