All-Star Squadron: 1942: Gender Gasp, Chapter 6: Possessions

by Libbylawrence

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To the amazement of the gathered mystery-women, an energy opening appeared behind the Star Sapphire and widened to reveal the entranced men of the All-Star Squadron. Through this hole popped Hawkman, Mister Terrific, Sargon the Sorcerer, the Whip, the Green Lantern, Robotman, the Atom, and the Ray. They all wore emotionless expressions on their entranced faces and seemed somehow distant and removed from the reality around them.

The energy hole started to shrink, and a suddenly energized Doll Girl abandoned their previously planned tactic involving the package. On impulse she leaped through the rapidly closing hole and vanished as it popped shut. The Star Sapphire did not notice the tiny woman and her larger bag pass through, since she was busy gloating over the startled All-Star women.

She laughed again and said, “I have brought your males to you, but as you can see, they only have eyes for me!” The entranced All-Star males bowed to the Star Sapphire like gladiators going into combat honoring their emperor. She smiled and said, “Kill the women and serve me well!”

Robotman leaped in front of the others and charged toward the girls. No trace of Robotman’s normal humor and mercy was in sight. Only madness remained on his determined metallic features. Wonder Woman pushed in front of the other women. She knew only her strength could easily face his mechanical power. “Bob, control yourself! Don’t let her enslave your still-human mind!” she urged, but to no avail. It was precisely due to his all-too-human mind that the artificial man was under Star Sapphire’s sway. He and Wonder Woman linked hands and began an earnest struggle for mastery, pitting his metal dynamos against her Amazon fury.

Nearby, the agile Liberty Belle nimbly ducked under a fierce swing from the short but skilled Atom, alias Al Pratt. Al’s able to knock me cold if he connects, Belle thought, but his mind and skills are not under his own control. Hope that’ll slow him enough! No emotion could be seen, since his blue hood covered his boyish features entirely. However, if Belle could have peered beneath the Calvin College champion’s mask, she would have seen little human feeling.

The Green Lantern blazed out with a nimbus of fiery green flame surrounding his dramatic features. His ring jetted fiery energy toward the admittedly fearful Doris Lee and her gravity rod. “I don’t know how I can face Green Lantern! Ted says no one can equal him in terms of raw power!” She created a shield of stellar force and looked for some way to survive the emerald gladiator’s grim assault.

Sandra Knight screamed as the able Mister Terrific landed a right hook. She fell and rolled out of his way, only to find herself struck by the cracking whip of the aptly named El Castigo, the Whip.

Shiera faced her soulmate, Carter Hall the Hawkman. He ignored her loving entreaties and charged toward his once and hopefully future lover. “Carter, fight it! I love you!” she pleaded. He narrowly missed her in a powerful bear hug that would have snapped her ribs. She thrust out the magical crystal knife and hoped the artifact that had brought them together years before would alter his rage. He grabbed at it blindly as if it was any normal weapon or object.

As his hand closed around it, a shock surged through his muscled body, and his future bride closed her own well-manicured hand across his. She gasped as she found herself looking somehow down on their still forms from some distant mental or astral realm. We are on some non-material plane! She faced her lover, and out of sight of the other combatants they waged a fierce mental struggle of will and soul. Each tried to dominate the other. A Hawk emblem enshrouded her lovely astral form, or ka, while a purple, poisonous-looking glow enveloped Carter Hall’s spirit.

Below, and unaware of the battle beyond, stood the dashing, handsome form of Sargon the Sorcerer. His Ruby of Life flared up, while his brown eyes remained woefully glazed. He closed in on Rose Psychic, who held out her Symbol of the Seven uncertainly. He touched a wall, and hands sprang forth to grab at the nervous Rose as she summoned a mystic defense. He has more experience than I do, and he’s so strong-willed, she thought. I read his aura, and it speaks only of greatness.

