Dr. Charles McNider was used to being awakened in the middle of the night by the ringing phone. He worked now as both a medical researcher and advisor to pupils, as well as a writer of anti-crime articles and fiction. Neither activity really demanded his full time, so he also worked by night as the costumed mystery-man Doctor Mid-Nite. This particular career choice did indeed take up most of his time and energy, so that when the phone interrupted his sleep, he was a bit grumpy and irritated. Still, he would never turn away from anyone in need of help, and so he located the phone in the dark room with ease.
“McNider,” he answered.
“Charles!” said a frightened female voice. “It’s Dian Belmont! Wes is sick! He’s in the emergency room. I think he’s in a coma or something!”
Dr. Charles McNider now sat upright. “Dian, I’m so sorry! I’ll be right there. I take it he’s at Mercy General?” She replied in the affirmative, and McNider put down the phone. He dressed hurriedly and spoke quickly to the brown owl sitting perched on a stand in the living room. “Hooty, I’m going out as Dr. McNider. Hold down the fort!”
As he made his way to Mercy General Hospital that day in January of 1945, Dr. Charles McNider’s mind raced. Wesley Dodds was the athletic mystery-man called the Sandman, and he should have been in top condition. Perhaps, he wondered, Wes may have a medical condition unknown to him.
At the hospital he met a pacing Rex Tyler. “Doc, Wes is out cold. He’s been unconscious for hours, now, and the doctors can’t seem to do anything to wake him up.”
“I heard. I’ll see what I can do. How are you holding out?” he asked.
Rex frowned. “What do you mean?” They exchanged glances again, and the chemist replied, “Don’t worry, there’s no one for me to punch, so I’ve resisted the old lure. I’m still working on the black light idea, though I could sure use some action right about now to take my mind off of poor Wes.” He referred to the addictive adrenal stimulant called Miraclo, which made him the super-powered Hourman and had twice nearly cost him his life. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984), “Death-Sword at Sunrise,” All-Star Squadron #49 (September, 1985), and “Crisis Point,” All-Star Squadron #50 (October, 1985)]
McNider saw Dian Belmont sitting next to Sandy Hawkins, a boy with blond hair. Both were trying vainly to reassure the other about the man they loved like family. She was Wes Dodds’ girlfriend, and he was her nephew and the ward of the fallen hero. Sandy patted his aunt’s shoulder. “He’ll pull through. He’s licked worse than this!”
As McNider questioned the attending physician and examined his friend, others watched from a realm both near and far.
“Excellent!” said a hulking man in ornate armor. “We induced the coma as planned. The Dreamer has fallen! Human frailty is useful at times, eh?”
His aide nodded. “Yes, Dominus, and best of all, he shall not be able to forewarn his colorful peers until Earth has become ours… I mean — yours!”
The figure called Dominus laughed as the brave man fought his way back to health and normalcy, while his loved ones spent a lonely vigil.
Suzy Griffith was one of several beautiful blondes to act as Steve Trevor’s secretary. In the few years she had worked in the secretarial pool at Military Intelligence, Suzy had seen far too many secretaries come and go since the death of Steve’s first secretary, Lila Brown.
As Suzy recalled, Lila had been more than a little eager to see herself occupy two positions — first, as the head military intelligence secretary to Colonel Philip Darnell, and second, as the blushing and elegantly gowned bride to Steve Trevor. However, to the girl’s regret, Diana Prince — the amazingly efficient and seemingly lucky woman who usually worked in the office next door — held the job of Darnell’s secretary, while the colorfully clad Wonder Woman owned Trevor’s heart. Lila had been mistaken for a Nazi spy after her younger sister Eve was used as a pawn by a man she’d fallen in love with, but her name was cleared thanks to Wonder Woman. (*) Although she grudgingly respected Wonder Woman for clearing her name and giving her sister a new life at Holliday College, Lila had little use for the bookish Diana Prince. Thus she had focused more energy on getting Diana’s job than taking Wonder Woman’s man. But all that ended in 1943, when Lila was killed by a bomb intended for Trevor. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics #3 (March, 1942) and 4th story, Wonder Woman #5 (June-July, 1943).]
