Mr. District Attorney 66
"The Case of the Secret Seven"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Jack Selegue looked up from his bunsen burner and spake:
>>I was hoping that someone would top it. Do you (or Steve who confirmed
>>the names) know the issue number and year? Is this the first comic-book
>>team of lame villains in animal masks?

Here's a story from 1958:

BRAD: Today's offering goes out to all you mystery fans out there. From issue Number 66 of MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, a story that's at least as serious as anything by John Grisham.

RAVEN: Or Steve Martini.

WALDO: And that's shaken, not stirred.

BRAD: So sit back as my robot chums and I present -- "The Case of the Secret Seven!"

RAVEN: So which one's Mockingbird?

BRAD: That's Six!

YOUR DISTRICT ATTORNEY SPEAKS: One was called the FOX, because of his cunning. Another went by the name of the EAGLE, for his daring aerial feats. And there were five others whose animal nicknames designated their criminal talents. And king of them was the LION, whose lair I had to enter, if I was to solve... The Case of the Secret Seven!

WALDO: The Terrible Trio, times two, plus one.

RAVEN: The Godfather, by Breughel.

LION: One of you has unwittingly revealed his identity to the others! For that violation of security, I order him turned over to the police!

BRAD: Voice by William H. Macy.

RAVEN: The animal masks give it that "true crime" feel.

WALDO: That's why Spillane used them.

D.A.: Perhaps you remember this mild-mannered key maker, and his tiny shop on West Broad Street...

ALARM: Bringgg!

KEYMAKER: Oh, I must hurry! Here are your keys... that's be 50 cents!

WALDO: Of course, in 1958, that could feed a family of four. For ten seconds.

D.A.: The bell ring was made by a homing pigeon, which had just alighted on a trip spring, on the roof over the shop...

KEYMAKER: (voiceover) Message from the Lion!

BRAD: Ars gratia artis.

KEYMAKER: (vo) I'm to be picked up at point 14 on Highway 102, three o'clock, Saturday!

WALDO: And it's my turn to bring the bagels.

D.A.: At that same time, atop the steel skeleton of a new skyscraper, a riveter braced his iron-bucket, as...

RIVETER: Instead of a red-hot rivet, looks like I'm getting a red-hot message!

BRAD: Says here, next week they're filming "Baby's Day Out."

D.A.: Similar communications went out to four other men -- and on Saturday, a large truck slowly lumbered down Highway 102.

CROOK: (vo) The panel door's opening... my turn to get in!

RAVEN: And join the panel discussion!

D.A.: The truck, as I learned later, was divided into compartments-- and as each pickup entered an anteroom...

CROOK: (vo) Must put on my headpiece before I go in!

RAVEN: Wearing a mask inside a truck! Boy, I hope they fixed the ventilation!

FOX: Hi, Squirrel! Think the Lion's got a big job for us this time?

SQUIRREL: Sure-- but only the Lion knows what it's to be!

WALDO: 'Cause that's the Circle of Life.

D.A.: The truck soon halted alongside an unused pier...

BULLDOG: Looks like our meeting place, this time, is a yacht!

SQUIRREL: Leave it to the Lion! He's always got a new place for us!

RAVEN: He knows how to keep a life of crime from getting stale.

D.A.: In a special room aboard the vessel, the hoodlums, each unknown to the other, waited tensely until...

BULLDOG: Where's the Lion? We've been here twenty minutes already!

BRAD: And I have to get back to my Yale faculty meeting.

FOX: Shhhh... That screen's lighting up!

RAVEN: I thought we'd keep some music videos in the background....

LION: (on screen) Greetings! Our target for today is the tramp steamer Cynara, carrying a priceless collection of rare gems from Europe!

BRAD: Unfortunately I can't make it today, but I'll be right with you in spirit!

LION: The Eagle at this very moment is flying a helicopter, equipped with a television camera, over the target! I shall allow my wise assistant, the Fox, to brief you on the details!

RAVEN: Sure he's wise, as long as Crawford C. Crow ain't around!

D.A.: Then, as another scene flashed on the screen...

FOX: The steamer is right on schedule! Following is the attack plan worked out by our leader, the Lion...

RAVEN: Can we go two panels without saying the Lion is the leader?

BRAD: Not in the Silver Age.

