The first thing Johnny Thunder saw when he woke up was the lovely face of Sinestra the Purple Priestess as she stood over him. He noticed just how delicately her blonde hair curled around her alabaster face. Oddly enough, he had failed to admire such beauty before. He immediately realized just how much he wanted to please her. She was so wonderful. She had everything any man could want in a woman. Serving her would be the best way he could spend his life. He frowned as he fought the thoughts that raced through his mind. He knew that she was deadly and that it was only due her intoxicating perfumes that he wanted to serve her. He also realized that he felt as if he had been newly reinvigorated, as if by magic.
She smiled and whispered in a low throaty tone, “You awake? Good. I saw you transform yourself from female to male. I wish you to use such magic in service of Sinestra the Purple Priestess. You do want to serve me, do you not?”
Johnny heard his voice as he said, “Yes!” OK, she gave me some drug that makes me want to obey her, he thought. It must be like whatever she gave to Monroe, Davis, and, I’m guessing, to Peachy. It makes them younger, but also gives them an overwhelming urge to obey Sinestra. Somehow it’s not controlling me fully. I bet the fact that I’ve been around the T-bolt’s magic so long over the years has given me a limited immunity. Then again, maybe Odin’s boon that gave me youth countered her drug that does the same thing.
Sinestra stood up and swept her filmy purple robe aside as she walked across the room. “Excellent. Nothing should prevent you from serving the divinity that is Sinestra! I wish you to use your magic to provide me with unlimited wealth. No longer shall I be content to merely sell youth potions to the needy and aging wealthy while gaining their very wills as well, due to the additives of my purple pills.”
“Say, you know, the unseen forces at my command should produce a pile of cash!” said Johnny.
The Thunderbolt manifested invisibly and created a huge stack of money. He obeyed Johnny’s literal wording so that no one except Thunder could see the pink Thunderbolt.
Good thinking on his part, mused the Thunderbolt. He knows that legs over there doesn’t realize that I exist. I was invisible when Master John was brought to her. She thinks he’s doing the magic on his own. What a joke!
Sinestra laughed and tossed handfuls of money in the air. “Lovely! If one as lofty as I could enjoy the sordid and material, then this would truly excite me!”
She’s a nut, thought Johnny. She refers to herself in third person at times and thinks she is some type of goddess. If I can keep my wits about me, she’ll never realize that my T-bolt is doing the magic, and that I still have some free will.
Sinestra caressed Johnny’s face and cooed, “Now, tomorrow we shall avenge my celestial presence upon those who dared doubt my immortal power. Tomorrow we shall destroy the assembled nobles of Zarikan!”
Johnny gulped as he listened to her silky and compelling voice. She wants to destroy the crowd at the embassy party! I can only imagine why. She must be from that island. She does have an accent like Eleanora’s!
He tried to speak, but to his dismay he could not say a word without being commanded to do so by the impressive blonde. Got to bide my time, thought Johnny. When she tells me to do something, I have to do it, and in order to work my magic, I need to speak to the T-bolt. Maybe I can keep choosing my literal commands so that he can free me or stop that cold-hearted snake!
His eyes widened as he saw dozens of youthful and often famous figures working around the place, serving their mistress loyally. Some were Hollywood stars, and others came from the political world. One figure was Peachy Pet Thunder.
Oh, no! he thought. The T-bolt’s hour of control of her ended when I was captured. I guess she rushed here like the rest. Poor kid. She must have felt weird being older-looking than Daisy or me. I guess she bought youth from Sinestra like these other wealthy folks, and in doing so, she became the Purple Priestess’ slave!
Peachy Pet had been compelled to come to the lair of the Purple Priestess for the exact reasons her heroic father had deduced. She had fallen so deeply under the siren spell of Sinestra that she did little more than recognize Johnny’s helpless form when she passed him to bow to Sinestra and kiss the hem of her purple robe.
