By Steve Perrin
Many long time Wild Carders remember Cyclone, the Ace’s Ace, the ace who wore a distinctive costume and flew magnificently over the heads of other aces and always managed to thrust himself to the fore whenever publicity photos were being taken. And, truth to tell, was always willing to step up when lives had to be put on the line; especially if the cameras were rolling. Sad to say he did not live to enjoy life in a world where everyone has a camera.
Besides his debut in San Francisco and long career on the West Coast, where there were not many other aces likely to steal the spotlight, he eventually rose to command of SCARE during its relatively calm years, and was finally knocked from the sky by a jumper who had usurped his daughter Mistral’s body.
In fact, Cyclone is one of the first candidates for Wild Card status after those who were part of George’s original Superworldgame. George said he wanted someone who embodied the costumed hero life, as a contrast with all the grim and gritty costume-hating characters in the cast, and I had Cyclone ready to go. George channeled a gonzo fan journalist doing a 1960s puff piece on the new father, and that was supposed to be the introduction of my real Wild Cards character, Mistral, who would be a young woman ace in New York when the Wild Cards caught up to their 1980s modern times.
The First Death of Cyclone
Cyclone was one of my first fan characters back in the 60s. when George and I were in comics fandom. I did his origin as a genius inventor who invented helmets that would control particular elements in the air. At this point, I don’t know which of the early fanzines printed the origin story. I’m not even sure it was printed in a fanzine. I often wrote stories for the fun of it and then looked for a home for the character.
From the first, Cyclone used the same motive power, a cape made from a parachute that he could blow from here to there with his control of air molecules. If anyone had shredded his cape, he would probably fall to his death, but that never came up.
For many of my characters created in that time, I did an origin story and they were never seen again. Deciding I needed a format for showcasing many of my characters at once, I created a super group to tell stories about. Cyclone showed up again as a member of the Vigilance Committee, a superhero organization inspired by the Vigilantes of old San Francisco, where I was going to college. I wrote one Justice League sort of story in which Cyclone was confronted by, wait for it, someone creating tornadoes. They can’t all be gems.
Then I kept inventing new heroes, so I split the ever-growing group into three groups, each with a different focus. The Companions for Justice, who appeared in my Mask & Cape#4 fanzine, were the street level heroes. Mostly they were trained heroes with a gimmick, though two of the band, Captain Liberty and Silver Comet, had powers that raised them slightly above street level.
The Mystic Men were my magically inclined characters, mostly magically powered rather than magic users, though Genie, like the djinn in Aladdin’s lamp, had spellcasting as part of his powers. Of course, this was long before Disney’s Aladdin, and I based the character on (1) the Genie who appeared in the Buster Brown comics of the 40s and 50s and (2) the djinn in a novelization of Thief of Baghdadwritten by veteran movie novelizer Richard Wormser. And there was a Mystic woMan, but in those days such considerations were ignored.
The Victory Squad included Cyclone (Were you wondering where he had disappeared to?). They were higher powered, tech oriented, characters. Their leader was Captain Victory, a gimmicky character with nothing much going for him except his wife, Ms. Victory. This was the last grouping in which Cyclone would take a subsidiary roll.
I wrote the Companions of Justice story for Mask and Cape, and a Mystic Men story for some fanzine lost in the mists of time. Nothing much occurred to me for the Victory Squad.
However, having split the heroes into three teams, my next magnum opus of course included all of them. Most were swept off the face of the Earth by Lemurians on the Moon who had been saved by their God of Air when their Sea God swamped the continent. I forget why they were so anxious to empty their home planet. Possibly they felt threatened by the satellites that started orbiting their Lunar Refuge.
Vernon Carlisle got swept up with most of the rest of the populace. But when the remaining heroes who had avoided being captured for various reasons freed him, he put on his helmet and went out to reap revenge.
He flew high near the ceiling of the enormous cavern inhabited by the Lemurians. He rained down storm upon them. He found out what happens when a gadgeteer who has a small piece of the whole control air schtick runs into folks who have a complete command of the air. He was smashed into the ceiling, then propelled into the cavern floor. Vernon Carlisle, Cyclone, died. So did one of the Companions for Justice, Silver Comet. His gaseous form was, again, no match for a population of air movers. George isn’t the only proponent of killing off heroes. The good guys won, of course, but in those pre-D&D days having a character who could raise the dead never occurred to me.
The Continuing Saga Of Cyclone
So much for the early history of Cyclone. The stories sat in my old stories box for several years until the 1980s, when I wrote Superworldand needed super characters for it and for the Championscampaigns my friends insisted on running.
