DC’s collection of “The Monster Society of Evil” was canceled last month amid much consternation. Now that it is officially off the schedule, I thought I’d take a closer look at it for the benefit of those who wanted to read it. The serial originally appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #22-46 (1943-45) and was described on the splash as “A Thrilling New Serial… Starring Captain Marvel with Billy Batson, Sivana, IBAC, Capt. Nazi, Mr. Banjo, Nippo, Princess Rajabuti and others.”
CHAPTER I — “THE PEARL OF PERIL”
Billy Batson introduces the story: “Folks, I have a longer story to tell this time!! In fact, a story so long and involved that I don’t know the ending yet! Because you see, Captain Marvel suddenly ran up against a menace so great that for once he knew his job could not be completed with a snap of his fingers! It’s about a strange being known as Mister Mind, leader of the insidious Monster Society of Evil! Who is Mister Mind! What is he?? Captain Marvel wishes he knew! If you have any information about him, please transmit to station WHIZ!”
The first chapter opens with a symbolic double-page splash in outer space. A gigantic figure of Captain Marvel stands atop the Earth in the foreground; his enemies are amassed on the Moon in the background. A disembodied voice rings out: “I am Mister Mind! Space is my home! I am the most evil being ever to live! And you, Captain Marvel… though you are Earth’s mightiest mortal, I will crush you like an ant! Ha, ha, haaaa!!”
As the story begins, Billy Batson greets the Princess Dareena Rajabuti of India who has flown to America to donate jewels to the allied war cause. Billy’s broadcast is heard by Mr. Mind in his “strange scientific laboratory... nobody knows where.” Mr. Mind contacts Captain Nazi and orders him to capture the jewels. Captain Nazi becomes incensed when he discovers that the Princess brought only one jewel, a large black pearl, but a magic one that acts like a crystal ball.
Billy transforms into Captain Marvel. While he deals with Captain Nazi’s henchmen, their leader takes a whiff of flying gas, steals the pearl and kidnaps the princess. She explains that the pearl needs its identical mate to work. Via radio, Mr. Mind orders Captain Nazi to India. Captain Marvel follows, and meets Mr. Mind for the first time (over the radio, not face-to-face). Mr. Mind explains that he has assembled a “Monster Society of Evil,” comprising “criminals, Nazis, Japs and creatures from other worlds.” Captain Nazi whips open a door and reveals Sivana, IBAC, Nippo, Mr. Banjo and three others (a Japanese and a German soldier, and an alien).
Mr. Mind is able to project mental strength through the ether, allowing IBAC to get the better of Captain Marvel, who grabs the princess and beats a strategic retreat to India. Captain Nazi ad IBAC pursue. Princess Rajabuti leads Captain Marvel to the second black pearl, an eye in the idol of Siva. They are ambushed. Captain Marvel defeats Captain Nazi, but IBAC escapes with both pearls.
“Has Captain Marvel met his match at last? Will the sisnister Mr. Mind succeed in taking over the universe? Will the relay race with the world’s most vicious criminals wear even the world’s mightiest mortal down? Don’t miss part two, ‘The Jungle Trap!’”
I know, I know...
If the gag was that loose...
I don't write 'em, I just sumarrize 'em.
Luke Blanchard said:
Jeff of Earth-J said:
A ship appears, the gun ss fired, and “the outward rush of air from the cannon barrel, before the shell emerges,” blows off the gag and “frees Billy’s tongue!”
I second your BAH. Non-super Billy would have to talk faster than an auctioneer from Krypton for that to work.
CHAPTER 15 — “THE VICIOUS VOLCANO!”
After two lackluster cliffhanger escapes, chapter 14 didn’t really end with one other than Mr. Mind still being at large. As this chapter begins, the vicious worm slips into the castle of Sir William Cherrypit. Captain Marvel traces him there by following Mind’s trail of slime. Her is met at the door by Jeepers, Cherrypit’s butler and lead servant. Captain Marvel and Sir Cherrypit spend hours searching the castle’s 96 rooms. The last one in the servants’ workshop, where Jeepers directs them in construction to help the war effort. Mr. Mind is hiding in a spider’s web in the workshop, but Captain Marvel doesn’t see him.
Captain Marvel notices that Sir William has a shortwave radio room and asks if he can use it. Changing identities, Billy Batson brings his listeners up to speed. After he completes his broadcast and leaves the room, a man-sized bat-like creature emerges from behind a false bookcase and broadcasts that plan 18,456,871 will be put into effect that night. Billy returns and confronts the bat-creature, but it knocks him for a loop and escapes.
Billy wakes Sir William, and together they discover that the bat-creature is really Jeepers. Jeepers clamps his hand over Billy’s mouth as Sir William’s gunbackfires. Under Jeepers direction, Cherrypit’s servants have actually been making parts for a giant drill. Mr. Mind’s plan is to drill to the molten core of the planet, creating a volcano which will destroy England. Bound and gagged on the floor, Billy makes his way over to the drill and maneuvers his head in such a way that the gag is caught in the drill and ripped off.
