DC Universe: 1943: The Space-Time Gambit, Book 3, Chapter 2: Birth of the Nebula-Man

by Libbylawrence

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The battle continued as Wonder Woman of the 1975 timeline, alias Lyta Trevor, wrestled with the maddened Shining Knight. He swung his gleaming blade at the pretty blonde, who jumped over it and kicked out to landed a stunning blow to his chin. He fell after a second left hook connected to his nose.

Lyta turned to look for her enslaved mother but did not see her. She did see the Wonder Woman of 2000 fall beneath the fists of the enslaved Captain Triumph of 1943. “Mother!” she gasped instinctively, though in this case she was not seeing her real mother.

She charged Lance Gallant and held his mighty arms in her own vise-like grip. As they struggled, the clever Miss Terrific darted forward and, acting on what she knew of her teammate from the alternate timeline, she instructed Lyta to rub Lance’s hand against the odd birthmark on his wrist. Doing so turned him back to his normal self and brought him back to freedom. “You got me free from that spell!” he said admiringly.

Lysette grinned. “Just get out! Don’t try to turn back to Triumph until we beat that sorcerer.” He nodded and slipped out.

Roko the Amazing screamed his anger to the sky as he fought with the stellar-powered Starman of 1975, whose super-energy blasts waged war against his Olympian might. Ted Knight shifted to his energy form and glowed like a humanoid sun. “You folks thought the stars controlled your destiny? Well, in this case, they do!” He blasted the transformed heir to the legends of Menelaos of Illium with all his near-limitless might. Roko fell stunned to lay burning in the grass outside the lab, but would recover.

The Batman of 2000 slugged Mister E and kicked the gas-gun from his hand. (*) “You’re just a second-rate Sandman, and I know the real deal,” he said, grinning. A second punch left the mystery-man from the unnumbered Earth dazed at the Caped Crusader’s feet.

[(*) Editor’s note: Mister E first appeared in “Who in Reality is Mr. E?” Daring Mystery Comics #2 (February, 1940).]

The Batman of 1975, alias Dick Grayson, admired the moves of his retired mentor’s double from an alternate timeline. Bruce is the best, no matter when or where you find him! He looked for the enslaved Batman of 1943 but could not locate him. Two Helena Waynes felt the same emotions. One mourned a dead father, while the one dressed as Robin merely marveled that a young copy of her legendary dad was so very, very good.

Wonder Woman of 2000 bounced a freezing ray from the Phantom Bullet’s gun off her wrist bracelet and smiled as he was brought down by the pouncing Cheetah II. (*) Prissy Grant had her mother’s looks, and this chilled the Wonder Woman of 2000, because in her timeline her old foe never reformed. Still, Ted Grant’s child could not be tainted with evil. Prissy kicked the Phantom Bullet in the chin and rolled out of the path of the speeding Miss Fury, who also wore leopard skin, but of a black hue.

[(*) Editor’s note: The Phantom Bullet first appeared in The Phantom Bullet, Scourge of the Underworld, Daring Mystery Comics #2 (February, 1940).]

Wildcat and his buddy Mister Terrific, both of the 2000 timeline, teamed up against the pair of Crimson Avenger and Wing. Though the crime-fighting pair were both skilled and determined, in a match like this Wildcat and Mister Terrific were superior. They swiftly beat the first masked hero and his Chinese aide.

Lady Vic, daughter of the Shining Knight, dueled with the powerful Whirlwind Carter, a black-haired woman from the thirtieth century who whirled with a light blade. (*) Lady Vic’s magical sword had been her father’s, and she used it to wonderful effect as she parried and twisted and sent the light blade spinning out of the sexy Brenda’s hand. A right hook decked Whirlwind, and the pretty Brit stood true to her name: Lady Victory.

[(*) Editor’s note: This Whirlwind Carter is named after her father, who first appeared in Whirlwind Carter of the Interplanetary Secret Service, Daring Mystery Comics #4 (May, 1940).]

Dr. Doome screamed as an arrow shattered directly in front of him. The still-enslaved Speedy had not aimed at his master, but at the Doctor Mid-Nite from 2000 who stood in front of the fat time master. As this Mid-Nite prepared to drop a blackout bomb, Doome gasped at the sight of Lady Vic. “You! You must be the daughter of my old foe! I won’t allow any of the Seven Soldiers to have living descendants!”

