Charles Phipps wrote:I hope greycrusader won't mind me making a bit of notes on this.
Way back in the 1926s, Erich Weiss was resuscitated from death by the White Lotus Society who believed that there was a terrible danger coming to face the world. One which would destroy humanity unless it was faced by someone with a considerably more grounded worldview than the average wizard.
Weiss' first words after being resuscitated probably weren't "Nice trick. I could of escaped myself thank you very much" though many like to think they were.
Suffice to say that Weiss's training put him in better shape then practically the whole white lotus society. He was remarkably strong for his build and extremely dexterous. While Weiss could do real magic he found his stage magic just as useful. Its easy to fool someone who already wants to believe.
Erich was more than a little annoyed by his involuntarily resurrection, especially since one of the terms for it was to keep silent about the supernatural he'd spent his life attempting to either expose or debunk.
Like any good escape artist, Weiss tried every trick in the book to get out. Much to the annoyance of his handlers.
Throughout occult comic books of the 1930s, Erich Weiss teamed up with The Ghost, The Avenging Angel, The Spirit of the Minuteman, Doctor Ankh, and several other lesser known Freeport-based crime-fighters to deal with a variety of creepy stories. The Gravediggers, as they were known, were a semi-successful comic that everyone assumed was an in-poor taste attempt to cash in on Harry Houdini's fame.
There foes included: Gangsters, Zombies, Gangster Zombies, Red Caps, Banshees, and various other nasties that came over from the old country. They even fought a Wendigo, Skinwalker, and a Thunderbird.
Eventually, the Gravediggers learned that the reason for their existence related to Dagon and a host of other Entropic Masters which had been bound to the planet Earth by the Lightbringer during the days the planet was still in its primordial state.
Lucifer was assisted, of course, by the rest of the Host's Archangels and every other Cosmic Eternal worth his salt around that time. Ra, Ymir, Uranus, etc.
"Can someone explain to me why no other planet has bound entropic masters and demons?" ~ Mick Drake, to Michael.
While the majority of their power was locked away in the Annihilation Zone, these fragments of their essence would allow them to break free and destroy the universe if their bonds were broken. To this day, no one knows whether Lucifer was already plotting his rebellion then or if it was an attempt to somehow cripple the beings before they became too powerful. Whatever the case, the bonds were already fraying and Erich spent much of WW2 attempting to keep them from completely unraveling.
"Actually, it was just the nearest place at the time. Always planned to come back later and move them a much less summonable place. Then the whole fall thing happened and well, I was occupied for a couple millenia." ~Mr. Scratch
Right before the United States entered WW2, Erich stumbled upon Merlin the Magician as a homeless amnesiac. The German bombing of London had resulted in his stasis-prison being leveled (London was a great deal smaller back then). Curing the old wizard of his madness, Erich joined Merlin in his magic barrel and the two began fighting evil across reality.
Merlin of course was trying to convert Erich to his side. Every encounter got less and less black and white.
Erich was, initially, in awe of Merlin. They used his barrel to travel to ancient Mars, the planet of the Exterminatus, and assisted numerous historical figures in events Merlin insisted would help the people of Earth survive their coming dooms.
In fact, Merlin's idea of what helped them included helping foster the Crusades and possibly assisting Genghis Khan in leveling much of Asia. Disgusted with Merlin's methods, Erich resoundingly quit and any trace of the Gravediggers ceased to exist. Merlin ended up dumping Erich on a balloon to the land of Oz in a story that you've already read about.
Merlin acted as translator for the Great Khan's ambassadors to the Khwarazmian Empire. He made sure to insult the Shah as much as possible and get over the Mongols were going to invade anyway.
Merlin, not being a people person, was initially reluctant to recruit allies in his quest to prevent the supernatural from overwhelming the world. Being Earth's Gatekeeper, having won the title from The Man in the Light, he nearly brought the world to ruin several times during the 1960s.
Oh Merlin had a variety of tools in his belt he just applied the chisel more then any other when perhaps the sledgehammer or angle grinder would of been more useful.
The Man in the Light, bizarrely, kept the world safe from the Anti-Gods and Entropic Masters all without ever leaving his bakery.
Never underestimate the power of finely crafted breads, cakes, bagels, and donuts. The Fae in particular are weak to apple fritters. He also looked like Chef Boyardee amusingly.
