DCM Knights
Detective Comics

The Phantom Voice: Part III
by Chip Caroon

Victor Cranston
Natalie Casswell

Victor - or rather, the Shadow - was nearing the last set of stairs. He could hear the voices in John Vogel's office. It was a good thing the door was open.

"Gee, that's swell, Mr. Vogel," another man was saying. "Ya certainly put it over. That movie really did the trick."

"Yes," Vogel replied. "But I'm still worried Trevors."

"Aw, there ain't nothin' to be worried about."

At this point, the Shadow could see inside the office. It was quite small. There were two men in the room. One was sitting behind a desk. He looked to be older than the one standing up. The Shadow assumed it was Vogel.

"Senator Bromine is as good as on his way to the pen right now," Trevors continued.

Vogel appeared a little shaken. "Well, I won't feel happy until he is."

Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, Trevors asked, "When are you goin' get me a gig with a football team, boss?"


"Yeah! It's about time I was gettin' on the field again. And, well, I could stand the extra dough."

It was at this point when the Shadow crept into the room. He was glad he wasn't claustrophobic.

Vogel laughed. "Which career ending event did you forget about, Trevors? Your shattered leg or your gambling addiction? Besides, you'll make more money in this racket as my bodyguard. Any calls while I was down at the court?"

"Yeah, Wilson phoned a couple of minutes ago."

"And you're just telling me now?"

"Eh, ya didn't ask."

"What did he want?" Vogel asked, real fast.

"He wanted to talk to you. What do you suppose he wants? Dough?"

"I paid him all he's gonna get," Vogel said with a twisted smile. "Maybe he saw on the afternoon news what we really used that soundtrack for. If he gets whitelivered and talks --"

"Maybe we should fix it so he can't talk."

"What do you mean, Trevors?"

"Well, he could fall out of that fifteen-story apartment of his - 'accidental-like'. He'd only have to fall once."

Vogel sat back in his chair. "That might be a good plan."

"Okay," Trevors replied. "You want me to go over and take care of it now, boss?"

"No. There's no sense doing anything to him until we have to. But the first sign of anybody getting wise to what we're doing, then we'll arrange a neat little accident for friend Wilson." Vogel paused for a moment. Then, he looked through some papers on his desk. "Enough of that now, let's take a look at that Westley murder case."

Victor knew it was time to act. He had to instill fear into their hearts. He began laughing the wicked laugh of the Shadow. "One case at a time, Mr. Vogel," he said. Meanwhile, shivers went down his own spine. Whoa...I nearly scared myself. I sound better as the Shadow than I thought. I hope the voice is deep enough.

"Wha--what was that?" Trevors asked.

"Suppose we review the evidence in the case against Senator Bromine?"

"What sort of devil's trick is this?" Vogel asked, getting ready to stand up. "Who are you?"

"I am the Shadow."

"But, I can't see you!"

"Nevertheless, Vogel, I am here. In the shadows."

"Sweet, boss. Somebody's talkin', an' nobody's here!" Trevors exclaimed.

"Enough, Trevors. I'll handle this," Vogel said, standing up. "Oh, you're the Shadow, eh? Back in business? It's been, what, twenty years? Still playing your hypnotic tricks?"

"They are not tricks, I assure you."

"Semantics. What do you know about Senator Bromine's business?"

"I know . . . everything about it," the Shadow replied. "I've been listening to your interesting conversation about this Mr. Wilson. He seems to play an important part in your case against Senator Bromine."

"Listen, Shadow. I've heard plenty about you," Vogel said, as if cutting deal. "You put my grandfather away back in the Thirties. How much do you want to keep out of this?"

"Always the fixer."

"How much?" Vogel shouted.

"I'm not about money, Vogel. Some men aren't so easily bought. Who is this man, Wilson? What part did he play in this scheme of yours?"

"Oh," Vogel replied. "So you don't know. You're just trying to find out, are you, Shadow?" He turned to his partner. "Trevors, lock the door!"

"Okay, boss!" Trevors said as he locked the door.

"Melodrama won't help you, Vogel," the Shadow said.

"Boss, if I could only see this guy, I could - "

"C'mon, Trevors," Vogel interrupted. "We don't need to see him."

"Whaddya mean?"

"Come over here. Gimme your hand."

"Okay," Trevors hesitated. "But it don't make much sense."

"You'll see," Vogel replied. "Alright. Stand up with me against this wall. Now, spread out your arms. Can you touch the side wall on that side?"

"Yes, boss."

"Good, I can touch it on this side. Now, walk slowly to the other end of the room and don't let your fingers leave the wall."

"Oh, I get it," Trevors said. "Then the Shadow can't get past us!"

"You're quick. Now, walk forward slowly."

