Nine-year-old Gabe Marshall stood at the front door of his Hutchinson home on North Baker Street on Monday evening and knew he wasn’t appropriately dressed for his company: Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Superman’s father Jor-El.
“Dad, come here. I need to talk to you. Hurry,” Gabe called to his father, Joshua Marshall, who was outside. The older Marshall stepped inside, and they retreated into the house. When the door opened, and Gabe emerged, he was wearing a Batman mask and black cape.
Gabe's bald head is a reminder of the battle he’s been waging after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2015.
“As of right now, he’s OK," said his mother, Bethany. "Neurologically, he’s stable. We’re happy about that.”
The Marshall family, which includes Gabe’s younger sister Makinzley, moved to the house on North Baker this year, and their church family at Park Place Christian Church, 2600 N. Adams St., turned up Monday to decorate the exterior for Christmas. Behind the scenes, members of the church, the Hutchinson Police Department, and Smallville collaborated to bring the superheroes to life.
Gabe exchanged fist bumps and posed for photos. He tried on his new gift, a bigger Batman mask. Soon he was sitting on the porch, Super G and the gang trading talk about heroes, villains and movies.
“Do you know you live in Smallville?” attorney Ethan Kaplan, dressed as Superman, asked Gabe. He knew.
Gabe also knew Batman, the secret identity of police officer Danny Nowlan, was, in Gabe’s words, “looking all over the place for the Joker.”
“Are you getting too dry?” Gabe asked Aquaman, the Smallville Museum's Christopher Wietrick, at one point.
“Smart boy. I love how he knows his comic stuff,” Jon Robinson, with Smallville ComicCon and dressed as Jor-El, said to Joshua Marshall.
“Couldn’t pass the chance like this,” Wietrick said of the occasion.
Christmas lights blinked in the front of the house and inflatables decorated the lawn. Police officer Tim Williams said goodbye to Gabe, and finally, it was time for the superheroes and Super G to extend an arm for a common handshake. “Justice League,” they shouted in unison.
“Come over anytime,” Gabe said.