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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138
-at-popapostle-dot-com
Buckaroo Banzai: Mysterium Buckaroo Banzai
"Mysterium"
Short story

Phases of the Moon: Full Moon TPB
Moonstone Books
Written by Amy Tidwell
2011

 

An alien agenda for the human population of Earth beginning in the early 20th Century spans decades to modern times.

 

Didja Know?

 

"Mysterium" is a Buckaroo Banzai short text story that appeared in the Phases of the Moon: Full Moon TPB published by Moonstone Books in 2011. "Phases of the Moon" was a crossover story appearing in issues of comic books involving several of the properties licensed by Moonstone: The Spider, Domino Lady, Honey West, Kolchak, Sheena, and Captain Action. When the TPB compilation was published, it included the previously unpublished "Mysterium" Buckaroo Banzai text story and the previously unpublished Kolchak text story "End Game" as codas to the larger "Phases of the Moon" story. I will cover all the chapters of the story here for completeness, with an emphasis on the Buckaroo Banzai story.

 

The overall story title of Phases of the Moon does not really have anything to do with the elements of the story itself, it merely refers to the licensed characters published by Moonstone Books.

 

This story presents Buckaroo Banzai and his cast of characters existing on the same world as all the other licensed characters mentioned above. Should we now consider all these characters as part of (for lack of a better name for our purposes) the Buckaroo Banzai universe? 

 

Characters appearing or mentioned in this crossover

 

Louis Reinhart

Mary Sue Tate (dies in this story)

The Spider (Richard Wentworth)

Mrs. Tate

Mayor Fiorello La Guardia (unnamed, mentioned only)

Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick (mentioned only)

Gloria Reinhart (alias Gloria Berrett)

Domino Lady (Ellen Patrick)

Rita Thompson (mentioned only)

Rita Thompson's daughter (unnamed, mentioned only, deceased)

Lee Reinhart

Louis Reinhart's assistant (unnamed)

Lt. Mark Storm (LAPD)

Honey West

Bruce (Honey's ocelot)

Mr. Keller (mentioned only)

Suzy Keller (mentioned only)

Nicole Brodeur (dies in this story)

Carl Kolchak

Lt. Whitcomb

Tony Vincenzo

Updike (mentioned only)

Lisa

Sheena (alias Rachel Cardwell)

Chim

Bob Reynolds

Pete

Kellerman

Woodstock

Don Felipe

T'yunjo

Tyler Pinto

Yagua

Red Mass member (beast-man)

Captain Action (Miles Drake)

Reno

Bill Mosley (dies in this story)

Buckaroo Banzai

Pepita

Perfect Tommy

Pecos

Lady Gillette

Hanoi Xan (mentioned only)

balding, chubby man (unnamed, but may Mr. Hirchis below)

Lord Lucan (mentioned only)

Helen Mosely

Mr. Hirchis (dies in this story)

 

 

 

Didja Notice?

 

Phases of the Moon Part 1: The Spider in "Misdirection"

Written by Steven L. Frank

 

The Spider was a vigilante character who appeared in his own pulp magazine from 1933-1943.

 

The frontispiece of the Spider and Domino Lady stories presents the two characters clutching at each other in a somewhat provocative pose. But Domino Lady's right leg appears to be missing!

Spider and Domino Lady frontispiece

 

The story opens on October 11, 1940 in New York City.

 

    In his playboy alter ego of Richard Wentworth, the Spider mentions to Mrs. Tate that the city's mayor has organized a task force to get to the bottom of the recent string of murders. In 1940, the mayor of New York City was Fiorello La Guardia.

    The Spider also mentions working with Commissioner Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is a regular supporting character in Spider stories. In the real world, the police commissioner of New York City at that time was Lewis Valentine.

 

Gloria Reinhart calls the police from the Chaykin Furniture Warehouse and attempts to frame the Spider for assault. The name of the warehouse may be a nod to comic book artist Howard Chaykin, often known for his pulp-style characters.

 

Phases of the Moon Part 2: Domino Lady in "A Son's Sorrow"

Written by Steven L. Frank

 

Domino Lady was a vigilante character who appeared in the pulp magazine Saucy Romantic Adventures in 1936.

