“…we the jury find the defendant, Captain Large,” said the jury foreperson five months later “guilty on all counts of aggravated assault, being a public nuisance, destruction of private and public property, failure to yield to proper authority, and—”
“That’s fine, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” the judge interrupted. “I’ll take it from here.” He fixed his steely gaze to the person of Captain Large, seven feet and five hundred pounds of muscle who now looked like nothing but a scolded child. “I have a thing or two to add.”
“Your Honor,” Captain Large pleaded. “Brainwave flipped me off!”
“Yes, yes, we all heard your so-called defense. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Brainwave flipped off the sky. If you hadn’t had an illegal telescopic camera trained twenty-four/seven on his house—”
“Because he’s evil,” Captain Large reminded the judge.
“Shut UP!” the judge roared. Sheepishly, the captain lowered his eyes. “Despite the man’s checkered past, some of which we are now forced to call into question since we relied so much on your testimony, Brainwave is a free man. You plowed into his house, thoroughly demolishing it, then proceeded to toss him up and down a crowded street, doing untold damage and nearly killing him and others. Those are the only facts with which this court was concerned. Now, I propose two further actions to be taken against Captain Large.” The judge was saying the hero’s name with an undeniable layer of contempt slathered on. “Firstly, this satellite of his from which he spies on the world: this is to be sold or destroyed immediately! Perhaps, Captain, if you can get a good price for the satellite you’ll be able to pay all damages you owe for your actions.”
The crowd gasped.
“Secondly,” the judge continued, delighted with the drama, “I order that Captain Large desist with all hero activities, now and forever. Turns out to be more of a menace then a help. We’ll be quite better off with his retirement.”
Again, the crowd gasped. Then, applause and cheers. The judge nodded, very pleased with himself.
“But I’ve saved the world,” Captain Large murmured.
“That was then,” the judge declared. “Though, frankly, I’m sure those incidents were overblown. Now, do we have your word you’ll give up the superheroics, or do I have to toss you in jail for twenty years? These are the conditions of your suspended sentence, Captain.”
Captain Large, choked up, looked up at the judge. Then, he turned to regard the crowd and mustered up all the nobility that was left in him.
“I will abide by the court’s conditions,” he said.
The place erupted with the chaotic babble of reactions. The judge didn’t even try to silence the court again.
Amidst the tumult, Captain Large and Brainwave traded looks from their respective positions as defendant and plaintiff. The ex-villain strolled over face-to-face with the ex-hero.
“I believe I’ll retire, too,” Brainwave told the captain. “My final notion as Brainwave has created a brand new paradigm. I’d even wager I’ve inspired my followers to come up with a legal way to get rid of all of your kind. But no hard feelings, eh?”
Brainwave stuck out his hand. After a moment’s hesitation, Captain Large started extending his own. With a raucous Bronx Cheer, Brainwave pulled back and flipped off Captain Large once more for old times’ sake. With both hands. Later on, the picture taken of this magic moment would be voted Image of the Decade in nearly every poll.