Wonder Woman had spent years on beautiful Paradise Island, where the wonders of nature mixed freely with the marvels of Amazon science. She had used the wonderful Amazon observatory to great effect as a girl, and had learned the stories behind the names of every constellation. However, nothing in the princess’ past had prepared her for what she witnessed in the Land of Magic. The stars glowed brightly, yet seemed to move at rapid speed and in seemingly random patterns.
“By the Pleiades! Doctor Mid-Nite, the stars are alive here! They are literal embodiments of the human types they represent. See, that archer is actually drawing his bow! Get down!” She shoved Mid-Nite flat even as she shouted this, and a starry archer blazed fiery bolts down toward them like comets from the heavens.
Doctor Mid-Nite found it all unsettling, especially since he could see them even more clearly than the Amazon princess could. He was a man of science, yet he, too, was awestruck by the living stars. He reached for his blackout bombs and wondered what possible good they could do against human stars and constellations.
Wonder Woman’s fleet flashing bracelets deflected the fiery bolts at amazing speed as the archer Sagittarius fired again and again. A bear roared fiercely and closed in on the agile Mid-Nite.
The Great Bear come to life! he mused as he rolled under the sweeping paw of the looming beast, which was the Land of Magic’s version of the constellation of Ursa Major. What would Myra think of this? She loves stargazing! He hit the creature with his blackout bomb and smiled with satisfaction as the inky darkness closed in around the gleaming creature until it could no longer be seen with the same vivid glow as before.
Wonder Woman swirled around and tossed her glowing magic lasso skyward to snare Sagittarius and close tightly upon his gleaming limbs. “I have him!” she said. “Praise Artemis for guiding my aim!”
Doctor Mid-Nite kicked out at the bear and drove the creature back. “He reacts to the sudden impact like a normal animal would. Perhaps we can drive him away from the talisman.” He spoke of the round sphere that hovered in the air before them. It was obviously what they sought. As the wise woman had promised, their intent had led them directly to it.
As Wonder Woman suddenly found herself being dragged across the ground by the struggling archer, she dug her heels down deep and wrenched with all her might. Sagittarius plunged to earth and lay still as she caught her breath.
Doctor Mid-Nite rolled to safety as Ursa Major charged again and seemed lost in the darkness.
A whiz through the air announced newcomers as Doctor Mid-Nite instinctively ducked and found himself trapped in a sticky goo. “What the–?! Glue from an arrow!” he muttered, and turned to spot a youthful blond boy with a bow. While Mid-Nite recognized Speedy, Wonder Woman gasped as her wrists were netted tightly together by a net-arrow. “Green Arrow and Speedy?! What’s the meaning of this?” demanded Doctor Mid-Nite as he struggled in a gooey mass that had enveloped him.
The handsome brown-haired archer said, “Sorry for the shoot-first tactics, but we had to stop you from claiming that talisman!” he explained. “You’re being tricked, according to a magic pal of ours!”
Speedy yelped as the sphere twinkled out of sight. “G.A.! Somebody stole the talisman after the JSAers drove off its starry defenders!”
Green Lantern did not quite know how to take Wildcat. The tough-talking boxing champ had been inspired by Green Lantern’s example years ago, and while Ted Grant did not defer to anybody, his hero worship made Alan Scott feel a bit odd. After all, he had admired the great boxer before he had ever met Wildcat.
“Look, Wildcat,” said the Lantern. “The talisman must be below the tide there in the waters.”
Wildcat grinned. “Don’t worry, chum! This is one cat who ain’t afraid of water!” He reached down to touch the talisman, when a group of long-haired mermen swam up to block his path.
“Halt! No one may take our talisman!” said one as he waved a trident at Wildcat.
“Whoa! A talkin’ tuna with an oversized salad fork!” joked Wildcat as he stepped back.
“Magical sea creatures must be par for the course here,” said Green Lantern as he created a gleaming net. The mermen yelled out as they were caught in the green energy. One tossed his trident, and it hit the side of the net and fell back.
