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#30. The Standard

November 30, 2009

(Wow, I can’t believe I made it all the way!  Thanks to everybody who commented and gave me feedback throughout the month.)


44 years ago, a promising young scientist called Gilbert Graham was working late one night in his laboratory when a strange meteor fell to Earth.  The meteor hit the secluded coastal observatory that housed Gilbert’s lab, and in the resulting explosion, Gilbert was showered with a combination of chemicals and meteoric particles.  The building was reduced to rubble, but somehow Gilbert emerged unharmed.  More than that, he emerged with a host of incredible powers.  He had superhuman speed, strength and durability.  He could fly.  He could fire blasts of energy from his fingertips.   Without hesitation, Gilbert concluded that he must use these remarkable gifts for the benefit of humanity.  Donning a masked persona and becoming the world’s first real-life superhero, Gilbert vowed to inspire the human race to be all they could be, to attain a new standard of excellence.  And so The Standard was born.

Though The Standard was primarily the protector of his hometown, Sky City, he was loved by the whole world.  And even when he inspired a whole generation of superheroes to follow in his stead, The Standard remained the most beloved, for he was the first and – many would say – still the best.  Gilbert Graham, meanwhile, had transitioned into a job as a chemistry teacher, and married his longtime love, socialite Caroline Cole.  A little over 30 years ago, another major change happened in Gilbert’s life when he found a homeless boy lying on the road, dying from a knife wound.  Gilbert saved the boy’s life by injecting him with an experimental formula, which gave him powers similar to The Standard’s own (though not permanent, in his case – he needed a new dose daily to maintain his powers).  That boy came to be known to the world as Alex Thomas, and when Gilbert became his ward and legal guardian, Alex became Fabu-Lad, The Standard’s sidekick!

Time marched on, and after a successful career spanning almost three decades, Gilbert Graham finally decided to retire 15 years ago.  Fabu-Lad – by this point in his early 20s and no longer a “lad” at all, and in fact the same age Gilbert was on that fateful night the meteor came – took his place and became the new Standard.  Gilbert devoted himself fully to teaching chemistry and spending cherished quality time with his wife Caroline.  But about a decade ago, the new Standard shockingly unmasked to the world as Alex Thomas, and in the process revealed to the world that Gilbert Graham had secretly been The Standard before him.  Alex soaked up the celebrity following that came with this revelation, but Gilbert shunned the media attention, and this also caused a rift between him and Alex.

Now, Gilbert is an old man in his late 60s.  He still teaches, though he really should have retired by now.  His wife Caroline now suffers from Alzheimer’s.  And his life as The Standard is little more than a distant memory.  But that all changes when Alex Thomas – his protégé and adopted son – is brutally murdered.  Driven by a need to complete Alex’s last unresolved case (one that was eating him up inside, involving a missing girl he’d unwisely promised to find alive and well), as well as to find Alex’s killer, Gilbert Graham is forced out of retirement, becoming The Standard once more.  But this is a very different age of superheroes to the one he started 44 years ago…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2009 4:10 pm

    I think you left the best until last 🙂
    well done on an awesome run.

  2. Crash! Landen permalink
    December 1, 2009 12:22 am

    Job well done, John! I was wondering when The Standard was going to show up!

  3. johnlees permalink
    December 1, 2009 4:08 am

    Thanks guys. I know both of you have given me a lot of feedback over the course of the 30 days, and it’s much appreciated. 🙂

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