Justice Society of America: 1943: Acts of Vengeance, Chapter 2: Damsels in Distress

by Libbylawrence

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Joan Williams was overdressed for the Keystone City Youth Center. Her blonde hair was elegantly upswept, her make-up was perfect, and her red evening gown with a high slit matched her high heels to costly perfection. She walked into the gym, her high heels clicking, where she saw a group of happy boys playing basketball with a boyish, lanky man who clearly was lost in the fun.

“Now, fellas, this is the way we did the ol’ double-play tactic, back in the ancient dusty days when I was a boy!” he said. They laughed as he demonstrated a quick hoop toss.

“Mr. Garrick, I believe you forgot the time. We’re expected at Daddy’s dinner with the mayor,” said Joan as she tapped a high heel in mock irritation.

“Oh, gosh, sorry, Joannie! I’ll be dressed in… you know how fast!” said an apologetic Jay Garrick.

The boys were laughing at a small blond boy who barely seemed big enough to play with the other older kids. “Aw, Zack can’t even hit the basket,” said one kid. “He’s a baby!” The small boy frowned, and his face went red.

“Joan, just give me one second,” pleaded Jay, seeing this scene.

Zack tossed the ball, and it swooped up and fell short of the basket, until a blur that had been the still Jay seconds ago caught it and slammed it through the basket at invisible speed.

“You did it, Zack!” crowed a boy as they slapped the little smiling blond on the back.

“I did it!” he beamed.

“Knew you could, Zack!” said Jay as he escorted Joan out. Joan laughed. Jay had such a good heart that it was hard to stay mad at him for long. “Just needed to give little Zack some extra self-confidence,” he explained.

Back in seconds, dressed in his best tuxedo, he and Joan made their way to the head table, where Major John Arthur Williams was being honored by the mayor of Keystone City.

As the speakers extolled the gruff Major Williams, a desperate figure staggered in. He was flushed, and sores covered his entire face and hands.

“Jay, he’s seriously ill!” cried Joan.

“Some kind of plague,” voiced the mayor as the man fell in front of him.

“He’s burning up,” said a concerned Jay.

“There’s a note,” said Mayor Miles. “It reads, ‘The plague is in your city now. Can you stop it from reaching your heart? Doctor Poison.'”

Jay watched as the medics whisked off the ill man. “I’ve got to go to work, Joan,” he whispered, and as the Flash, fastest man alive, he was soon racing through the city he loved in search of the unseen disease.

Doctor Poison! She’s an old foe of Diana’s, thought the Flash as he raced down the city streets. And I recall her mentioning she faced Doctor Poison again fairly recently. (*) He saw nothing out of the ordinary until he spotted a racing truck hurtling through the streets. No driver! Or at least none awake, he thought as he caught up with it and saw a slumped-over, fever-ridden man at the wheel.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Adventure of the Pilotless Plane,” Sensation Comics #24 (December, 1943).]

“Toxic chemicals in the back, from the looks of the containers. This must be the plague!” After a few rapid efforts, the Flash added, “Can’t use brakes or wheel!” Jumping out, he glanced around the street. “Nothing in sight to use.”

The Flash unloaded the cans at super-fast speed and then watched the truck race on. He sped back, and at top speed stripped the wheels off the rumbling vehicle, which whined as metal scrapped the bare road, but it did finally inch to a safe stop.

Waving over a policeman, the Flash said, “Guard this truck. There’s poison on that corner in the containers, and the driver needs medical help!”

Subsequent screams led him fleetly to a second racing truck. I’ve got a better idea this time, he mused. He vibrated the back doors open with a well-aimed blow, followed by a thousand more in quick succession.

Seeing matching containers, the Flash gently lifted each of them off the truck as only he could do. Then he merely raced around the vehicle until the wind force lifted it upward and placed it down again after all the momentum had been spun out of it. “That should stop Doctor Poison’s little mobile plague,” he said.

