Spotting the notorious villain known as the Runaway Bride, Johnny Thunder made a lunge for the white-gowned figure as he yelled, “Hey, lady! Did you fall off a cake or something?”
But the Runaway Bride spun around and kicked him in the face with both savagery and speed. He rolled back and kicked the door shut behind him.
“I’ll carry you over threshold after I teach you some manners!” joked Johnny as he watched the Runaway Bride carefully. She moved with an athlete’s grace and swung the desk chair between her and Johnny.
“I throw more than rice!” she said in a muffled tone as she lashed out at him. “I also throw a mean left hook!”
Johnny had faced maniacs from other worlds and tyrants of the Axis regime, but he still had his qualms about hitting a woman. He had fought others before and had won, but the gentlemen in him hated doing so. He didn’t get a chance to do anything that would trouble his conscience, though, since the agile Runaway Bride crashed through the office window and caught the flagpole, from which she slid safely to the ground with ease.
“Whoa! The Canary could do that, but not many other folks could!” he said with grudging admiration.
He ran after her, but by the time he reached the pavement she had vanished. I guess this proves a connection between the Brewer sister and the Bride, like Martha thought! I could track her to her apartment address, which I got from the library.
Johnny knew the wedding was the next day, and it would be a valuable place to rob, since the couple in question was Archibald Andrews and the wealthy Veronica Lodge of Riverdale. He expected the Runaway Bride to strike as usual, but what she did not know was that Johnny planned his own surprise attack.
Driving into the lot at Marcia Brewer’s home, he slipped past the doorman with the ease of one who had braved many challenges over the years. He found her door and paused.
“A little observation may prove better in the long run. I’d say even the Sandman would be proud of me now,” he mumbled to himself as he went back down and approached the janitor’s closet. He glanced around the empty alcove and picked the lock like the Canary had taught him, then slipped into a pair of coveralls. Climbing out on the window ledge, he eased across the decks toward Marcia’s window.
Good thing this place has wide decks and a resident window cleaner! he mused as he adjusted the scraper and peered through the glass. He frowned as he heard a conversation within. A masked man talked to a black-haired woman in a mask of her own. Both wore elegant formal wear.
“Thith dame hath to go!” said the man. “We’ll just dothe her and let the cops think the killed herthelf in grief over being hunted down by that punk Thunder!”
“Oh, Bruno, you are such a planner!” giggled the woman. They stood over a still figure in a wedding gown.
“Not so fast!” yelled Johnny as he smashed through the window and crashed to the floor.
“It’s him! Too soon!” cried the woman as she pulled a gun.
Shoving the man in black into the woman, Johnny belted him with a right hook. He ducked as a vase shattered near his head, and he jumped the table to bring down the woman before she could retrieve the gun she had dropped. Johnny moved quickly and pushed the woman across the room, even as the man raised a needle and moved closer to him.
“I know you! That lisp gives you away, as does your occupation!” cried Johnny as he desperately brought up a chair and knocked the needle out of the menacing man’s hand. He connected with a solid right, and the crook lay still, as did the panting woman who had remained on her knees.
Johnny bent over the Runaway Bride and lifted back her veil. She was Marcia Brewer, as he recognized her from her photo in the staff section of the Riverdale yearbook. But she was also drugged; he caught a whiff of a powerful narcotic.
“Those rats double crossed you!” said Johnny. “I remember the butler from Martha’s place had the same lisp as our masked pal, here. No doubt the leggy gal on the floor is Martha’s maid or cook. They used her inside info that she acquired innocently enough as a caterer to weddings and receptions at fancy homes to get the lay of the land before robbing a place. You thought you could ruin your sister out of jealousy, but you didn’t expect me to track you down so fast! These creeps figured that made you a liability, so they were going to kill you and make it look like suicide to cover their own tracks in case you talked to me!”
Johnny called the police and an ambulance. “Hang on! Just hang on!” he urged the stricken woman in white.
Later, as Johnny Thunder stood in the waiting room at the local hospital where Marcia Brewer had been taken, he addressed the head of staff. “So, Dr. Bellows, you understand my request? Nobody can know who she is or that she is here until tomorrow night.”
“Certainly, if a member of the Justice Society wishes it, then that’s good enough for me!” answered Bellows.
Johnny thanked him and said to himself, “Now I’ve got a wedding to get to… and a call to make.”
He was soon speaking to someone over the telephone. “We need to let Martha think that no one has found poor Marcia yet. That way, the Runaway Bride — the real one — will feel safe to strike at the Andrews wedding!”
The next day found Martha Brewer busy as usual. “I can’t think what could have become of Reeves and Nanette. They never came back from their time off!”
“You can’t get good help these days!” remarked Johnny. “Don’t worry about a thing!”
Martha smiled. “Dear John, you always say the right thing!”
“I don’t hear that very often,” he said, grinning.
The ceremony started, and the elegant guests awaited the entrance of the fashionable society bride, Veronica Lodge. She entered, and her veil and gown were stunning. She approached the altar, where a nervous redhead named Archibald Andrews awaited his wife-to-be.
“This wedding ends now!” shrieked a wedding-gown-clad woman who had suddenly led a gang of well-dressed thugs into the chapel. “Give us all your valuables or die!”
“Here comes the real Runaway Bride, as I expected,” said Johnny as he sprang into action.
Instantly, many of the guests drew guns and got the drop on the unsuspecting gang. The Runaway Bride suddenly found herself unveiled before all by an agile Johnny.
“Martha Brewer — the diva herself! You dressed in this getup to be seen in Marcia’s office after your pals kidnapped and dressed her up in a matching gown. You wanted them to kill her, and figured by the time I could find her, you’d have struck today. Then we’d all think Marcia had been the Runaway Bride to begin with. It failed. I did my checking. Seems Marcia and you were star athletes in college, and you were also jilted at the altar years before by none other than Archie over there! You and your catering gang robbed those weddings, using your insider’s know-how, but it was not for cash, as far as you were concerned. You just wanted to throw off suspicion when you showed up here and ‘accidentally’ killed Archie in the robbery gone wrong!”
Martha’s perfectly made up face grew crimson-red with rage. “You can’t stop me, even if you did place plainclothes cops in the crowd to get my gang! I never thought your pride would let a mighty JSAer call in common cops! I can still kill Andrews!” She suddenly belted Johnny with her concealed gun. As he fell to the ground, she charged for the couple at the altar.
But before she knew what was happening, she received a perfectly delivered high kick to the nose, as well as three rapid punches from the amazingly skilled bride-to-be. Veronica took off the gown to reveal a blue and black costume with fishnet stockings.
“Great work, Black Canary!” cheered Johnny as he nursed a bruised head. “You fooled them all into thinking you were Veronica!”
Black Canary smiled. “Thanks to your call, we brought this Runaway Bride to justice. Good work, Johnny.”
Johnny grinned. “Well, when I learned about Martha’s background with Archie and her sports days, it all came together. Plus, G.L. told me he had fought the lisping butler and his gang of crooked domestics before!” Grinning sheepishly, he added, “Say, you know, Canary, as long as you have a wedding gown, and we’re here…”
“Not a chance! This little bird has to fly free!” she teased.
“So, do you want to dance, at least?” he asked as cops led out the gang and a shrieking Martha.
“I do!” teased the Black Canary as she tossed a bouquet toward the crowd.