Sunday, June 21, 2015

Crossover of the Week

December 1939
            New York private eye Rick Ruby witnesses the murder of a policeman inside a tenement, right before the building bursts into flames. Detective Jack McGinnis tells Ruby that his partner is with Mason down at the 87th coaxing witnesses to view a suspect in a robbery-homicide. The murdered cop’s father hires Ruby to investigate the man’s death, meeting with him at an Indian restaurant called the Gunga Diner at the corner of 40th and 7th. Ruby goes to the Keeler Mission on 21st to question the former inhabitants of the tenement building. The mission’s chef, a black man named Collier, tells him that the lady who started the mission is deceased: “She stepped out that front door with her beau and was run down just like that. Going on ten years now.” Among the tenants interviewed by Ruby are a man named Charlie and his pregnant girlfriend, Sylvia Kovacs. The cop and his father live on the second floor of a three-story walkup next to the Rumrunner bar on 43rd.
            Short story by Andrew Salmon in The Ruby Files Vol. 1, Ron Fortier, ed., Airship 27 Productions, 2012. Mason is Hollis Mason, a policeman who also operated as a masked vigilante known as Nite-Owl in the 1930s and 1940s; he appears in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic book series Watchmen. The Gunga Diner is also from Watchmen, as are Charlie and Sylvia Kovacs, the parents of the mentally unstable vigilante Rorschach, and the Rumrunner bar. Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe where the existence of a virtually omnipotent superhuman being called Doctor Manhattan led to advanced technology (such as electrically-powered cars), the United States winning the Vietnam War, and presidential term limits being repealed, so that Richard Nixon still leads the country in the mid 1980s. Also, half the population of New York City is wiped out in the course of the series. The Mason, Gunga Diner, Charlie, Sylvia Kovacs, and Rumrunner in “Wounds” must be Crossover Universe versions of their equivalents in the Watchmen Universe. There is no solid evidence that Hollis Mason ever operated as Nite-Owl in the CU, nor Walter Kovacs as Rorschach. The Keeler Mission was started by Edith Keeler, who died in 1930, as seen in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” an episode of the original Star Trek series written by Harlan Ellison. Mr. Collier is the father of Impossible Missions Force member Barney Collier from the 1960s spy show Mission: Impossible. Since Star Trek and Mission: Impossible take place in the CU, so do Rick Ruby’s cases.


  1. I think the 87th precinct mention might be a reference to Ed McBain's 87th Precinct police procedural novels. The books happened in a fictional city of Isola, but Isola is basically New York. Even more so than Gotham City is. I've spent a total of a week in New York and I could pick out the similarities. The 87th Precinct and Steve Carella from the series is apparently mentioned in The Stand.

    In my opinion, being an alternative universe to the CU is the next best thing to being in the CU. Watchmen, for all the reasons you point out, cannot take place in the CU, but it's nice to know it's out there in the Multiverse. I am hoping Kurt Busiek's Astro City could also be an AU. (There is an issue that mentions supernatural horrors in various towns in New England. These were real towns, but they were the ones that inspired the fictional ones in Lovecraft's fiction.)