Then he remembered the note’s odd wording about poison reaching your heart. “Could be trouble in the center of town, too?” He reached the middle of Keystone City and saw nothing. “Oh, no! Maybe that note was not meant for the mayor. Could also have been meant for me from someone who knew I am really Jay! Maybe Doctor Poison knows. If that’s so, then…!” He sped off, his heart pounding not from exertion, but from fear.

The Flash entered the now-darkened community center where the banquet had been held. “If that note was for me personally, then the part about poison ‘reaching your heart’ could very well mean Joan is in danger!” He hurried through the empty building until, sure enough, he saw a green-costumed woman standing over Joan.

“Hope you don’t mind we started without you!” cackled the woman.

“Doctor Poison, I presume?” said Jay as he placed himself between Joan and the masked woman. “Are you hurt?” he asked.

“No, just mad!” said Joan as she smiled at the sight of her hero.

“I collected this little baggage after she left the dinner. She is your heart, is she not?” asked Doctor Poison. “I did not credit your mind to be as rapid as your feet!” she sneered. “I learned your little secret from a mutual ‘friend’ from your past. He now serves the Axis, and gladly shared it with me.”

“I’ll send you back to jail, where you can share even more secrets!” vowed Jay. He grabbed the Doctor, only to wince as acidic toxins burned his hands. “I see your suit makes you too hot to handle. No problem. My chivalry will suffer a bit, but…” He spun her around and stripped her costume, leaving her on display as a pretty Oriental woman. I’ll just burn this suit with some well-placed friction, he mused.

“You dare dishonor me?!” spat the angry Princess Maru, for such was her true name.

“I dare a lot where things like helpless people’s welfare and the Allied cause are concerned!” he said, spinning her rapidly until she collapsed to the floor. “Now, how are you really?” he asked Joan as he freed her from her bonds. “No fever?”

“Just the kind you give me,” she cooed. They kissed, and a few moments later Jay fell forward, unconscious.

“Stupid American!” said Princess Maru, getting to her feet after pretending to swoon. “I placed a special poison on the blonde’s lipstick while I had her knocked out. It is a mark of my genius that it harms her not at all, but renders you dead to the world!” She kicked his silent form and shoved a fighting mad Joan to one side.

Within seconds, the gravity ray of Alexander the Great had brought her to his secret lair, where they tied up the Flash in a special glass container. “It shall hold him,” promised the bald scientist.

“Well done!” offered the white-haired, black-eyed Kil-Lor to Doctor Poison, who was dressed in her costume once more. “If all your allies are this good, then the hated Superman shall soon be friendless!” he declared.

“That’s the idea!” laughed Alexander the Great.


Lois Lane checked her looks in the mirror and patted down her dark hair. She had interviewed many celebrities in her career at the Daily Star, but when you were about to deal with a guy the media dubbed Percy Playboy, you needed to look your best.

Percival Plazchek, as he was originally named, had legally become Percy Playboy after his wealth and wild life earned him that name, and he seemed to wear it with pride. His rather shady past had made him a real reporter’s prize, so when he had called Lois and asked for a platform to tell his story, she had almost jumped out of her heels.

Clark Kent had shambled off earlier to cover some flower show or some other tame story, so this scoop was all hers. She glanced out the door to see the harried and tough editor George Taylor shouting for young Jimmy Olsen, the copy boy. Smiling, she sat down at her rather messy desk.

“Hello, Miss Lane. Your picture does not do you justice,” said a whiny voice as a frail blond entered.

“Percy!” said Lois, unsure about calling him Mr. Playboy.

“Glad to meet you,” he said. “I so welcome a chance to meet you. I know your beauty is almost legendary around Metropolis. Well-justified!”

He’s a real charmer, though phony as a three-dollar bill, thought Lois.

“Now, first, let me ask you about your friend Superman,” said Percy. “Is he around?”

