The Deathless Men
Membership: Jack One (Aylmer Gregson, aka Colonel Von Reich), numerous other Jacks
Purpose: To kill top Nazis.
Enemies: Hitler, Goering, Otto von Leben, General Konrad, General Henkell
Base of Operations: Occupied Europe
First Appearance: "V for Vengeance," Wizard (1942)
History: Long before the start of World War II British Secret Service agent Aylmer Gregson infiltrated the Nazi party as Colonel Von Reich, swiftly rising in the Gestapo to become Heinrich Himmler's right hand man. He began recruiting a network of agents driven by intense hatred of the Nazi; many of them were former concentration camp victims who had been brutally tortured by their captors, and who were now believed dead - it is unclear whether they had escaped by themselves, or if Von Reich had managed to arrange their freedom and the records of their demise. Many of the recruits were hideously disfigured thanks to the Nazis; none feared dying, so long as they achieved their goals first. Thus the Deathless Men were formed, each codenamed Jack followed by a number; Gregson was Jack One. Knowing that fear was as great a weapon as guns, they dressed in grey from head to foot: Grey gloves, grey rubber shoes, grey coat and trousers, with a grey, virtually featureless leather mask topped by a grey hat, and all affected the same limping gait. The first Deathless Man to strike was a Czech named Kouniz, formerly a Buchenwald Concentration Camp inmate; he slew Paris' Chief Gestapo officer, Otto von Leben, a.k.a. the Butcher of Paris, as von Leben was driven through Paris in a chauffeur driven car, without the driver even noticing; a note was left by his body, headed with a large, blood-red letter V, then
V For Vengeance. The Free Peoples of Europe strike again. This rat is only one of many who will die. The oppressed peoples of France, Poland, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece and all the other occupied countries have cried aloud for vengeance for a long time. They have not cried in vain. The Deathless Men are answering their heartrending cries. It is now the turn of the tyrants, the murderers, the torturers to tremble. Before long all the undermentioned will share the fate of this rat. They cannot escape us. Their time is coming.
Below this was a lengthy list: Police, governors of captured cities, concentration camp commandants, Gestapo, S.S. and S.A officers, and finally Goebbels, Goering and Hitler. Von Leben's name was crossed from the list.
Though the Deathless Man was soon slain, the revelation that he had supposedly died nine months earlier shook the Germans, but not as much as the deaths of von Leben's replacements Konrad and then Henkell, all three assassinations within the space of 24 hours; with each new victim there was another copy of the note with an additional name struck out. Ironically Von Reich was sent to Paris to investigate the case, finding to his hidden amusement that fear was spreading through the German ranks, terror that the dead were coming back to life seeking revenge, and a realisation that if the Deathless Men didn't fear death then no Nazi was safe. The Deathless Men soon spread their activities to other parts of occupied Europe, even striking in Berlin itself. One successfully assassinated Hitler, only to find his victim was merely a double of the Führer. The Deathless Men operated until Hitler's death and the capture of Berlin. On the 30th April 1945, Jack One struck the last name off their Death List, as he and his fellow Deathless Men stood over Hitler's burned corpse after the Fuhrer had committed suicide; with the fall of the Nazi regime, Jack One gave his final order, telling his men to unmask.
Comments: Initially a text strip in the 1940s, the final text strip "Red Vengeance" was published in 1961. The series was revived in the 1970s in Hotspur as a comic strip.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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