Archive for January, 2020

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Into February, Goodbye January

31 January, 2020

Pray for good fortuneJanuary is quickly ending as the year moves ever onward.

Our month of February gets its name from Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa performed at this time of year.  The Romans considered February an ill-omened month which is why it is only twenty-eight days long, or twenty-nine is a leap year like 2020.  For this month, we again return to the theme of curses, cursed items, ill-fortune and, perhaps, defense against such terrible things.  As usual, suggestions, comments and ideas are welcome.

What was published on the journal in January, 2020, was:

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Heroes Inc – Issue 18 – Puzzles and Pennies

30 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Issue 18: Puzzles and Pennies

Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Plasma-Man, Kid Comic, and Lt. Steele.

Villains: The Puzzle Master and the Three Pennies (Penny Black, Penny Dreadful, and Penny Farthing)

Cover: The team overshadowed by a huge question mark. Across the bottom is blazoned: Against the Puzzle Master!

Opening page: Part One. Janice at the Heroes Inc front desk, inter-coming Jack Diamond, “Mr. Diamond, we have received a package. Normally I would not bother you, sir, but it is ticking.”

Next page: Jack Diamond and Plasma-Man in the lab, Jack is using a set of waldos to open the package while Plasma-Man reviews the x-ray of the package. “I think it is a clock,” says Plasma-Man. And indeed it is, a clock and taped to its face is a riddle. The heroes puzzle over the riddle before realizing that it is the calling card of Peter Arthur Radox aka the Puzzle Master!

Just as they conclude that, the clock strikes twelve and a recorded voice says, “By now you should have figured out who this is. So riddle me this, Mr. Diamond, why is a raven like a writing desk?”

Inside the NY Public LibraryThe heroes ponder this for a moment and then call Janice to ask her.(1) Janice immediately recognizes it and replies, “It is from Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Diamond. The reply given by the Mad Hatter was, ‘If I knew the answer I would not ask you.’ Though another suggested answer is Edgar Allan Poe, because he wrote on both of them.” Janice picks up a copy of the New York Times, “Mr. Diamond, a new display of rare books from the 19th century has just opened at the New York Public Library including first editions of works by Lewis Carroll and Poe.”

Jack looks to Plasma-Man and switches on his wrist communicator, “Heroes Incorporate!”

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Heroes Inc – Summaries of Issues 16 and 17

29 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Summaries of Issues Sixteen and Seventeen (July – August 1964)

Issue 16: The Gauntlet

Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Jade Dragon, Kid Comic, and Lt. Steele. Villains:

The Gauntlet: Green Knight, Icer, Mechanism, Mocking Bird and the Grey Man (who is never actually seen in this issue).

Cover: The team sprawling unconscious at the feet of the members of the Gauntlet, Mocking Bird holding Jade Dragon’s Ring in her hand saying, “Who’s next?” Caption: “America’s Heroes Laid Low by the Gauntlet?!?”

Opening page: Heroes Inc. (Playboy, Jade Dragon, Kid Comic and Lt. Steele) meeting at HQ. Janice Trades, Heroes Inc secretary, delivers a file to Jack saying, “This is urgent, Mr. Diamond.” He opens it and the first page has in bright red letters, “Security Breach” written across it. Jack stands, “Team we have a problem.” And with that, the doors to the meeting room burst open and Green Knight, Icer and Mechanism storm in, while “Janice” reveals herself to be Mocking Bird. It is a very close fight, Playboy goes down early to Mocking Bird’s martial arts. Kid Comic is felled by Green Knight and Mocking Bird double teaming him. Icer uses purple ice (as Jade Dragon’s force manipulation does effect purple, wonder where he got that idea?) to smash Jade Dragon. Lt. Steele is the last to go down. “What fate awaits our heroes?”

Issue 17: Plots Abound

Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Kid Comic, Plasma Man, and Lt. Steele. Cameos by: The Duke of Stirling, and Sirius.

Villains: Red Amerika (Captain Communist, Red Dragon, the Socialite), BLAST troopers.

Cover: A map of New York City with Harlem burning, “Riots in New York! What will our Heroes do?”

