All-Star Squadron: 1942: Overlord of the Underworld, Chapter 2: Brotherhood of the Electron

by Libbylawrence

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The All-Stars managed to bring the crippled plane down in one piece, even as Robotman’s jets sputtered and died. “Knew I still had some bugs to work out!” he muttered as he carried Lois Lane to safety.

The Sword, the Human Bomb, Air Wave, and Liberty Belle were cushioned from their own rough landing by Johnny Quick’s whirlwind.

The Ray flew on his own and announced. “Look! I see the hidden base now! The illusion is falling!” Indeed, it was falling to reveal a huge complex that extended apparently deep within the mountains and below the surface. The huge blimp was resting atop the base.

“How can they conceal that place? How’d they even build a headquarters that size?” wondered Johnny.

The Sword said, “I’d say we’re going to see for ourselves real soon!”

A figure in green robes appeared before them with a squad of troops — all of whom wore lightning bolt emblems, denoting the Brotherhood of the Electron.

Liberty Belle kicked one in the teeth and spun aside to trip a second. “Those robes are so chic! Do you have one in satin?” she teased.

Johnny Quick landed punches in every direction. “Don’t need to be a Ted Grant when you can land forty blows in a second!” he bragged.

The Ray blasted the very ground out from under them, as did the explosive punches of the Human Bomb. The troops fell back as the Sword lashed out to shred a robe and leave a guard helpless and disarmed. The might of Robotman’s motors worked well as he charged through the squad and drew their weapon fire against his metallic body; he protected his head with one raised arm. Air Wave displayed a solid fighting technique as he punched and dodged with acrobatic skill.

The leader raised his arms as he spoke. “Mystery-men and lady! You now forfeit your freedom, and soon your lives for invading the sanctum of the Brotherhood!” he said. Electric bolts shot from his sleeves to down Belle, Human Bomb, Air Wave, and the Sword.

Johnny Quick dodged and hesitated over the prone Liberty Belle. He had darted forward to carry her body to freedom, when he too was blasted and fell over her to lay in the dirt.

Robotman was not falling. He and the Ray merely fought or absorbed the current to charge the green-robed figure. “You’ll pay big time for hurting them!” declared the glowing Ray.

Will he? I think not. I rather believe it is you who will pay — as long as we keep you alive!” said a bald man wearing a robe. He pressed a button, and the Ray’s glowing nimbus solidified around him like a prison. Robotman surged forward to help but fell hard as a red energy enveloped him. “Using your own power to entomb you was a brilliant idea of mine,” said Doctor Light over the fallen Ray.

“Yes! And blasting this metal behemoth to the ground with my dynamo was all my own effort!” said a new arrival, known as Doctor Doog.

“You forget it was my power that beat most of them!” said the green-robed Lightning Master. They had their troops carry the heroes within the base as it flickered again out of sight.

Lois Lane was already deep within the base. She had slipped inside before the battle had started. Much now depended upon the girl reporter.

***

Superman had found himself transported miles beneath the earth itself hours ago when the red beam hid his mighty form back at the convention center. Then, the power of the raging dynamo had driven him to his knees just long enough for his old foe Lightning Master to knock him cold with one of his powerful bolts. He had awakened to find himself trapped in a huge chamber. He could not see his old foe, but he noticed hundreds of green-furred creatures. “Sub-Men — the same subterranean species as the kind we found working for the Ultra-Humanite!” he said. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Tale of Three Citadels,” All-Star Squadron #21 (May, 1983).]

The complex had obviously been built with the slave labor of the creatures, who seemed blindly obedient to their human masters in the Brotherhood. He tried to leave the room, but his best blows did nothing to open the glass-like cone in which he was held in the very middle of the chamber.

“That my friend, is the exact frequency of sunlight designed to make you helpless,” said the bald Doctor Light. “My prism of power ensures you have no more strength than I do!”

“I gave him the specifics from our past battles,” announced the suddenly appearing Lightning Master. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman #14 (January-February, 1942).]

“You would be behind this!” said Superman. “I suspected as much when I saw your blimp. I guess you still need to surround yourself with other cowardly schemers!”

“Sir, you wound me. I am a man of science. I am no mere blackguard!” said the orange-robed Doctor Doog.

“I’ll do more than wound you when I get free of this little tanning bed!” said Superman.

“Ah, but, good sir, you won’t!” crowed Doctor Doog.

“In fact, you and your friends who arrived shortly ago will be here as long — or as short — as your lives last!” announced the Lightning Master.

Superman had been out cold for so long that he gasped to see Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, and the others carried in.

“They aren’t dead. We reduced the power. Can’t use your level of energy very often. Using it on mortals would be overkill, don’t you agree?” asked Doog.

