Justice Society of America: 1943: Acts of Vengeance, Chapter 4: The Gravity of the Situation

by Libbylawrence

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Batman awoke and began struggling against his bonds, but the metal chains kept him tied fast. His young partner Robin still dozed on nearby. The Flash vibrated ceaselessly against the glasslike container that resisted his every effort, while Superman sat up wearily and fell back weakly. With Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as well as Mister Terrific nearby, it seemed that their foes had been targeting the Justice Society of America and a few of the team’s allies, though the rest of the JSA were conspicuously absent.

“Are you OK, old pal?” asked Batman. He and Superman had met several times over the last few years, beginning in 1940, and although they were still unaware of each other’s secret identity, they considered themselves to be trustworthy friends.

Superman blinked and mumbled, “I feel like something has ‘short-circuited’ my motor skills. How are you doing?”

“OK. It’s just that I don’t know what hit us,” said the Caped Crusader.

Mister Terrific pulled against his chains, but to no avail. The Hawks sat up dazed as well, without their belts or wings.

“Honey, are you all right?” asked Hawkman.

“Hmmm?” said Hawkgirl, glancing around her. “Looks like Alexander the Great’s lab. See the gravity-whatzit he used last time?” she said.

“You’re right. It is that bald fiend,” said Batman.

The villains had separated and left only the agile Rag Doll and the Archer to guard their captive foes. Mister Terrific scanned the room for signs of escape, seeing Mister Midas’ lab table near the crystalline-entombed Jay Garrick. He strained to read the labels, and a gleam appeared in his eyes.

The Archer sat stringing a new bow. He smiled and sighed at the captive Batman. “Soon,” he promised.

“I doubt it,” said Mister Terrific. “I bet you can’t hit the broad side of a barn, much less a human. In fact, I bet I can outshoot you.”

“Don’t! He’s too good!” said Superman.

“You tell him, old foe!” sneered the Archer.

“Hey, Rag Doll, I bet you I can outshoot your buddy!” called Terrific.

Can you outshoot this costumed fool?” asked the Rag Doll.

“I can. I will,” said the Archer with gritted teeth. “Free him.”

“This should be good for some laughs,” the Rag Doll said as he released Mister Terrific.

“After you,” said Terrific.

The Archer lined up a target at the far end of the complex. “Like so,” he said, firing an arrow across the room to land solidly in the center of the target. “Beat that,” he said, handing a bow to Mister Terrific.

Mister Terrific sighted down the line, then suddenly whirled and fired in the other direction, and the arrow streaked even farther than Archer’s had. Terrific did, in fact, outshoot the mad bowman. However, his arrow had spun into Mister Midas’ lab table and had knocked a test tube over on the crystalline tomb that held the Flash. It smoked and dissolved under a powerful solvent, as Terrific had known it would. He then spun back and hit the Archer with the now-useless bow. The Rag Doll closed in, and Mister Terrific kicked his feet out from under him.

“Get him!” yelled the Archer.

As the Archer passed by, a weakened Superman blew desperately, creating a wind that shook him to the floor, as that was all the energy left in his once-awesome super-breath. It was enough, since Mister Terrific held his own with the formidable Rag Doll until the Flash jetted free from the cage and sprang the other JSAers, even tossing the Hawks their equipment.

“Now we’ll see who has won!” yelled Hawkman.

Superman stood up and said, “I think that brain-scrambling Nuclear gave me is wearing off, but it is so slow!” He turned to see Robin drop-kick the Rag Doll into the wall.

“You’re not going to be singing any ‘rags’ for a while!” punned the boy.

“He’ll be a real ‘doll’ in prison!” joked his mentor as he tossed a batarang, which spun toward Mister Midas, a tube raised above his head.

This will slow you down, you fleet-footed fool!” Midas said to the Flash. The batarang then shattered the tube, and a thick adhesive rained down on the hapless alchemist. “Aaarrrgh!” he cried as a solid goo formed over both of his outstretched arms. “Can’t use my hands!”

“I guess you’re having a bad day!” said Batman as he slammed a left into Mister Midas’ chin. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One counterpart of Mister Midas would later encounter the Earth-One Batman, as seen in “The Secret Life of Bat-Hound,” Batman #125 (August, 1959).]

The Flash caught the menacing Master Monk and raced out into the night, streaking at top speed and avoiding the clawing fiend until they crossed into the Western time zones, and the night moved into twilight, then day.

The Monk melted under the sun’s bright rays with an unholy scream.

“I guess time ran out for the Master Monk!” joked the Flash as he returned.

The Monk’s assistant Dala was closing in on Hawkman until he spun and fired a crossbow bolt into her undead heart. “I would never kill, but you were long dead to begin with,” he said as she crumbled into dust.

Doctor Poison’s toxic touch was of no use to her, since Hawkgirl merely tossed a mace from on high with a skillful aim and knocked her cold. “Too easy,” she said, smiling.

Meanwhile, Superman scanned the other rooms. “Here comes Alexander the Great and some other creep with Nuclear!” he announced. “I’d say the real fight is just about to begin,” he vowed.

