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Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Dave Ross (penciler), Tim Dzon (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer), Nelson Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
The criminal called Digger easily escapes from prison, unaware that it was an elaborate set up, with the aim that he would lead Iron Man and the Living Lightning to the Tower of Shadows, and the rest of Night Shift, since it vanished from its previous location. Iron Man and Living Lightning bond on their assignment, which indeed does lead them to the Tower of Shadows. They enter the Tower, and find the Night Shift engaged in a ritual, with the demon Satannish looming over the captive Avengers West Coast members Spider-Woman, USAgent and Hawkeye. Iron Man and Living Lightning attack Sattanish , who berates Hangman, leader of the Night Shift, for this shambles. The Night Shift start to fight Living Lightning and Iron Man, who manage to free their captive teammates. USAgent, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye engage the Night Shift in combat also. During the melee, Satannish makes a getaway, and soon after, the Night Shift retreat, with Dansen Macabre teleporting them, and the entire Tower of Shadows, away. Given that the Tower was atop a cliff, the Avengers West Coast start to plummet to the ground below, but with teamwork, manage to assist each other safely to the ground. At the movie studio, Wonder Man continues to play his role of the monster, while the Scarlet Witch has fallen asleep on guard duty. They take a break and have lunch together, and discuss the situation with Night Shift. One of the actresses joins them, and Wonder Man soon finds that everyone around him has frozen in time, including the Scarlet Witch. Several members of Night Shift appear, with Tick-Tock responsible for the freezing of the Scarlet witch. Misfit and Tatterdemalion attack Wonder Man directly, though Wonder Man holds his own for some time, the powered-up Night Shift are able to capture him. As Tick-Tock’s time-manipulation wears off, the Scarlet Witch recovers, and casts a hex, but the spell misses Night Shift and causes one of the movie sets to collapse. The film director complains about everything going on, but the Scarlet Witch has no sympathy for him. Wonder Man has been taken to the relocated Tower of Shadows, and held hostage. Hangman reveals that he is the long-missing actor, Jason Roland, and how he previously encountered Satannish after a deal gone wrong. Wonder Man then reveals that he has a plan. The Avengers West Coast regroup at the Compound, and discuss their possible next move, before their housekeeper Consuela suggests they turn on the television, where they learn that Night Shift are filming their own film, and Wonder Man is starring with them. In an interview, Wonder Man confirms that he is sick of being a stuntman and now he has the film star, leaving the Avengers West to wonder whether he has truly switched sides.
‘I WANT OUT!’ shouts the villain called the Digger as he pushes past prison guards, knocking them aside with ease as he makes his way to the prison walls. ‘Hold it, Digger! You’re not going anywhere!’ one of the guards calls out, reaching into his holster for his gun. Digger sees a shovel resting against the high prison wall and tells the guard that he supposes he should appreciate his preferring that he remains here - where he can go on mesmerizing him with his justly famed bedtime stories. Digger raises the shovel and slams it against the guard, adding that he really must be going. More guards rush out into the courtyard, while Digger states that this prison has enjoyed exclusive rights to his tantalizing tale-spinning for some months now, and he honestly believes it is time he shared his peerless yarns with the waiting world beyond the prison walls. ‘Stop or well shoot!’ a guard calls out, but Digger raises the shovel overhead he uses it to catapult him over the wall, narrowly missing the barrage of bullets that are fired his way.
Up above, ‘He did it. Digger’s taken the bait!’ Tony Stark inside his Iron Man armor remarks as he watches the Digger escape. Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning, one of the newer members of the Avengers West Coast flies alongside Iron Man, who tells his young teammates that he still thinks Digger is the best bet to find the rest of the Night Shift gang, after all, he is one of them, even if he has been out of circulation ever since Mockingbird stumbled across him burying three otherwise health men on Hollywood Boulevard. ‘Mockingbird? She’s Hawkeye’s wife, right?’ Living Lightning asks. ‘Soon to be ex-wife’ Iron Man explains, adding that he suspects neither of them is particularly happy about the fact, before pointing out that the low-lying cloud they whipped up has done its job, as Digger hasn’t seen them.
