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Edgar, the Elder. Alan, the Younger.

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The Frog brothers are twins.

Not identical, not even fraternal. They are what people used to call 'Irish twins': children born less than a year a part. In this case, ten months, give or take.

Pa Frog had been on a big kick, reading the works of author Edgar Alan Poe, something he hadn't done since he'd dropped out of community college. Ma Frog had seen the title of one short story, "Hop-Frog", and taken it as a sign.

Not that the story had anything to do with frogs, or was a funny story; quite the opposite, honestly.

Ma Frog was just big into signs. So much so that she had refused to name Edgar before he turned a year old, his birth certificate registered under "Boy Frog". It wasn't until Alan's birth, when she took the sign from the writings of Edgar Alan Poe, that both sons received their names.

Edgar the elder.

Alan the younger.

The Frogs were too old to hope for more children by that point. Ma Frog recalled there had once been a black-as-midnight tomcat they'd called Poe, but it had disappeared and never come back.

The building they called home was a storefront with living quarters above. Ma Frog had given up her holistic healing kick, only because she'd had two toddlers to wrangle and talking to others about what herbs to use for a broken heart and what elixir to try during the waning moon and was she going to attend the Summer Solstice event where clothing was option, well, it got to be too much.

Pa Frog had decided comic books, both mainstream and counter-culture, were the way to go. Out went the crystals, herbs, and ointments. In came the Supermans, the Mighty X-Men, and R. Crumb.

Edgar and Alan, always in this order, grew up with pages of Mickey Mouse comics, fists sticky from the hard candies their parents slipped them from behind the counter to keep them quiet. Pa wasn't the best salesman but the local teen population's thirst for comic books kept the family afloat.

Lt. Colonel Hiram P. Frog, Pa Frog's father, didn't approve of his son and daughter-in-law's hippie lifestyle. As their parents became more and more burned out, between running the comic store, raising their sons, and maintaining their heavy addiction to marijuana, Lt. Colonel Frog found himself driving the two hour round trip to Santa Carla to collect his grandsons.

Edgar and Alan never called him 'grandpa'; he was always Lt. Colonel to them. At their grandfather's home they learned all things military and the art of war. Ma Frog was always aghast and horrified each time her father-in-law returned the brothers. Sometimes wearing new clothes that were mass-produced cloth instead of homespun, earth-friendly fibers. Other times with haircuts that made their little heads so round, their ears sticking out at the sides.

Pa Frog bit his tongue. It was free childcare, after all, and by that point Lt. Colonel Frog was taking the boys for most of the summer.

Edgar and Alan took to the military structure of life like two ducks to water. There was schedule, order, and three square meals a day at Lt. Colonel's house. No piecemeal instructions, no parent trailing off mid-sentence, no scrounging for food that wasn't organic or contained wheat grass and sprouts.

Lt. Colonel Frog let the boys solve their disputes with supervised hand-to-hand combat. It was surprisingly effective.

Although the old man ran a tight ship, he did allow occasional pleasures. Taking the boys to the movie theater, especially to see old black and white war movies, made the Lt. Colonel giddy. Not that it showed on the outside. Edgar and Alan, each allowed one item from the concession stand as a treat, ate up the films they watched, breathed in every frame.

When First Blood was released, it took some convincing on their part to help Lt. Colonel understand that it was a modern type of war movie, but he finally consented and took the Frog brothers to a screening.

It was one of the last films Lt. Colonel took the boys to see.

He died of a heart attack, they said. In his sleep, they said. Mostly painless.

Edgar and Alan, no longer able to take comfort in their grandfather's regimented refuge, instituted their own form of it back home, in the comic shop. Ma Frog had given up for the better part, allowing them to dress in clothing purchased at the Army Surplus store, though she hated the thought of their hard-earned money going to the war machine. Pa Frog took a more sensible approach: he chalked up the changes to grieving. The boys would grow out of it eventually.

Lt. Colonel Frog and Rambo became the high priests of their religion, Captain America, Batman, and Superman their saints, as the Frog brothers dedicated themselves to Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

When Pa Frog took out an order from an individual small press company that produced horror titles, Edgar and Alan took notice of the two comic books when they opened the boxes. Vampires Everywhere, one title exclaimed. Destroy All Vampires, cried the other.

The Frog Brothers had found their calling.