Inza Cramer dodged a charged Ray, whose glowing form shone with power drawn from the morning light and the room’s bright illumination. She was hit hard and fell to the ground. She rose again and clipped his fleet form with a strong punch.

Liberty Belle tripped the charging human dynamo known as the Atom, and his short form fell. She kicked him in the chin, and he shrugged off her blow all too soon. Wonder Woman heaved, and the metallic might of Robotman inched backward beneath her awesome strength.

Firebrand tossed flame at the circling Mister Terrific, who pulled away nimbly. He left Phantom Lady crying beneath the Whip’s skilled lashes. She reeled as the whip struck her bare legs, and she blinded Rod Gaynor with her black light. While the Whip was blinded, the talented Miss Knight rolled free of his whip and hit him squarely in the chin. She followed up with a one-two combination that dropped the western hero to the floor. Panting from the exertion, Sandy sank down to catch her breath.

Mister Terrific moved like the skilled acrobat he was. He agilely leaped up and spun through the air to catch the startled Firebrand unaware. His swift left stunned the redhead, and she fell to the ground. He landed precisely on top of her and sent her to dreamland.

Liberty Belle flipped the mighty Atom over her shoulder and kicked at Mister Terrific. He turned and caught her boot heel as if by some extra sense. She swung around and caught him with a Japanese martial arts kick. He dropped her and fell into the Atom’s right hook. Belle brought an Oval Office chair down on their close heads, and neither mystery-man moved. “That was all too close!” she sighed.

Green Lantern’s huge energy fist then smashed through Doris’ shield, and she shrieked. The entranced hero left the now-helpless Doris trapped in a tight, crushing grip. Wonder Woman, seeing her plight, dropped to the floor; her heels slammed into Robotman, and she lifted him up and over her head to crash into the wall. “Up and over! Just like Mala and I used to do back on Paradise Island!” she laughed.

She jumped up and tossed the chair Belle had used, and it splintered against her close friend Alan Scott, the Green Lantern. The wooden mess hit his head, and he fainted instantly. Doris fell free as well, as his energy construct disappeared. Doris panted and waved the gravity rod at the metal man. Robotman was enclosed in a sphere of stellar power, and on a hunch, Starwoman flew off, towing him behind her streaking figure.

As they raced out of D.C., Robotman stopped struggling and, to her delight, asked, “What is this? Starman? No, obviously not!” He seemed to have a warmth about his cold voice and electronic eyes that had been missing under Star Sapphire’s control.

“Thank goodness!” she exclaimed. “Her power has a range. Away from her, you are free again. I guess if she pops up here she could enslave you again by ambush, as she must have done to all you boys!” They rested on a hill, and she explained all to the brilliant Bob Crane.

***

Meanwhile, Sargon the Sorcerer had entombed Rose Psychic in a glass cage formed from the hanging chandelier. He also fell when Inza Cramer landed on him like a blue and gold pile of bricks. He seemed only dazed, but it was enough to give Rose time to shatter her prison with the gleaming Symbol of the Seven.

The Star Sapphire herself had watched the fights with unhidden glee. She snarled as her pawns fell to the teamwork of the heroines. The Ray dropped like a rock as Sandra Knight enveloped him in darkness. He almost blasted out when the fleet speed of Wonder Woman enabled her to stun him with a right cross. “So I must bring forth others to duel with you!” vowed an amused Sapphire.

Here we go again! thought Belle.

Meanwhile, Shiera Sanders and Carter Hall struggled onward until, in what looked far less dramatic than the other fights, Carter Hall — Prince Khufu, the Hawkman — found himself. He was free once more, and he embraced his girlfriend eagerly. The couple remained entwined when the other fights ended.

***

Meanwhile, the Doll Girl had emerged into the Seventh Dimension, where she gasped at the sight of the All-Star Squadron men entranced in a line. Some were in costume, such as Wildcat, the Flash, Stripesy, the Crimson Avenger, and more, while others, including the wealthy Bruce Wayne, were not, and she idly wondered just which All-Star Wayne could be.