Iron Man flies through the cloud, remarking that they will have to move out of the cloud if they are to keep an eye on Digger. Living Lightning switches to his human form so that Digger doesn’t see his electric sparks in the sky, and he holds onto Iron Man’s back, before pointing out that Digger is heading for Los Angeles and asks ‘You really think he’ll lead us to his - what did you call it?’, to which Iron Man replies ‘His “Tower of Shadows”, Night Shift’s hideout, if it still exists’. Iron Man was amazed to find it had simply disappeared from the spot where Mockingbird, Tigra and Moon Knight found it last time, before telling Living Lightning that he didn’t have to come along tonight. ‘You mean because my sister was killed in a drive-by shooting while I was with Dr Demonicus?’ Miguel asks. ‘Yes. You didn’t even tell me - until we were over the prison’ Iron Man points out, before adding ‘Look, if there’s anything I can do…’, but Living Lightning declares that it is his problem and that he will handle it.
‘Your call, fella’ Iron Man tells his young teammate, adding that he is glad Digger didn’t get suspicious when he found that shovel, his weapon of choice, lying conveniently at hand. ‘Those guards did a bang-up job of faking worse injuries than they got’ Iron Man remarks, while Living Lightning comments on how quickly Digger can travel, pointing out that he has already reached the suburbs. Iron Man tells Living Lightning to look up ahead and he will see what else has come to Thousand Oaks - ‘The ever-elusive Tower of Shadows, unless I miss my guess!’ Iron Man announces, as the old mansion appears as does the hill it sits on. Iron Man flies closer to it and supposes that the house and the hill must have been teleported here somehow, and adds that it looks like a set out of “Edward Scissorhands”.
‘Uh-oh! He’s looking back! If he glances up!’ Living Lightning exclaims, Digger doesn’t, and he enters the Tower of Shadows. Iron Man and Living Lightning land, and enter the Tower of Shadows as well. ‘It’s the House of Dracula, that’s for sure!’ Living Lightning remarks as he examines the interiors. Iron Man cautions Living Lightning not to let Digger out of his sight. They follows him up a flight of stairs, while Iron Man states that in a place this size, it might be years before they found him again. ‘Wherever he was going, Avenger - I think he’s there already!’ Living Lightning calls out, as they see Digger standing in the doorway of a brightly lit room. Iron Man comments on the heat and the blinding light coming from the room, and suggests they find out what is going on.
‘Holy Hannah!’ Iron Man gasps as they enter the room, and see their teammates USAgent, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman strapped to a circle in the center of the room, while the Night Shift have surrounded them, and from a blur of energy, a large green being with a mouth in the center of his stomach looms over them all. ‘You? You followed me, curse you!’ Digger exclaims as he turns around sees Iron Man and Living Lightning behind him. ‘Never mind that! what’s that thing with two mouths?’ Living Lightning asks. ‘You think I know? I just got here!’ Digger retorts. ‘Well, whatever it is - it’s all through menacing any Avengers West, if the Living Lightning ‘s got anything to say about it!’ the young hero boasts as he sends charges of lightning towards the green being.
‘I hope you do, lad’ Iron Man tells his teammate, while firing some repulser rays, he points out that Spider-Woman had an idea some old girlfriend of Jason Roland’s would lead them to the Night Shift, and it looks like she was right, only it would appear the Avengers West got more than they bargained for. ‘you keep Beelzebub occupied for a second’ Iron Man tells Living Lightning, but the green behemoth hears this, and as Living Lightning’s blasts strike him, he calls out ‘Beelzebub?’, while Iron Man announces that he will try to even the odds a little, and his repulser rays strike the circle where his teammates are trapped, shattering their bonds. ‘Watch yourself, Iron Man!’ Julia Carpenter a.k.a. Spider-Woman calls out, while Clint “Hawkeye” Barton reports that the Night Shift are stronger than they used to be. ‘This is your fault, Hangman!’ the large green being calls out.
