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#28. The Skunk

November 28, 2009

 

About 40 years ago, Dwight Dowalski was nobody.  A high-school dropout, estranged from his family, with no friends to speak of, he shifted joylessly through an anonymous existence.  But Dwight saw a chance to be somebody when he accidentally created a chemical formula with a stench potent enough to render a grown man unconscious.  Or, if said grown man was unlucky, to make him void his bowels and puke his guts out THEN be rendered unconscious.   Dowalski mastered the art of producing this formula, and fashioned a portable containment unit and gun in order to weaponize it.  From there, it was simply a matter of designing a costume and taking on a villainous alter ego, and so was born The Skunk, one of The Standard’s earliest supervillain foes.

Dwight was still a young man, in his early 20s, and he saw it all as a bit of fun.  He got to rob some banks and make some easy money, and had the thrill of fighting the famous Standard of Sky City, managing to escape at the end of each encounter.  These were simpler times, where the world of superheroes and supervillains was exciting and new, and it was more about the spectacle than anything else.  There were fights, villain and hero traded witty banter, and some people got punched out or knocked out by The Skunk’s Stink Juice, but at the end of the day, nobody really got hurt.

But that all changed on one fateful day 35 years ago, when an overzealous police officer tried to gun down The Skunk as he made his escape from another battle with The Standard.  The Skunk and the police officer got into a skirmish over the weapon, during which the cop was accidentally shot and killed.  Devastated by his actions – he had never killed anyone before – The Skunk surrendered to The Standard, and allowed himself to be taken into police custody.  He was sentenced to life in prison, but thanks largely to The Standard’s campaigning on his behalf, Dwight Dowalski was released from prison 15 years later.

Since then, Dwight has been a law-abiding citizen, working tirelessly with disadvantaged children and young offenders, as well as leading a series of counselling groups for reformed supervillains (whose membership includes one Mickey Haas from San Diego).  When The Standard retired, his onetime sidekick Fabu-Lad took over the mantle and later publicly unmasked as Alex Thomas, in the process also outing his predecessor as Alex’ guardian, chemistry teacher Gilbert Graham.  Upon discovering the secret identity of his old enemy, Dwight sought Gilbert out.  Not for revenge, or to rekindle the old rivalry of times gone by, but to thank him for all his help.  Since then, the two have become good friends.  And it is only now, as an old man, that Dwight realises that all along, the very thing that made the old days so exciting was that The Standard was the closest thing to a friend he ever had.

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