A giggling sound caused him to turn, and Courtney Whitmore, the Star-Spangled Kid II, landed squarely on his shoulders. “Guess that means you just hate me!” she said. Doome struggled and fell flat as the Kid and Lady Vic stood over him.

Doome crawled for his time craft, only to have Superman drop down in front of him. He did not know if it was his Superman or the future one. Then he cried out as Superman reached over and ripped the time machine apart with two hands and raw power. “Ran out of time?” he said, sneering. He underestimated Doome, however, for the fat man pretended to be stunned until he had moved on, and then he leaped for the time machine’s pulsing engine. “This will still get me away!” he cried.

Haldane the Sorcerer ached as he tried to mystically control all the super-beings around him. It was indeed his finest hour.

Supergirl sought to subdue the superhuman Roko the Amazing as he shouted, “Illium!” and grew stronger with every magic crash. She wrestled him down, only to be sent flying by his mighty legs.

Power Girl stopped the Whip from choking a surprised Miss Arrowette to death. The archer girl from the future grinned a pained thanks. As the daughter of Oliver Queen and Diana Dare, she was the best bow-woman ever, but she could still be tricked by a wily foe like the more-experienced Whip.

The powerful Joe Hercules of Earth-X faced off against two Doctor Fates, one from the 2000 timeline and the other from the 1986 timeline. His strength was far superior to theirs, but their mystical power surrounded him and drained him of all desire to fight. As the ancient Ankh appeared across his broad chest, he slept a peaceful sleep, free of worry or hate.

The two Fates eyed one another. “I know you. You are not Kent Nelson,” said the 2000 Doctor Fate. The mysterious 1986 Fate said nothing but pointed to where their counterpart struggled with Sandman of 2000. Wes Dodds fired his gas-gun, and Doctor Fate fell in disbelief. In his half-helmet, the Fate of 1943 was all-too vulnerable to anything that affected his air supply, and the Sandman knew this well.

This green-suited Sandman would have wondered what had become of his double from 1943 when he saw the gold-and-purple-clad hero along with Mister Terrific and the Atom fighting the sensational threesome of the Black Canary of 2000, the Black Canary of the 1986 timeline, and the Thunderbolt. Each of the blonde bombshells had their own ideas on what to do. The Canary of 2000 was still a merry and daring young swashbuckler who spun around to deliver a kick to Mister Terrific’s head. The Canary of 1986 looked at what was her late mother’s double and felt a painful reminder of what she had lost. The Thunderbolt of 1975 fought with her mother’s skill and her father’s rather invincible innocence. She kicked, ducked, and sent the Atom tumbling.

However, not all the teams from the multiple times were successful. The skill and power of the enslaved John Zatara still made the Green Flame a victim, as did the power of the Blue Blaze to young Zatanna and the Hawkman of the year 2000. Irony indeed, as Blue Blaze — a seemingly dead man from 1852 — battled a reincarnated Egyptian prince, Hawkman.

The Spectre of the future could not touch people except to possess them, so he did what was wisest — he took over his double. The merged Spectre shook free of all restraints and grew enormously. His anger was hot, and his power nearly divine. He grabbed Blue Blaze and said, “By the fires that sustain your crusade, awaken to what has befallen you! All of you be free!” he yelled. Then the Blue Blaze and nearly every hero there came to his true mind.

The still-enslaved Johnny Thunder was unable to use his Thunderbolt against the heroes, since a lucky punch from the Hawkgirl of the 1986 timeline had silenced him in mid-sentence. “Cei–!”

The Psycho-Pirate screamed, “Look at me! Look at me!” only to be beaten half-senseless by the pair of the Atom of 2000 and Hourman of 1986, both of whom had fought him with eyes closed as guided by the super-hearing of Supergirl, who shouted directions to them via super-ventriloquism while safely out of range of the Pirate’s powers.

Haldane tried to escape, but he was captured by three Green Lanterns, one of whom was now called Sentinel. Their anger and power dwarfed his magic, which was strained with holding so many in his power. “You tried to wipe me out of time!” said Alan Scott. “That brought about your ruin.”