‘Mere human gnats dare oppose me - even call me “Beelzebub” as if I were some third-level demon - instead of Satannish - the Supreme Master of Souls!’ the demon booms. He looms over Hangman and reminds him that he was to make this mansion secure from intruders, for his foothold upon this world is not secure at this time. ‘Look, I’m only human! I did the best I could!’ Hangman calls out, telling Satannish not to worry, for with the powers he has given them, the Night Shift can take care of five Avengers as easily as three. ‘See that you do!’ Satannish warns Hangman. Miguel shifts back into his lightning form and tells Iron Man that they have jackled around with this Godzilla-size dude long enough. ‘Let’s go get him!’ Living Lightning calls out as he and Iron Man combine their attacks against Satannish.
Iron Man tells Living Lightning to watch out, as they don’t know much about what Satannish can do. He admits that Avengers files tend to be skimpy on bad guys who have tangled mostly with Dr Strange. ‘Strange? Phaugh! That overrated wizardly weakling!’ Satannish declares, while his lower mouth adds ‘He has never defeated us - save by base trickery’. ‘You’re really a two-faced sort, aren’t you, fella?’ Iron Man asks Satannish, wondering if he can blind both of his faces with a uni-beam. Iron Man releases the powerful burst of energy, but Satannish grabs Living Lightning and boasts that he will crush him - however Satannish finds that his hand has really closed upon nothingness. Iron Man tells Living Lightning that changing from flesh to plasma appears to have confused Satannish.
Living Lightning escapes Satannish’s grasp, while Iron Man warns him that next time Satannish might figure out how to demolish him in either form. ‘Then there won’t be a next time!’ Living Lightning replies as he flies down towards the Brothers Grimm. Iron Man fires more repulser rays at Satannish, who warns Hangman that if he values his powers, as his soul already belongs to him, then he will use those powers to destroy the human fools before calling him forth again. ‘Not yet, demon! You’ve just optioned it, that’s all!’ Hangman replies, referring to his soul. ‘Huh? We’re not really talking the old “sell-your-soul-to-the-Devil” bit here, are we?’ Iron Man enquires. Satannish tells Iron Man that if for he to know, and Iron Man to learn - never. Satannish then vanishes, taking the portal with him.
‘All right, Night Shift - attack!’ Hangman orders. ‘We’ll slug -’ one of the Brothers Grimm declares. ‘ - spark plug!’ the other exclaims as they move closer to Living Lightning. Misfit, Needle, Dansen Macabre and Tatterdemalion turn their attention to Iron Man. Needle lashes out, striking Iron Man with his large needle, and it cuts through his armor. ‘Sharper and stronger than any I used against that other Spider-Woman!’ Needle thinks to himself. Hawkeye has fired and arrow which releases a rope and wraps around Tatterdemalion, while John Walker a.k.a. USAgent slams his shield against Needle. ‘C’mon, guys! We can’t let Iron Man and Lightning do all the work!’ Hawkeye tells his teammates. ‘We have lift-off!’ USAgent jokes, while Spider-Woman leaps onto Misfit and covers his eyes, while warning USAgent to watch out, as he might actually start developing a sense of humor. ‘No danger’ USAgent assures her.
Iron Man thanks his teammates, while the Brothers Grimm release two yo-yos at Living Lightning: ‘With these two gizmos, the way that we work it -’ one of them begins, ‘- we’ll give Reddy Kilowatt a real short-circuit!’ the other concludes, and Living Lightning screams in pain as the large yo-yos strike him. A member of the Night Shift covered in a large purple cloak approaches the battle, while USAgent declares ‘These creeps are sure less wimpy than when they fought Hawkeye and co a few months back, but we can still -’ however he is interrupted, and his body starts to move slowly, as does Hawkeye’s, Iron Man’s and Living Lightning’s, who has fallen to the floor. ‘I’ll get hiiimmm…’ Hawkeye calls out as he raises his bow and arrow. ‘Why are you all talking so sslloooww…?’ Iron Man asks.
