According to legendary author Carl Sandburg…
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders
As written by Fred Fisher and sung by Fred Astaire in the motion picture The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle…
That toddlin’ town
As written by Sammy Cahn and sung by Frank Sinatra in the motion picture Robin and the Seven Hoods…
The Wrigley Building,
The Union Stockyards,
It’s my kind of town
That was then… things change
A Harvard grad that could’ve had the any job in the legal field that he desired came to my hometown to dedicate his career to making a change for the betterment of a neighborhood in need. He called this place his home. He made it his home. It wasn’t that long ago.
City of the Big Shoulders,
My kinda town…
Welcome to New Camelot!
The answer is simple...
So... This friend of mine asked me to write an origin story in prose for his character, The Silver Skull.
So I did. As this site seems to offer writers and artists the opportunity to showcase their work, I've decided to do just that. If you like it, I'm open to commission and can scrape together a few pages as in the sample below.
Tell me what you think.
Sit back and enjoy...
The Origin of The Silver Skull
Written by North Roberts for The Silver Skull
Eamon Airgead stood out from the rest of his family. Everyone in his immediate family was known for their ruddy features and jet-black hair, “black Irish”, as it were. All of them were of sturdy stocky build, rosy cheek, freckled skin and raven-colored hair… all of them, except Eamon. It was his slight frame, fair features and silver-blonde hair, which drew his father’s suspicion… that drew his father’s ire.
“Whose boy is he?!” his father, Neil Airgead, a thug for the outfit howled while battering the soft face of Eamon’s mother. “Tell me who his real da’ is! Tell me, ye faithless tart!
Eamon had seen his father’s abuse before, but never so savagely. It was that brutal sight, coupled with the sound of his mother’s breaking neck, which would forever change his life… more than a boy of five years should have to endure. His mother was gone and he somehow knew that it was because of himself. It was at his mother’s funeral that his weeping father held Eamon close and whispered, “No one must ever know.”
In the years to come, Eamon would spend every day in the cemetery at his mother’s gravesite until the groundskeeper would usher him out before closing the gate. He would then sneak back in for an evening vigil. One such night, the boy took to exploration of the cemetery. Falling through crumbling stone architecture, young Eamon found himself inside of an old mausoleum. The boy was unafraid. Rather, he was enrapt, fascinated. The bodies before him invoked aesthetic wonder instead of fear. He marveled at the way that the moonlight shimmered off of the waxy corpseflesh that clung to the bones of the dead. “How like a precious metal,” the Airgead boy thought.
Too scarred by his mother’s murder to attend a public school, he received the best private education that ill-gotten cash could provide. His education proved to be two-fold, being raised in the Irish mob. Every job, every heist would bring the painful phrase to surface anew from his father’s lips, “No one must ever know.”
Eamon’s reclusivity and disturbing behavior would sentence his teen years to a military academy, where he quickly excelled in all things. Neil Airgead went from being a resentful father to a proud one as report cards and letters from the academy spoke loud praises of his son. Words like “prodigy”, “polymath” and “well-grounded” were employed. It would seem that discipline was just what the doctor ordered… until the fire broke out.
The tragedy splashed across the news page…
SCHOOL FIRE KILLS HUNDREDS AS STUDENTS SLEEP
Neil Airgead spent a decade mourning his son, as his son did mourning a mother.
Neil continued to succeed as a lower echelon member of the mob, considered worthy of respect from his peers. His name would carry an uncommon amount of dread when spoken by the rivals of the Irish mob. Several offers were made to alter Neil’s loyalty, all of which he refused. It would seem that they never found his price.
One night, as Neil left the pub, three sails to the wind, a voice crept up his spine and into his ear.
“Neil Airgead,” the voice leathered, “you will join me.
Turning to see its source, Neil blanched at what he saw… a wraithly vision dressed in bright white finery, a wide-brimmed hat and a skeletal silver mask. There was no doubt in Neil’s mind that the black coachman had come to drag him to hell below.
“Ye’ve come to take me life, have ye then, grizzly reaper?” Neil replied.
“It’s not your life I seek this night, but your services,” the wraithlike man spoke. “You work for me now. You’re the best at what you do, and I seek only the best.”
“Heh, you and everyone else,” Neil dismissed as he turned to walk away.
“You will answer to me, or the police.” The masked man’s words froze Neil in his tracks. “Perhaps a written statement from your son’s therapist at the academy might help shed some light on your wife’s murder. Interesting that there’s no statute of limitations on homicide.”
