Issue Cover: Overburn’s helmet engulfed in flames.
Issue Title: Burn’t Out
Background and Time Line
Panel opens with Lex Price moving quickly through the office with two assistance trailing him. Young Price is late for a meeting with the Board of Directors and Director Waller for the initial review of the Price Industries entry into the Argus contract “Bake Off”. Price is annoyed as Overburn was supposed to escort the caravan when it left in an hour but there seemed to be a mix up and his “product” was shipped early and en-route to the testing site.
He yells at the assistant asking “what do I pay you for” before firing him and then walks into the conference room. The assistant mumbles this is the 2rd time he’s been fired this month, and dejectedly walks off.
Inside the Conference room the “Sizzle Reel” had just ended as Price sweeps into the room as if perfectly timed. All smiles and enthusiasm he talks a moment to self promote and talks about the marvel of Price Industries under us leadership.
Amanda Waller acknowledges that the former Price would have never produced so innovations for the government and hopes Lex and deliver on what the junket shows. Lex assures her the prototypes will be ready to dazzle at the “Bake Off” in a few days. Waller seams pleased and wishes Price luck. Then noticing Duncan Leeland approach she says to Price “looks like soon we could have trusted Guardians of our own, and not some young costumed vigilantes we can only assume have the peoples best interest at heart.” Price agrees with the statement wholeheartedly as Waller takes her leave.
Duncan, a minority board member, tries to get some time with Price but the young executive starts to blow him off. Mr. Leeland mentions it was his auditors that found the off the books Price estate which does get Prices attention and sincere gratitude. He tells Mr. Leeland to schedule a meeting to discuss whatever it is he wanted but now was not a good time and leaves the room.
Leaving in a rush he is half-way down the hall when a rugged man in his mid 30’s falls into step with him. Price stops in his tracks saying “WHAT!?”. To which the man introduces himself as Doug Johnson. He is one of the pilots for the prototype. He had gone over the manual and logged tons of hours in the simulators. He had some notes he wanted to share with Lex on how to improve the prototypes. Not only is Doug supposed to be with at the hanger with the other pilots waiting on the prototypes, he is offering ideas on how to improve on Lex’s designs. Lex looses it and fires Doug on the spot and walks off.
|Panel Changes to vehicle chase in Midtown
Scene changes to a car chase in progress. A Price industries armored transport is barreling down the street with El Toro riding on top and Volt flying along side. The vehicle itself seems to be surround by some type of force field and driving with more maneuverability that one of its size should have. Still it seems to ram into vehicles in the way with Volt adding blast to authorities in pursuit.
The Spider and Ultra-Girl are first on the scene and down the street of the approaching chase. The Spider recognizes Volt and El Toro and starts to form a plan of approach with Ultra-Girl when OverBurn flies overhead and lands on the building across from them looking at the speeding mayhem. The duo pause waiting for some type of acknowledgement from the Price Industries bodyguard but he never looks their way. Ultra-Girl thinks he might still be mad about the fight they had. She confides in the Spider that she had been meaning to apologizes for her part in it but OverBurn never returned. The Spider mentions that perhaps she will have a chance after they stop this robbery.
Still with no indication he sees the New Guardians, OverBurn assaults robbers blasting El Toro off the roof of the vehicle. Only a hair behind him the Spider and Ultra-Girl join the fray with Ultra Girl jumping in front of the moving vehicle and lifting it above hear head to stop it. It is then she sees two terrified guards inside the car and the strange energy on the steering wheel as well. OverBurn yells at Ultra-Girl to put the car down carefully, will tossing a dig at her. The Spider verbally comes to her aid while fending off Volts attacks. Adding that OverBurn is taking being a “company man” bit too far.
Ultra-Girl puts the vehicle down carefully and as she does it yells at her for ruining things. The energy then leaves and takes the energy form of a young girl. Volt calling out to her names her as Joy and later clarified as JoyRide, daughter of Volt. JoyRide jumps into another vehicle taking control of it and tries to ram the Spider who had web blasted Volt. The Spider is too quick and leaps out of the way.
OverBurn blasts a downed Volt, causing El Toro to charge him. Surprisingly Overburn simply lowers his head to brace for the impact. Impressively he remains standing but both he and El Toro are worse off from the collision.
