charlton comics

Americomics Special #1

Cover of Americomics Special #1 by Greg Guler“Sentinels of Justice” – Aug. 1983

Plot/Story: Dan St. John
Script and Art: Greg Guler
Backgrounds: Matt Feazell
Colors: Bill Fugate
Published by AC Comics

Charlton Comics never had a team-up of their Action Heroes published in-house, but in between Charlton and the characters’ subsequent sell to DC, the heroes made a one-issue stop at AC Comics to briefly form the Sentinels of Justice — Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and the Question!Reporter Vic Sage reports to his nightly viewing audience of yet another in a string of super-criminal related crimes, this time with Iron-Arms (first seen in Charlton’s Captain Atom #84) and Fiery Icer (first seen in Captain Atom #87) pilfering millions of dollars worth of equipment from Hub City company Ebcom. Sage ponders on-air, “When will the men running this city realize that they are out of their league trying to stop these super-criminals? It’s time for them to stop hamstringing those who can help NOW!!

The henchmen of a super-villain called the Manipulator, including the aforementioned robbers and members of the now-punk streetgang the Madmen (last seen in Charlton’s Blue Beetle #3), sit around their lair watching Sage’s broadcast when the Manipulator breaks in. He congratulates his men on the day’s robbery, tells them about the next day’s plans, and lets spill another little tidbit: “I will personally lead you to insure our success!” Fiery Icer wonders aloud whether their boss is a nutcase, but Iron Arms is apathetic to such concerns: “I don’t care if he’s Hitler himself as long as I get paid!” Meanwhile, a bloodthirsty Madman chimes in: “Paid!! You mean we do this for money??? Hahahahahahahaha…”

At Cross Industries, the Manipulator addresses his board of directors with his supervillain mask on: “It’s time for Jonathan Barrington Collingsworth Jr. to burn his mark upon the history of mankind!” Tomorrow with the help of his super-criminal gang, he plans on stealing the Rockwell Solar Battery, “and with it,” he says as he rips off his mask, “I can achieve…Complete…Raw…POWER!”

But one of the boardmembers, a man named Hartford, seems anxious: “But J.B….these methods…what about the innocent people who might be killed or…or…” The Manipulator brushes aside his worries with a threat as a green glove grips Hartford’s shoulder: “Perhaps, you should be as concerned about the not-so-innocent such as yourself…” Hartford gets the picture.

Meanwhile, in the lab of Ted Kord, alias the Blue Beetle, Tracy calls Ted’s attention to an article in the paper about the Rockwell solar cell. But before Ted can read, the “special line from Captain Fisher” starts ringing. Kord promises the police captain that the Sentinels will be there as soon as possible, and instructs Tracy to activate the Sentinel Beacon. As he tears open his shirt to reveal the Beetle costume, ala Superman, Tracy advises: “Be careful, Ted…those crooks are pro’s!” But Beetle’s not worried: “Don’t worry, so are the Sentinels!” Thinks Tracy: “What an ego!” The Bug emerges from the underwater tunnel as an awestruck hobo reflects on the potency of Kent Blended Whiskey.

Beetle talks aloud to himself as he flies, expressing his pleasure at the way the Bug handles, and the fact that the Sentinels are a pretty good supergroup, “even with Captain Atom in charge.” He swings into a window at the police station just in time to be berated by the mayor: “The last thing my constituents want is to turn Hub City into a battleground for super-freaks!” But Captain Atom, standing behind him, quietens him up: “The only risk you’re worried about is your political career…this being an election year!”

Nightshade walks through the door and tells the mayor the police have asked for the Sentinels’ help. Captain Fisher concurs: “The mayor well knows that an order from the governor gives the Sentinels clearance to help!” Captain Atom follows up: “Chew on that Mister Mayor!” In the meantime, Beetle notices the presence of a spooky mist, the arrival of the Question!

Dr. Rockwell spills the plan to the Sentinels — the solar battery going on display is a non-operational version! All the previous crimes have been related to energy technology, so Fisher concocted a plan to bait and catch the super-criminals!

The next day at Whittier Hall, Cap and Nightshade patrol the floors at Rockwell’s speech in civilian clothes, bored and drinking hot tea: “I wonder if Nightshade hates tea as much as I do?” wonders Cap. “Hmm, I didn’t know Cap liked tea!” thinks Nightshade. Beetle patrols the roof, looking out for signs of criminals from on high. It doesn’t look as though anyone will show, until a hover-car arrives with only 15 minutes left in the working day.

Suddenly the car opens and pandemonium roars forth! The Manipulator’s gang of super-criminals explodes onto the street, bursting through the wall of the building as the Manipulator flies behind them in a floating chair, barking orders.

As the crowd starts to panic, Captain Atom activates his powers and flies headfirst into battle, giving Iron-Arms the old nuclear-powered one-two and sending him flying. “Ol’ Army” gets his bearings and smiles, running back into the fray to tackle the Captain. He’s incredibly strong!” thinks Atom. “His equipment has been vastly improved!”

Beetle swings in through the window, all smiles, and performs some two-fisted acrobatics as he rolls through the crowd of Madmen: “My old friends have a party and don’t even invite me…But don’t worry. I wasn’t hurt. And just to prove I’m not…Here, have some punch on me…” But Beetle’s on the verge of being over-matched when the melee stops…a card floats down into the hand of a Madman and starts smoking. As he watches, a question mark appears. While he’s watching the question mark, however, he doesn’t see the Question flying at him with a sock on the jaw: “How wonderful! A reader!!!