“What would ye have of me?!” Neil demanded.
“Go tomorrow night, after sunset, to the cemetery where your son and wife rest. There, you will dig a grave. Before the sun rises you will have taken a life and filled that grave.” As the masked man spoke, he reached into his coat with his right hand to produce a manila envelope. “Contained within is a single page of the psychological profile the academy kept on your son. Every night you’ll receive a different page, acquiring the most damning evidence last.”
“You’re blackmailing me?” Neil asked.
“I’m conscripting you.” His left hand produced a heavy roll of cash. “A retainer for your services… and Neil? Don’t try to double cross me.”
That night Neil went home to read about cemetery visits and shimmering corpseflesh from his son’s dossier. Every sentence that he read raised his ire and hatred for the man in white.
“That bastard,” Neil grumbled. “Who in the hell does he think he is?” There was no doubt in Neil’s mind that his masked blackmailer was none other than the school’s psychologist. Employing all of the criminal knowledge of more than two decades, Neil found the residence of the doctor. With a skill and stealth possessed by only the most practiced villains, Neil crept into the therapist’s bedroom with murderous intent. Cautiously, he raised his pistol and turned on the light to awaken the slumbering psychologist, only to discover that the good doctor had already met his demise… his throat was slashed ear to ear.
Neil’s confusion was only compounded as the phone rang. He reached forward to answer it.
“I warned you not to double cross me, Neil,” the masked man’s voice chided. “Now you have a chance to prove your worth. Somewhere in the house is another damning page of your son’s profile. All you have to do is find it before the police do, remove any evidence that you’ve been there, and escape the house unseen. They’ve already been called, Neil. See you tomorrow night.”
Neil worked with fevered haste, counting down from eight minutes as he tore through the house in a panic. Finding the page, he snuck out the back as the police knocked on the front door.
After that night, Neil would never again question his mysterious employer. Night after night, he dug graves and fulfilled their purposes. At first, Neil found himself set upon the enemies of the Irish mob. Soon after, his targets were his cronies in the mob. The grim labor of it all began to take a toll on him.
The night soon came in which he would receive the final page of evidence from his son’s profile, the page which could send him to the chair. He scraped the last shovelful of soil from the damp hole in the cemetery ground. He shuddered with the realization that this hole was adjacent to his late bride.
“My wife’s buried in that plot.” He explained to the man in white.
“I thought it appropriate. After tonight, you will have gotten away with her murder.” Neil winced at the sardonic humor of the man in the silver skull and the laughter that came with it. “Since this is our last night working together,” the masked man continued, “I’m willing to answer any one question that you have for me.”
“All right,” Neil readied, “Why all the bodies… all the killin’?”
“Good question,” replied the sharply dressed blackmailer, “but I would have thought the answer to be obvious… to pave the way to my undisputed seat as the most powerful criminal mastermind in the city. You, Neil Airgead, have single-handedly eliminated all of my competition. Now perhaps you can answer a question for me.”
“Fair enough,” Neil said as he began to gather up his implements from the bottom of the hole.
“What does it feel like, to kill someone that you’re supposed to love?”
Neil looked up from the hole he was standing in to see a nickel-plated silver pistol pointed at him. With saddened resignation, Neil voiced the pains of guilt that he had felt for over twenty years, “It’s a feeling that gnaws at ye fer the remainder o’ yer days. It’s a terrible feeling.”
“I’ll be the judge of that… father,” The Silver Skull hissed as he pulled away his mask. He finished the old criminal with a shot to the head.
“See, Dad?” Eamon said as he crumpled up the final page. “We’re not so different after all.” With that he tossed the page onto his father’s stilled body.
Eamon Airgead rested the mask across his eyes once again. He walked over to the elderly groundskeeper and slipped a thick fold of cash into his calloused and wrinkled hand.
“Pack the soil as seamlessly as you can to match the surrounding earth. After all,” The Silver Skull said to the groundskeeper, “no one must ever know.”
They did attempt an "Ultimate" universe of sorts. It was the "All-Star" line, which was not well received. I understand why it wasn't. In All-Star Superman, Doomsday was... Jimmy Olsen. All-Star Batman, featured a dark detective who exhibited a marked propensity toward calling an understandably confused and frightened little boy "retarded".
...in no particular order: Reed Richards, Lex Luthor and Victor Von Doom.
Use your keyboard!
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