She also recognized Ted Knight; he was Starman, as Doris had revealed. Near the lanky millionaire was a blond she thought she knew from Inza Cramer’s photo as Kent Nelson, alias Doctor Fate. A mild-mannered, bookish sort also stood dazed by other healthy looking civilian-clothed males. He’s certainly no Superman! she thought.

Doll Girl had only entered the dimension with the bag from Inza on a whim. The original plan had involved Inza’s using the contents herself if all seemed lost. Martha Roberts made sure she had identified Kent correctly, then from out of the bag she pulled a golden helmet. She slipped it over his glazed eyes, and he came alive.

“Once again the forces of outer darkness attempt to traduce the ways of Fate. As futile as it once was, so shall it e’er be!” He sure didn’t speak like the easygoing Kent Nelson, whom Inza had described. He gestured at the other JSAers, Law’s Legionnaires, and the rest, and in a mass exodus they charged out of the sudden aperture that opened when Sapphire vowed to summon more champions. Martha hurried along in their colorful wake.

***

In the White House, the Star Sapphire’s smile turned to a look of regal dismay when she saw the entire male group of formerly entranced All-Stars explode through her dimensional opening.

While Inza felt her heart leap into her throat at the sight of Doctor Fate — for this appeared to be Doctor Fate, not Kent Nelson — leading the charge. She had no doubt that the battle was won, but she feared that the man she loved would lose a more personal battle afterward. The original full golden helmet of Fate had submerged much that was Kent Nelson. It was for this very reason he had abandoned the original last summer, and she was glad that it had been lost in the battle with Kulak. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “When Fate Thy Measure Takes,” All-Star Squadron #23 (July, 1983).]

But during her trip to ancient Egypt on that dark mirror world, under circumstances that had now slipped from her mind, she had found a duplicate of the Helm of Nabu in the very place where Kent’s archeologist father had discovered Nabu’s tomb on this world, and she had taken it back with her to the present. Although she couldn’t remember how she had obtained it, she knew it was not the original, which was lost forever. But she gambled on it being virtually identical in every other way, and she had brought it here in case the women had no other option. She had planned to slip it on herself, for whatever good or ill that might produce, since for some reason her mere touch had given Kent enough strength to resist Nabu’s control over him. Now that Doll Girl had returned it by a shrewd hunch to Kent, his other half — Nabu the wizard of Order, or a parallel universe’s version of Nabu — was apparently in control.

“You tamper with forces beyond your right!” thundered Doctor Fate.

Star Sapphire said, “I can still entrance you again!” And she instantly took control over Stripesy, the Crimson Avenger, and Wing once more.

Doctor Fate, now fully attired — for his magic had brought his full costume to him — gestured, and magical ankhs formed as a sign of his power. He remained free, for the Sapphire could not sap his arcane will.

Wonder Woman saw Doris Lee reunite with Ted Knight, who armed himself with his gravity rod even as his friends rose up in different conditions.

“I need only control a few!” vowed the Sapphire.

Libby Lawrence knew what she meant. Superman, now in costume, had a glazed look and by himself could well challenge half or most of the team. Doctor Fate’s magic had costumed his allies. That seemed a sign that the more concerned Kent was at least partly in control, or so Inza prayed. Starman and Green Lantern dueled also, as the Sapphire drove on the emerald champion when he awoke.

Superman crossed the room, only to face a prepared Wonder Woman. “Fight her! Remember your responsibility!” urged the Amazon. He shuddered at her words, and a mighty will warred with magical impulses.

Liberty Belle slammed her fist into the jaw of the Crimson Avenger, while Wing circled warily around a freed Mister Terrific. “She can’t hold all of you! Move out of range!” yelled Belle.

