The following character, whose alter-ego is "Dereck Johnson," is entirely fictional and should not be construed as a reference to any real-life individuals assuming the name; whether they be living in Boston or elsewhere. For more, see Dereck Johnson (disambiguation).
Note: This article is under continuity repair.
Eqquibus can move very fast, and deliver his blows with tremendous force. He has some levitation ability as well, to compensate for the fact that his wings are of only so-so use in proportion to his weight. He is little match for a direct blow from a sword, however, so he realizes that he needs to use careful planning to throw off Gray's judgment. The wings he grows, while of limited use in flight, are capable of doubling as weapons. Even so, he relies more on his powerful connections with corrupt politicians and lobbyists to give him his edge. His glowing red eyes serve little purpose other than for intimidation, and he becomes more horse-like as time progresses. His feet, which have turned into hooves, give him almost as much means to trample someone as would befit an actual horse.
Dereck Johnson inherited his fortune from Raynold Johnson, a scientist who made millions in the development of Marlquaan-related technology. He also made money on the side through laundering schemes with Democratic politicians and lobbyists. Dereck, since the death of his mother Teresa, became maladjusted and misanthropic. He struggled in college with a growing sex drive; and grew especially annoyed by one girl named Darla Jennings. Darla often decorated her dorm room with pictures of horses, pictures of them which Dereck was mildly disturbed by.
He finally decided one evening that her constant teasing, unwillingness to commit, obsession with horses, and manipulation of others could not be tolerated anymore. He and a petty thief named Brad Lendin finally decided to stage a kidnapping, in an effort to knock some sense into her. They made it halfway to a safe house, when Dereck suddenly betrayed Brad and shot him. Unconscious but not dead, Brad was left in a parking lot where nobody had seen anything. Dereck had stolen the gun involved, and very cleverly disposed of it. He turned off his cell phone, lest anyone call and betray his location. He dragged an unconscious Darla into the safe house, and then tied her up. He made sure she was fully awake, then raped her while wearing the horse mask. Amidst his thrill of success, he realized he hadn't bothered to put a condom on. She would be able to readily identify him with DNA evidence! Dereck realized he couldn't let that happen, so he bludgeoned her to death with a shovel and buried her.
Ascension to Marl-Q Industries
The murder went unsolved, but it forever changed who Dereck was. Raynold's death meant Dereck took over control of the company. Immediately, he began following in Raynold's footsteps of celebrating cultural decadence and backing political corruption. He argued even that his father hadn't gone far enough, and that Dereck was going to push for things that Raynold could have never dreamed of.
Even so, Dereck's haunting memories of the murder led him to adopt erratic behaviors to cover it up. He began looking for women who reminded him of Darla, and later all women of that age group in general; and stalking them. He'd scout out where they lived, put on a Philistine-brand condom, acquire a horse mask and some drugs, and then plot the perfect assault. He successfully got away with committing over 46 rapes in the Boston area using this method, all his victims' testimonies being misleading due to the drugs. Oftentimes, there were wrongful convictions in cases. Dereck also adopted a duo-obsession with horses and incubi, purchasing a lot of artwork on both subjects.
Rise of the Eqquibus
Dereck was amazed by the breakthroughs in Marlquaan science and technology that his father had started, but noticed that nobody had ever managed to force the entire Marlquaan to Earth. Dereck decided to prove he could do exactly that, developing a device he felt could cause a Marlquaan storm and draw it into a container in one of his buildings in downtown Boston.
The fateful decision to attempt his experiment proved costly. Half of those present were instantly killed. A Marlquaan surge caused the building to explode, and the majority of Marlquaan returned to its location in space. The surge, however, sent out an impulse in all directions that selectively created Marlquaanites over the course of several hours.
This surge at some points even traveled back in time, giving some limited healing ability to Navyrope, and made him completely protected from HIV. It would also prove critical to Navyrope standing up to Clarence Felick. The surge also created Extirpon, as well as countless allies and enemies for him to encounter. And to Johnson's bane, the surge also turned John Domeck into the Gray Champion. Its effect on his comatose former friend Brad was to revive him, and turn him into a mule-like monster named Foalesce. Dereck himself started slowly developing wings and a horse-like appearance, completing his transformation into Eqquibus.
While trying to hide his transformation from public eyes, Eqquibus used his connections to push for aggressive imposition of mandatory vaccination of school-aged children to a disease his labs had discovered a vaccine for. Dae Pang had uncovered evidence of the vaccine's side effects being near-fatal to some volunteers who survived long enough to escape Johnson's labs and testify. She was among many who sponsored a public demonstration against the vaccine being imposed on children without any vote on the measure and without even so much as an executive order from the governor. Things seemed to be going in Eqquibus' favor. That's when the Gray Champion showed up, and Eqquibus realized that Gray could foil everything.
Desperate, he calls out his helicopter crews to poison the crowd with a gaseous form of his vaccine. Gray spots the helicopters, and intercepts one of their canisters. He immediately flies up and tosses a canister back at the pilot of one helicopter before it explodes, and the pilot loses control of his chopper. The careening-out-of-control helicopter crashes into another one, leading to only one chopper not compromised. The pilot of that one turns around in fear of his life. Eqquibus retaliates by charging down from atop a skyscraper and battling Gray directly in the streets while panicked demonstrators flee the scene with police in hot pursuit of them. Eqquibus proves unsuccessful in his first battle, fleeing to vow revenge. He devotes his entire time (and remaining support) to finding a way to defeat the Gray Champion.