Spider-Woman appears behind the cloaked Night Shift member and tells her teammates that he is Tick-Tock, and that somehow he slowed down time in his path, or something. She smacks him in the back of the head, remarking that it is lucky he doesn’t do a thing for anybody behind him. Hangman calls out to Dansen Macabre, who moves forward and dances in front of the male Avengers. Iron Man tells the others that her dancing has a hypnotic effect, so they avert their eyes. ‘We won’t look at her squarely’ USAgent calls out, while Dansen declares that it is far more than her former mesmeric powers she is exercising. ‘Tonight, I dance the spaces -and the spaces between those spaces - and even the spaces between those!’. An instant later, the Tower of Shadows, the hill it sits upon and everyone inside - except for the Avengers West - vanishes.
The Avengers West start plummeting towards the ground far below, as the Tower of Shadows was situated well above the town. ‘The whole house - it’s disappeared!’ Living Lightning exclaims as he maintains his electrified form. ‘And naturally, we couldn’t be in the basement when it happened’ Hawkeye mutters, before raising a suction arrow and fires it upwards, as he swings on it and grabs hold of Spider-Woman. ‘That’s marvellous - but what did you arrow fasten onto? There wasn’t anything above us!’ Spider-Woman points out. ‘There is now, Spider-Woman!’ Iron Man replies, as the suction arrow lands against him. Iron Man calls out to USAgent, who is still in free fall, and asks him if he can reach the line. ‘If you think I’m too proud to try, because Hawkeye shot it - forget it!’ USAgent replies as he reaches for the line.
Hawkeye and Spider-Woman drop to the ground. ‘Here we are, beautiful - all safe and sound!’ Hawkeye tells Spider-Woman, who thanks Hawkeye and asks him if he really thinks that horrible Satannish gave Night Shift their new abilities, explaining that they were so much more powerful than when she, Wonder Man and Living Lightning fought them on the movie set, and that was just a few hours ago. USAgent lands safely and remarks ‘Affirmative, lady! Either that - or they scraped up the dough to pay a visit to the Power Broker’, to which Hawkeye replies ‘You’d be the one to know about buying super powers, that’s for sure!’, but Spider-Woman tells them to be at ease, as they are supposed to avenge crimes, not insult each other. ‘When you’re right, you’re right!’ Living Lightning tells Spider-Woman, while USAgent suggests that should check out Wonder Man at the film studio after all. ‘I know I gave him a hard time about it - but if Night Shift goes there next, he and the Scarlet Witch might have bitten off more than they can chew. ‘Now you’re talking like an Avenger, Agent! Let’s go!’ Iron Man declares.
‘GGRRARRRR!’ a monster roars as he wraps his arms around a blonde woman. ‘Cut!’ the director, Mr Waite orders, and the “monster” removes his mask, revealing Simon “Wonder Man” Williams beneath. ‘Simon, that was truly inspired!’ Mr Waite declares. ‘Really?’ Simon asks, enquiring how his growl was this time. Mr Waite tells Simon not to worry about it, as they can loop in a better one next time. ‘In other words - I look okay in this “demon” gear, right?’ Simon mutters, but the director assures him that the previous wearers - Wes Nelson and even Jason Roland - never looked better. The blonde actress then calls out ‘Want to take lunch in my trailer, Wonder Man?’, but Simon starts to walk away from her and the director, ‘Please…make it Simon while I’m playing acting, Felicia’ and thanks her for the offer, but he already has a lunch date. ‘Hmf! And I heard he was a real live wire!’ Felicia mutters.
