Episode 2: Mild Mannered
This one starts with Pete and Myka making their weekly trip into Univille, which is the town closest to the Warehouse. Pete keeps trying to make friends with the townsfolk, but they don’t seem too interested. Pete and Myka go to the Post Office to see if their personal belongings have been forwarded yet. Myka’s things are there, but not Pete’s … which kinda pisses him off since they’ve been at the Warehouse for weeks without their stuff. At the Warehouse, Artie is lost in his thoughts about everything that went down with MacPherson last episode. Claudia rouses him and he tells her to help Leena set up some new motion detectors, but Claudia’s a tad reluctant; I guess she isn’t over that whole identity hijack thing Leena pulled. Artie gets an alert on his computer about something weird happening in Detroit. The weird thing that’s happening is some dude robbing an apartment and getting thrown through a brick wall by … someone we don’t see.
At the boardinghouse, Myka is unpacking and loving every minute of it; she’s wearing her fuzzy slippers, setting out her photos and books, and dancing with her teddy bear. When Pete finds out her middle name starts with “O”, he makes a bunch of stupid guesses at it. We know her dad runs a bookstore, and loves the classics, so I’m thinking her middle name is pretty obvious. Artie tells her and Pete about the pulped burglar in Detroit (plus another mugger who ended up wrapped around a flagpole halfway up a building) and says they have to head out there to find out who’s doing it and how. He tells Leena to work things out with Claudia, but after he leaves Leena has a really heavy dizzy spell that almost knocks her over. Residual effects of MacPherson’s mind-tampering?
In Detroit, Myka and Pete check out the crime scene. Officer Kessman tells them he heard three shots and then the crash as the burglar went through the wall. There are no bullet holes anywhere, but Pete finds three flattened bullets. Kessman says with all the department cutbacks lately, there hasn’t been a CSI team on the scene. He also points out that no Kevlar vest can cause bullets to flatten like that. At the Warehouse, Artie starts hearing strange noises and sees MacPherson standing in front of him, which understandably freaks him out since MacPherson turned to dust in his arms. Leena tries to clear the air with Claudia, but Claudia’s still too pissed off to talk.
In Detroit, Officer Kessman takes Pete and Myka to a local cafe where the neighbourhood watch meets. Pete stays outside to call the Warehouse and Myka goes into the cafe just in time to hear a disagreement about community policing between a charming dude named Mad Dog (who says if you want to make an omelet you have to crack a few skulls) and the cafe owner Loretta, who takes a more pacifistic stance. Loretta is played by Jewel Staite from Firefly, and her employee at the cafe (Sheldon) is played by Sean Maher, also of Firefly. Sheldon seems to agree with Mad Dog about how to handle criminals, saying they’re either parasites or cowards. Pete tells Artie about the squashed bullets, but he’s to distracted to care. He says he’ll get Claudia to do some research.
In the cafe, Pete and Myka ask Sheldon and Loretta if they’ve seen anything weird lately, but they haven’t. Officer Kessman leaves and Myka and Pete wonder if he might be behind what’s going on. Kessman was the first person on the scene at both crimes and he’s pissed off about the budget cuts in the department, so maybe he’s using an artifact to clean up the streets on his own. They decide to tail him, but Pete manages to snag two pieces of lemon meringue pie before leaving. They trail Kessman and when he gets a call and takes off, they run after him. This time it’s three guys robbing an apartment and someone shows up and starts pounding two of them. The third guy takes off and when Myka and Pete show up, they find Kessman standing over the pounded burglars. They assume Kessman did it until they hear gunshots and rush outside to see a dude in an iron mask and purple bodysuit bench-pressing the third burglar. He tosses the crook at them and makes a hundred-foot leap to a nearby rooftop, leaving Pete to declare they’ve just seen a bona fide superhero.
Myka’s a bit skeptical about the whole superhero angle, but Pete says they’ve just witnessed the Iron Shadow (“… only the most awesomest character of the Silver Age! You grew up In a bookstore, how do you not know that?”) Kessman says he won’t even be filing a report on what they saw (probably a wise decision) and Myka figures the Iron Shadow must have an artifact that’s giving him super-powers. Pete says Iron Shadow doesn’t have powers, he’s just trained himself to be the ultimate urban samurai, but Myka points out that urban samurai can’t jump over buildings, so this dude definitely has an artifact. She wonders if they should call Claudia, but Pete says he’s a walking Iron Shadow encyclopedia. (Pete: “Pick an issue, any issue.”; Myka: “I think we already know your issues.”) Since Kessman said he got an anonymous tip about the break-in, they figure the tip might’ve come from the cafe.
