Uncle Sam, Doll Man, Phantom Lady, The Ray, The Black Condor, The Human Bomb, Firebrand, Plastic Man. Heroes from the Golden Age, who fought for freedom, and justice during World War II and now carry that fight on into the modern day as The Freedom Fighters…
“Blustery” Bob Danner
“The Search for Uncle Sam, Part II!”
San Damora Penitentiary, Midway City
It was a dark and gray day at the state prison; the clouds hung low and a misty rain drizzled down upon those unlucky enough to be there. Yes, it was dark and dreary, but not as dark and dreary as it was to become for a lovely, redheaded, transplanted “Southern Belle” there visiting an inmate. She approached the visitors’ booth nervously and sat down in the cold metal chair, very aware of her surroundings. Every time she had come to this place over the years, it had made her very jittery and jumpy. She definitely didn’t like this place and she had good reason not too. Smoothing her crimson dress with her long, lithe fingers, she cautiously awaited the arrival of Prisoner #9091. Through the glass window she could see the elderly man being escorted to his chair by several prison guards. He was now late in his life, but a twinkle still glimmered in his eye, especially when it came to his granddaughter. As he was being seated a commotion started, one that made the poor girl even more edgy than before.
“Hey,” cried out one of the guards. “What is that in your pocket Mister?”
“What this? It’s nothin’ but a harmonica. It was given to me by my granddaughter sittin’ over there. It’s nothin’!” exclaimed the prisoner.
“Nothing? Are you kidding?” spoke another guard.
Pointing to the two guards, the Sergeant spoke, “Confiscate it now.”
“Listen Old Man, you with a musical instrument isn’t “nothing”!” shouted one of the guards.
“I…I…suppose you’re right sonny,” laughed the aged inmate.
Jumping and rushing at the window, the pretty visitor pleased with the guards, “Please…he…he isn’t a threat to you anymore! He’s sick and feeble. Leave him alone!”
The young lady was quickly grabbed by a guard on the free side of the glass and forced back into her chair.
“Ma’am, you’ll have to stay calm and away from the glass. Please use the phone,” he spoke to her.
“I…I…am sorry. I just can’t stand to see him like this,” she said as she began to cry and wiped the tears from her freckled cheek.
The inmate cried out, “Don’t cry Honey, Gramps is all right now!”
After the situation calmed down, the pair talked for several minutes and discussed what they would do when the elderly man was finally freed from his imprisonment. It seemed that his time was soon to be up and he was making plans to spend the last few remaining years of his life with his beloved granddaughter. It seemed that only a few months separated these two from a lifetime of happiness now, and the both of them were overcome at the prospects of finally being together.
“Things will be OK very, very soon Sweetie,” the old man whispered.
“I know Gramps, I know. I can hardly wait to have you at home. You have been away from us for so long,” replied the girl.
Soon the guards returned and escorted the prisoner away. The young lady then grabbed her purse and made her way out of the prison as she had done so many times in the past. However, this time, she felt like things were definitely on the upswing and she would finally be with the grandfather so long denied her. As she made her way down the dim hallway, out of the front gate and to the bus station outside, a slight grin came across her face as she thought about the way her life would change with him in it. Yes, she thought of the wonderful things that would happen to her and her grandfather in the remaining years of his life and it made her happy. Sitting on the bus, she sighed in relief at the situation now coming to an end.
Deposited at the local bus depot, nearest her apartment house in downtown Midway City, she made her way down the street and to her home. The familiar jingling of keys and twist of a doorknob made her feel more at ease as she entered her small dwelling. Laying her purse down and glimpsing at her answering machine, she could see that there were messages awaiting her immediate attention. Pushing the red, blinking button on the answering machine, she sat back on the barstool unprepared for what she was about to hear.
“Miss Tadlock. This is the warden out at San Damora and I am so sorry to have to relay this sad news to you and your family. Soon after you left this morning, your grandfather, Jackson Brooks Tadlock, passed away from a massive heart attack. I…I…am truly sorry. Please contact the prison at your convenience.”
Falling to the floor, the young woman began to cry and lied prone there for several minutes. Gasping and taking a deep breath, she spoke out loud, “Now he’s gone, taken away at the wrong time. Now…he…he’s free and they will all pay for the way they treated him. Tears flowing down her makeup smeared face, she cried out into the cold room, “Nooooooooo!”
“To The New York Island…”
“No Rod, I disagree. The obvious place to start is in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. If he’s not there, then we check New York, and some of the other locations,” spoke Darrell Dane, AKA Doll Man.
