Al Capone. "Bugs" Moran. Detroit's Purple Gang. Any mobster working the Midwest in the '20s paid their dues to master criminal and super-villain Tyrone Reuter. Being a millionaire several times over due to his criminal empire, Reuter became an eccentric recluse, retiring to a mansion he had built to his specifications in the wilds of northern Minnesota. However, Reuter became even more infamous after his semi-retirement for the open challenge he posed to vigilantes and adventurers. Word spread of a huge hideout, big enough for his entire mob, built under his mansion, and that any would-be crimefighters were welcome to try bearding them in their lair.
Tyrone Reuter went missing in 1932 and his mansion fell into disrepair, but none of that stopped the rumors that his mob still operated out of his basement hideout or that Reuter had left his huge fortune in stolen loot down there. That many who went to investigate the hideout rumors never returned alive only kept the speculation going until it became a mania. Indeed, by 1939, the economy of Minnesota had recovered from the Depression era faster than any other state, fueled mainly by the influx of wealth brought in from treasure hunters.
January 2, 1940.
New York City.
"Reuter Mansion?" Wonder Man asked, as he sat down the old photo that had been handed to him. The photo was of Reuter Mansion from its heyday. "Is that place even still standing?" he asked.
The red-hooded vigilante called The Arrow nodded. "It's in ruins now, but it's still there."
Wonder Man's face betrayed no emotion. Typical of this new breed of superhero that was replacing the vigilantes, Wonder Man eschewed wearing a mask, relying on a uniform of red nylon to identify himself. "Are you proposing just the two of us investigate it?"
"No, I'm proposing something larger than that," The Arrow said. "I'm assembling a whole team for a major expedition. Others have gone down there into his hideout, ran into a few mobsters, and made off with a few trophies. We're going to clear out the whole hideout."
"Who do you have so far?"
"Zanzibar the Great."
"A real magic-user – not just the stage magician variety, though he does that too. I'm also looking to recruit these men," The Arrow said and he produced some newspaper clippings to show Wonder Man.
Wonder Man looked the photos over and nodded with an approving smirk on his face. "What a team we'll make. I don't think there's ever been anything quite like us."
January 2, 1939.
When Tommy Geppi's mob tried to knock over the Gerandowe Jewelry store on Locust St., the last thing they expected to see between them and their getaway car was a blonde-haired man in red leotards and matching gold helmet, gauntlets, and girdle. The three men responded by lifting their machine pistols and aiming them at the man.
"Get out of the way, ya nut!" the hoodlum named Vince ordered.
"No," Shock Gibson said. He only gestured with his hand and Vince's gun gave him a terrible electrical shock. As he dropped it in alarm, he saw the gun melting on the sidewalk.
Vince was made of sterner stuff than the usual cowardly, superstitious criminal, though. "Waste 'em!" he ordered the other two hoodlums as he nursed his burnt hand.
Just then, a man jumped down from the roof of the jewelry store right on top of one of the remaining hoodlums, smashing him face-first into the sidewalk. If Gibson looked garishly dressed, this man looked almost indecent, wearing just two crossed baldrics across his chest, shorts, and boots. Somehow, the cold Pennsylvania winter was not bothering him at all.
The remaining hoodlum was looking to make a run for it at this point, but received a punch from in front and behind by both Gibson and his newly-arrived comrade. The hoodlum went down and Vince put up his hands in surrender.
"How can I thank you for your timely arrival, Mister?" Shock Gibson asked.
"The name's Amazing Man and you can thank me by listening to the same offer The Arrow made to me…"
January 7, 1939.
Zanzibar the Great played to a packed house. He looked cool and debonair in his black tuxedo and fez as he performed the standard array of tricks, ending on a seemingly impossible teleport trick that left his audience gasping before they burst into applause.
After the show, while caging the animals from his act, Zanzibar was not surprised to see a man in a white tuxedo walk up to him. "The Wizard, I presume. Thank you for coming."
"My pleasure. It was a most interesting show. I'm not entirely sure how you performed that last feat and I have made an exhaustive study of magic," The Wizard said.
"You know who else studied magic?" Zanzibar asked with the same coolness. "Tyrone Reuter."
The Wizard arched an eyebrow and regarded Zanzibar with another level of intrigue.
"It's said that he was a collector too," Zanzibar continued as he collapsed his collapsible wand. "Who knows what he might have left behind? Would you like to come find out?"
January 10, 1940.
