All-Star Squadron: 1942: Gender Gasp, Chapter 1: Star Sapphire’s Demands

by Libbylawrence

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A colorful figure materialized in the White House, and security guards scrambled, only to stiffen into immobile states around the gleaming woman.

“I am the Star Sapphire, Hereditary Matriarch of the Seventh Dimension,” the figure said. “Bring forth the male designated President Roosevelt immediately.”

A female aide raced to summon Franklin Delano Roosevelt, since every male in the White House was frozen or entranced. FDR rolled out in his wheelchair along with his wife Eleanor and a few women who could still react.

“Ah, by your freedom to speak and move in that chair, you show yourself to be president. I wonder why you lead when that strong-willed woman is available!” The Star Sapphire pointed at Eleanor Roosevelt, who bravely stood by her husband’s side.

“You have me at a disadvantage,” said FDR, glancing at his old pal Harry Hopkins, who was stiff and silent. “What is this invasion? Have you harmed Harry and the others?”

The Star Sapphire — which was a title, not the personal name of the alien being — laughed. “I have all men at a disadvantage, for such is the nature of my star gem and of the correct order of the universe. Women rule, men serve.” Her revealing black outfit left her arms and legs bare, except for a dark fishnet material over boots and gloves.

“I have taken the dominant males — ah, such an oxymoron! Your Superman, Green Lantern, and others are now mine. To receive mercy for your defenseless world at war, surrender America to my velvet glove.”

The Roosevelts exchanged shocked looks as the dynamic intruder faded away with a lingering laugh and the words, “You have two Earth days to decide.”

“Call the women of the All-Star Squadron!” ordered FDR.

***

The Sandman and Sandy raced through the dark streets in his souped-up yellow roadster. “There! To the right!” yelled the blond teenager called Sandy the Golden Boy, pointing to a shadowy figure slipping away amidst the shadows. The gas-masked driver nodded and swerved the costly car to cut off the fleeing figure.

“Reynolds!” whispered Sandy.

The man they were pursuing was named Roy Reynolds, a self-proclaimed genius of the getaway gimmicks, and while he was indeed a pro at making escapes, it had been smarter of him to merely sell such plans to professional thieves and robbers. The redheaded Getaway Genius had nevertheless decided to eliminate the middleman and commit his own crimes. (*) It had proven to be a bad idea with dozens of heroes around. He had easily made his way into a jewelry store and had escaped equally undetected, but now pure bad luck had brought him face to mask with one of the first of the mystery-men — the Sandman.

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-2 Getaway Genius is based on the Earth-1 foe of Batman, as first seen in “Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks,” Batman #170 (March, 1965).]

“No! Not you! Not to me!” he whined.

“‘Fraid so, you loser!” said Sandy as he vaulted out of the car.

“Careful!” warned the Sandman through a voice-muffling gas mask.

Sandy pushed Reynolds against a wall and turned back to say, “This guy is no sweat!” Reynolds shook the boy’s bravado, however, by pulling a gun that fired a thick gooey substance. “Hey, I’m pinned by this stuff!” said a dismayed Sandy.

“You’ll mock a lesser man, but not Roy Reynolds, the genius of the getaway gimmicks!” promised the villain.

The Sandman nimbly jumped out of the car and kicked the gun away from the thug, who fought back by leaping on the green-suited avenger. They rolled to the ground, and Reynolds seemed to be winning.

“I’m beating the Sandman!” he crowed in shock.

Then the tide turned as the Sandman deliberately hit a button on Reynolds’ harnessed suit. “AAAHH!” he screamed as powerful rotors whipped out from his back and spun him not to freedom but to unguided impact with a brick wall.

The Sandman ran forward and slugged the stunned Getaway Genius with as much force as possible. It worked. The criminal fell down, and Sandy glued him to the pavement with his own discarded adhesive gun. “Luckily this stuff dissolves the goo, too!” quipped Sandy as he used the gun to free himself.

The Sandman nodded and called the police. As Reynolds was carted off, the hero did a very odd thing. The Sandman drove off with Sandy by his side, and as they were safely out of sight on deserted roads, the hero took off the mask and hat and shook out long, flowing, black hair.

The lovely Dian Belmont smiled as she drove the yellow car. “Nice job. I hope I fooled the cops as well as Reynolds. I also hope this disguise is temporary, Sandy. You know I’m still recovering from my injuries last summer from the last time I dressed up like this, and I had to pretend I died. (*) Wes has to turn up soon.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret Origin of Tarantula,” All-Star Squadron #18 (February, 1983).]

The boy looked at his aunt, who was wearing his mentor’s costume. “I hope so. ‘Til then, we owe it to him to keep the city safe.”

“Guess I can’t fool anyone in the new, tight, gold and purple suit, huh?” asked the curvy, black-haired beauty.

Sandy laughed, and they raced off, hiding the fear and worry in their loyal hearts.

***

At the All-Star Squadron Headquarters, Wonder Woman gazed across the table. She saw faces she knew — Liberty Belle and the slightly resentful one of Hawkgirl — as well as less-well-known ones such as Phantom Lady, Firebrand, and the Doll Girl. “The president asked me to call all of you here as an Amazon war council of old,” said the only remaining member of the Justice Battalion, “to form a plan to deal with the Star Sapphire from the Seventh Dimension, and her demands that he surrender America to her rule in exchange for the safety of our male members.”

“It’s always something, isn’t it?” said Firebrand. “We just finished with that Ultra case a couple of days ago, and the JSA just defeated Kulak yesterday! (*) Can we at least find a few more members to help out?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Ultra War,” All-Star Squadron Annual #2 (1983) and “By Hatred Possessed,” All-Star Squadron #28 (December, 1983).]