 

Domino Lady remarks to the Spider that police investigators found that the wounds on the murder victims are so precise they make Jack the Ripper look like Attila the Hun. Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer of women in London in the late 1880s; his removal of victim organs in some of the cases suggested to some investigators that the killer had anatomical or surgical knowledge. Attila the Hun was a notorious 5th Century warlord.

 

Gloria tells her husband she and their son Lee will meet him at Antonio's for dinner. As far as I can tell, Antonio's is a fictitious New York restaurant for the time.

 

Phases of the Moon Part 3: Honey West in "Go West, Young Man"

Written by Mark Rahner

 

Honey West is a private investigator who appeared in novels from 1957-1971.

 

The title of this chapter ("Go West, Young Man") is borrowed from the famous phrase penned by American author Horace Greeley (1811-1872) in reference to the United States' so-called Manifest Destiny to expand westward across the North American continent. It may also be a reference to the 1936 film of the same name which was intended as a double entendre referring to the female star of the film, Mae West. In our current story, the double entendre refers to Honey West.

 

The cover of the Honey West story depicts Honey as portrayed by actress Anne Francis in the 1965-66 TV series Honey West.

 

In this chapter, the story moves to 1960s Los Angeles.

 

The police lieutenant tells Honey that Suzy Keller suddenly stopped contacting Mr. Keller or asking for money through Western Union.

 

Trying to find the meaning behind "Red Mass", Honey attends a happening in L.A. A "happening" is a performance art event involving the audience or, more loosely, any gathering of young people in a party atmosphere in the late 1960s.

 

Mark wonders if "Red Mass" refers to acid. "Acid" is the hallucinogenic drug LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).

 

At the happening, Honey uses the alias "Nancy Franks".

 

On the last page of this chapter, Honey runs past a car parked outside the mansion where the happening is taking place. The car appears to be a 1965 AC Cobra, the same model Honey drove in the TV series, though the one seen here is red, in the TV series it was white.

 

Phases of the Moon Part 4: Kolchak in "You Outta Be in Pictures"

Written by Mark Rahner

 

Carl Kolchak is a wire service reporter who deals largely with supernatural or science-fictional incidents. The character appeared in two TV movies in 1972 and '73 and a TV series (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) during the 1974-75 season.

 

This chapter opens on March 15, no year given. It seems to be at least a few years after the events of the previous chapter and appears to take place in the 1970s given the automobile models seen and the established milieu of Kolchak in his TV adventures.

 

Actress Nicole Brodeur goes to Redheart Productions in the San Fernando Valley to audition for a role. She is met by Lee Reinhart and killed as part of a Red Mass ceremony. Redheart Productions appears to be a fictitious studio of the time. Given that the studio is in the San Fernando Valley, it is probably meant to be interpreted as a producer of pornographic films; the valley, part of Los Angeles County, is known as the porn production capital of the world.

 

Kolchak tells LAPD lieutenant Whitcomb he works for the Hollywood Dispatch. This is the news rag he is said to have moved to in Mark Dawidziak's 1994 novel Grave Secrets, which moved Kolchak from Chicago to L.A.

 

When Kolchak comments on her pet ocelot, Honey says she thinks Salvador Dalí got the idea from her. Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) was a Spanish artist known particularly for his surrealist paintings; he kept a pet ocelot named Babou that he was very attached to.

 

Kolchak muses to himself that trying to find one unlisted man in Los Angeles would be enough to convince Sisyphus that pushing a rock up a hill was time well spent. Sisyphus was an ancient king in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods for deceit and made to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down the other side where he had to roll it up again, over-and-over forever.

 

Kolchak enlists the help of the Dispatch intern, Lisa, to go undercover as an aspiring actress auditioning for roles at various local talent agencies. He muses that none of the agencies is William Morris. He is referring to the William Morris Agency, the most well-known talent agency in Hollywood at the time, now known as William Morris Endeavor.

 

Phases of the Moon Part 5: Sheena in "Welcome (Back) to the Jungle"

Story by Steven L. Frank

Script by Paul D. Storrie

 

Sheena is a jungle girl character created for comics by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger in 1937.

