Action-Hero Team-Up: Blue Beetle and Green Mask
Times Past, 1940
by Bradley Cobb
The Blue Beetle and the Green Mask battle a hypnotist’s criminal machinations, but can even they withstand Zoltar the Magnificent’s mesmerizing glare? And can Domino the Miracle Boy accomplish what both his hero and his mentor could not?
As she walked to the mailbox, she began thinking about the old days, back when she could make these short walks down the driveway without getting tired, back before the heart attack, back before the gray hair, back before she got old.
She also thought about her family: her two daughters Dawn and Donna, her three grandsons Donald, Blake, and Martin, and her husband Don. Ah, her husband; it had been so many years ago that he had given up his dreams of being the fourth Green Mask just so he could marry her.
Slowly sliding the mail from the black metal mailbox, she began her trek back up the driveway. As she walked along, she noticed the cover of Book Digest Weekly. She smiled to herself as she read the headline.
Mystery-Man Memoirs Inside!
Sue Mason had read her husband’s book many times over. She never tired of hearing him get overly excited as he spoke about evil villains, colorful heroes, exciting places that he got to see, and the dangers of the job. It was one of the few things that still put a smile on her face. It was hard to smile now, though, when your husband didn’t even remember who you were half the time.
She stepped inside the small foyer and closed the door behind her, then walked gently to his side as he slept soundly on the brown recliner. She looked down at him and smiled.
Turning to her antique rocking chair, she sat down and, ignoring the rest of the mail, opened the Book Digest Weekly to page 56, where it began.
“The following is an excerpt from the book Sidekick: Memoirs of a Miracle Boy, by Don ‘Domino’ Mason. During its initial release in 1976, it spent twenty-seven weeks on the New York Daily Globe‘s Bestseller List. It is now being reprinted with two additional chapters concerning the other heroes that have popped up since he retired, including the Green Spider, as well as the original Green Mask’s recent return in the summer of 1985. (*) It is with great pleasure that we give you this chapter entitled: Never Underestimate the Power of a Sidekick.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Green Mask: The Vita-Ray Rush, Chapter 2: Marquee Star.]
It was only our fifth case together, but it felt as if the Green Mask and I had been a team for years. We complemented each other well and knew each other’s moves before they were made.
Michael Shelby was like an older brother to me. I remember the first time I asked him for money. Needless to say, I got the noogie to end all noogies.
I took my fifty cents to the corner drugstore and bought the latest comic-books with the Blue Beetle in them. Even living the life of a mystery-man sidekick, I still enjoyed reading about his adventures. He was my hero.
It was on this trip to the drugstore that I first heard the name of Zoltar the Magnificent.
“Zoltar the Magnificent’s Amazing Hypnotizing Show!” the sign read. The events surrounding that show proved to be amazing indeed.
I begged and begged Shelby to go to the show with me, and after about three straight hours of prodding, he finally gave in.
Unlike in the comic-books, the Green Mask and I rarely wore our uniforms under our normal clothing all year round. You really couldn’t do so in the summer, considering how warm it could get. I tried it a couple of times, and all it did was make me sweat profusely. So we went into the tent for the show, putting our folded uniforms in our pockets just in case, though I had to tuck my handy boomerang under my shirt.
Well, we began to watch the act, and then Zoltar the Magnificent himself finally came on to the stage. He pulled out his mystical amulet and supposedly hypnotized his lovely assistant Kathleen. Planting subliminal messages in her head, he made her bark like a dog and cluck like a chicken. Then, when he snapped his finger, she didn’t remember a thing.
Shelby was always prepared, just like one of those Boy Scouts, always ready for action. He sometimes even carried a small police radio with a tiny earpiece solidly planted in his left ear to receive its transmissions. Apparently, something came across the scanner, because when I turned my head, Shelby was gone.
What happened next was kind of a blur. I remember Zoltar telling the crowd that he was going to hypnotize us all, and then I remember Shelby waking me up from a trance I was in and saying, “Let’s go, Don. We’re needed!”
