Superheroes – Once upon a Time in 1968 – Issue 9 – Rat Trap

5 September, 2021

NeonA few weeks after Issue 8, it is spring in New York, not too hot, yet.

Cover16-Tons holding up Roboto like a toy.  “Is that all you’ve got?” A collapsing building behind him.  A yellow circle down in the right corner has a picture of a rat-themed person.  “Introducing Rat-Race!”

Opening page:  Two silhouetted figures at night overlooking a club with a flashing neon sign reading “I Like It Like That”. 

“Is everyone ready?” asks one.

Next page: What has happened before – Horizon is now a neighborhood hero for rescuing people from the Star-Gazer (see Issue 8) which he is deeply uncomfortable with.  He still has a deep fear of the destructive potential of his powers and tries to restrain their expectations of him.  But at the same time, it feels good to be really part of the community again.  Roboto -almost literally- runs across his cousin Anne Trenton from Kansas who is in NYC as a TWA stewardess, she does not recognize who he was but does as a hero and gets his autograph.  Roboto helps her to find her way back to her hotel and, for the first time in a while, starts to think of his family who believe that he is dead (and not turned into a robot).   Vulpix‘s uncle le Renard Noir, is pressing Vulpix to investigate the gang war that is flaring up across NY, he has a map of the city with colored pins and everything!  808 is under increasing pressure from his direct superior, 1307 to either capture Miss Odd (last seen in Issue 6) or report back on his failure.  Shadowfist is working hard to keep the peace in her local neighborhood and on a patrol find a stuffed* black cat in a television aerial with a note saying that the Steel Gang and the Tarantino Mob are heading to war, signed BCK.

The next page is “The Secret Origin of Rat-Race”.  Bill Bitterback was a mild mannered student until one day when fleeing from bullies, he fled through a mysterious door and found himself in the realm of the Rat King!  Seeing potential in the young man, the Rat King gifts him with the power to commune with and briefly ascend rats and the talent to brew “rat bombs” to drive off enemies.  Bill takes the mantle of Rat-Race to protect his neighborhood and his new rodent family!  [Rat-Race is using the Janus playbook and is played by B.] Bill knows Horizon in his secret identity and Rat-Race has worked with Shadowfist in taking down several minor criminals.

While working at the “Everything but the Squeal” BBQ, Bill overhears some of the Steel Gang, including a massively large man, plotting to attack the Tarantino Mob later that night.  He sends Rathew, one of his rats as a messenger to Shadowfist to let her know.

320px-'66_Lincoln_ContinentalThe heroes get together, introductions are made and they decide to head over to the “I Like it Like That” club which the Steel Gang uses as a base of operations.  Rat-Race changes back into his identity as Bill and fakes his way into the Club.  The rest of the team watches the club which has several nice black sedans parked outside and two guards on the roof keeping an eye on things.

Once Bill see the gang gearing up for war, taking M-16s out of a US Army crate and handing them out, he reports to the others.  Bill ducks out to change back into Rat-Race.  808 phased Roboto and himself through the wall of the club while Shadowfist and Horizon hit the back and Vulpix climbed up to take care of the guards there.

It ends up with 808 and Roboto fighting with 16-Tons, who is very tough and strong as you would expect, inside the building causing every escalating damage to the club with Roboto using pieces of the building as weapons and 808 trying to restrain 16 Tons by phasing him into the floor, which just took the fight into the sewers when he broke free.  The others dealt with the mooks and disable the cars.  The end result is a mostly disarmed gang, a destroyed club, and a captured 16 Tons.  The team emerged mostly unharmed except that Shadowfist’s left calf was grazed by an M-16 bullet.

End of Issue 9.  Issue 10 will be on the stands soon!

Notes: *I had to work hard not to say plush which is a word that more recently entered my vocabulary but has lodged deeply.  B has been part of our group for a while but drifts in and out based on his work schedule so has not been part of the earlier Masks games.

Photos upper: Neon photo from pxfuel and is royalty-free. Lower: 1966 Lincoln Continental from Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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