He very nearly succeeds at his goal, trapping Gray in a Marlquaanite prison suspension unit and preparing to bury it in the Atlantic. Kyle and Hea interfere however, setting Gray free right as Eqquibus realizes parts of Gray's costume most likely came from Dae's museum. In a lengthy battle extending through several homes in the greater Boston area however, Eqquibus finally makes a false move that leads to him getting knocked unconscious and run through by Gray's sword. Gray eulogizes his fallen foe:
"So brilliant. So resourceful. So determined. Men of such wealth and power have a duty to do so much good in their world. And yet, a bad tree which never bears good fruit must ultimately be cut down. A pity."
Eqquibus began his life as "Verdabbin," a green-cloaked and male version of Meshaluta. He was transformed along with Gray into a Marlquaanite, but through different means than Dereck Johnson's experiment. His name was a portmanteau of verde (green) and Rabin, which sounded Middle Eastern. He began his life as a supervillain by terrorizing Grand Rapids, a city which the Dozerfleet founder was highly familiar with. Later study into Incubi and a desire to honor the Hawthorne source material more while improving the mythology led to a change of scenery and change of villain.
This wasn't the first time that an Arab stereotype villain in a draft would be replaced with something more generic, whether in Dozerfleet or in the works of other entities. Of note:
- The 9/11 themes that were going to be in Spider-Man (2002) were removed completely.
- When Nolan made his version of Batman for release in 2005, the Arab League of Assassins of Qurac were suddenly and inexplicably replaced with Chinese terrorists dubbed "League of Shadows."
- Heroes was going to feature a villain named The Engineer, who worked for Arab and African terrorists. Suddenly, out of nowhere, The Engineer and his associates were replaced with a mob boss named Linderman. Sylar gained a more prominent role than before, and the Engineer's nuclear ability suddenly went to a nobody named Ted Sprague.
- Saiyid on Lost was frequently portrayed often in as positive a light as possible, so as to make him not seem two-dimensional given his history in the Republican Guard.
- Totally independent of Nolan's decision to create the League of Shadows for Batman Begins, Ciem 2 (and Nuclear Crisis) referenced the fictional Mik-Non from China. It was intended as a shift from using Arabs not for the sake of political correctness; but to take the story in a "fresher" direction and make remarks about the nature of the US trade deficit with China.
Arab terrorists still show up in Boston in Classic and Comprehensive Gerosha, in a much-reduced role. Even though foiling one of their plots is part of Gray's job in the opening of Chillingworth's Revenge, a fictional Society of the Icy Finger re-creating Chillingworth from one of their own soon eclipses the plot.
With Johnson, the idea came soon after 2002 to explore other possibilities besides a two-dimensional Arab monster. In the drafting process, Johnson soon became a billionaire in the vein or Osborn or Dr. Doom. He was going to be simply a corrupt businessman who stood to profiteer from forcing lifestyle drugs on schoolchildren, a social commentary on the aggressive push of Hepatitis B vaccines on schoolchildren that was featuring in the news. He soon became a serial rapist in drafts, and developed wings like an incubus. Not content to have him become an incubus that sought to spread deviancy as a foil to Gray's stand for decency, Johnson required something extra to make him more easily trademarked. He therefore became an equine enthusiast. This completed the picture: the Marlquaan brought out his true nature as an equine incubus, or an "eqquibus." The one thing more terrifying than being at the mercy of a rapist is being at the mercy of an entity that forces victims against their will into what could be considered acts of bestiality. Thus, Johnson became a billionaire scientist and a complete and total degenerate.
Unlike Botan, Stung Hornet, General Xiang, and other morally gray antivillains in the Gerosha universe; Eqquibus is a man whose entire motivation was evil from the beginning. And yet, it's an evil that is complicated. His guilt and anxiety over Darla's murder is what drove him to become a serial rapist; finding ways to not have to kill his victims in order to achieve his thrill of terrorizing them without spilling their blood. It isn't until his transformation into Eqquibus that he abandons his morality completely; the transformation convincing him that he was always doomed to be a monster anyway. Therefore, he need not pretend any longer to be anything but a monster. His is the slippery slope into evil that harkens back to Macbeth.
Eqquibus versus other Gerosha villains
This makes him a different sort of evil character from Chillingworth or even Duke Arfaas, both of whom were indoctrinated in the ways of evil from an early age. It also separates him from Musaran, who is a near-mindless slave. He also carries out his crimes with a sense of class, distinguishing him from wastes of existence like Victor Nanale. In spite all the depths he crawls to, and horse-like features he takes on, Eqquibus never fully loses his humanity. He is able to laugh and smile. And oddly enough, even have standards. He is not a perpetual frowner, often seeing the silver linings in things and capable of possessing a sense of humor even about the things Gray does that frustrate him. This sets him apart from his otherwise equivalent character in the Stationery Voyagers universe: Astrabolo. He can be relentless like Astrabolo; but is not nearly as deluded and lacks the planet-wide connections necessary to pull off Astrabolo-style war crimes.
- Dereck's SDCPM file
- Gray Champion
- Hea Pang
- Dae Pang
- The Gray Champion: Freedom's Apparition