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Ugly Ghost Squad #29
"Alien Activities"
Played 3/18/2017

Roll Call:
Captain America
Martian Manhunter

Experience Level: 11

Enemies Fought:

White Martians:
Batman Imposter

Karn's Refugees:
Missile Man
Ultra the Multi-Alien

Other NPCs:
Senator H. Warren Craddock
Superman and Wonder Woman imposters
Space Cabbie

Adventure Modules Used:
Villains and Vigilantes: "From the Deeps of Space" by Stefan Jones
Villains and Vigilantes: "Any-Mart" by Dave Woodrum

The Ugly Ghost Squad were just getting used to the changes in their teammate Captain America (he now resembled a pirate, complete with hook and pet parrot), when they got word of even more dramatic news: Senator H. Warren Craddock had successfully pushed through the "Alien Activities Act", which required all extraterrestrials and superhumans to register with the government, as well as being tagged with GPS locator microchips. As a sidebar, they also learned that their old acquaintance, the Capellan policeman named Karn, had successfully led an escape attempt from the government's Extra-Terrestrial Holding Facility in Kansas.

The next thing they knew, three familiar faces appeared at the front door of their Sanctuary: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman announced that they were there to administer the team's GPS chips themselves. Captain America immediately complied, followed by Hulk and Martian Manhunter. Only Thanatos refused, pointing out that the new law did give him 30 days to comply. Batman stepped forward to press the issue, but as Thanatos began draining his life-energy with his death magic, the Caped Crusader seemed to get cold feet and backed off. His teammates agreed to table the issue for the moment, and suggested that the Ghost Squad could further prove their loyalty to the government by bringing in Karn and the other alien escapees.

Karn had been spotted at a gas station/convenience store in Michigan. As it turned out, Karn and his fellow fugitives were running the station, with one of the aliens using his illusion powers to disguise their appearance. Karn was disappointed to learn that the heroes were working for Craddock, and tried to convince them that the Senator's real goal was to exterminate all aliens, not just register and imprison them. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and battle soon broke out. Karn's allies, the illusion-casting Karb-Brak, the living projectile Missile Man, sonic-powered Starman, and multi-powered Ultra, were no match for the Ghost Squad, and soon found themselves defeated.

The team brought the prisoners back to the Extra-Terrestrial Holding Facility and turned them over to H. Warren Craddock. Craddock thanked the heroes, and then instructed them to step into prison cells right next to the other "undesirables". This was the final straw, and the Squad refused. Craddock summoned soldiers, dressed in powerful "Mandroid" armor, to subdue them (as he backed out of the fray, they couldn't help but notice that Craddock was awfully spry for an overweight, elderly senator). The heroes managed to strike down their armored foes, but as the last Mandroid fell, they realized that the men inside the suits were not men at all, but what the Martian Manhunter identified as White Martians, the ancient enemies of his Green Martian race. Before they could ponder the implications of that, the inert Mandroid suits began beeping, and the team was overwhelmed by a mighty explosion...

...which turned out to be a teleportation beam. As the team recovered their senses, the Martian Manhunter immediately recognized the barren landscape: they were on Mars, his old home. Thanatos tried to summon his spirit minions, but instead brought forth the ghosts of Green Martians. He sensed there were many of them to draw upon, as this desert had been the site of a horrific slaughter in decades past.

And the battle was not over, as the heroes were set upon by a large, three-legged war machine called a Tripod, filled with more White Martians. The soldiers could change shape at will, and were armed with weapons that emitted a strange blue flame. They were resilient, but the heroes managed to bring them down.

In the aftermath of the battle, they spotted Karn again. He revealed that he and the other prisoners had likewise been teleported here, and had also been set upon by White Martians. Most of the others had been captured or killed, but Karn had managed to escape, along with a human-looking fellow who called himself Space Cabbie, and a small orange creature called Zook.

Thinking back, the Squad realized that the three "heroes" who had confronted them back at the Sanctuary had probably been White Martians in disguise, and most likely Craddock as well. As they pondered their next move, Captain America began to morph again...

Memorable Quotes:
"Quick! Somebody throw a virus at them!" - Thanatos, remembering how the Martians were dealt with in H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds".

Sources and References:

White Martians:
Loosely based on the alien bad guys from various DC comics and tv shows. Shape-shifting Nazis, basically.

H. Warren Craddock and the Mandroids:
Both appeared in the classic Avengers storyline "The Kree-Skrull War". Craddock was secretly a shape-shifting Skrull, and the Mandroids were battle-suits created by Stark Industries that got pressed into service when Craddock wanted to get the Avengers out of the way.

Karb comes from a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, where everyone has superhuman powers. When he developed a deadly allergy to superpowered people, he was forced to leave the planet. Unfortunately for him, he decided to settle on Earth, in the city of Metropolis. When the presence of Superman began triggering his allergies, he decided it would be easier to get rid of Superman than to move again. After various battles, Superman finally cured Karb-Brak by letting him "die" and then reviving him, which somehow got rid of his allergy. Comic book science at its best!

Missile Man:
Z-1 was a powerful robot created by an alien race. When he turned out to be too free-willed to control, he was exiled to an uninhabited world. Feeling lonely, Z-1 tried to build a mate for himself, but all he could manage was to create an army of mindless duplicates. With a powerful telescope, he spotted a robot lady on Earth that struck his fancy: Platinum of the heroic Metal Men. Z-1 and his minions rained destruction on the Earth in order to force her to come away with him. Doc Magnus, the genius leader of the Metal Men, finally defeated the Missile Men by hitting Z-1 with a massive magentic charge, which caused the other Missile Men to cluster around him and form a giant metal prison. Of course, he later escaped to fight another day...

One of several DC characters by that name, this one was an alien who was sent to Earth as part of an invasion plot. Disillusioned by the death of his girlfriend (who was killed for opposing the invasion), and after meeting a few Earthlings himself, he decided we were worth saving, and turned against his people. This Starman only made one appearance back in the '70s, but he was later revived and incorporated into the whole sprawling "Starman" franchise.

Ultra the Multi-Alien:
The star of his own short-lived series in the 1960s, Ultra was secretly space pilot Ace Arn, who found himself caught in a cross-fire between criminals from four different planets: Ulla, Laroo, Trago, and Raagan. Somehow, being hit by all four weapons simultaneously caused him to take on the properties (and appearance) of all four alien species, turning him into Ultra the Multi-Alien! His original series only lasted 8 issues, but he still turns up occasionally, usually snuck into stories as an "easter egg" for trivia fans.

Space Cabbie and Zook:
I'll cover them in the next recap, since they barely made a cameo this time.

Justice League of America:
I honestly expected you guys to jump at the chance to take on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. But apparently, you thought the presence of the "big guns" was my way of saying you had no choice but to comply. Trust me, if I want to force something to happen, I'll be much more obvious about it (like forcibly teleporting you to Mars...). If I present something to you as a choice, assume that you actually do have a choice.


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