Opening page: Our heroes tied to chairs each of the heroes has a sign hung around his neck: Playboy “Trumped.” Kid Comic “Ignoble.” Jade Dragon “Defanged.” And Lt. Steele “Obsolete.” Janice, the real one, is untying them, “Good thing I took those yoga classes,” she says.

This issue is all about plot hooks. Sirius explains about the other space empire, the Throne and its psionic power, he suspects the Grey Man (who Janice saw) might be one of their scouts. The Gauntlet took Jade Dragon’s ring and Jade Dragon is very sick through most of the issue only recovering at the end. Senator Barry Goldwater is chosen as the Republican candidate for President and asks Jack for an endorsement (Jack refuses but speaks well of Goldwater in interviews). Riots in Harlem, Heroes Inc steps in to help limit the damage. Kid Comic has an encounter with Red Amerika who are also trying to limit the damage caused by the riots. Serious riots in Rochester, NY, Gov. Rockefeller mobilizes the National Guard and Heroes Inc. Heroes Inc discovers that the rioters were provoked and supported by BLAST (Black Legion of Africa – Shock Troopers) troopers, but the leader of BLAST, the Black Lion, escapes.

Closing page, Jack Diamond reading the New York Times. The lead story: Gulf of Tonkin resolution passed, President Johnson given full authority to use US military in Vietnam.

Flip back to summaries of Issues 12-15.

Onward to Issues 18!

Back to Heroes Inc Roll Call.

Notes: A little deeper write ups here which is good, more information to mine!  The Harlem Riots were a real thing, triggered by a young African-American man being shot and killed by a NYPD officer who claimed he had a knife.  Some of my weaving of superheroic and real history strikes me as clumsy and insensitive in retrospect even if well meaning.

Image: This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Serendipitous Staff

28 January, 2020

Always have a staff handyVoddick was about to shout a warning to the traveler when they knelt down to pick a flower and the falling branch just brushed the top of their hat, knocking it askew.

“Goodness,” said the traveler straightening and then straightening their hat, “that was a close call.  Good thing I like violets.”

“Are you well?” asked Voddick hurrying over.

“Yes, yes, just a little surprised.”

“Well, that branch should make a good bit of firewood,” said Gollaon pushing it with the toe of his boot.

“A true windfall then,” said the traveler with a wink.

Serendipitous Staff

These staves are usually simple staves, decorated by various owners with carvings, ribbons and other small decorations.  It is said the first of these was made from a branch of the world tree that was knocked free by a clumsy godling. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Heroes Inc – Summaries of Issues 12 to 15

28 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Summaries of Issues Twelve through Fifteen (April – June 1964)

Issue 12: Dinosaurs in Time Square!
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Kid Comic, Human Jackrabbit, Plasma-Man, Lt. Steele (full members), Caretaker/ Gravedigger (guest hero).

Villains: Various Dinosaurs.

See Annual Zero for complete write up.

Issue 13: The Clown Prince’s House of Fun.
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Kid Comic, Human Jackrabbit, Plasma-Man, Lt. Steele (full members), Night Cat (guest hero).

Welcome to the House of FunVillains: the Clown Prince, Master M, Grandeur.

Night Cat guest stars long enough to warn Jack that the Clown Prince is in New York. The Clown Prince kidnaps Billy’s sister, Plasma-Man’s girlfriend, Elaine Elizabeth (girl reporter) and Torch and threatens to kill them (on live television) unless Heroes Inc can stop him. The characters successfully track him to an abandoned fun house on Coney Island. The characters storm in and confront the Clown Price on live television, the hostages and rescued and Jack tricks the Clown Prince into falling into a one of his own traps (a pit of mechanical crocodiles) but no body is recovered.

Issue 14: The Grandmaster Returns: Gambit One.
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Kid Comic, Human Jackrabbit, Plasma-Man, SpyMaster (full members).

Villains: the Grandmaster (off-stage), the Betrayed (White Dragon [team leader], Burden, Enchained, the Grip, Indian Giver, and Tarnish.)

