Miss Fortune and the Sapphire Angel
One of the most sought after comic books in all of comics fandom is Fortune Comics #1, featuring the only appearance of “Miss Fortune, Mystic Wonder,” published by Wallace Brothers Books in June, 1940. Joseph and Sam Wallace lost all their money and their business, thanks to Sam’s gambling addiction, just after Fortune Comics #1 came out and their backstock of magazines was pulped, making that comic book incredibly rare and incredibly valuable.
Meanwhile, in a world much like ours but slightly different…
Dr. Blake Carter, professor of Archeology at Monolith University, returns to his office after his seminar on Incan history. He sinks into the chair behind his large, cluttered, mahogany desk, knits his fingers together, rests his chin on his hands, and studies the open pocket watch on his desk.. The symbols etched on the inside of the watch look too familiar and yet, he cannot identify them or read them. A knock at his office door pulls him out of his intense study.
“Dr. Carter?” a young woman says hesitantly.
Carter sighs and calls out, “Yes, come in.” The door opens and a tall woman with wavy, shoulder-length blonde hair walks in. Margot Kane, Dr. Carter’s secretary. “Margot,” Carter says with a nod.
“Dr. Carter, there’s a telephone call for you. It’s Mr. Harold Van Pelt, the manager of the Crown City Bank.”
“Ah, calling about his watch,” Carter says, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “Please tell him I’m sadly at a dead end with identifying and translating the symbols on his watch and will be returning it to him immediately.”
“And then would you please take his watch to him?” He hands Margot a slip of paper and the pocket watch. “Here’s his address.” Margot nods and leaves his office, closing the door behind her. She relays the information to the man on the phone, then opens the watch and examines the symbols for herself.
Margot recognizes the symbols instantly. “This is Enochian, said by John Dee to be the language of the angels! It’s a spell, a spell of terrible power. But why would a banker like Mr. Van Pelt have a watch with an Enochian spell engraved on it? This requires some further investigation.” She calls out, “Dr. Blake, I’m leaving for Mr. Van Pelt’s house and then heading home for the night. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She walks outside and steps into the shadows behind some trees. A silvery mist sweeps in around her. Her grey dress changes into a purple cloak and a blouse and tights of dark green. Speaking an incantation that was ancient when humanity was young, she leaps up and flies at great speed away from the college campus, surrounded by the mists that obscure her departure from possible witnesses.
Miss Fortune, Mystic Wonder, is on the case!
The cloaked sorceress speeds through the twilight sky and arrives in a matter of moments at a large, unadorned house in a quiet, friendly neighborhood. She finds the front door ajar, and intrigued, enters the house softly. Reaching out with her psychic senses, she detects no living souls in the house, and the furniture has all been overturned, papers strewn everywhere. “Someone’s been here, looking for something,” she muses. “And with Van Pelt not here, things are not looking good. I don’t know if he’s the key to understanding this mystery, but clearly someone does.”
The Mistress of Mysticism rushes back out into the night skies, uttering an incantation of location to find where Van Pelt is. She finds him several miles away in a dark sedan heading out of the city. The banker is bound hand and foot, surrounded by a group of pale men in dark robes, menacing guns in their hands. Miss Fortune summons a bolt of lightning that strikes down from the heavens, hitting the road in front of the car. The sedan swerves and runs off the road.
And then Miss Fortune lands before them, wreathed in an eerie, green light. “Release this man!” she commands. The darkly clad men say nothing but immediately leap from the car and open fire on her. However their bullets hit her Seraphic Shield of shimmering emerald light and fall to the ground harmlessly. With arcane hand movements she summons the Waves of White Fire, lashing out at the guns, turning them to so much slag in the mens’ hands. “Now that you beasts have been declawed,” he says slyly, “show some wisdom and tell me who you serve.”
“We’re not fools!” the driver says with a snarl. “You may threaten us, witch, but our master will have us tortured for all eternity if we betray him!”
“If you fear your master more than me,” Miss Fortune says, “then you are indeed fools!” She calls out an ancient spell, and all of the men except their leader are suddenly imprisoned in globes of glittering light. The men become utterly motionless, frozen like statues, their faces masks of abject terror. “Your master is not the only one who can torture you for all time. Your thugs are now caught in the Spheres of the First Stars, cut off from time and space. I can leave them there as long as I please.” She points darkly at the lead man. “And you are next, unless you answer my questions!”