Victor panicked. But then, he thought of several ways he could get out, so he just stood.

The two men took a step. Then another. On the third step, Trevors got ahead.

"Slow, you fool!" Vogel exclaimed.


A couple more steps later, and then Trevors said, "I don't feel nothin', boss. We're almost to the end of the room, and I don't feel nothing. Maybe he got away!"

"No. No, he couldn't get through the door. It's locked. So is the window."

Two more steps later, and Trevors stopped. He was holding on to something. "Boss, I felt something. I got him!" he said as he began to strangle the Shadow.

"Gakk!" the Shadow said.

The two fell to the ground, and the Shadow tried to get Trevors off of him.

"I can't see him, but he's a man all right. I got the Shadow around the throat."

"Kill him, Trevors!" Vogel commanded.

"Maybe," the Shadow began. "Maybe he can. He's choking me."

"Gimme your gun, boss. I'll shoot him," Trevors said.

"You don't need a gun, it'll made too much noise."

"He's weakening, boss."

"Kill him, Trevors!" Vogel said, moving to the other end of the room. "Give him your famous stranglehold!"

"If he doesn't let go, he'll kill me."

"Yes! Yes, Shadow! This is where you die!" Vogel exclaimed with excitement. He opened the door. "Finish him off, Trevors. I have to hurry and take care of Wilson before he gets a chance to talk!" Before he finished, he was already on his way to the elevator.

On the other side of town, in a middle-class apartment building, someone buzzed at Wilson's door.

"Hmm. I wonder who that could be," he said as he walked to the door. When he opened the door, he saw the cold face of John Vogel. "Oh! Good evening, Mr. Vogel."

"Well, Wilson. I heard you were trying to get hold of me earlier this evening."

"Yes," Wilson answered timidly. "Yes, that's right. I want to talk to you. Won't you come in?"

"Are you alone?"

"Why, yes."

"Good," Vogel said as he stepped into the room.

Wilson shut the door behind him. "Mr. Vogel, when you asked me to do some work for you, I . . . I didn't ask to know what you were gonna do with it. I needed the money for my wife and kids, and I - "

"You got paid, didn't ya?" Vogel asked.

"Yes, but . . . I mean . . . Well, all this stuff in the papers and on the news, Mr. Vogel, about the . . . Frankly, Mr. Vogel, I don't like it."

Vogel turned to face Wilson. "Oh?" he asked. "You don't. Having a little attack of conscience, Wilson?"

Wilson sighed. "Well, doin' a job is one thing, but sendin' a man away to prison on a false charge is somethin' else. So I intended to tell ya-"

"Tell me what?" Vogel interrupted.

"Well, that I tell you that I refuse to let it go on any further."

"Oh," Vogel said, reaching for something in his coat. "You refuse."

"Yes," Wilson replied. "After all, Mr. Vogel, if I tell what I know about . . . Well, what are ya gonna do about it?"

"Just this," Vogel said sharply, pulling out his gun. "Don't move, Wilson!"

Wilson was horrified. "What are you doing? Put that gun down! Don't be a fool, Vogel!"

"I'm not a fool, Wilson. Now, turn your back to me."

Wilson turned, so he wasn't facing Vogel, and gulped. "What are you gonna do?"

"I'm going to insist on a little accident," Vogel replied. "Walk to that window."

"You can't do this to me! You can't!"

Vogel shut him up by saying, very firmly, "Walk!"

"Okay," Wilson said as he was near the window.

"Now, open the window and climb up on the windowsill."

"Just a moment, Mr. Vogel," the Shadow said.

"The Shadow!" Vogel exclaimed. "I though Trevors took care of you!"

"You really trusted that overgrown monkey? He might have been able to overtake me physically, but his mind is weak."

"You mean, you followed me here?" Vogel asked.

"Yes," the Shadow said, matter-of-factly. "Yes, I followed you here. It wasn't very difficult to get away from Mr. Trevors. It seems I arrived just in time for my proof."

"In time?" Vogel asked, aiming his gun at Wilson. "No!" He fired three times. "There, Shadow," he shouted. "There's your proof, lying dead on the floor!" He began laughing hysterically.

"You're crazy, Vogel," the Shadow said, calmly. "You're a fool."

"I'm not as crazy as you think. Heh, heh. So, I'm a fool, am I, Shadow? No, you're the fool for coming here! You're the fool, they'll find locked up in this room with Wilson's dead body! They'll find you, I'll see that they do! And here's the gun you killed him with!" Vogel shouted, tossing the gun on the floor, laughing as he walked out and slammed the door. "Why don't you try the window, Shadow?" he shouted as he left. "It's only fifteen stories to fall . . . "

"Shadow!" Wilson said, lying in a pool of his own blood.

