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July 25th, 2007

Marvel ficlet: Heroes. @ 05:28 pm

Current Mood: mellow mellow
Tags: ,

Title: Heroes
Author: Elspethdixon
Rated: G
Disclaimer: The characters and situations depicted herein belong to Stan Lee and Marvel comics. No profit is being made off of this derivative work.

Steve wanted to be an artist before he wanted to be a soldier. If Hitler hadsn't invaded Poland, he would have ended up painting WPA murals, or drafting advertising copy ("Quick, Henry, the Flit!"), or, if he got lucky, doing art for a magazine like the Saturday Evening Post.

But then the war came along, and after that, art school just didn't seem as important anymore.

He kept drawing -- sketches in the margins of after-action reports, hand-drawn maps of German fortifications, little cartoons their sergeant that he taped up around the base, because they made Bucky laugh -- but nothing serious. Drawing always helped him relax, process things, but all of the destruction and death and waste and blind human stupidity he and Bucky and the other Invaders saw every day... he couldn't find a way to put that down on paper. So he drew caricatures of Dum Dum Dugan as a walrus, and sketches of what Namor might look like if he actually took pity on the rest of them and put on some clothing.

Then Nick lent him a copy of Stars and Stripes -- the one with the picture of Rita Hayworth in it -- and halfway through the paper was this rough-edged, black and white cartoon of two soldiers in a foxhole that was exactly the kind of thing Steve wanted to draw, but couldn't.

Every Veterans day, Steve finds a bar or soda fountain someplace and orders a glass of root beer, and he and Snoopy toast Bill Mauldin.

Clint mocks him for this extensively. Steve lets him, because Clint doesn't really get that it's got nothing to do with Snoopy.

* * *


Battlin' Jack Murdock was one of the greats. The man could take more punches than any two boxers, and no matter how many times he got knocked to the mat, he always came up swinging.

He was past his glory days by the time Happy Hogan started out in the ring, but one punch from Battlin' Jack had still been enough to knock Happy flat on his back. That was when the press first started dubbing him "'Glass Jaw' Hogan." Big fists and broad shoulders weren't the most important thing to being a great boxers; you had to have endurance.

Happy had been a very young nobody when Murdock died (as opposed to the slightly older nobody he was when he finally quit the ring), but everyone in the boxing business heard about it. How the Fixer told Battlin' Jack to take a fall, and how Murdock refused to go down, how he took the other guy's punches, picked himself up off the mat, and won. Murdock never gave up, even though he had to have known even in the ring that the Fixer's enforcers were going to make him pay for it (which they did. Beat the poor mug to death, and Jesus, but that wasn't a way Happy would have wanted to go).

Back during his first few years as a boxer, Battlin' Jack Murdock had been Happy's hero, the kind of legend he dreamed of being someday, until he got smart and got out of the sport while he still had some un-concussed braincells left.

These days... Battlin' Jack Murdock isn't the only stubborn cuss Happy's looked up to, just the first. The boss is kind of like that too, once you look past the slick cars and expensive suitcoats. No matter how many times Tony gets knocked down or beat to hell -- heart attacks, financial setbacks, the government coming after his patents, alcohol, bad press, even getting shot in the spine -- he picks himself back up and keeps on going. And if some days Happy has to give him a shove or two to get him back in the game, well, Murdock always had that skinny, red-headed kid yelling his name from the stands. Everyone needs a cheering section.

* * *


When Matt Murdock was in tenth grade, his English class read To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. When he convinced his guidance counselor to write him a recommendation to the pre-law department at Columbia two years later, he cited Henry Drummond's passionate defence of freedom at her, explaining that the play had inspired him too look up Clarence Darrow and the Scopes Trial transcripts in the New York Public Library and that ever since then, he'd wanted to be a lawyer.

Well, the John Grissham thrillers the library had on booktape hadn't hurt either.

If asked, he says that someone like Drummond or Atticus was the hero he'd been looking for as a kid -- someone who fought for justice with words and the law, not with fists.