At the cafe, they interrogate Sheldon and Loretta. Sheldon is pissed off that burglars broke into his apartment, held him at gunpoint, and stole all his stuff. Myka asks Loretta to open the safe because she noticed a strange cloth bag in there earlier. There’s a big brass key in the bag, so Myka and Pete toss it into one of their neutralizer baggies … but nothing happens. Thoroughly embarrassed, Myka and Pete leave. Myka says they should try to track down the Iron Shadow and asks Pete where comic book nerds like him hang out. They go to a comic book store called the Hairy Tarantula (which is a real store in Toronto, where this was shot), and guess who runs it? Yup, it’s Mad Dog, the loudmouth vigilante wannabe.
Pete’s in his glory among the comics, so Myka asks Mad Dog for a list of people who’ve bought Iron Shadow comics lately, but the best he can do is his pull list. Pete tells Myka he got into comics as an escape, after his father died. He says he has every issue of Iron Shadow except #46 … his white whale. He then repeats the Iron Shadow’s mantra: “There’s only two types of criminals, parasites and cowards.” Myka remembers hearing Sheldon say that in the cafe and her suspicions are confirmed when Sheldon’s name is on the Iron Shadow pull list.
In the Warehouse, Artie has another vision of MacPherson and finally tells Claudia and Leena. Leena wonders if it’s his subconscious acting up because he feels guilty, but Artie insists he has nothing to feel guilty about, so it must be psychic residue from MacPherson triggering a nearby artifact. Claudia does a quick search and comes up with Rasputin’s rosary, which supposedly resurrected him from numerous assassinations. In Detroit, Myka and Pete go to see Sheldon to talk him into handing over the artifact. His hands are shaking and he gets pissed off when they mention Loretta, but he finally agrees to give them the artifact. He goes to his bedroom to get it (yeah, they fell for that one) and jumps out the window. When they run outside, Iron Shadow is waiting on the roof across the street. He blasts them with a shockwave that pins them to the wall and warns them to leave “his” city, then leaps away. Myka figures that if Sheldon can switch between being bulletproof, having super-strength, and being able to jump hundreds of feet he must be altering his density somehow.
At the Warehouse, Artie puts Rasputin’s rosary through a “super scrubber” (which looks like the ringer washer we had when I was a kid) to get all the power out of it and get rid of MacPherson for good. The rosary comes out pulped (and Claudia quotes Poltergeist: “This house … is clean.”), so Artie figures it’s all over. Claudia finally opens up to Leena, wanting to know why she picked her to frame out of all the choices at the Warehouse. Claudia says she almost lost the only real family she’s ever had, but Leena says part of MacPherson’s plan was to sow distrust among them … and adds that Claudia’s not the only one who thinks of the Warehouse people as family. Before Claudia can process that, she gets a call from Myka.
In the office, Artie has another vision of MacPherson, this time addressing him directly, which really freaks him out. Claudia does some quick checking and comes up with three density-altering artifacts (Samson’s jawbone, Babe Ruth’s bat, and Bruce Lee’s punching bag), but they’re all still in the Warehouse. Pete mentions that in the comic, Iron Shadow has a special belt and Claudia comes up with a belt that alters density and confers super-strength … it once belonged to Jacob Kurtzberg aka Jack Kirby, a name Pete recognizes instantly, being a good comic book geek. Claudia has an idea how to counter the belt’s power and goes to check something. Pete speculates that the best way to get at Superman is through Lois Lane, so to get at Sheldon they should go after his greatest weakness, Loretta.
At the cafe, Sheldon (who’s sweating like a pig) asks Loretta if she feels safer now and she says she always feels safe around him. He reveals that he’s the Iron Shadow, but Loretta’s not as thrilled as he’d hoped. Pete and Myka burst in and Sheldon starts freaking out, sending off more shockwaves. He says he can’t control it and the shockwaves knock over a shelf, almost crushing Loretta. Sheldon jumps through the roof to get away before the whole place falls down. Loretta’s okay, but wonders why Sheldon would do something so crazy. Myka points out the obvious—he’s in love with Loretta.
Claudia calls and says she’s found something to counteract Iron Shadow’s powers … then she surprises them by walking through the door. She shows them some body armour originally developed for DARPA that can absorb all forms of kinetic energy. Supposedly a soldier wearing it could take ten thousand high velocity slugs to the chest and not even break stride. So why isn’t it being used by the Army? The suit drains the wearer of vital fluids, causing paralysis within sixty minutes; not too practical on the battlefield. Claudia shows them some power gloves she whipped up that will allow the wearer to channel and shoot the absorbed kinetic energy. Pete is stoked about being a superhero, saying he won’t need sixty minutes to take care of Sheldon … but when Claudia mentions the suit also causes impotence, he immediately hands it over to Myka.
