Obscure DC Characters: P

Pandora Pan

PANDORA PAN, mentioned in THE COMIC READER #197 and 201 (Dec. 1981; May 1982):

Originally slated for release in July of 1982, Len Wein and Ross Andru's Pandora Pan was described in TCR #197 as "the assistant of an archaeologist who unwittingly opens Pandora's Box and spends the rest of her time trying to retrieve the evil she has unleashed by doing so."

Slated for a preview in June's SAGA OF SWAMP THING #5, the series was instead put on indefinite hiatus "due", according to TCR #202, "to Len Wein's inability to find the time to write it." A piece of promotional art also appeared in #201. Launched instead was ARION, LORD OF ATLANTIS, which had run for several months in WARLORD.

This was a series that I'd actually been looking forward to and its pre-release cancellation was a big disappointment. I regarded the Arion series as rather stodgy at the time and would have preferred the more energetic Pandora — especially with art by the great Ross Andru.

Paragon

Paragon was Joel Cochin, a mutant who"possessed the physical and mental abilities of anyone within a certain range — but whatever they've got, I've got more!" Arrogant in the extreme, Paragon was able to beat the Justice League one on one by using their own powers against them in a more effective fashion. His ultimate goal was the eradication of those who he regarded as his inferiors — 90% of the world's population. He was defeated when the united JLA disoriented him. Paragon was created by Kurt Busiek and featured in JLA #224 (1984) with art by Chuck Patton and Dick Giordano.

The Phantom of the Stardust

The Batman was investigating the deaths of two young women on the discotheque scene, with no clues and no sign of foul play. The next afternoon, Barry and Iris Allen were jetting to Gotham City as the guests of Bruce Wayne. The pair joined Bruce and his date Rhonda and they went to the Stardust Ballroom, a disco of much renown across the country. The Stardust was already packed with dancers, many of whom were decked out in garish costumes (including one man who looked like the Joker). The club was also frequented by The Phantom of the Stardust, a mysterious character in make-up who shows up and dances for awhile with one woman and then disappears.

Later that night, the woman that the Phantom danced with that night was home suffering from some sort of coma. She was taken to the hospital and the Batman headed back to the Stardust, and saw the Phantom dancing with what appeared to be the same woman who was in a coma. The Flash was also there, struggling against another threatening woman. He couldn't seem to break free of her grip and was being compelled to dance faster and faster. He finally used a super-speed switch using his own after-image to get away from the mysterious woman and vibrate his way through the ballroom wall, where he met up with the Batman.

The Batman and the Flash headed to Police Headquarters, where they found a picture of Karen Diggs, the Phantom's first victim, who looked exactly like the woman who had almost killed the Flash. The Caped Crusader and the Scarlet Speedster next headed to Sea City, an amusement set-up on a pier from the thirties, where they met Guy Stanton, who had played at the Stardust during the marathon dance craze days. After they filled him in on the details, he thought the only person he knew who could be the Phantom would be Jack Dawes, a young man who had entered a contest with his girl Emily, only to have the poor girl die during the contest. He shot Stanton and later died during a prison escape attempt.

Suddenly a hail of bullets flew through the windows of Stanton's home. Luckily, the Flash was able to deflect most of them and Batman was able to disarm the assassins, though Stanton was injured during the fight. Stanton was being threatened because he still owned the Stardust and the mob wanted to move in on the operations. The Batman believed the syndicate was behind the strange deaths, while the Flash believed that Jack Dawes was the cause, and the two split up to pursue their individual theories and meet at the Stardust later.

Batman started shaking down his contacts in the underworld, while the Flash took to his Cosmic Treadmill to go back in time to the night Jack Dawes' girl Emily died. He snapped a picture of her and returned to the present. Batman had gotten fairly high up in the mob echelon when he discovered that the crime syndicate was only behind the attempt on Stanton's life, since they had wanted to get in on the rich disco racket. He delivered the crooks to Gotham's Finest and headed back to the Stardust to meet the Flash. The Scarlet Speedster showed him the photograph of Emily, and Batman immediately saw another resemblance they could make use of to help save the other girl's life ... Emily looked almost exactly like Iris Allen. Iris agreed to help and the Batman's disguise skills finished the charade.

The Flash entered the Stardust with Emily/Iris, who told The Phantom that she was there to release him from his vow of vengeance. Outside however, some of the mobsters were trying to get even with Stanton by blowing up the Stardust Ballroom. The Batman managed to get the explosives away from the building and close enough to the thugs to knock them out. Inside, The Phantom faded away, as did the spirit-self of his victim, whose condition immediately improved at the hospital.

Appearances:

  • The Brave And The Bold #151

The Piper

The Piper was Dr. Curt Falconer, who was an old super-villain also called the "Sultan of Smoke" and the "Meerschaum Marauder". He could create small creatures shaped like pipes with arms and legs that could emit varying degrees of smoke, move around under his control, and which he could speak through. After apparently retiring for awhile, Falconer was about to start a position as a doctor at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in the city of Vanity when his daughter Mindy was kidnapped by the local criminal cartel. The Piper was forced to come out of retirement to rob a bank, which drew the attention of Vanity's local super-hero, Bloodtype. After nearly killing the Piper, Bloodtype was stopped by the appearance of Aztek the Ultimate Man. The Piper told Aztek what was really happening, asking him to save his daughter. Before anything else could be said, another walking pipe showed up that wasn't one of the Piper's which exploded, killing Falconer and Bloodtype and injuring numerous other people.

Aztek, having just arrived in Vanity, assumed the identity and job of Dr. Curt Falconer, and proceeded to find Falconer's daughter, though he also discovered that the entire situation had been a ploy by Mindy and a criminal named Synth to take over Vanity's criminal organization. Mindy was inadvertantly killed by Synth, and Aztek continued to use Falconer's identity for a long while afterwards.

Appearances:

  • Aztek The Ultimate Man #1

The Planeteers

In the admitted handful of Tommy Tomorrow stories that I've read, Brent Wood was the only regular among the Planeteers. The SHOWCASE series (#41, 42, 44, 46, 47) set in Tommy's early days with the force paired him up with the blue-skinned Venusian Lon Vurian, whose father was Commander of Venus' Planeteers.

The Plutonium Man

Doctor Will Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, had been brainwashed by the dictator of the country of Karnia. Magnus' genius was twisted and his loyalty to his creations and his country had been rent asunder. He was forced back to the USA against his will and taken to a government-operated mental facility where attempts were made to deprogram him. Unfortunately, efforts weren't going very well, and Mr. Whittier of the Accounting Office claimed he had to be cured, and unless he could produce, the projects he was working on would have to be scrapped. General Caspar suggested a form of work-therapy, allowing Magnus to work on his projects while his rehabilitation continued. Whitter agreed to this, though Magnus's doctor did not like the idea.

The specifications of Magnus' project were to be large and powerful enough to bring to life a nuclear pile, immune to radioactivity, that was capable of fueling a reactor with its own energy. He created the Plutonium Man, which terrified Caspar enough to order Magnus to dismantle the robot at once. Whittier, however, had other ideas and pulled a gun. He wanted a demonstration of the robot's abilities, so Magnus activated the robot, which immediately went berserk and broke free from its cage. The Plutonium Man melted the wall of the lab and headed into the outside world.

Whittier was sure that Magnus had purposely released the robot to prevent his mission. He had acted as a bureaucrat for five years to get a high enough security clearance to get to Magnus. Whitter was a spy for the country of Karnia, whose dictator had been removed when Magnus was kidnapped back to the United States. Unfortunately, Karnia had no oil resources, so no reparations for the damage caused by Magnus and the Metal Men were made, and Whitter's plan was to manipulate the deranged scientist in order to construct a blackmail device so that Karnia could get what was coming to it. Magnus told Whittier that the robot had run amok on its own, since it was programmed with Magnus's own unsound thought patterns.

After beginning a swath of destruction, the Plutonium Man encountered the Metal Men as they were leaving a show they had been performing in. The robots immediately recognized that something of Magnus was inside the robot, and it laid waste to them fairly quickly, as the radioactivity made them go blind and decayed their reaction tapes. The Metal Men were gradually turned into slag until only Platinum was left.