"Wilson!" the Shadow said back. "Wilson, tell me, quick!"

"Oh, I'm done for," Wilson said, weakly.

"Quick! Quick, Wilson, give me the proof! The proof, Wilson! The proof that you framed Senator Bromine!"

Wilson groaned. "Ah, Senator . . . Bromine. . . "

The Shadow was getting anxious. "Come on, Wilson, come on! Tell me, how did you frame Senator Bromine?"

Wilson muttered random words, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Wilson!" the Shadow repeated as Wilson's head fell back, hitting the floor with a thump.

There was a knock on the door. "Victor? Victor? Are you all right?" It was Natalie's voice.

"I'm fine," the Shadow yelled back. "Unlock the door. The key's on the outside."

"Victor," Natalie said, running in. "I heard a shot and saw Vogel running out and couldn't wait. What happened?"

"If only I hadn't been so stupid," the Shadow said. "Waited so long. Wanted to find their secret before I spoke. And now . . . it's too late. Wilson is unconscious, dying. Vogel outwitted me, after all."

"Mr. Vogel," Wilson said, startling The Shadow and Natalie. "Shot me. In cold blood. Shot me, and ran for it."

"Wilson. Wilson, listen to me," the Shadow said. "Listen and think. Think. Tell me. How did you frame Senator Bromine? Tell me that, Wilson, and I'll see that Vogel pays for doing this to you."

"Senator Bromine, now I remember," Wilson said. "I'll show you. Help me into the next room, I'll show you."

The Shadow leaned down, and dropped his invisible shield. He grabbed one side of Wilson, and Natalie grabbed the other side. They gently lifted him up and escorted him into the next room.

The Shadow opened the door, revealing a small office like room with a computer in one corner, and all sorts of microphones and stereo pieces around the other edges.

"Looks like a recording studio," Natalie said.

"Yeah, that's right," Wilson said. "It's my hobby. I'm an impersonator by profession."

"An impersonator?" the Shadow asked.

"Yeah. Set me in that chair by the control panel. I've impersonated Senator Bromine's voice dozens of times." Wilson coughed. "Quick! Hand me the microphone."

Natalie put the microphone in front of him as Wilson moved the mouse of his computer to remove the screen saver.

"Press that button," he said, pointing to a red button on the screen. After Natalie clicked the record button, Wilson began speaking. "This is Tony Wilson speaking. I've just been shot by John Vogel. . . . "

The next day, Victor found himself back in court, along with Natalie and his grandfather. He smiled because he knew the case would be closed today.

The judge called the court to order.

The defense attorney began speaking. "Your Honor, I move that the case against my client, Senator Bromine, be dismissed."

"On what grounds?" the judge asked.

"Of the evidence contained on this disc, found in the apartment of the late Tony Wilson, the radio and stage impersonator, who was found shot in his apartment last night. I ask the court's permission to play it at this time."

"Permission granted," the judge said.

Within seconds, Tony Wilson's voice filled the courtroom. "This is Tony Wilson speaking. I've just been shot by John Vogel. He hired me to impersonate the voice of Senator Bromine. It's my voice on the soundtrack of the tape shown at Senator Bromine's trial. I'll show how I did it. Listen."

Wilson stopped speaking, and the voice changed to that of Senator Bromine. "Course. Of course, Renaldi, I told you you'll get the contract, for a consideration. But you didn't send me my present of half a million dollars for swinging it your way."

"Senator Bromine" stopped talking, and Wilson's voice returned. "That's . . . that's how it was done. . . . That's how I did it. Bromine's innocent. He never uttered those words. I did it. I . . ."

Wilson's voice stopped, and a thud was heard as his body fell out of the chair.

The courtroom began to murmur, and the judge banged his gavel. "Amazing, incredible."

"Your Honor!" the defense attorney said. "There is one more voice on the recording. At the end! Listen."

Then, a strangly familiar, deep voice resonated through the room. "The voice you have heard was that of Tony Wilson. Murdered by John Vogel. He was the man who sought to frame Senator Bromine. But Vogel failed, as in the end, all crime must fail and all criminals must pay."

The tape ended and the volume in the court went up. The judge called the court to order. "Who's voice was that?" he asked.

"That, Your Honor," the defense attorney said, "is the voice of the man whom Senator Bromine owes his vindication. The voice of The Shadow! He has returned!"

Later, on the ride home, Lamont asked his grandson how it felt to be the Shadow.

"It's great. I can't wait for my next adventure!" Victor replied.

"It'll come soon enough," Lamont said. "Because you only have a couple more days until you start school."

Next issue: Martian Manhunter makes his way to Earth! The Shadow returns in Spider-Man #7.