|“Who’s Doctor bloody Bernofsky?”
“He knows everything.”
“Ooh, I wouldn’t like that, that’d take all the mystery out of life.”
– Monty Python
Doctor Bernofsky (patent pending) is here to help! Got a question for the good doctor? Ask away! Or just continue to live vicariously through these people below!
Dear Dr. Bernofsky,
In these tough and uncertain economic times, the company I work for has had to rethink a number of its long-standing policies and procedures recently. For example, maybe we don’t need to sponsor a lavish end-of-fiscal-year party for our executives. Maybe we can look to out-source some of our customer service personnel. And maybe, just maybe, we should consider finally selling off that alien armada we picked up in the late ’80s from Area 51. Sure, it would have been nice if R&D could have figured out the energy source that powers the mysterious spacecraft (or why the creatures that to this day we still know only as “the Grays” came to Earth in the first place), but the storage and overhead fees are frankly killing us. Yet whenever I bring this up at our company-wide meetings, I get immediately shot down — not unlike the alien spaceships themselves. Tell me, how can I make our board and company president see reason?
Reason is not an instinct that comes at all naturally to the species commonly called company executive (or doldrum avaricious, from the just-now-made-up Latin), particularly not after you’ve been a such a spoilsport and cancelled their year-end partying. I absolutely sympathize with your augment, however. Those Roswell flyby ships were indeed notoriously unreliable and gas guzzlers. There was never much to be done with them once you’d pulled the leaky thermonuclear core from their self-destruct mechanism. And frankly, if you haven’t done at least that much in the past thirty years, then your company has bigger fish to fry (or, rather, incinerate, in the all too inevitable atomic explosion that’s bound to happen any day now).
Dear Dr. Bernofsky,
I was a teenage werewolf, but I’d like to think I outgrew that when I went to college. Nowadays, I have an MBA, a wife and two kids, and I rarely if ever howl at the moon. But lately my friends say I’m just kidding myself. Once a wild, bloodthirsty were-animal, always a wild, bloodthirsty were-animal. I don’t know…are they just being jerks, or should I start stocking up on heavy chains and silver bullets at the local Home Depot again?
Well, Rog, your friends do sound like jerks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong. After all, forewarned is forearmed, which is advice I’d give to any rampaging monster, including yourself, and not just to those who literally have four arms. Lycanthropy is a tricky subject any way you slice it. While a silver bullet to the heart is an effective enough cure, there are less drastic measures to take if the curse has not yet been lifted. Wolfsbane or an exorcism can do in a pinch, for instance, as can that old standby of iron nails pierced through the flesh of the palms. True enough, this last method can be incredibly painful, with a dizzying amount of blood loss; but it sounds like you’re already headed to the hardware store, where the nails are kept, and have a circle of friends all too eager to inflict horrendous pain upon you.
So, long story short: this mad scientist (let’s call him Bob) injected me with what I’ve only since come to find out was an experimental super-soldier serum, apparently in an effort to turn the tide of World War II against the Nazis. (This is doubly weird because it happened, like, only three weeks ago.) Anyway, the serum acted pretty much like you’d expect: increased strength, agility, stamina, the whole nine yards. What I’m wondering, though, is: what am I supposed to do next? The secret military organization that Bob worked for says I have an obligation to use these abilities for the betterment of mankind, but I can barely make my monthly car payments or keep a steady girlfriend, much less lead a covert team into the jungles of South America to capture rogue scientists intent on blowing up the moon. (Seriously, that’s what they led off with.) What’s a part-time file clerk, now full-time dashing superhero to do?
It’s tempting to be dismissive and call “first world problems” on your petty concerns, but this is more like Jack Kirbyesque Fourth World, if you ask me. (Which, let’s face it, you did.) That doesn’t make your concerns any less petty, but it does help put them into their proper perspective. No doubt you’ve already heard that whole “great power…great responsibility” spiel a thousand times, so I won’t bore you with it again. But I do think you’re missing the bigger picture here, which is that superheroes, almost invariably, get sporty cars and fast women. (Think billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, not mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent.) This could be the very best thing that ever happened to you — provided, of course, that you aren’t somehow comically murdered in the process. And even that seems a fair enough trade for your time and efforts.