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Ugly Ghost Squad #27 recap [Feb. 23rd, 2017|11:18 pm]
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Haven't done one of these in a while...

Ugly Ghost Squad #27A
"Alternative Caps"
Played 2/18/2017

Roll Call:
Black Panther
Captain America
Martian Manhunter

Experience Level: 10

Enemies Fought:
Silvermane and his Hydra cell:
Absorbing Man
Bull's Eye
Grim Reaper

Other NPCs:
Ruby Ryder

Adventure Modules Used:

The Ugly Ghost Squad received a visit from their patron, Ruby Ryder. Several of her company's shipments had been hijacked in recent weeks, and she suspected there was a spy in her organization, passing trade secrets to her rivals. She instructed the Squad to accompany the next shipment to find out who was stealing her goods and who their inside man was.

Driving an 18-wheeler down a remote stretch of highway, the team was ambushed by a tank filled with Hydra soldiers. Accompanying them were a team of super-powered mercenaries: the Absorbing Man, Bull's Eye, Eel, and Gladiator. They defeated the villains, although they noted that Bull's Eye already had their information programmed into his high-tech rifle, as if he'd been expecting to face them. The Hydra goons would not divulge the name of their leader, but they did let slip the location of their base -- a small island in the South Pacific.

Flying low to avoid radar, the heroes approached what appeared to be a large Hydra base. However, it proved to be largely deserted, with only a handful of soldiers remaining, along with a few more villains: The Grim Reaper, Mind-Master, and the Unicorn, along with their leader, the cyborg called Silvermane. After a lengthy battle, the hordes of Hydra lay in defeat. Silvermane was interrogated about the identity of the spy in Ryder's organization. He claimed that it was none other than Captain America himself, and footage from the base's surveillance cameras seemed to back him up. Cap naturally denied it, and the team decided to set the question aside for the moment, as they soon had other things to worry about...

Memorable Quotes:
"I take his kneecaps." - Black Panther, claiming the spoils of war.

Sources and References:

The classic Marvel subversive organization is making a return appearance for the first time since Ghost Squad #1. With Viper and the Silver Samurai imprisoned, it seems Silvermane stepped in to take over the group, but was only able to get a small number of members to back him up. What has become of the rest of the organization remains to be seen...

Silvio Manfredi was an aging mobster who became obsessed with regaining his youth. His first attempt involved a magic potion, and when that didn't pan out, he turned to technology, getting a cybernetic upgrade that made him more machine than man. He was a long-time foe of Spider-Man, and was briefly the head of Hydra in the 1970s.

Absorbing Man:
When the Asgardian god Loki needed a pawn to use against his brother Thor, he selected convict Carl "Crusher" Creel. With his magic, he turned Creel into the Absorbing Man, capable of taking on the properties of anything he touched. Thor survived their encounter, and Creel has gone on to battle everyone from Spider-Man to the Avengers.

Bull's Eye:
Not to be confused with the more famous Daredevil villain, this high-tech sniper was sent by Hydra to assassinate Nick Fury. Once his rifle locked onto Fury's heartbeat, there was no way he could miss. However, what Bull's Eye shot was merely a Life Model Decoy, and the real Fury lived to fight another day.

Leopold Stryke was the caretaker at an aquarium. He had greater ambitions, though, and created a special electrified suit that gave him the powers (and slipperiness!) of an eel. His first attempts at crime were thwarted by the Human Torch, but he went on to be a minion for various evil masterminds, and was a founding member of the original Serpent Squad.

Melvin Potter was a costume designer who was obsessed with ancient Rome. He created an armored costume, complete with whirling buzz-saws attached to his hands, and began a life of crime as the Gladiator. After multiple defeats by Daredevil, he made a sincere attempt to reform, but external forces and his own mental instability drew him back into the villain lifestyle.

Ruffio Costa had perhaps the shortest supervillain career on record. He was one of a group of thugs being beaten on by Daredevil and the Black Panther. He got knocked into some electronic equipment, which somehow transformed him into a powerful psychic. Spontaneously sprouting a fancy costume, he announced he was now the Mind-Master, and began zapping the heroes with bolts of mental energy. His upgrade turned out to be short-lived, however; after a few panels of battle, his powers burned out and he returned to normal.

Milos Masaryk was a Soviet spy who was trained and equipped by the notorious Crimson Dynamo. With his suit of armor and an energy-blasting "power horn", he had many battles with Iron Man as part of his attempts to undermine the U.S.A. In the post-Soviet era, he's more of a mercenary than an ideologue, and is usually seen working for someone else.