The pale man’s face turns even more pale, cold sweat running down his forehead. “No, please!” he begs. “I’ll tell you, may you have mercy on my soul! We are servants of…Ashdriel, the Angel of the Blue Tower!”
“Ashdriel?” Fortune asks. “The fallen angel of dark sorcery?” The Mystic Heroine shakes her head sadly. “You have allied yourselves with a terrible, foul being. If you repent now and swear to devote the rest of your days to only good, I will release you and protect you from Ashdriel’s wrath.”
The lead man falls to his knees. “Yes, please!” he cries. “We will never more serve evil! Help us! Please, help us!”
Miss Fortune nods and waves her hands. The Spheres of the First Stars dissipate. With another wave of her hand, all of the men are bathed in a hard, silver light. “I have put you under a spell of protection,” the sorceress says. “Ashdriel will not be able to find you or harm you, so long as you do good and help people in need.” Her beautiful face becomes stern. “Now go!” The pale men pull Van Pelt from the car, untie him, and leap back into their sedan, speeding off with screeching tires.
Miss Fortune strides to the banker and asks, “Are you all right. Mr. Van Pelt?”
The man is clearly shaken, but he nods and says, “It takes more than some creepy thugs like that to scare me.” He brushes dirt and dust from his suit and adds, “But thank you anyway, Miss Fortune. I think you just saved my life.”
“You know who I am?” she asks.
“Of course,” he shrugs. “My father was an amateur student of the occult. He passed some of that interest on to me.”
“I suspected as much,” Miss Fortune says. “That’s why I borrowed your watch from Professor Carter. The watch is inscribed with an ancient spell that can open gateways to another reality, a higher reality. Something Ashdriel clearly wants. But to allow him access to this higher reality would be to unleash a powerful evil, infecting the higher order like a terrible virus. The Fallen Angel of the Blue Tower could cause untold cosmic destruction if he could escape this reality!”
“So what do we do?” Van Pelt asks.
“You take the watch and return in your house. I will shield you…while I go to confront Ashdriel.”
“What?” he exclaims. “I know you’re a master sorceress, but…but he’s a fallen angel! How can you face such a threat?”
“It’s true,” Miss Fortune says solemnly, “his power is almost beyond even my comprehension. But someone must fight him. Even if I might fall while fighting him, I must do it.” She hands the pocket watch to Harold Van Pelt. Before he can say another word, she intones a spell of that wraps the banker in a wreath of warm, golden light. The light lifts him up, levitating him in the direction of his home. “Remain calm,” Miss Fortune says, “and if you don’t see me again, know that I fell fighting a terrible evil.” She leaps into the sky and flies off towards the Edge of the World, where she can find the pathway to the Blue Tower.
The Mystic Wonder soars past the mist-shrouded Edge of the World, through the vast, starry expanses of Ultraspace, to the desolate plains of the Lonely Outlands. Rising out of the dusty plains is a twisted, forbidding tower of sapphire, crowned by a ring of dark, rumbling, storming clouds. A booming, languid voice calls out from all around her, “Who dares approach the Blue Tower of the Angel Ashdriel?”
“I am Miss Fortune, Mystic Protector of the Earth!” the heroine shouts. “You have threatened my world, Ashdriel of the Blue Tower, and I would have words with you!”
“Then enter my sanctuary, little mortal” the angel’s voice thunders, “if you dare!” A small window, glittering darkly, opens high up in the tower, near its peak. Miss Fortune flies into the portal and finds herself in a large, sapphire chamber, lit by a bright but sinister light that comes from everywhere and nowhere at once. A tall, thin, elegant man with short, dark blue hair suddenly stands on the far side of the room, wrapped in a long, white robe. “Welcome, mortal. I am Ashdriel, Angel of the Blue Tower,” he says with a bow. Ashdriel gives her a strange, slow look, then says, “You have not brought me the pocket watch I desire. I am disappointed.”
