A meeting of two shadowy figures was illuminated by the flash of lightning in the penthouse of a wealthy citizen of Gotham City. At the head of the table was a scholarly looking thin man, while near him sat a bald, crippled academic in a wheelchair, with an intense gaze behind his black glasses.
“We have gathered the players for our project,” said the thin man. “I understand they have agreed to carry out their plans in conjunction with our agreed-upon goal.”
“I hope the insane clown will not be involved,” said the other man, speaking laboriously, as if in great pain. “He is too hard to predict. He is the random factor that might ruin our study.”
“We may need him,” replied the thin man. “It is logical to make use of him if his services become necessary. I, for one, do not fear him. Do you?” He leaned forward.
“You are the expert on fear, Professor Crane,” said the crippled man. “I, however, am the master of all aspects of psychology, and I do feel him to be… a wild card, if I may jest.”
“Very amusing,” said the stony-faced thin man.
“With all our operatives primed for action, we should triumph over Batman and gain some fascinating insights into what it is these costumed allies of his fear… and why they are motivated to don those costumes,” the crippled academic replied.
“I do question your involvement of that Gotham University professor, Zobar Zodiac,” said the intellectual. (*) “I hardly knew him at all during my own time at the university, but I always knew he had a disdain for the sciences. Besides which, I had no idea he was consulting for criminals on the side.”
[(*) Editor’s note: Professor Zodiac would later battle the Justice Society as the Alchemist in “The Man Who Hated Science,” All-Star Comics #42 (August-September, 1948).]
“Zodiac was only used to determine the best time to strike, and he claimed his sources dictated that now would be best. He says we will not be defeated by the Batman. We’ll win this time! Plus, the meteor storm fortuitously draws away Gotham’s other hero, Green Lantern, and keeps Metropolis’ Superman away as well. Our plan to blow up Batman, so to speak, will finally come to fruition!”
“To victory, Professor Strange!” said the thin man.
“To victory and knowledge, Professor Crane!” he answered.
At the exact moment that the two criminal masterminds plotted their plan of revenge and conquest, which had been given the assurance through astrological means that they would not be defeated by Batman, the reason that would soon come true was evident… if you happened to be Alfred Beagle.
“Have a safe trip!” said Alfred. “Do try to enjoy the scenery of the Southwest while you’re there.”
“We’ll try to do so after recapturing those wanted fugitives,” said Batman. “But there won’t be any time for a vacation, I’m afraid.”
Robin nodded. “We’ll try to bring you back a potted cactus or something!”
Alfred smiled and watched the Batplane streak off to mesa country, where his employers were heading to recapture two criminals who had recently escaped prison. These weren’t just any crooks, either; Batman and Robin had helped convict Monk Bardo and Randy Roose for murder a while back, and as officially deputized lawmen, they saw it as their duty to haul those fugitives back to jail. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crime Comes to Lost Mesa,” Batman #26 (December, 1944-January, 1945).]
Elsewhere, Superman and the Green Lantern flew upward to watch as a powerful meteor shower approached Earth.
“Guess the two of us can settle these pushy rocks without much trouble, eh?” said Superman, speaking through the use of ventriloquism and helped along by the power of the Lantern’s ring. The two Justice Society reserve members rarely worked together outside of the rare All-Star Squadron case or the even rare JSA case, but this was one situation where their abilities would complement each other handily.
Green Lantern smiled. “Even if any have a magical aura to them, we’ll be able to sent them packing! Hope all stays quiet back home.”
“With Batman there, your city is safe!” said Superman, little guessing how wrong he was on both counts.
Myra Mason turned to Dr. Charles McNider as they walked down the colorful streets of Gotham City by night. “Charles, I can’t imagine how the local chamber of commerce got the city fathers to approve all those oversized props and store signs that fill the Gotham skyline,” said the lovely blonde. “It looks like an amusement park!”
“Myra, those props make tourism a big industry here,” said McNider. “That, and people hoping to see Batman.”
