“Let’s go,” Doctor Mid-Nite whispered as he fitted charcoal filters into his nostrils to protect him from the Sandman’s weapon. Their plan was to darken the close quarters with Mid-Nite’s blackout bombs, then flood the room with the Sandman’s gas, to take out as many of them as they could. What remained could be handled with fists.
Through the back door they crept through a storage room crowded with props and costumes. They emerged in the backstage area and saw a folding table covered with papers. Crowded around this were six or seven men in nondescript black clothing. One of them, a bit older than the others, looked up to see the two American heroes. His shock was momentary; he began barking orders in German. The Sandman saw guns being drawn before Doctor Mid-Nite’s blackout bomb plunged the room into darkness. The Sandman fired his gas-gun into the dark cloud. The two JSA champions, working closely with the now-retired Hourman, alias Rex Tyler, had formulated their gaseous weapons to combine readily with one another to spread a thick cloud of sleep-inducing darkness.
The Sandman and Doctor Mid-Nite, protected from the gas, waded into the cloud, fists flailing. The Sandman could not see in the darkness and lashed out blindly, now and then connecting with a German jaw or stomach. Doctor Mid-Nite’s blows were delivered with surgical precision, as he could see his targets as though it were daylight. Ted Grant, alias fellow All-Star Wildcat, had given Mid-Nite some basic boxing tips, and he used them to their utmost potential.
The leader kept out of the fight, still barking orders in German. Doctor Mid-Nite, who understood a little of the language, heard the man yell, “Someone get the damned American!” Mid-Nite communicated this to the Sandman, who nodded at the voice he could not see.
Ten minutes and more passed. The inky cloud began to dissipate. Figures were becoming visible to the Sandman. Bodies lay on the floor around them, robbed of consciousness either by anesthetic cloud or gloved fist. On the other side of the room stood the leader of the Abwehr band, with two more of his soldiers, who had kept out of the fight. Another was with them, one obviously not of their group. He wore a stylish American suit, obviously prewar cut, of shining blue sharkskin. His bald head set off his evil eyes and grinning leer. But the most surprising feature about him was the brilliant yellow glow that shined from his body, blazing forth from every part of him.
“Doc,” the Sandman gasped, his eyes growing wide behind his gas mask lenses. “That’s Doctor Glisten! Hourman told me about him once! (*) He–”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Hourman, Adventure Comics #72 (March, 1942).]
But the Sandman did not finish his soliloquy. He halted in mid-sentence, dazed into submission by the hypnotic power of Doctor Glisten’s aura. Such was the power of this evil man that any who looked upon his glow were his to command.
“Sandman, Doctor Mid-Nite,” Glisten said in a sibilant hiss, “kill each other.”
In instant obedience to the command, the Sandman fell on Doctor Mid-Nite, fists hammering. Mid-Nite threw up his arms to block the blows. Doctor Glisten and his Abwehr companions smiled at the spectacle.
“Sandman, snap out of it!” Doctor Mid-Nite pleaded as he struggled to hold his old friend’s hands away from his throat. Doctor Glisten’s hypnotic aura had bewitched the Sandman only. Doctor Mid-Nite supposed it had something to do with his unique vision; his optic nerves had not received the glow in the same way as a normal man’s. But that mattered little if he were killed by the Sandman.
Out of the corner of his eye, Doctor Mid-Nite watched the Abwehr men and Doctor Glisten preparing to leave. Those of their fallen comrades that they could rouse to consciousness joined them; the others were shot in cold blood, not to be left behind to talk. Mid-Nite’s teeth gritted at the callous disregard for human life. Master race, indeed.
A right cross from the Sandman snapped Doctor Mid-Nite out of his reflections. He had to stop Wes Dodds without hurting him, then go after those Nazis. The Sandman lunged at Mid-Nite, who whipped off his cloak and unfurled it in front of the charging hero; the hypnotized Sandman became tangled in it. Mid-Nite reached in and whipped off his old friend’s gas mask. He then dived for the gas-gun, which the Sandman had dropped in his daze when Glisten’s aura first overcame him. Muttering a brief apology, Mid-Nite discharged the gun. The Sandman instantly dropped into unconsciousness, for the first time a victim of his own weapon.
Doctor Mid-Nite ran to the planning table the Abwehr men had used. They had torn off the last page of the writing tablet they had used, but Mid-Nite saw faint pencil impressions on the top page. Picking up a pencil, he lightly scribbled over the page, making the impressions stand out. A name and an address became visible. Mid-Nite gasped. That was their target? He raced for the door in a mad dash to intercept the Nazi kidnappers.
