Day 73: The Big Trap!

Yeah, I know: Previously in this debut issue of Mister Miracle, the “Big Trap” referred to is Thaddeus Brown’s act to escape the huge metal sphere barreling down to destroy the former “Great Thaddeus” bound to a tree, but nemesis Steel Hand’s idea is even a bigger threat. After the gangster renders the “Robo-Arm Wrestler” into scrap metal, Scott Free in the guise of Mister Miracle jumps through the Inter-Gang crime boss’s window and accosts Stuka, grabbing the henchman’s pistol out of his holster. Steel Hand yelps, “You! I-I don’t believe it! Y-you’re dead — dead!” Scott quips, “The Age of Miracles isn’t over yet, Steel Hand! Look again!

Thinking Scott Free is the late, great Thaddeus Brown, Steel Hand is incredulous. “But it isn’t possible! I saw you put down for the long count! I was there!” Scott, pointing Stuka’s handgun at the kingpin, replies, “I’ll bet you were!” (And clever wagering-themed retorts aside, Steel Hand was at the tragic event when the original Mister Miracle is struck down by a sniper’s bullet by direct order of the gangster!) “Get wise, Mister Miracle! Forget about our bet!” says Steel Hand, at which Scott replies, “Not a chance! It isn’t the money I want to win now — If I can get out of a trap you set, I claim your written confession to the shooting!”

(In the middle of Scott’s last statement, in a great bit, our hero cavalierly tosses Stuka’s weapon over his shoulder, which (intentional or not on Jack’s part) is a nice commentary on the super-hero’s development from presentation to actual comic book. Y’see, if you look at Jack’s concept drawing at the bottom of our “Day 70: Mister Miracle!” entry, you’ll see that the creator envisioned the character as sporting a futuristic pistol and holster, and this chucking away the handgun in issue one works for me as a “Who needs a gun when I have my wits?” type statement… Well, I dig it anyway…!)

Steel Hand summons his goons, who are astonished to see a walking, talking Mister Miracle (“The guy’s a hoodoo!!” yammers one), and they render Scott unconscious with a whack to the head with a rifle butt. “Good work!” Steel Hand tells his boys. “I’ll take over now!” Apparently anticipating the boss’s next move, a minion asks, “Why don’t you use your steel hand on him? He’ll never live through that!” The head honcho has another idea. “No! It’s time he gets what he asked for — an escape-proof trap!” (In hindsight, if only the big guy had listened to the underling, eh?)

This was the trap I was preparing before I soured on the wager…,” explains Steel Hand, who then picks up a telephone and asks (from the Inter-Gang switchboard, I reckon!), “Hello! Get me the secret Inter-Gang missile site!” Apparently the launch pad can be reserved on short notice, as within minimal time, gang members are at the controls of an imposing rocket, one thug noting that Steel Hand has ordered an immediate launch. Mister Miracle is then bound to the missile’s cone by captors who say, “Hurry, men! The rocket nose has been specially constructed with anchors for the chains!” and “Tie him tight! Make sure he can’t move! He’s coming to — Clear the launch area! Countdown has started!

Scott gains consciousness as the countdown ensues, thinking, “So! This is the ‘Big Trap!’ — clever — There’s no return from space –!” Then, somehow, seconds before liftoff, Scott is able to manipulate his still-chained hands together — which were stretched out to his left and right, respectively, when we see him chained by the baddies — and generate a crackling electrical charge by touching his index fingers together… (see, Scott Free is a man of miracles!).

The rocket takes off skyward and suddenly explodes, and Steel Hand, for the second time, is confident his enemy is finally dead… The relieved crime boss opens his office door to — urk! — find Mister Miracle sitting in Steel Hand’s chair! In a rage, the villain completely obliterates his own digs as he tries to karate-chop the dodging super escape artist. “Now, Mister Miracle,” says the bad guy, “You’ve just about ‘had it!‘ I don’t know how you got free of that missile — But –” Scott interrupts and responds, “I can show you how I might have done it, Steel Hand — I might have hidden Hyper-Sound Intensifiers in my gloves to break the metal chains,” and with a ZZAAAK he touches his fingers together and replicates the effect, only this time zapping his nemesis’s metal appendage! “See what sound waves do to your steel hand!” gloats Scott.

And, as is his wont, Mister Miracle continues to describe how he “might have” accomplished his escape from The Big Trap: “Perhaps I used miniature retro-jets to blast free of the missile!” And, yes, Scott gives an example, using the propulsion to fly across the room and, after socking Steel Hand in the jaw, continues to give away trade secrets by whipping out a small, cube-like device that is instantaneously pumping out lengths of synthetic fabric: “And a Compact Cocoon Spinner — which turns out yards of plastic material at fantastic speeds — it may have made a chute for me — but it will wrap you up in a package — for the law!

Our long-winded hero then pushes a couple of buttons on his midrift which emit air bursts, bragging, “As for beating you to your office — like a lowly squid — I might have used air jets — to shoot myself across the city –” (Well, truth be told, if the ill-appreciated aquatic cephalopod lived in the atmosphere; otherwise it uses water jets, but I’m just being a nudge, huh?) With that, Steel Hand, completely wrapped in the sheets and propelled to the door where law enforcement and Oberon are arriving, Steel Hand is finished and our story just about complete.

(There’s an endearing quality to Scott coyly revealing how he “might have” escaped the perils in a good number of issues, typically at the end of each story in the first handful of adventures. Jack was developing a nice formula to the story round-ups, for Oberon and for the readers, all dying to learn how Scott defied death yet another time. Fun stuff!)

In closing, the pair watch the cops gather up an incapacitated Steel Hand. “You’ve got a great act, Scott!” Oberon says (oblivious to revealing the masked hero’s true identity in front of the police). “I’d be proud to assist you!”

The new Mister Miracle (who is apparently not facing charges of breaking and entering) replies, “Done, Oberon! From now on, we’re both part of Mister Miracle — Super Escape Artist!