At the Warehouse, Artie is still trying to figure out why he keeps seeing MacPherson and Leena suggests that maybe the two of them aren’t done with each other yet; after all, before MacPherson went rogue, he and Artie were best friends for a long time. Artie doesn’t like that idea and theorizes that it might be the fact that he and MacPherson both used the Phoenix to cheat death that’s binding them together. He wanders off to check that theory and Leena has another dizzy spell, worse than the last one. In Detroit, Claudia tries to home in on Sheldon, saying if the artifact keeps pulling in more gravitational waves, it could collapse the whole neighbourhood in on itself. Loretta says there’s an abandoned factory where Sheldon goes to think and Claudia detects gravitational waves concentrated in that direction. She and Pete go to the factory and try to talk to Sheldon, but the artifact is beyond his control so they have to call in the big guns. Myka looks pretty kick-ass in the DARPA suit, though I’m not sure if the Gene Simmons boots were part of the outfit or something added; either way, they look pretty impractical. Because of the suit’s energy-absorbing powers, Myka is able to get close to Sheldon, who admits he doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt. He takes Myka’s hand, which drains his power into her suit, leaving Pete to yank Kirby’s belt off Sheldon.
Myka releases the energy through the factory roof and they figure it’s all over; Loretta rushes in for the tearful romantic scene. Unfortunately, when Pete puts the belt in a neutralizer bag, nothing happens (again). So the belt Sheldon was wearing wasn’t Kirby’s apparently, a fact that’s confirmed when the gravity waves start up again, focused on Sheldon’s trunks; yup, the artifact is the trunks he’s wearing as part of the Iron Shadow costume. Claudia says if the gravitational waves continue, they’ll pull the entire city in. Myka’s the only one who can stop it, but when she tries her suit can’t absorb enough energy. Pete jumps in and manages to pants Sheldon, ripping the trunks off him and tossing them to Claudia, who shoves them in the neutralizer bag. Now we get the real romantic scene between Sheldon and Loretta.
Sheldon says the trunks were mixed in with a bunch of stuff he got at a yard sale and until he put them on he had no idea what great power they held. Myka says that with great power comes great responsibility, which makes Pete and Claudia snicker like hell. (Myka: “What, is that like a thing, or something?”) Pete and Myka decide to give Sheldon and Loretta a happy ending by not arresting him. Claudia is confused, but Myka says an artifact controlled Sheldon and he hurt someone he loved, so it’s probably okay to forgive him. Claudia gets the message. At the Warehouse, Artie goes to MacPherson’s preserved office and admits he never wanted MacPherson gone … he’d always hoped he’d come back to the right side some day. Artie finds an old pocket watch and a note from MacPherson saying goodbye and leaving him the watch. Artie concludes that having MacPherson’s spirit around to talk with might not be so bad, but MacPherson’s image fades … this time with an air of finality.
Elsewhere in the Warehouse, Claudia forgives Leena for setting her up, saying MacPherson could’ve just as easily chosen her as his catspaw instead of Leena. Claudia’s wearing a medal on her jacket that was apparently given to Allison Scagliotti by the Victorian Steampunk Society when she was at MCM Comic Con in London. Apparently it’s called the “Cataclysmic Order of Nihilism” medal—so it’s the CON medal. After Claudia leaves, Leena has another really bad dizzy spell; she finally calls Mrs. Frederick to tell her about the spells. Pete and Myka shelve the trunks (which belonged to Charles Atlas) near some other familiar artifacts: a green bow and arrows, a Norse hammer, and an umbrella. Myka admits she enjoyed being a superhero and finally tells Pete her middle name is Ophelia; like I said, obvious. He immediately shows his maturity by saying “Can Ophelia boobies?”
In spite of that, Myka takes Pete back to the boardinghouse for a surprise. Since Pete’s stuff hasn’t shown up yet, she and the others have bought him a big screen TV and video game console … and since his comics collection is also not there yet, Myka bought him Iron Shadow #46, the one he as missing. She says she had to do something unappetizing to get it … I’m thinking date with Mad Dog, and probably letting him get to at least second base. Artie and Claudia start arguing about ghosts and Artie’s obsession with H.G. Wells and Myka asks Pete if it really feels like home. He says it’s better and settles down to read his comic. I gotta say, for a mint condition comic that he’s been missing his whole life, he’s not being very careful with it. Maybe he’s not such a geek after all. This was a pretty cool episode, with all the comic book references. Appropriately, it was co-written by Ben Raab, who’s done quite a few comics over the years.