Secret Service

Image courtesy of Encyclopedia.com

 

Chapter Five

Mister President

 

Oval Office

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

 

The White House is intended to be one of the most secure buildings on the planet. Common sense says it would have to be, considering that it houses the most powerful person in the Free World. Yet, two would-be infiltrators from the militia group, the National Freedom Alliance, have managed to infiltrate the Oval Office. The men, one of them armed with an H&K P-10 pistol and the other with a Mac 10 submachine gun, train their weapons on the back of the president’s chair. They think they have the president right where they want him.

The pistol-toting infiltrator speaks up. “All right, Mr. President, you’re gonna listen to our demands or we’re blowin’ this building sky high.”

No response comes from the man in the chair. The two men look at each other in exasperation, agitated by the president’s seeming disregard for the threat they pose. The second man reaches over to turn his chair around.

“Hey, listen to the man when he’s talkin’ to…you…”

The militia man’s voice shrinks to that of a preadolescent boy as he discovers that the person sitting in the president’s chair is actually Secret Service agent Terrell Morrison. The men stare at him dumbfounded. Morrison responds to their obvious shock with some levity.

“What? You were expecting someone a little lighter and thinner?”

They quickly compose themselves and fire their weapons. Before the first bullet can pierce his body, Morrison converts his six-foot, eight-frame from flesh into solid steel.

The bullets tear through his clothes but ricochet off his steel skin. Without hesitation he quickly grabs the submachine gun from the man closest to him, and flips it around to the butt end. He delivers a devastating blow to the infiltrator’s left temple. The impact knocks the man unconscious. The second man, being the wiser, makes a beeline out of the room, but not before letting off a few rounds as he retreats. When he reaches the exit, to his mortification, he’s greeted by three Secret Service agents. The agents waste no time tackling him to the ground and clasping handcuffs around his wrists.

Morrison converts his body back to its natural state, gleaming steel skin recedes to reveal warm flesh and blood. He frantically pats down his suit.

“What’s wrong?” his colleague Jeff Garner asks.

Morrison reaches into his right breast pocket and pulls out a gold wedding band with the engraving: “T&D.”

“There it is,” Morrison says with a smile.

He kisses the ring and puts it back on. Then he looks at the remains of his suit and laments. “I paid over two grand for this thing. What a waste.”

“Next time, you might want to leave the Dolce and Gabbana at home,” Garner comments.

Feigning shock at his friend’s lack of designer-brand savvy, Morrison says, “It’s actually Kenneth Cole.”

“Sorry,” Garner replies with eyebrows raised, as if to say, “Excuse me.”

Morrison smiles and quickly changes the subject. “Did you guys get all the audio on that?”

“Yes, we did. Those idiots won’t see the light of day for a long time.”

“What about the planted explosives?”

“We retrieved and deactivated all of them.”

“Good. Tell Stiles he can bring the president back in from the safe room now.”

“Copy that.” Garner taps his earpiece lightly. “All clear, let the eagle out of the nest.” He shifts his attention back to Morrison.

“So, are you ready for your big press conference today?”

Morrison lets the corners of his mouth betray a warm smile. “Yeah, but not until after I get a bite to eat. I’m starving like you wouldn’t believe!”

 

All characters copyright and trademark Paa-Kofi Obeng

Two Americas

It has been a sobering last few days in the U.S. The recent shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the retaliatory killing of five Dallas police officers have had a chilling effect on America’s psyche. Some are shocked, many are angry and many more are scared. How could this happen? What could have been done to avoid these deaths?

To many who viewed the separate videos of Castile and Sterling it was shocking to witness the killing of these two men. Sadly, this is something that we’ve seen all too often over the past few years with the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Akai Gurley at the hands of police. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the police and appreciate what they do very much. I also understand that they have a very tough job and have to make split second life or death decisions. Their bravery is unparalleled. But there has to be a change.

Across the country we have seen movements spawn such as “Black Lives Matter” and other ones such as “Blue Lives Matter,” but there is something that has to be said about getting to some real solutions. The main problem is perception. Many in the black community feel like the police are not serving as protectors and rather predators while some in the police community feel like they are targeted because of the uniform that they wear.

