In the weeks that followed that fateful meeting, a lovely woman found herself in a frantic chase down a hall in a famous Washington, D.C., landmark. She had auburn hair and was lovely, but was clearly in a panic. Her dress was torn, and she lacked one shoe. She gasped for air and turned to see two women in hot pursuit of her.
“It is useless to run!” said a blonde in a housemaid outfit. She gasped as the woman she chased spun and kicked her directly in the chin.
The second woman wore an elegant business suit and skirt, and tackled the auburn-haired girl. They fell down hard, and a struggle broke out. Seconds passed, and a hard right hook from the object of the hunt stunned her enemy.
Lorna Dawn, Secret Service agent, kicked off her other heel and swung open a door. Got to get word to Alan Scott — he may be able to contact the Green Lantern in time, she thought. My own channels are compromised.
She gasped as the door widened, and she found not freedom or escape, but another foe, who shocked her without making a move. Lorna gasped, “You look just like me!”
The double smiled and smashed a blunt weight over Lorna Dawn’s startled expression. She smiled again and carried her double to where her sister agents waited.
“She is beaten. All shall proceed as the Baroness commands,” said the lovely Axis agent with Lorna Dawn’s face.
Rex Tyler sighed as his boss, Mr. Bannermain, delivered the latest in a long line of lectures. “Another thing, Tyler, you waltz away from your job at my chemical company for a couple of months with just a quick call to my daughter Beverly, who is oddly and disturbingly fond of you, and then expect to be re-hired when you return from your little personal business? You’re lucky you’re not on the street!” he roared. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Rex Tyler was on Earth-X from December 7, 1941, to February 24, 1942; see “Crisis on Earth-X: The Prequel,” All-Star Squadron #32 (April, 1984) and “That Earths May Live,” All-Star Squadron #35 (July, 1984).]
You know you’d never find someone with my work ethic at this miserable pay, Rex thought.
“So we take you in again last year,” continued Mr. Bannermain, “and ever since then you creep around here like some little milksop! Show some spine, man! No weak sisters ever get anywhere in life!”
“But, sir, I am very good at my job…” began Rex.
“Say, you shouldn’t talk to Rex like that! You oughtta give him a raise!” said an indignant young man in a white U.S. Navy sailor’s uniform.
Bannermain’s red face turned green, and he sputtered, “Why–! Why… of course, Rex, my boy! I was just letting off steam! You’ve got the raise! Why, you need anything, just come to your old pal. Call me Alex!”
Johnny Thunder grinned as his friend Rex Tyler heard and saw what had occurred.
“Yes, sir. Thank you,” Rex said, hiding a smile.
As Bannermain rushed off, Rex shook hands with the young visitor. “Johnny, I’m not sure that was exactly ethical,” he said, slapping the man on his back. “I love it, but I’m not sure that’s in the old handbook.”
“Gosh, I just couldn’t put up with that old creep being so sour to you,” said Johnny. “I thought Mr. Darling had it in for me at his store, but your boss is like a cartoon. Like Mr. Dithers in Blondie!”
Rex Tyler led Johnny Thunder into his office. “I’ll grab my coat, then I’ll show you around the place,” he replied. “It’s good to see you. Since my leave, I’ve missed you all. Charles calls me some, as does Wes, but it’s not the same.”
“I bet my T-bolt could fix your system up so that stuff wouldn’t have side-effects,” said Johnny.
Rex shook his head. “No shortcuts, pal. I invented it, and I need to control its harmful effects. I’m thinking about a variant.”
They walked through the plant for a while, but stopped as cries rang out.
“It’s Bannermain! He’s flipped!” said a worker.
Indeed, Alexander Bannermain was presently being sedated by a staff doctor as his screams filled the factory.
“What’s wrong, Beverly?” asked Rex of his boss’ pretty redheaded daughter.
“Dad just had some kind of spell,” said Beverly Bannermain. “I think a long rest is all he needs, high blood pressure and all. He has trouble adjusting to change, and all the new female workers on the swing shift upset his old-fashioned ideas. Don’t worry, Rex. I’m in charge now!”
Rex nodded as his pretty sometime love interest walked down the hall.
“Say, you don’t think my Thunderbolt was to blame for that!” said Johnny. “I didn’t mean any harm.”
“No, don’t give it another thought,” said Rex. “Bannermain was a heart attack waiting to happen. I know from my own experience how sudden these things can take you.”
A second lovely woman, this one with blonde hair, watched with concern.
Ted Knight sat across from his fiancée’s uncle, FBI man Woodley Allen, who was a bit irate. The usually placid G-man was almost hyper tonight as he poured out his worries to Ted — or, more precisely, to Ted’s costumed alter ego, Starman.