Miss Fortune glares at her host. “The watch, its incantation, and its owner are under my protection. I will not allow you to menace the Earth or to gain access to higher orders of reality. You fell from Heaven, Ashdriel, and have been cast down to this lonely realm. It is here you shall remain.”
Ashdriel laughs gaily. “You speak as if you had the power to stop me, to contain me,” he chuckles. “You may be a powerful sorceress, but I am an angel. My very existence dwarfs any power you might have. I cannot be satisfied with this flat level of reality. I crave a greater depth, a vastness, an infinite cosmos. I am not some mere puppet in a childish entertainment, a slave to a story. I am an angel! I create my own stories!”
“If you do not heed my warnings,” Miss Fortune says, “you will learn the folly of underestimating my power. If I should fall opposing you, I will take you down with me, even if we must go to the very depths of the Abyss and collapse into nothingness!”
Ashdriel’s face darkens. “Cease with your threats, mortal!” he barks. “Your insolence grows tiresome!”
“Or could it be,” Miss Fortune ponders, “that you fear my sorcery?”
The angel lets out a strange growl, an animal sound that echoes with the sounds of glass chimes and bells. He pulls shadowy, alien magic from the air around them and hurls it at the Mystic Wonder in blasts of liquid cerulean light, but the sorceress has been expecting an attack and throws up a Seraphic Shield before the magic can hit her. As Ashdriel pulls more magic to him, Miss Fortune quickly conjures an Etheric Enchantment to disrupt and disperse the angel’s magic. Ashdriel snarls and claps his hands together. A rain of white-hot fire showers down on the heroine. She’s barely able to summon a shield to protect herself and is pelted with drops of fire that burn her costume and blacken and blister her skin, causing her to cry out in agony.
“This is but a small sample of my power,” the angel says with a maniacal laugh. “Give up, mortal, or be doomed to destruction!”
“Never!” she shouts. She summons a rolling, purple mist that clouds around her, hiding her from view. Inside the mists, she whispers over and over, “Not here, but there. Not here, but there. Not here, but there.”
“Ha!” Ashdriel cackles. “Your simple attempt at cloaking yourself from me is pitiful! My angelic sight isn’t foiled by such a meager illusion!” He hurls a bolt of blue lightning at the Mystic Wonder and laughs at the sound of her screaming that comes from the cloud of mist. But when the mist clears, the angel sees no one standing where the sorceress was. A cage made of arcane symbols that gleam like sunlight suddenly springs up around the fallen angel.
“Your angelic senses may not be fooled by the Clouds of Concealment,” Miss Fortune’s voice says from behind Ashdriel, “but the Words of Rearrangement are another matter, it seems.” The sorceress walks around to stand in front of the fallen angel. She is riddled with burns, but she stands strong and proud despite her wounds. “And while you may be more powerful than me, even you cannot break through a Celestial Cage constructed of metalanguage.”
“You have tricked me!” the angel rages.
“Yes,” the Mistress of Mysticism says with a nod. “You see, Ashdriel, power is not enough. One must also have knowledge, and the wisdom and cunning to use it.” She shakes her head at him. “As long as you are contained this way, your servants will be powerless to use your magic on Earth or anywhere else.” She turns and strides away from him, then looks back and says, “I am also not simply a puppet of someone else’s story, Ashdriel. All realities are under my protection, and as you can see, I do not take my duties lightly.”
Miss Fortune, Mystic Wonder, streaks away from the Blue Tower and the Lonely Plains, to soar back through the expanses of Ultraspace and return home to the world she has chosen to dwell in, ready to defend all worlds to her dying breath.
And back in our own world…
There is much speculation as to what adventures the character of Miss Fortune would have had if the Wallace brothers hadn’t gone bust. After they lost their money and their business, Sam Wallace crawled into a bottle and died there six years later. Joseph managed to get a job at a small company that published science books and to his dying day he refused to talk about his too brief sojourn into the world of comic books. Whoever wrote and drew “Miss Fortune, Mystic Wonder” were never credited in the book, and no writers or artists have ever come forward to take credit for the character. Perhaps we will never know what would have or could have happened with her. We can only imagine the fate of this lost Golden Age heroine.