MISC: Transparent Comics - Mr. Transparent #4: "Cold & Unfeeling"

Frumpy jmturner at fuse.net
Thu Sep 6 14:28:35 PDT 2007

	It was a slow business day in the city's Groker grocery store, and
Davey was bored.  He didn't have any groceries to pack or shopping
carts to retrieve from the parking lot since there were no customers.
He just stood at the end of Sally's checkout counter.  As usual, Sally
was pleasant enough to talk to, but she always seemed to be worried
about something.  Davey decided to ask her about that while they
weren't busy, but he didn't get a chance.  Sally was called to the
manager's office.
	"What did you do, Sally?," Davey teased.
	Sally ignored him and nervously made her way to the manager's
office.  Natalie, a fellow sacker from the same high school, came over
to Davey.
	"What's up with everybody being called to the office these last few
days?," Natalie asked.
	"I've been wondering about that myself," Davey admitted.  "There's no
chance of us being called in there, though.  We're just the new kids.
Most people here don't even know we're alive."
	Sally returned to her cash register after spending around 25 minutes
in the manager's office.  Davey immediately noticed something
different about her.  She wasn't ill at ease anymore.  In fact, she
was completely calm and content.  Sally glanced around and spotted
Davey.  The short cashier smiled at him.
	"You're wanted in the manager's office, Davey," Sally informed him.
	"I am?," Davey said in disbelief.  "I guess they really are calling
everyone in there."
	"That's right," Sally told him.  "Take your friend Natalie with you.
You're both wanted."
	The two teens made their way to the office.  Davey really liked
working at Groker, and no customers had ever complained about him to
his knowledge.  Why would the manager want to see him?  The request to
see Natalie was even more puzzling to Davey.  She had only been
working there for about a week.
	Approximately 25 minutes later, Davey and Natalie left the office.
They both tossed their name badges in the trash on their way out of
the building.  Natalie headed for the bus stop.  Davey went to a
nearby payphone.
	"Hi, mom," Davey said.  "Can you pick me up?"
	"I thought you were working until 7 o'clock?," his mother said on the
other end.
	"I was, but I quit," Davey said.
	"Why?," his mother asked in total surprise.  "I thought you loved
working there.
	"No," Davey said, and he suddenly became very angry.  "I hate working
there!  I hate it!  I hate working at Groker, and I'm going to tell
all my friends to stay away from there!"
	"Calm down, honey," his mother told him.  "If you hate it that much,
then you're right to quit.  I'll be there in ten minutes."
	Natalie climbed aboard the bus a few minutes later.  Mrs. Northcut, a
friend of Natalie's mother, was aboard, and she motioned for Natalie
to sit with her.  Natalie eased into the seat beside her.
	"How do you like working at Groker, dear," Mrs. Northcut asked.
	"I hated working at Groker, so I quit," Natalie said.
	"Are you sure that's a smart thing to do?," inquired Mrs. Northcut.
"Work is hard to come by in the city this summer, and I know how
things are with your family."
	"I don't care," Natalie said, and she suddenly became very angry.  "I
hate working there!  I hate it!  I hate working at Groker, and I'm
going to tell all my friends to stay away from there!"
	"I'm sorry, dear," Mrs. Northcut said, and she patted Natalie on the
shoulder.  "Don't get so upset."

