The next day was one of grief and worry for the Butler family. Brian Butler puzzled and agonized over just how and why Lou Garde had ended up wearing that uniform. He blamed himself for the loss of his dear friend. He had immediately taken in Lou’s teenaged daughter Melanie, and had spent much time trying vainly to comfort the girl.
One night he looked up from his own depression to see Debbie Robinson enter from her wing of the manor. She wore only a babydoll nightie.
“Oh, Brian, that poor man died because of my fight with Doctor Death,” she said tearfully. “How can I look at poor little Melanie after this? How can I even go on as Lady Scarlet?”
“Debbie, this loss is a tragedy beyond my understanding, but I do know the blame rests on the Hawk and no one else,” he said. “I’ll bring him in for this, too, or die trying!”
She hugged him, and in only seconds they kissed. This occurred again and again, and then Rob Butler walked in.
“Debbie! Dad! How could you?” he yelled. “What joke have you been having at my expense?! I’m out of here!”
“Rob, wait! We never meant to hurt you!” cried Debbie.
Brian pushed past her and called for Rob to wait, but the young man was gone into the night. His pain and hurt drove him out to be alone in his bitterness.
Debbie slipped off and in her room smiled and slipped off her red curly wig. Her blonde locks fell forward, and as Dark Angel, she smiled wickedly.
“Now, with father against son and both torn by emotional pain and loss, the Dark Angel’s game nears a finale,” she whispered.
The Crimson Kid raced off in the night on his Scarlet Cycle, fighting back tears. He knew deep down that his adoptive father was innocent of romantic scheming, since Deb had insisted Brian not be told of her romance with Rob. However, it still hurt. Debbie didn’t love him. She had used him. How could he face her or his father again? He drove wildly on the rain-slicked roads and looked for some action to help forget his grief.
The young man found it soon enough in the form of more of the Purple Guard. That gang was still loose, though several members had been captured.
The Crimson Kid drove directly at them, watching them scatter wildly. Then he jumped off the cycle and fired his net-gun. It snared two of the gangsters, and he slammed their heads together ruthlessly. Bullets sped past him, and he jumped behind a fence. He lobbed a mist pellet over and smiled grimly as the sticky cloud blinded his foes. He saw through it clearly, thanks to the special contacts Wainwright had made for them years ago.
He ran forward and kicked one gang member in the face before spinning in the air and knocking a second one cold with a heavy right. He did all this silently without his usual banter. His heart just wasn’t in it tonight.
That would perhaps prove fatal, since, at that moment, a strange figure loomed up before his startled eyes.
“Doctor Death!” he said in disbelief, then fell forward from a rapid blow to the head.
“Let me help you search for Rob,” urged Lady Scarlet.
“Thanks, but I’d better find him on my own,” said an angry Mister Scarlet. “He’s hurt and upset, and I think we need a private talk. As for you, Debbie, it sounds like you led the boy on, and I do not appreciate that kind of juvenile behavior.”
Lady Scarlet remained silent as he rushed out.
Wainwright frowned in his lab. He had run a highly secretive and technically complex phone record search revealing that Lou Garde had received a call from the Butler house shortly before his death. The bald, fat man knew Brian and Rob had not placed a call. “That leggy dame did somethin’ screwy ta get the commish in that costume!” he said. “She’s pure poison!”
Mister Scarlet drove the Scarlet Speedster into the night. He wondered how he would calm the hurt young man. The book failure and now this romantic strife made things so tense. With Lou Garde’s mysterious death, Brian felt pretty worked up as well.
He shrugged and flipped on the van’s scanner. Wainwright had installed a bug or tracer in the vehicles, and thus Mister Scarlet could home in on the cycle. He did so and was very unhappy to see it abandoned by a road in the heart of Star City.
“Crimson Kid, what are you into now?” he muttered.
“You’ll never know, you pathetic waste!” said a voice from above.
“The Hawk!” cried Mister Scarlet as claws raked down from the sky.
Mister Scarlet threw himself forward, and the Hawk’s deadly talons merely ripped off his cape. He spun and fired the net-gun, only to see the flying killer dodge it easily. “I’m not easily beaten. I owe you for the last good man you killed!” scowled Brian Butler.
