[Written in 1996 and submitted to Big Bang Comics after talking to founder Gary Carlson at the Chicago Comicon.]
“The Return of Mr. Mask!”
A 1940 Knight Watchman Adventure
A Plot Synopsis for an 11-Page Story
One chilly autumn night, a librarian is clubbed with his own book stamper and a collection of rare Sherlock Holmes books is stolen. The next day, the bizarre crime is mentioned by newspaper. Two police officers discuss the case, but can make no sense of it.
That evening, the curator of the Midway City Museum of Science and History is shot when he tries to stop a museum guard from stealing the first telegraph from a display. The guard reveals himself to be Mr. Mask, who gloats that he will have his revenge by making a fool out of the Knight Watchman.
The next day’s newspapers say the night watchman at the museum was arrested, but the guard is released later as he has an ironclad alibi. When the guard returns home, the Knight Watchman is waiting for him. The guard is terrified, but he insists he is innocent. The Knight Watchman believes him because he knows Mr. Mask has broken out of jail since their first encounter and could have impersonated the guard easily. Suddenly, the Knight Watchman says he sees a possible pattern and leaves.
Later, Albert Penham, a wealthy businessman, is startled when the Knight Watchman appears in his study. Penham paid $10,000 for the original manuscript of Ivanhoe at auction. Ivanhoe was written by Sir Walter Scott, the Knight Watchman explains, just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories and Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the first telegraph. Each crime involved someone who had been knighted. As the Watchman talks, Penham calls his attention to the manuscript and then clubs him over the back of the head.
When the Knight Watchman comes to, he is tied to a tabletop with a sword hanging from a chandelier above him. Mr. Mask, who had got to Albert first and replaced him, explains how acid will eat through the chandelier chain in three minutes, causing the sword and chandelier to drop. As Mr. Mask leaves, he says he has one last “sir” to take care of. As the Watchman lies there, he notices a few drops of acid are falling on the table. By wriggling his body, he is able to move one of the ropes right under the drops.
Not long afterward, Mr. Mask arrives at the home of “Jolly” Joe Sheldon, his former boss and thus someone Mr. Mask used to call “sir.” Mr. Mask gloats over Sheldon while he holds him at gun point. Just then, the Watchman bursts through the window. Mr. Mask shoots wildly until the Watchman punches him out. Joe Sheldon shows pity for his ex-employee, asking if there can be any cure for his deformed face. The Watchman replies that he would rather find a cure for a deformed soul.
Black Cat by Steve Rude
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