Superheroes – Once upon a Time in 1968 – Issue 8 – Threat of the Star-Gazer, Parts 1 & 2

12 August, 2021

A few weeks after Issue 7, spring is coming to New York.

CoverThe Star-Gazer glowing with power surrounded by the Zodiac signs, our heroes recoiling.  “Can our heroes overcome the Threat of the Star-Gazer?!

New York, New YorkOpening page:  Leonard, 808’s dirigible, making best speed across the Atlantic, the skyline of New York City receding behind.  “Will we be in time?”

Part 1 – All at Sea – A page detailing how did we get here?: The team is practicing together in a vacant lot near to Chinatown.  Hanging out of a nearby trash can is a copy of the New York Daily Herald with the headline: “Roboto and his gang damage museum, fail to protect civilians.” When a door appears in mid air.  Just a normal white door.  As they investigate, it opens and out of it, half falls Doctor Occult, Master of the Unknown Arts, dressed in trench coat and battered fedora.  Through the  open doorway a Ditko-esque psychedelic landscape can be seen.  Dr Unknown explains that he had been sent to find Horizon by Cristofor Gold, a young Roma who knows Horizon, who was kidnapped.  Dr Unknown explains that he and Challenger tried to stop a raid on the Manhattan Museum of Antiquities where a villain stole a set of astrologically aligned gems, having used the power of other such gems to manifest the avatars of the Zodiacal signs to help him.  Now this villain is on his way to get the next, and final, four such gems from Mr Covington who is showing them off on his yacht, the North Star, before loaning them to the museum.  Dr.Unknown will leave this to the teen heroes as he has an extra-dimensional peace to broker, he hands Roboto a black phone, unattached to anything, and tells them to call if they need him and he steps back through the door, it closes and vanishes.

Leonard is closing in on the yacht when a small safe come smashing through the roof of the yacht and narrowly misses the airship.  At the aft of the yacht, a group of guests is clustered together, as Leonard gets closer they can see a minotaur advancing on the frightened people!  The team springs into action!  Roboto and Shadowfist move to protect the people while 808 and Horizon look for more information and find a giant scorpion patrolling the bow. 

A robed and masked man appears, he identifies himself as the Star-Gazer and demands the Mr Covington hand over the gemini stone, which, as it happens, Covington has set into a ring.  In the struggle for the ring, Covington pulls of the mask.  “Stele!  You mad man,” he cries out.

While that is playing out, Roboto wrestled and 808 tied up the tied up the scorpion. only to find that the captain is on in enclosed bridge being menaced by a lion!  Roboto and 808 combine their powers to rescue the Captain and subdue the lion.  While Horizon and Shadowfist engage the Minotaur and the Star-Gazer.  With effort, the minotaur goes down and Shadowfist manages to take the Gemini ring from the Star-Gazer.  Confronted by the full might of the team, the Star-Gazer pulls the power of the zodiac gems he has back into him, causing his minions to fall unconscious and revert back to their human forms (all from the Romani community and freshly tattooed with the zodiac sign they embodied). With that power, Star-Gazer creates a huge tsunami with the power of Aquarius, sending it towards New York City and then leaps overboard.  Horizon and 808 flies off to try and stop it while Shadowfist and Roboto tend to the people on the yacht (after determining that they cannot catch the Star-Gazer).  Between hard light barriers and the gravetic manipulations of Horizon, the tsunami is reduced to just a big wave (which splashes all over R. Richard Robertson as he is walking along the shore  “Roboto!  I know you are responsible for this . . . somehow.”).

Though shaken, and having lost the other three zodiac gems, Mr Covington and the rest of the crew and guests are safe.  He gives the gemini ring into the custody of the heroes and explains that Dr Emile Stele, is Romanian astronomer who became obsession with certain theories about the zodiac and the zodiac gems, getting himself fired from the Long Island Observatory (or which Mr Covington is also a patron).

Returning to land, they call up Doctor Occult, who appears.  He listen, congratulates the team and enchants the Gemini stone to find the other gems.

Part 2 – The Sky at Night – The characters swooping down to land in front of the entrance to Long Island Observatory, which is a nice paved circle with a fountain in the center.  Our heroes approach cautiously, only to have a massive fish, Pisces, leap out of the fountain, tail slap Roboto and bounce back into the fountain while a centaur, Sagittarius, lets loose with a rain of fiery arrows.  Horizon finds his thoughts invaded by Virgo but fights free.  Ultimately, our young heroes make their way past the guardians though Vulpix utility belt is destroyed in the process.

Telescope for stargazingOnce inside, the gemini stone is torn from Shadowfist’s grip to be sized by the Star-Gazer who is within a magical circle.  “At last! Now with all twelve gems, I am Zodiac!”  His costume turns black with the constellations upon it.  Roboto grabs a massive globe and throws it at Zodiac who splits into two!  The globe passing between them.  “We are Zodiac!”  One of whom retaliates by summoning a bow and launching a flaming arrow at Roboto.

The team springs into action, realizing that it in the zodiac gems that is powering the geminied Zodiac, they concentrate on taking the stones from him.  One of them suffer more than the other, losing three stone in rapid succession.  The other Zodiac grabs one of the stones back, which leads to a brief scuffle between the two.  Our heroes take advantage of this conflict to finally put down the villainous Zodiac and retrieve the gems.

They again summon Doctor Unknown who arrives to take possession of the zodiac gems and the unconscious and bound Zodiac.  The team leaves him to wait for the police while they ferry the unconscious Romani back to their families.  (Despite his best efforts, the newspapers primary credit Doctor Occult with stopping the villain, the New York Daily Herald not mentioning the team at all.)

End of Issue 8.  Issue 9 will be at the printers soon!

Notes: Inspired by Steve Kenson’s The Sidereal Schemes of Dr Zodiac (Affiliate link) which was written for ICONS but easy enough to adapt.  In two parts as it was played over two sessions.  Dr Unknown is the mystical member of Heroes Inc (and general Dr Strange stand in for Earth-H).

Photos upper: New York Skyline, Harold Egeberg (photographer); family photo inherited by Alex Dawson, found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, and lower: “Lick Observatory – Original Telescope” by the_tahoe_guy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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