	Vincent Solomon sat up and opened his eyes.  He was sweating
heavily.  He wasn't quite sure if the sweat was a result of an intense
dream or his apartment building's broken down air-conditioning
system.  He needed a shower either way.  It was almost time to meet
Hank for dinner at Dante's Café.  Well, it would be Hank's dinner
anyway.  It would be breakfast for Vincent.  He had been up all night
as Mr. Transparent.  His body had become very used to this schedule of
sleeping all day and fighting crime all night.  It was going to be
tough when his teaching duties resumed, and he had to go back to a
normal sleeping schedule.
	All dressed and hungry, Vincent rushed out of his apartment.  On the
way out of the building, Vincent passed Mrs. Northcut coming in.  She
looked as if she had been crying, so Vincent stopped for a moment.
	"Is everything okay, Amanda?," he asked.
	"I guess so," she said.  "I'm just a little worried about some
friends of mine."
	"What is it?"
	"The Trunkell family are good friends of mine," she said.  "They're
really poor.  In fact, they just moved into the brand new apartment
complex.  Do you know anything about them?"
	Vincent knew too much about them as far as he was concerned.  In
building them, the Mutant Porcupine had been driven from his home.
The creature's vows of revenge were a concern to Mr. Transparent, and
those particular apartments had also become a breeding ground for
trouble-makers and drug addicts.  Some tenants were good people, but
many of the ones who were decent had been corrupted by the wicked ones
around them.
	"A little," was all Vincent said.
	"Vincent, they're horrible," she said.  "Some of the people there are
just plain awful.  I hate to think of the Trunkell children growing up
there.  Anyway, I just saw their daughter Natalie on the bus, and
she's quit her job.  She wasn't going to be making much, but their
family needs every penny they can get.  Natalie seemed so upset.  I've
never seen her act that way, and I'm a little worried.  Hopefully,
it's nothing, but I don't know."
	"Have you had dinner?"
	"I haven't yet," she said.
	"How would you like to have dinner with a friend and I at Dante's?,"
Vincent suggested.  "It might take your mind off things."
	"That sounds good," she admitted.
	Mrs. Northcut and Vincent's friend Hank really hit it off.  Vincent
wondered why he'd never thought to introduce them before.  He must
have been too busy with fighting crime to come up with those sort of
ideas.  The two of them did all the talking while Vincent just ate his
dinner.  Mrs. Northcut mentioned the Trunkell family's situation to
	"You know, a lot of people have been leaving Groker lately," Hank
said.  "My friend Orvill Schrinadoccus worked in their meat department
for years.  He could have retired six years ago, but he never would.
Then he just announces that he hates the place, and he up and retires
all of the sudden.  It was mighty strange, and let me tell you
something else.  I shop there all the time, and I've noticed a lot of
other people have left that store."
	Vincent never shopped at Groker, so this conversation didn't mean
much to him.  When he was finished eating, Vincent excused himself,
paid his check, and left the two of them there.  Soon Mr. Transparent
was back on the streets to battle crime.  Things were actually fairly
quiet until about 3 AM when Vincent spotted something.

