Justice Society of America: 1942: The Man Who Fell to Earth, Chapter 2: Paladin of Light

by PaladinLgt

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One of the reporters for the radio, hearing all the commotion, began to broadcast the reports of the battle on the air. “This is a special bulletin. Green Lantern has fallen to some new masked man. The scarlet speedster of Keystone City has arrived to do battle with this mysterious new menace. Can the Flash defeat this foe? Or will it take the might of the disbanded Justice Society of America? The citizens of Gotham are cheering for the Flash to win.”

I could have let the Flash put me in custody, I suppose, as I pretended to be knocked out, but my temper got the better of me as he leaned in. I tried a nerve punch, but the Flash’s reflexes let him avoid most of the blow. I jumped to my feet and ran toward my sword. The Flash came at me and hit me with several super-speed punches before racing back out of reach. I would go for my sword, he would race in to punch me, then move back.

“Give up now, son. You can’t win,” the Flash spoke confidently as he dodged my blows.

I considered surrendering again. “If I let you take me in, will you give me a chance to explain what happened?” The Flash nodded his head, so I put my hands up. One of the local cops, seeing my ring glow slightly, fired his gun at me, hitting me in the shoulder. The gush of blood from the hole in my shoulder surprised the Flash. I used the impact to get me to my sword as my wound began to seal itself.

“I see now I will have to find someone who is prepared to understand this is all a mistake.” I rose into the air.

The radio broadcast had reached another former member of the Justice Society, the naive Johnny Thunder, who was also on leave, except from the Navy. “Say, you would think that the guys would show up and help out the Flash.” With a crackle of energy, the Thunderbolt grabbed up the former members of the JSA and transported them to Gotham City.

I could feel the others arrive. A winged hawk-face man; an electric, pink-colored, bolt-shaped creature with a slightly befuddled man in a white sailor’s uniform sitting on its back; a half-helm-wearing man; a man with dark goggles on with a half-moon as his symbol; a tacky gold-and-purple-costumed man; and finally a rod-wielding, fin-headed man.

I am a man without fear, but the tactical odds against me were too great. Fortunately, depending on your point of view, a real Nazi sympathizer was about to help me prove that I was a good guy. He was a dabbler in the arts of magic who had found an copy of an ancient manual of the mystic arts that was factual. He used it to summon a creature from another dimension known as a fire elemental. He unleashed it on Gotham to test the creature’s capability.

The battle between myself and the Justice Society of America was just about to begin when a warehouse became engulfed in flames. The shambling mannish shape was seen hovering over the building, reveling in the flames. Hawkman began to give orders to the group. “Starman and I will deal with the creature, while everyone else searches the warehouse for people.”

I was sort of miffed about being ignored but wisely choose not to say what came into my mind. “It’s some sort of elemental. Definitely not natural.”

They had already charged into battle while I was making observations. I can respect anyone who shows as much bravery as they did that night. Hawkman and Starman tried several approaches, while the others checked the building for people. All they really succeeded in doing was making the creature mad.

I flew in and knocked the Hawkman out of the way of a fiery fist, only to be engulfed in it myself. The smell of burning flesh is not a pleasant scent, especially when it’s your own. I screamed in agony, but in the language of the Dragon race. The fire elemental released me and began to speak in the same language.

“Summoned by weak one. Bound in chains. Wish to go to own realm where it’s warm, not this cold hell. Free me!

I agreed to the terms and used my enchanted blade to absorb the magic bondage holding the creature against his or her will. The creature disappeared, leaving only the smouldering remains of the warehouse. The feedback from the disruption of the spell destroyed the book, robbing the foul little Nazi man of any power.

This time I was believed when I explained about the incidents. Unfortunately, the only people that could help me were Doctor Fate and the ghost known as the Spectre. Alas, the Spectre was missing, while Doctor Fate didn’t have his full powers anymore.

After explaining what led up to the fight, I reluctantly introduced myself. “My name is Paladin of Light, and I come from another world much like this one. I only wish your aid to return to my proper place.” I looked hopefully at the assembled mystery-men.

“Perhaps Johnny can get his Thunderbolt to send you back, but first I need to be returned before Myra misses me,” said Doctor Mid-Nite.

“I agree with Doc,” said the Atom. “I don’t want to be classified as AWOL after all the hard work I put in.”

All of us could be in trouble if we do not get returned to our proper places,” said Hawkman, looking at Johnny Thunder in his white sailor’s suit.

“Say, you guys really need to get back, then, before anyone notices that you are gone,” said the naïve Johnny Thunder before his Thunderbolt whisked everyone back to their proper places. “Hey, where did they all disappear to?”

“Your Thunderbolt took them back to where they belong, Johnny,” said the Flash with a grin on his face, before turning to me. “Sorry about the misunderstanding. It looked like you were one of the bad guys from my perspective. I hope I didn’t hurt you too badly.” The Flash stuck out his hand, which I shook.

“No problem,” I replied. “I just hope you can convince the other guy before he grabs me again with another one of his ring-creations. Do you think that this Johnny can get me back to where I belong?” As I said this, I looked somewhat doubtfully at Johnny.

“Johnny may not be the brightest bulb, but his heart is always in the right place. If his Thunderbolt can get you back to where you belong, it will. I had better go explain to Green Lantern why he shouldn’t squish you like toothpaste.” The Flash then raced off to see if Green Lantern had recovered consciousness.

The pink Thunderbolt reappeared and asked Johnny Thunder, “Master John, what do you want me to do next?

Johnny Thunder smiled somewhat nervously as he glanced at me. “Take this man back to his proper place.”

The Thunderbolt tried to use his powerful magic to send me back to where I belonged but failed. “I apologize, Master John. Something about the stranger defies my attempt to send him back to his proper place.”

Johnny Thunder shrugged self-consciously. “I’m sorry, Mr. Paladin. My Thunderbolt can’t seem to send you back to where you belong. But I’m on leave, so I can show you around. Thunderbolt, take us on a tour of the sites.” The Thunderbolt grabbed us both and took off on a whirlwind tour of the United States.

As I learned later on, the Flash quickly came back from visiting his ally and wondered where we were. He said to himself something like this: “I guess Johnny sent that stranger back to where he belongs. I’ll go see if Green Lantern wants to get some coffee and some aspirin before we head to New York to meet up with Wonder Woman to help out with the War Bond Circus.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Three Faces of Evil,” All-Star Squadron Annual #1 (1982).]

***

After the time limit expired on Johnny Thunder’s control of the Thunderbolt, I found myself in Washington, D.C. “Thank you, Mr. Thunder, for your attempt to aid me, but I prefer to be alone for a while.”

Johnny Thunder smiled at me before walking off. “I hope you had a good time. Maybe somebody else can get you home.” Johnny looked around after realizing he didn’t have enough money to get a taxi back to Gotham City. “Darn it. I should have thought of that before the Thunderbolt left.”

I, Paladin of Light — a man from another world — spent several hours walking around the city, lost in deep thought. As I did so, several would-be muggers took one look at the expression in my eyes and face and decided to find someone else less dangerous to tackle.

Then, using the magic of my enchanted blade, I flew to the top of the Washington Monument to watch the slow rise of the sun. A reluctant smile flowed onto my face as I watched the sun.

“I’ve got no choice but to accept being here for a time, so I might as well arrange a new identity. But I have to remember to keep secret the knowledge I have.” With those words, I swooped down to the ground, ready to begin my next adventure in this world in which I had now found myself.

Continued in Showcase: Paladin of Light: Out of the Darkness

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