Justice Society of America: 1943: Acts of Vengeance, Chapter 3: Bait and Switch

by Libbylawrence

Return to chapter list

James W. Gordon gasped as an arrow thudded into his plush desk chair. The Gotham City police commissioner ducked immediately, but none followed the first deadly missile. He and his men spotted no sniper, and the arrow had no distinctive markings. He had the glass repaired and finished work.

That night, he started to get into his old car when a whiz echoed by his ear, and a second matching arrow hit the driver’s seat through the narrow opening of the ajar door. This time he turned and hurried back to Police Headquarters. He followed one of his men, O’Hara, to the roof and switched on the famous Bat-Signal.

The beacon shone brightly and, soon enough, two colorful figures swung onto the roof. “What is it, Commissioner?” asked the ever-reassuring Batman. His ally Robin smiled at Officer Clancy O’Hara, who nodded pleasantly at this, his first sight of the Dynamic Duo.

“These arrows narrowly missed me twice,” said Gordon. “I figured this kind of marksmanship and the odd nature of the weapon made this more of your kind of case.”

“Yeah, we handle all the kooks!” joked Robin.

Batman nodded. “I’ll trace the bowman, and we’ll keep a good eye out for you over the next few days. Don’t travel alone if you can avoid it. Oh, and don’t worry about not seeing us.”

“That’s right. We’ll blend right into the background… if you can believe that,” joked Robin, looking at his brightly colored costume.

***

Later, Batman looked up from his lab table in the Batcave. “The arrow is hand-crafted, not bought. The maker is a real craftsman. His skill combined with the design makes me think of Superman’s old foe the Archer. (*) Unfortunately, I have no way of contacting him, or I’d get his confirmation.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See 2nd story, Superman #13 (November-December, 1941).]

“Sounds like a loser to me,” offered Robin. “I mean, Green Arrow’s a good guy, and Speedy, too, but they’re just a second-rate copies of you and I. How deadly could this guy be? And how could a guy with a bow and arrow fight Superman?”

“I suspect there’s more to both the Archer and the Green Arrow than you know, chum,” said a smiling Batman.

***

The next night, the Archer made no move against anyone in Gotham City. The Dynamic Duo discussed their foe over dinner in their civilian identities.

“He’s laying low,” said Dick Grayson.

“I suspect he’s too smart to do anything that is not on his terms and his ground, chum,” said Bruce Wayne. “The Gordon attacks were not serious, anyway.”

“You mean he is so good that if he really wanted to hurt the commissioner, he would not have missed?” offered Dick.

“Exactly,” said Bruce. “He is an expert, and he wants us to believe that Jim’s just the bait to call us in.”

“Then we could get an arrow in the back any second we’re in costume!” exclaimed Dick.

“I think, from what I’ve read about the Archer, we can lure him out sooner, if you’re game!” said Bruce Wayne.

“You know I am!” said an eager Dick Grayson.

***

The next night, a freckled, chubby boy in a bow-tie and sweater waited on the roof of Gotham City Police Headquarters. Seconds later, Batman pushed him down as an arrow sailed past his ear.

A smoke pellet obscured the area, and when it cleared, the masked and hooded Archer was poised over them, ready with his bow. “I’ll kill you both! This opportunity is just too good to miss — and here, of all places,” he said. The freckled boy rolled behind the Bat-Signal as Batman hurled his batarang, which shattered as an arrow pierced it.

“Not good enough,” laughed the Archer. Batman quickly spun away as an arrow sliced his cape. The boy then popped up and hurled his own batarang. “What the–?!” muttered the Archer as it clipped his arm.

The delay was enough for the Batman to tackle him. The bow sailed off the roof after the Caped Crusader ripped it away from the struggling Archer.

“You’re good with the bow, but you can’t fight like Batman!” said the boy who pulled off a wig and rubbed the freckles clear with a rag, standing revealed as Robin the Boy Wonder.