It's true, but it's not the whole truth. Matt's real hero, the one he is occasionally ashamed to admit to when Millia or Foggy are helping him wrap broken ribs, or when he's washing some drug dealer or mugger's blood off his hands, Matt's hero shook down store owners for the mob so he could buy his son shoes.

* * *


In 1907, a motorcycle manufacturer named Glenn H. Curtiss attached an eight cylinder, 40 horsepower aviation engine of his own design to a custom built motorcycle frame and set a world land speed record of 136.36 mph, faster than any living man had ever gone. Like nearly all early motorcycles, Curtiss's bike had no brakes. He rode the speed trial himself.

The record remained unequaled and unbroken by any other motorcycle until the 1930s.

The same year, Curtiss was asked to join Alexander Graham Bell's Aerial Experiment Association, and in 1908, the AEA June Bug, a flying machine using a Curtiss engine and partially designed by Curtiss, made the first official American airplane flight. The Wright Brothers promptly sued Curtiss and the AEA for patent infringement, a case Curtiss ultimately lost despite the fact that his design differed significantly from Wilbur and Orville's, largely because the patent lawyers couldn't understand the difference between ailerons and wing-warping.

Tony understands the difference between ailerons and wing-warping, and can explain it at great length, a process that requires numerous hand gestures and occasional incoherent noises. Because the sheer brilliance of being able to look at the Wright brothers' wing design (genius in its own right; they were building their own wind tunnels in 1900 to test their airframe) and come up with a way to achieve the same effect with a single control surface... And Curtiss, like Wilbur and Orville, like Edison, was self-taught, did it all by trial and error and pure mechanical gift -- the ability to simply look at something and know, instinctively, how it worked.

Tony never uses blueprints when he designs things; all the work is done inside his head, or with working prototypes. The detailed line drawings and mathematical formulae come later, once he's already figured out how to make something work the way he wants it to, and has reached the "drafting instructions for other people" part of the process. He's always worked that way, even as a kid playing with toy robots.

And he tests every one of his designs himself, partly because Curtiss did, but mostly because it's fun. And because a man should never let someone else run his risks for him. Steve never would.
 
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From:likeadeuce
Date:July 25th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
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Oh, these are amazing! Just terrific and perfect. I think it's interesting that Steve and Happy have heroes who were something that they never quite got to be -- while Matt and Tony have heroes who they actually emulate, if that makes sense. (Not that Matt works for the mob but I think he took a lot of motivation from his father -- and certainly from those fictional lawyers).


*1941 for the year, though.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:July 25th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
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*headdesks* Have fixed date.

Thanks! (especially for the heads-up on the Steve detail)

Matt is Jack Murdock's son in more ways than one -- the actual "I want to be a lawyer" decision came along when he was still a kid, before the accident, and was sparked off by his father. Matt can lie real good to juries and guidance counsellors both, when he wants to.

Tony just lies to himself a lot, since we all know his real hero is Steve.

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From:likeadeuce
Date:July 25th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Well, he did sneak Steve in there at the end . . .

BTW, have been swamped and not reading fic, but I do have your epic bookmarked for when I have time to breathe. I'm looking forward to it!
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From:lilacsigil
Date:July 26th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
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All of these were fantastic - I loved the two perspectives on Jack Murdock, especially that Happy Hogan took his lesson from Matt in the stands, not just from the man in the ring. Tony's determination and sense of fun were a great contrast to Steve's sense of duty, of putting away childish things (except maybe a little, around the margins!)
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From:elspethdixon
Date:July 26th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
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*grins* Thanks! This was originally supposed to be mostly about Steve and Tony, but it somehow turned into the Jack-Murdock-tribute ficlet.
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From:harmonyangel
Date:July 26th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
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Oh, I really like these a lot - I don't even know a lot about Daredevil or Happy Hogan, but it all felt very real nonetheless, like I was getting a really clear picture of their characters even though I don't have a real basis for comparison. And of course the Steve and Tony parts are lovely, but that is not a surprise, coming from you.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:July 26th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! The Steve and Tony parts came first, then the Happy part ran away with me ^_^.