	Barney didn't feel nervous at all.  That was for wimps.  What did he
have to be nervous about anyway?  He knew exactly what he wanted, and
he knew it was going to be his.  There was no doubt about it.  He just
strolled right up to the jewelry store on main street.  It was three
o'clock in the morning, the store was closed, but Barney wanted
instant service.
	"Isn't it a bit late to be window shopping?," someone asked.
	The unexpected question didn't startle Barney at all.  He just took a
casual glance around.
	"I don't see nobody," the big man announced.  "That means you must be
that Mr. Transparent I've been hearing about."
	"That's correct," the unseen hero replied.
	"Well, why don't you go bug somebody else?," Barney told him.  "I
ain't doing nothing.  I'm just standing here in front of the jewelry
	"Why at this hour?," countered Vincent.  "None of the shops are
	"It's a free country," Barney said.  "I can stand here the same as
anywhere else."
	"If you're going to keep standing here, then so am I," Vincent said.
	"Suit yourself," Barney said.  "You ain't going to stop me from doing
what I want no matter where you stand."
	"Exactly what is it that you want to do?," inquired Vincent.
	"This!," Barney said, and he pulled one of the gloves off of his
hand.  Then he broke through the jewelry store window with his bare
fist.  Vincent was surprised by the action, but Barney just went on
into the store like he owned the place.  His hand wasn't cut at all.
In fact, it didn't even hurt a little from going through the window.
Barney looked over the store's finest merchandise.  Vincent went into
the store after him.
	"That was very impressive," Vincent admitted.  "You have quite a
	"You don't know the half of it, pal, so get lost before I make you
feel it!"
	"You can't hit something that you can't see," Vincent responded.
	"Maybe not, but if you put a hand on me to try to stop me, then I'll
know where you are," Barney reasoned.  "Then I'll knock you out cold!
Now if you don't mind, I want to take some of this stuff."
	"I'm afraid I do mind, sir, so I'll just have to take my chances."
	Vincent grabbed one of Barney's arms.  Barney drew back his fist--the
ungloved one--and nailed Vincent in the chest with staggering force.
Vincent fell on his posterior.  Vincent was surprised to find that
Barney's fist wasn't just incredibly hard, but it was also as cold as
a winter wind.
	"How'd you like that, pest?," Barney taunted.  "Want to go another
round with the Iceboxer?"
	Vincent grabbed Barney again, but Barney punched him away again.
This time, Barney actually caught Vincent in the jaw.  Barney's
powerful, ice-like fist sent Vincent into unconsciousness.  He
crumpled to the floor.  Barney heard Vincent fall, and the crook knew
he'd stopped any more interference from Mr. Transparent.  He busted
open some jewelry cases with his bare hands.  He filled a sack as full
as he could.  Then he fled the scene with the costly jewelry.  The
police didn't arrive until about five minutes later.
	The arrival of the police woke Vincent up.  Vincent was happy about
that.  If he had been out for a few seconds longer, he undoubtedly
would have became visible.  Vincent spotted a pad and pen on one
counter, so he quickly jotted down a description of the crook.  The
Iceboxer was about 6'5" and weighed around 250 pounds with short brown
hair.  Vincent left the description there for the police and slipped
out of the jewelry store as they were coming in.
	Vincent hated to admit it to himself, but he had absolutely no idea
what to do next.  Where could he even begin to look for the Iceboxer?
Then again, the jewel thief hadn't seemed too concerned about
secrecy.  He hadn't tried to disguise his appearance at all.  Maybe if
Vincent just kept patrolling the city, he'd come across the Iceboxer
again.  As futile as it sounded, Vincent decided to try.  After
wandering around aimlessly for about an hour, Vincent thought he saw
something behind the Groker grocery store.  He figured he had better
	To his surprise, Vincent found about fourteen cars parked behind the
store, and there was a light on in the loading area.  Groker wasn't
actually open until six o'clock in the morning, but maybe it was
normal for them to receive shipments during the night.  Vincent wasn't
sure.  A large truck came rolling into the loading area just as
Vincent arrived there.  Several Groker employees came out to meet the
truck--two or three times the amount of people Vincent would have
expected to see.  Two men climbed out of the truck.  One was a tall,
muscular man, but Vincent couldn't tell anything about the other man.
It was impossible because the other man was completely covered in a
brown robe and hood.  He certainly didn't look like a normal truck
driver.  The scene got even stranger.
	"What would you have us do, master?," the Groker employees all said
in unison upon seeing the two men.
	"Kneel, slaves," the hooded man said firmly.
	Everyone around the hooded man fell to their knees immediately--even
the big man who had accompanied the mysterious "master."  The hooded
man just stood there for a moment as if he was amazed by his own
	"Tell me who you all are," the hooded man finally said.
	"We are the slaves of the Mind-Molder," the voices recited together.
"We will do anything that the Mind-Molder commands."
	"That's right," the man known as the Mind-Molder said, and he took
another moment to bask in his own greatness before continuing.  "Load
the truck with the things I wanted, slaves."
	The Groker employees rushed back into the store to carry out the Mind-
Molder's orders.  This certainly was no ordinary store procedure.
Vincent thought it was downright weird, and he started to go after the
Mind-Molder.  Unfortunately, the Mind-Molder shut himself back up in
the cab of the truck.  Vincent couldn't get to him.  The Groker
employers began to fill the truck with nonperishable grocery items.
It didn't take long for the 30 or so slaves to completely fill it.
Their master rolled his window down.
	"Slave Jimmy, rejoin me in the truck," the Mind-Molder commanded.
"Slave Ian, bring me all of the store's money.  The rest of you return
to the nightly duties I have assigned you."
	The tall man climbed into the driver's seat.  The others went back
into the store.  "Slave Ian" soon returned with a black bag.  He
placed it in the truck and closed the doors.
	"I will return in a few hours," the Mind-Molder said.  "Return to
your duties, Slave Ian."
	The truck drove away, and Vincent could only watch it go.  He
followed "Slave Ian" into the store.  No one could see Vincent, of
course, while Vincent couldn't believe what he was seeing.  The Groker
employees were working in a large store room.  They seemed to be
building a large machine of some kind.  Vincent couldn't tell what it
was;  however, it looked to be near completion.  As he looked around,
curiosity got the better of Vincent.  He opened a door and stepped
inside only to have the door lock behind him.  Vincent couldn't open
it back up from the inside, so he was stuck there inside a walk-in
freezer room.  Vincent was sure someone would eventually need
something from inside, and then he could escape.  In the meantime, he
could only hoped it wouldn't take long.