Simon wonders what is wrong with himself, and recalls that he wanted these few days of work. He supposes that he fooled himself into thinking they wanted him for his acting ability, instead of (a) protection from Night Shift, (b) Avengers-related publicity, and (c) somebody who can do his own stunts. On the edge of the set, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch is slumped over. ‘Wanda’ Simon calls out. ‘Hmmm? Oh - sorry, Simon. I must’ve dozed off around the sixth take’ Wanda explains. ‘Too bad. The next seven were much better’ Simon tells his dear friend. ‘Hey, that makes thirteen! Think your hex power can cancel out the bad luck?’ Simon asks. Wanda looks up at Simon and thanks him for trying to make her feel useful. ‘This guard duty can get a bit boring’ Wanda admits.
‘Especially with me emoting, right?’ Simon asks. ‘Honestly, I didn’t mean -’ Wanda begins, but Simon tells her that he is just kidding. One of the crew walks over to Simon, ‘Here he is, Mr Waite!’ she calls out, as the director joins them, informing Simon that he just had this flash: ‘In the next scene, where Felicia gets free and you chase her - what if your tail gets stuck in something?’ Mr Waite suggests, before pointing out that as his lunch date didn’t show, they can work it out over some take-out sushi. ‘I…suppose…’ Simon replies, uncertain, before Wanda informs Mr Waite that she is Simon’s lunch date and that she is ravenous. ‘Do you mind?’ she asks. ‘No…no, not at all’ Mr Waite replies and tells Simon that he will see him later.
Shortly, Wanda and Simon, still wearing the monster costume, have their lunch and walk towards a table outside. Simon tells Wanda that movie directors aren’t used to having people nix lunch requests. Wanda apologies and suggests Simon can go catch up with Mr Waite if she wants. ‘Are you crazy? I just didn’t want to presume that you’d want to eat with me, that’s all’ Simon tells Wanda, who reminds him that they are colleagues, before asking if he thinks Night Shift will carry out their threat to close down this picture. ‘Who knows? Maybe that bunch of wimps figured out they’re outgunned’ Simon suggests, when suddenly, ‘Excuse me, Simon…but I saw you and the Scarlet Witch over here, so I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if I joined you?’ Felicia, wearing only a bathing suit asks as she sits down next to Simon.
‘Uh, of course not. Wanda, this is -’ Simon begins, but Wanda interrupts him, ‘Felicia Fawn. I know’, and she greets Felicia, explaining that she saw her in “Spartacus Has Risen From the Grave”. ‘Really?’ Felicia asks. ‘I’m your biggest fan’ she tells the Scarlet Witch, who replies that she wasn’t aware the Avengers had “fans” exactly. ‘Oh, sure! And they’ll flock to see Simon here in “The Demon that Devoured Hollywood”!’ Felicia adds. Simon explains that he is just finishing up a part that two big stars started. ‘Modest, too? I like that!’ Felicia exclaims, while Wanda pours herself a drink and remarks that Felicia is probably right, as once only actors and musicians had “fans”, but now she reads about fans of authors and even politicians. ‘I wonder if Mother Teresa has a fan club’ Wanda asks.
Felicia leans her arm against Simon’s shoulder, but he tells her that he is having a little trouble eating, so she will need to remove it. But, as he tries to push her arm away, he finds that his shoulder moves, and her arm stays in exactly the same place. ‘Felicia? What’s wrong? Wanda - look at her! She’s stiff as a statue!’ Simon calls out, but gets no response, so he turns to Wanda, and finds that she is frozen in place, even the soda that she was pouring from the bottle into her glass, the drops of drink have stopped mid-air. ‘All right, Night Shift! Wherever you are - come and get me!’ Wonder Man shouts, an an instant later, Dansen Macabre appears, accompanied by Tick-Tock, Tatterdemalion and Misfit.