Caspar, Magnus, and Whittier flew to the site of the destruction, and Magnus told Whittier that only Superman had the possibility of being able to take the robot down. Not wanting his country to be branded as a nation of murderers, Whittier charged toward the robot and fired several steel-jacket bullets into it, destroying its remaining fail-safe systems. Platinum entwined herself around the robot to keep as much of its fierce radioactive heat turned in on itself, and the Plutonium Man melted down, killing Whittier and destroying Platinum in the process. Seeing Platinum "die" woke Magnus from his derangement and he swore to rebuild the Metal Men yet again.

The Plutonium Man survived the meltdown, and next appeared in Washington, D.C., where he had taken to wearing a suit and using a pipe like Magnus. He vaporized a mugger who attempted to rob him.

McMurdo Sound in Antarctica was being attacked by a variety of robots made of exotic elements. Cadmium, Tungsten, Barium, Chromium, and many others laid waste to a good portion of the base and killed many men. The Metal Men were headed to that area because it was there that the Intercontinental Ballistic Extrapolation Programmer had determined that a safe (containing the ten billion dollar ransom that a deranged Magnus had tried to extract from the United States) had landed there after begin tossed away by Chemo in Venice, Italy. The aircraft carrying Magnus and the Metal Men was shot down, and Magnus equipped the robots with special de-freezing units so they could function normally in the low temperature. Suddenly, they were attacked by a Liquid Oxygen robot, which destroyed Tin with his super-cold touch and carried off Magnus. While the Metal Men were searching for him, they encountered some of the troops from McMurdo Sound who, after all of the attacks, thought the Metal Men were their attackers. They disabled the de-freezing units, and only a call from General Caspar prevented their destruction by the vengeful troops.

Meanwhile, Magnus had been brought to an ice cleft that held both the safe and the Plutonium Man, who had survived his "China Syndrome" meltdown and had split into two robotic creatures, each below critical mass. His "sidekick" was a robot that could change its properties into any other element (and was the robot that had attacked the Metal Man and McMurdo Sound), and was an unthinking drone completely under the Plutonium Man's control. He had planned the attacks so that the soldiers would react as they did to the arrival of the real Metal Men. The Plutonium Man wanted the same thing that Magnus did - the money. He ripped open the safe, only to have his body heat cause the paper bills to ignite and disintegrate.

Just then, the Metal Men and the troops from McMurdo Sound (clad in anti-radiation suits) arrived to save Magnus. The drone became Helium, and began freezing soldiers solid. The leader of the troops fired a war-laser at the Plutonium Man, but it didn't have any real effect. Magnus told Lead to form a radiation shield around the drone, which melted itself down once it was sealed off from the Plutonium Man's controlling energy. The only Metal Man still standing, Gold, formed a giant sling that sent the Plutonium Man deep into an ice fissure, which closed in on him. The heat from him and his drone's meltdown caused an earthquake in the area that apparently destroyed the maniacal robot.

Appearances:

  • Metal Men #45-47

Power Elite

Nationalistic scientist Harold Melrose launched his Power Elite project with the intention of creating a group of "real red-blooded American heroes." The Stellaron-5 satellite would focus a concentrated beam of solar radiation on a sextet of individuals and, hopefully, transform them into metahumans. Instead, a chance interception with "space junk" destroyed the satellite and redirected the bulk of its energy towards Colorado, where a man named Will Payton took the full force of the beam — and was transformed into Starman (STARMAN (first series) #1).

Though deprived of the full-effects of the solar energy, the six men and women still gained unique powers and abilities. The Power Elite included Dennis Blake (emits concussion blasts), Frank Donovan (fires plasma flame from his hands), Stanley Hale (levitates himself and objects around him), Olivia Hardy (super-strength), Samantha Morgan (capable of altering her mass and appearance to anything from a little girl to a hulking giant) and David Winters (emits radiation bolts from his eyes). Melrose soon determined that the new hero known as Starman must have received the powers that were meant for his team and plans were put into motion to capture him (#2-3).

Ambushed by the Power Elite, Starman was indeed taken captive (#4) but an alien invasion disrupted the plot. A Durlan spy within Melrose's inner circle discovered that their captive was nothing less than "a living star" and smuggled Starman to the armada. The scheme collapsed when the Durlan was captured by Melrose's security forces and Starman escaped his alien jailers (#5).

David Winters convinced Melrose to drug the Durlan and unleash him in Salt Lake City, thus providing the team with a flamboyant foe to defeat in their first public appearance. Aware that some of the team might object (notably Frank, Stan and Olivia), the Elite was officially told that the Durlan had escaped.

Viewing news coverage of the Durlan's recapture, Starman headed for Utah, intent on a rematch with the Elite, but once again, fate intervened. In the midst of the battle, a Dominion Gene Bomb was detonated and the Power Elite was rendered comatose (#6; INVASION! #3). Melrose spirited the sextet back to his base, the Hutchings Institute (#7), but eventually realized that, while the group could be revived with concentrated solar energy, he couldn't generate with his own equipment. He needed Starman.

A suspicious Starman was contacted and convinced that the Melrose and Elite that he fought had been either Durlans or dupes. The energy that Payton funnelled into the sextet revived the team but Winters refused to leave the energizer, determined to absorb all the power he could get. Instead, his body exploded as Starman escaped from the power-siphon (#11).

A full-scale battle ensued that took another life when Dennis Blake's concussion blasts brought down the ceiling on him. Frank Donovan finally realized the full extent of Melrose's evil and turned him over to the authorities before returning to the collapsing Hutchings Institute. Reduced to a crater, the site yielded only one body, that of Dennis Blake. The whereabouts of Frank, Stan, Olivia and Samantha remain unknown (#12). Melrose eventually allied himself with an even more paranoid fringe group (#19-20), who gunned him down when his vendetta against Starman wrecked their plans (#29).

Pow-Wow Smith

The story of Pow-Wow Smith played out in the pages of DC's comics in reverse order, beginning in the present before moving to the past. Created by Don Cameron (who wrote at least the first six episodes) and Carmine Infantino, the Indian lawman operated in 1949-1953 from DETECTIVE COMICS #151 to 202. Infantino left after ten episodes and Leonard Starr (#161, 163, 175-202) and Bruno Premiani (#162, 164-174) continued as artists on the series.

In 1953, the series was relocated to WESTERN COMICS, where Julius Schwartz replaced Jack Schiff as editor with #43. Returning to the character he'd launched was Schwartz stalwart Infantino, who pencilled (and frequently inked) the series for the duration of its WESTERN run. France Herron scripted the first half (#43-60) while Gardner Fox wrote the latter (#61-85).

Pow-Wow's arrival in the book was heralded on the cover, where he became the new lead feature, bumping the previous star, the Wyoming Kid, to the back of the book. Gone altogether was the Cowboy Marshal series. With Pow-Wow's second installment (#44), the series underwent another alteration when the locale was moved back seventy years to the 1880s.

As related in WHO'S WHO '86 #18, "Sioux Indian brave Ohiyesa ('The Winner') left Red Deer Valley and his tribe to learn more about the world of the white man. His expert skills at tracking and handling a gun enabled him to win a job as deputy sheriff ... While still a deputy, Ohiyesa was given the name Pow-Wow Smith by some townspeople. Though he used his Indian name with the tribe, he eventually began to call himself Pow-Wow when among the white men. Once he became sheriff, Pow-Wow spent most of his time living in Elkhorn, only rarely returning to Red Deer Valley."

Gardner Fox deviated from the episodic nature of Herron's scripts and began to introduce recurring characters, the first of whom was Tony Morley, the Fadeaway Outlaw. Morley debuted in WESTERN #62 (1957) and returned in #73 (1958). The Fadeaway Outlaw wasn't a true super-human but used a variety of tricks and disguises to make it seem that he could vanish.

WESTERN #73 also introduced Pow-Wow's deputy, Hank Brown, who had announced his intent to resign after he married his girl friend Sally Ann. Hank refused to leave until the Fadeaway Outlaw was in custody, much to his fiancee's chagrin. On the morning of the nuptials, the villain was captured and Pow-Wow made it to the church in time to serve as best man. Hank evidently changed his mind because he became a regular within a few issues, appearing in #76 (mis-identified as Jim Hathaway), 77 and 79-83. Sally Ann Brown popped up in #81.