Cyclone had always been something of a grandstander in my mind. The superhero games allow the hero creator to come up with disadvantages that give some character, and build points, to increase the power of the hero being devised. Making Vernon a grand standing overconfident showboat seemed to fit him to a tee. Fairly soon in his career he ran into an elements user with air powers, and this time Cyclone won. As a side effect, he no longer needed the helmet, he became one with the element of air.
Mistral also appeared in some of these early game adventures. Vernon was being pursued by an amorous female hero, a young martial artist, in a campaign run by another player. I was playing Vernon as about my age at the time, which is to say late 30s early 40s. Another player and friend of the group wanted to join the campaign, so I came up with Mistral, Cyclone’s daughter from his now-dissolved first marriage. The player of the amorous female hero took it in stride. Soon the three characters became a trendy amalgamated family.
And this was about the time that George asked for a hero, so I gave him the Cyclone/Mistral package. The martial artist girlfriend/wife was of course someone else’s property. At first, George was dubious. The Wild Card is never supposed to allow the same power set from one generation to the next. Then we put together Cyclone’s effective control of molecules and atoms, and his super ego, and we arrived at Mistral, the only human ace in the world without a trace of the Wild Card.
In theory, Mistral was supposed to be a West Coast refugee in New York, going to school and otherwise keeping out of her daddy’s sphere of influence. Not much came of that except for a couple of cameos.
The Second Death of Cyclone
In theory, my character is actually Mistral (and Digger Downs for the original series), though neither Cyclone nor Mistral seemed right for most of the stories that appeared in the first few Wild Card series. I did pitch a Mistral story for Aces High, but it didn’t fit in with the other stories. So they got the occasional mention as heroing on the West Coast and the Wild Card world continued in its New-York-centric spin.
And then George wanted the Rox adventure to be deadly, and asked for heroes who could die. This seemed like a good time for Cyclone to make his final splash (so to speak), so I agreed when George suggested adding him to the dead list, and I suggested that a Jumped Mistral be the instrument of his doom.
And so it was written. I’m not sure which of my fellow Wild Card writers did Cyclone’s appearance and destruction, but I felt they caught Cyclone’s grandstanding attitude perfectly. I would have liked to see Mistral’s reaction, but that wasn’t Mistral in the blue and white jumpsuit any way.
At the end of that story, Mistral is in the body of a sailor and someone else has Mistral’s body. I actually outlined a Mistral story that would reunite her with her body for a proposed graphic novel series that did not, at that time, come to fruition. We know she did regain her body, because she shows up as Mistral in a few stories since, but the story of her reunification is still to be seen.
At this point, she is in her fifties and still working for some Federal agency or other.
During the supergroup Nemesis days, Vernon and Mistral had a falling out, then reconciled. The gaming Mistral never actually attempted to kill her father, but she was never possessed by a psycho Jumper.
In the meantime, the game version of Cyclone still flew in various superhero games I ran or participated in that had nothing to do with Wild Cards. Since I kept his age about 10 years younger than mine, he started to slow down a bit, and became a prominent backer of superhero projects. He had headed a supergroup called Nemesis back when he was pursued by the amorous heroine in San Francisco. That became Nemesis Inc., an organization that sponsored new super groups throughout the United States, and probably overseas, though I never went there with a storyline.
For a while the Game Master of the Nemesis campaign had fun with Cyclone finding out his daughter was hanging with a bunch of super punks. I wanted to know just how this had happened, and the GM, and Mistral’s player – who had been absent from the games for reasons having to do with graduating from college, as I recall – said Cyclone never mentioned her, so they assumed he was neglecting her. Of course, I never mentioned her because the player wasn’t around, but I could see their point.
In one memorable series he was a stockholder in a Texas oil corporation that was the basis for a campaign where the characters fought supervillains in costume while their civilian identities battled for corporate supremacy as stockholders in the oil corporation. It was set in Dallas, of course. A combination of super heroics and soap opera that worked out fairly well for a year or two. Since I was running this campaign, Vernon was an occasional presence, mostly on the corporate side. Since such soap operas are usually a matter of family, one branch of the battling stockholders are his cousins.
At this point Cyclone is probably considering just what spectacular thing he can do to get back in the headlines. That part of my supers roleplaying hasn’t had much action. Vernon has become such a go-to character for me that I’ve used him in a couple of games, including an Aberrant game where he became a master of magnetism instead of the airways.