Razzle Dazzle is a story in three parts written by Bek D. Corbin. It adds a lot of background info about the Whateley Universe.
Please see the discussion page for the basis for the many pop culture references in the story.
This is deliberately a bit skeletal. I haven't, for example, mentioned the several dozen heroes and villains scattered throughout the reminisce. Go read the story!
Note to Editors. Please do not, let me repeat, NOT, make links to anything in this entry unless it's confirmed as a real character in another story. It's impossible to tell whether Mephisto is relating a real incident or simply yanking "Redford's" chain. Thank you.
A reporter, Dustin Redford, interviews Thomas Townsend, the CEO of Townsend Communication and Entertainment. Thomas claims to be the notorious (and presumed dead) Mephisto the Mentalist. The interview takes place sometime in 2007 prior to September. There is no way to tell exactly when, so there is no way to place it into the timeline.
Whether there's any connection with Peril's family business, Townshend Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee, is at this time strictly conjectural.
Mephisto was born Thomas Ferral Meitner in 1894, the son of a family in a vaudeville troupe. He learned every underhanded trick as well as the big one - the audience wants to be fooled, so give them the razzle-dazzle and they’ll go along with almost anything He split from the vaudeville act after WW I ended in 1918 and ran a scam in a few third-tier midwestern cities, then he got caught in Denver and sent up for 10 years. He was contacted by a mysterious telephone voice and told to contact them when he got out—which he did in about three weeks. Then it took him several months to actually find them.
The mysterious voice turns out to be the Red Brotherhood, a band of monks whose motives are either deranged or murky. They train him for long years in many mystic arts and turn him loose to wreak havoc, that being their idea of the way to perfect mankind.
- As Orson Welles said in ‘The Third Man’, ‘In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’
After a long time, which turns out to be only five years (1924) he gets turned loose, only to notice that the monastery seems to have moved. It appears to be wherever it wants to be. Or something. He creates a top Broadway act as Mephisto the Mentalist all the while he’s ripping off the upper crust.
The Dark Avenger put a stop to that.
After another runin with the Dark Avenger in 1928, the Red Brotherhood sends him to Chicago, heavier by two .45 slugs, to check out Champion. He creates a new scam featuring the Master of the World. It spirals out of control.
The Red Brotherhood sends him to New York to get into the organized crime scene there. He creates the whole idea of the costumed super-villain during a card game in 1932 with a number of New York Mafia hot-shots. The whole 1930s New York scene with costumed villains creating even more fantastic capers was mostly done with out-of-work 3rd rate vaudeville performers and crooked cops to cover for organized crime activity.
There’s a nice little Electric Lady vignette featuring the Dark Avenger.
Mephisto was not involved in the 1938 Halloween 'hoax' involving a Martian landing at Grover’s Mill. He was in Chicago hassling Champion. However, the Masters called and told him to get to New York pronto and investigate.
- General Winfield frowned. “I’m sorry, Doctors, Professors, but this has gotten far too complex. I’m having all of these commandeered by the United States Army for study. Your theory regarding this ‘Mephisto’ person is compelling, but whether or not these things came from another world, they need to be studied. And they will be studied.”
- “Oh?” Kittredge asked. “By whom?”
- “By top men.”
- “We ARE ‘Top Men’,” Myra said suspiciously. “By exactly WHO?”
- General Winfield met her eye with a steely gaze. “By top MEN.”
Mephisto has matched wits with every generation of the Wilde clan except for the founder, Professor Wilde, including the Wilde Boys, Doc Wilde, Adam and Eve Wilde and the Wilde Kids. He’s got his eye on the latest generation even though the oldest is only eight.
He was the Crimson Dragon in San Francisco, until he ran into Fu Manchu for real. Then he beat it to Denver. There’s a nice little vignette, The Claw of the Crimson Dragon.
During it all, he liked to yank Champion’s chain. “He was like Elmer Fudd to my Bugs Bunny.” It was just so much fun.
- Redford took another swig of scotch and rubbed his forehead. “Okaaayyy… then, how about Junior Champion and Miss Champion? How did you feel about them?”
