Drinking with Superheroes

January 21st, 2011

A The Beast Must Die/Bobsy tipple.


For about 40 minutes Hawkman is the ultimate drinking buddy. A full force, steamhouse of hearty ale-swilling and shot-slamming. He wants to try all the drinks in the world in every different way. He can slap a barmaid’s ass and somehow get away without seeming like a douchebag. Boisterous, hedonistic he turns the air of blue with caustically creative Thanagarian swearing and tall tales of alien invasions…

20 minutes after that he’s your worst nightmare. His boisterousness takes a turn to the darkside. It starts with a back slap that’s just a bit too hard, accompanied by a lingering stare from beneath hooded eyes. His smile hangs more like a grimace. He starts leering at the female clientèle and staring with cold black shark’s eyes at the male ones. You become keenly aware of a group of loud, laughing guys, standing just a bit too close for comfort…

Worse yet he starts to hold court on various intergalactic races, revealing some very dubious opinions about Daxamites, Khunds and Metans. His opinion’s on intergalactic miscegenation turn your stomach and his Grand Plan for the Rannians is beyond the pale.

You start to wonder how you can ditch him without a ruckus, but he’s already he’s suggesting you move onto another bar for some late drinking. Somewhere not as… uptight as this place. Somewhere he can cut loose. When you look in his eyes there’s no one home, at least no-one you want to meet, but still he insists, the night is young…


Green Lantern, Hal Jordan
Green Lantern is the kind of asshole who genuinely calls beers brewskis, but is such a pussy that after two light beers he gets all leery and starey. And weird with girls. He loves to make little fans with the ring to blow their skirts up, and guffaw very loudly about it, and make plasma dudes who would then hi-five and guffaw along with him. If you go for a drink with Hal Jordan you deserve everything you get.


Fuck me that was a letdown. Here’s a word for you: whiny. He was OK for a bit, at first, before he’s had a sniff. Y’know, jokey, chatty… awkward looking though, proper nerdish defence postures, all spindly and wrapped up in himself, hips and shoulders all sticking out at awkward angles, put everyone in the place on edge from the start.

And he didn’t let up, y’know? No comfortable silence while we settled in, and then, once he’d got through the first half, fuck the floor… You almost didn’t notice it happen but somewhere in there he goes from mordant jokes to just straight up complaining. About everything.  You know, he’s a grown up, a proper bloke in his late twenties and stuff, but he whinges like a teen who hasn’t worked out how to wank. Whingeing about his missus, whingeing about his Aunt (Aunt!? What kind of a fella gives a fuck about their Aunt?), whingeing about his job, whingeing about his fucking superpowers and how they fucking keep crapping out on him. What a pain in the arse. I think he clocked I was sick of him, because he started acting much more pissed than he really was, all loud and ‘funny’. Started freaking everyone out with his hilarious dancing on the ceiling routine (watching it makes you feel a bit sick and dizzy, like the Lionel Richie video.) Couldn’t wait to get out of there. Thankfully summat about a bank robbery came in over the radio, he was all ‘Err, umm, I just gotta…’ and fucked off with an untouched pint still in front of him.

Didn’t come back thank fuck. Drank it for him the prick.


The Flash, Jay Garrick
Unlike some Flashes you could mention (all powers, no personality), Jay Garrick is the perfect ideal of a good drinking partner.  He’s got time for everyone and is the best raconteur you’ve ever seen. Once he’s had a couple he gets a little fruity and loose-tongued, telling you exactly what he thinks all about Miss America’s costume and stuff, yet remaining a thorough gent – a gent’s gent in fact – throughout.


Surprisingly, not a great bloke to go on the lash with. Rubbish at hiding his discomfort when the talk turns to the bawdy. Lecturing the smokers and the barflys. Forever nipping off to ‘make a quick call’ (yeah right). Very difficult to convince to go for even a third, ‘No thanks, I know when I’ve reached my limit.’ If you do manage to talk him into going further you regret it, as he quickly gets maudlin, talking about Lois or Kandor and how much he loves them, or how ‘I’d die to save your life, you know that don’t you?’