Let me attempt to set the stage a bit better for you. For you youngsters out there, this was an era before television. Whenever there was an event — I mean a real event, such as a circus, a major play, or a famous magician — the whole town came. The mayor, the city councilmen, the store owners, the factory workers, the police… you get the idea. Well, when everyone was at an event, their houses sat unattended.
Anyway, Zoltar hypnotized the entire crowd, myself included. When Shelby (still in his civilian clothing) awoke me, I could see that there were people going up and down each aisle, getting the valuables from the entranced audience, who gave them willingly.
Shelby pointed to the collector nearest to me, and I instinctively knew what to do. I took the man out quietly with a hard right to the temple area. The guy was short, about my size, and it was upon realizing this that I knew the Green Mask’s plan.
I switched clothes with the guy and proceeded to act like I was getting the valuables from the rest of the dimwitted audience in my area. When I looked to where Shelby had been, he was already gone. Not that I expected him to be there, mind you, but you always look anyway, out of habit.
As it had occurred, the Green Mask was actually out over the streets in costume and searching for the rest of Zoltar’s cronies using his power of flight, which as you should recall sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t in those days. The police had received a call from the butler at the mayor’s house who reported a break-in, so the Green Mask started at Fiorello LaGuardia’s home first. From there he worked his way down Park Avenue.
But the one thing that caught the Green Mask off-guard that night was the appearance of another mystery-man: the Blue Beetle!
The original Blue Beetle lived in New York City, just as we did, and had also come to see Zoltar the Magnificent’s show. As I later learned, he’d grown bored with the show very early on and left. But upon seeing the Green Mask running across the street, he got into his own blue chain-mail uniform to aide him in whatever it was he was doing.
Zoltar the Magnificent’s cronies had planned on robbing the city blind while most of the population was hypnotized back at the big tent. The Green Mask and the Blue Beetle, each aware of the other by reputation, ended up working together and thwarted (I love that word) their evil scheme rather easily.
What was I doing during this time? I was disguised as one of Zoltar’s collectors. What Zarg didn’t know was that, by the time his collectors were supposed to come back to his trailer with the valuables, only half of them were still conscious. See, the rest of them were lying down on the job, thanks to a small boy who doubled as a mystery-man and could throw a mean boomerang with pinpoint accuracy.
Now, the Green Mask was not the kind of man to be unprepared, as I’ve said before. He’d left one of his two-way radios with me so I could update him on my progress. Knowing that I was, and to a certain extent still am, a big Blue Beetle fan, he neglected to tell me that the Beetle was with him, fearing it might keep me from getting my job done, which was probably true.
As it turns out, I actually saved the Green Mask and the Blue Beetle from death that night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The rest of the collectors made their way to the trailer, and I trailed behind in costume, as I’d already found a dark corner to transform from mild-mannered orphan Don Mason to the heroic Domino the Miracle Boy.
When I got to the trailer, the sight I saw was nearly incomprehensible, but it didn’t take me long to realize that the Green Mask and the Blue Beetle meant to kill me!
Now, before anyone gets too confused, let me explain why they were after me. Apparently, my little change of clothes did not go unnoticed. One of his cronies reported it to Zoltar the Magnificent, so he was prepared. When the Green Mask and the Blue Beetle made it to the trailer, there was an ambush waiting for them.
Normally, twenty-to-two odds are bad in a fight. But for the Green Mask and the Blue Beetle, that was nothing! A blindside attack, however, could even claim the best of us. Zoltar had his men tie them up, and then he hypnotized them, giving them the command to kill me on sight.
Being the small, wiry fellow that I was (I have a bit of a paunch now), I quickly made it in-between the two misguided heroes and reached Zoltar himself. With a burst of my own vita-ray-enhanced vitality, I managed to snatch the amulet from his hands before he even realized what was happening.
The Green Mask was diving toward me from the sky, fury in his eyes, when he finally snapped out of it. Without the amulet, Zoltar’s control over them was gone. This was great news for me, but it still didn’t stop the Green Mask’s two-hundred pounds of momentum from plowing me into the wall.
