Justice Society of America: 1943: Society Girls, Chapter 1: The Super-Power Swap

by Libbylawrence

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Clark Kent was in a hurry. When the mild-mannered newspaper man was in need of speed, he could attain a velocity that was truly remarkable to behold — of course, this would have been true only if his movement could be seen at all by the naked eye. This particular occasion required speed because reporter Kent of the Daily Star, a great metropolitan paper, needed to be in Nebraska to stop a raging fire. One other small detail was that he needed to be there to use his super-powers to put out the fire. These powers were world-famous, as was his costumed identity of Superman.

Stepping into a supply closet, Clark wrenched off his tie in a gesture that had become second nature to him in the years since he had adopted his career. Great Scott! I can’t let the fire spread, he mused. We need all the resources we can save if we’re going to be the arsenal of democracy like President Roosevelt suggested. After all, our fighting men can’t very well eat bullets and rubber!

Moments later, Superman flew off toward the heartland of America. His flight path brought to his view and his mind memories of a boyhood in a rural town. I wish Ma and Pa could have lived to see me in this costume! I could just hear Pa ribbing me about running off to join the circus! he thought ruefully.

Taking a deep breath, he literally blew out a large area of flame with super-breath. But he gasped suddenly as smoke reached him. Can’t breathe! That’s not a good sign for anyone, but especially not for a Joe with my lung capacity! he thought.

Superman flew higher and spun in a tight circle until all the oxygen was stolen from the flames, and the fire died. Cheers from the crowd below rose up as he went down. “I’m falling!” he gasped as he literally tumbled out of the sky.

He managed to tumble down in a hard roll, as he had seen the circus performers of his youth do, and more recently as acrobatic types like Batman and Robin would have done. He still had an amazingly developed muscle tone and agility, even as he felt his superhuman abilities flee from his dropping body. He spun and landed on a patch of stacked hay.

“The impact seems to have hurt my back!” he said with a groan. “I’m just not used to aches and pains, at least not since my childhood,” he muttered as he rose slowly to his feet. I can’t jump any higher than a normal man. I’d better face it — for some reason I’ve lost my super-powers! he realized as he walked toward the concerned farmers who gathered to aid their hero.

***

Back at the Daily Star, editor George Taylor rubbed both of his hands across his tired face. “Kent! Where is Clark?” he asked as a plump youth with strawberry blond hair passed by, carrying a large stack of papers.

Jimmy Olsen gulped and said, “Uh, I think he’s out on a story… something big. Yeah, a big scoop!”

Taylor sighed and hid a smile. “You’ll never be much of a poker player, son,” he said. “Those cheeks just don’t work as a poker face.”

Jimmy grinned and hurried toward a well-dressed and lovely woman. “Say, Lois, where is Clark?” he asked.

Lois Lane gave a not-unattractive smirk. “Knowing Kent, he’s probably shopping for scarves or something, in fear of a sudden big chill,” joked the girl reporter.

Jimmy shrugged good naturedly. He was a big fan of Clark Kent’s, and he was pleased that Lois now mocked the timid man with more of an affection than the bitter scorn she had initially displayed for him.

“Did you hear the news, legs?” said Perry White as the amorous young reporter approached Lois.

“Jim, I hope Mr. White is speaking to you!” snapped Lois.

“Easy, ‘Rosalind Russell.’ Don’t get all frosty on me,” said White. “Superman stopped a fire, but seemed to lose his powers doing so. Eyewitnesses say he fell out of the sky.”

“More like eye-witlesses!” snapped Lois.

Beneath her correctly described Rosalind Russell-like demeanor, Lois was worried. She cared for the Man of Steel as more than just a source of scoops, and she hoped he was all right. She wasted no time sitting around the office, and rushed out into the street to track down a story — any story. Worrying idly was not her style.

“Oh, my gosh — that window cleaner’s cable snapped!” she gasped as she heard a snap and saw a falling workman at the Mooney Center for the Arts.

Lois ran forward and reached the pavement below before the panic-filled worker could even drop an inch; he seemed to hang there, suspended in midair. She tried to kick off her high heels to reach the scene more quickly, and gasped as she soared off the street to fly into the air and catch him in her arms.

“You’ve got me!” he gasped in amazement.