Yeah cheers Clark. So is your cousin coming out?


Iron Man
‘Forget about it fellas, these are ALL on me. Actually, know what, fuck it, go grab yourselves a suit each. I know this amazing place in Wakanda, they have the trays strapped to the back of talking leopards and shit.’

Tony <3


The Red Bee
Picture it: A fine early-afternoon on an English pub patio in late July. Curiously, but wonderfully, there are no wasps around. What happened to the wasps? You and your companion for the session are drinking perhaps mild ales, or crisp East European lagers, or dry Hertfordshire cider clunking with ice. There is talk of switching to Pimms or, let’s be honest, G&Ts when the shadows have lengthened a  little.

As this idyll inevitably rolls into something of a heady, thick-tongued doldrum and the two of you become too idle even to chatter, the group at the next table become agitated. They leap from their seats and grab their bums, or slap themselves in the face. A lady runs indoors, shrieking like a seagull. A man screams even more pathetically and follows her. Over at the table by the door, every drink falls over, like a stack of dominoes, without anybody touching them. Cigarettes jump from ashtrays and burn folk on the fingers. The patronising landlord who had smirked at your friend’s clothes inexplicably twitches and smashes a tray piled with empties. You shouldn’t laugh but…
After quite a few more, you and your new friend call a taxi and head into town, talking of the chaos to come.
The Phantom Stranger
One bottle. Two men. The endless city streets. And a lot of big questions.
Let’s get lost!


Captain America
You remember that shit you used to hear about how Steve Rogers was ‘obviously’ a Republican? I just straight up asked him about it as we settled down to our drinks. He shook his head, and closed those big, sad, blue eyes. Turns out to be total rubbish, the usual mendacious spin put out by the Bushies and their more ‘ideologically flexible’ fellow travellers after 9/11. Think about it, it doesn’t even make sense! How could anyone with such a pure and total commitment to truth, justice, freedom and happiness actually be allied to that gang of thugs? He ‘got blown up a bunch of times’ fighting fascism, like he’s going to fall in with them just because they drape themselves in his colours?!

Turns out that he has never been a member of a political party (he has a pretty understandable distrust for organised political groups of all types), but has voted D. in every Presidential Election since 1940!  (Except for the ones he was in ice for.) (Oh yeah, he does this funny thing where like when the barmaid put some ice in someone’s drink – he always has a pint of iced tapwater on the go as he’s drinking, actually – he puts on this look of mock terror and backs away a bit. It’s weird though – his look of mock terror is really forced, more like a yawn, not something he’s used to doing at all!)

Once we’d got that potential stumbling block out the way – it’s impossible not to talk about politics a little bit when you’re semi-leathered(-plus) – we settled down to it, and I ended up having one of the best nights of my life.

‘Sfunny actually, among a million amazing DoubleYou-DoubleYou EyeEye stories that he has (‘Did you know that Baron Strucker has webbed hands AND feet? That’s what keeping the blood pure’ll get ya!’), he tells me how after he got ‘shot straight to good God damn you’ by a Stukka in Leuven and crawled back to the coast to catch a sub (such a hero it’s ridiculous), he spent a month recuperating in Sussex, said he thought Eastbourne ‘was a really beautiful town’ – he knows my (adopted) home better than I do. I told him what my granddad did in Burma in the war (porter on a medical frigate), and Steve asked what the name of the boat was. I couldn’t tell him, and he rolled his eyes in a ‘kids these days’ way, even though he looks ten years younger than me. I’m gonna have to find out.