	Lindsey Shannon opened her front door, and Barney smiled at her.
	"These are for you, baby," he said, holding out a bouquet of red
	"How nice," Lindsey said.  "Come in, sweetheart."
	Barney closed the door behind him, and Lindsey took the roses into
the kitchen.  She came back almost immediately, and they cuddled up to
one another on the couch.
	"And what else did you bring?," she asked anxiously.
	"All this," he said, pulling out a thick roll of large bills.  "Take
it, Lindsey.  See how good it feels just to hold it."
	Lindsey took it in her hands and carefully counted it.  It was a
little less than she had expected, but it was still quite a hall.
	"The buyer took everything?," she asked.
	"Almost everything," Barney said.
	"I was sure he'd take everything," Lindsey said.  "What didn't he
	Barney got off the couch and onto one knee.
	"He didn't buy this ring because I didn't show it to him," Barney
informed her.  "I want you to keep it as an engagement ring, Lindsey.
I want you to marry me."
	"Barney, I can't walk around town with a stolen ring on my finger,"
she said.
	"Why not?," Barney asked.  "Nobody could take it from you as long as
I'm around.  If they tried, I'd knock them into next week!"
	"That's not the point," Lindsey explained.  "We don't want people to
know you stole that jewelry."
	"What's it matter?," Barney laughed.  "If Mr. Transparent couldn't
stop me, who else could?"
	"Mr. Transparent?," Lindsey said, sounding very interested.
	"Yeah," Barney said.  "He tried to stop me, but I put him out with
just two punches from my cold hands.  It would've just took one if I
had known where his head was the first time."
	"Oh, you're so strong," Lindsey complimented as she put her arms
around him.  "I wish I could have seen my big, strong man take Mr.
Transparent down--even though your handsome face would have been
covered up."
	"No it wasn't," Barney said.
	"You didn't wear a disguise?," Lindsey gasped, pulling away from him
	"Why should I?  I ain't afraid of nobody."
	"Barney, how stupid are you?," Lindsey snapped.  Her voice lost its
tenderness for a moment.  "Mr. Transparent will be able to identify
you now!"
	"So what?," Barney said.  "If he messes with me again, I'll knock him
out again."
	Lindsey buried her face in a cushion.  She was crying.  Barney
couldn't stand it when she cried.  He put a hand on her shoulder.
	"There ain't no reason to cry, Lindsey," Barney said.  "We've got it
made.  We've got a lot of money, and I'm strong enough to protect you
from anything."
	"No you're not, Barney," Lindsey said sadly.  "What if Mr.
Transparent leads the police to us someday.  While you're fighting
him, the police would be able to grab me.  I can't fight the police,
	"If that happened, I'd rescue you as soon as I got done squashing
that invisible bum," he assured her.
	"Barney, what if the police started using guns?," she suggested.
"Did you ever think about that?  What good are your ice fists then?"
	"I don't know, but I'd think of something," Barney replied.  "I
wouldn't let anything happen to you, Lindsey.  You know that."
	"Barney, do you love me?," she asked softly.
	"More than anything," Barney swore.
	"Then I want you to do something for me," she said.  "I want you to
go away from here, and I can't ever see you again, Barney."
	"What?," Barney stammered in complete shock.
	"If we see each other anymore, it will put me in danger," she said.
"I can't live like that, Barney.  I can't be scared every time I leave
the house.  I'm sorry, Barney, but it has to be this way.  You have to
go.  You understand, don't you?"
	Tears filled Barney's eyes.
	"Yeah, Lindsey," Barney said.  "I won't put you through that.  I'll
go.  Maybe I can call you every once in a while."
	"No, Barney," she insisted.  "Don't even call me on the phone.  Don't
do anything that will link us.  Please don't put me in danger,
	"Okay," Barney said softly.  "I'll go.  I love you, Lindsey."
	"I know," she said, and Barney walked out of her life.  She watched
him through the window until he faded out of sight.  Then she threw
her head back, laughing with unrestrained joy.  This had worked out
even better than she had planned.  Now she had the money all to
herself, and she wouldn't have to keep that big idiot around anymore.
Anyone else would have covered his face, but dumb Barney might as well
have advertised his robbery on television.  Sooner or later, either
the police or Mr. Transparent would outsmart him, and he'd go to
prison.  She knew he'd never tell them about her, though.  He loved
her far too much to ever do that, and he wouldn't find out that she
had never even liked him.