A wounded SpyMaster arrives bleeding from a spear thrust at Heroes Inc and passes out, the only clue, a black chess pawn in his hand. The characters treat Spymaster and he informs them that the Grandmaster has organized a second team of paranormals and is planning a major attack, but he does not know where. Janice, the team secretary, then arrives with an invitation from LBJ for Jack to join him for a press op. At the press op, LBJ is asked all sorts of troubling question (“Why do you support the South Vietnamese government that uses torture against it own people?” and things like that). LBJ is getting increasingly irate when the villains reveal themselves and arrest LBJ for crimes against humanity! Natural, Heroes Inc must intervene. A fight ensues, the Heroes win, but not before Jack and White Dragon cross verbal swords on matters of ideology. Four of the Betrayed are captured (everyone but White Dragon and Tarnish) and the President is saved. But what other plots does the Grandmaster have in store . . .

Issue 15: Threat from Space!
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Kid Comic, Plasma-Man, and Lt. Steele. Cameos by: Human Jackrabbit and Rebel. Introducing: Jade Dragon and Sirius.

Villains: Consolidation Special Forces lead by Stellar Commander Storr.

Opening page: Human Jackrabbit guest-starring on Rebel’s show during a stop over on his way to Tokyo, Japan. Next page: Jade Dragon looking up the outside of the Empire State Building. Jade Dragon, a Japanese national, is visiting Heroes Inc while Human Jackrabbit visits Japan in a goodwill exchange. His first mission, help the team investigate an alien landing in New Jersey (near Princeton). What the local NJ Police had found was an abandoned escaped pod, and a dog with a briefcase. Strangely, the dog had a tag identifying him as Jack Diamond’s dog . . .

Jack took the opportunity and ran with it, taking the dog to a nearby Diamond Industries facility as a trio of delta-shaped ships landed. The Diamond Industries Security Unit slowed down the aliens while the heroes talked with the good alien to find out what was happening (he assumed human form, starting with Adolf Hitler, the first tv image). The Heroes helped by the still unnamed alien (“We could call him Dogstar?” “You can’t be Siris?”) defeated the bad aliens (the Consolidation) and whisked him to safety.

Flip back to summaries of Issues 7-11.

Onward to summaries of Issues 16 and 17!

Or Sideways in time to Annual Zero or just Sideways to Special: Our Government at Work.

Back to Heroes Inc Roll Call.

Notes: Nor do I recall why I did not do full write ups of these games either.  Apart from the Clown Prince game not working out anywhere near as well as I had hoped.

Photo: Fun house ride, Century 21 Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1962., from the Seattle Municipal Archives, found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Heroes Inc – Summaries of Issues 7 to 11

26 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Summaries of Issues Seven through Eleven (September 1963 – March 1964)

Issue 7: Challenge of the Grand Master
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Rebel, Kid Comic (full members), Askar the Untamed, Jet-Man (probationary members). First Appearance: The Blue Archer, Plasma-Man.

Villains: The Animal Farm.

First organization meeting of Heroes Inc., Blue Archer and Plasma-Man are introduced, Jack Diamond (aka Playboy) is confirmed as team leader. The Heroes are called into save Wall Street as the NY Stock Exchange trading floor is under attack by the Animal Farm. The heroes arrive and after a close battle, defeat the Animal Farm who are then spirited away. A black chess king is left behind for Jack with a note reading, “Next time, I will win. The Grandmaster.”

Issue 8: Escape from Checkmate
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Rebel (full members), 54-40, Doctor Unknown, Jet-Man (probationary members).

Villains: Grandmaster, Infamy Inc, and the Vivisector.

The issue opens with the characters in small cells reflecting on how they were ambushed at a public ceremony by Infamy Inc and captured (flashback to ambush). Oxen, leader of the Animal Farm, comes and talks with Jack. Jack promises to help Animal Farm escape their dependence on the Grandmaster in exchange for helping Heroes Inc escape. The Heroes escape, regain their equipment and confront most of Infamy Inc (capturing three of the four members) and the Vivisector (a Nazi scientist now working for the Soviets) but the Grandmaster escapes. The Heroes emerge on 22 November to find that JFK has been shot in Dallas.(1)

-Interlude- Jan 1st, The first Rebel television special airs with guest stars Ann Bancroft, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Ernie Kovacs(2), Sophia Loren, and Anna Meridian.