I started on the Guinness (‘My mom always wanted me to be called ‘Captain Irish-America’ he quipped. Sense of humour’s a bit cheesy sometimes, but sweet, y’know) as per usual, because American beer is a joke obviously, but then he started talking about all these weird yank beers they had on tap, and he knew each one backwards, whether they came from Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Asheville, North Carolina, how they tasted, how they were brewed, what kind of hangover they give you, with like a poem describing each. So I switched and he was right, they were these really rich and full-bodied lagers, or proper tasty and smooth but fizzy ale things – really lovely beers. And the staff kept giving us these delicious bourbon chasers without our even asking, and he knew how long each one had been made, and the history of each family that owned the still. It’s crazy because we started around four in the afternoon, and of course no one ever asks him to leave a bar, just this crappy little Irish’ dive bar,  and we were in there till gone dawn. Must have had god knows how many beers and shots, but he was so cool and steady throughout it we never seemed to get that pissed, y’know? Just gently but definitely sozzled, relaxed and unwound. They kept bringing us amazing bar snacks too – wings, sliders, quesadillas and whatnot – and then just after midnight the most enormous steaks you’ve ever seen, proper veggie nightmare time. I love me a bit of steak but I only managed about half of it. He finished mine, and had three for himself. He’s the sort of guy who makes you realise what a poor excuse for a man you really are, y’know?
This really surprised me: he was up and down on the jukebox all night – a real music fan. Like you’d expect, he was all over the country and the bluegrass and the blues and especially the bebop – he couldn’t keep his feet still when that shit was on – but also he was well into like Pacific seaboard garage, he said The Sonics were ‘the sound of young men realising they were free all along’ (he’s really big on being free, obvs, but isn’t some libertarian idiot who thinks man should be free to exercise tyranny over others, just that everyone should be free to be happy. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Thing is, if your idea of being happy is getting up in other people’s shit, he will hit you in the jaw with a stars-and-stripes manhole cover.) And, this totally threw me, get this, no word of a lie, he called hip-hop ‘the authentic American idiom, the voice we always lacked’. Can you believe that? I swear, he actually said ‘To me, Rakim sounds just like one of the smart kids you’d run with on the Lower East Side in the Thirties’! He’s a quotable kind of guy (and can drop a few quotes himself – Whitman, Hawthorne, Melville are his mainstays: ‘I dreamed of being on the Pequod when I was young. To look the blank beast in the eye’ !!), and he speaks slowly and deeply, with these big lungs turning words into music, you could listen to him talk all day. We chatted about music for ages, but we really blatantly hadn’t talked about Dylan, and I wondered what he’d make of him. Just after he’d finished telling me what his favourite Guthrie (Woody & Arlo) songs were, I was gonna bring it up but he read my mind and said, ‘We better not get on to Mr. Zimmerman or I won’t be able to speak of anything else all evening’.  But I wasn’t really sure what he meant by that. I guess like all good Dylan fans his opinions are kind of conflicted, you know?

We chatted about me, my family and stuff, but I could tell he was a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. He’s in his eighties but has the body of a (big) twenty year old, and you can tell he just doesn’t get the imperatives to settle down or reproduce (even if he could – I think the Super Soldier thing made him sterile, but y’know, I didn’t want to bring it up. We were hanging out and getting shitfaced, not conducting an interview.) I think he falls for women who aren’t really domestic types as well. And he sees the world a little too clearly, you know? He could do with some more illusions, he’s been in too many wars to have much faith in humanity, no matter how tight he holds onto the flag as an ideal. As the sun came up I started to think that here was a guy who was in need of some help himself, after a century of helping others. A century of war. He’s killed a lot of men.

And as they finally kicked us out – we couldn’t ignore the barkeep’s yawns and pointed glances at the clock any more – I was going to roll for home and he ‘felt like a early morning run’. ‘You’re a freak Steve,’  I said. He nearly crippled me with a wink and a handshake, and said ‘I enjoyed our little bromance here tonight Bob. Stay safe.’ And off he jogged into the morning, like Rocky or some shit.

He belched big on the first syllable of ‘BROUWmance’ and I laughed all the way back to my hotel.

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