Ultra-Girl subdued the vehicle JoyRide had jumped into and freed the soccer mom within. This causes JoyRide to yell in frustration and in concern over her mother. JoyRide quickly flows out of the car she is in and into the back of the armored vehicle. Ultra-Girl calls she’ll get her as OverBurn seems alarmed and yells out “No no no”. It is unclear what he was more concerned about, JoyRide or Ultra-Girl.
The Spider continues to try and manage El Toro as Ultra-Girl approaches the armed vehicle. OverBurn however moves to the still downed Volt and has her covered when the cargo doors of the armored car open and powersuit, with the JoyRide field around it flies out.
The team learns that the heist was for these new power suits that Price industries created but now JoyRide is prepared to fly away with one of them. OverBurn threatens to blast the unconscious Volt which starts to make JoyRide panic, but an outburst from the Spider and Ultra-Girl emboldens her to call his bluff. Much to the announce of OverBurn, he does not blast the unconscious Volt and instead demands JoyRide exit the suit.
Thinking JoyRide might need something else in the vehicle Ultra-Girl hops in and sees there are 3 more suits locked in individual bays like multiple batteries in a recharger. Trying to temp Joyride to surrender Ultra-Girl starts pulling on components nosily as if breaking vital components the crook might need. This tactic only seemed to alarm OverBurn who grew absolutely irrate and ordering Ultra-Girl out of the car. That and Ultra-Girl does damage on of the recharging bays.
JoyRide takes advantage of this distraction as an opportunity to take off. An angry OverBurn again yelling at Ultra-Girl to stay out of the vehicle before blasting off after the stolen suit. Left to police up Volt and El Toro, the starting duo again mention what a jerk OverBurn is.
It is not long when an Argus craft arrives with troops and Amanda Waller. The Troops Halo and collect the ex-cons while Waller walks up to the Spider and Ultra-Girl. An imposing women in person her scrutiny gives them the impression she doesnt miss much. She mentions she had hoped to meet the “New Guardians” face to face one day. And passes a veiled warning to the Spider about OmniCorp’s interest in him. Before he could probe more OverBurn returns completely ignoring the duo announcing to Waller JoyRide was denied the suit but got away. The other three will be operational for the “Bake Off”. She comments that Price is lucky to have someone as competent as OverBurn in his employee. She then turns and leaves. Spider and Ultra-Girl also depart seeing that OverBurn is not in a talkative mood.
|Panel changes to a montage of images
Next couple of days see heroes about very different days. Price preparing for the “Bake-Off”, Drake doing chores and the Spider staking out the Iris home, and finally Alex hanging with her friends, but getting tired of them so Ultra-Girl pays a casual visit to Malcolm. Malcolm invites Ultra-Girl as his guest to a weapons display to which she agrees.
|Panel changes to Crashpad
Its the night before the “Bake Off” when the Raven calls the two heroes in. He explains there has been some chatter that the Argus Bake-Off will be hit but someone. Although this is supposed to be an undisclosed location, there will be a number of high ranking civilians as well as government officials there so this would be a high prize hit.
The Spider doesn’t like the idea of being so far out of the city with Dr. Fenris still loose but agrees. Ultra-Girl agrees pretty quickly and says she will make her own way there. The Raven stares at her for a moment but says nothing. Then to both simply says good luck and leaves.
|Panel changes to an empty airfield somewhere outside Grand City
The are about 30 guest at the event with some press, VIP’s and government officials. The Spider is “hanging” out nearby catching up on homework while Ultra-Girl has front row seats as Malcolm Merlynn’s guest. A fact that is not lost on Waller. Other notables are Warden Strange is also there with some aids. Also Justin Hammer and Lex Price being the only two bids left standing after some unfortunate accidents caused the other three bidders to pull out last minute.
. At 1billion dollars per suit this body armor could be mass produced to augment Argus agents giving them the extra stopping power needed in numbers that will make a difference. An Army of SuperAgents, vetted by government to serve the people of this fine nation.
The demo is impressive with the suits showing that they are quite maneuverable and can pack a punch. Doubtful they could go toe to alone against a major villain but their Auto-Lock feature allows the suits to synchronize their attacks on a single target.
