Justice Society of America: 1944: The Incredible Mister Horrific, Chapter 1: The Man in Black


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Continued in part from Starman: Stars Be My Destiny, Book 2: Zero Hour

The roll call:

  • The Atom
  • Doctor Mid-Nite
  • Hawkman, chairman
  • Johnny Thunder
  • Starman
  • Wonder Woman, secretary
  • and special guest star Wildcat.


HAWKMAN, art by Joe Kubert:

In New York City, the high-flying Hawkman received an ominous message. He opened the envelope and began to read. “Hawkman! Meet me at the abandoned Moldoff Warehouse… if you dare! Signed, Mister Horrific!”

Carter Hall’s fiancée Shiera Sanders entered the room.

“Shiera, where did this note for Hawkman come from?” he asked her.

“It was delivered by messenger earlier this afternoon,” she said. “Do you need Hawkgirl’s help on this one?”

“No, it’s just another crank. I think Hawkman alone can handle this one!”

Within moments, Carter Hall was replaced by the Hawkman. The winged wonder took to the skies, flying as gracefully as a true hawk would. A few minutes later, the Hawkman spied an open door at the back of the building.

“Obviously, Mister Horrific wants me to come in through that door, so instead, I will surprise him,” the pinioned paladin said.

Glass shattered everywhere as the Hawkman crashed through the skylight at the top of the warehouse. He was surprised to see a lone figure sitting on a chair. The man was clad in a simple black jumpsuit from head to toe, his face unseen. He did not move.

Tentatively, the Hawkman approached the unmoving figure, his mace drawn. “Are you all right? Has Mister Horrific harmed you in some way?”

The man suddenly moved, kicking the Hawkman’s mace away. He jumped up as he kicked, and his other foot connected with the Hawkman’s jaw. He landed as gracefully as a cat.

“You are good, Mister Horrific, but my wings give me an advantage that you cannot overcome!”

The Hawkman took flight, but somehow the ebony-clad villain was able to perform an incredible feat of acrobatics and landed on the Hawkman’s back. With a mighty tug, he ripped the wings from the Hawkman’s back and jumped back to the floor, taking the mighty wings with him.

This is impossible, the winged warrior thought as he floated in midair. Without my wings, I cannot fly, just float, since the wings control my direction and flight, but perhaps…

The Hawkman removed a small blowgun from his belt that contained a dart coated with tranquilizer. This will put Mister Horrific to sleep, and then I can recover my wings.

Putting the blowgun to his lips, the Hawkman took aim at Mister Horrific. Incredibly, he was able to pluck the dart out of the very air, and in the same motion hurled it back at the Hawkman. The winged wonder deactivated his Nth metal belt to try to avoid the dart, but Mister Horrific anticipated that move, and the dart struck the Hawkman in the chest. He tried to stay awake, but the Hawkman collapsed at the feet of his silent adversary.


An hour later, Shiera Sanders received a rather large package. Opening it, she was aghast to discover something within.

Carter’s wings! There is a note attached to them.”

Shiera opened the note and read, “The Hawkman has been defeated, the victim of foul play. Do not attempt to find him! If you want to see Carter Hall alive again, bring $100,000 to the same place I defeated Carter’s alter ego. Signed, Mister Horrific!”

“If this man can defeat Carter, what hope do I have alone? I cannot give in to blackmail, though. I must contact the Justice Society!


DOCTOR MID-NITE, art by Stan Josephs:

The offices of Dr. Charles McNider:

At his desk, Dr. Charles McNider (who was secretly the costumed mystery-man Doctor Mid-Nite) was reading a book written in Braille, the language of the blind. He was interrupted by his lovely assistant, Myra Mason.

“Dr. McNider! I just received a rather queer phone call from a Mr. Ehaus. He said he is an old patient of yours, and that he needs your help right away. I can’t find any record of you having treated him before.”

A perplexed look crossed the physician’s face as he replied, “Did he leave his address and phone number?”

“Yes. He said he lives in a loft apartment in the warehouse district, 522 Ellsworth Street. He said to just ring the bell, and he will let you in. His number is Klondike5-7462.”

As Myra left the room, Dr. McNider picked up the phone and dialed Mr. Ehaus’ phone number. The phone rang, but no one answered.