The Hawk grimaced. “I could say the same to you!”
Mister Scarlet calmly whipped out a small pellet of Wainwright’s design and, with agility born of years of training, slapped it against the right glove of the blue-suited Hawk. It expanded and solidified in a doughy glob over his claws, nullifying them totally.
The Hawk frowned and raked out with his left hand. Scarlet moaned as the Hawk drew blood. He rolled to the side and kicked the Hawk in the mouth. He followed with a left hook and tackled the bird-man.
The villain kneed the hero in the stomach, and Scarlet broke another pellet against the Hawk’s left glove. The doughy substance muffled the other claw, and the Hawk rose to fly higher.
“I’m grounding you for good, you murdering maniac!” shouted Mister Scarlet. He drew back and hit the Hawk in the neck. The Hawk choked and fell down. Mister Scarlet moved in and pummelled him with a rapid combination of rights and lefts. “These are for Lou Garde! These are for all the decent people terrorized by losers like you!” he said loudly.
The Hawk kicked him in the chest and took off.
“Not this time! You won’t get away!” Mister Scarlet leaped up and grabbed the Hawk. They rose in the night sky and struggled fiercely. “You lose this time! Do you hear me? You lose!” screamed an irate Scarlet.
Twisting around, Mister Scarlet wrapped his arm around the Hawk’s head. With all his strength, he pulled until the blue hood shifted to blind the flying crook. Three more punches finally brought the Hawk down. He passed out, and they crashed to earth.
Mister Scarlet yelped as he landed hard on one arm. “Broke it!” he muttered.
“Too bad! I’d like to kill you at your top form!” said a seductive voice.
He glanced back to see Lady Scarlet posed to fight. “Debbie? What game are you playing?” asked a weary and injured Mister Scarlet.
“A fatal one for you, I fear!” she purred in a breathy tone totally unlike the one she normally used as Lady Scarlet.
“Who are you?” he asked reaching for a belt pellet.
“Your final encounter! Your death Angel!” she said with a smile.
He tossed the mist pellet, only to have her agilely bat it aside.
“I know all the Wainwright tricks! In fact, after I rid the world of you and your insipid brat, I’ll kill that hateful old man for free!” she said as she kicked him in the injured arm.
Brian Butler moaned and lashed out with a left hook. The Dark Angel ducked it and slapped him in the face. He fired the netgun, but she jumped high above it and kicked the gun free of his hand. He tackled her, and they fell to the ground. She elbowed him in the face and scratched his eyes. He blinked and hit her in the chest, only to receive a second wrench on his arm. She spun and rolled and braced her leg against his arm. With a pull, she heard the bone pop.
He grew dazed and punched out with all his energy. She dance aside and tripped him. In seconds, she was on his back and choking him. He weakly struggled until tiny dots danced in front of his eyes.
Meanwhile, back at the Butler estate, the still-grieving young Melanie Garde had become somewhat used to her new home. However, she knew she might never get used to the loss of her father. She tossed her golden locks out of her delicate face and paced back and forth in the room Brian Butler had given her. Her crush on Rob Butler had not even been able to lift her spirits.
She had taken to hanging around with Wainwright, and the gruff old man had developed a remarkable fondness for the teenager. They made an odd pair.
“Melanie, see this here gizmo? It can spray a narcotic mist and knock a creep out colder than a frozen-hearted DMV worker!” he’d say as she perched prettily on a stool near his workbench.
She had learned of the Butler family secret years ago and had even shocked Brian and Rob by announcing this fact when she came to live with them after Lou’s murder. They had accepted it reluctantly, but they did trust the bright and gifted girl to keep their private history private.
Now she had taken an instant dislike to Debbie Robinson out of a instinctive jealousy over Crimson Kid, but she was more than a typical teen and had good instincts.
She had hidden behind a door and had listened as Lady Scarlet’s suddenly changed her voice during a phone call. The words were unclear, but the tone change was explicit and strange.
Melanie had taken a private vow to avenge her dad’s death. Toward that end, she had been listening to all conversations about the murder, and she had been infuriated to hear Wainwright’s muttered revelation that Debbie had likely called Lou the night he died in the Mister Scarlet costume.