Superman’s mind raced as he tried to think of a way out. Then the Human Bomb stirred and silently dropped a glove. He slammed his hand to earth, and an explosion rocked the room. “Damage their equipment so I can help you!” cried Superman.

Roy Lincoln had his finest hour as he dodged the racing troops to reach the bed of controls that held the Man of Steel. He shoved a guard back with his covered shoulder and raised one powerful fist, only to drop down with a boom as the sheer weight of Sub-Men overwhelmed him. Many died due to their own rashness in leaping at the explosive man’s uncovered hand. He would have grieved for them, but it was war of sorts.

“Who?” asked Superman, for he had not seen the three leaders summon the army of green beasts.

“Ah! Let me explain. In addition to the name Brotherhood of the Electron, you might call us the Faultless Four as well. I cling to that name out of nostalgia, you see!” said a smiling bald man sitting upon a throne.

“Who are you?” said Superman to the grinning, hunchbacked figure.

“I am Sieur Satan, as your Flash could attest if he was here, but now you may use my new title — Overlord of the Underworld!”

Doctor Doog gazed at the captive heroes and frowned. His wizened face looked more serious than ever. “I worry that these who have opposed us are not the mystery-men I have found to be most fatal before — the Hourman and the Starman!”

The Lightning Master shrugged his shoulders beneath the green robe. “Bah! If we can overpower Superman, why should you fear two lesser lights? Besides, word on the street has it that Hourman is no more!”

Doctor Doog said, “He is dangerous! Believe me! And Starman might be as powerful as Superman in his own way!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman, Adventure Comics #61 (April, 1941) and “Catch a Falling Starman,” All-Star Squadron #41 (January, 1985).]

“You say that merely because he defeated you,” said Doctor Light with cold assurance. “I assure you that I could dim Starman’s light!”

The newly crowned Overlord laughed. “The Flash bested me twice before, yet I live with no fear of him. I have to thank him for my new power, in fact. When he destroyed my digger, I was forced to flee ever deeper within the earth until I found and mastered the green creatures who built our blimp and this base.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash, Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940) and “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984).]

Superman remembered that case well. He had heard the details of Flash’s part, and he had even battled Lightning Master along with Lois Lane and Johnny Thunder during the same case. He hoped Lois was safe. She had a reckless streak, and in dangerous situations she could do almost any rash stunt.

Johnny Quick woke up and played it cool. Got to use my brain this time. Let them think I’m still out cold, then move faster than they can react!

Liberty Belle saw his slight reaction as she stirred. Good plan! she thought as she guessed what he was planning.

The Ray still struggled within the odd solid light prison of Doctor Light’s devising. He was slowly absorbing the energy into his own body, but it was a bitterly slow process of inches and degrees.

The Sword brooded. What good am I? This sword is nothing to stop a killer like Lightning Master! What was I thinking? If I ever get out of here alive, I’ll hang up this costume for good and stick to being a second-rate reporter.

The Human Bomb was battered and sore, and his mind raced. The sheer size of the lab, the blimp, the green army, the deathship — all these marvels of science made his heart pound. He would have loved to analyze the place piece by piece, as would his late father who made the formula that had empowered him.

Lois Lane watched from the shadows. She knew what she needed to do. She had to free Superman. In her point of view, that would be enough. She stood still and hoped the green creatures did not have animal-like senses to smell her fear.

Air Wave lay still and adjusted his helmet slightly. He frowned as he picked up a hum. The blimp! It obviously operates on some level of radio waves in terms of its communications systems, mused Larry Jordan. I pick up the signal even now. Could I use that to save the day? Could I actually do what Superman could not?

Robotman was active. The beauty of having an artificial body meant that so much could occur within his systems that was unseen without. He picked up the same hum that Larry Jordan’s Air Wave helmet had. He even guessed what the young attorney and amateur scientist was trying to do. He could not help him, but he was at least ready for action.

Lois raced forward and smashed a stone against the controls that seemed to hold Superman. The light dimmed around his prison, and he moved — he moved as fast as Quick could, crossing the room in seconds to rip free a hunk of electrical wiring, which he plunged into the light-field holding the Ray.

“Here, pal! Soak up some juice,” he quipped. “It’s good for you!”

The Ray found renewed power that he could drink into his body easily. He burst free of the trap and blasted the ground out from under Doctor Light. As the bald genius fell back, his freezing breath slammed him into Doctor Doog.

