By Gary Carlson
Jerry Acerno’s beautiful and enigmatic Shadow Lady returned to the pages of Big Bang Comics in June of 1998. Chapter 2 of “Murder By Microphone” featured story, art and a gorgeous front cover by Jerry Acerno (with cover colors by Tom Luth). In the story, the singing stars of radio station WXKZ continue to be murdered on the air.
The latest victims are yodeler Cowboy Roy and opera diva Hermione Pflankhorst. The medical examiner’s prognosis is the same as the other victims: a split skull resulting from cerebral hemorrhage with no signs of external damage.
Veronica Prescott (aka the Shadow Lady) is looking into the murders and her investigation is pointing toward Maurice Dvorak, a famous singer whose voice went bad and he lost his show at WXKZ. Dvorak invented a device he called the Vocal Resonator that results in his proteges singing like nightingales, but he lost the copyright to WXKZ. While examining a recording of Cowboy Roy’s last show, Veronica detects an ultra-high frequency in the background.
Utilizing her lumen-diffuser ray, Veronica creates a duplicate of herself from a reflection in the mirror and Shadow Lady is on the case. Veronica heads off to a banquet at the radio station while her doppelganger goes in search of Dvorak before he can strike again. Thus ends Chapter Two, but for more info on Shadow Lady’s first appearance in BB #17, feel free to check out an earlier chapter of this blog at http://bigbangcomics.com/news/bb-chronological-33-bb-17-the-whole-she-bang/#more-4467.
The second story in Big Bang Comics #21 stars another pretty lady. The mysterious Masker was created by Philip Cable, who wrote and directed the “Knights of Justice” film, featuring Ultiman, Knight Watchman, Thunder Girl and Phil’s character Masker. She makes her comics debut in “Plunder of the Air Pirates,” in which a criminal calling himself Redbeard goes on a crime spree, and then brags about it by cutting into the signal of TV station WOW in Chicago. The stations co-owner Kitty Philips develops a device to track the Pirates’ bootleg transmission signal, but it’s not needed since the TV station is Redbeard’s next target! His “broadcasts” on WOW have boosted their ratings and he’s come for their profits. They lock the feisty Kitty in a closet, where she changes into her Masker costume and proceeds to defeat the criminals on live TV, exposing Redbeard as a two-bit gangster “Fat Boy” Wilson. The script was written by me, with art by Ed Quinby.
You can view a clip of the “Knights of Justice” on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwI5sr0F-ZI or order the film from Dichiera Productions through the Big Bang website at http://bigbangcomics.com/knights-of-justice-the-big-bang-movie/
Next up is a Dimensioneer tale by the Atomic Playboy himself, Dan Reed. While the Dimensioneer is a male character, I felt that the story sort of fit into my She-Bang concept of all female characters because the hero’s main antagonist is the half man/half woman freak called The Better Half. Mike and Jenny start off as a happy couple, joined at the hip until they run afoul of the vampiric Victor Vargos. Disgusted by their happiness, Vargos rips their bodies in half from head to toe and connects them together using his vampiretic blood! Now they will be together forever, he gloats.
The whole process disorients the conjoined couple, who begin a life of crime as the Better Half. They start by robbing Vargos’ T-Rex Casino, attracting the attention of their old friend Frank Fontana, who swings into action as the Dimensioneer to stop and hopefully help them. He does just that, creating dimensional portals to stop them before Vargos can do them any further harm,
For lots more of the Dimensioneer, check out Dan’s website at www.dimensioneer.com.
Last but not least in this issue is Ladybug, written and drawn by long-time comics pro Carl Gafford. Set in 1964, Patty Wheeler and her friends stake out the Ed Sullivan Theater, hoping to get a glimpse of the Beatles, who are set to appear that night. While they wait, Patty sees a pickpocket steal a woman’s purse so she transforms into Ladybug and stops the crook. Before she can get back in line with her friends, she stops two thugs whose victim turns out to be Brian Epstein, the Beatle’s manager! Ladybug ends up with a ringside seat at the Beatles set and some autographed phots of the Fab Four!
Ladybug has returned a few times in more recent issues of Big Bang books, but her biggest BB legacy is her nephew, who inherited her abilities and used them to find fame and fortune as the slimy paparazzi photographer Shutterbug.
Shadow Lady and all related characters are © and TM Jerry Acerno. Ladybug is © and TM Carl Gafford. Masker is © and TM Philip Cable.The Dimensioneer and all related characters are © and TM Dan Reed.
Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store: http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/