Riding with the Mighty Mite on the plane was millionaire businessman Rod Reilly, AKA the Firebrand.
“I’m sure you right Darrell, it’s just that I can’t help but link the Statue of Liberty to Sam. I surely hope we find who we are looking for soon. It would be great to see Sam again,” he replied.
Turning to face his friend, Darrell Dane spoke, “You can say that again, and it would also be nice to get home to Martha again. I feel like I’ve been away from her for a lifetime*. I’m sure you know…Oh, I’m sorry Rod. I didn’t mean anything….”
* See issues #1-4 for the details-Ye Writer.
“What? Oh, no problem Darrell. I’ve pretty much gotten over the death of Joan over the last few years, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her! She…she…was something very special to me. It’s times like these that I wish that she were still alive. Slugger Dunn too.”
“You’ve been a very lucky man, Mr. Reilly,” Darrell Dane said, patting his friend on the shoulder.
“Yes Darrell, I truly have been!” he responded.
“Passengers, please fasten your seatbelts as we make our approach to Dulles International Airport. We should be on the ground in less than 5 minutes. Once again it has been a privilege to serve you and thank you for flying Superior Airways!” the stewardess spoke as the plane approached the runway.
Soon our pair of powerhouses were driving on the streets of Washington DC in a rental car making their way through the lines of cars and snarled afternoon traffic. Both suggested, back and forth, places and ideas as to where they might find someone suitable and willing to take on the responsibilities of being Uncle Sam.
“The way I see it, we can make the Washington Monument, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials tonight. Then Arlington Cemetery, the White House, Capital Hill and some of the war memorials tomorrow,” spoke Rod Reilly as he flipped through a copy of the Washington Post.
“Whew, you sure still have a lot of the “get up and go” that I remember you having Rod. You’re wearing me down just thinking about it!” Darrell Dane replied, taking in a deep breath.
“Ha! I remember someone also being full energy here lately*. I have to give you credit. That was a pretty good strategy you had for invading Wotan’s palace. I hope that some of our strategy planning sessions, over the last few years, have paid off,” Rod replied.
* Again, see issues #1-4 friends-Ye Writer.
Turning and laughing to his friend, Darrell Dane exclaimed, “I was taught by the best!”
Making their way through the traffic and finally to the Mall, Doll Man and Firebrand made their rounds between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. Standing amid the granite and marble of these magnificent monuments to the men that helped found and nurture a nation, they both reflected upon times past and friends and family long gone. They searched and left no stone unturned in their attempt to find the heir to the legacy of Uncle Sam, only to come up empty-handed. Making their way back to their automobile, they both spoke.
“If at first you don’t succeed,” ribbed Darrell Dane, “try, try again?”
“You’ve got that right,” replied Rod Reilly. “Now to find some adequate lodging for the night and a quick bite.”
“My scientific mind sincerely conquers with your last statement Mr. Reilly,” replied Darrell, as he drove back onto the cities major thoroughfares.
Midway City, Home of Darrell and Martha Dane
“P…p…please, won’t you come in?” spoke Martha Roberts Dane to the middle aged lady standing on her stoop. “May I get you some coffee or something to drink?”
“That won’t be necessary Mrs. Dane. However there are some things that I would like to talk to you about,” spoke the mysterious Mrs. Peeks.
After several moments of introductions and small chitchat, Claire Whitman Peeks began to tell Martha of her situation.
“Mrs. Dane…” she spoke.
“Martha, my dear, Martha,” replied the ever-polite Mrs. Dane.
“Y…y…yes, Martha of course!” she replied. “Forgive me please, but I feel that I just have to come out and say this Martha. Straight out and quick, and that way, it’s a little less shocking! You see Martha, just prior to my grandfather’s unfortunate demise, he regained what senses he possessed and made several changes to his will. In his will he bequeathed all his possessions to my mother. Money, land, everything! Only…there was one condition that remained in the will that my mother, upon her death, had to follow. Upon her death, all money, property, etc. was to fall to the people that Grandfather named in the will. The total of this is well into the millions of dollars, you see. Well, to quit beating around the bush Martha…you and your husband, Darrell, are the soul beneficiaries of property and money that total into the tens of millions! The money alone totals well over $15,000,000 and the property is a downtown estate, located in the heart of Philadelphia!”
As she sat back in the plush high-backed chair sitting in the middle of the room, Martha Roberts Dane AKA Doll Girl, began to feel light headed and dizzy, suddenly she found it hard to swallow and her heart pounded so fiercely, that it almost choked her. After several seconds of stunned silence, she spoke to Mrs. Peeks.