‘You heard the man, Dansen Macabre!’ Misfit calls out, while Dansen Macabre explains that she can phase them fully into the location, while asking Tick-Tock why he didn’t time freeze all three of them so they could grab their hostage. ‘You asked the same foolish question in three possible realities out of four’ Tick-Tock replies, explaining that he is slowly gaining control over his new power, but that something in Wonder Man’s makeup protected him. Tick-Tock adds that he has heard rumors of Wonder Man being ionically charged. Wonder Man tells the Night Shift that if they want to take Wanda or Felicia then they are going to wish they had gone to Disneyland instead. But, Tick-Tock informs Wonder Man that it is not one of the women that they want, but him. ‘You’re welcome to try!’ Wonder Man declares as he tears his monster costume from his body, as he needs mobility. He knows it is an expensive costume and hopes a replacement is covered by the movie’s insurance.
‘I’ll take care of our quasi-famous friend!’ Tatterdemalion exclaims as he tosses his long scarf towards Wonder Man, who decides that it shouldn’t cause him any trouble, before recalling that Dansen said something about phasing and Tick-Tock clearly has a new time power, so he supposes that perhaps Tatterdemalion might not be quite the pushover he used to be. Simon grabs the scarf and starts pulling on it, suggesting to Tatterdemalion that they have a game of tug-of-war. ‘I have no time for games!’ Tatterdemalion replies, ‘And far from wishing to keep away from you -’ he adds as he leaps towards Simon, slamming his hands against Simon’s chest, Simon realizes that Tatterdemalion’s touch is burning through his costume, just as it always would have, only this time it hurts. ‘And it shouldn’t, blast it!’ he tells himself.
Simon retaliates by smacking Tatterdemalion backwards. ‘Well! Something haven’t changed - or have they? A no-known super-powers nebbish like Tat should’ve been flattened by that punch - but he’s still conscious!’ Simon realizes, while Misfit lunges towards Wonder Man, muttering ‘As usual, when you clowns need a little muscle - it’s Misfit time!’ He slams into Wonder Msn, forcing him into the side of a nearby truck. ‘You couldn’t have knocked me back like this last time we tangled!’ Wonder Man declares, asking Misfit what he did - whether he paid another visit to the Power Broker who transformed him into Misfit. Wonder Man pushes Misfit to the ground and tells him that when he is through with him, the Power Broker will have to make his third consultation a house call.
Simon asks himself who he is kidding, as the battle is a tossup. But, he did catch Misfit off guard, because Misfit thought hr would hurt him worse than he did. ‘Maybe I can -’ Simon thinks to himself, when suddenly, Tatterdemalion appears behind him, and wraps his scarf around Wonder Man’s neck. ‘I should’ve smelled that coming - Rag Man!’ Wonder Man calls out. ‘But as soon as I get it off me, I’m gonna -’ he warns Tatterdemalion, before Dansen appears before him, telling Wonder Man that he may have resisted her before, but now he goes under as easily as any hypnotic subject. ‘Now, DM?’ Misfit calls out. ‘Now!’ Dansen replies, as Simon is completely enthralled by her, Misfit grabs Simon by the back of his neck, ‘If Tick-Tock’ll pardon the pun - it’s about time!’ he exclaims as he slams Simon’s face into his knee.
‘Actually, Misfit, I’m just surprised you know what a pun is!’ Tick-Tock remarks, before suggesting that they might as well also take the Scarlet Witch and the actress along, before Tatterdemalion, standing over Wonder Man’s motionless body, tells Tick-Tock that his time-delay is starting to slip, as the soda that the Scarlet Witch has started to flow again. ‘Another few seconds and wel’ll have to reckon with her hex power!’ he adds. Misfit picks up Wonder Man and Dasen points out that since he was all they were after, she may as well dance them back to the Tower. ‘Too bad! I’d love to stick around and find out how the Scarlet Witch perceived the foregoing battle no doubt as a meaningless blur - begun and ended all in an instant. Oh, well…’ Tick-Tock mutters.
