DC Universe: 1943: The Space-Time Gambit, Book 1, Chapter 4: The Strange Adventure of Mr. Weed

by Libbylawrence

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Despite having died three years earlier, Jim Corrigan was a very busy man. In his everyday identity, he worked as a police detective, while as the Spectre he fought crime directly by meting out justice to those who truly deserved it. But while he technically didn’t need to sleep, having the supernatural abilities of a living ghost, even he could only do so much in a given day — unless he tried to freeze time itself. Now there was an idea.

The redheaded man was not what he appeared to be at face value, which was a tough but dedicated policeman. He was all that, but he was also a man who had personally experienced death. He had met his fate at the hands of the thugs of a gang boss named Gat Benson three years ago, and since then he had roamed the earth as an avenging ghost sent back to the living world to preserve justice and avenge wrongs. As the Spectre, he could do almost anything, but that invincible might came with a price of its own. Until a year ago he had started to become increasingly less sure just who Jim Corrigan was, and he feared he was losing touch with humanity.

Who knows? he had mused at the time. Maybe someday I’ll lose my ability to even feel emotions or touch other living people. I’ll just be this force of supernatural power. That was one reason why a being of such raw power chose to associate with heroes like the Justice Society of America. They could accept him on his own terms, while not being so superhuman that they couldn’t benefit him in his quest for constant contact with his humanity.

It was for that exact reason that he allowed himself to act on very rare occasions — such as the initiation a while back of Johnny Thunder into the JSA — as a fun-loving guy in a costume rather than a being from beyond the mortal pale. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society of America Initiates Johnny Thunder,” All-Star Comics #6 (August-September, 1941).]

Despite himself, Corrigan had started to relax a bit more ever since he had met his erstwhile sidekick Percival Popp, the self-styled Super-Cop despite being only a private detective, and a bumbling one at that. (*) Because of that, the Spectre had been acting more as a guardian angel in Popp’s company as of late.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Introducing Percival Popp, the Super-Cop,” More Fun Comics #74 (December, 1941).]

It was partly thanks to Popp that Corrigan had been able to reclaim his humanity. Although he still retained the Spectre’s full range of powers, he was a dead man no longer, since his corporeal body had been resurrected. (*) Elated to be among the living once more, Corrigan had even resumed his relationship with Clarice Winston for a time, until he finally realized after one too many incidents that she would never truly be safe as long as he was in her life. (*) Deciding to make a clean break of things rather than string her along any further, Corrigan broke off his engagement with Clarice a second and final time, then relocated from Cliffland to Gotham City. (*) Despite Corrigan’s gruff insistence that he was a lone wolf and needed no partner, Percival Popp had elected to follow him to the big city.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Spectre, More Fun Comics #75 (January, 1942), “King of Color,” More Fun Comics #80 (June, 1942), and “Crime Makes a Movie,” More Fun Comics #88 (February, 1943).]

It had only been a month ago, and the pain of the breakup was still palpable. Corrigan had been seriously thinking about ditching everything and simply going off to war, though he wasn’t sure how that would effect the Spectre’s mission on earth. If the time came, could the human Jim Corrigan join the U.S. Army while leaving the Spectre behind to continue his own war on crime? Was that even possible?

Of course, that was just an idea. For now Corrigan was a cop and still had paperwork to do. That was why he was in his office at the Fifth Precinct in Gotham City, where he had transferred.

Then, suddenly, he was the Spectre once again, and the office around him was no longer in sight. He floated on a cloudy plane that was not of earth.

“I summon the ghost of Jim Corrigan! Eternity!” cried a boy standing on the clouds.

The Spectre frowned, having been unable to resist the weird magical summons. Now, faced with this boy, this youngster in a white turtleneck sweater and gray slacks with a red sash, who seemed to hold power from the very same source from whence his own was granted, what could he do? Nothing. He could not raise his hand against the youth for some reason. Perhaps it was because he was an innocent.

He had no time to ponder, since a man stood nearby with eyes that looked sorrowful, then blazed over entirely with blue fire. “I seek this, but not of my own will,” he said with a quiet dignity. “Know that I do not use my powers against you freely.” His whole form then blazed with blue fire, and he blasted the Spectre with flames that burned even his mystical frame.

