Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Broken News: Billionaire easily outed as vigilante superhero

ASTRO CITY—The two-month campaign of vigilante violence against the notorious underworld of our fair city came to an end today as Nightman, the shadowy crime fighter waging that campaign, was outed as none other than Russell Conroy, billionaire owner of mega-corporation Contech. In an ironic twist, the man who solved the mystery that had baffled Astro City's most corrupt politicians and hardened criminals was none other than local citizen Mikey Sullivan, 34, of Astro Heights.

“Yeah, uh, I just put two and two together,” said Sullivan, an auto mechanic and father of two. “This is a pretty destitute city riddled with crime and corruption, right? Suddenly the criminal underworld is under siege by a heroic vigilante waging a campaign of high-tech violence? There are really only so many people it could be. First I thought of the military, but they're all tied up with wars and I don't think that a one man tactical team is up their alley. Then I thought maybe it was the cops, but they don't even have the budget to keep their cars running. Plus, have you seen the average street cop lately? 'Svelte' ain't the word I'd use."

Sullivan continued, "So, uh, the stuff he's using is pretty high-tech, right? I figured it was way too expensive for a regular guy to build, so I looked at rich guys with the money to support all of the technological advancements in Nighman's arsenal. Since the city's not only crime ridden but poverty stricken too, only about four people were decent guesses. The only one under 70 was Conroy. Plus, you know that photo of Nightman, with him standing in front of the American flag, looking slightly to the left, as if at a better future? It's a lot like that "Our CEO" photo of Conroy on Contech.com. I just printed that out, drew some goggles and a cowl on it, and that was that. Plus, there's all that Contech branding on Nightman's gear."

Indeed, a quick review of the ample number of Nightman photographs available revealed "property of Contech" embossing on the armor plating of both the Nightcar and Nightcycle, as well as the company logo on Nightman's body armor, which turned out to be an updated black version of the same tactical armor the company sells to police and military. In addition, Nightman's famed grappling gun was also clearly a modified version of the device that the Contech Outdoor division has been promoting in various mountain climbing and spelunking magazines.

For his part, Sullivan hopes that he didn't cause Mr. Conroy any harm. The accidental detective said, "It was just so damn obvious. His company logo was on everything! I can't believe nobody saw it before me. And whenever I'd tell my friends that Nightman was definitely the young, physically fit, billionaire owner of a high tech military weapons supplier who lives in seclusion and has a grudge against the mob, they'd look at me like I was crazy."

Russell Conroy, 32, first entered the public eye during the harrowing trial of mob boss Vincent DiCicco, who was accused of ordering the car bombing that took the lives of Conroy's parents. After DiCicco's acquittal in a trial legal experts suggested was marred by jury tampering, Mr. Conroy, then 18, swore vengeance on the mob and vowed to someday get revenge. As it turns out, Mr. Conroy was serious.

"Really? Two months and they found me out?" Said a disappointed Conroy after being contacted for this story. "Drawing a mask on a picture of me was all it took? Christ... I guess now that I think about it, using my own company to so nakedly fuel my quest for vengeance probably did expose me a little too much. Maybe I also should have covered my head fully with a mask, instead of exposing my mouth, chin, and most of my nose as well as removing most of the Contech logos from my costume. But what can I say? I'm proud of my company. Lesson learned."

The question becomes, now that he's been exposed, what Conroy will do about the city's crime problems now that Nightman's identity has become public.

"Eh, I'll probably just finish this mob thing up and call it quits. I mean, what can they do to me? My family is already dead," Conroy quipped. "Besides, everyone thinks the mob is some complex organization that's hard to take down. I'll tell you what, it's a lot easier when you're just killing, torturing and maiming your way up the ladder. It's not like I was trying to make a RICO case or anything. And I guess I'll just turn over all the incriminating evidence I found on some of our elected officials to the feds. To tell you the truth, I was pretty much done here anyway. Another couple of weeks and I would have been beating the shit out of jaywalkers."

As of press time the Astro City District Attorney had no plans to charge Mr. Conroy, noting that he was too rich to avoid prosecution even if he didn’t end up buying off the corrupt judiciary. Several high ranking members of the DA’s office also noted they also didn’t want to risk the vengeance of a goggled sociopath who might crash a military grade rocket car into their house and smash their heads in with a themed truncheon.

When asked if he had any other plans to combat the crime, violence, and poverty in Astro City, Conroy just laughed. “Fuckin’ gangbangers and drug dealers didn’t kill my parents, the mob did. I've dealt with the mob. You’re welcome. Anyone else has a problem, they can get their own sweet ass suit and wage some war. Hell, come to me and maybe I’ll sponsor you. Like a vigilante Pell grant or something.”

“Otherwise, what? Like social programs and shit? Dude, I’m a spoiled rich kid who inherited a billion dollars ‘cause his parents got exploded, who probably suffers from PTSD, has fascistic tendencies, and a host of other mental issues. Christ, I’m a man who, when presented with a vast fortune, used it to get revenge in the most high tech and violent way possible. You think I know how to organize a midnight basketball league or an effective work release program? If this city needs a donation to some charity or something I guess I'll write a check, otherwise I'll be on my yacht with some Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.”

Asked which model he was currently courting, Conroy snickered and said, "Pages 32-86."

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