Justice Society of America: 1943: Woman Trouble, Chapter 2: Girl Killers and Killed Girls

by Libbylawrence

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Dan White turned to his wife Diana and said, “Di, this Major Williams is a real big shot. If he approves my new shell, then we’ll be set with a military contract!”

Diana White smiled and fell into her husband’s arms. “I’m so proud of you!” She was bright and had good facial features, yet she reduced much of her appeal by the style in which she wore her hair and the rather severe glasses and outfits she wore. Dan was so jealous of anyone paying the least bit of attention to her that she had always deliberately played down her good looks in order to appease his hot temper. It would not do for the inventor’s wife to catch the eye of one of the many G.I.s with whom he dealt.

Tidying up the house, she stepped outside to remove some clothing from their clothesline. As she ducked under the line and picked up a fallen clothespin, she saw someone’s legs. When her eyes lifted to see the face of the woman before her, she screamed. “You look just like me!” she gasped.

***

Later, Dan and Diana White greeted their guests Jay Garrick, Major John Arthur Williams, and his pretty daughter Joan Garrick.

“Major Williams, your bombsight is amazing! It’s an honor to have you look at my designs,” said a gushing Dan White.

Williams smiled and said, “Not at all, my boy. Uncle Sam needs you, as they say.”

Jay Garrick was concerned. Joan, wearing a pink dress trimmed at her puffy long sleeves with white cuffs, was silent. His girlfriend was known for her spirited personality, and the silence was getting to him. He either needed to get her talking or get a break. He smiled as he noticed how much Diana White looked like another Diana he knew — Diana Prince, alias Wonder Woman.

A sudden crash outside made up his mind for him, as seven men rushed the house with drawn guns.

“Joan, get back and stay down!” cried Jay. “We’ve got company! Looks like the Flash is out there, too!” This was only the barest of exaggerations, since he, being the Flash, was in fact outside in the blink of an eye as the others rushed away from the front of the house.

The Flash wasted little time. “You boys keep off the grass with your toys! Next time, I’ll keep them!” He grinned as his rapidly vibrating hands shattered three guns. He then connected with a dozen punches in quick succession, and two gun men dropped before they could even realize that the fastest man alive was amongst them.

Wonder Woman then crashed out of the window and smiled, “Mind if I join this little ‘meet and greet’?” She kicked out, and a thug crashed into his partners. A swift spin of her golden lasso brought down three more.

“It was you!” he whispered to Diana. “I thought you just had a look-alike in Mrs. White!”

Wonder Woman smiled and said, “She was the original Diana Prince before she married Dan. It was her identity that I assumed when I first came to Man’s World. She needed money to join Dan, and I needed her credentials to be near Steve. (*) I was tipped off that someone was going to make an attempt on the Whites and the new shell, so I took her place; she’s at my room at the base. Dan doesn’t know we made the switch; he must be worried sick about where his demure little wife disappeared to, so let me get back inside.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942).]

A cry of anguish came from the house. The Flash and Wonder Woman sped inside to see Major Williams bent over a still young woman.

“Joan! What happened?” cried the Flash as he saw the lovely blonde laying silent.

“Someone shot her from the back of the house!” said Dan White. “He may have Diana, too!”

Wonder Woman gasped and raced outside to see a fleeing man. She bounded to the roof and landed in front of him. “You needn’t hurry on my account,” she said. “You can’t escape me!” He cursed and fired his silent gun. The bullets bounced off her gleaming bracelets, and she stepped forward to slap him flat.

When she returned with the thug, she said to Dan, “Diana is fine; I told her to stay put at one of the neighbors’ houses for now!”

Tears streamed down the faces of a grim Flash and a devastated John Williams. “She’s dead!” said the Flash. “While those goons occupied us out front, a punk with a silencer killed the most wonderful girl I ever knew! I was too slow — too busy showing off!”

Diana reached out to comfort him, and then frowned as she tried to separate him from Joan’s body. “This isn’t Joan — look! Her wrists under the dress are bound with bracelets — bracelets of the style Paula von Gunther’s slave girls wore!”

“Is it possible?” said the Flash.

“Let’s find out!” replied Wonder Woman, looping her magic lasso over the thug’s arm. “Who are you, and why did you shoot her?” she asked. The magic of the lasso, spun from the girdle of Aphrodite herself, worked as always.

“I am Carl Kounts of the Grey Shirts!” he confessed. “Our leader Fritz Klaver sent me to kill Joan Williams and Diana White!”

The Flash gripped his shirt and shook him frantically. “Is that Joan or not? Tell me, or I tear you apart!”

Diana placed a calming hand on his arm. “He must believe it to be Joan, or he would not have shot her.”

“As far as I know, she was Joan Williams,” said Kounts.

***

At Hot Springs, Georgia, a gorgeous blonde nurse thrilled at the sights and sounds of the spa made famous by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s patronage. Her name was Linda Page, and she was, of all things, an heiress-turned-nurse. She owed her special duty at the spa to her family connections and perhaps to the pull her current beau, millionaire Bruce Wayne, enjoyed everywhere he went.

She turned a corner, and a pair of strong hands closed over her mouth. Within seconds, the pretty girl was bound, gagged, and replaced by an exact double.

***

Bruce Wayne wandered the halls of the exclusive spa, enjoying the atmosphere. He was pleased that he had been able to get Linda a tour of duty at the spa. A chance to serve FDR himself delighted the girl. He saw her working with another patient and glanced up at the front desk.

“I understand President Roosevelt might be stopping by here tonight or tomorrow,” he said in a lazy drawl. “That’s what the locals say, and you know how it works in small towns. What one person knows, everyone soon knows.”