“I’ve got you? Who’s got me?!” she replied in shock as she flew him safely down, effortlessly holding the fat man in her arms.

As she landed, the man said, “Don’t be such a kidder. You must be a Superwoman!”

Lois walked off after retrieving her heels and repeated his words. “I must be a Superwoman! This is like that dream I had a few months back.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Lois Lane, Superwoman,” Action Comics #60 (May, 1943).]

***

In a packed New York City nightclub, a bored Ted Knight covered a yawn, as per his usual act. However, for once he was not posing as a jaded playboy; he really was tired, and his normally athletic form was decidedly flabby. He looked across to Doris Lee and said, “Honey, I’m really beat. How about calling it a night?”

Doris Lee, debutante and beauty, frowned in irritation. She wore her dark hair upswept tonight with an elegant, if demure gown.

“Honestly, Ted, I wish you’d learn to show a little restraint,” she whispered. “This bored pose of yours is becoming your normal personality, and I know there’s more to you than this.”

Ted smiled. Life would be easier if Doris could learn his secret. Still, he truly was tired. “I have absolutely no energy, Doris. I feel physically and mentally fatigued,” he explained.

“OK, you swells kin go back ta partying after youse empty yer purses and wallets!” said a gruff voice as three gunmen entered the posh club, waving around their weapons.

“Ted!” whispered Doris, “I’ll pretend to faint and draw everyone’s gaze, while you slip off and call the police!”

The normally elegant Doris shrieked and fell into a pretend swoon, and Ted stood up and tripped over the chair leg. When he crashed down hard, the nearest gunman turned toward him and said, “Well, well, ‘Errol Flynn,’ here, thinks this is Sherwood Forest!” quipped the punk. “Put some lead in his quiver!”

Doris kicked out suddenly and sent his gun flying. A swift left hook dropped him cold. Ted gasped and rose to his feet as Doris hurled an ashtray into the face of the second thug. “Do something!” she whispered.

Ted fumbled for the gravity rod and frowned. I must have left it at home, he realized.

The remaining thug closed in, and his ally held an injured face. “Ya hurt my guys,” he growled at Doris. “No frail gets away wit’ that!”

“I’d say the lady just did!” said a handsome brown-haired man wearing a costly tuxedo. He punched the thug to the ground with a casual ease.

“Thanks, Oliver!” said Doris as Ted frowned in dismay.

I was too slow! I couldn’t even remember to carry the rod! mused a worried Ted Knight.

Handsome millionaire Oliver Queen, who was secretly the heroic bowman called Green Arrow, replied graciously, “I’m happy that I went out on the town tonight.”

The blond boy at his table whispered to him when he returned to their table. “Gosh, you didn’t even need to suit up!” said Roy Harper, alias his partner Speedy. “Is she some mystery-woman like Liberty Belle?”

“I don’t think so, Roy,” Oliver replied confidentially. “She’s a well-known debutante, and rich society gals don’t wear funny costumes and fight crime!”

***

Rich society gal Shiera Sanders smiled flirtatiously as she kicked a costumed figure through a window. “What a pane!” she punned. As Hawkgirl, she wore the sexy halter top and more feminine hawk helmet that still marked her as the lovely female version of the winged wonder called Hawkman.

Hawkgirl dodged a hail of bullets as her lover Carter Hall swooped down and slammed a wooden staff across three goons in red. “That puts the end to the Daredevils!” he said with a smile. Looking down at the fallen acrobats turned hoods, he began, “You know, when you told that first one to go to–”

“Look!” Shiera interrupted. “Is that Green Lantern?” The feathered femme fatale pointed skyward, where an emerald glow surrounded a flying figure.

“If it’s not, G.L. sure has a case against someone for trademark violation!” joked Hawkman.

They flew up to meet their old friend. “Is he wearing pantyhose?” said an amazed Shiera. “Those aren’t his legs!”

Carter frowned for a moment, wondering just how his debutante partner would be so aware of his buddy’s athletic form. “Miss?” he asked the woman in the red dress and green hosiery.

“Hawkman! We’ve met before. I’m Lorna Dawn, with the Secret Service,” said the auburn-haired beauty. “The ring just appeared on my hand today. I whipped up this costume and figured I’d use the ring to locate the true owner. It is Green Lantern’s, right?”

