The Avenger 31 - The Cartoon Crimes

BOOK: The Avenger 31 - The Cartoon Crimes
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THE GREATEST CRIME FIGHTER
OF THE FORTIES RETURNS!

IN THE ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE, STEEL IS MADE. IN THE RAGING FLAME OF PERSONAL TRAGEDY, MEN ARE SOMETIMES FORGED INTO SOMETHING MORE THAN HUMAN.

IT WAS SO WITH DICK BENSON. HE HAD BEEN A MAN. AFTER THE DREAD LOSS INFLICTED ON HIM BY AN INHUMAN CRIME RING, HE BECAME A MACHINE OF VENGEANCE DEDICATED TO THE EXTERMINATION OF ALL OTHER CRIME RINGS.

HE TURNED INTO THE PERSON WE KNOW NOW: A FIGURE OF ICE AND STEEL, MORE PITILESS THAN BOTH; A MECHANISM OF WHIPCORD AND FLAME; A SYMBOL TO CROOKS AND KILLERS; A TERRIBLE, ALMOST IMPERSONAL FORCE, MASKING CHILL GENIUS AND SUPER NORMAL POWER BEHIND A FACE AS WHITE AND DEAD AS A MASK FROM THE GRAVE. ONLY HIS PALE EYES, LIKE ICE IN A POLAR DAWN, HINT AT THE DEADLINESS OF THE SCOURGE THE UNDERWORLD HEEDLESSLY INVOKED AGAINST ITSELF WHEN CRIME’S GREED TURNED MILLIONAIRE ADVENTURER RICHARD BENSON INTO—THE AVENGER.

THE CARTOON CRIMES

WONDERMAN IS AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS COMIC BOOK CHARACTER—THE STAR OF INCREDIBLE CRIME STORIES. WONDERMAN’S CREATOR IS A HAPPY, SUCCESSFUL MAN UNTIL HIS INVENTED CRIMES BEGIN HAPPENING IN REAL LIFE. THEN HE MEETS WONDERMAN IN THE FLESH! CAN EVEN THE AVENGER ERASE A CARTOON CRIME WAVE?

GIL WAS WORKING ON HIS CARTOON STRIP

when he heard the sound. A door opening and closing in the empty house up the path from his studio.

There it went again. He stepped out of his studio into the rain, the big drops beat against his shirt and slacks. He saw them!

Three of them—men in dark clothes, each wearing a mask. Party masks in the shape of animal heads. A bear, an ape and a fox. Just as he had drawn them for a not-yet-published strip.

Gil watched them dodge into the woods beyond his home. He didn’t try to follow them. Instead he returned to his drawing board.

“Again,” he murmured hopelessly. “Again.”

Lewing was in trouble. The characters from his cartoons were coming to life. If he was going mad, he needed a psychiatrist. If these men were robbers, he needed the police. But this was a problem even bigger. To solve THE CARTOON CRIMES, Lewing needed the Avenger.

Also In This Series

By Kenneth Robeson

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#13: M
URDER
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W
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#14: T
HREE
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OLD
C
ROWNS
#15: H
OUSE
OF
D
EATH
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#17: N
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#18: D
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#19: P
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#20: T
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#21: T
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#22: T
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WARNER PAPERBACK LIBRARY

WARNER PAPERBACK LIBRARY EDITION
F
IRST
P
RINTING
: D
ECEMBER
, 1974

C
OPYRIGHT
© 1974
BY
T
HE
C
ONDÉ
N
EST
P
UBLICATIONS
, I
NC
.
A
LL
R
IGHTS
R
ESERVED

T
HIS
W
ARNER
P
APERBACK
L
IBRARY
E
DITION
IS
P
UBLISHED
BY
A
RRANGEMENT WITH
T
HE
C
ONDÉ
N
EST
P
UBLICATIONS
. I
NC
.

C
OVER
I
LLUSTRATION
BY
G
EORGE
G
ROSS

W
ARNER
P
APERBACK
L
IBRARY
IS A
D
IVISION
OF
W
ARNER
B
OOKS
, I
NC
.
75 R
OCKERFELLER
P
LAZA
, N.Y. 10019.

A Warner Communications Company
ISBN: 0-446-75769-1

Printed in the United States of America

THE
CARTOON
CRIMES

CHAPTER I
Things Seen

This was a couple of days before he saw the flying man.

The dusky end of a gray hazy summer day, with the waters of the Sound looking flat and muddy out of the wide windows of his studio. Some insects were out there making sizzling noises, calling to each other, maybe. Gil Lewing hadn’t lived out here in the country long enough to identify all the insects and birds and animals.

He was sitting at his drawing board, chewing on the eraser end of his pencil, slightly hunched over the unfinished comic strip tacked there.

“Let’s have him fly in through the window this time, instead,” Gil decided. He erased the sketched-in figure of Wonderman, blew the crumbs of rubber away and began penciling in a new version of his character.

The windows began to rattle. A sudden wind, sweeping across the Long Island Sound. The twilight darkened almost to night, and it began to rain.

Gil reached up and clicked on the lamp hanging over his board. “Yeah, that’ll look good . . . with a lot of hunks of broken window glass splashing all over the place.”

A rumbling outside. Thunder, but no sign of lightning yet.

Then it came, crackling down across the murky sky. Seemed to be right outside his studio, zigzagging across the hundred yards of grass between the bungalow and the cliff edge.

“What’s that?” Gil was a tall, thin man of thirty-three, and his face usually wore a frown. The frown deepened now as he pushed back from his drawing board.

He walked, slowly, across the studio to the door that faced the main house uphill. “Maybe it was just thunder, or the wind banging something,” he said to himself, opening the door.

But he was fairly certain he’d heard a door slam up there. There was nobody in the main house, though—not supposed to be. His wife had gone in to Manhattan to have lunch with a friend of hers, and his assistant wasn’t due to get here until after dinner today. And they didn’t have any servants. He wasn’t quite ready, despite all the money coming in lately, for butlers and maids.

You had to cross an acre of trees to get up there. Was it worth trotting through the mud and rain, risk maybe getting smacked by lightning, just to see if a door had slammed or not?

“Might as well skip—”

There it went again. A door had been opened, then closed hard.

Gil hesitated another few seconds. He made fists of his hands and pressed them against his chest. “I really did hear it,” he told himself, swallowing. “It’s not like the other . . . okay, we’ll go take a look.”

He stepped out of his studio into the rain, the big drops beating against his shirt and slacks.

He was less than halfway to the large gabled house when he saw them.

Three of them. Three men in dark clothes, each wearing a mask. Party masks, in the shape of animal heads. A bear, an ape, and a fox. The fox was carrying a black satchel.

Gil watched them dodge into the woods beyond his home. He made no effort to follow them. Instead he said, “Lord, again.”

Going back into the studio, he sat at his drawing board. With one swift motion he tore in half the comic strip he’d been working on. Then he dropped his head down onto the board and cupped his hands over it. “Again,” he said. “Again.”

BOOK: The Avenger 31 - The Cartoon Crimes
6.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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