Saturday, September 6, 2008

Showcase #93 (9/70)

"On his way back home, Starker is loafing along through space... when..."

"Arky here-- with a big one, boss-- An embezzlement case-- Milton Wallen-- 20 years with Trans-Planet Mining Co. decided to suddenly quit! After checking his books TPM found out he left with two million credits belonging to TPM. TPM is offering 30% reward for the return of the two mill-- 25,000 for Wallen... Wallen has been reported being seen on the planet Zodan, 4th galaxy from Sol... He'd have been a fool to land... with anything valuable... Because of the peculiarities of the Zodanians-- or Greenies-- as they are called... They are compulsive thieves... Every last one of them down to the toddlers! They think-- believe-- it's an honorable thing to do... Be especially careful of red-haired Greenies-- They're the worst!"

Once again, in the same breath, Starker questioned Arky's consistent infallibility, this time with his stereotyping of Minorities "Greenies." As soon as Starker arrived on Zodan, his bag was stolen. He quickly determined and tackled the perpetrator, but the bystanders who helped him up tried to pick his pocket! Starker started whaling on the lot of them, again claiming "I'll never doubt Arky again!" Starker took to pulling his pistol at the first sign of a hassle, so that the thieving Greenies politely smiled and backed off whatever scam they were running. "From the way some of these citizens are eyeing me-- I'd better keep my money in my mouth for safety--"

Starker roamed from place to place, asking after Wallen, until he finally turned up a lead. "Aye, I did see such a man-- hardly got off the space ship afore someone tried to snatch his satchel! Turned white as a ghost, he did-- ran right back into the ship-- never got off here at all."

After collecting his things, which required more threats of bodily harm to secure, Starker recalled his ship from planetary orbit by remote control to follow Wallen's course from Zoldan to Zoldar. However, two stowaways clung to the belly of his ship...

Starker wandered into the nearest town after nightfall, and strolled into the local saloon. "These types look like they wouldn't give me the right time-- let alone information! Best get back to the flyer and move on to-- hold it-- I can't believe it-- Nobody can be this lucky! --It's Wallen!" Starker's bounty was sitting alone, a sad sack nursing a drink, so the Manhunter strolled over and bought him another. Unaware of Starker's intentions, Wallen told his sorry story of being taken for everything by dirty dealing card sharks. Three other bounty hunters had recognized Starker, and assuming there must be a reward on his company, tried to take Wallen off his hands. Starker tossed booze in the face of one, then beat all three unconscious.

Starker made Wallen aware outside that he knew all about the embezzlement, and intended to continue tracking the missing millions. "Stop whining! Start talking!" Wallen pointed him toward the city of Chandor, requiring a desert trek on glyphs, which looked like relatives of the kangas from old Paradise Island. As Starker and Wallen trailed their hustlers, they themselves were followed by the pair of stowaways...

Starker and Wallen's glyphs were shot out from under them by the hustlers, who lay in wait once they spotted their tail. Starker made Wallen act as a decoy to draw fire, then gunned down one of the sharks. Wallen shouted a warning as Starker took a shot from behind, but Manhunter managed to roll and return deadly fire. Starker found the pair's glyphs, which offered both escape from the desert and the recovered two million. "For what you did Wallen, I wish I could let you go-- but I can't--"

The pair were within two miles of Chandor when they spotted a beautiful red-haired girl lying in the desert. The green girl's glyph had been shot dead, but she was alive, so Starker began carrying her to his animal. A voice from behind ordered Starker to turn slowly, which proved to be another lovely red-haired Greenie, this one armed. "We've heard how fast you are-- so we thought up a gimmick to keep your hands full-- and it worked! All right, Sis-- you can cut the act now!" The girl in Starker's arms had pulled one of his pieces out of his holster and held it on him. Starker dumped her on her butt. "Nobody's hijacking me! Sorry, baby--"

Sis barked, "What kind of gentleman are you-- throwing a lady to the ground?" She then shot Starker twice with his own gun, her partner following suit. The girls mounted the glyphs, and made off with the money and Wallen. Incredibly, Starker yet lived, but could not summon the strength to fire his blaster. Lying unconscious, Starker was approached by a group of cavemen: "--with a grunt of anger one suddenly raises a crude stone axe--"

"--and-- but you'll find out in the next Manhunter 2070-- if there is one! That depends on you-- the buying public!"

That's right, Manhunter 2070's story ended on a cliffhanger lasting 38 years and counting. Starker appeared in Showcase #100, which featured virtually every character from the series. However, between temporal considerations and the story being considered apocryphal at conception, Starker most likely died in that desert at the hands of Red-Haired Greenies and cavemen. Or Howard Chaykin, perhaps...

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