“Looks like your magic beats theirs!” announced Wildcat with a grin as he reached out to grab the talisman.
But a golden staff suddenly shot out of the air to knock his hand back.
“Advance not, mine friend!” shouted a stentorian voice as the Shining Knight rode into view. “The peril that faces us all is unbeknownst to you as yet! Foul magic has veiled your normally sound judgment!”
“Well, from mermen to a Sir Galahad look alike!” laughed Wildcat.
Sir Justin said, “Wildcat, I am the Shining Knight! We have met before. I am not a native of this wondrous place.”
“True enough,” said Green Lantern. “I vouch for Sir Justin. What do you mean by stopping us from claiming that talisman? It’s needed for a crisis!” He generated a green fist that streaked toward the talisman.
The Shining Knight whirled his gleaming blade and sliced through the magical fist. “I say thee nay! My comet-forged blade mayst equal thine own star-sent power! Do not take up yon talisman!”
Wildcat jumped forward. “Not like you to be the rash one, G.L., so this pug will follow your lead.” He swung at Sir Justin, who ducked and connected with his own mailed fists.
“I speak the truth!” said the Shining Knight. “Cease this needless and rash combat, that we may reason together as comrades!”
Green Lantern created a cage around the Shining Knight, who bent down and hurled his lance toward the emerald champion. The magical lance was wood, though enchanted wood, and it slammed into the Lantern’s chin, leaving him dazed.
Sir Justin spun around to grab Wildcat and shove him into the staggering Green Lantern long enough to see that the talisman had vanished during their fight.
“Sir Justin! I don’t know what magic come over me; it drove me to attack you! I’m sorry,” apologized Green Lantern. “I can only guess that my own magic-based powers somehow made me vulnerable to some spell.”
“Yeah, and me? I just like a good brawl!” said Ted Grant with a shrug.
“You fight with the heart and skill of Gawain himself,” said Sir Justin. “Now let me explain our plight most fierce!”
“Gingerbread men! These things are gingerbread men!” muttered Stripesy as he smashed a ham-like fist through several of the weird troops who had attacked him and his agile partner, the Star-Spangled Kid, as soon as they had arrived in the Land of Magic.
“Crumbs and not blood!” said the Kid as he flipped through the crumbling chest of a third. “They truly are animated cookies!”
“Look, why don’t we just tell these kooky cookies that we don’t want their talisman?” said the big man as he struggled with a sticky goo that remained on his hands. “I don’t see a JSAer in sight.”
“Thanks for using that rapier wit to once again clarify the situation for me,” replied the Kid sarcastically as he tumbled beneath a huge white chocolate being.
A red and blue blur then blazed through the area, and the sheer friction melted the gathered gingerbread troops into a lump.
“The Flash! Imagine the fastest man alive being late!” laughed Stripesy.
“Hello, fellas,” said the Flash. “I assume you’re here to help me get the talisman? I was caught up for a while when some molasses goons ambushed me.”
“No, sir. We are here to warn you not to touch the talisman,” explained the Star-Spangled Kid earnestly. “An evil force from the realm next door to this one is using you all for a secret plan. We were apprised of the situation by an entity from this dimension known colloquially as Willie Wisher the Wish Master!”
The Flash frowned. “Well, son, I fear we’ve been duped, after all. While we took care of its defenders, someone else took the talisman!”
Indeed, it was gone.
A very similar thing occurred while Hawkman was wrestling with some odd living flowers. His victory turned to defeat when the Crimson Avenger and Wing arrived in time to alert him that he was being used. He only had time to notice a strange little woman carry off the talisman before he could react.
The fate of the team now rested with Johnny Thunder.
Johnny Thunder and Becka Barnes found themselves in a beautiful glade where sylphs sang in harmony to the wind through the trees, while crystal brooks babbled merrily along.
“Gosh, Becka, I’ve been thinking,” said Johnny. “My T-bolt is pretty keen on magic things, and he says something fishy is going on here. Just what do you know about this old wise woman? How come you and all of us just accepted her story on faith? I think we’ve been placed under some kind of spell. Now that we’re alone, I feel more questioning about things.”