Hawkman nodded. “See? Wood passes through the bubble,” he whispered to Shiera as he gently touched the glowing bubble of emerald energy with his staff. “Miss Dane, I can take you to G.L.,” he said. “We don’t want to expose any secrets needlessly. Come with Hawkgirl here to JSA Headquarters, while I go round up our ringless pal.”

Lorna nodded. “You don’t think he’s been hurt, do you? Maybe he sent the ring to me as a distress cry!”

“One way or another, we’ll find out!” vowed Hawkman.

***

Commissioner James W. Gordon had formed a habit of allowing his friend Bruce Wayne to accompany him, at times, to crime scenes. The normally bored playboy seemed to perk up slightly around crime news, and Gordon wanted desperately to rouse the family friend to some level of ambition. Thus Gordon allowed Wayne and his date, society doll-turned-nurse Linda Page, to ride through Gotham City with him to a crime scene, when a call of crime interrupted their dinner.

“Looks like a robbery. Some punk broke in and killed the guy,” said the cop at the scene.

Gordon sighed. “Forced entry?”

The cop nodded. “Glass at the lawn patio door.” Gordon frowned.

“Wait!” said Linda Page, wearing a daring green silk evening dress, as she bent forward, showing her one of her attractive legs. “The glass is on the outside, like someone broke it out from within the house. Surely, if an intruder had forced the windowpane from without, the glass would be inside.”

Bruce stared in open-mouthed wonder.

Gordon grinned. “Good girl! I was about to say that, too. You’ve got the makings of a real detective. More than some rookies I could name.” He glared at the young cop.

Linda shook her long mane of golden curls and said, “My, isn’t this exciting?

Bruce Wayne replied slowly, “Uh-huh.”

***

Later that night, a worried Dick Grayson whispered words of concern to their butler and confidante, Alfred Beagle.

“Holy dunce cap!” said the anxious youth. “Bruce must be sick or something. He’s lost his mental sharpness and his muscle tone. It’s like he can’t form a coherent or original idea!”

Alfred agreed. “I noticed his suits need letting out, as if he suddenly became… well… portly, as I am!”

“Plus, did you see the way Linda Page cleared the shrubs when Bruce slipped on the walk?” said Dick. “It’s like she suddenly became an Olympian!”

“A woman in love can do many remarkable things when one she cares for is in need,” said Alfred. “Still, this is an extreme case. I suggest we call one of Master Bruce’s JSA allies!”

“Luckily, I know one who is a doctor!” said Dick.

***

Dr. Charles McNider turned to the lovely Myra Mason in his office and said, “I must get to Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne himself needs me.”

Myra nodded and jumped to her feet. She wore a demure peach-colored dress and heels. “I’ll drive you at once,” she said. “Gosh, it would be wonderful to see a landmark like Wayne Manor!”

“Well, I may just need a good nurse to assist me. Do you know of one who would work this late at night?” joked McNider.

Myra clapped her hands briefly and resumed her normal demeanor. “I’ll be happy to!”

***

Joan Williams woke up with a start. The pretty blonde jumped out of bed and slipped on a robe over her pink teddy and slippers. She eased down the hall to check on her father, Major John Arthur Williams. As a military man and an inventor, he often worked on top secret projects that would dearly delight the Axis powers if they could merely acquire them. She said to herself, “OK, little Joannie, stay calm; this could just be a cat. It doesn’t have to be the Faultless Four every time.” She padded down the hall and saw nothing more than her father preparing a late night snack. “Caught you raiding the ice box!” she joked, placing one hand defiantly upon her hip.

Major Williams started at the sound of his spunky daughter and dropped his plate. Instead of a crash and broken dishes, Joan heard nothing, but saw the food move through the air as if all was frozen around her. The world seemed to be moving at a drastically slower pace than the shapely blonde’s reactions.

Stepping forward, Joan plucked the plate from midair, righting it and letting the food land on the center. She scooped up the milk as it was suspended in the air, and she restored all to a table while adding napkins and other niceties — all before her dad could react or the food could reach the floor.

Gosh! I just did something more Jay than Joan! she thought, then sat down and idly took a bite of bread as she puzzled over her newfound super-speed. “I’d better go to Jay’s place quickly, and I do mean quickly,” she said, smiling.

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