"Connection Lost": For days, Nelson Jent has been using a mysterious phone booth to transform into a random superhero by dialing the numbers for H-E-R-O. He has fought crime as the Double Bluff, Hole Punch, Rancid Ninja. Some are more useful than others.
- Maybe if I dialed.... Maybe I'd turn into some super brainiac. I could think better. Yeah. Or maybe I'd turn into some totally messed-up crazy "hero." That's the problem. You never know what's going to turn up.
- -- Nelson Jent
Appearing in "Connection Lost"
- Nelson Jent
- Iron Snail
- Human Virus
- Pelican Army
- Double Bluff
- Hole Punch
- Rancid Ninja
- Darren Hirsch (Dies)
Synopsis for "Connection Lost"
For days, Nelson Jent has been using a mysterious phone booth to transform into a random superhero by dialing the numbers for H-E-R-O. He has fought crime as the Double Bluff, Hole Punch, Rancid Ninja. Some are more useful than others. But always, after a period of time, he has transformed back into the identity of Nelson Jent, and he is becoming less and less comfortable in that middle-aged and overweight shell.
As himself, Nelson visits his friend Darren Hirsch in the hospital, where Darren has been since he was beaten up by thugs under the direction of a man called Vernon Boyne. They beat him because he missed a breaking and entering job while he was helping Nelson get home. A sickness has been going around in Littleville that puts people in comas, and Boyne's gang has been targeting the victims, knowing that they wouldn't be home to protect their valuables. The burglars would be allowed to have all the money they find, but the jewels and documents go to the boss. The boss is someone above Vernon. Someone whose initials are X.N. The reason so many people were needed for the jobs was because they kept getting interrupted by a superhero. Someone other than Nelson.
Needing someone to talk to, Nelso tries to call his ex, Julie. She puts it brushes him off, and finding no solace, Nelson pushes himself to return to the phone booth, and follow the lead he got from Darren. Boyne's gang is going to hit the apartment of one of the coma victims again tonight - the same victim of the job that Darren failed to show up for. Nelson hopes that if he can get there first, he can find some kind of clue to getting his friend out of his predicament.
The phone booth transforms him into Control-Alt-Delete a hero with computer-based powers. As he investigates the apartment, he is suddenly attacked by a woman in a long purple cloak. Apparently, she was waiting for him. She shatters his screen, and he becomes so disoriented that he desperately calls out for a reboot. This has the bizarre effect of rebuilding his screen and reverting his opponent into a human. Disarmed, she runs out of the apartment, grabbing the phone on the way out. Soon, Nelson turns back into himself, and he opts to escape before Darren's crew shows up.
Meanwhile, Vernon's boss - Ex Nihilo - receives word that the female superhero, whom he has become familiar with, had already been to the apartment before they got there, with signs of a fight. Hearing this, his captive - The Squid - escapes from his cage, and agrees that he will help deal with Ex Nihilo's problems merely on principle, despite his great disdain for his "captor."
As Nelson ponders his next move, to little avail, The Squid sneaks into Darren's hospital room. Out of concern, Nelson calls the hospital to check on his friend, but when the nurse can't seem to get into the room, Nelson rushes to the phone booth, and hopes for the best.
He becomes Iron Snail, a military themed gastropod. After entering the hospital, and seeing his friend has been murdered, he senses Vernon Boyne and his thugs approaching, and dodges their gunfire, responding by covering them in his own ooze. He is then attacked by the Squid, who claims that the only reason he killed Darren is because Nelson told them not to. Suddenly, Nelson feels his powers fading away, and he escapes into an alley. Before he can be identified, he hails a cab, and makes for the phone booth.
Meanwhile, the Squid returns to the hospital and pays a visit to Dr. Wald, who is hearing over the phone from Vernon Boyne that Nelson escaped in a cab. Her visitor explains that the snail-man was not, as she suspected, Ex Nihilo. She has Vernon tail him. Before leaving, the Squid warns that whatever is causing the string of comas is coming back.
At the phone booth, Nelson is surprised by the robed woman again. She explains that she was mistaken about his intentions when she first met him, apparently aware that he has been using the powers of the dial to become a hero. Before she can explain further, she urges him to move on, because both of them are being hunted.
- This book was first published on June 6, 2012.
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