Gotta love that solid black as young Alex’s face descends into shadow in that last panel.  A real hint of the darkness in Alex’s backstory waiting to be uncovered.

Speaking of backstory, our look at the history of Alex Thomas continues with this commentary on how his public unmasking affected Gilbert Graham:


One key point that should not be overlooked is that Alex Thomas’s decision to publicly unmask not only changed his life forever, but also Gilbert Graham’s.  For in revealing that he was The Standard, he also made it incredibly obvious that Gilbert – Alex’s legal guardian through his childhood years – was The Standard before him.  Gilbert had retired from the hero business, hoping to enjoy a quiet life.  Instead, the spotlight of the world was now on him, publicly exposed as the world’s first superhero.  Despite all the fame and fortune Alex Thomas going public has brought him, it will always remained tarnished by this act of selfishness.  For while he may have made the decision to unmask himself, Gilbert Graham never had a say in the matter.

When Gilbert had returned from Vietnam and been honourably discharged from military service, he still could not find funding as a scientist.  This prompted a shift in career, with him becoming a Chemistry teacher at Sky City High School.  This is a job he has now held for over 30 years, one which he carried on with past hanging up the cape, and even now continues on with despite having passed the usual age of retirement.  Perhaps it is because he is much hardier and healthier than most men of his age, or perhaps it is because no one wants to say no to The Standard, but whatever the reason, he’s been allowed to carry on doing what he apparently loves without impediment.

Teaching remains Gilbert’s primary source of income.  When the floods of magazine deals, interview offers and royalty checks came flooding in his direction after everyone and their dog figured out he was the original Standard, he turned them all down.  To this day, he has never made a penny off his tenure as The Standard.  And he remains notoriously publicity shy.  He has never done any official interviews with the media since his secret was revealed.  However, he is by no means a mean-spirited recluse.  Unofficially, it has been reported that he is happy to talk about his superhero days with curious passers-by, and is always gracious enough to sign an autograph or pose for a photo with any fan that might approach him.

One concern voiced among some was that the revelation that Gilbert Graham had once been The Standard might provoke some attack on him at his home or his place of work – either by an old villain acting in retaliation or a new villain wanting to make a name for themselves – but that never happened.  Zachary Zarthos was the one people most feared would strike at Gilbert, but as mentioned earlier, Zarthos never left prison after The Standard retired.  Some speculate that it could have been the unmasking that took the wind out of his sails once and for all.  Because when you had a name and a face to match to the idea of The Standard, when he could be seen as just a man, then some intangible quality is lost.

It is a poorly kept secret that Gilbert Graham and Alex Thomas have become estranged, and haven’t spoke to each other in years.  Was the rift down to Alex publicly outing him as The Standard?  Or is it something bigger, perhaps Gilbert’s disapproval of what The Standard has become in his absence?