Zoltar the Magnificent, realizing that his hold on the good guys was slipping, had all of his goons concentrate their attack on the Blue Beetle, because the two green-masked heroes were still trying to get up after crashing into the wall. The Beetle was knocked out surprisingly quickly as a pistol cracked him across the back of the head, which would still hurt despite the chain mail cowl he wore. This was, remember, a short while before he gained any special powers of his own from his use of Vitamin 2X.
As for the Green Mask and me, we were so ready to take out this scrawny crooked magician that we didn’t notice the rest of Zoltar’s men coming in through the trailer door.
There we were, the heroes. We’d defeated crooks, battled demented madmen, and even fought some rather powerful mad science, and now all three of us sat tied to chairs in Zoltar’s overly crowded trailer. That was when I decided to make my move. See, being teamed up with the Green Mask did have its advantages, one of which was learning how to escape from these sorts of predicaments.
It was funny how often folks underestimated me. Men like the Green Mask and the Blue Beetle were considered big guns in the mystery-man biz. But as for me? I was a sidekick, considered by many folks to be nothing more than comic relief; Zoltar was one of them.
The crooked magician had three hoodlums with tommy-guns aimed at the Blue Beetle’s head, and the same for the Green Mask. And me? Nothing! I was just moved into the corner so I wouldn’t be in the way when Zoltar had his moment of glory. That would be a big mistake.
Well, like I said, being a small and wiry guy had its advantages. I worked my way free of the ropes that had me tied to the chair, and then just sat and waited as Zoltar the Magnificent began his victory spiel.
I don’t remember exactly what he said; it all began sounding the same, anyway. It was the standard, overused gibberish that was in all my comic-books. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I’m better than you, blah, blah, blah… No originality whatsoever.
Anyway, as he was rambling on and on about nonsense, I took off my left boot and threw it in lieu of my boomerang, knocking him upside the head with it. He was down for the count quicker than you could say Jackie Robinson. They didn’t call me the Miracle Boy for nothing.
The thud of Zoltar the Incompetent’s unconscious body against the trailer floor distracted the gunmen long enough for both the Blue Beetle and the Green Mask to take over all six of them. I should’ve known that they weren’t tied up any more than I’d been.
The Green Mask had already placed a call to the police, and the coppers were in the process of rounding up the rest of the gang by the time we exited the trailer.
All in all, it wasn’t all that bad of an adventure, except for the bruised ribs from the Green Mask tackling me.
The Blue Beetle began to leave, when the Green Mask put his hand on his shoulder to stop him. I couldn’t overhear their conversation, but the Beetle came back, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you.”
I couldn’t believe it! My favorite hero in the whole world (except for the Green Mask, of course) was thanking me for what I did! Then he began to walk away again. As he did, he said, “See you around, heroes!”
The Green Mask walked over to me and smiled. Holding out his hand, he showed me a newspaper advertisement for soap. Upon turning it over, I discovered that it was an article about the Blue Beetle, autographed by the man himself.
The adventure was over, but it was one I would never forget, no matter how old I got. I’d had a chance to work with my favorite hero for the first time. And, actually, I did get to work with him again, as well as his kid sidekick Sparky, but that’ll be saved for a later chapter of this book that covers the Mystery Men of America.
As for Zoltar the Magnificent, he appropriately faded into obscurity. He was arrested and jailed, and that was the last I ever heard of him. He was basically just like so many other amateur crooks that Green Mask and I fought over our career.
The only thing that made Zoltar truly different, that really made him stand out from all the rest, was that he was singlehandedly brought down by a teenage boy because he underestimated the power of a sidekick.
Sue Mason sat there, smiling. She looked over to her husband, who was still sound asleep on the recliner. She slowly got up and walked toward him. His eyes flickered a couple times before opening. He looked up at her and grinned.
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, sweetheart. You name it.”
“Tell me the story again about how you met the Blue Beetle.”
“Well,” he said, grinning, “it all started on a trip to the corner drugstore…”