WESTERN #78 (1959) featured a nice story about Pow-Wow's relationship with the people of Elkhorn. Young Tommy Walters, excited about his birthday party, asked the sheriff when his own birthday was. "I'm a Sioux," Pow-Wow explained. "and we don't know the exact day we are born. The closest I can get to my birth date is — the second day after the big buffalo kill during the Month of Shedding Ponies (approximately May) in the Year of the Plenty Buffalo."

After listening to the story, Tommy's father decided to "get in touch with the territorial governor." In short order, the entire town of Elkhorn was conspiring to hold a surprise birthday party for the sheriff. When the big day arrived, the locals were on pins and needles as each new crisis threatened to take Pow-Wow away from the festivities. When he took off in pursuit of bank robbers that evening, the townspeople despaired that he'd never return in time.

With less than fifteen minutes until midnight, Pow-Wow locked the bandits in a cell only to hear dozens of voices singing "Happy Birthday" to him. He was presented with a scroll "signed by the President and Congress of the United States" that "makes you an honorary citizen of the United States and legally declares your birthday to be May 15th from now on." For the document to be binding, it had to be presented to the recipient on his designated birthday. As two of the local men raised Pow-Wow on their shoulders, the delighted sheriff proclaimed it "the most fantastic thing that ever has happened to me — and the most wonderful!"

A footnote added that "it wasn't until 1924 that the Federal Congress passed legislation making citizens of all Indians born within the continental limiits of the U.S.A. Until then only individual Indians or tribes had been so honored."

The final four WESTERN episodes (#82-85) introduced Ohiyesa's fiancee, Fleetfoot. Issue #84 expanded the family further with the introduction of Pow-Wow's twin brother, Horse Hunter. According to Sioux custom, "when twins are born, one of them is given away, to avert the anger of the evil spirits. My parents gave me to the Blackfeet to raise for their own." After seeing the sheriff's picture in a newspaper, Horse Hunter deduced what had happened and travelled to Elkhorn. Had WESTERN not been discontinued with #85 (1960), Pow-Wow's strip might well have played with some of the same plot devices as the recently discontinued "Trigger Twins" series.

WHO'S WHO '86 #18 revealed that Ohiyesa and Fleetfoot eventually married and that the Pow-Wow who appeared in DETECTIVE #151-202 was their namesake descendant. "This Ohiyesa attended college in the east, then returned to Red Deer Valley, seeking to bring his tribe into the wondrous 20th Century. He too became a lawman and took the name Pow-Wow Smith, but he continued to live in Red Deer Valley."

The early 1970s saw a minor Western revival at DC and ten separate Pow-Wow Smith episodes were reprinted, most notably 1970's ALL-STAR WESTERN #1, which was virtually a Pow-Wow solo book (reprinting WESTERN #80 and 73). Other reprints appeared in ALL-STAR #8, 9 and 11, DC SPECIAL #6, SUPER DC GIANT #S-15, TRIGGER TWINS #1 and WEIRD WESTERN #12.

The modern-day Pow-Wow returned in 1980s DETECTIVE COMICS #500 alongside several other crimefighters from the title's long history. The episode, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, was a rewrite on an old Batman yarn ("The Case Batman Failed To Solve" from BATMAN #14) in which multiple detectives joined forces to solve the murder of an associate.

Pow-Wow's 19th Century incarnation missed making an appearance in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS but he did manage to turn up with many of DC's other 1870s Western heroes in 1991's ARMAGEDDON: THE ALIEN AGENDA #3.

Most recently, Chuck Dixon and Eduardo Barreto featured a possibly third-generation Pow-Wow ("It's United States Marshal Smith now.") in 1997's ROBIN ANNUAL #6. In a cute sequence, Smith astonished the modern counterpart of Nighthawk by looking at tire tracks and determining that the fugitive 20th Century Trigger Twins "came off the interstate a few miles north. '78 Cadillac Eldorado. Oklahoma plates. Stolen back in Tulsa."

"You can tell that from SIGN?"

"It's in the Texas Rangers' report."

Pow-Wow and Nighthawk eventually ended up in Gotham, meeting Sheriff "Shotgun" Smith ("No RELATION, I reckon."), Robin and the Huntress before the Triggers were taken into custody.

Comments

Pow-Wow Smith was actually a rather major character in his time. Would that make him among the first non-white heroes of a mainstream comic feature (not a partner or a sidekick but a genuine hero!)? The whole concept about the character (an Indian who becomes a town sheriff?!) seems so far ahead of its time. I have never read a single Pow-Wow Smith story, aside from that Detective Comics tale with Slam Bradley but he doesn't seem to be a "Tonto" type character or a stereotype who says "Ugh" or "How". Even more surprisingly, that the comics of the time would even acknowledge the sad fact tht until fairly recently, American Indians were not considered citizens.

He may be obscure now, but Pow-Wow Smith sounds like a real trailblazer.

Prez

PREZ vol. 1 #1 (Aug-Sep 1973)
Story by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti
"Oh Say Does That Star Spangled Banner Yet Wave?" (24 pgs)

Chapter One "The Clocks Of Steadfast". The little town of Steadfast is known for it's abundance of clocks. Unfortunately, it takes 30 minutes for all the clocks to finish chiming because none are on time. Prez Rickard, a teen-aged resident of Steadfast, is head of the local stock car club; his sleek racer "The Lollipop" is usually in front of the pack. When Prez wins the latest race and asks for his winning time, the two judges give him two different results, because neither could accurately set their watches. Later, at home with his mother and sister, Prez discusses the problem. The prior year, 18 year olds had won the right to vote. Prez is bothered because, if the clocks aren't on time, how can anyone possibly know when Election Day arrives. He decides that he's going to fix all the clocks of Steadfast. It takes a couple of weeks, but the determined Prez fulfills his promise.

Chapter Two "The Boss Of Slum City". The scene switches to the slums of Central City, USA. The Mayor, Boss Smiley, runs a corrupt and filthy city. Unfortunately for him, the young people are beginning to protest. Smiley is concerned that the kids can hurt him at the ballet box, so he gives orders to his men to find a young, ambitious, and pliable candidate that the teens can relate to. They visit Smiley's cousin, Misery Marko the advertising genius, for advice. Smiley wants a young candidate to run for Senator. Marko says that, in order for their candidate to win, he must have a gimmick. He shows a newspaper, the Steadfast Times, to Boss Smiley. There is a front page article on Prez Rickard and how he repaired the town clocks. The following day, Smiley and his men approach Prez, telling the teen that they want him to run for Senator. When asked how he got a name like "Prez", the youth explains that when he was born his mother said "someday this baby will be President", so she named his accordingly. After thinking it over, Prez accepts Smiley's offer.

Chapter Three "Eagle Free". Traveling through a forest, on a road back to Central City, Boss Smiley tosses a lit cigar out of his car. It starts a brush fire, which is quickly put out by an American Indian named Eagle Free. The teen tells his animal friends that he feels a strange foreboding. He isn't yet aware that Boss Smiley is awarding a contract to build a super-highway through the forest (built, of course, by a company that Smiley himself owns). Several weeks later, candidate Prez Rickard attends a ceremony to launch construction of the road. He triggers the first dynamite charge. The explosion destroys the nearby dam, disturbing the once peaceful forest. Eagle Free leads his animals to the construction site, where they begin to destroy Smiley's machinery. After the devastation is complete, they run off into the forest. Prez tells Boss Smiley that he'll go after the vandal.

Soon afterward, Prez stumbles on the young Indian in a hidden cave. Prez tussles with Eagle Free, but the animals quickly put a stop to the fight. Eagle Free then explains that he lives in the cave shelter where his forefathers have lived for thousands of years, before the white men came to poison the forests, streams, and air. He has studied the animals as no man has ever done before, and has acquired their senses. He has uncovered the secrets of sound, scent, sight, and swiftness. Prez looks around and questions how a savage could possibly understand all the books, the chemicals, and the scientific equipment in the cave. Eagle Free explains that he had spent some years in the outside world, studied at universities, but prefers to live with nature, as his ancestors did. Prez says he'd like to live like that too, but Eagle Free tells Prez that he represents all that they detest. A confused Prez asks him to explain. Eagle Free tells the naive candidate that he is being used as a tool to pursue the evil deeds of Boss Smiley and his corrupt crew. He claims he can prove it, but Prez must spend a few days to learn the secrets he will need for such a dangerous mission.

