"Joe McCarthy is a Huge Jerk"

It's hard to be a hero

In early fall of 1953, a very tired superhero trudged wearily out of the U.S. Capitol Building. As he stepped into the afternoon light, his brightly colored costume was illuminated. He grinned slightly as he noticed the white on his costume's sleeves was still white and not the dull grey it had appeared minutes earlier, before he left the dim interior of the building.

Almost immediately, he was surrounded by a large group of reporters, photographers, and other cameramen. Some held out microphones while others were ready to take notes on a wide array of steno pads and notebooks. There were even some bulky television cameras, far at the back of the crowd.

While the group stayed at a respectable distance from the superhero, the questions began to flow fast and furiously.

"Whoa! Whoa! I get to be grilled twice today? That's hardly fair!" the costumed man announced loudly, silencing the crowd. "But it's not fair to you either if I simply fly away, is it?"

Showing his exhaustion, the superhero sat down and rolled his head around on his neck. It popped loudly, eliciting a laugh from the otherwise silent crowd of reporters.

"It's nice to be in the sun. You'd be surprised how much you miss it. No other star is quite like it." He paused for several seconds, basking in the sunlight. "How about this? Let's do one question at a time and I'll answer as many as I can."

A hand went up from a suited reporter nearby wearing a fedora.

"Leo?" the superhero recognized the reporter. "Why don't you start?"

"Amazing Man, what was your impression of Senator McCarthy?" the reporter asked.

"Joe McCarthy is a huge jerk!" the costumed superhero said, laughing loudly. "When did this whole communist-finding business start?"

"A couple years ago," the reporter supplied. "Just before Eisenhower was elected. They campaigned together."

"Dwight Eisenhower campaigned with this guy? I find that hard to believe," Amazing Man noted incredulously.

"It was pretty much a party decision," the reporter admitted. After a few seconds, he sat cross-legged in place, continuing to scratch notes in his steno pad. "The anti-communist rhetoric heated up considerably during the conflict in Korea."

"That worries me. I have to admit to being somewhat disturbed at leaving the planet after one war, and then returning only to find my country has just been embroiled in another." Amazing Man rolled his eyes. "There are a lot of things I'm upset to have missed, but I think I'm glad I missed all that. Also, I've always thought of Dwight Eisenhower as a good man. It's upsetting to think he's thrown his eggs in the same basket with McCarthy's."

Another reporter, who'd adopted a similar sitting position on the Capitol steps raised his hand. "What exactly did you say that prompted the committee to subpoena you?"

"You mean 'dragged in front of the Inquisition'?" Amazing Man chuckled.

"The word has been used," the reporter admitted. "As have the words 'witch hunt'."

"Witch hunt. That sounds about right, Barry," Amazing Man noted. "Joe's gone so far around the bend that he's seeing communists behind every corner and trying to whip the entire country into a frenzy over them."

The reporter wondered how Amazing Man recognized him, but didn't say anything about it. "He's been fairly successful at that."

"That's a damn shame," Amazing Man sighed. "What I said was... well... I was describing one of the alien planets I visited when I spoke with the President and the cabinet. It's in, or near the Spica system. I've been calling it 'Planet S'. The aliens there live in a very peaceful, very socialized society. But," he added, "they are a very, very strange people. They're all highly telepathic and think nothing of reading each others' minds. They have technology that's incredibly advanced and somehow manage to live across six different worlds all in the same stellar system. Frankly, I'm not even sure they're all the same species. Some of them appeared to be very human-like and some appeared to be giant... well... slime creatures."

"Slime creatures?" the reporter asked incredulously.

Amazing Man tried make a shape with his hands, but ended his gesture with a shrug.

"They do have problems," he continued. "Even all their advanced technology can't solve everything. Nor can the socialist policies they live under. But as I mentioned, for the most part they live very peaceful, happy lives. What I said to the President was, 'It would be nice if some day humanity advances to the point where we could live like that'. Of course you fellows probably all saw the mountain Senator McCarthy raised out of that molehill."

"What other kinds of aliens did you meet during your travels, Amazing Man?" another reporter asked.

While the photographers were still standing, most of the reporters were now sitting in a small circle around the superhero.

"Quite a few. Some were quite horrible. A surprising number were very human-like. You couldn't tell the people from Planet C from the average American until you heard them speak. There was also a species that looked like little eight-legged goats. I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what part of the galaxy they came from, but they were pretty friendly. There were little bubble-creatures-- the people from Planet C called them 'Peko Peko'. They communicate entirely by shining colored lights from their bodies."

"Any unfriendly aliens?" another reporter asked.