While he passed the time in idle chit-chat with the other staffers, he wondered what his young ward Dick Grayson was doing back in Gotham City. (*) Hope he hasn’t taken on the entire underworld in my absence, he thought with a smile. This was a reference to the fact that he and Dick were secretly the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Young All-Stars: Times Past, 1943: Aryan Youth.]

His amazingly shrewd mind and keen eye served him and his nation well that day. He saw Linda preparing to give a shot to an elderly patient. A glance at the needle’s contents and the chart on the wall confirmed that the dose was nothing harmful, but what he saw troubled him greatly.

Bruce Wayne raced outside, and a few minutes later the hospital and spa was the hunting ground of the Batman. Waiting and watching until the nurse’s shift change, he made his way through the shadows and over the roofs until he dropped down into Linda Page’s room from an open balcony window. She gasped; now that she was out of her nurse’s uniform, she was wearing only a brief teddy, and her wrists were encircled by metal bracelets.

“You’re not Linda Page — I know that for a fact,” he said coldly. “Linda Page is a natural redhead, and her hair is only dyed blonde at the moment, but you have natural blonde roots. Where is she, and who are you? I’d say you want to get a chance to harm FDR. That’s not about to happen!”

The Linda doppelgänger cursed in German and pulled out a gun, only to see it sail across the room as the caped hero dashed it to the floor and spun her around in a tight rope. “Leipzig!” she cried.

Three other women rushed inside in response to her code word, all carrying odd dart-guns. They fired them, but hit nothing — Batman had already vanished. Seconds later, he rose from under the bed and brought them down with a flying tackle. Three swiftly hurled pellets dropped all of the women to the floor.

He’d worn a gas mask and frowned beneath it as he pondered just who and what the women and Linda’s evil double signified. “Paula von Gunther,” he growled under his breath.

***

It took Batman very little time to have the officials notified to alter President Roosevelt’s schedule immediately. It also took him little time to identify the Linda Page double by her fingerprints as one Magda Loure. She had been a thief who had vanished years before.

“That fits a pattern of Paula’s,” he mused. “Her girls, belonging to what she called the Leipzig School for Girl Killers in a rough translation, often came from the streets. They were fanatically devoted to her after brainwashing. She insisted they wear those bracelets of submission to her in a bizarre mockery of the Amazon culture. Diana said she was reformed, yet this certainly has her M.O. on it.”

“If the great Batman says to alter the president’s route, then that is enough for me,” the Hot Springs’ Secret Service detachment head had said. Thus FDR was safe for now.

Questioning the captured women had revealed nothing. However, Batman had a plan. “I was first alerted to the fact that the president would be coming here now by a local man who was idly gossiping. Yet he was certainly not cleared officially to have such information. That helped me confirm the observation that the left-handed Linda would never give a shot primarily using her right hand. It gave me a motive for why someone would take Linda’s place. The old photos of Magda show she resembled Linda closely, but has obviously had plastic surgery to make her a true double. They can only have planned to attack FDR in some manner.”

The Caped Crusader had turned the women over to proper authorities and set out to track down his tipster. A quick check of hotels and train schedules soon led him to a name and finally to a mugshot.

Otto Preger, member of the Grey Shirts — the German American Bund — and Klaver’s old group, he thought. Why would one of them tip me or anyone off to a lead that helped me anticipate trouble? Could these Bundists be working against Paula’s group of doubles? And did that tip to Bruce Wayne mean that the brains behind this plan knows my secret?

***

Elsewhere, Wonder Woman had concluded that the anonymous tip Colonel Philip Darnell’s office had received about possible trouble at the White family’s meeting with Major Williams had also come from Klaver’s group.

“Praise Hera I was able to act upon that tip and head off any possible switching of a fake Diana White for the original before anyone could take her place,” she said. “Since she is safe at the base, I hope that loose end has been resolved. As for the fake Joan, I can’t imagine why someone would replace the real one to get to her father, then merely send a gunman to kill her. Klaver must be opposing the mind behind the double. I know Jay is nearly sick with grief and worry, but I won’t allow him to falsely accuse Paula. Her reformation is something I’d risk all to defend!” Wonder Woman set off in her robot plane for Paradise Island and, via mental radio, made contact with Paula von Gunther herself in her lab.

“Princess, I promise you that I have not left the lab this day,” said the beautiful scientist. “In fact, I have not left the isle outside of your company in months.”

“Perhaps Mavis or Keela, one of the former aides, has taken the reigns of the Leipzig program?” pondered Princess Diana. “I knew you would not have any connection to the group, my friend. I’ll be with you shortly to clear up this puzzle!”

***

Superman had seen it all, or so he had thought. As both mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent and heroic mystery-man Superman, he had traveled the globe and had witnessed many bizarre events. Yet, to someone with an affection for and belief in the ethics of fellow reporter Lois Lane, he was stunned when his super-senses detected the sudden firing of a gun by the pretty woman at her current interview subject, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The Man of Steel rocketed forward like a blur, blocking the bullets, and crushed the gun to a ball of metal.

“Miss Lane tried to kill the mayor!” cried a witness.

Lois spun and ran as Superman lifted her off the floor. “Those bracelets beneath your shirt are showing as you struggle,” he said. “Plus, I see microscopic traces of scar tissue from a rather impressive job of plastic surgery. That, along with your fingerprints and heart rate, not to mention this maniacal conduct, shows me that you are not Lois Lane!”

Turning to the mayor, as his aides scrambled around him, Superman asked, “Are you OK, sir?”

“Fine, thanks to you!” said the mayor. “Are you hurt?”

Superman frowned. “No, but this looks like a job for Superman!”

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