Issue 9: Heroes Inc no more? and Diamonds
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Askar the Untamed, Blue Archer, the Human Jackrabbit, Kid Comic, Plasma-Man (all full members).

Villains: The Mind Mistress, her Sycophant and her Janissaries.

Part 1: Heroes Inc no More? President Lyndon Johnson has temporarily revoked all Government charters for superheroes, LBJ wants to draft heroes as the US did in WW2. Jack is appointed to the Warren commission as their ‘expert on paranormal capabilities.’ The other heroes gather at the Heroes Inc base to discus what to do and end up going bowling and then having a session in the practice room.
Part 2: Diamonds. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) has pushed through the Superhero Samaritan Act (SuSA) and LBJ has, grudgingly, restored Heroes Inc charter. The Heroes attend the opening of DeBeers ‘Diamonds Now and Forever’ exhibit. The heroes stop Mind Mistress and her thugs from robbing the exhibit and capture all the criminals.

-Interlude- Feb 6th, Black Label Cigarettes presents ‘The Rebel Variety Hour‘ as it premiers in a weekly Thursday nighttime slot.
Feb 7th, Beatles arrive in the US to mass hysteria. 25,000 fans greet plane at JFK airport.

Fashion!Issue 10: Fear of Fashion
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Askar the Untamed, Blue Archer, Kid Comic, Plasma-Man (all full members).

Villains: The Mad Mod and Modern Crimes (Big Wig, Runway and the Mannikan).

The Heroes are invited to a charity fashion show and, of course, accept. Capt. Marcus Grimm, USAF, is assigned to work as the Government’s liaison to Heroes Inc and arrives. The fashion show is interrupted by the Mad Mod and Modern Crimes after a furious battle (which our heroes almost lose) Jack philosophically confronts the Mad Mod and he retreats with his team.

Issue 11: Dead Man’s Hand
Appearing in this issue: Playboy, Askar the Untamed, the Human Jackrabbit, Kid Comic (all full members). First Appearance: Lt. Steel.

Villains: The Hand of Glory and assorted demonic entities.

The Blue Archer leaves the team to move to San Francisco.  Lt Steel of the US Army’s Special Equipment Division, is assigned to assist the team.  Heroes Inc is called in by the Chief of the NYPD, there has been an alarming rise in the rate of domestic violence leading to murder.  Several of the people involved, including one mind scanned by Mentus (one of Kid Comic’s forms), reported seeing a spectral image of a dark hand with each finger tipped by a burning wick before they went into a murderous rage.  Jack took the team to Scotland in his private jet to consult with the Duke of Sterling (a sorcerer, who Jack had met during WW2).  Then they returned to NYC, investigated a building sight for a new subway where they fought several dark creatures and saw the creature bearing the Hand of Glory who is behind the violence.   The characters were contacted by Doctor Unknown, who let them know that the Hand fed on fear and that he was slowly using wards to trap it.  The Duke sent a box to contain the Hand.  Heroes Inc confronted the Hand, were sucked into the realm of nightmare, freed themselves, and finally defeated the Hand (saving the life of Kitty Genovese (3) in the process).

Flip back to Issue Six.

Onward to summaries of Issues 12-15!

Or Sideways in time to Annual Zero

Back to Heroes Inc Roll Call.

Notes: (1) It was important to have the heroes sidelined during the Kennedy assassination for a variety of reasons, conspiracy theories and others, thus their capture and imprisonment here. (2) In the Heroes Inc timeline Ernie Kovacs was not killed in an accident on an wet road in California in 1962 and went on to work with Rebel and others.  (3) The Murder of Kitty Genovese being quite a cause célèbre in our world.

I do not recall why I did not do full writeups of these games but such is life . . .

Photo: Group of minidresses designed by John Bates for Jean Varon, mid-late 1960s, including a fluorescent green micro-mini. Exhibited at the Fashion Museum, Bath, 2006.  Source Flickr by Dani Lurle and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Heroes Inc – Issue 6 – Day of Destiny

26 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Issue Six (September 1963)

Appearing in this issue:

Our Heroes, Our Heroes, Full Members of the Team: Playboy and Rebel, Probationary Members: Jet-Man.  Introducing:
Askar the Untamed, The Doctor, Human Jackrabbit, and the White Knight.

