Longshot #1

Issue Date: 
September 1985
Story Title: 
A Man without a Past

Ann Nocenti (writer & co-creator), Arthur Adams (penciler & Cocreator), Anderson & Portacio (Inks), Joe Rosen (letterer), Christie Scheele (colors), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief), Bill

Brief Description: 

On another world, an amnesiac young man flees for his life, hunted by several monsters. He comes across a dimensional portal and enters. The others follow but, unlike him, they are stuck in-between. The young man ends up in New York, where he saves a woman’s life with his unnatural luck. Fleeing from the cops, he befriends a survivalist named Eliot. Reading about a kidnapping in the newspaper, the young man and Eliot visit the child’s mother. The stranger ‘reads’ a doll the kidnappers left and leads Eliot and Hester to a strange mill, where the monsters who had followed him now intend to sacrifice the child to create a way back. Using his luck, the stranger saves the child, learning along the way that his luck is dependant on the pureness of the motives. He is assisted in his struggle by a strange little critter, who is actually part of the demon hunters. Before he leaves Hester and Eliot, Eliot christens him Longshot. The young man walks off with the critter, not quite sure whether he can trust him.

Full Summary: 

The rainy landscape is red and torn by explosions – caused by the bullets of several inhuman, monstrous-looking hunters, hot on the heels of an extraordinarily handsome, fine-boned young man with a blond mullet and clad in a black leather uniform. Perhaps he is not as human as he may look on first sight either, as his left eye is aglow and his hands miss a digit each. He wouldn’t know the answer to that question himself. He only knows that he is frightened and that these troops want him bad… but he doesn’t remember why.

He feels both his hearts trying to smash out of his chest. All the colors and smells around him are wrong. But what’s strangest of all is the fact that all the hunters’ shots are missing him. Either he’s already dead, he figures, or he’s suddenly become wildly lucky.

Suddenly, he stops in a clearing. Ahead of him dozens of tiny lights – spitfires - swirl in the air. He turns to the hunters, assuring them that whatever it is, he didn’t do it. He thinks. Not that he really knows. He can’t remember. He finds they are right behind him, while in front of him the lights coalescing into one blinding glare. He figures he is dead either way and takes his chances. He jumps into the light circle, a small, furry creature doing so at the same time. The circle swallows the runner but the rest are caught… neither here nor there. The clearing is empty… nothing left.

Upstate New York. An elderly lady is about to be run down by a runaway car. The woman calls out for the saints. Her prayers are answered in an unexpected way, as the light circle opens in the air beside her and the runner is tossed through it… as well as the small furry creature. Reacting instantaneously, he pulls the woman aside and the car crashes into the corner of an old building instead. The collision causes a bag of old silver dollars hidden in a gargoyle on that building to fall from the street.

The onlookers marvel at all that luck. Their attention turns to the handsome stranger, who saved the woman. The ladies in the crowd fall head over heels for him and others curiously ask who that lucky guy is and where he comes from. For the stranger, it is entirely too much. He wants to tell them his name, but can’t, he begins a few half sentences before finally asking where he is.

The crowd’s mood shifts and they turn away disappointed, believing he’s some kind of nutcase. A cop starts to question him, believing he is on drugs. It is entirely too much and the young man runs away.

He pauses for a moment when he sees the glare of the sun, something apparently unfamiliar to him, as he wonders what that big light up there is. Colors and sounds out of sync… Where are the spitfires? He holds onto a corner, mumbling this is a godless place and wondering a moment later what ‘godless’ means. He catches sight of his face mirrored in a shop window and feels that it is not quite familiar… not quite him, but then who…?

Suddenly, he swirls around in attack modes. Somebody’s snuck up on him. The middle-aged man tells him to calm down. They are from the same side of the track. He admires the young man’s “fall-out gear.” He introduces himself as Elliot. No last name. He expects the young man to understand. Eliot believes the young man is a survivalist like him. He recalls this trick back there. He sure beat the odds. What a longshot, he marvels. The stranger better watch out they don’t make him a hero. Visibility is too high! He tells the man he can look him up, if he wants to and tells him where he lives. Survivalists have to stick together. Now they better split up. The crowd is coming.

The people ignore Eliot. They want the other man. The young stranger has no idea what Eliot was talking about, but finds outrunning the others easy. This whole sluggish place seems o run in slow motion. He stops and sinks down finally succumbing to hysterics. Looking up, he sees the mannequins of a leather goods store. Mistaking them for alive, he asks why they keep staring at him. They could at least say something or smile. Angry at their rudeness, he enters the store, demanding they talk to him. The shop assistant is instantly smitten by the handsome young eccentric and, after he complains about their behavior, she explains that they are just mannequins. Unlike her.

She takes off the mannequin’s coat and asks him to try it on. Misunderstanding it as a gift, he tells her it’ll help hide her from the troops and leaves. He owes money! she protests. Owe him what? he asks cheerfully. He doesn’t even know money! Story of her life, she thinks. If they’re handsome, they’re nuts. She turns to call the cops.