Ugly Ghost Squad #27B
"From the Deeps of Space"
Played 2/18/2017

Roll Call:
Black Panther
Captain America
Martian Manhunter

Experience Level: 10

Enemies Fought:
Major Rall and his fellow Capellan Soldiers
Lady Seven
Star Boss

Other NPCs:
SHIELD Director Phil Coulson
The citizens of Midville, devolved into cavemen.

Adventure Modules Used:
Villains and Vigilantes: "From the Deeps of Space" by Stefan Jones
Villains and Vigilantes: "Death Duel with the Destroyers" by Bill Willingham
Villains and Vigilantes: "Most Wanted Vol. 3" by Troy Christensen

Phil Coulson, director of SHIELD, contacted the Ugly Ghost Squad about a situation developing in Colorado. The small town of Midville had been completely cut off from the outside world, surrounded by a solid dome of energy. The team agreed to investigate.

Arriving at Midville, the team was able to bypass the energy field by "ghosting" through the ground. Inside, they saw familiar-looking spaceships scattered throughout the town; the alien Capellan Empire had turned Midville into a beachhead for their invasion of Earth. Making their way through town, they skirmished with Capellan soldiers and saw that the townspeople had somehow been transformed into primitive Neanderthals, serving as slave labor to the invaders.

On the outskirts of town, the team spotted a newly-constructed building of alien design. Inside they found a laboratory filled with futuristic technology, and a strange-looking boulder mounted on a hovercraft. Guarding the stone was the invasion's leader, the Capellan Major Rall, along with his honor guard of hand-picked soldiers from various planets: The energy-blasting Annihilator, Kiloton with his massive battle-cannon, the sorceress Lady Seven, and the trident-wielding Star Boss.

Major Rall revealed the Capellans' plan: They had taken over Midville specifically to retrieve a large stone that lay buried deep beneath the town. The mysterious rock was one of many that had been planted on Earth millenia ago by an unknown alien race. The stones gave off some type of radiation that altered the DNA of humanity's ancestors, making them more adaptable and prone to mutation. This, it seemed, explained why Earth had spawned so many super-powered beings, while other planets (such as Capella) had none. Major Rall had hoped to harness the rock's power to give his own people super-powers, but had so far been unsuccessful. He was, however, able to reverse-engineer the radiation to create a DE-evolution effect. Turning the townspeople into cavemen was merely a trial run; his goal was to strip away the powers of every super-being on Earth, making them easy prey for the Capellan space fleet.

Having heard enough, the Squad attacked. A fierce battle followed, but the heroes ultimately triumphed. But Major Rall was a sore loser: he dropped the force field surrounding Midville and started a countdown to detonate the rock. The resulting explosion would not be enough to effect the entire planet, but most of North America (and, more to the point, the Ugly Ghost Squad) would be de-powered.

While the rest of the team debated the best method for stopping the bomb, Captain America quietly climbed on board the hovercraft and drove the rock outside. With none of his usual loud bravado, he plunged the craft into the nearby lake, which contained the explosion, preventing the spread of the de-evolution rays. But at great cost: When Cap failed to surface, the rest of the team dove into the lake, and found his lifeless body lying on the bottom.

Was Captain America's sacrifice merely the final selfless act of a great hero? Or had he truly been guilty of being a Hydra spy, and was attempting to atone for his sins? Perhaps they would never know...

Memorable Quotes:
Black Panther: "Aren't you dead?"
Phil Coulson: "I get that a lot."

Sources and References:

The first Capellan you met was reasonably friendly: Officer Karn, an interplanetary policeman. You helped him re-capture an alien crook who had escaped his custody back in Ugly Ghost Squad #6. You later learned that Karn had radioed back to his homeworld to let them know about a particular rock he had discovered on Earth.

In issue #17, you found an old Capellan spaceship that had been buried beneath the Nevada desert for decades, an indication that the aliens have had their eye on Earth for some time.

And most recently, in issue #26, the Capellans staged a two-stage attack. They attempted to retrieve one of the evolution-boosting boulders from the town of Big Rock, Wisconsin. When that failed, they recruited a team of human villains to infiltrate the satellite Space Lab One, intending to convert it into a orbital weapons platform to attack the Earth.

Various Capellans have also made reference to the fact that Earth is merely a pawn in their war with another alien species, as yet unindentified.

A former member of Doctor Apolcalypse's team, the Destroyers. See issue #10.