Batman knocked the startled Archer to ground. “We figured your hatred of young Daily Star copy boy Jimmy Olsen would draw you out even before you had time to prepare for us!” said Batman.

“That brat sent me away for the first time. I admit I let my hate overrule my wisdom, but I did have this roof prepared, you jerk!” he said, slamming down the Bat-Signal control, and several volts of electricity suddenly surged through him, to his dismay.

As the Archer fell unconscious, Batman pulled a wire. “I spotted that extra cord and switched it under the cover of the smoke pellet,” he explained.

“Guess he’s seen the arrow of his ways!” punned Robin.

Just then a swooping figure came toward them, pummeling both man and boy at high-speed. Kil-Lor stood over them and crowed his triumph. “I could never stand by and watch as Superman’s allies defeated my agent!” he yelled. Scooping up the Archer and the two heroes, the Kryptonian flew off to the laboratory of Alexander the Great.

***

Terry Sloane danced close with Shiera Sanders to the music of a big band orchestra. “I should have known you are an excellent dancer, Mr. Sloane. Carter walks on my feet all the time,” said the pretty, auburn-haired beauty dressed in a low-cut green gown.

“Terry has had lessons, and you know his unique advantage,” offered the handsome man who was standing by the swirling couple.

“Carter is right. I did take lessons… one time,” offered the modest Terry Sloane, alias Mister Terrific. “And please, call me Terry.”

Carter Hall, alias the Hawkman, laughed. “‘One time’! You dance better than Kelly or Astaire with one lesson!”

Shiera Sanders, alias Hawkgirl, giggled and kissed Terry on the cheek. “Don’t let Carter tease you. He knows he has two left feet when it comes to dancing,” she said, embracing Carter lovingly as the band played on. “I’m sorry your friend Lysette is on duty this weekend, Terry. (*) She’d have looked divine in a little pink number I never wear,” said Shiera as she tossed back her hair.

[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: Times Past, 1942: Gender Gasp, Prologue: Missing Men.]

“You know, I’ll bet she would,” said Terry. “But police blue is her color this weekend, I’m afraid.”

The festive atmosphere ended when two odd figures crashed the party. “I am the Rag Doll, and this esteemed gentleman is Gustaf Gilroy. (*) We will kill one of you at a time over the next few hours unless the Hawkman and Hawkgirl show up and surrender to us!” he said.

Gustaf Gilroy, a pudgy, middle-aged man with pince-nez glasses and a small mustache, who wore a hooded green cloak, was the alchemist that Alexander the Great had earlier used to restore the vampiric Master Monk. He had once impersonated the Spectre during a killing spree, when he turned men into gold, and had been believed dead after swallowing a capsule that turned his own body into gold. (*) However, Gilroy had a secret ally in an outwardly respectable Gotham University professor named Zobar Zodiac, who later restored him to life using alchemical processes known only to them. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Spectre, More Fun Comics #61 (November, 1940); Zobar Zodiac would later battle the Justice Society as Professor Zodiac, the Alchemist, in “The Man Who Hated Science,” All-Star Comics #42 (August-September, 1948).]

“We know the Hawks frequent this part of New York City, so, folks, I hope they come, or you can be sure you’ll die!” said the Rag Doll, who was dressed in a costume that made him look like an actual rag doll. This villain who had fought the Flash in the past held a gun in one hand, his gangly arm twisted in an odd position, while his legs could only be described as floppy. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash, Flash Comics #36 (December, 1942).]

“Guess you know what this means,” whispered Carter Hall to Shiera, away from their friend Terry.

Time for a quick distraction, thought Terry at the same time as he distanced himself from his new friends Carter and Shiera. Glancing around the room, he spotted a fuse box in a corner. He slipped through the panic-filled dancers and pulled several plugs. The lights went out, and he changed into Mister Terrific, the champion of fair play. When they came back on, due to a master circuit elsewhere, the villains faced the red-and-green-costumed hero.

“Who are you? We want the Hawks only!” said Gilroy.