Night time. Somewhere within free nature, the young man stares at the Manhattan skyline far away. What is he missing? He can feel the answer at the edges dimly. Someone must miss him. He wonders who he was, whom he knew… loved? Or maybe he’s forgotten because he’s scared! But he must have had dreams…

‘Hold it!’ he shouts, as a twig snaps. His left eye glows and he throws a bunch of tiny knives at the source of the noise. ‘You and your lucky shots,’ the small critter moans. It is a furry small creature, the one who slipped in through the hole in reality with him. He tells the man that he is a friendly beast. The young man apologizes. He shouldn’t go attack a critter on his own turf. He does look familiar though. Apparently, this is his homeworld, after all. Changing the subject, the critter asks if he knows a way home. Isn’t this home? the young man asks. The creature thinks to himself that he is really confused.

The young man explains that he is off to see that Eliot guy. They reach a shack with several ‘no trespassing’ signs in front of it. Eliot waves to the stranger, telling him to wait until he has shut off the traps and explosives. The youngster wants to introduce his new friend but finds that the critter has left him.

Eliot leads him inside. What seems like a shack on the outside actually is a bunker. Eliot boasts about the radiation shields and his survival rations. All taste good too, except maybe the freeze-dried ice cream. The world’s going to blow and he is ready. He babbles on about the end of the Earth and the few who control the planet: the trilaterals, Bell Tel and Con Ed. He tells the man to read the papers. It’s all between the lines. The connections, the power-brokers …

The young man does indeed read the papers and finds a story that interests him: a baby was kidnapped. He’d like to get it back. Eliot is surprised. Nobody pays attention to petty crime. An intruder alert rings, alerting Eliot. People are closing in. Probably they think one of them stole the brat, he sighs before agreeing to help the stranger find the baby. He tells him to choose his weapons and adds that the mother is a town girl named Hester. Appropriate enough, as she wears the scarlet letter. Using a trap door hidden under the bed, they leave as Eliot asks for the stranger’s name.

Elsewhere, in an empty rundown room, a young woman huddles in the corner, wishing she were dead, after her baby was abducted and her dog was killed. She shouts at the two men to go away. The young stranger tries to calm her, assuring her they’ll find the baby and asks her to tell them what she remembers. Hester tells them that the kidnappers weren’t human. They screeched a garbled psychotic mess of words. She hands him a broken painted doll and explains that they left the doll in place of the child.

The young man announces that he is going to read the doll’s past and future. Hester fears that he is crazy, while Elliot decides that some pagan hippie cult has to be behind this. Or black market babysellers. The young man’s left eye starts to glow, as he receives images of inhuman creatures. This planet’s wild beasts, he figures. Preconscious, stuck between words at a winged tower. The mother’s love left a strong psychic imprint of the incident. So did something else. They needed innocence, he announces … the baby to open a doorway. He can follow their trail. Hester becomes convinced that the man is beyond crazy. He’s… right.

The man grabs an iron and a fork, asking Hester if he may use these weapons. Eliot is doubtful but tries to calm Hester, telling her it was probably wolves. They’ll get the baby back and stuff the hippies into the Smithonian, where relics belong. Outside, the cops follow, believing the mother to be in on this.

Eliot and Hester follow the stranger to an Indian burial ground and Eliot relates that some nut built a windmill here, to capture the winds of ill repute. Down through the years, there’s been all kinds of metaphysical quacks to find the secret of the place. Usually they end up dead. They finally notice the cops on their trail. Complaining about the social contract, Eliot uses his survival gear and a net to trap them.

Later, they’ve finally arrived at the windmill. He should never have followed a longshot Eliot thinks by now, but the stranger assures them the air is sick with their stink – just around the corner. The windmill is lit and on its roof stand creatures unlike anything on Earth. The stranger recognizes this as some kind of ritual to rip open space, although he himself does not know why he is aware of this. Several monsters, which are still below, notice him and have murder on their mind. There’s still time enough to slay him, they decide.

The stranger assures Hester he will get her child and, over Eliot’s protests, jumps amongst the monsters. He moves fast but he cannot touch them as they fade out. Who cares, he thinks. All he wants is the baby. Calling him ‘lucky one’ one of the creatures accuses him of having stuck them here. He tore them from their world. They hate him.

Realizing that the creatures know him, the stranger asks them who he is. The creature snarls that he knows… and he will be left behind. So focused on the demons and the questions in his mind he is now, he has forgotten about the baby - while above, the demons are amused about the revelation that the Spineless Ones have scraped the ‘Lucky One’s’ mind. The six-armed woman called Spiral wants to taunt him, but the demon tells her to continue her dance. They are close. It’ll be vengeance enough to leave him behind with his wiped mind.