Sinestra turned to Johnny and smiled, walking with a mincing flounce as she drew nearer. She seemed to fear that touching the ground would soil her garments or reflect badly on her imagined divinity. “I tire of creating my purple pills by slave labor of the ordinary kind. I command you to produce more pills like this one, my pet!” she whispered as she placed a small purple pill in Johnny’s hand.
“Take me where I can get more pills like this one for Sinestra!” he cried. He landed hard as the Thunderbolt carried him at super-speed across the globe to an ornate building. “Now, T-bolt, free me from her spell completely.”
The Thunderbolt smiled and said, “You are as normal as you were to begin with!”
“Yeah!” said Johnny. “I feel better. I guess even her spell has a certain range. Once I was out of her region of influence, I was able to talk.”
“Not much of an improvement, if you ask me,” quipped his Thunderbolt.
Johnny ignored the traditional good-natured banter and said, “This is where her feel-good pills came from. So where are we? Looks familiar.”
A lovely blonde in a tunic entered and gasped, “Mr. Thunder! What brings you to Science Island?”
“Paula?” said Johnny. “You’re Wonder Woman’s pal, Paula von Gunther. This must be your lab near Paradise Island, where Wonder Woman was born. I guess I’m lucky I landed here, since you Amazons don’t let men on the main island.”
“As you know, I am an Amazon by adoption,” said Paula. “Now, I ask you only how may I help you? Any friend of Princess Diana’s is a friend to me.”
“This pill supposedly came from here,” said Johnny. “Can you tell me more about it?”
Paula shook her head. “This is a modification of a pill containing energy from what we call the purple healing ray. Diana and I have made pill versions as well. This one carries the healing factor but has been altered in some way. Let me examine it.”
Johnny watched as one of the most brilliant minds on Earth studied the pill. Paula had been a Nazi agent at one time, and as such had fought Wonder Woman and other heroes, including Johnny himself. (*) She had since reformed and had long been an ally of the amazing Amazon and her Justice Society pals.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Johnny Thunder and Wonder Woman: Times Past, 1941: Swings and Arrows.]
“Johnny, this pill has been created so that it gives the one who takes it added vitality but enslaves them to the will of the one who gives the dose,” explained Paula. “The creator must be very clever. However, what concerns me is — how did she or he acquire samples of our healing-ray pills upon which to base her formula?”
“A real creepy lady named Sinestra made it,” said Johnny. “She comes from Zarikan and calls herself the Purple Priestess.”
Paula ran to a machine and hit a switch after typing in some data. “Let the omniwave scope show what we know of her. Diana encountered her once or twice before in the late 1940s.” The Amazon device displayed the cold but lovely features of the Purple Priestess. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Judgment of Goddess Vultura,” Wonder Woman #25 (September-October, 1947).]
“That’s the doll, all right!” said Johnny. “She fought Wonder Woman, huh? I guess one of her other foes swiped a pill and gave it to Sinestra.”
Paula smiled. “Indeed! There have been renegade Amazons before, like Keela or Mavis, who could easily have stolen one sample and given it to Sinestra. She has a real genius, since the normal pill does not produce either youth or enslave one’s mind.”
“Thanks!” said Johnny. “I know she plans to attack this embassy party I’m supposed to attend. I’ll have to guard the place and nab her when she shows her purple puss!”
“Good luck to you,” said Paula. “She was very deadly when Diana fought her in 1947. She tried to control Zarikan’s royal family. Queen Allura of Zarikan is still living, although her father died years ago.”
Johnny nodded. “Allura is scheduled to appear at the party. I bet Sinestra will send her slaves to kill her. I have to stop her. You see, one of her slaves is my daughter!”
Paula frowned. “I know all too well how much a parent will risk for her child. I pray you shall succeed.”
Johnny gave her a wink as he prepared to depart. “Sure. I stopped you, didn’t I?”
As his pink Thunderbolt carried him away, Paula smiled. “He’s a remarkable man. No wonder the Princess Diana is so fond of him.”