She squeezed his arm and said, “Oh, as for me, I’d rather see Doctor Mid-Nite anytime!”
McNider smiled to himself, and the tourist couple continued on their way. “The medical convention that brought us here was a real washout,” he said. “I can’t understand how so many important doctors could just fail to show up!”
“Do you suspect foul play?” said Myra.
“It’s possible. In fact, I wouldn’t be–” he began, only to be cut off as the girl’s grip tightened on his arm.
“Charles — help!” she screamed, and was suddenly jerked away from him. The sound of her voice indicated that she had been yanked up into the air by someone or something.
McNider heard the rush of air and a crass voice say, “What a doll! A livin’ dream! You’re comin’ with me, baby!”
“Myra!” he yelled. Then, wasting no time, he switched into his alternate identity of the crime-busting Doctor Mid-Nite in an alleyway.
The Kite-Man! he thought as he caught a glimpse through his special lenses of the green-clad villain soaring over the city and carrying the struggling Myra. (*) He’s got some type of souped-up motor that gives him that lift and speed, he realized as he rushed in pursuit. It hums softly, too! Hope Batman won’t mind if Doctor Mid-Nite pays a house call on that flying fool!
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this character exists on Earth-Two, the original character appears on Earth-One, as seen in “Crimes of the Kite-Man,” Batman #133 (August, 1960).]
Doctor Mid-Nite scanned the skies above Gotham City as he moved across the rooftops. Amid giant typewriters and glowing cowboys, the night sky was even clearer than usual for him, since he could see through the darkness.
A shoe! he thought, seeing an object. Myra’s size and style, too! Good girl, leaving a trail. Could she know I’m Mid-Nite? Can’t be helped if I’m to save her.
Spotting the kite near the river, he made a risky decision. He hurled his rope, and the grapnel snagged the kite and scored the motor as it fell free.
A fight over the streets would just endanger Myra. I’m going to have to track Kite-Man down to his landing point. I’ll never catch him on foot, anyway. Now to find the information I need.
Sometime later, Dr. Charles McNider arrived at the doorstep of Wayne Manor, where he was ushered inside by the butler, Alfred.
“Dr. McNider, what a pleasant surprise,” he said as McNider hurried inside. “I’m afraid Master Bruce is away. Can I assist you?”
“If Bruce is away,” said McNider, lowering his voice, “then I need access to the Batcave equipment to get information on the Kite-Man. He’s kidnapped a friend of mine.”
Alfred looked astonished for a moment and was about to protest that Master Bruce couldn’t possibly be the Batman, when he recalled that McNider was one of the very few people who were privy to Batman’s secret identity. Not even Superman, nor most of the other members of the Justice Society of America knew who the Batman really was. But then, their fathers had not gone to the same medical school, as the late Dr. Thomas Wayne and the late Dr. Matthew McNider had. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite: Times Past, 1942: Death Has Many Doors.]
“Master Bruce has left instructions that Doctor Mid-Nite — indeed, any Justice Society member — is always to be given total assistance,” Alfred replied in a lowered voice as well. “Please follow me.”
Moments later, the two men were in the Batcave, rapidly looking through the files kept in a row of large black filing cabinets. Within were Batman’s crime files, which included listings of every known business in the city and what could potentially make them targets by known criminals.
“The kites need a special motor to fly like that without wind,” explained McNider. “I may have damaged his. Any replacement parts could only come from certain companies, one of which is in Gotham.”
“Ah, I believe I have it, sir — Tate Electronics,” said Alfred, holding out an open folder. “The business is owned by a Mr. Tate, who has a record. He could be the supplier for our man.”
“Well, he’s getting a house call,” offered McNider as he resumed his Doctor Mid-Nite costume.
Myra Mason frowned as the Kite-Man tied her to a chair.
“You sure are a treat for the eyes!” he said. “I was hired to just create chaos in the city, but getting a dish like you is just too sweet!”
“You’re a pig!” she said. “You’re a pig with a dumb name and a lame gimmick!”