Days later, under cover of night, Eagle Free and Prez sneak into Boss Smiley's skyscraper headquarters. They break into Smiley's office and rifle through his files, uncovering damning evidence of payoffs, swindles, and bribes. Smiley's men discover the break-in and hold the teens until Smiley arrives. Prez tells Boss Smiley that if he gets into office, he'll see to it that Smiley is through. Smiley responds that Prez will never get the chance, because he will renounce him and get a new candidate that will take orders. But it is too late, the clock strikes midnight... it is Election Day.

Prez wins the 1972 Congressional election. After the youth of America gain a majority in the Congress, they vote an amendment to the Constitution which lowers the required age of the President from 35 to 18. During the 1976 elections, Senator Prez Rickard, running on the new Flower Party ticket, upsets both the Republican and Democratic candidates to win the Presidency. His Truth-and-Love campaign has polarized the old and young generations. Prez assigns Eagle Free to be the new F.B.I. Chief. His Vice-President is only shown in shadows. The V.P. tells Prez that he already faces a lot of opposition from the over-thirty crowd, and there is already a movement to impeach him. Eagle Free says they've heard of that conspiracy, and know it is connected with a plot so ingenious, so sinister, that it could well destroy the world.

Note: The author clearly states that this series takes place outside of regular continuity. Eagle Free is even aware that he and the others are merely comic book characters.

PREZ vol. 1 #2 (Oct-Nov 1973)

Story by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti
"Invasion Of The Chessmen" (24 pgs)

"Invasion Of The Chessmen". Prez and Eagle Free visit numerous countries around the world and are disturbed by the level of violence. The President addresses the United Nations, asking for peace in our time. Later, at the Washington Airport, Prez enters one of the limousines waiting for him, the others contain remarkable look-alikes to confuse any would-be assassin.

Chapter Two "Chessking". Back at the White House, Prez's secretary tells him that he is to give an award to the captain of the U.S. Olympic World Chess Championship Team. Prez is excited to meet the eccentric Robbie Fishhead, the man who calls himself Chessking. The President goes to greet Chessking, hoping to play a game or two with him, but discovers that he is already playing the Vice President. The V.P., a burly woman named Martha, is quickly beaten by the obnoxious chess master. The reporters and photographers soon arrive, and Chessking boasts that the Russians were pushovers. A few of the reporters ask him about Russian claims that he used hypnosis and electronic rays to defeat them. Chessking states that he'll play any Russian for a million dollars. The next day in Moscow, the angered White Russian Chess Team accepts their rival's challenge.

The day of the chess match comes. It is being held at Washington Stadium. Prez and Eagle Free watch as the two sides prepare for a live chess match, where the players are the pieces themselves. Two hours into the game, Chessking begins to rant and rave that the Russians are using electronic rays on him. He begins to attack the opposing team, and a fight breaks out. The Russian's White Queen vows to destroy her rival. Prez demands a full investigation of the whole disgraceful affair.

Chapter Three "Terror In The Capitol". A few days after the aborted chess match, robotic chess pieces begin exploding all over Washington. The nation's capital is in panic, so the Congress holds an emergency session. Senator Ebeneezer proclaims that the President has proven that he is unfit to run the country. Other elder Congressmen agree. Later, as the terror continues, Prez summons Senator Ebeneezer to his office. The angry Senator and a collegue inform Prez that they are instituting impeachment proceedings as soon as they can muster enough support. After they leave, Prez tells Martha to contact Eagle Free.

Chapter Four "Poison Pawn". Eagle Free asks Prez to meet him at his place, where there is sure to be no bugging devices. Martha makes use of the President's look-alikes to sneak Prez out of the White House. He arrives at Eagle Free's teepee headquarters, located on the banks of the Potomac River. That night, Eagle Free brings Prez and his animal friends to the roof of the Russian Embassy. From there, they spot more mechanical chess pieces heading towards the Treasury Building. They are unable to stop the marauding robots, but Eagle Free realizes that they may find an answer at Washington's power plant. They meet with one of the plant's managers at dawn. He shows them that an unusual amount of electrical power is being consumed in the Silver Springs area. Eagle Free recalls that that is where the home of Chessking is located.

Shortly, Prez and Eagle Free arrive at the chess master's home, which is a veritable fortress surrounded by an army of chess robots. The pieces encircle them, then the chess square upon which they are standing falls open. They tumble into the basement of the fortress. They are shocked to discover Chessking in chains, and the Russian Queen at the controls of his computer. She proclaims herself the new world chess champion, then pulls a machine gun on the duo. As she prepares to fire, some of Eagle Free's winged friends arrive and disarm her. She is easily overpowered, and Chessking is freed.

Later, at the White House, Martha states that all the money stolen from the Treasury was recovered except for one new dollar bill. Prez produces the bill and asks Martha to return it to the Treasury. The new bill displays the face of Prez Rickard instead of George Washington! When Martha asks him how he got it, he responds that it'll remain his little secret.

"Epilogue". On May 3rd, around 8:35pm, Senator McNitty arrives at an urgent meeting in the President's office to discuss the Right To Gun Control amendment. He tells Prez that the amendment must be killed for the safety of all Americans. Suddenly, the lights go out, and a sharpshooter's bullet shatters a window. Twenty minutes later, an ambulance is seen leaving the White House.

PREZ vol. 1 #3 (Dec 1973 - Jan 1974)

Story by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti
"Invasion Of America" (20 pgs)

"Invasion Of America". A group of soldiers, dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms, are lead by a General Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue. When they reach the White House, they fire a missile through one of the windows. Eagle Free and two armed guards are shocked when a dwarf emerges from the shell. The little intruder is brought before the President. He states that he is a Washington Minuteman, and that this mock invasion serves to dramatize their objection to his bill to outlaw firearms. Senator Fireside arrives and congratulates the dwarf, Baron Von Stomp, for the good show. The Senator tells Prez to take this as a warning. After ejecting the Senator and Von Stomp, Prez asks his F.B.I. Chief about the Minutemen. Eagle Free tells him that they are an extreme right-wing organization whose members have been storing hordes of arms all over the country. They are led by Gregor Washington, the great-great-grandnephew of George Washington. Eagle Free informs the President that they have files on all their leaders, and are also infiltrating their ranks.

Chapter Two "Winter At Valley Forgery". It is December 1977, and the Minutemen are camped in a small village near Philadelphia. The men are lining up to receive their monthly stipend, which is comprised of counterfeit ten dollar bills. On February 18th, Eagle Free reports to the President that the Minutemen are without funds and are tormented by the raging winter. The President vows to sign the firearms bill first thing in the morning. After Eagle Free leaves, Prez stands at his office window. At exactly midnight, a sharpshooter's bullet strikes the President. All through the nation, millions of Americans grieve and pray for the Prez.

Chapter Three "The Dollar Machine". General Gregor Washington decides that the time to strike has arrived. Von Stomp tells him that the men are hungry and cannot proceed. The counterfeit money they have printed is not of high enough quality to be useful. When Von Stomp shows Gregor the new dollar bill, which replaces the picture of his ancestor with an image of Prez Rickard, the General is infuriated. Von Stomp says he has a plan, and calls for Imperiale, who carries in a large machine. Imperiale works at the Treasury, but is a secret member of their organization. He proposes that they counterfeit one dollar bills instead. Nobody would suspect a one dollar counterfeit bill because they are usually too expensive to produce, but his new machine turns out a hundred perfect copies a minute. The new dollar machine turns out enough money to feed, clothe, and defrost the troops. A few days later, Gregor's forces advance.

