[8FOLD/HCC] Journey Into #17 (HCC44)

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat May 10 08:31:06 PDT 2014

8FOLD/HCC: Journey Into #17 : Back From the Dead  (HCC44)
Eightfold Comics Group Presents
A High Concept Adventure
JOURNEY INTO #17: 'Back From The Dead'
by Saxon Brenton
     He was capering.  No, seriously, he was honest-to-goodness dancing 
on the spot, capering with glee.
     Doctor Longitude wasn't entirely sure what to make of this, so he 
watched the display of grotesque delight with a touch of bemusement.  
On the one hand: if apprentices took on the styles of their masters, 
then, yes, that might explain Igor's current actions.  But more 
realistically, the diabolical Professor Longitude had been a full-on 
mad scientist lunatic.  It would take a *lot* of infectious enthusiasm 
to get anyone to emulate his insane style.  Especially now that 
Professor Longitude was safely dead, and no longer around to act as a 
role model and provide positive reinforcement for his minions.
     Not that Doctor Longitude wouldn't put it past his clonal parent 
and namesake to have thought along those lines and created some sort 
of mimetic virus in order to achieve just that end.
     So this was the situation.  About a week ago Doctor Longitude had 
finally managed to wear down and kill off the diabolical Professor 
Longitude.  It was not the type of thing that four-colours were supposed 
to do in their crusade against crime, but let us be blunt: Doctor 
Longitude was only putting on the pretence of being a hero.  Instead he 
was following his programming.  He was the creation and weapon of his 
grandfather (the crime lord and silver age Professor Longitude) and had 
been made for the express purpose of removing the danger that the 
diabolical Professor Longitude presented to the world.  The young 
faux-hero had pursued that goal relentlessly. 
     And after the diabolical Professor Longitude's death Doctor 
Longitude had pursued the tidy up just as relentlessly.  After all, the 
black cape was a *mad scientist*!  Do you know how many ways there are 
that they can think of to bring themselves back from the dead?  Android 
duplicates to fake their deaths.  Various contingency plans to pluck 
themselves out of time at the moment of death, or bathe their corpse in 
the revivifying effect of whatever resurrection device they favoured 
this week, or activate backup memory recordings.  And clones, of 
course... (Doctor Longitude recognised the under other circumstances he 
himself would be just the type of clone that the diabolical Professor 
Longitude would want to transfer his consciousness into.  It was just 
that Doctor Longitude had been built to lack a sense of self, and so was 
unable to appreciate the irony.) 
     Doctor Longitude had worked methodically through the diabolical 
Professor Longitude's backup plans.  Which had brought him to Igor.  
Real name was Nate Hearthhew.  He was a pizza delivery boy.  Well, had 
been a pizza delivery boy.  Then about two months ago he had vanished 
before coming to the attention of both law enforcement and the cape 
communities when it was realised that the diabolical Professor 
Longitude's new apprentice - the guy who was seriously getting into 
being eeeeevil and dressing up in black leather costumes in a way that 
probably went way beyond any sort of appreciation of the X-Men movie 
franchise - was the pimply faced college student on the missing persons 
     That was why Doctor Longitude wasn't going to rule out the creation 
of various mimetic virii to make people all enthusiastic about 
Science! or turn them evil.
     Currently Doctor Longitude was standing on the roof of a building 
that overlooked an abandoned warehouse that the diabolical Professor 
Longitude had created as a bolt hole, and where the apprentice villain 
had set up shop.  Using the N-ray vision devices built into the goggles 
of his costume Doctor Longitude turned his clinical gaze to the object 
that Igor was so excited about.  It was a coffin shaped box that was 
surmounted by various magnetic coils.  Further scrutiny showed it was 
literally a coffin; there was dead body inside, spinning on what would 
be its z-axis if it were standing upright.
     The thing was, Doctor Longitude couldn't make out what was 
animating the corpse.  There were metal plates attached to the body, 
and at first glance it seemed as if the coils where generating a 
magnetic field that made the plates, and hence the body, spin.  
Basically a simple electrically powered engine.  However, when Doctor 
Longitude examined what the setup was actually doing, he saw that it 
was the other way around.  The spinning of the body was causing the 
plates to move within the magnetic field, generating electricity.  It 
was a dynamo rather than an engine.  But what was propelling the corpse?
     He decided to find out.  He activated the antigravs in his costume 
and flew down, entering the warehouse at about the same time that Igor 
finished dancing and settled on watching his necromantic apparatus with 
a huge grin on his face.  "What are you up to, Igor?"
     "Doctor Longitude," exclaimed Igor.  His voice contained some 
antagonistic surprise, but mainly there was enthusiasm and delight.  
Given how many times Igor had had a front row seat to Doctor Longitude's 
running battle with his master, the four colour would have expected more 