“Did you think you could interfere with my plans with impunity?” shouted Kil-Lor. “Did you believe you could succeed where the KBI failed? Learn the error of your presumptions!” He slammed into Superman and began pounding him furiously.

“I don’t even know you, and I’ve never heard of the KBI, but Superman backs down for nobody!” the Man of Tomorrow said as he fought back.

Kil-Lor sneered. “You seek the craven path of denial. I know you well! It was due to you and Jor-L that I was imprisoned in that satellite!” he said, gesturing toward the craft he came in.

Superman blasted out at him with his x-ray vision, and Kil-Lor groaned and fell back. He’s got all my powers! Could he be from the same place where my rocket came from years ago? mused the Man of Steel. He then flew upward, and Kil-Lor followed him rapidly.

Meanwhile, Batman tossed down a pellet that exploded into bright white light. Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder flinched and covered his eyes. Mister Terrific bent over the stunned Archer and hastily selected an arrow from his quiver, then bent the bow and fired. As the arrow hit Nuclear’s blue armor, ice began to quickly spread across the man’s suit. A suddenly vibrating blow from the Flash shattered the now-brittle armor before Nuclear struck back.

“I can repel you all without seeing!” he said as he blinked in pain, irradiating waves of magnetic force that pushed back the heroes.

Alexander the Great squared off against the Hawks. “So, old foe, I see the old game begins once more,” he said. “Nth metal versus the gravity ray. This time I may surprise you.”

Hawkman smiled at the bald man in the tuxedo. “I doubt anything you can do will surprise me after all this time.” The Hawks swooped down in one accord, and Alexander used his pulsing ray to force them away.

Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder pinned the Flash against a machine and drove the magnetic force against him harder and harder. Batman and Robin scrambled to help, as did Mister Terrific.

“That gravity ray could also transfer objects by teleportation, from the looks of the machine version. Let’s use it against Nuclear,” offered Mister Terrific. He adjusted the device, which mirrored the belt copy Alexander wore. It flared up then, and Nuclear was suddenly pinned to the floor by tons of increased gravity. He gestured wildly, and the magnetic energy he mastered erupted. It left the Flash free, and for a minute he raced forward, and his whirlwind slapped Alexander into the path of Nuclear’s energy blast.

The belt Alexander wore shattered as he yelled in anger, “You idiot! You’ve ruined my device!” he said. Nuclear shrugged and struggled upward as Mister Terrific tried to keep the machine running.

Superman was bruised by the battling Kryptonian warrior called Kil-Lor, waging a midair fight with tiring blows as the savage warrior kept on coming. Got to out-think this guy, he mused. Spinning and seeing the events below, he turned and said, “Catch me if you have the courage!” Kil-Lor pursued him downward, and Superman ripped the wall unit of the gravity device free from the wall. “Hope you don’t mind loaning me this toy,” he said, smiling. Mister Terrific grinned his approval.

The Man of Steel turned it to its highest setting, and Kil-Lor fell down hard. Aiming it directly at the struggling Kryptonian, he used the huge machine like others would use a portable tool. As he kept increasing the magnitude, Kil-Lor found himself under gravity far greater than that of Krypton. He now had even less power than he would have had on his long-lost home, where all citizens were super.

Then several things happened almost at once.

The furious Alexander the Great twisted past Hawkman and yelled at Nuclear, “How dare you? It is this kind of carelessness that I hoped to avoid!” He touched the struggling Kil-Lor and was nearly knocked out by the intense gravity surrounding him. “We must flee to fight again later, my friend!” he cried.

Suddenly, the device that was rendering Kil-Lor immobile exploded from the pressure. Superman hurled himself on the device in time to protect his friends, but by that time the two villains had made it to the satellite, and with shouted threats they vanished… or at least began to do so.

The bitter Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder swept their area with a magnetic blast, and they screamed as his magnetic force disrupted the teleportation ray Alexander had added to Kil-Lor’s satellite as an escape means. Alexander and Kil-Lor shuddered as they faded away with the Kryptonian vessel. They were obviously not going where they had intended to go. Batman slugged the weakened Magnetic Marauder, and he moved no more.

Superman stared into space as the other heroes congratulated each other and prepared to turn in Nuclear, Doctor Poison, the Rag Doll, and Mister Midas. The Archer had slipped off in the chaos.

“What’s wrong, Superman?” asked Batman.

“I wonder what Kil-Lor meant about my ruining his plans,” said a concerned Superman. “I have absolutely no memory of him. He had super-powers like mine. That spacecraft was his, too… and who was Jor-L?

“I don’t know,” replied Batman. “But I am certain that, whatever comes along, you’ll be able to handle it. I also believe you’ll learn just where you came from too, one of these days, and I’ll bet it’ll make a mighty interesting story.”

That prophetic statement would come true in 1949, when Superman finally discovered that he was from Krypton. And in 1958, Superman would meet Kil-Lor once again for the first time during a time-trip to Krypton before his parents Jor-L and Lora were married. Strangely enough, Superman would have no memory of previously meeting Kil-Lor in 1943 or of hearing his father’s name at that time.

The End

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