Chapter Four "Invasion". Prez and the Army meet Eagle Free at Nature Nation, his teepee headquarters. Eagle Free informs the President that the Minutemen have captured General Patting of the National Guard. Prez tells the Army General that they must find a way to stop the Minutemen without causing a blood bath. The President asks his F.B.I Chief for his advice. Eagle Free says that when warring Indian tribes wished to avoid a massacre, the two rival chiefs fought each other to the death. Prez tells his friend to contact Gregor and deliver his challenge. Gregor accepts and Eagle Free leaves to arrange for a truce. Gregor then sends for Sergeant Hood, their black belt karate instructor, who is disguised to resemble the General.

Chapter Five "Fight To The Finish". As both sides meet on the battlefield, Prez immediately notices the size of his opponent, and knows he is not Gregor. Eagle Free tells him not to waiver, and the combat begins. Prez takes a beating but, as the brutish Minuteman moves in for the kill, the Prez lashes out with a last desperate blow and stuns his opponent. Prez is so worked up that Eagle Free has to intervene and stop him from killing his enemy. Gregor refuses to surrender, and orders his men to charge. Because the Army is under orders not to fire, the Minutemen break through the defense lines and head towards the Pentagon. Prez has no choice but to order General Patting to call out his forces. In the middle to the bloodshed, Prez orders the soldiers to stop. Gregor captures Prez, but suddenly Sergeant Hood turns on his General, quickly ending the battle. Eagle Free informs the President that Sergeant Hood is one of his F.B.I. infiltrators.

The next day, Prez addresses the combined houses of Congress. He tells them that he has passed from a callow youth to a mature man, and has learned from this tragedy that force cannot be met with cool phrases, love, or flowers. The older Congressmen finally become accepting of the new President, while the younger ones call him a traitor and warmonger. Prez tells them all that it is time to bind up the nation's wounds. Later, at the White House, Prez and Eagle Free wonder just who the assassin really is.

Text Page "Prez-idential Press Conference". Prez answers some questions posed by members of the press.

PREZ vol. 2 #4 (Feb-Mar 1974)

Story by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti, inks by Creig Flessel
"Vampire In The White House" (20 pgs)

"Vampire In The White House". Prez and Eagle Free are in the Republic of Moravia. They are being thanked by it's government and people for the U.S. aid that has enabled them to build a new canal with which they can irrigate their crops. The President can't help but hold his nose at an offensive odor. The government officials apologize, stating that it is a custom that they wear chains of garlic around their necks. As they leave in the President's superjet, The Freebee, Prez and Eagle Free note a dark cloud over the land next to Moravia. Later, back at the White House, Prez assures the delegation from the People's Republic of China that the U.S. has no plans to take over Moravia.

That night, on the banks of the Potomac, Eagle Free is awakened by the sound of flapping wings. He and his monkey friend, Ibsen, investigate. Eagle Free sees a giant bat approaching the White House, and rushes to the President's bedroom to wake him. They and the military head to the roof, where a bat-shaped helicopter lands. The door of the Transylvania Airlines copter opens, revealing a wolf wearing a suit and carrying a small coffin-like briefcase! The soldiers attack the creature and struggle through the early hours, until the sun rises. The werewolf transforms into a diplomat, who has come for a summit meeting with the President. He introduces himself as Wolfman, ambassador from Transylvania. Ambassador Wolfman tells the President that Transylvania borders on Moravia, and the U.S. has caused great distress for his people.

Later, in the President's study, the ambassador explains that the canal that they built in Moravia has drained Transylvania's lakes and reservoirs. They demand that it be destroyed, but Prez refuses. Given this response, the ambassador then states that he has been instructed to declare a state of war between Transylvania and the U.S., on orders of his royal highness Count Dracula the First. After the ambassador leaves, Prez and Eagle Free comment that Dracula was born 350 years ago, and died with a stake in his heart! Neither of the men notice that the ambassador has left his coffin-shaped briefcase behind.

Chapter 2 "Wheeling Death". Prez calls an emergency meeting of his cabinet. He states that it seems they are at war with a country they can't even find. Eagle Free concludes that it must be under the dark cloud next to Moravia. One of his men brings in an ancient book from the Library of Congress which claims that Transylvania is a land of vampires. Later that night, in the President's study, the ambassador's coffin-shaped briefcase opens. A crippled Count Dracula, who has had both his legs amputated, crawls out and wheels himself down to the President's bedroom on a dolly. Just as Dracula is about to turn Prez into one of the living dead, Eagle Free bursts in screaming for the President to awaken. Eagle Free pushes Dracula off of the bed, stating that he suddenly realized that the strange suitcase was a coffin, and that Wolfman had left it behind. The vampire tells them that they will not stop him. Seven times he has been stabbed through the heart, and seven times he has risen from the grave. He has been tormented, and crippled, but there is still enough left to destroy them both. Dracula attacks them, but Eagle Free pulls out a disk which appears to bear the symbol of a Nazi swastika. The youth reveals that it is the Indian hooked cross, and that the Great Spirit will strike him down if he advances beyond the sign. Temporarily defeated, Dracula escapes into the night.

Chapter Three "Suicide Mission". Count Dracula escapes in the Transylvanian helicopter. The next morning, the ambassador from Moravia arrives to report an urgent message from his government. The Transylvanians have concocted a plot so horrible that if defies belief. They plan on using their one plane to release a cargo of rabid bats over the U.S. Capitol. Prez tells Eagle Free that they must wipe Transylvania off the map before that plane is dispatched. Eagle Free says it will require an act of Congress, so he arranges for a session of the House at once. Later, when Prez asks the Congress for emergency powers, he is surprised to learn that no one believes him. Some demand a federal investigation of his administration, while others want him to resign.

Later, in Prez's office, Eagle Free suggests they launch a kamikaze attack on the Transylvanian jet with the help of his birds. Eagle Free takes Prez to his teepee headquarters, and the two hold a farewell ceremony for the brave birds. A bat-shaped jet approaches Washington, and the birds take flight. The swarm fly directly into the jet's intake, damaging the engines. The jet struggles for altitude, but the engines finally grind to a halt. The plane, with it's two occupants, Dracula and Wolfman, plunges to a watery grave. Later, Prez and Eagle Free ponder their future. Prez faces a federal court inquiry. Eagle Free is disturbed by the fact that, if Transylvania surrenders, the U.S. will likely send them money to build them up again.

Letters Page "Mail To The Chief". Letters by Will D. Nash, Michael Sloan, David Hillman, Richard H. Morrissey, Gerard Geary, and Danny Laudor.

CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE vol. 1 #2 (Fall 1978) featuring PREZ #5

Story by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti, inks by Creig Flessel
"The Devil's Exterminator!" (20 pgs)

Chapter 1 "Clyde The Pied Piper Ambassador From Hell!". During the course of a White House dinner for King Ferdinad of Lamonica, the feast is suddenly swarmed by bugs. Later, Prez, who is against pesticides, finds an exterminator named Clyde Piper who claims to eliminate bugs without any chemicals. Elsewhere, in the lower depths of the White House, in the almost forgotten manuscript room, the custodians Balderman and Curlyman listen in on the conversation using an electronic device.

Chapter 2 "The Exterminator". Clyde Piper arrives with his patented Hellscope. He pulls out a flute and starts to play. He explains that the proper pitch of his flute will activate the electronic tape in the Hellbox. Suddenly, the room is filled with gruesome scenes from Hell itself, projected from the strange machine. Out of every nook and cranny the bugs emerge. They follow the strange piper through the White House, out into the streets, and out to the countryside into the hills of Virginia. The next morning, Clyde has dropped out of sight, but his bill has already arrived. It is for $5,000,000, payable in 30 days!

Chapter 3 "Time To Pay Clyde Piper". Outraged by the excessive charge, Prez refuses to pay. One month later, at the annual White House Easter Party for the children of Washington, Eagle Free worries because the exterminator's payment is one day past due. An hour later, Prez stands before the Senate Committee on Bugging. The Senators are irate because the King of Lamonica had found a tiny microphone in his food. They point out that bugging is illegal, but Prez insists that the White House is not bugged. Back at the party, the children are being entertained by the Capitol Vaudeville Players. Clyde Piper appears, playing his flute. The children see images of a castle on a lake of fire, and become entranced. The Piper begins to lead the children away. Just then, the President returns and sees what is transpiring. Prez, Eagle Free, and the military guards attempt to chase the Piper, but are stopped by the Vaudeville Players. When they are later interrogated, the Players claim to know nothing of Clyde Piper.