	It was 11:30 AM before anyone opened the door of the freezer room.
Vincent had been stuck in there for almost seven hours, and it felt so
good to be out.  Vincent was out of invisibility capsules, and the
last one he had taken would be wearing off soon.  He needed to go home
for more.  He also wanted to look something up in the telephone book,
so he made a brief stop at his apartment.
	As Mr. Transparent, Vincent walked through the waiting room and on
into hypnotherapist Dr. Lawrence Hartgood's office.  Vincent was going
to need Lawrence Hartgood's help, and the hypnotherapist might not be
eager to assist him.  That's why Vincent had decided to take a
somewhat odd approach to talking with him.
	"Lawrence Hartgood!," Vincent bellowed in his best attempt at an
eerie voice to the distinguished-looking man in the office.  "Do you
hear me, Lawrence Hartgood?,"
	"Who's there?," Hartgood gasped.  "I don't see anyone."
	"You can't see me, but I'm here with you," Vincent explained.  "Tell
me what I want to know, and I won't harm you."
	"Are you a g-g-ghost?," Hartgood asked.
	"Quiet!," Vincent snapped.  "Can a person be completely enslaved by
hypnosis?  Tell me."
	"Why does a ghost need a hypnotherapist?," Hartgood wondered aloud.
	"Tell me what I want to know!," Vincent said, trying to be
	"Some people believe you can, but I don't," Hartgood answered.  "I
can use hypnosis to make suggestions to people, but I can't totally
dominate their minds.  That would be unethical anyway."
	"Can you undo hypnosis?"
	"It really depends on the situation," Hartgood said.
	"Are there other methods of mind control other than hypnosis?," asked
	"There are in science fiction movies, but there really aren't many in
reality," Hartgood told him.  "Hypnosis isn't exactly mind control
	"I need you to do something for me," Vincent said.
	"I can't," Hartgood said.  "I have appointments today."
	"Cancel them," Vincent said.  "We're going to Groker."
	"Why do you need me?," Hartgood asked nervously.  "I can't help you
haunt it."
	"You're coming because I said so!," Vincent told him sternly.  Part
of him couldn't believe how gullible Hartgood was.
	"Okay.  I'll go, but it won't be dangerous, will it?"
	"I'll be beside you every step of the way," Vincent told him.  "I'll
do my best to protect you."