“I’m at my wit’s end, and I don’t know what to do!” said the pale and oddly excited Allen. “Vital documents have been vanishing from my office. I correct the imagined security lapse by taking some home to my own house. Same result — stolen documents! I’m worried about Doris. If someone is getting in and out of the place so easily, then maybe my favorite niece better stay at her house. I’d be sick if something happened to her!”
Starman frowned. “I’m sure there is a reasonable answer. I mean, as reasonable as invisible old men and giant dynamos are, both of which I’ve encountered.” The joke was meant to lighten the trusted friend’s worries, but it fell flat.
“Starman, this is both a matter of national security and personal integrity. My reputation could be ruined! That’s it. It’s all a plot. They hate me! They want me out!” he shouted crazily.
The man of night jumped up and restrained his friend. He’s raving! This is more than stress! he mused as he tried to calm the man who had access to the highest government secrets. As he did so, he formed a plan. First, I stake out Woodley’s place, he thought. He is so upset that he could be missing something that this playboy-turned-stargazer-turned-mystery-man may be able to track down.
That evening, Starman hovered high overhead and watched all roads leading to and from Allen’s home. I caught up with Doris, he thought, mentally reviewing recent events. She had been at Woodley’s office right before I arrived, and he had that spot of anxiety. She said he was acting strange lately, and that was certainly not the worst observation Miss Lee has made in her debutante life. Good thing she was able to persuade him into going home.
Starman waited unseen as stars flickered above, and he waved his amazing gravity rod. “Beautiful night,” he said. “This makes me realize there’s more to the nighttime than busting spy rings and rescuing New York or Opal from the latest costumed nut. Stars drew me out of my old playboy life, and they’ll be there for me when I’m too old to wear these long johns.”
Then the keen-eyed mystery-man spotted an alarming sight. The alarm I placed in Woodley’s safe just registered by flashing a light on the rod, he thought as the rod flickered. Someone other than my buddy just opened that off-limits safe! He swooped low and gazed within the old house. Curiouser and curiouser, he thought. Doris is thumbing through the papers. She knows better than that. She looks fine. No glazed eyes. I doubt she is under some mind-control. Says something about my life that I’d even think about that option.
As Starman watched, his lovely lady love helped herself to the very documents Allen had been worried about. This is strange. Perhaps I had better follow her, he mused, and watched as Doris pocketed the documents and rushed quietly outside to her car. Starman frowned. This is getting serious. I wonder if I should just step in now.
Doris drove off, and the costly car wound its way down the dark country roads. Starman flew above and easily kept pace with the vehicle, which was parked in a wooden area, and the elegantly dressed society girl stepped out.
I know that Doris is always ribbing Ted Knight about being more of a man’s man and not such a sickly guy, but even she would think twice before wearing silk hosiery and high heels into the woods at night, he thought, and dropped down as Doris met a lovely woman with red hair.
“I have the schedule here!” said Doris in an accent that struck Ted’s discerning ears as German.
“Excellent!” said the lithe woman. “The Baroness will be delighted. Once we know the routine, we may best select the time to strike.” She wore an odd outfit of red shorts and a white, sleeveless top. Her wrists were adorned with metal bracelets.
Those bracelets — an Amazon? thought Starman. “Hold it, sister!” he cried. “Those papers are not for public reading.”
“Starman!” cried Doris as she turned and drew a pistol from her purse. Bullets blazed forth from her gun, to be deflected harmlessly off the glow of the stellar energy of the gravity rod.
Doris has turned lethal! thought an agonized Starman. That can’t be the woman I love! The second woman turned and aimed a high kick at his head. Even though the blow bounced easily off his shield, he frowned. What a move! he gasped. She may not have the raw power of an Amazon, but that agility and speed rival an Olympian like Will Everett or Libby Lawrence.
“I’m ending this little nature romp now!” said Starman, waving the rod, and a gleaming sphere formed around the angry Doris Lee. A second later, the rod spun out of his numb hand as the redhead fired a projectile directly into his hand. The rod dipped down and hung from the strap about his wrist, and as he reached for the handle, she struck again. A dart hit his chest this time, and he fell to the leafy floor of the woods. “Poison!” he gasped in shocked realization.
A rock grazed his skull as the now free Doris broke out of the fading bubble and attacked from the rear. “Foolish Amerikaner! Shall we take him to the Baroness?” asked Doris Lee’s double.
“No. I hear sirens,” cried the redhead. “We’d best flee. You have done your job!”
The false Doris nodded. Beneath her own silk blouse, she wore a set of metal bracelets. They raced off into the woods as a newcomer appeared and frowned over the fallen hero.
“They are winning, in spite of my efforts,” she said.