Suddenly, ‘S-Simon…?’ Wanda utters, and as she regains her ability to move, she quickly raises her hands and casts a hex bolt towards the portal where Simon is being pulled into at super-speed by Night Shift. However, the Night Shift were too quick, and they vanish, with Wanda’s hex bolt striking the set. ‘Why me, Lord? All I want out of life is a possessive credit on a picture that grosses nine figures and I can retire to Marin County! Is that too much to ask for?’ the director exclaims, looking up to the sky. ‘For pity’s sake - can’t you get outside your own ego for one minute? Wonder Man’s a captive in those devils’ hands!’ Wanda calls out. Mr Waite replies that this is all the more reason to finish this picture, as a final monument to the titanic talent that was Simon Williams.
Wanda looks very unimpressed by that remark, before the director asks her if she remembers James Dean, Dorothy Stratton and Fenton Feinberg. ‘Who?’ Wanda asks. ‘Well - Fenton was a no-talent, but my point still stands!’ Mr Waite remarks. Wanda tells him that perhaps it does, but points out that thanks to her hex missing its target, that is more than she can say about his precious set. An instant later, the set collapses. Waite groans and complains, ‘Why me, Lord?!’
Inside the Tower of Shadows, Wonder Man is held captive as Hangman informs him that he is now working for Night Shift. ‘Or, as they say, you’ll never eat lunch in this town again!’ he jokes. ‘Or anywhere else, right?’ Wonder Man mutters, before asking Hangman why he kidnapped him instead of trying to kill him. ‘Surely it wasn’t just to truss me up in this hardened spill-over from an old lava lamp’ he points out. ‘Tell him, Hangman!’ Dansen Macabre exclaims as she stands nearby with Gypsy Moth, the Brothers Grimm, Misfit and Tick-Tock. Hangman explains that they opted for Wonder Man, instead of the Scarlet Witch, because Night Shift is taking over the filming of “Demon”, and that Wonder Man will help direct it.
Hangman motions to a camera, some lights and other equipment and points out that they have already liberated plenty of equipment. ‘Huh? You want me to turn you into the next Steven Spielberg?’ Simon asks, adding that even if he would, or could, he doesn’t understand what that has to do with Hangman’s vendetta against some old unfinished move. ‘It has everything to do with it - because I am the “True Demon that Devoured Hollywood”!’ Hangman shouts, removing his mask, he asks Simon ‘Now do you recognize me?’, to which Simon tells him that he looks just like Jason Roland, the original star of “Demon”. ‘I am he, you fool!’ Hangman retorts. ‘Years ago, I optioned my soul to a real demon - or rather, to his emissary on Earth - in exchange for movie stardom’.
Flashback images, narrated by Hangman II‘Well, I got my star on Hollywood Boulevard - but I welched on the deal - because I’d never really believed the Emissary was what he said he was’. Hangman explains that the emissary was the real genius behind the monster makeup, and told him that he would regret reneging. The Emissary vanished, leaving Jason stuck in the demon outfit, which had somehow become his real skin. Panicking, he hid out for years, barely getting by, until, he recently became desperate enough to cry out to the demon who had once been so hot for his soul. Jason swore he would keep his part of the bargain this time, so Satannish appeared and gave him a second chance. Restoring Jason to his human form, the very naked Jason never knew the name of the demon he had been dealing with, indirectly. Back then, he wouldn’t have known Satannish from Stanley Kubrick.
Satannish explained to Jason that Dr Strange generally kept him from gobbling up human souls like so any M&Ms, but he had a new scheme to stop Dr Strange. When Jason woke up in his bed, he knew he hadn’t been dreaming, for Satannish had given him special powers - he hadn’t aged a day - and he had things to do. Jason knew the studio was finishing his “Demon” movie without him, and he had to stop that - but that was only the beginning.
Present:Jason explains that to accomplish his mission, he needed more people like him, people willing to give up anything and everything for a shot at stardom. ‘Enter Night Shift, right?’ Wonder Man asks. ‘Right - though even they didn’t know the Hangman was Jason Roland, till now’ Hangman reveals. Wonder Man asks Jason why needs to turn criminal, pointing out that “Demon’s” release will make him a star all over again, and when it is learned that Jason is still alive, he won’t be able to get any more media attention if he were Julia Roberts’ good-looking sister. ‘But without Satannish, I’d never have been human again to take advantage of it!’ Jason points out. Wonder Man realizes he has a point there, before revealing that he has a better idea.