Liberty Belle smoothed a long blonde lock out of her eyes and said, “Well, I can’t locate Miss America; she’s been unseen for some time now. The Red Tornado is still out there, though, and she and our younger members such as Robin and Speedy are keeping order out in the streets as best they can.”

“The priority is saving Hawkman and the others, in case you forgot,” snapped Hawkgirl. “I don’t see why the JSA’s glorified secretary is laying down the law, anyway. I was wearing this halter and mask before she ever even saw a man!

Firebrand whispered to Belle, “She is really a stuck-up witch. She gives all society babes a bad name.”

Liberty Belle shushed the redhead and said, “She’s sick with worry about Carter Hall. They’re true soul-mates from out of ancient history. Plus, she is jealous that the JSA made Diana a member instead of her.”

Wonder Woman leaned in and said, “Shiera, I am only here at the table’s head because the president contacted me first, due to my being based in D.C., and my military contacts. Please rest assured I miss my JSA teammates as fully as do we all.”

Shiera took off her hawk mask to reveal truly lovely features and long auburn hair. “I’m sorry.”

“I understand the Seven Soldiers of Victory have also vanished, along with most Squadron members,” said Phantom Lady.

“The Shining Knight, the Vigilante, the Crimson Avenger and Wing, Green Arrow, and Stripesy vanished, leaving their teenage members Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid alone and shocked,” reported a concerned Firebrand.

“I think we can save them, Dann,” said Belle soothingly as she thought of Johnny Quick.

The Doll Girl, alias Martha Roberts, was the fiancée of Darrel Dane, the Doll Man, who disappeared in December just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. (*) When Darrel didn’t return, Martha had daringly used his shrinking serum and a modified version of his costume against her father’s wishes to become the Doll Man’s temporary replacement. Having a few adventures of her own under the name of the Doll Girl, she had gained just enough fame from her deeds in New York City over the last two months for some of these other heroic women to have heard of her. Still, she didn’t think Darrel’s disappearance had anything to do with the current rash of abductions, and thus never brought up Doll Man’s absence. She sat at five-and-a-half inches on the table and missed her Darrel, too, but work kept her mind clear of worry and despair.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis on Earth-X: The Prequel,” All-Star Squadron #32 (April, 1984).]

“Why have only adult males vanished?” asked Phantom Lady.

“I assume the Star Sapphire’s magic has less power over women, since she’s from what she calls a matriarchal society,” said Belle. “Must be a safeguard from her female buddies there in la-la land.”

“Maybe she just knows boys are more fun!” teased the sultry Phantom Lady.

“Some costume on — or perhaps I should say not on — that one, huh?” whispered Doll Girl to Belle, glancing at Sandra Knight, the Phantom Lady.

Wonder Woman added, “I agree with Belle. The Amazons had certain defenses against males, but not women as well.”

“So what’s the plan?” asked Hawkgirl.

“We fight her, and we try to persuade her to bring them back with help from my lasso, possibly,” said Diana.

“How can a babe who took down Superman and maybe even the Spectre be tamed by a bathing beauty with a rope?” said Hawkgirl, who paused for a moment after her outburst. “Seriously, Diana, excuse my mouth, but how did she capture the Spectre?” asked Shiera.

“I doubt she did. He is not at work, but he could well be away from this realm on his own,” said Liberty Belle.

“Work? What is he, a Karloff double or an undertaker?” quipped Firebrand.

“He is a force beyond your ken,” said a newcomer.

“Who? We’ve yet to have our first major Squadron meeting, so we don’t know all the mystery-women,” explained Belle.

“I am Rose Psychic, and I have a plan to save our country, if you’ll but trust me,” said a severe-looking, black-haired woman who had walked in unseen by the others.

Rose Psychic suddenly came into the light, and the gathered heroines parted to let her pass. “The Spectre is indeed free and away on his own,” said Rose. “However, my beloved Doctor Occult has also been taken by the Star Sapphire, and only you all can free him and the other male heroes. This is the symbol of the Seven. It can send you to four realms lost in time, space, and reality from your world. In those four realms lie four pieces of a gemstone, an opal designed eons ago by the males who mated with the Seventh Dimension’s women rulers. The assembled gem can best the Sapphire’s power, but her ancestress shattered it across four realms as a defense. I can send you in teams of two to retrieve the opal shards.”

Wonder Woman spoke for all. “We gladly accept, but will there be enough of us? Our ally Dian Belmont is posing as Sandman, along with Red Tornado and the boy heroes. They keep peace in the streets.”

“I think we just found some help!” said Libby, pointing at the entering women, who floated down.

Doris Lee carried a gravity rod and wore a modified Starman uniform. Her comrade was a lovely redhead named Inza Cramer. She was Doctor Fate’s lover and wore his uniform with cape and amulet but only his more Earthly half-helmet.

“We came to help,” explained Inza, brushing back long red hair that flowed out of the golden helmet. “Please allow us to join you. Doctor Fate and Starman need help. We love them.”

“So be it!” vowed Rose. “Your clothes and language will conform to the lands in which you journey. Some are part of this world’s history, and others may be alternate realms that may or may not ever be. I’ll return you when I sense you find your opal shards.”

Liberty Belle and Wonder Woman paired up, as did Firebrand and Phantom Lady. Hawkgirl and Inza Cramer as a female Doctor Fate were a team, while Doris Lee as Starwoman waited with the tiny Doll Girl. They shimmered as Rose’s disk glowed and sent them on their desperate quests.

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