- “What can I say? You gotta love someone who brings his own hostages to a fight.” But Townsend relented. “Okay, okay, they pulled their own weight, and then some. And, to be honest, they really DID figure out more than their fair share of my puzzles, traps, and what-have-you. Mind you, I wasn’t the slightest surprised when Congress passed those ‘Kid Sidekick’ laws, back in the Fifties. Still, Champ was dead by then, and both Junior and Missy were in their twenties. Even if she didn’t look it. Y’know, I’m still not sure if Champ was totally oblivious as to how bad Betsy had the hots for him back then, or if he just liked having this juicy little bobbysoxer in a teeny blue dress panting after him.”
And then in 1938 he was in Germany, convincing Hitler that ‘Theme Agents’ were a good idea.
Part 2 was released 2010-11-14.
Trying to put things in time sequence, in 1932 Mephisto was in New York as Doctor Vice, infiltrating the top flakes of the Upper Crust. Then he went to Hollywood to set up the same scam. That’s in a vignette named The Big Wake-Up Call, which is where he met the love of his life, Marla Fontaine.
He was all over the place, and sometime tripping over other Red Brotherhood agents. Like The Midnight Ranger, who turned out to be John Dillinger.
Back on the Nazi angle, he started out using a cover identity as Professor Gernsbeck as the Nazi Voice of Terror. Then a Nazi agent calling himself the Red Eagle, who actually worked for Thule Gemeinschaft, contacted him. He wanted him to investigate Champion’s Olympian Force because he thought it might actually be Vril, a concept invented by Lord Bulworth-Lytton in a science-fiction novel, The Coming of the Vril. Turns out Champion not only triggered his Vril detectors, but so did two local teenagers, Elizabeth Brant and Edward Trenton.
That story is told in a vignette, The Red Eagle. The two kids went on to become Junior Champion and Miss Champion.
At the same time, he was selling everyone’s secrets to everyone else. He also found out the truth behind the rumors that the American military was working on a super soldier serum. (They were.) Which explained the sudden explosion of Flag Heros and Kid Sidekicks. He got Adolph out of Germany to Paraguay via Cuba, where he died in 1950.
He mentioned the Nazi’s Flying Swastika and the way Nikoli Tesla’s death ray destroyed it while blacking out the entire east coast from the power required.
In 1949, he rattled everyone’s cages with the Vanguard from the Forbidden Planet, documented in a vignette, featuring Professor Quartermane, Jim Corbett, Dr. Jane Dale and Sky Hawkins, with links to every bad alien invasion film ever made about that time.
Then they discuss the Schimelhorn Effect, the fact that the Red Brotherhood does not like Television, and what he felt was the pinnacle of his career, using the absolute truth to put Doc Wilde behind bars for multiple illegal actions in his Vermont hell-hole.
Then he tried to top that by scamming Professor Quartermain and the Whiz Kids (who included Amos Messing as well as Adam Wilde and the future Eve Wilde, still Eve Newton at the time.) Unfortunately, it blew up when the Dark Avenger came on scene and killed Marla. That sent him into a fugue like nobody ever saw. He went back to New York and went ape-shit on the Dark Avenger’s secret identity as Reed DeBrett, publisher of the New York Clarion. Finally the Mafia tells him to get out of town, where he’s finally pulled down by some kids and their dog in the Mystery of the Mansion on the Moors.
Part 3 was released 2010-11-21.
In this final chapter, Mephisto finishes cooking "Redford's" brain by mentioning how he managed to fight back from being a washed-up has-been. He creates Cerebrex, Master of the Mind, partly as a ploy to harrass the Amazing Three and their vastly overrated Dr. Amazing. That is in Behold, the Master of the Mind!.
He does a bit of bitching about the low quality of super-villans, and then talks about the time he set up as the Prime Director of DAGGER, in The Girl Who Never Existed Affair. Cerebrex lost money hand over fist, so he made his money building secret bases, with the help of Volcanax, a mutant who created volcanos. Unstable volcanos, if that isn't a redundancy.
Then he becomes Satanikos in a successful effort to stop the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom's plot to create a supply network for virgin (and other child) sacrifices.
He finally drowns Cerebrex, along with an assortment of super-villans, super-heroes and the Shadow Cabinet when he becomes Townshend.
He finally reveals himself as Dominus, the hidden master of the Syndicate, and says that his real plan is to instigate WW III in an effort to cull the world population to around two billion before retiring to a Red Brotherhood monastery.
At the very end, Dustin Redford is unmasked as Arthur Wexler, and is revealed to have been sent by the All-American Kid, Jeffery Baines Armbruster. And the entire story is unmasked as simply marking time so that Mephisto can do...
Well, go read the story!