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Heroes Inc – Annual 0 [Zero]

6 February, 2020

Heroes Incorporated, Annual 0 (August 2000)

Notes from the time: We are currently playing through the Heroes Incorporated Annual 0 (Zero). This actually requires a bit of background, although the game is set in 1964 but Annual Zero was published in 2000 as part of a retrospective of Heroes Inc. Annual Zero incorporates pieces of ‘future history’ in it.

The story arc will run through three or four adventure, as I am not sure exactly how I want to wrap it up, of which we have done two. This arc was sparked by two ideas: 1) that the first adventure of 2000 should be a time travel adventure and 2) Jack’s hatred of Nazis.

Appearing in this issue: Playboy, The Human JackRabbit, PlasmaMan, and Lt. Steele.

Prolog: USAAC base, The Southern Coast of England, 1944

p-%! Mustang similar to the one flown by Jack Diamond, Junior AceJack Diamond, the Junior Ace is about to climb aboard his customized P-51 Mustang, the Torch of Liberty, to escort a bomber raid over the Netherlands. Out of the shadows of the plane steps an older woman with a cloth across her eyes, “As you reach the Dutch coast, look high to two o’clock.” With that said she turns to leave. “Thank you . . .” Jack begins to say as he realizes that she has vanished into thin air.

As Jack’s plane passes onto land again as he comes off the Channel, he remembers the woman’s words and looks up. Just spotting a German squadron hiding the clouds before they attack. With that moment of warning Jack is able to save himself and his fellow escorts.

Part 1: Dinosaurs in Time Square! (New York City, 1964)
Guest Starring: Caretaker/ Gravedigger.

A young black woman with a cloth tied across her eyes falls through the doorway to Jack’s office in the Empire State Building. Jack rushes to her aid and discovers that she has a terrible cut on her left forearm. While he is treating her and calling for aid, she says, “Jack, you must get to Time Square! At 11:50 a terrible thing will happen, you must stop it!”

For a reason that Jack cannot define, he knows she is right. Jack gets the team into the Hero-Plane (a Diamond Industries prototype ‘Hummingbird’ tiltrotor) and they fly to Time Square arriving just in time to witness five small dinosaurs (‘terrible claws’, cannot remember the latin, pack hunters with slashing foot claws) emerge through rips in space-time and begin to attack the crowd. The team manages to capture the little dinosaurs, leaving only three dead and one wounded civilians, just in time for a Tyrannosaurus Rex to emerge only to be taken down by the combined might of the heroes. The little dinosaurs were whisked off to the NYC Zoo, while the Rex was shipped to New Mexico for further study.

Part 2: Nazis, the Past and Miami. (Miami, 1932)

Opening page, a silhouette against the picture window in the entrance to Heroes Inc HQ. “Jack, you must come see this,” the silhouette says.

Two page splash, New York City bedecked in Nazi flags, in the skies above float five zeppelins with Swastikas on the tails. In two small panels in the lower right hand corner are just images of Jack’s face. The first is just his face, in the second his face and a speech balloon, “Janice, would you please bring me my appointment book.”

Next page, Janice handing Jack his appointment book. The scene outside the window is just NYC again. The silhouette resolves itself to the young black woman with the cloth around her eyes. “That will be the future if you do not stop the Dictator from changing the past,” she says. Jack summons the team (“Heroes Incorporate!”).

The situation is explained, Jack breaks out some of his old gadgets and everyone puts on trench coats to disguise themselves. The woman, now identified as Blind Fate, opens a portal to the past and gives them a device to summon a time traveller to help them when they need to return (“But for the love of God, don’t ask him his name”).

The characters find themselves in Miami on 18 February 1932, a date on which an assassin attempted to take president elect FDR’s life and failed. Jack stopped a flying woman wearing a skintight (1990s) costume. They track her back to a hotel near where the rally for FDR will be held. Soon, after various investigative measures were used, they decided to confront the villains (at least, they hoped they were the villains). Jack knocked on the door and someone said, “Jack Diamond?!? Kill him!” So they figured they had the right places. Combat ensued. Comments from the villains from the future:

  • “Jack Diamond, you are younger than when we last met.”
  • “The Human Jack-Rabbit! Be he’s dead!”
  • “Lt Steele? Meet the future, I’m Adamantium!”

