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Legendary Focus: Stilt-Man

In the summer of 1853, 27th President William Howard Taft and noted historical pimp Al Swearengen pedaled across the Gobi desert on a bicycle built for two, partially aided by the electro-chemically stimulated brain of Nikola Tesla, which acted as a compass.

Underneath the sweltering desert sun, Taft — who had taken the lead seat after a swift and spirited arm wrestling tournament — and Swearengen pedaled tirelessly across the uncooperative sand. High overhead, A group of supersonic fighter jets manned by Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders screamed across the solid cobalt sky, cracking a mighty sonic boom that nearly shook Taft from his seat. Roosevelt wagged his wings at the desert travelers before continuing on to his appointment with the phantom armies of Genghis Khan.

Taft wiped sweat from his brow with a once lily-white handkerchief that had become stained with sweat. He tucked it back into his right breast pocket, where it accompanied a solid gold doubloon imprinted with the severed head of Mary, Queen of Scots on one side and Marie Antoinette on the other.

Tesla’s brain, mounted on the front of the steering column, began to shimmer.

“We’re almost there,” Taft said.

“We ****in’ better be,” Swearengen growled. “I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

Tesla’s brain began glowing a bright pink, the color of a whore’s cheek.

“Looks like Tesla’s got a fix,” Taft said.

“Time to flip the coin?”

Taft and Swearengen stopped pedaling. Around them the desert seemed to hold its breath. It was as flat as the bottom of a coffin, and as hot as the inside of a blind man’s dreams.

Taft positioned the doubloon on his thumb. “Mary or Marie?”

“I’ve always enjoyed the French,” Swearengen said.

Taft flicked the coin. When it came to rest in the sand, the Queen of Scots stared into the sky, much the same way one could imagine she had done when the guillotine had spoken its eulogy.

Swearengen swore under his breath and climbed off of the tandem bicycle. He shook his legs out. His shirt had become translucent with sweat, and fine beads clung to his brow and dripped from his ample mustache. “Give me the damned thing, then.”

Taft reached into the backpack slung over his left shoulder and pulled out the long wooden stake that had spent the better part of a century marinating in Dracula’s heart.

Swearengen hefted the stake. It was heavier than it looked. “Are you sure this is the spot?”

Taft jabbed a blunted finger at Tesla’s brain, which was now glowing a deep, livid crimson. “It’s the spot.”

Swearengen grunted. “The ****in’ heart of the Gobi.”

Without a second’s hesitation, Swearengen jabbed the long stake right into the sand at his feet. Nothing seemed to happen.

“This was a ****in’ waste of time,” Swearengen said.

Taft shook his head. “Just wait.”

“This was a damned fool idea and you know it.”

“You don’t have to tell me one way or the other about it, you callous jackanape.” Taft swung a leg over the bike and glared at Swearengen. “I’m only following orders, same as you.”

The desert shifted. Taft backed up, grabbing Swearengen’s collar and hoisting him physically off his feet as the stake sunk into the ground.

“You were saying?” Taft said, smoothing out his mustache with a flick of his finger.

“Fine, Hawking was right again. He’s always right, the mechanical bastard.”

“Of course he’s right. You don’t live for three centuries without being right about damn near everything.”

A column shot out of the ground with force enough to blast sand in all directions. Taft nearly fell over. Swearengen returned the previous favor, grabbing his arm and steadying him.

The column was a murky silver, smooth and dull. It seemed to eat the light instead of reflecting it. There was a rectangular break in the smooth silver, and after a half second wait, the door opened. A small man stepped out from the column, bald, wearing a white lab coat over green surgical scrubs the color of old lima beans. He brought with him a burst of conditioned air that felt orgasmic on Taft and Swearengen’s sweating faces.

“You’re the couriers?” the small man said.

“We are.”

The little man wiped his face. “Not to be rude, but if you could give me the code phrase, we can be done with this. It’s awfully hot out here.”

“Pocket knife,” Taft said, holding out his hand. Swearengen dug a pearl-handled knife from his pocket. Taft opened it up, exposing a sharpened blade. He opened up his forearm with it. He handed it back to Swearengen, who did the same. Their blood dripped onto the pure sand.

Both men held their arm out, palms up. Under their skin, the holographic projectors flared to life, and two words from each men suddenly appeared in the air before them.

Domo arigato, read Taft’s hologram.

Mr. Roboto, read the one issuing forth from Swearengen.

“Here you go,” the small man said, and handed over a metal tube. He retreated back into the column, which sunk back into the heart of the Gobi desert. Sand refilled the hole, and soon it was as if nothing had disturbed the desert.

“Finally. The plans.”

“Don’t just gawk at them like a stunted pigeon, open the damned tube.”

Taft did so. A single sheet of rolled paper slid out. He uncurled it and read it to himself, mouthing the words.

“Well? What does it say.”

“It says to take a man, and then add stilts to the man, and then make those stilts very very long.”

“Well **** me,” Swearengen said. “So simple, so genius.”

Taft snorted. “Well, we’ve got a long ride. Better get started.”

Taft and Swearengen climbed back aboard their bicycle built for two and retraced their passage through the Gobi desert, while underneath the secret sands the Architects of Brilliant Ideas and Brighter Tomorrows toiled away in their labors, unknown to the world.

And that is the origin of Stilt-Man, the greatest damn villain the Marvel Universe has ever known!



7 thoughts on “Legendary Focus: Stilt-Man

  1. The Kingpin is also a giant tub of lard. Maybe Taft was an 1800s version of the Kingpin.

  2. In reality, President Taft was a rather rotund man (rumored to once have gotten stuck in a White House bathtub) so I find this tale a bit hard to believe with the required physicality of the role — yes, out of all that entertaining prose, THAT was the part where I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

    Maybe Woodrow Wilson would be a more realistic protagonist for this tale? (Although, Taft was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society while at Yale.) 😋

    Also, Taft wasn’t born until 1857 so this timeline needs a little revision.

  3. That is some serious stuff you’re smoking, Benty! Freaking AWESOME story.

    I was a Stilt-Man fan ever since I read my first issues of Cap (#190 & #191 in a Spanish reprint) and Wilbur Day came off like a badass the way he trashed the Trapster around, pencil-thin moustache, glasses and all. I want a classic Stilty BAF like PRONTO, and while Hasbro gets their next Blob update tooled, have ’em whip up a nice William Howard Taft repaint to round things out!

  4. or the skrulls and chituri. with super skrull part of the wave. sounds like a plan for stiltman to finaly take his place in the ml club

  5. Easy solution would be to make Stiltman’s leg sections the BAF piece included with army builder figures — the more Kree and Skrulls you buy, the taller Stiltman becomes. Brilliant!

  6. wtf when did stilt man fight ghost rider. nice tale to try and get hasbro to finaly if nothing else as a baf give stilt man some plastic loving . his legs alone would be one wave as a baf

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