The Spectre groaned and sought to fight back, but again the boy spoke and said, “Do not resist! Eternity!

The combination of magical forces drove the Spectre into a frenzy. “I shall not be overcome!” he roared. Yet the strong fists of the Blue Blaze and the whispered cries of Kid Eternity brought the Spectre down at last. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: The Blue Blaze first appeared in Blue Blaze, Mystic Comics #1 (March, 1940).]

In Luthor’s based, Dr. Doome, watching from a distance as the time-displacement field covered the ghostly guardian, muttered to himself, “This Spectre scares me. If that magic wears off, he’ll destroy us all!” He was correct.

***

In New York City, the Seven Soldiers of Victory gazed around a lush Park Avenue apartment in appreciation.

“Wall, I reckon you kin afford this spread, Oliver, but I’d be a mite worried ’bout the upkeep,” drawled the Vigilante, alias Greg Sanders.

Green Arrow, alias millionaire Oliver Queen, smiled. “This coming from Nashville’s hottest singer, with an income to make even a jaded capitalist like me take notice.”

The Crimson Avenger frowned. “You know, it worries me about our incomes. I keep a tight look over my holdings. Do you do the same? It would be so easy for one of us wealthy men of mystery types to accidentally pollute the environment or even finance a sweat shop!

“Despite my wealth now, I came from humble beginnings,” said Green Arrow. “And I have more of an academic background than business, to be honest. I did inherit a small family fortune, but I spent almost all of it building a huge collection of Indian artifacts over a span of ten years. But I’ve taken an active hand in my investments and placed a good man named Max Lord in charge. I’ve even considered selling this apartment and relocating completely to Star City, since that’s where I’ve built the headquarters of my holding company, Queen Enterprises, and thanks to my investments, I’ve been able to purchase a much bigger place there, with a subbasement that may come in handy as my own Arrowcave headquarters someday. As much as I love New York City, it’s crowded, and not just for business. Besides Superman and Batman, it seems like every other mystery-man lives in the Big Apple. Star City has given my business some more room to grow, and it’s accepted Speedy and I as heroes of its own.”

The very wealthy Star-Spangled Kid said, “My pater does not worry much. He pays someone else to do his pacing.”

“Very funny, Little Lord Star-bucks,” quipped his crime-fighting partner Stripesy with the easy familiarity of a close friend.

“Anyone for coffee?” asked Speedy as he passed around a tray.

“Truly, this mansion is most regal, friend Arrow,” said the Shining Knight, smiling. “Yet can even the most splendid of dwellings ere be as fitting an abode for an archer of your skill as the green of old Sherwood?

“I see you’ve been studying up on British history and legend again,” said Green Arrow, grinning.

“Aye!” said Sir Justin. “‘Tis much I have to learn ’bout my sacred isle.”

A hum of energy came from all sides as the walls literally exploded. A man in a white containment suit then rushed inside, with a gloved hand holding a second glove free from a bare, glowing hand.

“The Human Bomb!” muttered the Vigilante.

At the same moment, the gleaming Ray sped inside from another hole created by his raw energy. The other holes revealed the smashing fists of Uncle Sam and the blaster of the Black Condor.

“Say, what is this?” said the Kid. “You Freedom Fighters are supposed to be on that Earth-X!”

“We’ve come to bring the freedom of the grave to you all!” said Phantom Lady in complete mimicry of Dr. Doome.

Under normal circumstances, Black Condor was a fighter with strength, skill, grace, and wit. However, he had been ordered to end the fight quickly by his evil master. Thus, instead of using his strength of limb, he fired the black blaster he carried at his side, shooting Stripesy in his broad chest, and the hulking redhead fell like a timber.

The Star-Spangled Kid rushed forward, only to tripped by the Phantom Lady, who had turned invisible. As he leaped back up, she brought both fists down on the back of his head. “Guess you’ll be seeing stars now,” she teased.

The sultry woman then turned visible, only to have her blackout ray switched on and her arm wrenched so that the device blanketed the Ray in total darkness. The clever Crimson Avenger had acted quickly.

The Crimson Avenger shoved Phantom Lady backward so her black-light ray enveloped The Ray. When in total darkness the Ray was still a force to be dealt with, but he lost power with every second. This allowed the Green Arrow to fire an arrow of a dark inky cloud in his path.