Chapter 4 "Keepers Of The Bugs". Prez has sent for the two custodians, Balderman and Curlyman, to talk to them about the bugs that the Senators had questioned him about. They insist that they know nothing. Suddenly, some Senators burst in and ask the President what he is doing about the missing children. Prez informs them that the troops are making a thorough search of the Virginia Hills. One of the Senators says that the parents of the children are out there also, and they are armed and desperate. Just then, a call comes in from the field. The parents are frantic and shooting at everything that moves.

Minutes later, Prez and Eagle Free arrive at the scene. The crowd has gathered at a cave opening; the Piper's music is coming from inside. Suspicious, Prez carefully proceeds and safely detonates a booby-trap. He reveals that the music was coming from a recorder. The custodians then drive up and confess, explaining that they had planted tiny recording devices in live insects and set them loose throughout the White House. They had recorded conversations of diplomats, workers, and Congressmen. They then play a recording of the Piper in his hideout, which reveals that he is leading the children into Westfall Lake.

Prez and Eagle Free take a chopper toward the lake and see the Piper leading rodents, insects, and the mesmerized children towards the water. They land the chopper and attempt to head the Piper off, but they are overwhelmed by the creatures. As the Piper wades into the water, Prez and Eagle Free take the chopper over the lake. They jump from the craft, leaving the throttle open. The chopper crashes into the lake, exploding and igniting the bleeding fuel. The Piper, rodents, and insects are incinerated in the blazing inferno, but the children stop at the water's edge, shocked awake by the fiery scene. Later, Prez thanks the custodians for their aid, but must insist on their resignations for breaking the law.

SUPERGIRL [first series] vol. 3 #10 (Sep-Oct 1974)

Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Art Saaf, inks by Vince Colletta
Story one: "Death Of A Prez!" (10 pgs)

Linda Danvers watches Prez Rickard on the television, as he speaks at a supermarket in Rosedale. She spots as assassin in the crowd and flies there as Supergirl. She arrives just in time to save the President. As Supergirl talks with Prez, a small boy asks him to fix his father's watch, which had stopped when his father died in Vietnam. Prez fiddles with the timepiece, fixing it in no time. Supergirl warns Prez to be careful and departs.

The President heads back to the White House but, on the way back, sees a sign for an auction of rare antique clocks. He can't resist, and instructs his driver to go to the auction site. Prez searches for a clock that doesn't work, so that he might fix it, and he finally locates one. Just as he is about to examine it, Supergirl, who had been keeping an eye on the President, swoops in and snatches it away. She flies off and the clock detonates safely outside. Supergirl returns and points out that there is a pattern in these attempts. She says that the plotters seem to know the President's route.

Television crews arrive and begin filming Prez and his guardian angel. Elsewhere, watching from his secret lab, is the mastermind of the assassination attempts. He observes as Supergirl flies off to the White House with the President. Prez comments that the plotters would never have expected the switch in plans. The mastermind tells his aide, a witch named Hepzibah, that Supergirl doesn't realize that the first two attempts were merely bait, and that the real assassin will be Supergirl herself. Hepzibah performs her evil magic on a Supergirl voodoo doll, commanding the heroine to kill the President. The mastermind boasts that he gets a million a contract by combining black magic with the wizardry of science. He then turns to his two lab assistants and instructs them to use radar to focus their large surgical laser probe on Supergirl. This radar-cranial cannon is designed to inflame the aggressive portion of the brain.

Supergirl suddenly feels the urge to kill the President. She lands on a high skyscraper and begins threatening him. Jets arrive and fire at Supergirl, but she just flies off with the President. High over a nearby river, Supergirl appears to drop him to his death! Shortly afterward, at the mastermind's hideout, the radar-cranial cannon is suddenly melted. Supergirl arrives, having tracked the radar beam back to the weapon. Soon, the police arrive and take the plotters away, but not before the mastermind gloats that at least she failed to stop him from killing the President.

Later, Prez appears on the television, revealing that Supergirl had flown him to the safety of the Fortress of Solitude, while using a plastic replica of him to deceive the gang. Supergirl comments that all she has from the experience is a slight headache.

Prince Ra-Man (Mark Merlin)

In June of 1959, the Flash had his third consecutive clash with Gorilla Grodd (FLASH #108), Superman encountered Bizarro (ACTION #255) and Mister Mxyzptlk (SUPERMAN #131), Batman and Robin journeyed to seventeenth-century Venice (BATMAN #125) while Supergirl met Tommy Tomorrow in the future (ACTION #255), Speedy began moonlighting from his regular role as Green Arrow's partner (ADVENTURE #263), the Challengers of the Unknown thwarted "the plot to destroy Earth" (COTU #9) and Wonder Woman quashed an alien campaign against her (WW #108). Deep in outer space, Adam Strange defeated the robot raiders of Vor Kan (MYSTERY IN SPACE #53) and Abin Sur embarked on what was to be his final mission as a Green Lantern (flashback in GL #16). And, in the city of Closter, an occult investigator named Mark Merlin reassured a client that her house was NOT haunted (HOUSE OF SECRETS #23).

In the pilot episode, Mark explained to the reader that "there are three types of cases I receive ... the most common one being 'supernatural' events which have a perfectly natural explanation." Second most frequent was "man-made ... created, as a rule, in order to perpetrate a hoax." And then there were the instances that Mark categorized in his "Question Mark File." As an example of the latter, he cited the gargantuan amoeba-like creatures that he'd fought and buried in a cavern in Ridgely Hills.

"A Mark Merlin Mystery" became a fixture in HOUSE OF SECRETS, pencilled by Mort Meskin and, with issue #25, inked by George Roussos. For every hoax that Mark and his assistant Elsa exposed, there seemed to be ten genuine supernatural occurances that they uncovered. From other-dimensional fishmen who gave Mark temporary aquatic powers (HoS #46) to a marauding extraterrestrial creature (HoS #51) to condemned spirits (HoS #62), there was never a dull moment. Mark defended himself with a variety of potions and spells, plus a "magic eye" talisman and the ability to levitate himself.

The arrival of writer Jack Miller to the series brought new details to light. In HoS #56 (1962), Mark's uncle, the Mighty Merlin, died and the young investigator inherited his mansion on Mystery Hill. The story was altered in HoS #58, wherein the Mighty Merlin's death was established as occuring when Mark was in college. Elsa was retroactively revealed to have been the Mighty Merlin's assistant. After his uncle was slain by the Council of Three, Mark decided to look into the case only to have the villains die of unexplained causes. Elsa speculated that the Council might have met their end through occult forces and Mark decided to make the investigation of such mysteries his life's work.

In issue #60, Mark was caught up in sinister doings tied to the American tour of the Sarubian tomb of Pharaoh Memkata. The Pharaoh had been said to take the form of a black cat by using a charm now buried somewhere in the tomb. After the exhibit was threatened by a curse, Mark entered the transplanted burial chamber in search of the alleged charm. To his amazement, he found it — a small cat's head with jeweled eyes.

The light of his flashlight against the jewels sent a sudden surge of energy through the investigator and Mark shook off the effects only to find himself looking down on his own body. Incredibly, his mind now inhabited the form of a black cat. Crawling onto his human body, Mark determined that "it's in a trance — there's a heartbeat, faint and terribly slow — but it's alive ... which means I can reverse this fantastic exchange." With Elsa impersonating Memkata's wife, Cletoma, the black cat walked towards the instigator of the would-be terrorist plot — Sarubia's Ambassador Fazir — and scratched out a message in their ancient tongue. When translated, it read "Fazir is the criminal. He has brought shame upon me — Memkata."

In the aftermath, Mark kept the cat charm for himself, telling Elsa that "with magic like this, I could fight the forces of evil better than ever. But does ANY man have the right to use such great power?" The answer, of course, was a resounding yes. With the artifact hanging around his neck, Mark entered the form of Memkata on several subsequent occasions while Elsa watched over his true body (HoS #61, 63, 65, 68-70). Periodically, Mark even seemed capable of speaking in his feline persona (HoS #65, 70) though this was presumably a type of telepathic projection.