“That’s odd. Why would Mr. Ehaus… Wait! Mr. E-Haus… Mysterious! Obviously, this is not his real name! Still, my Hippocratic Oath compels me to help those in need! However, this house-call will not be placed by Dr. Charles McNider. It will be Doctor Mid-Nite who answers the call!”

Minutes later, the enigmatic Doctor Mid-Nite arrived on the scene. From all appearances, this was an ordinary warehouse. Looking upward, he saw what could very well be an apartment on top. “If Mysterious want me to ring the doorbell, then obviously I should not do it. Instead, I’ll climb up to the apartment and surprise him!”

Using his astounding skills, Doctor Mid-Nite easily scaled the side of the warehouse and entered the loft apartment through an unlocked window. Inside, the blind avenger found nothing but dust-covered furniture.

“Mysterious, indeed! It doesn’t appear that anyone has lived here in quite some time. I am sure, though, that my foe must be nearby!”

Almost as if on cue, a spotlight cut on, rendering Doctor Mid-Nite’s infrared glasses useless and truly making him blind. He quickly removed a blackout bomb from his tunic and smashed it on the ground. Darkness flowed from the bomb, drowning out the light. As it faded, Doctor Mid-Nite found himself able to see once more. He noticed a shadowy figure leaping for him. He quickly sidestepped the man and managed to land a blow in his midsection. The figure faded back into the darkness. Seconds later, Doctor Mid-Nite heard a click at the other end of the room. A gigantic fan began to blow, swirling the darkness away.

That fan! he thought. It’s blowing the darkness from my blackout bomb away, and the light from that spotlight is overwhelming my infrared goggles again. I’ve got to get that spotlight out!

With his sight fading fast, Doctor Mid-Nite hurled another blackout bomb in the direction of the spotlight. He knew that the darkness would be blown away, but his hope was to smash the spotlight. He gave a mighty throw and hit his target.

My vision will return in a moment, and…

The doctor’s thoughts were interrupted as his foe landed a surprise uppercut to Doctor Mid-Nite’s jaw. Unable to see, Mid-Nite tried to defend himself, but the mysterious man clad in black landed blow after blow until the blind avenger fell.


Sometime later, Doctor Mid-Nite awoke. He was securely bound, both hands and feet. He discovered that his goggles had been ripped from his costume, and he could feel that his blackout bombs were gone.

“He even took my radio that I use to contact the JSA!” he muttered quietly. “What I wouldn’t give to hear Hawkman’s voice right now!”

“Ask and ye shall receive, Doctor Mid-Nite!”

Hawkman! Did you follow the villain here?”

Hawkman smiled ruefully, knowing that his friend could not see him, “No, Doc. I am just as helpless as you. Our friend has me bound, just like you. He took my wings and my Nth metal belt!”

“He must be after the whole Justice Society! If only we could warn them!”

“Don’t worry, Doc. I am sure that Hawkgirl has called the troops now that I haven’t returned to her.”

“Maybe. Or maybe Mysterious is going after her next!


STARMAN, art by Jack Burnley:

In Opal City, wealthy playboy Ted Knight was enjoying a night on the town with his girl, the beautiful Doris Lee. They had gone out for a night of dancing at the USO, which was raising funds for the war effort.

Their evening was interrupted, however, by an alert from the radio. “This is FBI agent Woodley Allen, interrupting this broadcast with an urgent plea! I need the Starman to meet me at our usual rendezvous right away on an important matter of national security!”

Doris Lee looked up at Ted. “My goodness! Uncle Woodley sure didn’t sound right! I hope he is OK!”

“I am sure he is. Just to be on the safe side, though, I will call Commissioner Bailey and make sure that Woodley gets some backup. I’ll be right back, Doris!”

“But, Ted!” Doris cried after her fiancé as he disappeared into the crowd.

Outside, Ted Knight removed his suit to reveal the uniform of the Starman. He carefully stashed his clothes and then headed skyward, courtesy of his amazing gravity rod.

Swiftly, the Starman flew to meet his confidante, Woodley Allen. He approached a building in a rundown area of town.

“That’s odd. I don’t see Woodley’s car anywhere! I wonder where he could be?”

As if on cue, the Starman spied a figure running across the alley and into one of the nearby buildings. He followed swiftly behind him.

