Secret Society of Super-Villains: Rank and File, Book 1, Chapter 1: Engraved Invations

by Martin Maenza

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“I just can’t ever catch a break!” Dan Cassidy exclaimed. Dressed in a garish orange and yellow shirt with brown pants, the blue-skinned man with white horns on his head brandished his golden metallic weapon in preparation for battle. “After a few weeks on location, I was looking forward to a nice rest by the pool. But do I ever get my way? Nooo-oo!

The ground near Cassidy’s feet began to tremble and crack. The man flexed his muscles and leaped into the air, somersaulting to safety a few feet away. Ever since the encounter with the demon Nebiros that fused his body with the hi-tech suit he was wearing, stuntman Dan Cassidy had been forced into the role of a reluctant super-hero. If he had his way, he would be spending his full-time working on the movies. Dan blamed it all on his being a weirdness magnet.

Facing the nearly seven-foot-tall Blue Devil on the tarmac was an equally impressive-looking man. Adorned in white armor with red trim and a yellow wavy line across his chest was the slightly shorter but still massive villain known as Shockwave. “That’s the thing about payback, horn-head!” He stomped his large red boot on the ground once more, and the ground trembled. “You never know when it’s gonna strike!”

Cassidy leaped once more as the gaping crack in the ground approached him. At the same time, he fired off a blast from his trident, but the shot grazed off the target’s armor. “What’d I ever do to you, Shockie?”

The villain frowned. “Do? Bad enough you stopped my robbery at STAR Labs when I was working with Metallo. (*) But when I tried to ruin your big movie premiere, you made a fool of me! (*) That’s what you did!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Get Me Outta Here,” Blue Devil #2 (July, 1984), “Heart of Stone,” Blue Devil #3 (August, 1984), “He’s No Super-Hero,” Blue Devil #12 (May, 1985), and “Hooray for Hollywood,” Blue Devil #13 (June, 1985).]

“That’s not hard to do,” Cassidy quipped. “I mean, look at you! What kind of color scheme is that?”

Shockwave let out a growl of anger and charged the hero. Despite his size, he was fairly quick and was on the Blue Devil in no time. “I’ll crush you with my bare hands!” The two became locked in a struggle, each trying to throw the other down.

Dan Cassidy dropped his trident so he could use both hands; it clattered to the ground near their feet. “You think you’re so tough?” Cassidy asked. “I got moves that the Billion-Dollar Brawler would kill for!”

For a few moments, the two behemoths struggled with one another as they slammed their bodies against abandoned nearby vehicles and structures. The sounds of the battle consisted of grunts, groans, and destructive crunches. Finally, Cassidy was able to push Shockwave away. “Man, I wish my last few dates were as grabby as you!” he said.

“You’re going down!” Shockwave announced as he stomped once more, sending a fissure in the ground cracking toward Cassidy.

The reluctant hero sidestepped out of its path. “Not today, Shockie!” Blue Devil scanned the ground for his discarded weapon. The trident lay close to the edge of the large opening just made.

As he started to move, a voice called from behind him. “Your trident missing?” the voice asked. Blue Devil spun around to see a man dressed in a purple costume with yellow sleeves, boots, and accents around the torso. Though the man’s face was covered in a purple cowl with yellow devil mask facing, his words were perfectly clear. “Here! Try mine!”

The newcomer aimed his forked metallic weapon at Blue Devil, and from the middle tine came a concussive force-blast. The hero wasn’t expecting such a blast, and he tumbled backward as it hit him straight on. “Hey, who’s stealing my shtick?” he asked.

The newcomer continued to advance, allowing his blasts to push the hero before he could get his footing. “The name’s Trident!” he said. “And it’s a name you’ll take to your grave!” The blast surged and knocked Blue Devil toward the crevice that Shockwave had created. The hero’s foot caught his own weapon, knocking it into the hole before he himself tumbled in. “Oh, here’s your grave now!”

Trident began to laugh as he switched the controls. From the left tine of his weapon shot forth a spray of ice that began to fill in the hole down which Blue Devil had fallen. “Nothing like a cold corpse, eh, Shockwave?”

The villain in white armor approached, still looking a bit disgruntled. “I really didn’t need your help,” he said. “I was doing just fine on my own!”

“I totally understand the need for going solo,” Trident said. “I started out as a lackey for HIVE myself.” (*) He put his purple glove on the man’s massive arm. “Truth is, Shockwave, sometimes there’s safety in numbers.” Trident reached into the folds of his glove and produced a small, engraved card.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Who Killed Trident?” New Teen Titans #33 (July, 1983).]

“What’s that?” Shockwave asked.

Trident smiled underneath his mask and waved the card back and forth. “This is our invitation to an exclusive club, my friend! A little initiation crime I did earlier this year netted me the invite, and I’m able to bring along a friend.” He glanced at the ice-filled crevice. “What say we split now, before Mr. Deep Blue comes around?”

Shockwave nodded, and the two villains raced off.

A few minutes later, the large chuck of ice began to crackle. It then broke into pieces, allowing a worn Blue Devil to pull himself out the hole. “Glad my trident still had a charge,” he said. “I needed that firepower to weaken the ice.” Glancing around, he realized the two villains had long since departed. “Well, that figures! My little playmates have flown the coop!” He brushed himself off and surveyed the damage from the fight. “Knowing my luck, I’ll end up getting blamed for this mess. The studio’s gonna love that.”

