A tall, handsome blond man easily loaded suitcases full of clothing unto the Welfare Relief Program tables while an appreciative woman thanked him for his generous donations, surreptitiously also admiring his Herculean body.
“Oh, Mr. Gallant, it is so kind of you to give us these fine clothes,” she gushed. “Some of our clients will be thrilled with them.” She noticed the old-fashioned styles and said, “Were they the belongings of a deceased grandfather or uncle?”
He smiled a broad, boyish grin. “The old owner is dead. Let’s leave it at that!” He then walked out, whistling a cheerful tune as the workers watched him with open admiration.
“What a hunk!” cooed one.
“Yeah, but did you notice how often he checked his own reflection in the mirror?” said another. “Like he was afraid he had a hair out of place or something! Vain men irk me.”
“Nonsense! He would not have given those fine, almost new clothes to us if he wasn’t a caring person,” replied the first woman.
Lance Gallant felt good that he had been able to give the entire wardrobe of clothing that would fit any chubby old man or youngster who liked to dress like an old man. He knew that the clothes had not, in truth, belonged to a relative but to himself.
Sometime before he had been an old, balding, chubby man in a nursing home with little energy or spirit. Then the rejuvenated Liberty Belle had found him and recruited him for a mission especially suited to his unique powers. (*) He had found a new interest in life and had made many changes in his life since then.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Liberty Belle: The Stars Above.]
He had long possessed the power to merge with the ghost of his long-dead brother Michael and become more than human. As Captain Triumph, he had used the powers to fight crime and the Axis. True, he had rarely mixed with the other mystery-men outside of a few All-Star Squadron cases, and he had retired in 1949, but he had been a powerful mystery-man who could trade blows with the best of them.
“We need to find new digs, too!” he said, apparently to himself. “The old clothes are gone, and the new Lance Gallant is ready for a second chance at life!”
Unlike most of the members of the Justice Society, he had aged normally and had never married. The nursing home became a necessity when his body began to wear out from age and use, as all elderly people’s did. However, when Belle had arrived looking like a girl in her twenties, it was like a wake-up call to his true potential.
Lance Gallant was an old and sick man, but by merely rubbing his almost-forgotten birthmark on his wrist, he transformed once more into the image of his dead twin brother. Michael Gallant had died as a strong, handsome young man, and now, by merging once more, the elderly, fat Lance became young and strong again. He realized after the case with Belle that he could just stay that way forever. His Captain Triumph look could be the way he looked always, from now on. Thus he had given away his old man clothes and left the nursing home.
He was going to truly live this time around, both as Lance and as the almost-forgotten hero called Captain Triumph. First he assured Michael, with whom he was in constant communication, that he would get a new place to live, then make a name for himself. He would help people, fight crime, and just maybe be happy for the first time in years.
Will Everett III stood up from the computer and smiled. He had truly worked wonders in turning the old All-Star Squadron files into a computerized program that automatically scanned and tracked any reports of the names of the legendary and obscure mystery-men and women of the past. This would help Liberty Belle immensely with her idea of an All-Star Squadron reunion. He also relished learning more about the forgotten heroes who — like his own grandfather, Amazing-Man — had made the world better by their valor in the years since the late 1930s.
As his grandfather’s heroic successor, Paragon, Will had super-powers of his own. Proximity with anyone gave him their physical skills, while an intimate contact like a kiss gave him their memories when he willed the contact to do so. He vowed never to do so again after a desperate kiss with Wonder Woman recently had given him not only the Amazon’s powers but also made him all-too aware of her memories and secrets. (*) The connection had naturally faded in time, but not the memories, as he had since discovered. Paragon now knew more about Wonder Woman than almost anyone. He felt guilty about the intruding act, though at the time it had saved all their lives. Still, he could make amends later. She didn’t even know he had done more than temporarily gain her powers.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: A Fresh Start.]
Will smiled as he read a report that said the former heroine Queen Arrow was now back and active again. (*) Queen Arrow? Never even heard of her before, he thought. But it’s great to see so many heroes around today, both new and old!
[(*) Editor’s note: See Arrowette: Who’s the Arrowest of Them All?]
As Paragon, Will hoped to make a name for himself, too, and maybe in time join the JSA. But before that event could ever occur, if at all, he would find himself in a fight for his very life against some old foes of the very heroes he admired so much.
Lance Gallant found action far more quickly than he had expected. He had just signed the papers for an apartment in New York City when sirens alerted him to a crime in progress. He hurried into the only costume he had ever worn — a bright red shirt and white pants — and flew off toward the action. His heart raced, and he said, “This is it, Mike! The first big solo case of Captain Triumph — phase two!” He paused, listening for a moment. “Yes, I am nervous, but I can’t wait to help people again after years of selfishness,” he replied to the voice in his head.