of the former than of the latter.  Was the apprentice villain largely 
happy to be out from under the diabolical Professor Longitude's thumb?
     "Look at this!" said Igor.  "Isn't this great?  It's a corpse 
spinning in its grave.  Coffin.  Whatever.  Insult it, and it can 
generate up to 400 revs per minute, powered soley by umbrage!  It'll 
make cats-and-buttered-toast antigrav dynamos obsolete!"
     Doctor Longitude folded his arms.  Okay, *that* sounded like 
something inspired by the diabolical Professor Longitude's worldview.  
"Hearthhew," he said, "cats-and-buttered-toast antigravity has never not 
been obsolete.  The idea started out as a joke to amuse people, and all 
the known examples of it being made to actually work have been because 
they were animated by an outside force, not because of innate anti-
gravity properties that you get from the combination of strapping 
buttered toast on cats.  So how are you doing it?"
     Igor's face has lost some but not all of it's unbridled joy.  
"Well, basically I just infused the body with some ectoplasm," he said, 
waving his arm in the direction of some metal tanks, looking something 
like scuba air tanks, that were packed away to one side of the 
laboratory.  "That recharges the morphogenic field, and in turn does 
away with the need for a nervous system.  Any remaining memory of the 
body's consciousness that might linger in the dead cells of the brain 
can be transmitted morphogenically, and the ectoplasm also allows for 
necromantic movement."  He frowned thoughtfully.  "Of course, that does 
mean you need at least a few brain cells left, so it doesn't work on 
fully desiccated skeletons."
     Doctor Longitude looked askance at this.  "Even by standards of the 
paraphysics used by superhumans, that sounds insane."
     Igor waved this away.  "Technically speaking it probably counts 
as magic.  Abrogation of one set of laws of physics by another usually 
     This was getting them nowhere.  Doctor Longitude said, "Nathan, 
you're not well.  Professor Longitude did something to you to make you 
his minion."  This was guesswork, but informed guesswork.  Hearthhew had 
never shown any signs of sociopathy before this.  "He played with your 
mind to make you evil..."
     "Ah, well, no.  Not really..." said Igor thoughtfully.  "Please 
kneel, and I'll explain."
     And Doctor Longitude was helpless to stop himself dropping to his 
     "You see, Doctor, I did not turn Mr Hearthhew evil so much as I 
swapped in a copy of my own consciousness.  Which of course was already 
evil," explained Igor.  "It's a fine semantic point, but one that 
underscores the seriousness of the situation."  The black clad young man 
leaned forward and with a hard tone to his voice said, "You've under-
estimated the situation, little clone.  When I realised how determined 
you were to destroy me, I decided to set up a bait-and-switch.  You may 
have destroyed *a* diabolical Professor Longitude.  You haven't 
destroyed all of his failsafe plans."
     Doctor Longitude was straining to stand up, to fly away, to activate
any of the devices in his costume...  "This is impossible..."
     "What, the fact that I've managed to overcome all of your defences 
and protections?  Nonsense," said Igor.   "These things aren't binary: 
on or off.  I had to over-engineer the technology to an insane degree 
to overcome your defences, and then I had to put even more effort into 
make it subtle enough for you not to notice, but you know what?  I'M THE 
DIABOLICAL PROFESSOR LONGITUDE!" he declaimed loudly.  "I work through 
problems like that for an afternoon's entertainment!  There was no way 
that I was not going to find some way to take you prisoner!"  Then he 
smiled and in a more normal tone said, "And now that I've done so 
there's no way that you can keep me taking over a body that has the 
abilities for mad science that are equal to my old one."
     Igor reached out and caressed Doctor Longitude's face.  Both young 
men collapsed.  After only a second Doctor Longitude's form got up again 
and cracked his knuckles with satisfaction.  "A new body at last," he 
murmured to himself before leaving the warehouse and flying away.
     Behind him the corpse slowly came to a halt in its casket.  And the 
body of Igor continued to lie on the floor and occasionally twitch.
     All characters created by me.
Author's notes: 
     Written for the 44th High Concept Challenge: 'Back from the dead'.
     The diabolical Professor Longitude first appeared in _Jolt City 
Adventures_ #1.  Doctor Longitude, the silver age Professor Longitude, 
and their vendetta against the diabolical Professor Longitude appeared 
in _Journey Into_ #14.
     So, it seems that the random thought that I put out about this 
story was wrong.  The diabolical Professor Longitude was going to both 
make cats-and-buttered-toast antigrav obsolete *and* mess with a pizza 
delivery boy.  He was always such an enthusiast.
     It also occurs to me that there might also be a only a fine sematic 
handwave between the 'there's no such things as mind control' that Tom 
has been using over in _Jolt City_ and the 'turning people evil' and 
body snatching used here.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia 
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex 
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3

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