However, the hero’s bow then shattered into pieces after being struck by an arrow that blew it to bits. Another archer aimed a second bolt at him from across the room. “The Spider!” he cried. Speedy was then slapped to the ground by a rapidly growing Doll Man, who seemed to come from out of nowhere.

The Vigilante squarely off with the colorful original Firebrand, Rod Reilly. “I don’t know, and I don’t rightly care what made a sissy yahoo like you attack us, but I aim to settle the debt with your teeth, pretty boy!” Sanders said. Firebrand spun around to kick the gun out of the lawman’s hand. The Vigilante rolled aside to dodge the next punch, but ended up right in the path of the explosive fist of the Human Bomb. He was knocked across the room and did not rise again.

Firebrand then tackled the struggling Green Arrow, who was weaponless thanks to the skillful shooting of the Spider. “You’re Oliver Queen, a spoiled playboy — how I hate your kind,” said a tongue-in-cheek Firebrand. He jabbed a quick left and sent the Arrow down for the count.

The Shining Knight was struggling furiously with Uncle Sam himself. “I am loathe to use even the flat of mine enchanted blade ‘pon the living embodiment of America — embattled Britain’s sole support in this hour of trial — yet I must not allow mine allies to be harmed!” declared Sir Justin.

“Too bad!” said Sam. “Cause I’m a’ gonna whip your tail like we did in the War of Independence and the War of 1812!”

The Knight twisted free and belted Sam in the chin. Then he used his gleaming blade to deflect a light colt cast by the Ray into a stunned Firebrand. He also dodged left to connect with a solid punch to Doll Man’s chin that left the hero flattened in mid-shrink.

The Crimson Avenger’s loyal aide Wing How charged inside from parking their car, launching a kick that sent the Human Bomb spinning to the floor.

Phantom Lady kicked the Crimson Avenger below the belt and said, “Your red mist versus my lens. Seems fair.”

The Avenger’s crimson mist bellowed from a dropped pellet, and Phantom Lady dived through the blinding cloud to land a left cross on his chin. “Guess I can see through it, handsome,” she said as she ducked his punch and landed a series of blows that finally left him stunned. “Not bad for a girl, huh?” she teased.

Sir Justin fell beneath the blows from Uncle Sam and the Black Condor after landing a punch that decked the drained Ray as well. Wing also fell when Phantom Lady smashed a chair over his head.

Uncle Sam said, “These boys fight well! Lucky for us we had superior numbers.” They gathered up their foes and brought them to Dr. Doome’s gloating presence.

“I allowed the Freedom Fighters to keep their personalities, since it aided them to fight more naturally,” he laughed. “It worked, since they defeated my most hated foes!” At that, he slapped Green Arrow across the face. The archer was unable to a thing to stop it or fight back.

“Yes,” said Alexei Luthor. “Well, I’m glad. But now I have bigger fish to fry.”

***

A mad, high-pitched laugh echoed over the dark streets of Gotham City. Batman and Robin raced after the darting clown, who led them on a merry chase.

Gosh, Batman, this clown can really move!” said Robin.

Batman nodded. “Save your breath, chum. You’ll need it when he rounds this corner and realizes that it’s a dead end.”

Sure enough, Batman and Robin soon faced the cornered Jester, except the mind-enslaved hero from Earth-X was not alone. He had tricked the Dynamic Duo.

A woman wearing a very short red dress and heels kicked Batman in the chin as he rounded the corner, while a second woman in a green evening gown and heels tackled Robin.

“Gosh, we can’t hit girls!” said Robin as the skilled, green-dressed Lady Luck of Earth-X, alias socialite Brenda Banks, wrestled with the brave youth. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: Lady Luck first appeared in The Spirit Section (June 2, 1940), and her adventures were later reprinted by Quality Comics, beginning in Lady Luck, Smash Comics #43 (April, 1943).]

Batman twisted away from the agile, red-dressed Miss Masque of another parallel Earth to send her falling out of the high heels into the dirt. (*) “Those heels make for poor traction,” he said. She rolled back up and swung a mean right that missed him by inches.

[(*) Editor’s note: Miss Masque first appeared in “The Case of the Mad Miser,” Exciting Comics #51 (September, 1946).]

