Secret Origins: The Books of Magic: 1951: Founding Fathers, Chapter 1: Meet Me in San Francisco

by CSyphrett, with Martin Maenza

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Continued from Showcase: The Sentinels of Magic: Times Past, 1948: Sacrifices Must Be Made


A dark-haired teenage boy stood at the machine in the corner of the newsroom, checking out the piece of paper with typed information as it spooled out. “Holy moley!” Billy Batson exclaimed as he read the ticker tape. The news he was about to read on the air distressed him greatly. “San Francisco is under attack by something!”

A few moments later, the young man was on the air, broadcasting the story across the airwaves to all the radio listeners. As soon as his news report was finished, he ducked out the door of the broadcast booth.

“Billy, where you going?” asked his program director.

“Uh, family emergency,” the boy lied. “Be back in a bit!” He hurried down the hall, but instead of turning to the stairs, he ducked into a small storage room that contained a window. Closing the door tightly, he opened the window. “No time to spare. Shazam!”

Out of the heavens, a bolt of magic lightning struck down and into the room, hitting the lad. In a blinding flash, he was gone.

In his place stood a tall, muscular man in a tight red costume with yellow trim and a cape. “Time to fly!” said the world’s mightiest mortal as he climbed out the window and took to the skies.

Captain Marvel, using the speed of Mercury, streaked across the country. “If the problem is as serious as what came over the wire, I hope I get there in time! It certainly sounded strange, indeed!”

In no time at all, the hero arrived in San Francisco. His eyes narrowed as something appeared on the horizon. “Good golly!” he exclaimed. “What’s that?” Something about ten stories tall and green had emerged from the bay and was poised to strike the hilly city.

“Time to throw that catch back!” the Captain said. All joking aside, he racked his brain using the wisdom of Solomon, trying to think of the best way to push the creature back into the sea without causing any injury or damage to the city.

Suddenly, the giant lizard opened its blunt snout and breathed out. Fire swept through the skyline like a hot knife through butter. The spines on the monster’s back glowed with the discharge.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Captain Marvel swept in under the creature’s lower jaw, his fist wound back. His punch struck upward with all the strength of Hercules and the power of Zeus. The maw snapped shut as the creature staggered backward from the blow. “Looks like the direct approach is best, after all!”

Reptilian eyes regarded the small flying object circling about its head. The creature lunged several times at the annoyance, trying to bite it in half with its powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth. The red thing, however, hovered just out of range. The creature stared at its small enemy malevolently.

Captain Marvel squared off against his large problem. That thing has shrugged off my mightiest blows with a few shakes of its head, the hero realized. He looked around and noticed that a section of the city was on fire, while people were panicking in the streets. I have to stop this now!

The hero soared over to where the beast’s giant tail was crushing parked cars in the street. “That’s enough!” he shouted as he grabbed the end of the tail. The creature let out a mighty roar. He ignored it and flew up as fast as he could. The sudden yank caught the monster off-guard.

“If you didn’t like that, you’ll really hate this!” The world’s mightiest mortal swung the creature by its tail, around and around. The monster roared and flailed, but Captain Marvel’s grip was firm. “You want me to let go? OK!” He let loose his grip and hurled the giant lizard out to sea.

Now for the fires! The Captain had at least a minute to put out the fire, hopefully, before the monster could make its way back to shore. The hero spun over the cold waters of the bay at his top speed, creating a waterspout that he then drew into the air before thrusting it back down onto the fires, putting the majority of the flames out. Then he quickly snuffed the rest of the flames out with loud claps of his hands. Luckily, no one was hurt by the battle so far, he thought. But I’d better deal with that big palooka before it can come back here to cause more problems.

Captain Marvel flew out across the bay just as the monster was rising above the waves once more. His enemy breathed fire at him with a thunderous roar. The speed of Mercury was enough for him to avoid the outburst of flame.

“Back you go!” The world’s mightiest mortal slammed against the giant bipedal lizard, dumping it on its back in the water. Captain Marvel took a deep breath and dived into the ocean. His opponent was off-balance, and the hero wanted to press the advantage. He slipped underneath the huge body and lifted the creature into the air.

The water displaced around them and dripped off the massive form as he flew high in the air with the struggling animal. “Just calm down!” the hero said. Captain Marvel headed west over the Pacific Ocean, having recalled, as Billy, the reported sightings of the creature. Now that he had subdued the menace, all he had to do was backtrack along its original path until he found where the creature had come from.

I hope this baby is a natural but unheard of anamoly, he thought. The idea of someone like Sivana growing such a thing is unsettling, to say the least.



A handsome, tall man wearing a turban walked confidently down the streets of San Francisco’s famed Chinatown. Yarko the Great often visited this city and the immediate area around it. People waved at him as he passed, recognizing him instantly as the world’s greatest mage. They honor me with their well wishes, he thought. It fills my heart greatly.

Something hissed in the air, drawing Yarko’s attention. What was that? He quickly scanned the neighborhood for the source of the noise, looking first left and then right. Nothing obvious in the streets. He looked to an alleyway.

Black shadows shimmered and moved, coming together as black-garbed figures. They moved out into the street and blocked his path. “What is this?” Yarko said aloud.

The shadow warriors did not respond with words. Instead, they let fly a barrage of fiery throwing stars. As Yarko charged forward, some of the deadly projectiles shattered the nearby windows.

“Do not think I will let you get away with these wanton acts!” the hero cried.

Several of the shadow demons responded by pulling flaming swords from out of thin air. The embers danced where eyes should be in the featureless faces of the ninjas. They stood on guard, awaiting the man’s attack.