Once the Price demo concluded there was a number of claps and mummers with spectators looking largely impressed. Hammer continuing loud clap long after everyone else had stopped. He his speech summed up the difference in his approach. That why have 20 agents that could barely hold their own against a true villian and only be good for picking up the trash the New Guardians left on curb, when you could five HEROES like these.
With that a sonic boom is heard as eyes go skyward seeing a single object flying inbound moving at incredible speeds. It lands with a sense of power and strength that awes the crowd. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the future of homeland security. I give you the Justice Hammer!!” With that the unit stands and slow approaches the crowd.
After a quick display it is clear the Justice Hammer is faster, stronger and more heavily armed and armored than the Guardsmen. It also has some design elements of earlier Afterburn model suits. The Hammers pilot, disgruntled and recently fired Doug Johnson calls out Prices pet Overburn and the two Guardsmen to a battle. Price accepts the challenge and makes a call on his mobile as he walks to his private lounge to witness the fight in comfort. Overburn must have been close has it was only a few moments after Price left that the Corporate hero arrives.
The initial assault of from both sides was fierce with the Hammer’s heavier firepower and armor taking the advantage. While the Justice Hammer was knocked back OverBurn was knocked down. Doug Johnson’s bravado might have gotten the better of him as the Guardsmen were able to keep him from taking advantage of their downed leader. With a powerful blast managing to knock the Hammer off its feet in time for OverBurn to unleash a Tri-Beam into the fallen foe. And just like that, the battle was over as the Justice Hammer lay sparking slightly flat on the.
Or was it?
In bound ships flying fast below Radar caught and held the attention of all. Most were curious if this was another part of the exhibition. Only Waller and Duncan Leeland, seem to frown at the approaching vessels. Duncan leans speaking low so that only Waller could hear.
Duncan: “Your mad dogs coming to chase cars Waller?”
Waller: “It was suggested we stop feeding strays. I’m sure they are merely sniffing for a meal”
Duncan: “If they start to bite, then they can get their three squares in the pound.”
While the conversation was very low, Ultra-Girl caught some of the exchange. Also from his hiding spot the Spider did not need his senses to tell him trouble was coming, but for the moment continued to watch from his concealed location. Unfortunately, due to the damaged power bay the Guardsmen were low on juice and had to retreat, initially leaving OverBurn to meet these new comers alone.
It became clear pretty quickly that the MTF had arrived to make a more physical statement cause both the Spider and Ultra-Girl to step forward. OverBurn still feeling OverConfident with his rapid defeat of the Justice Hammer used his large area blast. This injured several for the agents and cleared made OverBurn threat. The MTF in response moved forward and spread-out their formation, then fired their “Brick Busters”, dazing the armor clad OverBurn.
Fortunately the Spider and Ultra-Girl were there, taking the focus and cutting down MTF numbers. This gave OverBurn time to recover and then three soon made short work of the MTF. Once again the battle was over but a new crisis emerge.
The Justice Hammers pilot, Doug Johnson begins to scream in pain. Ultra-Girl approaches and scans him seeming that faulty value broke from the suits power core. Surprising still is that it seems the suit is powered by a Terminus anit-matter fuel cell which has been compromised and the reaction was building. Currently the only thing containing its radiation was the suit but that could not hold for long and opening it here would expose more lives to the exotic radiation.
Not seeing many good options OverBurn scoops up the Hammer pilot and all. He then blast off towards a nearby mountain range trying to cover as much distance as possible. The radiation is already working through Doug’s body and his skin starts to crack, cinder and smoke. The radiation levels are becoming too high for OverBurn to safely handle and his suit systems are showing signs of failing. Doug is not longer screaming in pain and appears to died.
Pushing on, OverBurn fines what he was looking for. A mine shaft where they do ballistic testing. With much regret and a yell of frustration OverBurn tosses the Hammer of Justice down and blast the opening shut just before the explosion.
Back at the airfield the military have moved in quickly and collected MTF agents. Justin Hammer blames Price for the incident saying that OverBurn’s use of force was excessive for an exhibition. Price, surprisingly, is not around to give a statement.