Matt Murdock is worth investigating, if you like Captain America, since Brubaker is writing him right now, and appears to ship him with his law partner Foggy Nelson almost as obviously as Bendis ships Steve and Tony (in fact, before Brubaker, there's about forty issues worth of Bendis-written Daredevil, with Maleev art). Matt also gets beaten up almost as often as Tony does.
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From:htbthomas
Date:July 26th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Excellent! A lovely series of vignettes. I always like that you seem to be able to get into these guys' heads in a way I never can (which is the reason I don't attempt fic with these characters). Bravo!
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From:elspethdixon
Date:July 26th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
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*grins* But you do such an awesome job with movie-verse Clark and Lois!

Plots and pacing are the parts I have to struggle with -- over-identifying with the characters just comes naturally (and it helped that I gave most of them 'heroes' I fangirl myself).

BTW, Who is that in your icon? He looks familiar.
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From:htbthomas
Date:July 26th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
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*fangirls* You've read my movieverse Clois? Squee! I'm just so used to interacting with people on a purely only-Marvel or only-DC plane, that I'm thrilled when someone reads both. :D

That's Hugh Laurie from Black Adder IV, Black Adder Goes Forth. He's the actor from House M.D. I love his comedic work, even though he does rock as House.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:July 26th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
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When it comes to buying/reading comics, I'm pretty much a Marvel-only girl, but I love DC Toonverse (best Lex ever!).

I've only just started your long, post-Superman Returns epic (must go leave comments), but I've really enjoyed it thus far.
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From:crimsonquills
Date:September 20th, 2007 04:14 am (UTC)
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Okay, I really loved all parts of this fic, but I think my favorite was the last one. And not just because I'm unreasonably fond of Tony. *g* It just made me think so much of Nikola Tesla, who pretty much invented the modern age and who is probably the least acknowledged and appreciated inventor ever, given the magnitude of his contributions. He also did the thing where his designs were completed in his head, only he almost never wrote proper blueprints, so there are all sorts of records of things he made work that we still can't figure out, because he sucked at documentation.

Anyway, yes, much love. And you also made me google Bill Mauldin to see who he was, which was fascinating all on its own. :-)
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From:elspethdixon
Date:September 21st, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
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seanchai swears that there's some Tesla influence in Tony's character, with the picturing machines in his head and being kind of crazy, but not the being played by David Bowie (along with the really early Howard Hughes shout-outs and the random bits of plot stolen from Tennessee Williams plays).

I have spent so much time thinking about how Steve would have loved Bill Mauldin's art that I've halfway convinced myself that Mauldin drew at least one picture of Steve (in the Marvelverse, you know there's at least one cartoon where Joe and Willie discuss Captain America. Steve has it framed on his wall. It was probably a present from Tony).
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From:elspethdixon
Date:September 24th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
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Wait...does that mean that there's a move in which Nikola Tesla is portrayed by David Bowie?!? Or am I reading that wrong?


David Bowie plays him in The Prestige, which is also notable for the massive slash vibes surrounding Christian Bale's character.
From:crimsonquills
Date:September 29th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC)
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(I'm trying to get caught up on comment replies. :-) )

*blinks* I've seen The Prestige. And I totally didn't register that it was Bowie that played Tesla. Either I'm just a bit clueless or I was that immersed in the movie. *g*
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From:crimsonquills
Date:September 23rd, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
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Ack. Ignore the deleted version--I forgot to close a strikethrough.

seanchai swears that there's some Tesla influence in Tony's character

I could totally buy that. And if there's anyone who'd know about Tesla, it'd be a bunch of geeks who ended up writing comic books for a living. *g*

but not the being played by David Bowie

Wait...does that mean that there's a move in which Nikola Tesla is portrayed by David Bowie?!? Or am I reading that wrong?

(in the Marvelverse, you know there's at least one cartoon where Joe and Willie discuss Captain America. Steve has it framed on his wall. It was probably a present from Tony)

Hee! Okay, that has officially become canon-in-my-brain. *g*

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