Dave/ Plasma-Man was getting frustrated because the villains had nothing to say about him (“What am I, chopped liver?”). So, when he confronts Torch, the flying energy projector in the skin tight uniform, her eyes widen and she screams, “It’s him! It’s the Living Sun! ‘Stress, portal, NOW!” And the entire villain team vanished into the time stream leaving the character’s in possession of Adamentium’s laptop computer (“This seems to be a device for opening Windows in time!” from the Human Jack-Rabbit).

The team summoned their ‘ride’ an eastern European man with long hair wearing sunglasses, a tie-dyed multi-colored smock and knee high boots. Who transported them to London, c. 1938. And vanished saying that he presence there was risking damage to the time stream but to summon him when they needed to go home. Jack destroys the Laptop as a threat to the future.

Part 3: Live in London (London, 1938)

London and Big BenThe character arrive on a rooftop at night in London (you can tell it is London because of the silhouette of Big Ben in the panel background), 1938, having been transported from Miami, 1935. Kid Comic arrives having been sent through a portal from 1964, by Blind Fate, to join the team. Kid Comic has been given a history book from the ‘Hitler wins’ future that mentions that Churchill was killed by mysterious assailants and if he had survived, perhaps he could have rallied England’s defenses . . .

After some discussion, the group decides to send Jack and Kid Comic (in his ‘All-Spy Adventure’ form) to contact Churchill and keep an eye on him. They meet with Churchill posing as reporters and travel with him for the rest on the day. While walking to a local pub, a lorry load of British soldiers pull up and request that Churchill accompanies them to an “emergency meeting.” Jack recognizes the officer in charge (who remained in the lorry) as the Dictator. Words quickly turned to combat as the rest of the Dictator’s group moved to assist (Adamantium, Torch and Zap for those keeping score, Timestress was not directly involved in the combat).

Wacky superheroic combat ensues. Churchill is hidden in the hall closet of the house that the battle was taken place in front of. The character’s initially stand off against their opposite numbers (Adamantium against Lt. Steele, Human Jackrabbit against Zap, Plasma-Man against Torch) without much success. Once Jack and Kid Comic (now in Swashbuckler mode) returned from hiding Churchill the battle turned the heroes way. Kid Comic and the Human Jackrabbit put down the Dictator, Jack (after two successful find weakness rolls) one punched Adamantium, shattering Adamantium’s helmet.

The Human Jackrabbit had been futilely chasing after Zap but was unable to take her down (she even kissed him saying “you’refun”) Plasma-Man demanded to know what this ‘Living Sun’ business was about and Zap answered, in fast forward, with the only thing that Plasma-Man could catch out of the entire reply was, “Akron, Ohio.” Torch, realizing that the battle was lost retreated into the lorry, where Timestress was hiding, with Zap and escaped through time . . .

The character reassured Churchill and got him to sign a photograph to the team before vanishing away to summon their ride to the future. He appeared, an Eastern European man with wild hair, purple sunglasses, and a multi-colored smock, and transported them back. The arrived in 1964 seconds after they had left. The man gathered the captured Adamantium and the Dictator and prepared to leave, saying only, “If you ever need my help again, the Reality Czech is ready to help.” (The players, especially Peter, almost died at that. But, they had been warned by Blind Fate, “For the love of God, don’t ask his name.” And now they knew why . . .)

The Villains-
The Dictator, insane meglomanic with mind control powers, thinks he is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.
Timestress, young paranormal with time travel powers, fully dominated by the Dictator.
Torch, white supremacist from South Africa with heat and light powers.
Zap, drug based speedster.
Adamentium, power armor with lots of built in weaponry.

Back through time to Summaries of Issue 7 to 11 or Issues 12 to 15!

Back to Heroes Inc Roll Call.

Notes: A fcrazy romp through a slightly mangled history, mixing Iron Age and Silver Age tropes for a fun adventure.

Photos: North American P-51D Mustang, USAF Museum, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.  “London” by Hannah Lena Puschnig is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

 

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