“You’re…not serious, are you?” she inquired.
“Not only am I serious Martha, but I have the required paperwork with me in my purse. All it takes is your signature to get the ball rolling and…” replied Claire before being interrupted by Martha again.
“But, what about you and your family? Surely, you could use the money yourself?”
“My family and I are well taken care of, I assure you Martha,” she responded.
“Oh Dear!” Martha said, as she started to overlook the papers.
A Quiet Hotel Room in the Nation’s Capitol
Sitting on the edge of his bed, Darrell Dane could only “gulp” loudly at the news that was given to him by his wife. Staring out into space, he couldn’t believe what was being said.
“Martha…that…that is incredible! And you say that the company’s attorneys have looked everything over and it’s all true? Not a huge joke? I…I…can’t believe it! Of course, I remember the Fool Killer*, but that’s been many years ago,” he replied, stunned. “Yes dear, it was a very good idea to contact the company’s attorneys about this. Yes, I’ll be in touch tomorrow. I’ll call you ASAP from New York City, if we are unsuccessful here. Goodnight.” Slowly he turned and gently laid the receiver down on the phone.
*Way back in Doll Man #23, circa summer 1949-Ye Writer.
“Darrell…that’s great news!” cried out Rod Reilly into the room. “Things appear to be going well for the Danes!”
“But Rod…I…” mumbled Darrell Dane to his longtime friend.
“No “buts” Darrell. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. You’ve been given something, now be the gracious person I know you are, and accept it!”
As the lights went out in the DC hotel room, Darrell’s rambling continued for several hours before the teammates found peace in their slumber.
Mt. Rushmore Monument, South Dakota
“Sir, we’re approaching the Mt. Rushmore area pretty rapidly. Do you have any instructions?” spoke the pilot of the private jet as he glimpsed back into the passenger area of the plane.
Loosening his tie, Senator Thomas Wright II AKA the Black Condor turned towards the cockpit and spoke, “Yes Captain, take us in low and let’s buzz the mountain and see what’s going on. Then land this thing at the nearest airstrip. Got it?”
“Sir, yes sir!” replied the pilot as he moved the steering column of the plane in a downward motion.
As the plane neared the monument, the occupants could see the faces of the presidents covered with lush, dense foliage, and standing defiantly in the very center of the brush was a tall, dark, bearded figure of a man, covered in drab tattered rags and embraced by the greenery. Entangled in the many vines and branches, several people were wrapped up like mummies in the growth. A few feet away from this gigantic thicket were the members of the local law enforcement with their emergency vehicles, trying desperately to talk to the mysterious man.
“Sir, there is a small airstrip ahead. Shall I land?” spoke the captain as he shook his head in disbelief at what he had just seen.
“Yes, that’ll be just fine. As a member of the U.S. Government, it’s my duty to offer my assistance Captain,” responded Senator Wright.
“Not to mention getting us two old timers into the action huh?” mumbled Happy Terrill AKA the Ray under his breath to his old friend.
“Absolutely!” spoke Thomas Wright grinning to his partner.
As the plane came to a sudden screeching stop on the runway of the small airfield, Senator Wright yelled back towards the pilot and co-pilot, “Wait here for us. We hopefully won’t be too long. We’ll be back in touch soon!”
The two men dashed into a small log cabin, housing the airfield offices, and from the other side emerged as two of the Golden Age’s greats…Black Condor and the Ray. Becoming airborne, the two super-heroes swiftly made the scene of the commotion and landed next to several park rangers, trying to talk some sense into the strange vagabond nestled into the immense growth of vegetation on top of the monument.
“Sir, please back away from the ledge and we can talk,” spoke a park ranger using a bullhorn.
“Talk? Talk? That is all that you want to do!” cried out the mysterious vagrant to the park rangers. “The time for talk and treaties is over. You have murdered, destroyed and demolished billions since your people have been here. Isn’t that enough? It’s time that someone took back what you all have destroyed. It’s time that someone took back the good Earth from your people and turned this place back into the paradise that it was meant to be!”
“But Sir, we can talk about this and help each other mutually in your plan,” spoke the park ranger into the bullhorn trying desperately to negotiate with the strange figure festooned with flora.
“Do you mind telling me what’s happening here Sir?” spoke the Black Condor in his commanding voice to the park ranger.
“What? Who are you?” inquired the ranger.
“I’m Black Condor and this is the Ray…we’re members of the Freedom Fighters. We’re here to offer our assistance in this situation,” replied Black Condor.
“Who? The Freedom Fighters? Never heard of you,” the ranger responded.