In a richly furnished library, walls lined with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, an old man sat in a plush upholstered chair reading a magazine. It was one of those lurid-covered magazines the Americans referred to as pulp magazines, similar to English chapbooks. The man was reading a science-fiction story by a young writer named Isaac Asimov, and clucking his tongue at points in the story. The drivel that passed for scientific fiction these days.
The man’s reading was disturbed by a knock on the door. His housekeeper, Mrs. Kipps, was gone home for the night, so he rose to answer the door himself.
“Herbert George Wells?” the man asked as the door was opened to him. H.G. Wells found himself staring blankly at a glowing halo of light. He felt his will drain away from him. “You will come with us, Mr. Wells,” a voice declared in a thick German accent. The old writer nodded agreeably.
The men marched down the side street, Wells walking with them like an automaton, eyes glazed and staring forward at nothing. The leader spoke on a portable radio transmitter, signalling a Nazi submarine waiting offshore to pick them up.
Suddenly, the moonlit night was plunged into deep blackness. A black thunderbolt struck among them, delivering blows left and right. Men fell like tenpins before the hurricane fists. In the midst of it all, H.G. Wells stood and stared, oblivious.
“Doctor Mid-Nite, hear me!” the leader’s voice cut through the darkness. “I cannot see you, but I know you can see me, and know I speak the truth! I have a gun at Mr. Wells’ temple! Surrender instantly, or I shall shoot him!”
Mid-Nite tried to call the Nazi’s bluff. “You came all this way to kidnap him alive. Your masters in Germany wouldn’t like to hear you killed him.”
“My primary orders were to bring Wells to Germany alive,” the Nazi agreed. “However, if I am unable to do this, my secondary orders are to make certain he is of no use to the Allies. The choice is yours, Doctor.”
Mid-Nite was afraid of that. He could never allow an innocent to come to harm because of him. When the dark cloud dispersed, the Nazi officer smiled to see Doctor Mid-Nite with hands raised in surrender.
Wells marched in a hypnotized stupor, and Doctor Mid-Nite walked at the point of a gun, as the procession continued to the sea.
“What a feather this will be in my cap,” the Nazi officer said. “Not only do I succeed in my mission to capture H.G. Wells for the Fatherland, but I also bring back one of the famous Justice Brigade of America to stand trial in Berlin for crimes against the German people.”
“Just don’t forget what I’ve been promised,” Doctor Glisten reminded him.
“Ja, ja, when America becomes a Nazi possession, you shall be made Bürgermeister of New York,” the officer agreed.
“How about settling my curiosity, Colonel?” Doctor Mid-Nite asked, reading the officer’s rank from his collar insignia. “Why go to all the trouble to kidnap an aging science-fiction writer? I mean, I know his Communist leanings put him on Hitler’s hate list, but still…”
“An excellent question,” the colonel said. “Tell me, Doctor, have you ever read First Men in the Moon?”
“One of my favorites,” Mid-Nite said.
“The Fuhrer’s, too. The idea of cavorite, the antigravity material, fascinated him. To bring the conquering sword of the Third Reich into space itself!”
“What? Don’t tell me you think Wells based that on fact?”
“Why not? Is a flying material so hard to believe, Doctor? Do not your own comrades Hawkman, Green Lantern, and Starman possess such materials? And has Wells’ writing not proven eerily prophetic a dozen times and more? Thirty years ago, did he not envision the atomic bomb both your country and mine now labor to perfect?” The colonel let a beat pass; Mid-Nite had no answer for that. “If Wells does indeed possess some secret of antigravity, the Gestapo will wring it from his aged lips. If not, at the very least we have struck a blow against the morale of the British! And, too, the Americans, with your capture!”
Finally, the procession reached the waterfront. The colonel marched them all out onto a pier, then settled down to sit on a packing crate. “Now we wait for the U-Boat,” the colonel said. “It shouldn’t take long.”
“Less than you think,” came a voice from the darkness. All heads whirled to see the Sandman, swinging toward them on a pulley-rope using for hauling cargo. He landed with both feet in the chest of an Abwehr man. Doctor Mid-Nite took advantage of the surprise and wrenched Wells away from the colonel. In a swift flurry of fists, the remaining Abwehr agents went down.
“Glisten, stop them! Use your powers!” the colonel demanded. The American villain next to him nodded, and his body began to glow.
“Glisten again!” the Sandman hissed. Then he remembered something Hourman had told him. The Sandman’s hand shot out and whipped Doctor Mid-Nite’s goggles off his face. Mid-Nite tensed, thinking the Sandman had again fallen under Glisten’s spell. But he watched as the Sandman held the goggles before him, angling them at the hypnotic glow. Glisten and the colonel gaped in shock, and their eyes glazed over, their mouths hanging open.
“This how Rex defeated that glow-worm the first time,” the Sandman explained. “Reflected his own glow back at him.”
Doctor Mid-Nite smiled in approval.