Robin flipped Lady Luck over his head and she fell, tangled in her long gown. “Yeah, and that dress sure won’t let her move too fast!” said Robin as she fell flat.

Batman noticed the side slits and said, “I rather think that particular outfit gives her other advantages over grown-up male foes.”

Robin frowned and sprayed her with a mist from his belt. “Knockout spray for a knockout,” he punned.

Miss Masque jumped up and over Batman’s head to land a kick to his back. As he moved with the blow, the dancing and madly laughing Jester dropped down to smash a brick over his head.

Robin gasped, “Batman!”

Miss Masque then pulled the boy close to her and kissed him on the lips. He fell flat, and she smiled. “My narcotic lipstick works well.”

Thus fell Gotham City’s defenders.

***

The elderly, bespectacled Mr. Oliver Weed shook his fist at the charts on the screens in front of him.

Curse you, Luthor! Those poor women would never have attacked heroes like Batman and Robin except for your time-travel machinations! I’ll fix you! I’ll fix you yet! I’m forgotten by all of the Earth-Two heroes, but Mr. Weed will save the day.”

He raced out into his sleek time car, an improved version of the original time machine invented by old Uriah Mowcher. In their initial time-travel trip, Weed, Mowcher, and a boy stowaway named Fritz had traveled from the year of 1935 to exactly one hundred years earlier. The properties of the time machine also changed their twentieth-century clothing to that of the year 1835, allowing them to easily blend in right away. All three time-travelers met and fell in love with women from that era, and they would likely have remained there had Weed and Mowcher not had a disagreement about the purpose of time travel itself.

Uriah Mowcher, a verified genius and self-taught expert in time travel, wanted to use time travel for personal gain. Oliver Weed, on the other hand, was an academic and a historian who saw time travel as a means of gathering information through the centuries that had been thought forever lost. It was a constant struggle between the two over the time machine, with poor Fritz caught in the middle. While their time-traveling adventures continued, neither man was completely satisfied.

But Mowcher was a much-older and portlier man than the young, thin Mr. Weed. Finally, it would be the scientist’s poor health that decided the fate of the time machine. When Mowcher became too sick to travel through time, Weed took him on one last trip to a far future era where wealth and personal gain were meaningless, since everyone was wealthy. There he was taken care of by the best medicine of all time, and Oliver Weed inherited the time machine.

Weed’s background was that of a historian, but with a great deal of hard work, he had also learned a great deal about physics from Mowcher. So when the portly scientist finally retired in the far future, Mr. Weed was an able scientist himself. And as for Fritz, he grew up to become a brilliant engineer and mechanic. Together, the two time-traveling companions collaborated on several upgrades to the original time machine, allowing it to be used in almost any form they could think of. Their favorite form was that of a time car.

But even the amiable Fritz eventually wanted to settle down and leave the time-traveling life behind him. That left Oliver Weed as a lone master of time, living out his twilight years monitoring the time-stream and occasionally intervening behind the scenes.

Mr. Weed often found himself envying Fritz. The younger man, an orphan, now had a large family of his own. But just as quickly as he began to feel regrets over his life, he reminded himself that his mission was a unique and noble one, even if it was lonely.

In ancient China, Mr. Weed now watched the sky through futuristic binoculars. “I’ll just warp that green flaming comet back down from space, even if that will drain my car of most of its power,” he said to himself. “I’d rather fix the damage than fight the villains personally.”

Soon, a golden flare of fire seemed to open a hole in the sky, and a green comet crashed down to land in the spot it had been destined for before Ibis the Invincible had sent it into space. “Good thing he didn’t destroy it completely. Could the Ibistick have done that, or did Ibis fight back as best he could?”

***

Thanks to the intervention of Mr. Weed, history once again occurred as normal and, generations later in Gotham City, Oliver Weed entered Alan Scott’s home. Confronting the hero, he was a strange-looking figure. “Green Lantern, only you can save this Earth’s heroes from sure and certain death!” he said to him.

Alan Scott frowned. “Good night! Tell me more.” After Weed explained everything, he charged his ring and said, “And I shall shed my light upon the dark things, for they cannot stand the light… the light of the Green Lantern!

Then the possibly single most courageous mystery-man of all flew off to do battle for the lives of his friends and the fate of his world.

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