 

Moonstone's Sheena comics are based on a rebooted version of the character created by Steven E. de Souza in 2007 for Devil's Due Publishing.

 

Sheena has a monkey friend named Chim who often accompanies her on her adventures, even when in civilization.

 

Sheena lives in an area of the fictitious South American nation of Val Verde called Montana del Tigre (Spanish for Tiger Mountain).

 

Sheena's floatplane is called Queen of the Jungle.

 

This incarnation of Sheena supposedly makes her home in South America as stated earlier, but seems to have some African terms left over from the classic version: "Montana del Tigre" is an odd name considering there are no tigers in South America; a native tracker is called T'yunjo, which sounds more like an African name; she uses the name of an African god (Dumballa) as a curse. The final chapter of Phases of the Moon (see "End Game" below) seems to declare the Red Mass installation that is destroyed by Captain Action and Sheena in the next chapter ("Action, Everyone!") was in Africa. Either the writers got confused about which jungle Sheena lives in or Moonstone is only using bits and pieces from the de Souza reboot, along with parts of her original origin.

 

The man-beast who fights Sheena refers to her as the Matayana, "the protector of these lands". "Matayana" is a term that has been used several times to refer to Sheena in various stories, but I've been unable to confirm if it is a real word or made up for the Sheena universe. Sheena later refers to herself as Mayatana, a misspelling of the term traditionally used in her stories; the character of Lee Reinhart also uses this incorrect spelling in the Captain Action chapter of the story.

 

Sheena refers to the master of the Red Mass as cowodi, "outsider". This is a term of the Huaorani people of the Amazonian region of Ecuador.

 

Sheena boasts to the master that she is the daughter of Pachamama and Virachocha. These are gods of the people of the Andes mountains in South America.

 

Phases of the Moon Part 6: Captain Action in "Action, Everyone!"

Story by Steven L. Frank

Script by Paul D. Storrie

 

Captain Action was an action figure toy created in 1966.

 

The Captain Action seen here in the modern day is actually the son of the original Captain Action of the 1960s. He hunts for Red Crawl operations around the globe under the auspices of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Directorate, a government-independent organization dedicated to wiping out the Red Crawl, alien parasites who are taking control of world leaders to dominate the planet. The Red Crawl turns out to be behind the Red Mass secret society. The A.C.T.I.O.N acronym stands for "Advanced Command for Telluric Interdiction Observation and Nullification."

 

When she and Captain Action enter the underground Red Crawl base, Sheena exclaims, "By Piatati--! What is this place--?" I have not been able to identify the name Piatati; it is probably meant to be another god of the Andean peoples.

 

Buckaroo Banzai: Mysterium

by Earl Mac Rauch

 

"Mysterium" is a short text story, said to be by the Reno Kid (presumably Reno) as told to Earl Mac Rauch. The novelization of Across the Eighth Dimension is also told as if written by Reno, though credited to Rauch. Though usually referred to as simply Reno in BB stories, the character is once called Reno Kid by the villain Dr. Longfeller in "Hardest of the Hard" Part 1, so perhaps that is his full nom de plume.

 

Reporter Bill Mosley meets up with Buckaroo at the Hotel Negresco on the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel is located in Nice, France.

 

Reno mentions Galileo and Darwin. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is often considered the father of the Scientific Revolution and contributed to astronomy, physics, mathematics, and philosophy. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a British naturalist and biologist best known for his theory of natural selection of evolution as presented in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species.

 

Mosley remarks on how he and Buckaroo can no longer meet at Ray's Pizza on Prince Street. This seems to be a reference to a Ray's Pizza at 27 Prince Street in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan; the place closed in October 2011.

 

Mosley remarks on how Bill Donovan got Hubertus Strughold out of Germany before the Nuremberg prosecutors got him after WWII. Hubertus Strughold (1898-1986) was a German physiologist who is believed to have participated in war crimes for human research by the Nazis before he was smuggled out of Germany during the United States' Project Paperclip to become a researcher for the USAF and NASA. Bill Donovan (1883-1959) was the head of the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which arranged to bring former Nazi scientists to the U.S.; he was known by the nickname of Wild Bill as Buckaroo says (though I haven't been able to confirm Donovan's use of wild mushrooms as stated by Buckaroo here).