The pretty blonde frowned. “Oh, Johnny, I don’t know what to believe. If we are wrong to get the talismans, then what does my future hold? All I ever wanted was the chance to find someone to love and settle down where we could live happily ever after! My sister Sally feels the same way.”
Johnny rubbed his head and scanned the horizon. “Say, you know, the bugs around here are human in their appearance! It’s like a Disney film!” Indeed, the insects of the glade had expressions like humans and spoke in English.
“You big lug!” said an ant. “Watch where you step — this glade is our home! Sheesh.”
“Let’s swarm the punk!” said a bee.
They did swarm toward Johnny, who pushed Becka behind him and said, “T-bolt, smoke these things away from us!”
The Thunderbolt grinned. “Smokin’!” Instantly, smoke trailed from his electric tail, driving the coughing bugs away.
“Hold it — the talisman is gone! We were tricked!” cried Johnny as he spotted the little imp called Miss Gsptlsnz. “Freeze, lady!”
She cackled madly. “Idiot! I posed as the wise woman to trick you all into getting the defenders of these talismans away so I could claim them. With them, my mistress in the dark realm may claim this little pretty for her own, and use her powers to walk between realms to conquer the multiverse!”
Miss Gsptlsnz seemed unharmed by the Thunderbolt’s icy efforts. He shrugged and said, “She’s immune!”
“You’re just like that little creep who annoys Superman,” said Johnny. “Say, you wouldn’t talk so big if he was here!”
Instantly, Superman appeared and gasped, “Johnny?! What in the world? Is is the fifth dimension?”
“Yay! It’s Superman!” said a cheering Johnny. Pointing at the resident of the fifth dimension, he said, “Get her! She’s bad news!”
As Superman flew closer to Miss Gsptlsnz, indeed noticing her resemblance to his foe, Mr. Mxyztplk, she laughed, “I can turn you into the very bugs you see around you!”
“Not if I say Zyxma,” announced a smiling Man of Steel. “It makes humans immune to all magic while in this dimension. Say that word, friends!”
Johnny and Becka shouted, “Zyxma!” And Miss Gsptlsnz screamed in fury.
Miss Gsptlsnz stomped her foot in anger. “You have rendered the pretty useless to me! Now my talismans cannot possess her for my mistress from beyond!”
“I reckon that’s the idea!” said the Vigilante as he suddenly appeared beside the handsome Mr. Mxyztplk.
“Daddy! No editorializing!” interrupted the Yellow Peri as her father told his story in the present.
“Sorry, dear! As I was saying, I found the cowboy hero, and he told me all that had occurred. I’d been tracking poor Miss G. since she had stood me up for a date. I recognized the Vigilante from my visits to Earthly cinemas. He croons, you know!”
The Vigilante said, “This little guy met me when I got here to these parts, and we had us a confab. He told me that same fancy word, and I just used it to sneak up and get the lay of this land.”
Superman grinned at his erstwhile foe and said, “Funny to have you as an ally, Mxy!”
Mr. Mxyztplk presently made an aside to his daughter as he related this tale. “He could be so smug!”
Miss Gsptlsnz fell flat. She was free of the evil influence, and as long as Becka Barnes remained in the fifth dimension, nothing from those magic realms could ever hurt her again. Nor could they make use of her magic heritage.
“Bring the others here, huh?” ordered Johnny.
“When your heroes have to get there overnight…” said the Thunderbolt as the rest of the Justice Society and the remaining Soldiers of Victory appeared.
“Superman!” said Hawkman. “I see Johnny brought in the cavalry!”
“Well, appropriately enough, our western buddy did, too!” said Superman.
“So I’m safe only if I stay here?” asked Becka.
“Oh, no! Don’t cry!” said Johnny. “Maybe you’ll like it here. You said you wanted to live happily ever after, and this is the place for fairy tales!”