Day of Destiny

Cover: The silhouette of the New York city skyline with a large shadowed figure leaning over it against a pale violet background. Small figures of Jet-Man, Playboy and Rebel lay unconscious at the bottom of the page. The figure has a speech balloon that reads, “The United States are mine!” Three yellow circles in the bottom right-hand corner contains three silhouettes with white question marks within them and underneath is written, “Can these new Heroes save the day?”

Imagine the fog as purpleOpening page: The skyline of New York City in the early morning as Jet-Man returns from a test flight of his new armor, a purple mist is beginning to envelope the city.

Jet-Man radios Jack (waking him up) and Heroes Inc begins to investigate. Meanwhile in an apartment building on the edge of the Village, Vincent Dominicus (aka The Doctor) awakes with a premonition of dread, first checking to make sure that his sister is safe in bed, he then checks the wards on his building, by a strange coincidence this is the same apartment building (The New Amsterdam Arms) in which the Human Jackrabbit and the White Knight live.

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Heroes Inc – Issue 5 – Against the Invisible Empire

25 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Issue Five (August 1963)

Appearing in this issue: Our Heroes, Full Members of the Team: Playboy and Rebel, Probationary Members: 54-40 (NPC this issue) Introducing: Jet-Man.

Against the Invisible Empire
Cover: A man in a white hood holding a smoking flame thrower, behind him a burning cross draped with a burning American flag. Splashed across is the words “Against the Invisible Empire”. In a yellow circle in the bottom right hand corner is a head and shoulders shot of a man in powered armor surrounded by the words, “Introducing Jet-Man!”

Opening page: August in NYC. Young Billy (secret identity of Kid Comic) is on a cross-country trek in a station wagon with his family to see the Grand Canyon. Rebel has just returned from Hollywood and the filming of Rebel: the Untold Story.(1) Torch is away on “personal business”. Jack has been contacted (separately) by both President Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, expressing concern about Dr. King’s proposed March on Washington (in which probationary Hero Inc member X will be participating in along with the Lion of Judah and the Harlem Renaissance-man). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Heroes Inc – Issue 4 – The Napoleon of Crime

25 January, 2020

Heroes Incorporated,Issue Four (June 1963)

The team finally decided on a name, hallelujah!

Appearing in this issue: Our Heroes, Full Members of the Team: Playboy, Rebel, and Torch (of Liberty).  Probationary Members: Kid Comic and Caretaker/Gravedigger.

The Napoleon of Crime
Rebel looks sort of likes thisCover: Rebel in a pool hall holding a switch blade knife with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, written across the cover is “Rebel gone bad?”. In a circle is a split face on one side an old man, the other a white zombie face with “Introducing Caretaker/Gravedigger”.

Opening page: Summer in NYC, young Billy (secret identity of Kid Comic) has a summer job working at the HQ of the newly christened Heroes Inc. In a thought balloon Billy thinks back on how earlier in the week, Elvis visited taking time from his busy schedule to have lunch with Rebel. His revery is interrupted by the arrival of the Chief of the NYPD and one of his assistants carrying a large case. “We need to see Mr. Diamond,” says the Chief.

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New MinuteMen (Heroes Inc) – Issue 3 – Master of the Air

24 January, 2020

The New Minutemen, Issue Three (May 1963)

-The name of the team is still yet subject to change-

Appearing in this issue: Our Heroes, Full Members of the Team: PLAYBOY, Rebel, and Torch (of Liberty).  Probationary Members: Kid Comic.

Master of the Air
Visit Bodega Bay!Opening page: Jack Diamond a.k.a. Playboy surveys Bodega Bay, California, flanked by two US Marines armed with shotguns. The town is badly damaged, wrecked vehicles, and the bodies of dead birds are everywhere. “What has happened here?” thinks Jack.(1)

Next page: New York City, 17th April 1963. Outside of Spin Records, Billy (Kid Comic’s secret ID) and his sister waits in line, with a crowd of other teeny boppers, to have her copy of the “Rebel’s Yells” album jacket autographed by Rebel. Rebel had been plagued by a headache all day, but bravely showed up to please his fans.

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