 

Buckaroo asks Mosley if he was with a female friend called Pepita last night. At first, this seems to be another reference to recreational drug usage; a "pepita" (or "pepa") is a slang term for a drug taken in pill form. But later in the story, a woman called Pepita, a prostitute, is introduced and it seems she had a liaison with Mosely the night before.

 

Buckaroo remarks on the OSS using Albert Hoffman's LSD research in testing the drug as a potential truth serum. Hoffman (1906-2008) was the first scientist to synthesize LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).

 

Buckaroo "accidentally" refers to Dr. Strughold as Dr. Strangelove. Dr. Strangelove was a former-Nazi character in the 1964 satirical film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

 

Strughold's drug experiments on human subjects at the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany as mentioned by Buckaroo are essentially true.

 

Strughold was considered the "father of aviation medicine" and the "father of space medicine" by some as Buckaroo remarks here.

 

Buckaroo remarks that the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded Strughold a patriotic medal. This was the Americanism Medal.

 

Perfect Tommy and Pecos seem to spar a bit over the German names Victor Klemper and Victor Klemperer during the discussion about Strughold. Victor Klemper is the name of the character based on Strughold in the 1995 X-Files episode "Paper Clip". Victor Klemperer was a German scholar known for his diaries of life under the various German regimes under which he'd lived; Pecos' joke about Klemperer being a famous conductor is probably a reference to Victor's cousin Otto Klemperer, a well-regarded German-born Jewish music conductor.

 

Mosley mentions the CIA's MK-Ultra. The CIA is the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the major intelligence agencies of the United States government. Project MK-Ultra was a CIA program to develop ways to gain mind control over a given subject from about 1953-1973.

 

Lady Gillette reads a copy of L'Équipe, a French sports newspaper.

 

Buckaroo remarks that Allen Dulles became director of the CIA in 1953 and eventually wound up working for Hanoi Xan. Dulles (1893-1969) did become the CIA director in 1953. Hanoi Xan, of course, is the fictitious arch-nemesis of Buckaroo Banzai and head of the World Crime League. The quote about mind control which Buckaroo attributes to Dulles is accurate; the speech was made by Dulles to the National Alumni Conference at Princeton University in 1953 about Soviet "brain perversion techniques".

 

    Buckaroo states that many high-ranking CIA officers of Dulles' time secretly worked for Hanoi Xan's Opus Dei. Opus Dei is Latin for "work of God" and the term is usually associated with an institution of the Catholic Church established in 1928 formally called the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. Apparently, Xan has his own twisted version!

    Buckaroo goes on to say that Xan's Opus Dei organized a secret offshoot group called Ne Plus Ultra, which was more popularly known as Red Mass (the alien secret society seen in the previous chapters of Phases of the Moon). Ne plus ultra literally means "nothing more beyond" in Latin, or, as Buckaroo paraphrases for the case of Red Mass, "none above us".

 

Buckaroo makes mention of Claridge's and the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo.

 

Buckaroo makes reference to President Kennedy having used LSD through his association with Mary Meyer (and her husband Cord Meyer) and giving it to his girlfriends (including movie star Marilyn Monroe). This refers to President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), whom some researchers believe did at least try LSD at the encouragement of Mary Meyer (1920-1964), a Washington D.C. artist who is said by many of her friends to have been invested in getting powerful individuals to use LSD for its "love-inducing" properties that might lead to prevention of nuclear war. Prior to her involvement with Kennedy, her husband was CIA official Cord Meyer (1920-2001).

 

Buckaroo mentions to Mosely that "they" killed Huxley just hours after assassinating Kennedy. Huxley is Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), the British author of Brave New World, also known to have used LSD. He died of laryngeal cancer on November 22, 1963, the same day as Kennedy.

 

Buckaroo tells Mosely he has to attend a grand soiree with the President of France in ten minutes. At the time this story was written, Nicolas Sarkozy was the president of France (though in the BB universe, who knows).