Johnny Quick bolted forward to land a dozen punches on the Lightning Master’s hooded face. “I’m up on current events, too!” he quipped. Even as the Lightning Master’s clenched fists activated the blazing electrical force he controlled via his special costume, Johnny reacted to shove him into the Overlord. The portly maniac shrieked as he fell stunned or worse at the feet of his horrified partner’s glowing form. Doctor Doog slipped aboard the death-ship as his friends fell to the attack.

Liberty Belle vaulted over the green creatures, who seemed intensely attracted to the lithe blonde. “Great, these hairies want to make me their prom queen!” she muttered as they pawed her.

Robotman slammed into them with rare abandon. “Sorry, guys, but we monsters don’t want you making us look even worse!” he joked, but he felt the differences between him and other humans all too keenly.

Lois cheered on Superman even as he gave her a wink. He had a goal in mind, too. He wanted to destroy the equipment around them before it could unleash another force-bolt. He used his power at its highest level against the machinery. No human frailty necessitated his holding back or practicing care as he normally did when fighting ordinary criminals.

Even as the death-ship rose above them, Air Wave adjusted his helmet and tore it from his head. It smoked, as did the sparking belt he wore.

The Sword kicked down a monster and said, “What gives, chum? You got a warranty on those?”

Larry Jordan — his face exposed to all — muttered, “I hope I just burnt them out for a good cause!” Sure enough, the sound system on the craft exploded within and sent Doog screaming with his long robes afire.

Liberty Belle kicked a human trooper in the face and fell into the next squad. She ducked, kicked, and punched with all her Olympian skill and spirit. Quick helped her with his own whirlwind that swept them into each other and away from the all-American girl.

The Human Bomb reluctantly exploded his fists into the walls and watched the work of four genius-level inventors end in flame. “Such a waste of talent and design!” he sighed.

The Ray had followed the death-craft upward. He now tried to blast it down again, but he had no luck.

Superman finished his work and literally tore down the base, but he also failed to catch the death-ship as it rose higher. “Doog must be in control of it yet!” he said, scanning the ship with his x-ray vision and confirming the fact that Doog had smothered the burning robe and now grimly worked the controls.

“He invented the dynamo that powered it, so he would be the one to master it,” muttered the Ray. He turned to Superman, “I have a plan! Can you help me?”

Superman blew another group of guards into the wall as Belle waved her thanks, then nodded. He conferred with the Ray above as Robotman pulled a silent Human Bomb out of the complex.

“Come on, Bomb,” said Robotman. “This place is a loss. I do know how you feel. The kid in me wants to tinker with these gizmos all day, not watch them go up in smoke. Think of what Doog, Doctor Light, and the others could have done for the Allied cause if they had not been so selfish.”

The Human Bomb knew that he was a walking personification of the perils inherent in science used wrongly or in desperation. He nodded as a man who could fully identify with his own plight led him away.

Lois and Chic Carter watched the heroes drag out the stunned Overlord and his beaten ally, the Lightning Master. “Doctor Light got away!” said Lois. “While the Ray was fighting the blimp, he used that weird distortion trick to fade away.”

“He’ll be back. They always come back,” added Liberty Belle.

Johnny nodded. “Yeah, like a bad rash.”

“I love you for your mastery of the English language,” said Libby.

“Let me show you my thesaurus someday!” he laughed.

Superman, acting on Ray’s plan, flew directly toward the blimp. He poised almost defiantly before the huge craft. A red ray fired from the hull, and the Ray shot into its path. He traveled directly up the light-based beam into the ship, where he belted Doctor Doog across the deck.

“Wanted to try that back at the press center!” he said, smiling. Bringing the craft down, he pulled Doog out even as it exploded.

“Figures creeps like the Brotherhood would not want their baby falling into enemy hands,” said Robotman.

“Such a waste!” added Roy Lincoln.

As Lois embraced Superman, and Air Wave’s equipment was examined by Robotman and the Human Bomb, far away Doctor Light returned to the Ivy league college in which he worked and plotted his future. “I’ll be back when I’m more ready, and this time I’ll work alone!” he vowed. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Light,” All-American Comics #82 (February, 1947).]

***

Chic Carter folded up his costume and packed it away. “So the Sword’s career ends, not with a bang, but with the click of a typewriter,” he said, smiling as he decided to continue just being a reporter and leave the heroics (or the costumed variety, anyway) to Liberty Belle and the rest of the All-Stars.

***

Elsewhere, a burned Sieur Satan recovered and plotted as well. “Bah! The newest Faultless Four were little better in the long run than my first such group. Perhaps I will work alone from now on. Villain groups don’t seem to work.”

He threw out the files he had gathered on other super-criminals. The names meant little at that time, but in years to come, at least one of his rejected possible allies would take the name of the Wizard after returning from the East.

Those fools would be little better than the last group, I wager,” he said calmly.

The End

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