Action Hero: Dr. Root (Villain)
Artist: Chris Moffitt
Dr. Kyle Rutmeyer and his wife Olivia, both botanists, began their journey in Northern Belize. Olivia, a paraplegic, had been prisoner to her wheelchair for several years after an accident in Peru. Since then, they have been searching for a rare plant called the "Petiveria alliacea" which is known to locals as "the root of life". This plant is said to have healing agents that can rid the body of many illnesses including paralysis. The plant is very difficult to find because it grows mostly in dark, cool areas and thrives in puddles and ponds, sometimes not visible above the water's surface.
They set up a lab near Cahal Pech just outside a vast rainforest near the edge of a massive cliff where the plant is rumored to grow. While Olivia stays at the lab examining several fungi samples, Kyle decides to head out into the forest in search of nearby streams and valleys where the plant might grow.
After several hours, Kyle had ventured deep into the forest. He comes across an enormous tree and remembers a local man describing this very tree as the "Yaxche" the Mayan "tree of life". Under the roots are large shaded pockets of earth where bats and insects live. As he walks around the tree, admiring the giant roots he notices a sheet of vines stretched across several of the inner roots. He leans in closer to take a look and feels a cool breeze coming through the vines. He pulls the vines apart to reveal a huge hole that goes straight down into the ground. He cracks a glow stick and throws it down the hole. The glow stick splashes suddenly in a puddle of water about 6 feet down.
Kyle decides to jump in and take a look around. Once inside, he grabs the glow stick and holds it up to discover a large room with a pond in the middle. Above the pond, several Mayan tablets hang suspended from the ceiling tangled in vines as if the vines had picked them up out of the water. Kyle drops the glow stick in disbelief. The light from the glow stick causes the water to glow green, engulfing the room with green light. Under the water's surface, Kyle sees something. Something very similar to a description he's only read about in books. The Petiveria Alliacea.
Overcome with excitement, he reaches into the water to cut away at one of the precious plants. Just as his knife touches the root, he feels a tremor inside the tree. It stops, so he continues to cut into the root. Suddenly, something grabs his feet and holds him firmly in the water. Looking down he sees the roots of the tree, wrapped tightly around his legs. He thrashes about wildly, leaning forward, cutting with his knife and trying to break free when suddenly several of the tablets above him slam down on his back. Vines wrap around his arms and back, then suddenly jerk him backward putting intense strain on his back. The remaining tablets slam into his chest and several roots rise from the water, wrapping around his torso and arms. His neck, head and back are covered in a twisted network of vines and roots. His skin begins to turn green as he screams in agony until finally becoming unconscious.
When he wakes up, the room is dark. The only light is from the entrance above him. His entire body is numb except for his legs. He manages to stand up with little trouble but the light coming from the entrance is blinding. He stumbles forward and climbs out into the sunlight, squinting. He can barely make out a large group of men who seem to have followed him to the tree. The men have automatic weapons and start yelling at him. Kyle doesn't recognize the language and can barely see their faces because of the intense sunlight. He lifts his arms toward them to try and calm them down when suddenly gunfire fills the jungle. Kyle feels a rush of adrenaline and wonders if he's been shot. Screams are heard between shots and within moments, all is quiet. His eyes finally adjust to the light and he looks on the ground to see bloodied bodies lying motionless everywhere. "What have I done?", he thought. "Who are these people?". He looks at his hands and is horrified by what he sees. His eyes, now fully adjusted to the sunlight, focus in on two horrific hands, both gnarled and twisted. His skin resembling that of bark. Where his fingers once were, are now twisted branches moving as if they were alive.
Kyle looks down at the bodies lying on the ground. A woman gagged and bound. Mangled and bloodied. "No" he thought. "Olivia? What have I done?" He drops to the ground to hold his wife's limp body. His hands open up and hundreds of vines pour out wrapping around her body, her bones popping and separating. "NO!" He quickly releases her and she drops to the ground. His eyes filled with tears and his heart filled with rage he looks down at his chest and sees the tablets stacked along his torso, held together by twisted roots and gnarled branches. "This is a curse. I shouldn't have come here. We shouldn't have come here, Olivia." But Olivia is gone. Kyle has nothing left. At 58 years of age, with his wife gone, he has no reason to live.
Suddenly he hears men coming through the trees, he knows they will find him and kill him. He waits for them. He waits for death. As soon as they are in sight, they open fire. Waves of bullets hit Kyle but he feels nothing. He should be dead but the plants that cover his body protect him and absorb the enemy rounds. He feels the adrenaline rush through his body again. "No. I will not kill again. I will not live with this curse." He turns and begins to run as fast as he can in the direction of the lab. He can't remember the last time he was able to run this fast. It feels invigorating. He feels strong. Alive. He loses the men in a matter of seconds.
As he approaches the clearing near the lab, he sees the rocky ledge that looks out over the huge cliff, high above the trees. He knows what he must do, but this new energy, this power, makes him feel more alive than he's ever felt before. At full speed he hurls his body over the edge but he feels no fear. He knows this will not hurt and he knows he cannot die. As the wind whistles through his body he sees the tops of the trees coming up fast. He feels a connection to them, as if they are a part of him. With his arms stretched out in front of him, his hands open like the mouths of ancient mythical beasts and thousands of vines and roots flow out from his arms, rapidly flying out to meet the branches flying past him. They connect and he swings through the air until he is just above the ground and gently lands on the forest floor.
It is peaceful. He sees the trees and plants differently. He feels their energy. He has always cared for plants but not in this way. "These plants are greater than mankind. We are destroying their home by polluting it and tearing down the very thing that gives us life. What good is mankind to this planet if they can only destroy it?" Kyle knows what he must do now with this curse. He no longer sees it as a curse. He looks up into the treetops and grins a sinister grin. "It's a gift."
- Super human strength
- Impervious to weapons and fire as long as some sort of plant life is nearby
- Complete control of nearby plants and trees
- Can produce any form of plant from his limbs
- Ability to extend vines and branches from his hands and swing through
trees at great speeds
- Roots on his back can extend out and grab objects, people or weapons