HoS #61 introduced Mark's chief nemesis, Doctor-7, a self-styled "King of the Supernatural" who imagined the occult investigator to be his only competition. Initially, much of the villain's reputation was founded on trickery (#65) but he did possess genuine occult knowledge and drew a being known as the Morloo to Earth. From changing granite to gold to altering the make-up of human beings, the Morloo was an almost unstoppable threat that Mark and Elsa narrowly succeeded in expelling from Earth on three occasions (#67, 68, 72).

The complexion of the series began to change with 1965's HoS #72, when original Spectre artist Bernard Baily replaced the Meskin-Roussos art team.

In HoS #73, The Gargoyle (alias Nicholas Balko), an old foe of Mark's (though never seen previously) kidnapped Elsa and seemed to dematerialize him. In fact, Mark had been transported to the subatomic world of Ra, home to a race whose descendants came there 4,000 years earlier from Egypt. The planet orbited a hexagon-like green sun.

Informed by a scientist named Kranak and his daughter Rinah that the properties of the other-dimensional world would render him immortal — but incapable of leaving — Mark sought a way out by using his cat charm to inhabit an obsidian statue of a cat-god. A token representing Ra's sun fell next to Mark's insensate body and exploded, imbuing him with great knowledge and mental abilities. Thanks to his new powers, Mark could finally return to Earth — but not without losing body and soul. Instead, Kranak transformed the young man into Prince Ra-Man, modelled after a legendary ruler of the ancient Egypt. His costume included a light green shirt, dark green pants and an orange cape.

Elsa was astonished when she was rescued by the stranger with the black hair (streaked with white) and goatee. Her elation turned to grief when Prince Ra-Man informed her that Mark was gone. For reasons of his own, Ra-Man offered no further details and Elsa could only conclude that her fiance (since HoS #68) was dead.

Although she was unaware that Ra-Man was something of a reincarnation of Mark, Elsa initially trusted the so-called Mind-Master, and accepted his claim to be the occult investigator's heir to the Mystery Hill retreat. Together they completed Mark's last case, the investigation of a supernatural fraud named Zandor Caldoz (HoS #74), and faced foes such as the Heap (#75), Helio, the Sun-Demon (#76), the Vulkanti (#77) and Lord Leopard (#78). After learning of Bruce Gordon's connection to Eclipso, Ra-Man even fought the lunar villain twice (#76, 79).

A wealthy dabbler in the occult named Whitney Hargrave harbored resentment of Ra-Man's clearly superior abilities for a time (HoS #78) but eventually conceded that the Prince was the better man and became his friend (#79). Meanwhile, Ra-Man had also discovered that he could magically travel back and forth between Earth and Ra (#75) and made two subsequent trips there in 1966 (#77, 80), renewing the world's dying green sun on his last journey.

The Mind-Master was primarily a powerful telekinetic though he had a certain sensitivity to the thoughts of others. He was also capable of briefly altering matter and was transported by enlarging the sun symbol from Ra into a flying disc. Significantly, Ra-Man still possessed Mark's cat charm and used it one fateful day to enter Memkata's body and defeat Doctor-7. Returning to Mystery Hill, Memkata could not locate Ra-Man's body, unwittingly hidden in one of the Mighty Merlin's trick cabinets, and he gradually began to lose his memory of his human incarnation.

Ra-Man's disappearance brought all of Elsa Magusson's old suspicions back to life and she eventually wrote a book about her experience, postulating that Mark may have been hidden by the Witness Protection Program since his "last case had brought him in contact with international crime-figures."

While foraging for food, Memkata happened to spot one of Elsa's interviews being broadcast on a TV in an appliance story window and his foggy memories were partially rekindled. The cat successfully located the woman, who used Mark's magic eye artifact to help Ra-Man communicate with her. Returning to Mystery Hill, Elsa tapped into her knowledge of the Mighty Merlin's tricks to find Ra-Man's body. The grateful prince realized that she deserved to know the truth and finally revealed the complete story of Mark's fate. Elsa's faint hope for her fiance's return had been extinguished (1981's DC COMICS PRESENTS #32, by Mike Tiefenbacher, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta).

The "Whatever Happened To ...?" episode added a few new details to the series, including Elsa's last name (Magusson) and the identity of their hometown (Cloister). The story actually represented Tiefenbacher's second draft of a Merlin/Ra-Man revival. In the original plot, rejected because it was much too long to fit into the 8 page format, the story had reached a happy ending, with Mark miraculously revived and reunited with Elsa. Instead, Tiefenbacher could only hope for a sequel in which Mark finally returned.

It wasn't to be. Instead, the profile of DC's answer to Doctor Strange had only been raised high enough to qualify him for victim status in issue #12 of 1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Mirroring Mark's 1962 battle with an other-dimensional shadow creature (HoS #57), Prince Ra-Man joined the war against the Anti-Monitor's Shadow-Demons. Above New Orleans, the Egyptian prince was torn in two by the monsters. In Cloister, Elsa found herself in mourning once more.

Today Mark Merlin's name lives on through the Merlin's Lair nightclub in Midway City (DAY OF JUDGMENT #1) but he and Ra-Man have otherwise gone unseen in the current DC Universe save for cameos in Elseworlds — CONJURERS #3 for Mark, DC CHALLENGE #9 & 12 for Prince Ra-Man. 1999's DCU VILLAINS SECRET FILES #1 briefly referred to "Dr. 7, whose talent lies with communicating with ghosts, is rumored to have been corrupted by the great beyond."

During the fifteen years between Ra-Man's appearances in HOUSE OF SECRETS and DC COMICS PRESENTS, Mark Merlin appeared in reprints in 1968's HOUSE OF MYSTERY #174 and 1971-1972's PHANTOM STRANGER #15, 16, 18 and 19. Although the latter reprinted the pilot (in PS #15) and the first Memkata story (PS #19), one can't help but ponder the missed opportunity of not running a story with Doctor-7, who was a twin to the Phantom Stranger's own foe Tannarak. And, boy, wouldn't it have been cool to see a BRAVE & BOLD with Batman and Prince Ra-Man (or Mark Merlin) taking on Catwoman?

An extremely minor shade of an appearance of Prince Ra-Man was in the recent JSA #15. His tombstone was seen on the Fallen Heroes Graveyard on page 21.

The Printer's Devil

When Star City's newspaper, the Daily Star, was threatened with a buyout by media giant Morris Burdick, a demonic entity known as the Printer's Devil appeared on the premises. Dressed in a red and black costume with a blue cape, he came complete with a ram's head mask and large red eyes — and a trident that fired flame darts. Green Arrow ultimately unmasked him as Tommy Doyle, a sports writer at the paper. Doyle hoped that Burdick would think twice about buying a media outlet under siege — and he was right. Burdick abandoned his plans to buy the Star ... and Tommy went to jail(DETECTIVE #539-540).

A few months later, Doyle (out on bail) came face to face with the Printer's Devil. His successor had forced Tommy to provide him with a spare costume and weapon, which he used to initiate an attack at the Star City World's Fair. The new Devil "lost a printing contract here when the Fair passed my 'hot type' machines by for faster 'cold type' ones" and he joined others "ruined" by the Fair (Pinball Wizard and Bad Penny) in seeking revenge. The inexperienced Printer's Devil was quickly wrapped in one of GA's bola arrows and left hanging (DETECTIVE #543-544) while the rest of the troupe was brought to justice (#545).

Professor Brainstorm

Created by Hy Mankin

In what may well be the biggest bust since the Comet Kahoutek, I have details on Professor Brainstorm. I got a copy of 1961's MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #55 today and discovered that it (and presumably the other episode in #12) is a half-page humor strip by Hy Mankin.

The Prof wears the trademark cap and gown, glasses on the end of his nose and has curly white hair and muttonchop sideburns.

In panel one, he explains that "if I don't prove my time machine works, the university will dismiss me. ... I know! I'll make a trip to 1,000,000 BC and bring back PROOF!"

The Prof climbs into a primitive metal locker while the Dean puffs that "he'll never make it! ... The machine's stopped — let the old fool out!"

