The American Automaton

I’ve always been less a fan of Steampunk in and of itself and more so of its trappings, including the obvious pseudo-Wellsian/Vernian grafting and the Wold Newton-type ‘throw everything awesome in 19th-20th Century literature in a blender and hit frappé’ approach. Basically, airships and Nautiluses don’t mean much to me unless they are captained by, respectively, Robur the Conqueror and Captain Nemo, though der Luftpirat Captain Mors will do in a pinch.

So, when I set out to write Steampunk, I unabashedly threw everything in but the kitchen sink and added a few non-traditional tropes just to keep things interesting.

I’m a big Peter Weller fan, and the idea of a deadpan, functionally immortal cybernetic lawman living through a turbulent period of human history that would feature, among other occurrences, a Martian invasion, a world war involving alchemical zombies and battle-automata and a counter-invasion and colonization of Mars by the League of Nations was strangely appealing. Thus, I concocted the following overly convoluted and Easter Egg-y origin story…

Mr. Brass, the Clockwork Pinkerton, AKA the American Automaton AKA Pinkerton’s Device, was formerly an agent of the Pinkerton Detective Agency who ran afoul of Dr. Frankenstein and the Mi-Go during an investigation in the years preceding the Martian War of 1888. The man who would become Brass had his brain extracted and placed in a Martian brain cylinder by the maniacal Dr. Frankenstein, a genetic terrorist and the World’s Most Wanted Man, then secretly working with the Mi-Go though he would ultimately betray them during the Battle of Ingolstadt in 1889.

The brain cylinder made its way into the hands of the infamous Devil Doctor and Lord of Strange Deaths, who sought to devise the perfect hunter to run Frankenstein to Earth, in retribution for a previous betrayal. Brass, as he was called, was recovered by Alan Pinkerton before he could be put to use by his creator, but not before a wondrous and intricately designed clockwork form had been designed to house the bodiless brain.

Mr. Brass was subsequently employed by the National Pinkerton Agency as a special agent of the American Government both prior to the Martian War and afterwards, battling enemies both foreign and domestic, extradimensional and interplanetary from 1886 well into the Twenty-First Century, his immortal brain persisting against all odds and his artificial body being upgraded and altered by the likes Johnny Brainerd, Thomas Edison and Doctor James Nemo Moran.

Mr. Brass has had ten appearances to date, not counting reprints. In no particular order, chronological or otherwise:

“Mr. Brass and the Dragons of Mars”

Mr. Brass safeguards President Theodore Roosevelt from alien monstrosities on a political jaunt to Mars. 

  • 2008 A Thousand Faces issue 5
  • TBA Red Planet Rising

“Mr. Brass and the Crimson Skies of Kansas”

Mr. Brass battles the monstrous Mr. Hyde and the devilish Hanoi Xan in order to save the life of Theodore Roosevelt.

“Mr. Brass and the Red Horror of Frankenstein”

Mr. Brass tries to prevent the escape of the World’s Most Dangerous Man–Dr. Victor Frankenstein!

“Mr. Brass and the Last Sudden Silence”

Mr. Brass descends into the Parisian catacombs to confront a phantasmal opponent and find a missing girl. 

“Mr. Brass and the Spawn of Frankenstein”

Mr. Brass discovers that while Dr. Frankenstein might be dead, but his creations live on.

  • 2011 Peculiar Adventures issue 2 (Pro Se Productions)

“Mr. Brass and the 7 Plagues of the Devil”

Mr. Brass and Professor Van Helsing battles seven deadly vampires in the wake of the San Francisco Earthquake. 

“Mr. Brass and the Devil’s Teeth”

Mr. Brass and retired outlaw Frank James confront a vicious pack of Confederista werewolves south of the border. 

“Mr. Brass and the Master of Serpents”

Mr. Brass joins forces with Bass Reeves and Harley Warren to stymie the machinations of the Master of Serpents.

“Mr. Brass and the Lonely Cry of the Moon”

Mr. Brass battles a lycanthropic castaway on the surface of the moon. 

  • 2013 Dark Monocle (Emby Press)

“Mr. Brass and the City of Devils”

Mr. Brass tracks an outlaw sorcerer to the devil-haunted ruin of the Nameless City. 

  • TBA Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium)

19 thoughts on “The American Automaton

    • I’m making a list of folks who would, you know. Once it hits a hundred, I’ll do it. Swanky MD Jackson cover art and everything. I’ve got all kinds of extras in mind for it, including comic scripts and such…

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    • That makes…ten. Get me 90 more and I’ll write the story where Mr. Brass and the Red Spider (AKA Eliot Ness) take on the might of Al Capone’s colonial Martian government…

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