The Lucky One is still trying to fight phased demons, until one of the creatures unphases and releases energy that hits him away as well as ignites the wooden tower. Eliot drags the young man up, telling him he’s a show-off. He forgot he was fighting for the baby. But he wanted to know who he was, the stranger defends himself, before admitting that Eliot is right. He got selfish. Something was wrong… or missing. He’s got to keep his motives pure, Eliot chides him. He can’t expect luck to pull punches for him. The young man’s eye begins to glow. He has understood something. Soon as he forgot the baby… he felt something slip away. He wasn’t on anymore. He’d lost his way. They’ll go right for the baby now.

He tells them to follow him and climb up one side of the valley. Eliot mumbles that all his mechanical tools have glitches. Something about this whole valley is out of sync. Two creatures with animal heads see them. One wants to strike, but the other one, with a one-eyed ram-head orders him to stay away. The lucky one belongs to him.

The trio has finished their climb. Eliot announces that those wolves weren’t ordinary. They must be mutants caused by radiation. As soon as they’re done there, they’d better go to his shelter. Hester disagrees. These aren’t mutants. They’re myths come alive. The stranger tells them that they are too slow. He’ll meet them at the top. When he gets there, he’ll swing his rope out to the tower, and walk over it to the baby. Eliot protests. These stakes are impossible. They can’t trust him and his longshots. There’s a child’s life at stake. They need a plan, not dumb luck. Hester begs him to have faith in miracles.

The young man now stands opposite the burning tower and senses the air warping. At least the fire and the now-arrived search party will keep the demons busy. He attaches the rope to the fork and swings it. He reminds himself that he’s got to keep his motives pure. He knows the way… the miracles will follow. The fork catches onto the other side, but one of the demons, Gog, kicks it away, shouting that his luck has a flipside. He’ll leave him to his brainless destiny… the fate of never knowing. He turns away telling the others to focus on the final ritual.

With the demons’ attention elsewhere, the young man tries again, aims lower and makes a one-in-a-million shot. Gog tells Spiral to continue the movement and wishes that his son, Magog, were with them.

In the meantime, the young man balances across the rope, hoping he won’t be seen. However, he didn’t tie the end of the rope well and it begins to slip. Suddenly, the impending fall is halted by the critter he met before. He tightens the rope, thinking to himself that he hates to do this, but he has his reasons. He silently apologizes to his father, Gog, for not killing him.

The young man smiles. Now he knows he’ll make it. He barely reaches the mill when the ceremony has reached its climax and Spiral is about to sacrifice the child. The young man swings the iron right through the creatures. Momentarily, they dissipate. Only for seconds, but it’s time enough for the young man to grab the baby and begin his way back across the rope. One of the demons notices him and curses. He has ruined them again. Now they won’t go back until he’s dead, he vows. Repeating his vow, he zaps the rope with a gun. It snaps and the young man, still holding onto the baby with one hand and the rope with the other, falls, only to be luckily pulled up onto the cliff by Eliot.

Heather thanks him profusely while down below the demons fade out in front of the hysterical cops. Eliot smirks that they’ll go to their graves wondering about this day and those critters… then again, so will he. Finally, the cops notice the young man up there and, still believing him to be the kidnapper, begin to make their way up the cliff.

Eliot observes that he is as out of sync as this alley. Who is he anyway? Heather adds that she doesn’t even know his name. Embarrassed, the young man tells them to all him whatever they like. He calls him Longshot, Eliot pipes up. Maybe, but his longshots work, Hester agrees. The newly-christened Longshot tells the two of them good-bye. Touched, Eliot advises him to get hold of some money. It’s the best unit of energy stored around. Now he’d better get out before the girl starts crying …

Longshot decides to get some money after he finds those demons. ‘Psst,’ somebody whispers to him. It’s the critter who saved his life, amused about his new name. Should he keep the name, Longshot asks. Sure, the critter agrees. That’s what he is… a miraculous Longshot. He’ll see.

Hey!, Longshot exclaims. Does he know something about him he isn’t telling? Nah, the critter claims and Longshot decides he had better watch him as the walk off together.

Characters Involved: 


Eliot (a survivalist)

Hester (a young mother)

Hester’s baby

Lovestruck shop assistant

Old lady, Cops and other bystanders

Quark (unnamed)

Gog, Magog and more creatures hunting Longshot


Story Notes: 

First appearance ever of Longshot and Spiral.

Eliot’s remark about Hester and the scarlet letter refer to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter, about a young woman named Hester Prynne, who in a Puritan society has a child out of wedlock and was branded with the scarlet letter ‘A’ for adultery as a result.

Elliot is evidently a conspiracy theorist. He mentions “trilaterals,” referring to the Trilateral Commission, a private organization formed in 1973 to promote closer ties between North America, Europe and Japan. Because of the powerful people involved and the group’s privacy, some theorists have postulated that they are secretly running the world.

Issue Information: 
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