“Could that be Woodley? Or someone he’s looking for? He said it was a matter of national security, so I had better follow him!”

Inside the building, the Starman found only rats and dust. Using his gravity rod to light the way, he followed the footprints in the dust until they abruptly stopped.

This is odd. The footprints just stop here as though the man vanished!

Something creaked above the Starman’s head. He looked above just in time to see a man clad totally in black drop from the ceiling. He jumped out of the way, firing his gravity rod at his ebony-clad opponent. To the Starman’s surprise, the man twisted and moved out of the way in a manner that most men could not even imagine. Quickly, the Starman pointed his gravity rod at the man again, but before he could even think, the villain kicked the gravity rod out of the Starman’s hand.

“Impossible!” Starman cried as he threw a punch that his opponent deftly dodged. Once again, the man performed an amazing acrobatic feat, and where he was once in front of the Starman, now he was behind. The man then went to punch the Starman, who managed to avoid the first blow, but he was able to stop the second, or the third, or the fourth.


Sometime later, a groggy Starman awoke to someone calling his name.

“Starman! Finally! Are you OK?”

Starman found himself bound tightly as he realized he was not alone. “Hawkman! Doctor Mid-Nite! This is awful! Who is this terrible foe that could defeat three members of the Justice Society?

Hawkman spoke up, “He calls himself Mister Horrific, Starman, and he’s made fools of all of us! If only we could warn the other members.”


JOHNNY THUNDER, art by Stan Josephs:

At home, Johnny Thunder was rummaging through his cabinets looking for something. His adopted daughter Peachy Pet came into the room munching on a sandwich.

“Whatcha looking for, Papa Johnny?”

Surprised, Johnny bumped his head on the inside of the pantry. “Owww! Peachy Pet! Don’t sneak up on me like that! Say, what’s that you’re eating there?”

“It’s a peanut butter sammich.”

“Where’d you get it? We’re out of groceries, and I haven’t had a chance to get to the store yet!”

“There’s a man on the corner. He’s got a booth, and he’s selling them for a nickel apiece!”

“Oh, boy! I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!”

Johnny ran down the stairs and out of his apartment to the street corner. Sure enough, there was a man selling peanut butter sandwiches on the corner. Johnny ran up to the booth and plunked two bits on the counter.

“I’ll take ten sandwiches, my good man!”

The vendor smiled and handed Johnny ten sandwiches, which Johnny began to eat voraciously. As he sat down on the stoop to his apartment building, Johnny failed to notice the vendor pull off his apron and his face. He stood revealed as the incredible Mister Horrific.

As the man in black crept up on him, Johnny thought to himself, Gosh, this peanut butter is sticky. I think I’ve got some milk left in the refrigerator.

Johnny jumped up just in time to avoid a crushing blow from the man in black. He bounded up the stairs, unaware that Mister Horrific was hot on his tail.

“Pmmmy Pt!”

Darn, Johnny thought. My mouth is so full of peanut butter, I can’t even talk! He shut the door behind him and headed to the kitchen, munching on yet another sandwich. He heard a knock at the door.

“Pmmmy Pt! Gt mm mmmmr!” he muttered, trying to say, “Peachy Pet! Get the door!”

As Johnny opened the refrigerator door, he heard another knock.

“Hmmd mm! Mm Cmmmg!” he mumbled, meaning, “Hold on! I’m coming!”

Johnny found the milk jar, but it was empty. He closed the refrigerator and headed to the door as he heard yet another knock.

“Hmmd mm!” he muttered, trying to yell, “Hold on!”

Johnny opened the door and was confronted by Mister Horrific. The ebony-clad villain grabbed Johnny by the collar of his jacket.

“Smm, mmm cmmm mmm mmm!” mumbled Johnny, meaning, “Say, you can’t do that!”

Oh, no! Johnny thought. With this peanut butter in my mouth, I can’t call the T-Bolt! The last thing that Johnny saw was a fist coming toward his face.


When he came to, Johnny found himself bound and his mouth taped shut. He also saw his fellow Justice Society comrades Hawkman, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Starman.

“He’s gotten Johnny, too!” said Hawkman. “If only we could get his gag off. The Thunderbolt could get us out of this jam!”

Johnny groaned to himself as he thought, If only there had been some jam on those sandwiches!

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