"The cockroach aliens were definitely not friendly!" Amazing Man exclaimed. "Imagine six feet of pure animosity shaped like the most horrible insect you've ever seen... and the smell of them! My god! They tried to attack me the first time they saw me. After a few seconds, the animosity was very much mutual. Planet C has a fleet of space ships dedicated to defending their world against them. I very much hope that those monsters never find Earth."

A whistle of surprise arose from the crowd.

"Given your anti-war statements before leaving Earth six years ago, would you consider fighting against hostile aliens should they attack Earth?"

"Absolutely," Amazing Man answered. "As a matter of fact, if Planet C requested my help, I'd probably leap at the call. My statements before I left Earth were intended to be taken as disapproval of the methods used to end the war in Japan. I strongly felt that we could have negotiated a peace with Japan without using the Atomic Bombs. Harry Truman disagreed with me. Actually, I'm really happy to see what's happened in Japan since the end of the war. I've had my disagreements with Douglas MacArthur, but I think the way he handled the occupation and rebuilding has been as good as I could have ever hoped. Frankly, though, I'm glad he wasn't able to use the same method to end the conflict in Korea that was used in Japan."

"Amazing Man, will you marry me?" A female reporter asked jokingly.

"Ah... I'm very flattered, Wilma, but I'm afraid there's someone I care about very deeply. I have to decline."

The crowd of reporters and photographers laughed uproariously.

"Seriously," the reporter continued, "There have been reports of rumors that you plan to disclose your secret identity. Are there any truth to these rumors?" she asked.

Amazing Man nodded. "I've mentioned the possibility, but it's problematic. I have family and friends that might suffer if it became known that they were close to me. I'd certainly like to hang the mask up for good, but I need to ensure the safety of those close to me first."

"Does that mean you intend to stop fighting crime?"

The Amazing Man shook his head. "I'm so in the habit of fighting crime, I don't think I could stop if I wanted to."

Another reporter raised his hand. "Amazing Man, it's been reported that the places you've travelled to are millions of miles from Earth and that even light and radio waves would take years or even centuries to reach them. Did you exceed the speed of light to travel to these places?"

Amazing man nodded cautiously. "I think I must have. At one point I think I found some kind of 'wrinkle' in space... a 'tessarect' some scientists call it. Frankly, I could use to have a long sit-down with Professor Einstein and some of his peers if they'd consent to see me, but I haven't had a chance to try to contact them yet. In a few cases, I was given passage via space ship or by teleportation, and I'm afraid that technology was so advanced that I just didn't understand how it worked."

The flow of questions was suddenly interrupted by the sharp tap-tap of stiletto heels as another well-dressed lady reporter approached the group, purposefully climbing the Capitol steps. She was dressed in a short, but severe dress-suit. Most of her blonde hair was hidden underneath a pillbox hat.

"David Drake, will you marry *me*?" the reporter asked seriously.

The crowd around the Amazing Man went absolutely silent.

"Betty," the Amazing Man replied after almost a minute of silence, "I'm only one man. Regardless of all my powers, I can't be in two places at once. By marrying me, you would almost certainly be putting yourself at risk."

The woman huffed dismissively. "Oh, like I haven't been kidnapped by Dr. Mysteriex before. I've had six long years to think about this, David, and you've been aware of my feelings the whole time."

The Amazing Man nodded, scratching at his temple. "Yes. Yes I have. So... the mask wasn't enough?"

"Pfft. How many times does a girl have to ask herself, 'Wow, y'know I never see Dave and Amazing Man at the same time. I wonder if those two identically-built men are perhaps the same person?' I was certain even *before* you went on sabbatical. Maybe if you wore glasses or something..."

"I thought your retirement announcement from ARB was awfully sudden," one of the other reporters mentioned quietly.

"I should probably contact my mother," Amazing Man coughed.

"Ethel knows." Betty countered. "Yes or no, David?"

"Betty Blackwell, I have loved you since the first time you kicked me in the shins in the ARB lobby. If you're willing to put up with being married to the Amazing Man, I'll go buy a ring right now."

"It'll wait until the questions are done," Betty relented and sat next to her new fiancee. "Question for ARB News, requested by you-know-who in the photo lab. Does Mars have pretty girls, and if so, are they looking for available Earth Men?"

David Drake, the Amazing Man, laughed, suddenly feeling more at home than he had since his return to Earth. Holding his new fiancee close to him, he announced, "No. Mars has mostly red sand and rocks-- nothing alive so far as I could tell, not even fungus or lichen. However, if you-know-who is interested, I might be able to introduce him to a cute slime girl."

- H.

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