Ther’e no time to capture Mr. Mind; the drill must be wrecked. In his bat-form, Jeepers flies off with Mr. Mind on his shoulder. Captain Marvel destroys the drill, but he is too late. Just as he is about to catch up to Jeepers, the volcano begins to erupt, anyway. The only way Captain Marvel can think t cap it is to sit on it!
“And so we leave the World’s Mightiest Mortal sitting on top of a volcano! Must he stay there forever? The moment he moves it will erupt, and destroy England! And all the while, Mr. Mind and his helper, Jeepers, are free to conceive new evil plans! Get next month’s… Captain Marvel Adventures… and read the exciting Chapter 16: ‘VZIGS NFHG WRV!’”
See you next week.
CHAPTER 16 — “EARTH MUST DIE!”
Sir William hires contractors to build a scaffold and plug for the volcano, thus allowing Captain Marvel to get up. Jeepers, it is revealed, is part of a lost race of bat-people. He flies Mr. Mind through subterranean caves under the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Marvel follows and discovers a race of “sub-Americans (who look like a cross between Leprechauns and Pilgrims). They attack Captain Marvel, but he changes to Billy Batson. Mr. Mind’s plan is to thwart the plans of the United Nations by planting a charge of dynamite at a key fault line, separating the east and west hemispheres. He lights the 100 miule-long fuse, but Capatin Marvel manages to breaks through the wall and defuse it, just barely. Lava flows in behind Captain Marvel toward the store of dynamite.
“Is Earth doomed anyway? How can even theWorld’s Mightiest Mortal hold back the flood of molten lava from Earth’s core? WLM’G NRHH MVOG NLMGS’H GSIROORMT VKQHLWV… NI NRMW’H NLERV NZWMVHH!”
CHAPTER 17 — “MR. MIND’S MOVIE MADNESS”
Captain Marvel is unable to stop the flow of lava. It reaches the explosives and… they melt (because high explosives are set off by fulminate, not fire). Hovering above the Earth in his spaceship, Mr. Mind mistakes captain Marvel bursting through the Earth’s crust for the explosion. Captain Marvel sets off in pursuit, but Mr. Mind loses him by flying into a flock of birds. Captain Marvel flies back to America and Billy Batson broadcasts an update. He then finds a letter addressed to Captain Marvel from Eastern Elephantine Studios written by famed director R. Hitchblock.
Hitchblock is making a film to warn the public about Mr. Mind, and he asks for Captain Marvel’s cooperation in an advisory capacity. Hitchblock gives Marvel a tour of the studio and shows him the mechanical puppet they use to simulate Mr. Mind. Mr. Mind himself has learned of this movie, slips into the studio and takes the place of the puppet on its strings. This gives Mr. Mind the opportunity to sabotage the production.
When a boy extra from the talent agency doesn’t show up for work, Billy Batson volunteers to take his place. Mr. Mind has substituted three of the crocodile monsters for three stuntmen. When it comes to a scene of the monsters throwing the bound and gagged Billy off a cliff, they really do it!
“Has Mr. Mind won? Is Billy doomed? With death seconds away, is there any hope that the brave boy can save himself? HVV MVCG NLMGS’H RMGHZOONVMG… XSZKGVI 18… ‘KVIRO YVSRMW GSV XZNVIZ!’”
written by famed director R. Hitchblock
Famous even then. That's notable. Alfred Hitchcock Presents was years in the future.
Chapter 17 was in Captain Marvel Adventures #38(AUG44). Hitchcock released his first U.S. movie in 1940, and by 1944 had released six more. His fame had already kicked in.
CHAPTER 18 — “THE PERIL BEHIND THE CAMERA”
Billy actually hits the sharp, jagged rocks below… only they’re not real, they’re movie props made of soft foam rubber. Billy’s gag is loosened in the fall, however, and he changes to Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, Mr. Mind proceeds filming his movie. He sends Bonzo, the most human-looking of his monsters, to put on Captain Marvel make-up and a costume. The real Captain Marvel enters Bonzo’s dressing room, knocks him senseless and takes his place.
Mr. Mind orders his monsters to torture the studio staff for a scene, but all the weapons are harmless props. Next, he directs “Bonzo” to fight the monsters, which Captain Marvel puts his heart into. There is a real iron maiden with real spikes on the set, and Mr. Mind orders “Bonzo” put into it. He is striving for realism and expects to film a scene in which Captain Marvel flops out, bleeding and riddled with holes. When the crocodile monsters open the lid a second time, the spikes are bent and Captain Marvel is taking a nap.
The monsters then realize it is the real Captain Marvel. He beats them up, then traps Mr. Mind in the director’s megaphone. The worm wriggled free, though, and hides within a disguised camera that is really his Black Death Ray (which can turn anything, even Captain Marvel, into a puff of smoke). As Mr. Mind aims the “camera” and begins “filming,” Captain Marvel begins to turn to smoke!
“Will the terrible Black Death Ray destroy the mighty Captain Marvel? Will he turn into a puff of smoke and blow away like a forgotten memory? Has the Most Evil Mind in the Universe finally conquered the World’s Mightiest Mortal? DZGXS ULI GSV MVCG GSROORMT VKRHLWV… XSZKGVI 19… ‘NI. NRMW’H YOZXP WVZGSIZB!’”