Yarko gestured with his two hands, and mystic, glowing letters appeared before him as he uttered an incantation. The symbols drew the fire from the shops into a blade that appeared in his hands. “I shall fight fire with fire!” He fell into an en garde position with his glowing sword sparkling in the evening light.

The ninjas started forward, swinging their blades. He warded off one blow with his own weapon, then another. He moved in anticipation of the attacks, but the shadow men were much more skilled with a blade than he.

“Yaaahhh!” he cried out as one swipe of their weapons caught his arm. Yarko realized very quickly that he needed to change the odds in this fight if he were to survive.

With sword in one hand, Yarko the Great bent down and carved a symbol in the asphalt with his free hand. He then stepped on it and waited patiently. By challenging them with their own flames, I hope to keep them focused on me, he thought. But they will continue to attack. Something drives them — some unseen force!

Still, Yarko had seen their type before. They only know attack and defense. They do not know guile. At least, he hoped, his hypothesis was true.

The shadow fighters surrounded the mighty magician, stalking him and waiting for his next move.

That’s it! Closer! he thought, waiting.

Then the shadow warriors moved in for the kill.

Yarko the Great stabbed the symbol he stood upon with his flaming sword. Light flared from the ground and wrote on the shadows, writing them out of existence with broad strokes of an unnatural brush. There was a wild, horrid hiss as they faded from view. Yarko smiled. “I love how well that trick works.”



A reddish-blonde woman dressed in a sparkly costume bowed on the stage to a round of applause. “Thank you, thank you,” she said to the crowd of both enlisted men and civilians who had gathered to see her perform. Stepping off the stage, she started to head for her dressing room.

A man in a uniform approached her, some flowers in hand. “These are for you, Miss Margo,” he said shyly.

Margo the Magician leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek. “You’re sweet,” she said, accepting the gift. She then headed for her dressing room of the makeshift theater to change out of her performing dress.

I’ll miss doing the USO shows, Margo thought to herself later as she walked down the street. I have a number of other bookings across the country, but it’s so satisfying performing for our fighting forces. The war with the Nazi scourge continued to drag on, even though it had become more of a cold war, now that both sides had the atomic bomb. But no one knew when it would ever end. Even with folks like the Freedom Fighters helping out, those Nazis still managed to keep in power. Will we ever see peace in my lifetime?

Margo walked toward the guard checkpoint for San Francisco’s Presidio, gave the soldier a little wave as she passed, and headed into the city proper. She decided it was best to concentrate on her next booking instead of heavy things such as the war.

As she walked down the blackened streets, her shoe heels clacked against the cobblestone walk. In the distance, a ship horn sounded. Fog was rolling in off the bay.

Suddenly, Margo felt chilled, and she pulled her jacket collar tight. A feeling came with the fog. Strange, she thought. Then she felt a tugging, a calling of sorts. Something was landing at the wharf, something that hated living things.

I don’t know what to make of this, she thought, but it’s too strong a sensation to avoid! Margo hurried down to the ocean. Her magic was more than smoke and mirrors as most of her fans had assumed. This lady was more than a mere stage performer; she possessed real magical talents, and she felt she would need to draw upon all of them soon. Whatever called to her seemed strong and evil.

She paused when she saw a pair of glowing eyes approach along the street. A silver fishhook glinted in the waning light from a street lamp. “Who are you?” Margo called out in a commanding voice.



Doctor Occult, dressed in a brown suit, white shirt, and dark tie, looked out of the window of his office in New York City. He stared off into space, concentrating on something. Something brushed gently against my mind, he thought. The feeling brought up his mental shield urgently. I need to look into this!

The handsome dark-haired man pulled the symbol of the Seven from his jacket pocket. It was a talisman of great power, one that he had learned over the years to wield well. He concentrated on the feeling, letting the power of the Seven amplify and lock onto it. The West! Crossing over to the coatrack in the corner, he pulled on his tan trenchcoat and white fedora. Once completed, he invoked the power of the Seven once more and opened a mystical doorway before him.

Doctor Occult stepped into the astral plane, crossing the intervening distance from Manhattan to California almost instantly, reappearing in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco! he thought. It’s been a while since I was last here.

He frowned slightly as he searched for the source of the probing emanations. It should be around here somewhere. He turned. The woods, perhaps?

Sudden waves of emotion washed over him, waves that battered him down to his knees. “Aaaggghhh!” Occult groaned. He tried to stand against the flood of mental battering; the waves increased, driving him against a nearby tree. What is this?

“Hello, Doctor,” said a voice with a mental echo. A pale woman stepped into view, holding a single flower in her right hand. “My name is Rosa. I wish to make all of you part of me. I will be gentle if you submit willingly, but things can go very harshly if you refuse.”

Doctor Occult had met a number of strange individuals in his time as a so-called ghost detective specializing in investigating the occult. This newcomer did not startle him in the slightest. He pushed himself to his feet, holding himself up with his back against the tree. “You’re just a vampire,” he stated. “And I only have one use for vampires.”

“Defiance,” Rosa sneered as she glided forward. “I guess that is to be expected.”

Doctor Occult waited until she was in arm’s reach before drawing out the symbol of the Seven. “Always expect the unexpected,” he said as he pressed it against her face when she tried to press her lips to his.

“Ssskkkaaahhh!” Rosa hissed. She tried to recoil from the burning touch, but the mystical detective held her head in place with his other hand until her struggles ceased. A column of smoke and a flash of light marked her passing.

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