	Lawrence Hartgood wandered up to the Groker service desk.  Mr.
Transparent was invisibly by his side.  Vincent recognized "Slave Ian"
at the desk.
	"Can I help you?," the manager asked.
	"I'd like to apply for a job," Hartgood said.
	The manager gave Hart good an application.  He filled it in with
phony information and returned it to "Slave Ian."  The store manager
seemed satisfied with it.
	"Are you single?," the manager inquired.
	"Yes," Hartgood said.  "I live alone."
	The manager seemed glad to hear that.  Vincent was sure he would be.
That's why he'd told Hartgood to make it a point to mention living
alone.  Single, unattached people could serve as slaves for the Mind-
Molder without anyone at home to wonder where they were at strange
	"Since we are so short-handed, I'd like to interview you right now,"
the manager said.  "Is that agreeable?"
	"Sure," Hartgood said enthusiastically--even though he was actually
	The manager led Hartgood back to his office.  He asked a few more
routine questions.  Then he offered Hart good a job on the spot.
Hartgood graciously accepted it.
	"Good," the manager said.  "We have some training programs on the
computer that you'll have to go through.  Would you like to go ahead
and begin those today, or would you rather wait until tomorrow?"
	"I can start now," Hartgood assured him, so the manager led him over
to an empty computer station in the corner.
	The manager hit a few keys to begin the program before leaving
Hartgood alone at the computer.
	"Are you still with me, ghost?," whispered Hartgood, and Vincent
tapped him on the shoulder to confirm he was.
	Hartgood and Vincent both read some basic company rules off the
computer monitor, but these rules were soon interrupted by a spiral
pattern.  This spiral soon filled the entire screen.  Hartgood
identified it immediately.
	"This is a hypnosis technique," he whispered to Vincent.  "Don't look
at it."
	Vincent turned his back to the computer.  Hartgood started hitting
every key on the keyboard, but he couldn't make the spiral pattern go
away.  He called for the manager.
	"What is it?," the manager asked.
	"This thing is on the screen, and I can't get rid of it," Hartgood
said.  "I think there's something wrong with the computer."
	The manager just laughed.
	"It's all part of the training," the manager explained.  "This part
is actually a test to see how much attention you pay to details."
	"Really?," said Hartgood, pretending to swallow the lie.
	"Yes," the manager said.  "We want you to study the pattern for
several minutes.  Memorize every detail.  Just sit back down.  Study
	The manager walked Hartgood back over to his chair.  Hartgood was
practically forced to watch the monitor.
	"Just look at the spiral," the manager said.  "Let your eyes go all
around it.  Follow it with your eyes."
	The manager actually started to rub Hartgood's shoulders in order to
further relax him.  Hartgood wasn't sure what to do.
	"The spiral is moving now," the manager said.  "You see the spiral
moving.  What do you see?"
	"I see the spiral moving," Hartgood said.  He didn't want to go under
hypnosis, but the manager was wearing him down.
	"Just relax and look at the spiral," the manager went on.  "It's
changing colors now.  You see it changing colors now.  What do you
	"I see the spiral changing colors now," Hartgood said blankly, and
Vincent knew the hypnosis technique had worked on him.
	"Look at the colors," the manager said.  "They're so beautiful that
you can't look away from them.  You don't want to look away from
them.  You just want to look at the spiral and its beautiful colors.
Nothing else matters as long as you can look at the spiral and its
beautiful colors."
	The manager left the office for a few seconds.  When the manager came
back, he was accompanied by the Mind-Molder in all his mysterious
brown garb.  It was clear the manager planned to introduce Hartgood to
his new "master."  Vincent had seen enough.  He tackled the Mind-
Molder, knocking him down hard to the carpet floor.  Vincent tried to
remove the Mind-Molder's hood, but the mysterious man protected it
with all his might.
	"Help me, Slave Ian," the Mind-Molder grunted while grappling with an
unseen foe.
	"There's no one there," the confused slave said.  "What must I do,
	Vincent grabbed a metal chair and whacked Ian over the head with it.
Then he swung it at the Mind-Molder, but the hooded man rolled out of
the way.  The Mind-Molder got to his feet and grabbed something.
	"Attention," he said over the intercom system.  "Close off all the
exits in this store.  No one leaves without my permission!"
	The Mind-Molder turned back to where he thought Mr. Transparent must
be standing.
	"I thought you were an urban myth, Mr. Transparent," the Mind-Molder
said.  "I don't know how you learned my plans, but it doesn't matter.
You'll never get out of this store, and I'll either destroy you or
learn your secret of invisibility.  Maybe I'll do both."
	"If someone destroys me, it will have to be you," Vincent told him.
"Your slaves can't think fast enough to do it under your spell."
	"On second thought, why should I destroy you?," the Mind-Molder
asked.  "Why not just surrender, Mr. Transparent.  You can join this
man in front of the computer.  You can watch the beautiful spiral."
	"I'm not interested in it," Vincent said.
	"Maybe you'll be interested in this," the Mind-Molder said, pulling
out a shiny silver pocket watch.  "See how it sparkles?  Watch it
sparkle.  Watch it go back and forth, dancing across your eyes."
	Vincent threw a kick, knocking the watch to the floor.  Vincent
followed that kick with another one to the Mind-Molder's stomach.
Then he hit the Mind-Molder in the head with a forearm.
	"This is pointless," the Mind-Molder claimed.  "Beat on me all you
like.  You can't leave the building unless I say so.  I am the
absolute master here.  I control everything!"
	Just then, an angry man stormed into the manager's office.  Vincent
couldn't believe his luck.
	"Would somebody please explain to me why ye won't let anyone leave
the store?  I just came in to get meself a donut, and now I can't
	"Officer O'Leary!," Vincent exclaimed.  "You have great timing!"
	"Mr. Transparent?," O'Leary stammered in disbelief, and he turned to
see the hooded Mind-Molder.  "So I finally get to see ye, huh?  Ye
sure do have an ugly costume if I do say so, sir."
	"That's not me!," Vincent insisted.  "That man is responsible for
keeping everyone in this store.  He's brainwashed the employees!"
	"Isn't that ridiculous?," the Mind-Molder chuckled.  "Actually, I'm a
superhero, and I'm trying to expose Mr. Transparent.  He's the
	"I might not like some of what he does, but Mr. Transparent is no
criminal," O'Leary said.
	"He is," the Mind-Molder argued.  "Just look over in that corner.
The proof is there."
	O'Leary started to turn toward the computer's spiral pattern, but
Vincent grabbed him.
	"Don't look over there," Vincent said.  "If you'll keep your eyes and
your gun on him, we've caught ourselves a criminal mastermind."
	O'Leary did just that.  Vincent demanded that the Mind-Molder release
Hartgood from his trance, and O'Leary's gun persuaded the hooded one
to go along with it.  Under Hartgood's watchful eyes and O'Leary's
deadly aim, the Mind-Molder released the employees from his power one
by one.  Several hours later, the police took the Mind-Molder away.
	"Thanks for your help, Dr. Hartgood," Vincent told the
	"Can I go home now, ghost?," Hartgood asked.  "You don't need me
anymore, do you?"
	"He's no ghost," the freed store manager Ian said.  "He's Mr.
	"You can call him what you want, but he's still a ghost," Hartgood
insisted.  "How else could he go around invisible like that?"
	"You can go home, Dr. Hartgood," Vincent said with a chuckle.
	Visible in his orange ski mask, Vincent slowly walked out of the
store.  He wanted to ask Officer O'Leary about the Iceboxer, but all
the police were already gone.  Suddenly, something soared across the
sky, and it landed in front of Groker.  Vincent thought his eyes were
deceiving him.  He ran over to get a closer look.
	"He was my father," the winged man replied.  "Just call me Winglord
II in his honor."
	"You look just like him," Vincent said.  "I was there when he died
from Super Knight's poison.  It was terrible."
	Winglord nodded.
	"It wasn't a fitting end for him," said the winged man.  "He was a
great hero.  I hope I can do as much good as he did, but it looks like
I'm too late to help out here."
	"Yes, the Mind-Molder is under control now," Vincent confirmed.
	"Well, my arrival here isn't a total loss," Winglord II smiled.
"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Transparent.  I've been hearing more and
more about you in the news.  You're quite a crime fighter.  I know I
could learn a lot from you.  Maybe we could work together for a
while.  I have my father's abilities, but I don't have any of his
knowledge or superhero experience.  You could be my mentor."
	"I couldn't do that," Vincent said.  "I'm still very much a rookie
myself, but I'm sure the Enforcers would be glad to have you."
	"Do you know where I could find them?," Winglord II asked.
	"Certainly," Vincent said.  "If you could fly me to the police
station, I'll tell you on the way."
	Hearing that, Winglord II quickly grabbed Vincent and took off.
Vincent was grateful for his ski mask with so much wind in his face
from the flight.