“Yeah, pal,” said the Rag Doll. “Leave now and live to tell your grandchildren that you were almost killed by an actual alchemist.”

“Rag Doll, isn’t it?” asked the Hawks as they flew into the ball room.

“Now that’s why we’re here!” shouted the contortionist. The Hawks swooped down in unison and lifted the Rag Doll high in the air, but he pushed a tiny remote control, and a buzzing filled the air.

“It’s a razor-sharp buzz-saw!” said Hawkman as he and Hawkgirl dodged a buzzing steel saucer that flew directly at them. The Rag Doll dropped free as his device, provided by Alexander the Great, pursued the couple.

Mister Terrific charged Gustaf Gilroy, who tossed a potion at him. “This will give you a nice, long rest!” sneered the green-cloaked man.

Fumes from the potion wafted up toward Terrific, who jumped back, only to have the green chemical cloud actually turn and follow him. He quickly thought of something and then ran to the table of food, leaping upon it, and sprang up to where the razor-sharp saw was buzzing the fleeing Hawkgirl. The cloud swirled up as well, and was instantly blown apart by the wind from the spinning buzz-saw. He tackled the Rag Doll and slammed a fist into his face, then hung him neatly from a rafter by his loose Raggedy Andy outfit.

Hawkman caught Gustaf Gilroy and turned him upside down. As his glasses fell off, and his cloak spilled dozens of glass tubes, he cried out, “This is indignity beyond endurance!”

“Yeah, it really is!” laughed Hawkman.

Hawkgirl, meanwhile, raced up and out, then spun down. The buzz-saw followed her uncannily until she swooped directly for the dangling Rag Doll. “Better switch it off!” she laughed.

Hawkman did so eagerly and, inches away from his head, the buzz-saw dropped harmlessly down.

The Hawks smiled as they collared their foes.

“Nicely done!” said Mister Terrific, shaking their hands.

“We get better with practice,” joked Hawkgirl.

“At least they knew your names,” laughed Mister Terrific. “I could have told them I was Air Wave, for all they knew!”

“Never! You don’t have a pet bird,” said Hawkman.

“Just me,” said Hawkgirl flirtatiously.

Gilroy spat out a false tooth, and a purple gas suddenly enveloped them all. As they fainted, he laughed and said, “That shows them not to fool with the great alchemist, Gustaf Gilroy!”

“We sure showed them not to play around with us!” agreed the Rag Doll.

***

Alexander the Great’s gravity ray brought both villains and heroes alike to his laboratory, where the Rag Doll and Gustaf Gilroy tied up Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Mister Terrific with Batman, Robin, the Flash, and Superman, who had already fallen. The Master Monk, Dala, Doctor Poison, and Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder idly waited nearby.

“Hawkman and his tramp!” said Alexander. “How I’ve longed for this day.”

“But what of the others?” asked Doctor Poison. “What of Wonder Woman?”

“I fear the worst,” said Kil-Lor. As his black eyes flashed, scanning distantly through the use of his Kryptonian telescopic vision and x-ray vision, he nodded grimly. “The woman beat her foe, as did Doctor Fate, Green Lantern, Starman, and Sandman,” he said. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Sandman: Times Past, 1943: Fashion for Dying.]

“What does that mean? Do we go for them again?” snarled the Master Monk.

“Negative. We have enough Justice Society members to kill for now. We can send better agents for the others after we deal with these,” said Alexander as he planted a kiss on the stunned Hawkgirl.

“As long as Wonder Woman does eventually die!” snapped Poison.

“I have no doubt she will. However, the foolish agent I sent against her failed… as you did against Thunder,” Alexander replied, looking at the Monk.

“I could get them all, as I did Batman after the Archer lost,” offered Kil-Lor.

“No, my good ally. We must rid ourselves of these first. Plus, I wish to consult with you about integrating your alien science with my own inventions.”

Kil-Lor nodded and looked at the stunned Superman. “Soon, you die!” he said, laughing maniacally.

Return to chapter list