“Fiery, ain’t ya?” said Kite-Man. “I’ll teach you better manners after I finish the job I was paid for. Do ya like water? I’m gonna blow up the Gotham Dam tonight with a bit of aerial pyrotechnics. You’ll be happy to have a ride outta here when I get it done!”
“Lights out!” said a commanding voice from above as Doctor Mid-Nite hurled a blackout bomb into the room and dropped down after it.
The black cloud filled the air and plunged the factory parts room into darkness. He charged toward the Kite-Man, who screamed for help. Three gunmen rushed in, firing blindly.
Idiots! They could hit Myra! thought Mid-Nite as he slugged the first gunman, who dropped his piece. The other two fell back as he slammed his fist into the tall one’s chin and spun around to kick the fat one in the chest.
After evading a skull-shattering blow by ducking beneath a thrown wrench, Doctor Mid-Nite threw it back with amazing accuracy. It caught the thug in the mouth, and down he went. Then Mid-Nite yelped himself as a razor-sharp kite edge cut him across the back. He rolled over an assembly line and emerged again to see the Kite-Man sailing toward him.
“I’ll kill ya!” said the Kite-Man. “My goggles let me see ya!”
“Like that scares me!” said Mid-Nite, and jumped onto the line, spinning through the air to land solidly on the extended kite wing. “I’ll ground you, you punk!” he said. Doctor Mid-Nite cut a line down the seamed fabric with his pocket scalpel, and as the Kite-Man fell, he followed.
“You’re worse than the Batman!” called the Kite-Man.
“Thanks!” said Mid-Nite. “You should see Wildcat!”
The Kite-Man dropped a flare, and the room exploded again in light. Even Doctor Mid-Nite was blinded again. “See you!” called the crook as a second kite enabled him to soar out of the room.
His big mouth ruins any advantage the light gave him, thought Mid-Nite, who cut Myra’s bonds and rushed with her out the skylight. “Stay put!” he said.
“Thank you! I will!” gushed Myra.
Doctor Mid-Nite saw the Kite-Man flying high with the yellow-labeled explosives strapped to the kite.
“He’s going to blow up Finger Dam!” cried the blonde nurse from below.
Great! thought Mid-Nite. I hate flying! Taking a deep breath, he ran for the kite’s edge, and, catching it, he lurched forward, hanging precariously as the city street fell far below. No more Gotham vacations, he vowed as they careened over the garish skyline.
Doctor Mid-Nite tried to ignore the kicks the green-costumed thug aimed at him as he soared over the city and neared the Gotham City Finger Dam. “Here’s where you get off!” sneered the Kite-Man as he reached for a cord.
“That can’t be a good thing — got to stop him now!” said a determined Doctor Mid-Nite. Jabbing him in the side with surgical precision, he gave the Kite-Man muscle spasms, causing him to lose his grip on the cord. Mid-Nite then slugged him and grabbed for a more secure perch on the gliding kite.
If I can steer over the dam and out into the harbor, the bombs won’t hurt anything — but can I even guide this crazy thing? he wondered. Doctor Mid-Nite arched, and the kite veered near the Finger Dam. He grunted and pulled with all his might as he grew ever closer to impact with the dam.
Myra! he thought as he ripped back and sent the kite narrowly over the edge of Finger Dam. He then steered out to the center of the harbor and dropped free with the stunned Kite-Man across his shoulders. Hitting the water clean, he kicked away to shore as the kite hit into the water farther away with a muffled roar.
Doctor Mid-Nite dragged the battered Kite-Man, whose armor-like suit had received the worst of the impact, to shore and gave him up to the harbor patrol.
Then he headed back for Myra Mason. But Doctor Mid-Nite stopped suddenly and smiled to himself. “There’s Mister Terrific!” he exclaimed as he spotted the man who had, along with Wildcat, recently been made one of the newest members of the Justice Society of America. (*) Moreover, the red-and-green-costumed mystery-man was presently talking with Gotham City Police Commissioner James W. Gordon, and it looked like something serious.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1944: The Incredible Mister Horrific.]