Now the Ferret, the Tarantula, the Whip, and all the rest closed in on the villains, including a frantic Alexei Luthor, who had desperately tried to protect his time device to keep himself safe. The madman yelled, “Keep back! I will send you all to a null-field of time with my device! Then Alexei Luthor will triumph!

As he watched them all and tried to anticipate super-strength, magic flames, and even a Thunderbolt commanded by the gleeful Johnny Thunder, a single gunshot echoed, and he fell, clutching his bleeding arm. The Vigilante had struck him from across the lab, but his skillful shooting only grazed the criminal scientist’s arm as a distraction, tearing him away from the device. A strong punch by Superman then dropped him cold.

Dr. Doome crawled for the exposed heart of his wrecked time machine and, after touching it, he jumped for the weird time loop device of Luthor’s. However, a blast of stellar energy from the energized Ted Knight of 1975 sent him crashing down. The core broke against his plump body, and he absorbed chronal energy along with stellar fire.

Then Doome glowed like some living star, some human nebula before vanishing in a blinding flash. “I shall avenge myself upon the Seven Soldiers of Victory if it takes me forever!” echoed his voice.

Very strange,” said the Green Lantern. “Doome seems to have turned into some kind of Nebula-Man or something due to the mixture of stellar energy and chronal power.”

“What was Dr. Doome’s first name, anyway, assuming that’s his real name?” asked Mister Terrific. But no one there knew the answer.

***

Luthor was carted off to jail, and the heroes who were also scientists disassembled his time device. The parts were returned from whence they had come while the heroes exchanged stories. The rest of the missing heroes who had been sent to Earth-One suddenly returned as well, following their adventure in the service of the Lord of Time.

Captain Marvel from Earth-S had been sent from the year 1984 to this universe in 1943 by the wizard Shazam to retrieve the missing piece of the Rock of Eternity. He smiled at Superman and said, “Glad you are OK. That bunch was pretty rough.”

Superman gave him the sliver of rock and said, “Nothing a hero like you wouldn’t have been able to handle.” And they shook hands.

The heroes from the 2000, 1975, and 1986 timelines returned to their own eras and subsequently lost all memory of the weird case, as did all of the heroes and villains involved — all except for the raving Psycho-Pirate, who somehow remembered it as a fevered dream as he sat back in his cell, decades later, a few short months after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

***

Oliver Weed, master of time, watched it all and smiled. He had sure shown that Dr. Doome. He shook his head sadly as he thought of Miss Masque and the others who had gone back to their doomed world in 1943 and would meet death in the Crisis when it occurred. Unless — could he tuck them away in the time-stream? Could he put them in an alternate Earth-Two timeline in which they were the heroes of the All-Star Squadron? He wasn’t sure if it was possible, but Mr. Weed would try.

He also sadly realized that he had seen the answer to one of history’s unsolved mysteries — who the Nebula-Man was, and why he so hated the Seven Soldiers of Victory. He was a cosmic being believed created by the Hand, yet in truth he had been Dr. Doome, altered and maddened, but still possessed of enough hate to attack his old foes and — true to his word — strand them all in time periods scattered through history for decades.

Mr. Weed was one of the few individuals who could have answered Mister Terrific’s question about Doome’s first name, as well as his middle name. His first name was Wilfred, which he disliked, but he particularly hated that no one could pronounce his middle name as it was spelled. His mother had been Welsh and had given him the middle name of Gwythyr. After he gained his doctorate, he called himself only by the name of Dr. Doome, or sometimes Dr. W.G. Doome, as with his work with the other time-travel scientists of the so-called Time Trust. But while growing up, he used the Anglicized form of his middle name and called himself Victor. It was a somewhat ironic choice, since many years later — long after Victor Doome gave way to Dr. Doome — this man’s arch-enemies were the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

At some point, Weed theorized, he must have returned to human form without any memory of his role as Nebula-Man and witnessed the Crisis on Infinite Earths. By going back in time, he had orchestrated his own weird fate and cursed his foes unknowingly.

Mr. Weed grinned and said, “Of such are time paradoxes made.”

The End

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