D.A.: Two hours later, the bizarre band went into action...

WALDO: Mojo Nixon!

EAGLE: Get set, we're going down!

D.A.: While beneath the water's surface...

FISH: (vo) This magnetic mine is timed to explode in 15 minutes... The attack had better go off on schedule!

WALDO: He's wearing the new Super Swimmer set!

D.A.: As the Bulldog sentry kept a sharp lookout for other ships, the Lion's pack struck with precision...

RAVEN: Say what you will, that Skar is one sharp tactician!

CAPTAIN: P-Pirates!... Masquerading as animals!

BRAD: That's a relief, I thought we'd been boarded by the San Diego Zoo!

D.A.: Then, after grabbing the loot...

FOX: The Fish timed his mine perfectly... that ship can't possibly follow us now!

WALDO: And look! It's one of those stealth mines with no sound effects!

D.A.: Later, back in the hold of the yacht...

LION: (on screen) Well done, men! The Eagle will pilot you to the mainland! When ashore, separate at once... and remember-- do not try to learn the identity of each other!

BRAD: Of course, I know all your identities, but let's not dwell on that.

LION: As usual, the Squirrel will store away the loot, until I instruct him to divide it among you!

RAVEN: Think you can keep the secret, Squirrel?

D.A.: (Addresses the reader directly)

BR&W: AAAAAH!

D.A.: You may wonder how I knew so much about the inner organization of this gang before I even had a lead on them!

RAVEN: Oh my god, he can see us!

WALDO: Holy Animal Man, Steve Chung!

BRAD: Hmmmm....

D.A.: How I found out, some five days after the piracy, reveals the utter contempt that the Lion had for law and order...

RAVEN: Three hourly shows WAS pushing it.

MUG: Present for the police!

WALDO: That's it, just chuck him o ut without any gift wrapping.

DA: (vo) I arrived at the hospital moments after the man was revived, and went to work on him at once... (speaks) We found this note pinned to you... It says you were a member of the Lion's pack! Start talking, Mister!

LUG: I will... I will... I-- I accidentally dropped my mask, revealing my identity to the others... So, as far as the Lion is concerned, I'm of no more use to him!

WALDO: So what animal was he, anyway?

RAVEN: Must be the Pig; listen to him squeal.

D.A.: I see... and where does your gang meet?

LUG: It changes every time-- and we never know until the Lion contacts us. Once, it was in a blimp...

LION: (in blimp) You will be dropped by parachute on the target point... then follow plan 12!

RAVEN: Plan 12, point 14 -- since when does being a crook require so much homework?

LUG: Another time, it was a diving bell...

BRAD: That Sheldon Moldoff artwork is as clear as a bell.

LION: When we surface, separate at once, and gather again in an hour at the attack point!

BRAD: Does anyone else wonder about the Lion's overhead?

LUG: You'll never get the Lion-- never! Because no one knows who he is-- or where he is!

RAVEN: And now he'll never know I love him!

D.A.: Take it easy, mister... We'll get him-- somehow!

WALDO: You know, this is a lot like an early Batman story.

RAVEN: Except it's not good.

D.A.: What a spot, Harrington! We know everything about how that mob operates-- yet we can't do a thing to stop it!

WALDO: Well, I could put on these green mesh panties and yellow cape...

D.A. (vo) We needed the break of a lifetime-- and, thanks to my assistant's sharp-eyed vigilance, we finally got it...

HARRINGTON: Slow down, Chief! Isn't that Bugsy Wall-- the escaped con?

D.A.: Yes, Harrington... He's had some plastic surgery-- but not enough to hide his identity!

BRAD: If he wants to hide his identity, he should never give his name! That's what I do!

D.A. (vo) At headquarters, we went through Bugsy's belongings and hit pay-dirt...

RAVEN: Wha...? Did I miss something? How'd they get his belongings?

BRAD: Later.

HARRINGTON: Chief! Look who's a member of the Lion's gang!

D.A.: A wolf headpiece! This may be it, Harrington! Go through the remainder with a fine-tooth comb!

BRAD: And if it's not in the remainder go back to the quotient.

D.A. (vo) It took us 10 seconds flat to find what we were hunting for... (speaks) Look, Harrington-- Doesn't the stitching on the hem of this handkerchief resemble a Morse Code message?

