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Robert Brenner

Robert Brenner

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"Flame Off!": Hosni Mubarak and the Human Torch

Posted: 02/ 4/11 06:13 PM ET

Cairo. Midnight. The Presidential Palace.

Good evening, Mr. President.

Who are you? How did you get in here? And why are you on fire?

The name's Johnny Storm. I flew in through a skylight. And they don't call me the Human Torch for nothing.

A member of the Fantastic Four? Thank Allah! I thought you were another one of those annoying protesters immolating himself. But how is it that you speak fluent Arabic?

That's due to my genius brother-in-law Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the FF, and his universal translator doohickey.

But what are you doing here? I thought Marvel Comics just killed off your character after 588 issues (not counting annuals, crossovers, and one-shots).

You know nobody stays dead forever in comics. Captain America was bumped off last year, but now he's slinging his star-spangled shield again good as new.

I'm happy for him, but what does that have to do with me? Frankly, my hands are full right now trying to hold onto the reins of power.

That's what I came to talk with you about. Normally I leave the diplomacy stuff to my sister Sue Storm Richards, the Invisible Woman, but since I had some free time in-between storylines, I thought I'd play Henry Kissinger. Who's better equipped to deal with hotspots than me?

With all due respect, Mr. Storm, I need professional soldiers, not amateur diplomats. Maybe I should contact the Avengers.

Hosni, baby, you just don't get it, do you?. You and I are a lot alike -- we're both toast.

Nonsense! The Egyptian people love me! It's just a few outside agitators and WikiLeaks. As soon as I cut access to the Internet, stability will be restored.

I don't think taking away folks' Twitter accounts is going to do it. What I was trying to say before is that life goes on. I may be trapped in the Negative Zone with Annihilus and his killer horde of insectoid warriors, but I'll be shouting "flame on" again before you can rub two sticks together. You may have to step down as President of Egypt, but you still have a nice cushy lifestyle ahead of you as an ex-dictator somewhere. Just give the word, and the US will fly you to the safe haven of your choice.

Never! The people need my iron fist to guide them.

Hey, don't go all Dr. Doom on me, Hosni. This is Egypt, not Latveria. The people will guide themselves just fine.

What about the Muslim Brotherhood?

Is that like Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

No, much worse. They're Islamic extremists. They want to do to Egypt what the Ayatollah Khomeini did to Iran. Think of that before you turn your back on me like you did the Shah.

One thing I've learned in the past two years in the United States is that democracy is messy. You've got the Muslim Brotherhood, we've got the Tea Parties. You had the "Blind Sheik," we've got Sarah Palin.

The Muslim Brotherhood is in bed with Hamas. Strengthening the Brotherhood means weakening Israel.

I may not know much about geopolitics, but I do know about being a superhero. And being a superhero means doing the right thing all the time, not just when it's convenient.

No! I must at least be allowed to name my successor! What about my son Gamal?

A spoiled, skirt-chasing playboy? That's usually my role. Frankly, I wouldn't let me run a country. Unless he's secretly Iron Man, no.

What about my right-hand man, Omar Suleiman? He really knows the Egyptian people--he's been spying on them for years.

The former head of intelligence? That's like replacing Dr. Doom with Galactus. I've got a better idea. What about Mohamed ElBaradei? He's neither an Islamic extremist nor a member of your party. Best of all, he used to be the director general of the International Atomic Energy Commission.

Why good does that do? Egypt doesn't have any nuclear weapons -- yet.

Duh! Don't you read comic books? He's been exposed to radiation! That means he has superpowers! He probably has the proportional strength of a camel or something. I can see it now--the Amazing Dromedary, Your Friendly Neighborhood Humpbacked Hero.

That's ridiculous!

No more ridiculous than thinking you could cling to power for thirty years without doing anything to relieve corruption and poverty, and not have the people revolt. Hey, don't cry, things could be worse--literally. If I was my buddy Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing, I would have just yelled "it's clobberin' time!" and socked you in the jaw. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Jordan and Yemen. I hear things are heating up over there too.

 

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