“I have,” spoke an older sheriff’s deputy standing next to the ranger. “I remember you guys from back in the late 1960’s, I was visiting my aunt up in Chicago and saw you guys take down a whole gang of crooks trying to rob a bank. But where’s the rest of your team?”
“Sorry, they’re on other missions. But we would be glad to offer any assistance that we can,” the Ray spoke as a half-grin crossed his face.
“Whatever?” cried out the park ranger setting down his bullhorn on the top of his pickup truck. “Here’s the situation…everyone was enjoying the view from up on top and down below when this tramp, calling himself Mandragora*, suddenly emerged from nowhere and began screaming at the tourists about death and murder and started waving his arms around. Suddenly, the plants came to life, surrounded him and enveloped all the people standing nearby. Let me tell you, he’s got a good grip on everyone too and claims that he’ll strangulate and squeeze the life out of all of the people if his demands aren’t met. The problem is…we don’t understand his demands? He keeps screaming about our people murdering and killing billions, but I haven’t a clue. He’s a kook or something?”
*The first Mandy appeared way back in Feature Comics #139, circa spring of 1949. But be warned, this is a whole new Mandy-Ye Writer!
“Your people? What does he mean by that? What is he…some kind of environmentalist? Could he possibly be a Native American?” asked the deputy sheriff.
“Possibly. Well, what do you think Ray?” asked Black Condor, looking at his partner.
But before the Ray could respond, one of the younger park rangers stepped forward and made a suggestion, “There are several people draped precariously over the edge of the monument.”
“That’s true…let’s try and get them free first Condor and then we’ll decide what to do next,” the Ray said watching the eerie, plant controlling figure closely.
Taking to the air, the two crime fighters streaked over the precipice at breakneck speed accelerating towards the captured people dangling dangerously over the front of the cliff. Both Black Condor and the Ray began to pull on the trapped people, but found that they were stuck tightly. Tugging with all their strength, the two heroes managed to free four of the half dozen folks stranded in the vines. Moving quickly, the two Freedom Fighters flew they’re passengers back to the command post set up by the park rangers. Returning to the cliff face, our heroes again went about the task of removing the suspended sightseers.
“Holy Hannah Condor!” cried out the Ray as he tried to free his victim. “This is taking everything I’ve got! There has to be a better way!”
Snagging up his last flora entwined visitor, the Black Condor moved quickly over to his partner. “Looks like your going to have to start working out again Ray!” he spoke jokingly.
“Very funny, very funny. Let’s see what a concentrated burst of light does to this foliage.”
Aiming his index finger at the plant growth, the Ray began to slice through the vines and brush with a beam of light, freeing the trapped tourist. As the victim grabbed the Ray around the neck, the whole plant mass began to shutter, causing the earth itself to rock violently. Meanwhile up on top of the mountain, the dark fellow calling himself Mandragora began to moan and groan loudly.
“Aarrrrrrrrrrrrr!” he cried out, facing up into the clear sky, hands raised.
Soaring towards the command post and depositing their passengers, the two high-fliers flew up above the plant growth, and Mandragora, to overlook the situation further.
“Seems like that little jolt of energy didn’t sit well with our flora festooned friend there Condor!?” cried out the Ray encircling Mandragora.
“Looks that way pal!” replied the Black Condor. “Perhaps a more “direct” approach is called for?”
Flying high above the ragged figure, the Ray aimed his hands and unleashed a focussed burst of light down upon him. The light and heat were intense and the gathered crowd averted their eyes to keep from being temporarily blinded.
Closing his eyes and reaching to the sky, the Mandragora screamed again, “Aarrrrrrrrrrr!” At first it appeared as if Mandragora was writhing and howling in immense pain, but as the Ray shut off his attack, he and Black Condor could see that something was wrong. Something had happened and it wasn’t exactly what they were hoping to accomplish!
“Eh, Ray?” spoke Black Condor. “I don’t think that is what you wanted to do!”
“Condor!” cried the Ray. “It looks like he’s absorbed a lot of the energy from that last blast. Look at how the foliage has thickened and become much denser than before!”
“Not only that Ray, but he’s smiling now…and starting to laugh!” spoke Black Condor pointing towards the male figure standing in the center of the growth.
“We…we’ve made a BIG mistake,” the Ray shouted down to his teammate standing next to the mobile command post.
As the Ray streaked back towards the command post to figure have another strategy session with his partner, the pure evil laughter of the Mandragora resonated off the stone cliffs and craggy mountainside and sent shivers through all the people gathered there.