Johnny and Daisy Thunder entered the Zarikan Embassy as wealthy men and women of influence mingled in the festively decorated hall. Johnny had tried to convince his often-childish wife to remain at home, but she had stubbornly refused to obey. He hoped the precautions he had taken would enable him to stop the Purple Priestess and free Peachy Pet. He had decided not to try to rescue her until the attack on the embassy, since he felt certain that Sinestra would not harm her. She obviously saw her as merely one of hundreds of wealthy pawns. Johnny vowed to change all that.
Daisy let out a high-pitched squeal as she grabbed his arm and pointed toward a lovely brunette. “That’s Queen Allura! She looks so pretty,” said Daisy.
Johnny grinned. “She’s swell, but you look even better!”
Daisy fluffed at her hair and said, “If you think so, then that’s all that matters!”
Johnny said to himself, “Oh man! The place is full of beautiful and handsome types, and any of them could owe their looks and vitality to that witch. They could all be her slaves. Got to be calm and keep my wits about me.”
He smiled when Sinestra herself appeared in the entrance, and her heady perfume filled the air. As she entered, men and women stiffened as if they were puppets awaiting their mistress’ commands. The truth was not far from this analogy.
“Say, you know, if that weird perfume of hers was just ordinary garlic, we’d be fine!” said Johnny.
Instantly, the Purple Priestess gasped as her drugged fragrance became nothing more exotic than garlic. She shrieked in anger and said, “Kill Allura and that man! Your mistress commands their deaths!” The room became a place of chaos as people surged for the frightened queen and a stalwart Johnny.
“Oh, Johnny! Do something!” cried Daisy.
Johnny smiled. “T-bolt, free everyone’s minds now!”
The pink Thunderbolt flashed across the room, and his magic restored their freedom. The men and women stopped in their attack and tried to understand what had been clouding their minds for so long.
Sinestra approached Johnny and reached into her voluminous robe. “I have other weapons at my disposal!”
“Get rid of her robes!” cried Johnny.
The Thunderbolt grinned, and in seconds Sinestra stood helpless in the middle of the embassy wearing nothing more than a lavender bikini. She gasped in shock and outrage as embassy security gripped her arms and led her away.
“This broad reeks!” said one guard as an indignant Sinestra struggled against the mixed concerns of getting her revenge and saving her now-lost dignity.
Daisy elbowed Johnny. “Did you really need to leave her in her underwear like that?”
Johnny shrugged. “I figured it would keep her from using any of those hidden drugs and perfumes from her robe, and it would embarrass her. She lost all power over these folks when the T-bolt freed them, but it did them all some good to see that their goddess was just a madwoman in exotic clothes!”
The Thunderbolt smirked as he said, “Surrre. That’s why you gave that order. Yep.”
Queen Allura and Eleanora Ankova thanked Johnny warmly as the party continued. “I cannot thank you enough,” said the relieved queen. “She only sold youth to the very powerful and wealthy. She brought them here to kill me, but after you cured them of her control, many stayed and are interested in investing in our nation.”
“That’s great, your Majesty,” said Johnny. “Now, I have family business.” He rushed up to Peachy Pet. She was talking to Daisy and looked forlorn. “Peachy, are you OK?” he said. “The T-bolt freed you all but left the rejuvenating effects of the pill. I figured it would be better, since it has to be strange having folks who look younger than you.”
Peachy embraced him warmly and said, “I know! Thank you so much. I was a real jerk to try to shut you out. Being my age and still single for all these years since my husband died, especially now that my kids are almost all grown up, drove me to extreme measures. Some friends had bought the pills from Sinestra, so I did as well. One dose had me younger but in her power.”
“Well, now you’re free and young, and from now on, you come to me with your problems,” said Johnny.
Peachy nodded. “I will. Now, how about a dance?”
Johnny smiled broadly. “I’d be delighted.”
They passed a pleasant evening together as their family bonded once more. Later, as Johnny suggested heading home, Daisy frowned and said, “We can’t go yet. I want to get some fashion tips from Allura.”
Johnny sighed and said, “Where are those purple pills when I need them?”