The Hawks were free and soared up to intercept flying heroes like Black Condor and Ray. They sped away and slowly led their friends out of her range. “Carter, may we do this for all of them? Or do we place you in danger each time?” asked Shiera.

“All we can do is try,” said Hawkman.

Firebrand aimed a wave of fire at the Sapphire, who blocked it with a force-field as Wildcat pummeled the Air Wave.

The Crimson Avenger dropped his trademark pellet of red gas, only to have a wind from the Thunderbolt blow it away. Johnny Thunder, clad in his white sailor’s outfit, watched and listened as his Thunderbolt tried to control a wild crisis.

Doctor Occult waved the Symbol of the Seven over the opal Rose Psychic had in her hand. “You may as well have forgotten about that shattered opal. You did nought with it!” crowed the Sapphire.

Sargon the Sorcerer touched the Green Arrow’s bow, and it turned to ashes in his hands. He spotted Occult and had a hunch. “Let the Ruby of Life empower the opal anew!” The gem on his turban glowed, and as the Symbol of Seven channeled the mystic power, the opal did gain an odd luster.

Doctor Fate dueled with Star Sapphire. “I shall cast out your tainted light with a purer luminescence!” said the man known as Fate. Light bathed the alien princess, and she flinched in true pain for the first time.

Wonder Woman grunted as she held back the Man of Steel, who may have been fighting for freedom internally as well.

Johnny Thunder spoke up, “Say, you know, it would serve her right if her sapphire was broken up and scattered through time like that Opal!”

The Thunderbolt smiled in answer and said, “Shattered and scattered!” The Star Sapphire screamed as he did just that to her gem. “Can’t destroy it, but I sure can displace it!” said the Thunderbolt. When the sapphire vanished from her tiara, the alien empress lost her hold on all the males.

Superman shook his head and sighed, “That was rough. Thanks, Diana!”

“Glad you’re back!” she answered.

The Batman helped up the now-shaken Phantom Lady, and they reassured a dazed Stripesy.

Starman enveloped Star Sapphire with a stellar cage, but she still possessed enough might to break loose. The flying heroes returned in time to see the Green Lantern slap Star Sapphire with a green glowing fist. “I know, I know, that’s no way to treat a lady,” he joked.

Sargon and Occult rushed forward, and with a newly powered opal, they cowed the Star Sapphire. She backed away from them in fear. “No! Have mercy on a yielded foe!” she cried.

Doctor Fate stepped up. “I show you the same mercy you would have offered a benighted world neath your sway. Forget your will and live a mind-numbed pawn.” The ankh magic swallowed up the Star Sapphire and enclosed her form in the opal. When they met, a glow filled the chamber, and the evil woman was gone.

“You didn’t kill her, did you?” asked the Star-Spangled Kid as he shook hands with Doris Lee for what was the first time chronologically.

“She lives within the opal, which contains her raw, innate power and separates her from the now-scattered genstone. It is just,” explained Fate.

“I guess it does seem like fair play,” mused Terry Sloane.

Inza stepped up to him and said, “Now that she is defeated, Kent, please come back to me,” she implored, placing her hand on his arm. Fate gazed coldly at her, and while seconds ticked by and hearts pounded, he slowly removed the helmet and donned the half-helmet she held. To their surprise, the Helm of Nabu from the parallel world of the Dark Hawkmen vanished, presumably back to its place of origin. Kent Nelson and Inza Cramer took a moment to absorb what had happened before Kent smiled and spoke to her.

“I’m back, and it’s going to be all right,” said Kent, embracing her tightly. “That helmet, though as powerful as the Helm of Nabu, was powered by a different kind of sorcery — Chaos instead of Order. It didn’t have enough time to establish the same kind of hold on me as my old one did, though it took all my willpower to redirect its strange magic to my own ends. But I’d be pushing my luck if I had worn it for much longer.”

“I do love a happy ending!” said the Thunderbolt.

Johnny Thunder smiled and agreed eagerly.

The End

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