	Barney walked along the hot sidewalks with his head hung low.
Hungry, he stopped into a corner restaurant.  It was a usual hangout
of his, and most of the people there knew him.
	"What will you have, Barney," the waitress asked.
	"Bring me some meat loaf and mashed potatoes," Barney said.
	"The cook's been making the food extra greasy today, Barney," the
waitress jokingly warned.  "It might be hazardous to your health."
	"I don't care," Barney said sadly.  "I don't care about nothing."
	The waitress decided to just leave Barney alone.  It seemed like
that's how he wanted it.  Barney just stared at the tablecloth while
he waited for his order.  Another man entered the restaurant.
	"Well, if it ain't weird Barney," the man said.  "Here it is 92
degrees outside, and weird Barney is still wearing his gloves just
like always.  Are you too stupid to know it's hot or what, Barney?"
	"Don't bother him, Heath," the waitress urged the man.  "He looks
like he's having a bad day."
	"I'd be having a bad day, too, if I was as goofy as he is!," the man
went on.  "What's the matter, Barney?  Did you finally figure out what
a loser you are?"
	Barney flipped over the table in front of him and stood up.
	"You and me have never got along, Henshaw," Barney said.  "You always
run your mouth to me.  Well, I'm sick of it!  You're always wondering
about why I keep these gloves on.  I'll show you why, smart guy!"
	Barney tossed his gloves to the floor, revealing his ice-like hands
to everyone.
	"Look at my hands, Henshaw!," Barney demanded.  "I kept them covered
so people wouldn't think I was a freak!  I kept them covered so jerks
like you would leave me alone!  Well, I'm tired of covering them!
Look at my hands, Henshaw!  They're the hands you're going to die by!"
	Heath Henshaw trembled with fear as Barney headed for him.  The
waitress grabbed the telephone to call the police.

	Vincent took an invisibility capsule as soon as Winglord II dropped
him off at the police station.  His timing was perfect.  Officers
Sheridan and Buxley were talking about a disturbance at a restaurant
involving someone who might be the Iceboxer, and they rushed to their
police cruiser.  Vincent wasn't able to get in the car with them, so
he had to jump onto the back of the vehicle.  Officer Buxley could
have sworn he heard something hit the back of his car, but he couldn't
see anything.  The policeman decided it was just his imagination.
Vincent definitely didn't like clinging to the trunk of a fast-moving
vehicle.  He thought he was going to slide off at least a dozen times,
but he managed to hold on.
	By the time the police arrived, Heath Henshaw was dead, and Barney
was roughing up one of the other restaurant customers.  Thankfully,
everyone else had left the building.
	"You cover me, Buxley," Officer Sheridan said.  "I'll go in and see
if I can reason with him."
	Sheridan didn't know it, but he wasn't going into the restaurant
alone.  Mr. Transparent was beside him every step of the way.
	Barney was in a total rage.  His current victim was desperately
trying to avoid the ice fists, but he wasn't having much luck.  If
Barney connected with just two or three more punches, the poor man was
done for.
	"Hold it, Iceboxer!," Officer Sheridan exclaimed.
	"Are you going to make me, little man?," Barney taunted.
	While Barney was distracted, Vincent grabbed a chair and swung with
all his might.  He hit Barney hard in the back of the head.  It
staggered the criminal, but he didn't go down.  Vincent immediately
swung again.  After four blasts to Barney's skull with the chair, the
Iceboxer finally fell.  Sheridan promptly handcuffed the criminal.
	"Thanks," Sheridan said as Mr. Transparent became visible.
	"Officer, this man is not only responsible for this carnage, but he
committed the jewelry theft last night.  I only wish I had been able
to stop him then.  If I had, one man would still be alive, and this
other gentleman wouldn't have been abused."
	"Yeah," Sheridan said sympathetically.  "One man can only do so
much.  I'm just glad you were able to take him down when you did."
	The Iceboxer told the police many things.  He told them how good it
felt to finally shut Heath Henshaw up.  He told them how he used to
work at a chemical factory where he cleaned up the place at night.  He
told them how he'd accidentally gotten some strange chemical all over
his hands one night that transformed his hands into the icy fists he
now had, but he didn't tell them about Lindsey Shannon.