After Lila’s death, Steve went through a few different secretaries over the next couple of years, and while Suzy temporarily acted as Steve’s secretary a few times, she was asked on more than one occasion to take on the role permanently. She was reluctant to do so, however, because she knew how Steve often got caught up in dangerous situations that usually involved Wonder Woman. In fact, Suzy admired Wonder Woman, especially after the Amazon princess saved her life back in 1942. It happened one night when Suzy was heartbroken over her recent breakup with her boyfriend Buck Brown, a musician with whom she had been going steady since they were teenagers. Feeling despondent, she went out for a long walk along the Potomac at night, heedless of any possible danger, and soon enough she found herself confronted by a couple of knife-wielding muggers. Luckily, Wonder Woman had been searching for her to find out where Steve Trevor was, and she ended up saving Suzy from her attackers just in time, though Suzy only found out about it later on, when she awoke from her fainting spell. Suzy knew from that experience alone that she wasn’t cut out for the kind of trouble that she knew she’d encounter as Steve’s regular secretary, and she only agreed to temporarily take on the role until they could find a suitable replacement. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Jeopardy Times Two,” World’s Finest Comics #244 (April-May, 1977).]
Now Suzy was busy looking through a stack of resumes, since there were several applicants for the secretarial job. She had earmarked a few for Steve to look at, but only one really stood head and shoulders above the rest, thanks to several terrific recommendations. The blonde Minerva Brooks, who preferred to go by the name Nerva, seemed to be well-qualified for the job, and Suzy planned to tell Steve so when she next saw him. She just hoped hiring Nerva wouldn’t lead to any trouble.
She glanced at the clock for the tenth time. Even though it was mid-morning, there was still no sign of Diana Prince, and it wasn’t like her to be late. Suzy would have to notify Colonel Darnell when he got out of his meeting, but she hoped that her friend Diana was all right and that she would arrive before the meeting let out, so the colonel would never know how late she was.
Suzy’s own boss, Steve Trevor, was also late. She figured the man was out on a case; possibly Diana was out helping the handsome blond man as well. Still, she couldn’t help but to fret and worry about them both, finding herself pacing the floor as she wondered where they were. As the door opened, she sat down in a rush, and Colonel Darnell entered with a worried look on his face.
“Miss Griffith, no word from Major Trevor yet?” he asked with a searching glance.
“No, sir,” said Suzy, looking distressed. “But knowing Steve — I mean the Major — he’s likely out on some dangerous mission! I wonder where Diana is, too. I’m sure she would call in sick if she were ill!”
“Diana is missing, too?” said Darnell. “That’s bad news; they’re both usually so reliable. Run over to the base and check their quarters. I’m getting worried. We’ve got a bit of a situation brewing, and even with this year promising victory over the Axis, we don’t need any losses of valuable agents like them.”
Suzy nodded and raced down the hall, her high heels clicking, and her mind hoping for good news.
She discovered the same scene at each apartment. Major Steve Trevor lay in a near coma, while in her own room at the nurse’s quarters, Lieutenant Diana Prince lay immobile as if she, too, was in a coma or worse. Nothing the base medics could do would rouse the pair. A large sealed trunk in Diana’s room would have held two clues as to what secrets lay behind the young woman’s trance, if anyone could have opened it. For within, a star-spangled costume and a device called the mental radio were safely concealed that would have revealed Diana Prince to be Wonder Woman, the amazing Amazon. Both she and Steve had made a dangerous enemy. Unknown to Suzy, at nearby Holliday College, a short, plump, young redheaded woman named Etta Candy also lay in a deathlike trance for the same reason.
On the same otherworldly plane where Dominus had laughed at Wesley Dodds’ stroke, he now watched and smiled in approval at the fate of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and Etta Candy. “Have you secured their astral selves?” he asked, and he received an affirmative nod in response. “Good! We cannot have them warn the world of the invasion to come! They and Dodds were all too aware of the medium we use for our conquest.”
Unaware of the otherworldly source of their peril, Suzy Griffith wept in worry over the still body of Steve Trevor.