Captain Triumph soon spotted a costumed thug racing out of the neighborhood bank. Hmmm… Red and green costume, and bells, he mused. Looks like the Jester, but I thought he was a good guy. Must be a son or grandson gone bad!
He was right, to a point. This was the stepson of the late Chuck Lane. He did wear his dad’s old suit as a type of twisted tribute, but his nom du crime was Punch, since his devoted bride Deena Lomis, daughter of the Prankster, was known as Jewely. The two had been semi-active as costumed criminals since the 1950s after Charles Lane Jr. had abandoned his father’s idea of his becoming the new Jester out of love for Deena. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Team Justice: Times Past, 1959: Justice in the Making.]
As Jewely danced out of the bank, she blew kisses toward the cops. Each kiss sent bubbles with narcotic powder floating toward them. She used her father’s gizmos well. He was a proud parent as he sat in jail, reading about Deena’s antics.
“Stop! The circus is over!” announced Captain Triumph.
Jewely giggled in a girlish way. She looked about twenty-two years old, although in truth she was at the very least in her late forties, or at least should have been.
“Nice costume! Did you get it at K-Mart?” she said as she rolled through the air with acrobatic skill and dropped a box. Captain Triumph connected with Punch and sent him backward for several feet. The box exploded upward as a giant, razor-sharp jack-in-the-box. Triumph gasped and grabbed the deadly coils before they could connect with the hawking crowds.
“Get back, folks! This toy is lethal!” he ordered. He twisted the metal into a ball and rolled it into Jewely’s capering feet before she could react.
She fell flat, hitting her head on the pavement. She lay still, while Punch cursed Triumph. “You creep!” he roared. “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you, even if you do have a punch like Superman!”
Captain Triumph allowed him to go to his wife, then turned them over to the police.
“She’ll be fine,” announced a handsome black man who approached Captain Triumph. “Don’t worry about her. Something about her makes me think she’s got real super resistance to injury, like a healing factor.”
“That would explain how she and her hubby are young years after their folks gave birth to them,” said Captain Triumph, smiling. “The officers filled me in on their backgrounds. Punch’s dad was a cop and hero called the Jester. But I see you knew that already. Your name?”
“I’m Will Everett,” he said. “You may be interested in having lunch with me. I’m fascinated by the golden age of heroes and would value your story. My grandfather was Amazing-Man.”
“My brother knows him. He’s proud of you,” said Captain Triumph as they walked off.
Dr. Charles McNider was in no mood for work. The injuries to his stepdaughter Amanda, the tests for the Pratts, all helped him keep his cool, but he wanted action as Dr. Mid-Nite. He wanted to track down the lowlifes who hurt his new stepdaughter. (*) He found only worries to occupy his mind. His wife Myra sat by Amanda’s bedside, whispering words of comfort to the battered little blonde.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Junior JSA: The Junior Injustice Society, Chapter 6: Final Warning.]
“Honey, it’s OK,” she said. “You’re going to be fine. Trust your mother, the nurse!”
Doctor Mid-Nite had an idea. He hoped Amanda’s star sapphire could heal her rapidly. That idea was something he clung to desperately, and he would have her try that when she grew stronger.
He looked up as a tall man approached him, carrying flowers. He was Rex Tyler. “I came as soon as I heard. How is she, pal?” asked Hourman.
“She’s in bad shape, but doctor or not, I will make her attacker come to know worse pain!” vowed a grim Doctor Mid-Nite.
Rex put an arm around his close friend. “I’ll help you — you know that. Just tell me what I can do!”
“You can explain this,” said Mid-Nite as he tossed down a wrinkled paper. “I was on my way to talk to you when I got the news about Mandy!”
Hourman frowned. “Murders by super-human killers, enhanced adrenal reactions. Altered blood chemistries in killers suspected… Charles, these lab notes of yours sound like some new thugs are loose. What does that have to do with me? You know the writing is in Wesley’s scrawl! You have something to say to me? Surely, you don’t think…”
“No, we know you too well to suspect you,” said Mid-Nite. “Forgive my manner. It’s Mandy’s accident that has me so angry. What we do suspect is this — someone is using Miraclo to empower these new thugs.”
“Impossible!” said Hourman. “I made sure it wouldn’t work on anyone else. I don’t even make the stuff now that I draw upon residual effects from years of use. It must be a compound close to it in nature. I can think of one such creation: the Z-solution!”
“Wes thought so, too,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “That’s what he wanted to check up on while I found you. With Amanda hurt, I can’t leave. Could you help him while I stay with Myra?”
“Trust me — Wes and I will get to the bottom of these murderers who misuse science,” said a determined Hourman. “I know how that type of crime upsets you — medical breakthroughs used for evil to harm and not to help mankind.”