She followed the elusive Lady Scarlet and peered through a window of a posh home to see her slip into one of her slinky red gowns. The red wig fell down to show her cascading blonde hair as well. Melanie had followed her as best she could until she witnessed the end of the combat with Mister Scarlet. She saw him fall before Lady Scarlet, and she reacted instantly. She ran up and tackled Lady Scarlet around her shapely waist.
“What?! You little pest! I suppose I’ll need to reunite you with your witless father! I arranged his death, you know! And it was all for a merely momentary whim!” she hissed.
Melanie agilely flipped out of her grip and spun back to narrowly miss her with a sidekick.
“You’re a little wildcat!” said Lady Scarlet.
At that moment, the grim and purposeful figure of Doctor Death arrived. “You witch! I’ll make you pay for betraying me! That poisoned scalpel would have killed any other man, but I’m immune to all drugs! It reacted with my special metabolism and merely placed me in a type of coma. It looked like death, but in the morgue I awoke!” he shouted, his black eyes and beard shining wickedly in the moonlight.
Lady Scarlet turned to see the madman leap for her with reckless abandon.
Behind them appeared a weary Crimson Kid. “We had a deal!” he shouted. “You’d help bring down Dark Angel, and that would be the end!”
Helping his father up, he noticed Melanie aim a second kick at Lady Scarlet’s rear. She fell forward into Doctor Death’s arms, and in the rainy night they fell from a sloping bank nearby. The lights of the city were close, yet this natural embankment was still unremoved and undeveloped.
Rob and Brian hurried over to see no sign of either foe.
“Death kidnapped me and ranted the truth about Debbie,” explained Rob tearfully. “She’s a criminal called Dark Angel! The witch used us both, and I knew then I had acted like a jerk. I’m sorry. When I told Doctor Death about his friend the Hawk being in the city, he showed real emotion and released me — all to try to save his buddy from Angel!”
Mister Scarlet hugged his adoptive son and patted Melanie Garde on the arm. “It looks like she played us both for fools. Now let’s look for them!”
That night ended with no trace of Doctor Death or Dark Angel, except for her curly red wig, which lay at the bottom of the bank.
“She was behind Daddy’s death!” said the blonde teen. “I know you caught that Hawk, and I thank you for that and so much more!”
“Melanie, you bought me enough time for help to arrive. In fact, I’d say you saved me!” said Brian.
Rob kissed her on the cheek, and they headed home.
Later, after the Hawk had been dropped off at jail, a family meeting was held in the Butler home.
“Melanie, no one — and I mean no one — will ever be able to replace your dad,” said Brian Butler. “He was a hero and my best friend, but I’ve been approached as Brian Butler, attorney, to become the new police commissioner, and I want to accept. With my injured arm, I’ll be out of the mystery-man game for a while, anyway. You’re smart, fast, and can fight. How’d you like to join Rob on his patrols while I’m busy?”
“I’d love to!” she squealed. She ran off at a signal from Wainwright.
“Rob, do you want to take up my Mister Scarlet costume while I’m otherwise engaged?” asked Brian.
“I… am I ready? You’ve established a real legend around the world in that suit!” said the honored young man.
“You are faster than I ever was! You are smart and tough and do what is needed. Plus, you’ll have me and Wainwright around to help out,” said Brian.
“OK! Mr. Scarlet II is born!”
“Don’t forget Pinky the Whiz Kid II as well!” declared Melanie Garde as she jumped back into the room wearing a pink mask and a pink minidress with matching boots.
“It’s settled, then!” said Wainwright, smiling with approval.
Elsewhere, Dark Angel brooded with her own injuries.
“I’ll remember all that Mister Scarlet and his son did. While my hatred for Spy Smasher is still the greatest, I’ll not let the men in red escape forever!” she vowed in her breathy voice.
The Horned Hood frowned at the news. “Doctor Death apparently dead — again — and the Hawk is jailed. That leaves the lovely Dark Angel free and unaccounted for. How go the others with their revenge schemes?”
The Weeper frowned. “I’ve heard nothing from them! If Bulletman, Ibis, Spy Smasher, Minute Man, and the rest still live or have been taken care of by our fellows in Revenge, Inc., then no word has reached me.”
The Horned Hood frowned as well.