An Amtrak Station, Chattanooga TN
“Pardon me Ma’am, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?” sang Roy Lincoln AKA the Human Bomb to his lovely traveling partner, Sandra Knight AKA the Phantom Lady as he shuffled his way up the steps to the doorway of the train.
Laughing at his almost lack of rhythm, Sandy spoke, “Roy, why is it that when we’re…ah…working you act so damn serious, but when we’re alone you act almost childlike?”
“You just bring out the “youth” in me Sandy,” he said smiling at her. “Besides, I’m not that old. Well, I don’t feel or look that old anyway.”
Still laughing at his antics she replied, “Well, you still have that lovely head of jet black hair that you’ve always had.”
“Most of it anyway,” he chuckled.
“Our next stop?” she asked him, prior to boarding the train.
Thinking to himself and then glancing down at their hastily sketched map, “I think Atlanta, Birmingham and then down to Florida. We’ll hit Stone Mountain while we’re down here and then Birmingham. We’ve already covered parts of Virginia. I figured we’d try St. Augustine while we’re down here too. It is the oldest city in the U.S. after all.”
“All aboard!” cried the Conductor out into the boarding platform.
“Next stop Atlanta, Sandy!” yelled Roy.
Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
After checking more of the significant landmarks during the early morning hours and coming up with no clues in their search, a still shocked and stunned Darrell Dane and his partner Rod Reilly boarded one more plane, this one bound for the “Big Apple”, New York City.
“Perhaps you were right Rod. Nothing in D.C., maybe we’ll turn up something in New York?” spoke Darrell as he leaned back in his plane seat and rubbed the back of his head.
“Listen Darrell, I know you have a lot on your mind now, but let’s keep focused. Remember the task ahead!” Rod whispered as he leaned over towards his friend.
“Oh…I know Rod. I’m doing my best to keep my mind on track, but it’s tough,” Darrell replied. “I’ll keep focussed though.”
Catching a few “Z’s”, the two were awakened by their flight attendant as the plane came to a stop at LaGuardia Airport. Shaking their heads, brushing the cobwebs from their minds and grabbing their luggage, the two heroes made their way into the airport. Grabbing a couple of hot coffees, they made their way through the crowd and outside to hail a cab.
“Cabby…Cabby!” yelled Rod Reilly as he raised his right hand into the evening sky of New York. Immediately, a yellow cab pulled up to our searchers screaming to a stop mere inches from them.
“Where youse going gents?!” spoke the driver.
“Hah!” exclaimed Darrell as he started to chuckle. “Some things in this world change, but NOT in Manhattan.”
“Hey, this is my city buddy boy,” replied Rod with a half grin on his face. “The best things in life DON’T change!”
To be concluded…____________________________________________
Hello all and welcome to the next issue of Freedom Fighters. It has taken quite awhile to get this one out friends but I hope it’s worth it. Why am I so slow? Well, I had a major computer crash back in November and it took about a month or so to get it straightened out. Unfortunately with the crash, so went about 3/4th of this very issue. Boom! Kablooey! On top of that, I have been suffering from one of the worst cases of writer’s block yet. Oh well, enough of my problems, onto some other items of interest.
As you undoubtedly noticed by now, the F.F. has come across their first villain this issue and he is the Mandragora ! Just a few things about him for now. He is a redo of an old Doll Man that first appeared way back in the pages of Feature Comics #139 sometime in the spring of 1949. I don’t want to reveal a whole lot about him for right now, but trust me, you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of him in the future.
A passing note on the “Fool Killer”. He is a one-time villain from the pages of Doll Man Comics that I chose to expand upon. He was an insane man that attempted to kill Darrell Dane and Martha Roberts back in 1949, but came to his senses long enough to try to make amends for the deeds he had done, and was about to do. I guess, you could say that this is one villain that, it would appear, made up for his vile actions.
Also, keep your eyes peeled friends for other villain retreads in the very near future. A lot of things that have and are going on in these very pages will have giant repercussions down the road. That is a guarantee!
Thanks again for reading and being patient with me. Also you can send all of your comments, reviews and complaints to BBODANNER@aol.com. More excitement is definitely on its way!
Doll Man and Firebrand begin their search in the “Big Apple” for a suitable vessel to house the Spirit of Liberty, Uncle Sam. The Human Bomb and Phantom Lady keep searching in the Deep South for the same thing, and Black Condor and the Ray battle on with the Mandragora. Meanwhile, Martha Roberts Dane gets some “bad” news on the home front. All this and a trip to Egypt too! Join us, won’t you?!