Superheroes – Once upon a Time in 1968 – Issue 14 – Part 2: Miami Fright

30 July, 2022

Scenic MiamiThis is the second half of Issue 14 with our young heroes on the way to Miami . . . by dirigible.

Cover: A Question Mark divides the cover, on one side is Leonard, the airship, being attacked by sky-squids, the other side is a man in a black trenchcoat and broadbrimmed hat with Kirby dots spilling out from under the brim, a blue-skinned woman with gills in her neck wearing a white bikini and a disreputable thuggish man in a monks habit.  Across the bottom is “New Challenges for our Young Heroes!”

Opening page of Part Two:  Leonard high over the Atlantic coast, Vulpix talking on her belt radio, “But Uncle, we are on a case.  I don’t want to go to a stuffy gala.”  The rest of the team stands by.

Next page: Vulpix in a fancy dress, Shadowfist in a less fancy one, and Horizon looking uncomfortable in a suit at a society party.  A banner reads “Friends of the New York Public Library” in the back.  “At least the food is good,” reads Horizon’s thought balloon.

Vulpix takes Janice Trades, full member of Heroes Inc, aside to ask her about the Puzzle Master (whom Heroes Inc tangled with back in Heroes Inc Issue 18 “Puzzles and Pennies.”).  Janice explains that the Puzzle Master is a superb planner with an obsession with puzzles but, beyond being a genius, seems to just be an exceptionally trained and driven human.  Janice expresses the opinion that the Puzzle Master is moving to becoming a planner for other supervillains.  (Roboto takes this time to back up his memory tapes of the events of the last few days.)

Like this with banksGathering together, the team gets back aboard Leonard and sleeps as the dirigible makes the slow journey down the coast.  Arriving in Miami at dawn, they use the photo that Vulpix took of the map in the Puzzle Master’s basement to work out what is going on, maybe.  The map shows a two-block section of Miami where there are four bank branches in close proximity.  On one end there are three chess pieces, a king, queen, and bishop with at the far end, a knight.

Our heroes have arrived on Friday and realize that funds for payrolls will be arriving.  They split up, Roboto to check where the three pieces were set, Shadowfist and Horizon go looking for the knight, Vulpix watches the banks on the ground and 808 stays aloft in Leonard.  Roboto sees an armored car leaving from in from of a diner at the location of the three pieces on the map and follows the armored car as it heads for the banks.  Behind him, two cars crash together, not harming the drivers much but blocking the intersection, even more so as the two drivers get into an argument over who was responsible.

The armored car stops in front of the Caribbean Sea Union Bank branch and a uniformed guard gets out and heads into the bank.  Vulpix, watching this, finds it suspicious as she is sure that the guard is a woman and moves to investigate.  On her way, she is bumped into by a tourist in a colorful shirt who distracts her long enough for the guard to return to the armored car with bags of money.   Shadowfist and Horizon head back after witnessing two more car crashes that block off other intersections leading to the street where the banks are.  A man in a black trenchcoat and hat follows the guard out and moves down the sidewalk towards the next bank.  Vulpix is finally able to look in the bank and there is no one visible, she reports this.

The woman guard very casually tosses the bags of money into the back where another guard stacks them with more difficulty.  Roboto watches with interest.  Horizon flies into the bank and sees that the vault is closed, he uses his gravity powers to turn the wheels and pulls the vault open.  Inside are the bank staff, and a few customers, who look extremely grateful to be released.

The armored car starts to drive off to the next bank and Roboto leaps into action, grabbing the armored car and lifting it up.  He then grabs the rear axle and rips it out of car.  The guard in the back drops down from the back of the armored car and blasts Roboto with a sonic attack triggered by clapping his hands (“the bell tolls for you”) unfortunately for the villain, it has no real effect on the mechanical hero.

The female guard athletically leaps down from the cab of the armored car.  The black trenchcoated man rushes back only to be hit in the face by a “flying fox” throwing weapon thrown by Vulpix, while staggered from that, Shadowfist tackles him, pulls the hat down over his eyes and ties him up with his own trenchcoat.

Horizon comes out of the bank and tries to levitate the female guard, who shreds her uniform to reveal that she is a blue skilled woman with gills in her neck and a white bikini, she is the Sea Terror, who claims to be one of the last Lemurians.  As the gravitic wave lifts her up, she adapts to it, briefly gains gliding wings and uses them to propel her counter-attack on Horizon with a leaping kick.  “The sea-warriors of Lemuria are wise to your tricks.”

The guard under the armored car with Roboto claps his hands and detonates . . . himself in a massive sonic blast!  The armored car is tossed into the street, a crater is blown in the road surface and the windows all up and down the street are shattered.  Vulpix covers her ears but apart from a ringing in her ears is otherwise unharmed.  Roboto is knocked into the front of the bank, dented but fully operational.  The “guard” reformed across the street, now wearing a monk’s habit (thanks Comic Code Authority), revealed as Toll, who claims to have the powers of an evil monk from the middles ages.

Roboto picks himself up and rushes to help Horizon, swinging the axle of the armored car like a club, Sea Terror manifests crab-like armor on her arms and catches the blow on them.  Horizon then tries to smash her with the abandoned cart used to transport the bank’s money to the curb.  Sea Terror shifts into an eel -like form to slip beneath the blow and reaches out to shock both Roboto and Horizon.  Horizon pushes Roboto out of her reach with a brief burst of focused gravity but takes the full brunt of the electrical attack which causes him to briefly lose control of his powers.  The gravitic burst adds to the damage caused by Toll’s explosion but does not cause any harm to people (and Toll will be blamed for the damage, luckily for Horizon) except for dropping the armored car onto Sea Terror.

Roboto grabs the discarded axel and uses it to pin Toll to a wall so he cannot use his hands.  Evil Eye uses his eye beams to burn through his hat and then Vulpex and Shadowfist pummel him.  He plaintively asks, “What are you even doing here?”

“Justice goes where it is needed,” replies Roboto.

When they moved the wreckage of the armored car, they find that Sea Terror is gone, apparently slipped into the sewers.

Miami’s local hero, Rockit Rocker, a teen superhero with “rocket-powered speed” and a transistor radio at his belt shows up at last.  He thanks the team and is very excited to meet such well-known heroes.  The police show up a bit later, having finally cleared the accidents out of the way.  The police are a bit cold to Rockit Rocker but grudgingly thankful to the team and they follow the team’s advice on how to confine the villains, Miami not having a proper jail for supervillains.  Rockit Racer takes them out for some local food and malts and Bob gives him a communicator in case Rockit Racer ever needs help in the future.

Next time, Issue 15.

Notes: The villain group as a whole is the Freight Force made up of primarily supernatural-powered characters.  They usually rely on the fear their powers inspire to get people to cooperate with them.  The member represented by the knight chess piece was Hypnosis who had hypnotized (shocking that hypnotism is his power, right?) the drivers into crashing into each other.  Hypnosis avoids fights, he is a performer, not a combatant but he will probably help his team members escape but that is for the future.

I admit, I had expected the players to recognize my inspiration for the villains’ power sets but they did not.  More on that later.

Photos upper: Vintage postcard probably in the public domain.  Lower photo Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District, Miami, Miami-Dade County, FL, National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 79000667 and is in the Public Domain.

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