CHAPTER 19 — “THE BLACK DEATH RAY”
Captain Marvel disappears in a puff of smoke! Even the metal floor beneath his feet has melted. Mr. Mind rejoices! But if he could see into the basement he would realize that the ray dissolved only the floor and that captain Marvel fell through. Captain Marvel gives chase and Mr. Mind orders Sylvester (one of his crocodile monsters) to firs the ray at a plane passing by overhead. The plane dissolves and the pilot falls to Earth. While Captain Marvel saves him, Mr. Mind gets away.
Billy Batson broadcasts a warning about the death ray, which Mr. Mind overhears. Later, Billy is approached by a street photographer. He agrees to have his picture taken, but the “photographer” is Marmaduke, one of Mr. Mind’s nearly human-looking monsters, and the “camera” is realy the death ray. The ray strikes Billy before he manages to say “SHAZAM!” but he does say it. Captain Marvel is just as surprised and Mr. Mind that he wasn’t vaporized.
Captain Marvel slugs Sylvester andMr. Mind falls from his shoulder onto the ground. With nowhere to hide, Mr. Mind quickly slips his spectacles onto a nearby caterpillar which is about his size. Captain Marvel picks it up and, mistaking it for Mr. Mind, squishes it. Captain Marvel changes back to Billy and heads off to broadcast the news. Mr. Mind rouses Sylvester, who then nabs Billy from behind. This time, Mr. Mind welds a metal plate over Billy’s mouth in lieu of an ordinary cloth gag.
Then Mr. Mind sets about testing his ray to find out why it didn’t work on Billy. On the street nearby, one man is borrowing carfare from another. Mr. Mind turns the ray on them both. It dissolves the coins but not the men. Mr. Mind realizes it is a “failure” which works only on metal, and orders Sylvester to shoot Billy through the heart 45 times while he himself keeps count. Billy’s only chance is to maneuver the chair he’s tied to in from of the ray, which was left on. Sylvester fires twice and the bullets are shown speeding out of the gun toward Billy’s heart!
“Can he reach the black ray in time? How will this tense, grim drama resolve itself in the laboratory of the most evil mad scientist in the universe?”
What follows is four paragraphs in code, and if you think I’m going to transcribe that, you’re crazy!
"The exciting answer is revealed in
next month’s installment, Chapter
20, “Mr. Mind’s book!”
Rean read it in the November issue of
Captain Marvel Adventures. along with
the story of Captain Marvel’s origin in
“The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man!”
New club members, learn how Billy Batson
first got the power to become Captain
Marvel! Old members, refresh your memory
of this startling event! All this, plus
many other thrilling features, in the
November issue of Captain Marvel
Adventures! Order it from your newsstand
now so you won’t miss it!"
"Rean" - IVZM - is in the original text. It was presumably a first go at the IVZW that follows.
Thanks for going above and beyond the call, Luke! (Where’d you find that?) I said “four paragraphs” because of the way it was indented; it’s really closer to one, as you can see, but I didn’t even decode it myself. Now on to…
CHAPTER 20 — “MR. MIND’S BOOK!”
The bullet misses Billy, enters the ray field and is disintegrated, giving Billy enough time to lean into the ray and dissolve the metal band from around his face. “SHAZAM!” the other bullets bounce off Captain Marvel, who kayoes Sylvester. Mr. Mind dives down an escape chute (which leads to lab 88-Z) and triggers the lab’s self-destruct switch on the way. The lab is destroyed and his trail is covered. In lab 88-Z, Mr. Mind reviews his defeats. He decides to write a book: Mind Kampf. He prints 10,587,432½ copies of the first chapter and distributes them for free.
Billy Batson is handed a copy. “SHAZAM!” Captain Marvel punches the street vendor, then immediately regrets not following him back to Mr. Mind’s lair instead. “SHAZAM!” Billy helps the dazed minion, who leads Billy to Mr. Mind’s secret HQ. Mr. Mind recognizes Billy and orders one of his monsters, Evil Eye, to hypnotize him before he can say his magic word. Mr. Mind then writes the second chapter on the spot, anti-Captain Marvel propaganda, and the hypnotized Billy reads it over the air.
After the broadcast, Evil Eye orders Billy to work on the printing press by snapping his fingers, which breaks the spell he’s under. “SHAZAM!” Evil eye tries to hypnotize Captain Marvel, and Captain Marvel pretends it’s successful. He typesets the next chapter at super-speed, but when Mr. Mind reads the proof copy, it’s not what he wrote at all. Captain Marvel destroys the operation and vows to turn the books into paper salvage. Mr. Mind is knocked onto the press and is being carried toward the rollers.
“But not even Captain Marvel hears the evil worm’s frantic cries as the roar of the press drowns tham out! Is the little mad scientist about to meet his doom? Have his wicked deeds at last brought about his own undoing? Will the crushing rollers mark finis to his dark career?”
Another long coded message appears and the installment ends with a plea from Captain Marvel and billy Batson to donate paper to the war effort.