 

    Buckaroo says "Tant pis," when he suggests getting a bite to eat later and Mosely reminds him that Ray's was closed down recently and that "they" must have gotten wise to their meetings. Tant pis is French for "so much the worse".

    Buckaroo suggests they meet at the hotel's Chantecler restaurant. 

 

Describing the horrid scene of Mosely's murder, Reno says he had something like an out-of-the-body experience that he could "only call 'numinous', to use Otto's word." Presumably, he is referring to Otto Klemperer, the tangently-referred-to music composer mentioned earlier in this study (from a comment by Pecos); many of Klemperer's works have been described as "numinous" by music historians, though whether the man himself used that description I do not know.

 

Buckaroo recognizes a balding, chubby fellow with Pepita in tow at the Chantecler. Reno describes the man as having "the look of Old Europe, a new-money industrialist straight out of Engels's Manchester." Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was a German philosopher who wrote the 1845 book The Condition of the Working Class in England, a collection of his articles about the conditions of the working class in Manchester, England (Engels also went on to co-write the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx in 1848). It is not revealed who the man Buckaroo recognizes at the restaurant is other than that they have met before and the man seems shocked to find out that Buckaroo knows he works with Hanoi Xan and Lord Lucan; possibly the man is Mr. Hirchis, the "large man" who heads up Red Mass in the final chapter of Phases of the Moon, "End Game". "Lord Lucan" is seemingly a reference to John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, who disappeared in 1974 after becoming the prime suspect in the murder of his family nanny. (Bingham's son, George Bingham, has been the 8th Earl of Lucan since 2016 after getting the British government to declare his missing father legally dead.)

 

Bill Mosely's widow, Helen, tells Buckaroo and the Cavaliers that when she and Bill first met as young people, he compared her to Helen of Troy. Helen of Troy is a figure in Greek mythology who was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

 

Reno makes a reference to bowing toward Mecca. In the religion of Islam, adherents are required to bow towards the holy city of Mecca (the birthplace of Muhammad) when praying.

 

At the end of the story, it is hinted that Bill Mosely may have reincarnated already as an Egyptian scarab and attempting to crawl down the front of Helen's blouse; he had once told his wife that he was a "big mythological bug". Helen shakes the insect off herself and Tommy tries to step on it when it hits the floor, but only injures it before it takes flight and flutters out a window. Buckaroo then spears up a bit of the bug residue off the floor with a toothpick and proclaims, "Unbelievable...holy mother of wad. Utter Mongolia!" These seem to be puns or mondegreens of the phrase "mother of God" and the region of China sometimes called Outer Mongolia. As mondegreens, it may be that Buckaroo is suggesting that any interpretation that the scarab is Bill Mosely returned is unlikely and simply a coincidence; "mondegreen" is a term used for the misinterpretation of an aural word or phrase for a different, similar word or phrase. Although I've not heard the misinterpretation "mother of wad", some people are known to use the phrase "utter Mongolia" when they mean "Outer Mongolia" as a way to suggest something that is very far away from their current location.

 

Kolchak: End Game

by C.J. Henderson

 

When Kolchak arrives in his office for an interview, Mr. Hirchis offers him a scotch. Kolchak was known to be fond of good scotch in the Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series.

 

The Kolchak appearing in this story is actually just Captain Action in disguise. Kolchak himself is only mentioned.

 

    In this concluding chapter of Phases of the Moon, the Red Mass is about to initiate what is referred to as the cross-over, a plan to allow an alien presence access to the Earth to turn the human population into a group mind. Captain Action calls in bombers who destroy the Red Mass installation with nuclear bombs "even as a doorway between universes was opened, and a rain of nuclear fire was delivered from one world to another." Possibly the "cross-over" is a reference to the Cthulu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, tales of cosmic horror where humanity's material world is just a thin veil over an abstract and alien reality ruled by demonic cosmic gods. This chapter's writer, C.J. Henderson, is also known for his stories involving the Cthulu Mythos. In addition, stories by authors other than Lovecraft that make use of his mythos are often called cross-overs.

    The final statement of this story, of nuclear fire delivered from one world to another, may hint that a portion of the Cthulu realm has been destroyed by the nuclear bombardment on the installation.

 

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