***

It was an overcast afternoon a few days later when two men crossed the street in downtown San Francisco. There were still a few small puddles from the shower earlier that day. Both men were of average builds and wore long gray raincoats, buttoned up and belted at the waist. The collars were up to partially keep out the chill of the winter winds and partially to obscure their features.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been back here, Chad,” said the more widely built of the duo. His hair was brown and cut short in a wedge-shaped sort of way. “How come it took us so long to get back here?”

The thinner and slightly taller of the two replied, “Ricky, how quick you forget.” Stylized purple pants and boots were slightly visible underneath his coat. “Remember that incident at the bathhouse on Michaels Street?”

Ricky paused and then nodded to his partner, who had blonde hair waved over to one side. “Oh, yeah! How could I forget that! We made quite a scene, didn’t we?”

Chad laughed. “We sure did! Couldn’t show our faces around the usual haunts for a long time.” And it was that incident, two years back, that led the two young men to try their luck in another city.

That was about the time they changed careers as well, going into the professional crime business under the names of Blindside and Throttle. The duo had done all right on their own thanks to their abilities to generate large bursts of light and to speed things up, respectively. But soon they ran into Sonar, the sonic weapon-toting monarch from Modora. It was then that the pair stepped into the public spotlight more, having run-ins with the Green Lantern John Stewart and his similarly ring-wielding teammates. (*) After the last encounter, where they and Sonar teamed up with Doctor Polaris and his allies, Blindside and Throttle decided to part company with the others. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Echoes,” Green Lantern v2 #189 (June, 1985), “2,” Green Lantern v2 #197 (February, 1986), “1,” Green Lantern v2 #198 (March, 1986), “Ignition,” Green Lantern v2 #199 (April, 1986), “Setting Up Shop,” Green Lantern v2 #201 (June, 1986), “Turf,” Green Lantern v2 #202 (July, 1986), and “The Diabolical Doctor Ub’x,” Green Lantern v2 #203 (August, 1986).]

For about a year, they kept a lower profile. The two pulled a heist here and a robbery there, making just enough money to keep them in the lifestyle they’d grown accustomed to. But the week-by-week existence was starting to get old, and it was affecting their relationship. Throttle had been in touch with a mysterious contact for a few months now, and they even pulled off a crime specified by this contact. They were paid well for their work, and that was all they had heard about it until a few weeks ago.

“Yeah,” said Chad, AKA Throttle. “I think enough water’s passed under that bridge and out into the bay.” He tapped his upper pocket, where a small envelope was safely kept. “It’s time we returned to our hometown.”

Ricky, AKA Blindside, glanced up at the front sign of the building they’d just reached. The name was displayed in large letters over the entry way to the tall business building. “Here we are,” he said. “The Loman Building.”

Chad grabbed him by the arm. “Time to meet our new employer, hon.” The two men entered the revolving door together and headed into the lobby. Their next stop was the upper floors, which very few knew housed the Sinister Citadel, home of the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

***

The large conference room with the dark oak table was abuzz with conversation. Six costumed criminals and one rather large ape were talking amongst themselves.

“So you got the same kind of invite we did?” Blindside asked.

Shockwave nodded. “Yep. Well, Trident actually did. And judging from these fancy digs, this looks to be one real classy operation.”

“Yeah,” said Throttle. “A full support staff, plush surroundings, nice food. This place has all the trappings of a four-star hotel. If the benefits are decent, this could work out just fine.”

Over to one corner of the room, Copperhead leaned into his hairy teammate. “Hey, Fissst! Check out the ‘Flock of Ssseagullsss’ haircutsss on those guysss! Sssomeone should tell thossse two that new-wave isss dead.” The serpentine villain laughed.

Power Fist stood propped on his two legs and one long arm while he scratched his hairy stomach with the other. Despite a few failed attempts by Gizmo to reverse the process, the villain still remained in the form of a large ape after the transformation Grodd performed on him late last November. (*) “I’m more into L.L. Cool J and Run DMC myself.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Gorilla Warfare, Book 2, Chapter 1: Infiltration.]

Gizmo, meanwhile, was examining Trident’s weapon. “Excellent craftsmanship on this,” the dwarf said as he put down a special eyepiece he’d been using. “Who’s your designer?”

“A guy we call Prof,” the villain in purple and yellow replied. “Worked with some guys from HIVE to set the three of us up. Had it going good, too, until the Titans got on our tail.”

“I hear that,” Gizmo concurred. “For a bunch of former sidekicks, they can sure muck up the works pretty good.”

The conversations continued until the last of the group arrived. The orange-and-green-costumed Mirror Master entered the room with the Tattooed Lady, who today wore a red halter top with a matching black leather skirt and jacket. “Gentlemen, if you would take your seats, please,” the reflective rogue called out as he pounded his gavel twice. “I’d like to get this meeting under way.”

As he sat down, Copperhead asked, “Where’sss Ssstar Sssapphire? Did she duck out on usss again?”

“Not at all,” Mirror Master said. “In fact, I have her on a little recruitment mission even as we speak.”

“Anyone we know?” Copperhead asked.

“Probably not,” Mirror Master said. “This one’s a relatively new little thief who surfaced in Gotham City in recent months. She’s got style and ambition, as well as attitude. I think she’ll fit in well with our little group.”

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