UNSEEN VOICES (The Letters Page)
Just wanted to let you know somebody's reading your stuff, Frumpy. :)
Keep at it!--Jamie Rosen
Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate you reading and your words of
New writer!!!! Ahhhhh! Hurray!!!! Welcome, welcome, welcome! Let me
ask the standard question: how did you find us? A search for the
appropriate google group? Are you a long-time lurker?
However you found us, I'm glad you did. This being a special occasion,
I'll skip ahead again in my review queue and jot down a few notes
about your story.
The plot is simple enough: scientist Vincent Solomon accidentally
stumbles upon a formula granting its digester temporary invisibility.
He and fellow scientist Carlton Curtis test the formula, and Curtis is
kidnapped. The invisible Solomon saves the day, and decides to become
a superhero.
It's a perfectly serviceable superhero origin story, very reminiscent
of the Silver Age, with its emphasis on explaining the "rules" of the
powers (maximum invisibility depends on weight/size; one dose of
formula only good for one "dose" of invisibility; protagonist can
'think' himself visible again, ending a dose) and on science, with the
threat/catalyst for superheroing coming into play only late in the
third act.
I like the camaraderie between the two scientists, and I like the
matter-of-fact way in which Vincent introduces himself to the reader:

My name is Vincent Solomon. I am a chemistry teacher at the
university. I would like to devote more time to my scientific
experiments, but I have found it necessary to teach at the university
in order to pay my bills. Teaching can be quite rewarding, though. My
current crop of students are among the brightest to ever sit through
one of my lectures, but that's not what I want to tell you about.

That last line is a very nice and eloquent way to get the reader
interested, while still affecting a very casual air. The prose
throughout the story is spare and functional, but never to the
detriment of the story. It moves at a self-assured pace; Frumpy knows
that we'll be just as curious as his scientists in what their
discovery entails.
At the same time, the dialogue might be a little too plot-focused.
Exchanges like this are very reminiscent of old comic books and b-

"Are you a philosopher as well as a scientist, Carlton?"
We both chuckled.
"Everyone is a philosopher," he smiled. "Whether a man digs ditches or
designs aircraft, he has his ideas and beliefs. Tell me, Vincent. Did
you ever complete the formula for that weight-loss drug you were
working on?"
"Yes, I did," I said proudly. "It's been finished for quite some time,
but I haven't had a chance to test it."

The characterization is fairly perfunctory, though certain details--
Carlton being both successful and fat, Vincent being relatively slim
and unsuccessful, but content with teaching--are very endearing and
reveal a few things about these two men.
My favourite dialogue in the whole thing is the exchange that not only
shows the most characterization, but also the most humour (in a very
deadpan way). It's also the only place in which the dialogue does not
bear the burden of exposition:

"Knox is watching the doc. You can relax. I'm going to go get us
something to eat. What do you want?"
"A cheeseburger and fries."
"That makes it unanimous," Skitch laughed. "That's what Knox and I
wanted, too. I'll get three combo meals. I'll be back soon."

Still, it's a very nice start that reads very well and keeps this
reader's interest. I'm looking forward to more from the mysterious
Frumpy.--Tom Russell
Thanks for the big welcome, Tom. I just recently started lurking. I
thought I'd try to contribute some material instead of just writing to
amuse myself.
I consider myself very silver age, and I think my writing style is
fairly terse. I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed your
analysis of it.
I just realized something about the food conversation. Apparently,
Skitch wasn't going to get his prisoner anything to eat. What a
heartless jailer!--Frumpy

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