Merlin's failures only were prevented from destroying the world due to the presence of the Counter-clockwise Culture. They engaged a renegade branch of the Illuminati called The Church of One Angle in a multi-spatial voodoo time war across the 1960s. It was the hope of the CCC to prevent the Church of the One Angle from releasing the Entropic Masters to destroy the world so reality could be rewritten as a place with free-will.
Needless to say, it took Grant Morrison and Alan Moore BOTH to write about their adventures in a coherent fashion.
"LSD is a hell of a drug."
Merlin, finally, managed to develop some civic responsibility and ended up working with the early Pre-Foundation for World Harmony United Nations Special Taskforce for Extranormal Mastters, classified as The Eye. They managed to defeat the Mars-based incorporeal beings known as the Wisps with the aid of Commander Crimson. His lovely assistant, Sarah Merriweather, helped him defeat the The Clockwork People, The Anti-Merlin (his doppleganger from a hellish counter-Earth which predated Hell-Earth), and Set.
Well, it was grow some civic responsibility or be exterminated. If you piss off enough people even the Gatekeeper can be taken down.
Deciding than the Eye had been useful for several of his missions and finally getting his magic barrel working again, Merlin formally founded the Gatekeepers in the 1970s. The team was initially conceived as an Un-team, which included virtually every hero at one point or the other. This is when the Soulless started to formally arrive. Beings who had no conscience or human spirit and could literally suck the spirits out of mortals.
and some villains. Johnny Vice was actually a part of a few teams. His ahem negotiating skills came in handy.
The Soulless were considered by many to be a dated reference to communism when they appeared in comics but, in fact, were pretty damn terrifying.
While many were highly intelligent, others were completely mindless and created the first incidents of "zombie plague" on Earth. Unlike George Romero zombies, however, they sucked the breath out of their victims to make them undead.
A good way to identify the soulless is that their breath stank like rotten potatoes. They also have a craving for sunflower seeds soaked in grape juice.
The Gatekeepers of the 1970s were, to be blunt, people who were constantly at each others' throats. The Bluejay, Brunhilde, ex-model turned real martial artist Sherry Showbiz, and Lucien Drake were the only people known to take it remotely seriously. A time-traveling John Milton Miller, amusingly, ended up joining the team for a time and helped Moss Pit come to terms with his inhumanity.
Most of the team frankly didn't want to be there. Merlin's spell simply summoned the best people to solve the problem.
John, unfortunately, was one of Moss Pit's few friends so his absence til the 1990s sort of hurt Moss Pit. Moss Pit, notably, used astral projection to put his consciousness in John's body. It thus allowed Moss Pit to sire Tiffany Blackthorn and her sister with his true love, Rebecca Blackthorn.
Sadly, both girls ended up being raised by Moss Pit's archenemy. John is, to this day, completely unaware his paternal feelings for both Blackthorn girls come from something other than their trusting natures.
Probably for the best. That is a pretty big violation of John's body and mind.
The 1980s had Merlin become a close companion of the Patriots, so there was less need to call together the team. The Starlight Rider, Fuzion the Nuclear Wizard, The Last Ranger,Earthmover, Ymir, The Jersey Devil, Black Wing I, Aquarius, and Lucien
Drake were all members for several "black ops" works, however.
Merlin, in particular, hated these missions since the various personalities involved were not unwilling to follow his lead but were powerful enough to challenge his decisions when they happened.
It should be noted Aquarius and Black Wing I created the Justicars, in part, because the Gatekeepers experience could be done "better."
They also asked tough questions like "why exactly do we have to make sure this Damien Black get hit by a bus while going to school again?"
or flat out refused to follow his orders.
One incarnation of the team, called The Lost Legion, was a complete disaster. So much of a disaster that a DOZEN individual superheroes died during their mission to stop The Darkness Beyond Time from devouring the future back to the Big Bang. Merlin was so terrified of the consequences of such a dramatic disaster that he actually erased all memory of these heroes from the universe.
Some believe the Futuremen may have been on this mission and it was only their distinctive place in history that prevented Merlin's spell from being completely effective.
What really frightens him is that he believes that they aren't dead just yet and could come back as thralls of the Darkness Beyond Time.
The Last Ranger is one of the few people who know about the Lost Legion and holds it as yet another reason why Merlin shouldn't be trusted. Interesting, he was on the team and was one of the few survivors along with Merlin.
As a result, he remembers THEM ALL. It's just his ramblings are usually dismissed by his fellow heroes.
This really disturbs Merlin. Memory can be used to bring things back.