Meantime, back at the Avengers West Compound, ‘…and then they pulled the hole in after them, just before you arrived’ the Scarlet Witch concludes as she addresses USAgent, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Iron Man and Living Lightning, who are gathered around the meeting room table. ‘Frankly, Witch, I’d think you were a slice short of a full loaf if not for what happened to the rest of us!’ USAgent tells his teammate. Spider-Woman folds her arms and reminds Agent that they have already told her that, while Hawkeye suggests that Tick-Tock must be getting better at slowing down time in limited locales. Iron Man points out that they wouldn’t know any more about that than Wanda does, if Spider-Woman hadn’t been outside his area of influence.
‘Then you guys really think Night Shift’s getting its powers from - the Devil?’ Living Lightning asks, concerned. Iron Man tells Miguel that Satannish, Mephisto and their ilk are not demons in the strictly religious sense like he means. ‘Yeah, as fat as we can tell, they’re more like ET’s with a mean sense of humor! They -’ Hawkeye begins, until Wanda shouts ‘Enough philosophizing! We’ve got to formulate a plan to find Simon before they murder him!’ USAgent asks Wanda if anyone ever tells her that she is beautiful when she gets mad. ‘One more joke out of you -’ Wanda warns him, but USAgent asks ‘Who’s joking?’
Iron Man tells USAgent that Wanda is right, and is about to announce what he proposes, when Consuela, the Avengers West’s housekeeper interrupts the meeting, informing Iron Man that he needs to turn on the television, “rapido”. ‘She means “quick”’ Living Lightning explains. ‘That much Spanish we do know, Avenger’ Iron Man replies, before switching the television on. ‘If anything’s happened to Simon - because I couldn’t save him -’ Wanda begins, before the Night Shift appear on the television. ‘They’ve taken over the station!’ Iron Man points out, as the Hangman declares that if anyone tries to interfere with them, the announcer of “Show-Biz News” will die. Tatterdemalion has his scarf wrapped around the announcer’s neck, while Hangman announces the commencement of principal photography on a major motion picture: “The Night Shift Takes Hollywood”, directed by him, and starring Night Shift.
‘And none other than Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man of the Avengers West Coast, who will also serve as technical adviser!’ Hangman proclaims, while holding his microphone to Wonder Man, asking him if he would like to tell the audience why he has agreed to co-star in the film. ‘No big secret, Hangman…’ Wonder Man replies, explaining that for years he has gone the usual route - stunt work, bit parts, playing a bad guy who gets chewed up ain trash-masher in the final reel, and now he is through with that, now he is a real live movie star. ‘And anybody who doesn’t like it can kiss my ions!’ he exclaims.
‘He sure sounds like he means it!’ Living Lightning points out. The Scarlet Witch tells Iron Man that Wonder Man must have a plan to betray Night Shift, despite the concerned look on her face. ‘You know - I know it - and I’m betting Night Shift at least suspects it’ Iron Man replies, adding that he hopes Simon knows what he is doing, otherwise he is liable to wind up dead. ‘Yeah - or else the biggest movie star since cameras started cranking!’ USAgent points out, asking his teammates if anyone besides him think that might be motive enough for Wonder Man? But, he gets no response, so mutters ‘Naw, I don’t really believe it either’….
Iron Man, Living Lightning, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Digger, Gypsy Moth, Hangman II, Misfit, Needle, Tick-Tock, Tatterdemalion (all Night Shift)
Mr WaiteFelicia Fawn
in Flashback:Jason RolandSattanish
Digger was incarcerated in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #40.
For the details surrounding the death of Living Lightning’s sister, see Avengers West Coast Annual #6.
Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder and Kathy Baker.
Jason Roland’s story began way back in the comic Tower of Shadows #5.