Day 106: Sugar-Man!

Sugar-Man is the African-American gunman who becomes the first quarry on planet Earth for The Black Racer. When the Messenger of Death arrives via Boom Tube in the skies above the Metropolis ghetto, he first spies the Inter Gang criminal called Sugar-Man stalking another bad-guy, this one with a similarly odd nickname. The Black Racer first takes note, saying, “There, below — a place of black men! Those who fight to live — others who risk my presence!” BAM! BAM! “I’ve got you, Screamer!” Sugar-Man barks, as clad in a beret, neck scarf and sunglasses, engages in a gun battle. “You’re running out of ammo!”

Chasing his prey from rooftop to rooftop, Sugar-Man continues the fusillade as Screamer flees. “You can’t get away Screamer! It’s useless to run, baby.” Then making a bead on his target, the hunter makes the fatal shot with a taunt. “Your last scream won’t be to the law!” His job complete, the gangster says to no one in particular, “Inter-Gang gets rid of cats they can’t trust! Especially when he can blab about the Big Caper.” Sugar-Man then takes a look around and notices a figure laying still in a bed. “Oh-oh! A witness to the bang bang!” We get a closer look at the prone figure, one the criminal recognizes. “Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa medals — But one big, bad wound, eh, Willie?” Despite the invalid’s obvious paralysis, the thug raise his pistol and takes aim. “Well, Sugar-Man is gonna help you, Willie! Sugar-Man is gonna blot out all the misery inside you — It’ll just take — one squeeze –”

Then the hand of The Black Racer suddenly encompasses the handgun which explodes with Sugar-Man taking the full force of the backfire. “My face!” he screams while running away. “I’m hit! I’m hit! Gotta get outta here!” The murderer runs to the lair of his Inter-Gang boss, Badger, who says upon Sugar-Man’s arrival, “You did your job, Sugar-Man! Sure, there was a witness — but what can Willie Walker say? The kid’s a living clam! They’ll get nothing outta him! Not in time to stop what we gotta do! Sorry about the accident!

His noggin getting bandaged (even around his eyes!), Sugar-Man is angry. “Accident, hell! I saw a hand, I tell you! It was like the hand of death closing over the barrel of my gun! Then — BOOM! There was someone there, standing in the darkness! I couldn’t see him — but I’ll know when I find him again!” Badger replies, “Yaaa — Shut up! Inter-Gang must carry out what it’s paid to do! Bring in the bomb!

We learn that the “Apokolips people” made the device, which will melt all “every bit communication metal within a radius of thousands of miles,” as Orion will subsequently inform us, and when the fierce new god and his friend Dave Lincoln smash into the Inter-Gang hideout and Sugar-Man, once again donning sunglasses, fires at them. “Stash that pea-shooter, Sugar-Man!” orders Badger. “Take the bomb! Plant it where the Apokolips crowd designated!” Sugar-Man responds, “Okay, Badger! But hold this cat while I get away!” As the wounded desperado slinks out a back entrance, his boss yells, “Take off, Sugar-Man! We’ll get these birds!” And the departing gangster replies, “Sure, Badger! I’ll do as you say, but –”

Sugar-Man, running through an enclosed alleyway with the activated bomb in his grip, realizes the identity of one of the assailants laying seige on Badger’s crib. “A cat from New Genesis! We were warned that they might raid us! But they won’t stop Inter-Gang from doing what it’s paid to do!” He runs up to a waiting truck and loads his lethal possession in back. “In you go, bomb! Sugar-Man is gonna make sure you blow!” The truck takes off and the oblivious driver doesn’t know this will be his last delivery.

The next caption reads, “But Sugar-Man is unaware that he’s been joined by another — one new at his mission — but old as time!” The Black Racer follows closely behind, telling us, “And so the chase begins! Faster, Sugar-Man! Go faster! We are linked in a moment of dying!” Sugar-Man looks in the side-view to see the harbinger of death coming on fast. He thinks, “That reflection in my rear view mirror — I’m being followed! That clown’s not from Earth! But I’m not stopping to find out which side he’s on!” The celestial being taunts his quarry. “You know me, Sugar-Man! You’ve sent many to The Black Racer!

Sugar-Man is freaking out, driving the truck at top speed, and he recognizes his pursuer. “I do know him! It was him — standing in the shadows on that roof — when my gun blew up in my face!” The Black Racer is ever closer, announcing to his prey, “Your luck has run out, Sugar-Man! Listen to the song of death!” The bomb starts making a disconcerting noise that adds to the driver’s hysteria. “The bomb!!” Sugar-Man hollers, “I-It’s not supposed to make those sounds!” The Black Racer uses his ski pole to penetrate the truck and make contact with the device. “Yes, it can, Sugar-Man — when its shell is penetrated by transmitted signals — They enter the truck — without resistance — as does my ski pole — Then, as signals reach the mechanized heart of the bomb — ” Then the pole does its business and the truck starts to fly skyward! The Black Racer solemnly says, “They trigger its anti-gravity circuits! Farewell, Sugar-Man!

The criminal pleads, “No! No! No!” as he flies into outer space, Orion’s Mother Box activates the explosive and that’s the last we see of Sugar-Man. As Badger is subdued, he says to Orion and Lincoln, “You cats cooled us, but not our bomb! By now, it’s being clamped on the communications building across town!!” Dave replies, “We were too late to stop your man from escaping with the bomb — but perhaps –” But Orion reassures his Earth ally. “Don’t worry, Lincoln! Mother Box has intercepted the bomb in transit! And has sent it toward space! Now, the vehicle carrying the bomb is high enough to destruct there! Mother Box sends out her death signal!”

As Dave Lincoln calls the cops to take away the Inter-Gangsters, he tells his friend, “Now to call the police and drop this little package in their lap!” Orion replies, “We’ll deliver all, except the man who took the bomb! I’m afraid he’ll never be found!”

And, apparently, we’ll never learn how this rotten bad guy ever got such a sweet nickname. Just desserts indeed!