Professor Brainstorm offers the Dean a large egg as proof but the skeptic smashes it. "An egg's an egg! YOU'RE FIRED!"

In the last panel, a newborn dinosaur licks the Dean on the face.

Professor Kurt Borian

Written by Richard Meyer

During yet another argument between Simon Stagg and Rex Mason (the man now known as Metamorpho, the Element Man), Stagg finally admitted to Rex that even if he could cure him of his condition, he wouldn't do it, since he was much more valuable to Stagg in his Element Man form. This admission braced Rex's resolve, and he said goodbye to Sapphire for awhile, taking his future into his own hands.

Metamorpho entered a building where the amazing Metal Men were training. Lead missed a ball that Iron tossed and it headed for the Element Man, who calmly created a copper spring on his chest to rebound it harmlessly. After introductions (and a little fawning by Platinum) Rex went to see their creator, Doctor Will Magnus, asking the noted scientist to develop a cure for him. While neither Doc nor the Metal Men could really understand why he'd want to change, given his fantastic powers, Doc agreed to try to help him.

Needing some special substances to begin the process of transforming Metamorpho, Doc sent the Metal Men out to procure them, not knowing that their every word had been heard by someone else ... Professor Kurt Borian. Borian was still incensed because Doc had rendered his life's work useless. Borian had been shipwrecked on an island for fifteen years, but continued his line of research. That involved building a complete metallurgical set-up from scratch. After he was rescued, the professor debuted his creations, robots with the ability to mimic the properties of Iron, Gold, Lead, Mercury, and Tin. He was somewhat scoffed at by the press, since he hadn't realized that Doc had already created his Metal Men. Doc was impressed by what Borian had accomplished and offered to join him in his research, but his offer was rebuffed by the angry scientist. Now, Borian was executing a carefully laid plan of revenge against the man he deemed his nemesis.

Gold went to the depths of the sea for iodine salts, Iron was sent to the top a mountain to catch meteorites, Mercury went to a mine shaft to collect and amalgamate oxides, and Lead journeyed to a desert reason to collect rattlesnake venom. Lead also collected one other thing, a "venomous" dart fired into his back by Borian, which he unknowingly brought back to Doc's lab. Soon, Doc was ready to attempt to cure Metamorpho, and started the process after the robots wished their friend good luck.

Meanwhile, Sapphire was feeling very lonely for the love of her life, while Stagg was feeling very angry at him for slipping from his clutches. Stagg sent some of his masked men to track down the Element Man. At Doc's facility, Mercury was pacing furiously and suddenly collapsed, followed quickly by the rest of the Metal Men. In the lab itself, Doc opened the machine that Metamorpho entered to find a very normal Rex Mason, who was ecstatic at having his normal body again. The Metal Men suddenly walked in and captured both men, and all exhibited very evil personalities as they waited for "The Master" to arrive, and he soon did: Professor Borian. He had wrested control of the robots from Magnus, and was planning to use them in an assault on the mansion of Simon Stagg. This fact got Rex very enraged, wanting to protect Sapphire from harm. The two men were locked in Doc's isotope storage room, but Doc had installed a secret exit and they were soon free. Rex also knew that in order to protect Sapphire, unfortunately Doc would have to change him back into Metamorpho.

The Metal Men easily gained entry into Stagg's secure mansion, and control of Stagg's vast resources. Even Stagg was shocked when Borian revealed that his protector, the Element Man, had been cured by Doc Magnus. Suddenly, Metamorpho and Doc entered the room, and Borian ordered the Metal Men to attack!

Metamorpho evaded the Metal Men's first assault by changing into hydrogen gas. The robots then transformed into a giant tank, blowing the Element Man out of the mansion and stunning him for a second. He defended himself with a metal-piercing bazooka rocket made out of his arm, which separated the robots. Platinum then laid down tracks and the other robots formed a locomotive to run Metamorpho over, but our hero changed into a railroad "turntable" of copper and aluminum and spun them around quickly, making the locomotive fly off and the Metal Men fall apart again. The six then formed a huge metal ball and again tried to roll over Metamorpho, but he kicked them away with a giant metal boot.

Iron then captured Metamorpho in a large cylinder and the other Metal Men linked up to push a Lead piston down it to crush him. The Element Man changed into oil to avoid injury, and the pressure eventually heated Rex to the point that he exploded like the power stroke of a diesel engine. Borian yelled at his robotic thralls to destroy Metamorpho and Lead grabbed him and started crushing. Metamorpho changed into a giant copper heating coil, which soon started melting the slow Metal Man. As Lead flowed away from Metamorpho, Doc noticed the strange device that Borian was using to control the robots, and told Metamorpho to destroy it. As soon as he did, the Metal Men returned to their normal personalities, and Gold captured Borian.

In return for his help, Doc promised Metamorpho that he would continue to look for another cure that might change him back to normal again.

Appearances:

  • The Brave And The Bold #66

Professor Kitchykoo Caramba and his Vegetable People

Written by <swingwithscooter>

Professor Caramba is a typical mad scientist, who spends his days developing non-standard scientific inventions that will help him conquer the world! He lives in a large spooky mansion outsides Scooter's city with his wife Elizabeth-Taylor Caramba and his hulking Japanese manservant Ma-Shu-Ga-Na.

One day, teenage British rock star Scooter and his group of friends are picnicking in the woods outside town when a sudden rain forces them to seek shelter in Professor Caramba's mansion. The kids are welcomed by the Professor and his wife, but the weird d'cor (paintings of nursery rhyme characters being tortured) and strange food (including something called chicken soup-iaki, which has been fermenting "in grotty old pickle jars for months") has the kids on edge. When they try to leave after the meal, they are stopped by Ma-Shu-Ga-Na and taken to the Professor's lab.

In the lab, Professor Caramba shows Scooter and the gang his greatest invention - the Vegetable People! Seven huge (5-7') vegetables with arms and legs, they are "perfect specimens - lacking only one vital element! [...] Brains! Human brains!" So the professor uses a brain-transfer device to put the kid's brains into the Vegetable People!

Transfer List:

  • Scooter > Son of String Bean
  • Cynthia > Carrot Top
  • Kenny > Beet Boy
  • Cookie > Lima Bean Lady
  • Sylvester > Super Squash
  • Penny > Lettuce Lass
  • Malibu > Mighty Onion Lad

After a few pages of vegetable puns, Ma-Shu-Ga-Na asks Professor Caramba what the Vegetable People are for. "To conquer the world - that's what for, you fool" the Professor replies. But when Ma-Shu-Ga-Na points out that the Professor hasn't created a plan on how to take over the world with Vegetable People, and it's unlikely that such a plan could ever succeed, the Professor cries for a little, undoes the brain transfers, and lets Scooter and the gang leave.

Appearances:

  • Swing With Scooter #7

Professor Menace

Late in 1959, a robotics specialist unveiled his latest creation, a replica of Wonder Woman that he claimed was superior to the genuine article. The Amazon Princess accepted the man's challenge, agreeing to retire if the robot won a contest between the two of them. Unfortunately for Diana, the competition was stacked in the artificial being's favor: the victory would go to the one who went the longest without sleep. Humiliated, Diana agreed to return to Paradise Island, unaware that the Robot Master was known as Professor Menace, who had arranged the scheme on behalf of the underworld. Not content to leave Wonder Woman in retirement, Professor Menace commanded his robot to attack Diana as shewas flying home. The Amazon made quick work of the being, short-circuiting it with an electric eel, and brought the Robot Master to justice (WONDER WOMAN (first series) #111, by Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito).

Professor Menace was one of several criminal masterminds who took part in a prison break in 1961. Recognizing that they'd be the subject of a manhunt by the Justice League, the villains decided to take precautions. The Robot Master would be a key player. He constructed exact replicas of each criminal and it was those robots — wired with explosives — that were sent into battle with the JLA. Stumbling onto the fact that their foes were artificial beings, Green Arrow suspected the worst and fired arrows into their bodies, causing the explosion meant for himself and his teammates. In a remarkable one-mate feat, GA trailed the true rogues to their lair and captured all six men (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #5).

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.