“I thought I was to ask the questions,” joked Lois. “As for Superman, I really could not say where he is.”

“Then perhaps this will summon him, eh?” asked Percy. He dropped his jacket and pants to reveal a blue-armored, yet lightweight costume, then put on a helmet that covered his handsome face and, gesturing at Lois, caused her to spin into the air and crash out the magically opening office window over a dozen stories above the busy city streets.

Lois knew she should never have worn that belt with those heels, not out of some fashion sense, but because it looked like the metal in her belt and heels was what was keeping her pinned like a stylish fly against the outer wall of the Daily Star Building.

“Hey, what’s this about, Percy? Bring me back inside!” she yelled as she remained pinned to the high wall. Cars streaked by far below, and as yet she attracted no attention.

Percy leaned out the window. “Call me Nuclear, the Magnetic Marauder! Percy exists no longer! And do stop struggling so. I could just drop you like a bad habit, and that would ruin that delightful ensemble!” he laughed.

Lois knew her only real option, and she took it, “Superman! Help! Superman!” she cried.

From out of the blue her hero appeared, as if in answer to her frantic screams. “Lois! This is a pleasant surprise. You don’t often come out to meet me halfway like this!” he joked to reassure the flailing woman. Gently putting his arms around her, he pulled her free, then placed her on the ground and flew upward to confront the now-levitating Nuclear. “I believe you wanted to see me?” he asked.

“No, I want to kill you!” said the Magnetic Marauder.

Superman thought to himself, Who is this nut? He’s certainly got a flair for the dramatic. Poor Lois!

Nuclear waved his hand again, and a truck floated upward toward the Man of Steel like a missile. “Great Scott!” cried Superman as he dodged the truck, catching the panic-filled driver and placing him at a safe distance. The truck kept sailing upward, attracted by the master of magnetism known as Nuclear.

“Missed your ride?” he scoffed as he slammed the truck directly into a rapidly rising Superman.

The metallic truck bent as it curled around his mighty form. Seconds later, he burst forth and balled the truck ruined by Nuclear at his armored head. “Right back at you!” he called.

The increasingly small hunk of metal collapsed as Nuclear gestured once more. “I’ll see how you stand up against my power!” he called.

“I can stand your power a lot easier than I can take your personality!” said Superman as powerful waves of magnetic force washed over him.

He’s slowing me, but he can’t stop me! vowed Superman as he made his way closer to his foe by fighting against the waves of force like a swimmer braving a strong current. All I need to do is grab him once, he thought.

“Ah, I need a distraction… Oh Looois!” called Nuclear. Lois then jerked up off the ground, where she had been watching the struggle. Spinning head over heels like a top, she careened helplessly through the sky.

“You fiend!” said Superman as he abandoned the fight to intercept his friend. He streaked forward. “Got to time this just right, or Lois will be shattered against my steel-hard body!” He flew in an arc that slowed his momentum, and yet allowed him to clutch the dizzy and nearly stunned Lois Lane. “I’ll stop that madman!” he assured the woman he loved.

Flying far away at top speed, he smiled as her now-calm body was clearly out of Nuclear’s range. “I’ll stop him from a safe distance before he harms anyone else!” Superman then grabbed a spool of netting from the Metropolis Harbor and tossed it over Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder without ever coming too close to him, wrapping it over his blue-armored form to the villain’s shock.

However, he merely made the metal signs nearby scoop under the net and toss it aside. “This should teach you about true power!” he boasted.

A wave sent Superman to the ground as pain radiated through him, and to his dismay he slowly blacked out.

“Even a Man of Steel can’t stay awake if the flow of blood to his brain is almost stopped,” crowed Nuclear. “Iron in the old blood, you know!”

Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder vanished in Alexander the Great’s gravity ray and displayed the stunned Superman to a gleeful Kil-Lor. “At last I see my enemy helpless before me! I’ll soon be the one to slay you!” he vowed.

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