The contentious relationship that African-Americans have in this country dates back to Civil War era and earlier with the systemic  criminalization of black people through laws enacted by many states that forbade things such as reading, smoking in public, neglecting to step out of the way of a white person approached on a walkway and so forth. There were also vagrancy laws in that stipulated that unemployed individuals could be jailed and leased out as labor–these laws targeted newly freed slaves in particular, and ironically placed them back into the service of the very slave owners that they were freed from.

Conversely, there are the senseless killings of police in Dallas as well as the 2014 ambush style killing of two police officers in their cruiser. With instances like this it can be easy to see why some police officers would be on edge.

I know that many average Americans were unaware of the contentious and some times deadly encounters that people in the African-American community face with police. It was until these very graphic videos surfaced that people’s eyes started to open and reality began to set in. It’s as if we live in two America’s. One where police are perceived as protectors for all and another where they are perceived as predators to certain communities. In a classic Christopher Priest-written issue of Black Panther, T’Challa captures this sentiment perfectly.

Image Courtesy of Black Panther vol. 2 issue 8 (1998)

Indeed, how many nations are in this land? I believe that things can get better once people start acknowledging each other’s grievances and fears, that’s when some progress can happen. I truly hope that someday we can achieve the ideal that is America, “Out of many, one”

The Invincible Riri Williams

Tony’s a goner! That’s right, Tony Stark is done as Iron Man. I’m so glad that arrogant, smug jerk is gone. Ok, ok now I know that was a little harsh. But it’s true. Time magazine revealed that at the end of the current Civil War II storyline in the comics the original Iron Man, Tony Stark, will be stepping down as Iron Man and he’ll be replaced by a genius 15-year-old African American woman named Riri Williams (No, not this Riri)

 

Image Courtesy of movieweb.com

For a little background, she’s an MIT student who reverse engineers one of Stark’s old armors (the guy leaves them around like old underwear) and catches Stark’s attention as a result. Pretty dope. I definitely couldn’t do that at age 15. I was too busy trying to pass Algebra II!

Bendis says that his inspiration for the character came while he was working on a defunct TV show in Chicago, he was inspired by the story of an African American woman who overcame tragedy in her neighborhood to go to college. He stated that he felt like this was the modern superhero story.

I think that it’s great that Brian Michael Bendis (BMB) is trying to diversify comics. I call him the trailblazer, he was the one that brought Miles Morales to the comic world. And I do applaud both he and Marvel for trying to create characters more reflective of America as it is now.

Image courtesy of fusion.net

 

Now there is the other side.

There are some people who are somewhat upset with the fact that the character was not created by a person of color. David Betancourt from the Washington Post noted that Black Twitter was in a tizzy over the reveal.  Some feel that an authentic black female voice should be the one writing the character. The greater concern too is that although the characters are more diverse, the creative teams behind them are not. If we can have Ta-Nehisi Coates writing Black Panther then we sure enough should be able to have a modern day Jackie Ormes  drawing the New Iron Man.

Secondly I have issue with the name Riri. It sounds a little too stereotypical to me. Why can’t the character just be called something like Rianne? As a side point, there have been studies that showed that job applicants with “black” sounding names were less likely to get hired. And I am thinking, will that be the case with comic buyers and Riri?

One of my other concerns is that the inspiration for this character was based on “oppressed minority who overcomes terrible obstacles” narrative that we have heard time and time again. Why not base it on a black woman who was middle class? I don’t know maybe I’m overthinking it.

Also I wonder with (SPOILER ALERT) Rhodey dying in the Civil War II, is Riri a consolation prize? Kill an old black character and replace them with a newer model.

Last gripe, Mike Deodato. I just do not like his artwork. I think his inks are too dark and his action scenes leave a lot to be desired.

Image courtesy of bleedingcool.com

Well, I’ve had my say. What do you all think out there? Are you going to buy the comic? Would you like to see Riri in an MCU movie? Please sound off below.