The Question and Blue Beetle fight the hordes of Madmen back to back. The Question says, “There seem to be quite a supply of madmen here!!!” Beetle replies, “Yep…and some of ‘em are still conscious…” Beetle continues: “They’re not fighting as a team like they use to…Maybe they should’ve brought more guys!! This is just too ea*” — suddenly a fist cracks him across the noggin. “You were saying?” asks the Question. “I forget,” says the Beetle, sheepishly rubbing his cheek.

Nightshade, seeing that the other badguys are under the control of her fellow Sentinels, decides to go after Fiery-Icer, who’s gotten ahold of the solar battery plans. “Out of my way, girl…you’re no match for me, and I’m no gentleman!!” But Nightshade points a leaping kick straight at his chest: “Good!! When it comes to punks like you, I’m no lady!!” Fiery-Icer shoots a beam of ice straight at Nightshade’s head, and she barely dodges. She decides to even the odds with an “Ebony Bomb.” She launches a grenade and the room goes black! Suddenly Fiery-Icer is consumed in utter total blackness…and absolute terror!

Meanwhile, Iron-Arms squeezes the life out of a grimacing Captain Atom, until Cap musters the strength to bring two fists down on the back of his captor’s bald head. Iron-Arms takes a swing and knocks Cap back through a wall, proclaiming imminent victory. Cap flies back into action: “Don’t bet on it skinhead, you never learn. You’re still on the wrong team!”

But without warning, a plasma beam knocks Captain Atom from his flight path. The Manipulator’s chair floats nearby, barrels smoking from under the armrests. As the Manipulator gloats, Cap forms a handful of atomic fireball and sends it back toward the villain: “BOOM!” The Manipulator rises slowly from his chair, tattered and injured, screaming for vengeance: “Ten million in gold to the man who kills Captain Atom!!!” These are the magic words to Iron Arms: “You’re dead, hero!” Cap, greatly weakened from throwing the fireball, anticipates the punch.

The Manipulator presses a button on his watch, proclaiming: “I still have one card left! I did everything right!! They failed me…but he won’t!!” As Question and Beetle look up from their pile of unconscious Madmen, the Banshee bursts through a nearby window. Beetle charges at the green, winged villain: “I’m gonna nail that crumb!” But the Beetle’s nailed instead, by a stun bolt from the Banshee’s hand. The Banshee takes his master up him his arms and flies off through the window.

Beetle shakes off the effects of the stun bolt, but knows he can’t follow the villains. But one person can: He yells out for his compatriot Sentinel Captain Atom. Unfortunately, Cap turns just as Iron-Arms delivers his haymaker. The atomic hero goes rocketing through a wall and winds up prone on the floor. Iron-Arms stands over him, preparing for the final punch: “And now I can do what I’ve been dreamin’ about in stir for the last six years…kill Captain Atom!!…Now I can transfer all my power into my fists…for the DEATH BLOW!”

Fortunately for Cap, ever resourceful Nightshade strikes the villain across the back with the fake solar battery shorting out his power pack, and freezing his iron arms: “I-I can’t stand up…the weight of my arms is pulling me over…my gyro-balance device is…gonne..” Iron-Arms hits the floor headfirst and is out for the count. Nightshade yells out to the groggy Cap (inexplicably calling him “John”), telling him to go after the Manipulator. He flies up, up and away!

Only one villain now remains, the Fiery-Icer who has taken Dr. Rockwell hostage. The Question and Blue Beetle look on tentatively, not wanting the Doc to get hurt. “Get back!! Or I’ll burn four-eyes here to a crips and you with him!!” the Icer yells, but inwardly he show signs of regret: “I hope they don’t call my bluff…I don’t want to kill anyone!!” Icer tosses the scientist butt-first toward the heroes, and burns his way through the wall to escape. It’s too hot to follow through the melted concrete, the Question says.

Captain Fisher arrives to round up the bad guys who are left. Captain Atom returns, not having found the Manipulator. The Question puts his fedora back on. Beetle quips: “Not bad, but I wish I could have gotten my hands on that Manipulator or whoever he is! I’d trash that jerk!” The Question replies: “Don’t be so sure! The Manipulator carries a brilliant if twisted intellect. Do not underestimate him!”

“And one thing’s for sure,” continues the Beetle, “It won’t take the Manipulator long to discover those plans are fakes. Then he’ll be back and this time out to get us personally!” But Captain Atom is ready for that eventuality: “Right, Blue Beetle..and as always, The Sentinels of Justice will be ready for him!” Says Nightshade: “You said it, Cap!

Days later, Manipulator makes excuses to the board of directors at Cross Industries: “Those idiots below think they have won a victory! They are wrong! I knew of their plan from the beginning thanks to a traitor in the Sentinels themselves! I was informed of their trap…I knew the solar cell was a fake! I tested the might of the Sentinels and sacrificed Ironarms and the Madmen for this test!!”

The Manipulator’s image fades from a screen, and a shadowy menacing figure comments on what he’s just seen: “Jonathan Barrington Collingsworth Jr., or the manipulator, as he calls himself, is close to setting my plans into motion! He does not realize it is I who controls his mind! I will use him and the powers at my command to achieve my final goal…DESTROY THE SENTINELS OF JUSTICE!!”

Who is this shrouded figure who vows to destroy the Sentinels? Alas, we will never know because the Charlton characters have been sold to another publisher!

One Response to “Americomics Special #1”

  1. The Question | Vic Sage | Renee Montoya » books » The Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes says:

    […] Due to the publication date, the entry only references the Charlton era of the Question’s history, though mention is made of the post-Charlton Americomics team The Sentinels of Justice. […]

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