The Senufo Tribe was in the process of building new homes with modern materials, but were stuck waiting for a truck to arrive with more shingles and nails. What they did not know was that the truck they were waiting for was stuck with a flat tire over a mile outside their village. Nor did they know that the driver, Sejen, had a black panther creeping up on him.
Thankfully, the black panther had Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, creeping up on it. She sprang before it could and forced it to turn around and face her. "Mbaraaral, stand down!" she commanded as she menaced the panther with the spear clutched in her hands.
Mbaraaral hissed and pawed at the spear, trying to judge how seriously Sheena would oppose him and got poked in the paw for his answer. The panther tried circling her, looking for a weak angle for attack, but Sheena was agile and kept her spear always between them. She never took her hard gaze off the panther's eyes and never let him see her resolve falter. Finally, Mbaraaral backed down and slunk away.
"Sheena, thank you!" Sejen said, displaying his command of English that most Senufo had learned and become accustomed to using of late. But Sheena never turned to face him. She was staring into the jungle.
"You can come out," Sheena called. "I know you are there."
Quickly, a man did emerge from the jungle foliage, though even Sheena was surprised by how he was dressed. A white man with blonde hair, he wore red leotards with a turned-up collar and a yellow emblem on his chest with a stylized "W" in a circle. The man looked Sheena up and down, appreciating her leopardskin outfit, both where it was and wasn't.
"I can see why The Arrow sent me to fetch you," Wonder Man said.
"You were impressed by how I handled that panther?" Sheena asked.
"What panther?" Wonder Man asked back.
Sheena knew enough about civilization to know when a man was being uncivilized. Giving him a sneer of contempt, she turned and ran away. What she did not expect was to see the oddly-dressed man sprint and catch up to her and then run beside her as if keeping pace with her was easy for him.
"Wait – don't you want to hear my offer?" Wonder Man asked.
"No," Sheena said as she veered into the jungle. She raced up the side of a tree, grabbed a vine, and tried to swing away, but Wonder Man was still keeping pace with her.
"This isn't just for my benefit, you know!" he continued. "There's a fortune waiting for you in America. Think of the good you could do with the money when you come back here with it!"
Sheena lit onto a tree branch and waited for Wonder Man. "A fortune? Speak, before I lose my patience for you again."
Wonder Man sighed. "Ever heard of a crook named Tyrone Reuter…?"
January 20, 1940.
The Coney Island restaurant in downtown Duluth had never seen a crowd like this before. Sheena had changed into a normal dress. Zanzibar and the Wizard had changed into slightly more casual suits (though Zanzibar kept his fez on). But Wonder Man, Amazing-Man, and Shock Gibson were all in their garish costumes, as if determined to out-do one another. Even The Arrow wore a red scarf and hood over a normal suit.
"To success!" Wonder Man said as he toasted the others with his root beer mug.
"How do you know we'll be successful?" The Wizard asked as he pulled a cigarette from his lips.
"To go in expecting anything less would be setting ourselves up for failure," Amazing-Man answered.
"Whether we succeed in our larger mission of clearing the hideout or not," The Arrow said, "I assure you that, the next time we all dine together, it will be on steak and lobster instead of cheeseburgers."
"Hey, don't knock the chili dog," Gibson retorted with a wry grin.
"Pardon me," Zanzibar said as he stood up. "I have to go to the little magician's room…"
"I still think we should be scouting the mansion before we go in," Sheena said as she finished her French fries. "We still don't know anything about the layout of the building."
The Arrow shook his head. "As I understand it, the mansion itself is a shambles. It's the hideout underneath it we'll be exploring. And no one knows of any existing blueprints for the hideout. We'll have to scout it as we go tomorrow."
"To tomorrow!" Wonder Man said as he toasted again with an empty mug. "Now, who wants to go find a place selling real beer?"
"No alcohol tonight," The Arrow said. "Everyone needs to be fresh and alert in the morning for the last leg of our journey."
"Don't be a killjoy. I'm not going to get drunk," Wonder Man said quietly, but seriously.
"We must all prepare for this expedition in our own way," Amazing-Man said. "I myself will be meditating."
Wonder Man rolled his eyes, but soon chose someone else to talk to. "What about you, Sheena? What are your plans for tonight?"
"Going out to the movies."
Before Wonder Man could make his move, Zanzibar came back and took Sheena by the arm.
"Ready to go?" Zanzibar asked.
After Zanzibar and Sheena left, Wonder Man laughed. "He IS a magician!" he said.