WALDO: I always use a handkerchief for a code.

RAVEN: YARGH!

HARRINGTON: It sure does! Let's see what happens if we decode it!

D.A.: (vo) We got the message, all right-- and called Bugsy in to make sure... (speaks) So you were to enter the manhole at 4th and Elm Streets at three a.m. for a meeting with the Lion, eh?

BUGSY: Could be... mind if I smoke?

RAVEN: Enjoy it while it's still socially acceptable.

D.A.: Be my guest, Bugsy! Harrington, I'm taking Bugsy's place at that meeting! It's the only way to crack that mob-- and nab the Lion!

WALDO: Why don't you wait six months and he'll go broke?

RAVEN: Diving bells ain't cheap.

D.A.: (vo) In the police garage, at two a.m., Harrington and I laid our final plans...

BRAD: I can retire next year, but you'll have to keep working for the medical coverage.

D.A.: I've replaced the top button on my coat with a tiny, transistor- powered walkie-talkie! I'll let you know where I am-- and when to pull the raid!

HARRINGTON: I'll be listening, chief!

BRAD: And don't call me chief -- oh, wrong book.

D.A.: (vo) At 2:45, I went down the manhole, donned the Wolf headpiece, and moved down the tunnel...

RAVEN: Who's afraid of the big, bad me...

FOX: This way, Wolf!

D.A.: Lead the way, Fox!

BRAD: Naturally, Fox is great at networking!

WALDO: D'oh!

D.A.: (vo) We made six turns, then.. The master control room for the city's electric power! What a meeting place!

RAVEN: Hey, there's no rent! We gotta save money SOME place!

BULLDOG: The night watchman is tied up in back! Attention now-- here comes the Lion!

BRAD: Thank you Mr. Drummond.

LION: Greetings!

D.A.: (vo) Now's the moment to contact Harrington!

WALDO: Before they've had a chance to incriminate themselves.

D.A. (vo) I can't get through! No wonder-- all this electronic equipment is jamming the walkie-talkie!

WALDO: Which means it's no place for a Rush Room.

BRAD: I dunno about that...

D.A.: (vo) The Lion's next words sounded like the crack of doom...

LION: As a security check, you were all given cigarettes containing our password! Kindly remove them!

BR&W: Duh duh DAAAAH!

D.A.: (vo) At once, my thoughts swept back to Bugsy and that cigarette he sneeringly smoked...

WALDO: Kiss my ash, copper!

LION: Where is YOUR cigarette, Wolf?

D.A.: (vo) On the floor at headquarters, where it won't do me any good!

LION: Unmask him!

RAVEN: Let's see who the wolf in the fold is!

FOX: It's the District Attorney! Shall I let him have it, Lion?

LION: Not until we make sure he is alone! Squirrel and Bulldog... Scour the tunnel out there!

BRAD: And use steel wool, the place is filthy!

D.A.: (vo) Minutes ticked by-- and the suspense became so heavy you could cut it with a knife...

BRAD: I couldn't find the writer in the GCD.

RAVEN: For which he gives thanks daily.

D.A.: (vo) at length, the outside tunnel resounded with running footsteps...

LION: Must be Squirrel and Bulldog returning! We'll soon learn if the D.A. was alone...

EAGLE: The cops!

LION: H-How did you get here?

D.A.: All I did was pull this little switch down, when my hands were raised, Mr. Lion!

BRAD: Six pairs of eyes on him and no one sees him flip a deadman switch!

HARRINGTON: And all that did was to black out the electric power in a whole city block, including police headquarters! It led us here like homing pigeons!

WALDO: Shame about the guy in the iron lung...

BRAD: And that's our look at true crime! Remember kids, all you need is some furry masks and unlimited supplies and you, too, can be a master criminal!

WALDO: Was that the best story in the book?

BRAD: Well, the first one, about a crook going straight, had all the gangland realism of Bill Finger's work. And the second, about lumberjacks using hollow logs to smuggle contraband, would be great for Scooby-Doo references.

RAVEN: Harrington is no Daphne.

BRAD: Sadly, this issue of MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY was the last. I guess he just fell victim to his arch-nemesis.

WALDO: Who's that?

BRAD: Perry Mason.