Myra Mason sighed as she kissed Doctor Mid-Nite, slipping off his mask to reveal the features of her employer and lover, Dr. Charles McNider. The lovely blonde smiled.
Then her daydream was interrupted by the real Charles McNider.
“Myra, you’ll have to forgive me for being late. I’m a little slow these days.”
Rushing over to her object of affection, she smoothed his tie. “You look so handsome.” The blind doctor was indeed very dapper in his tuxedo. She had begun to suspect that he could see, and was, in fact, the mystery-man called Doctor Mid-Nite, but she still played along, since she felt he would tell her when he wanted to, if he cared for her as she did him.
“I feel out of place,” muttered Charles McNider. “I never went to those balls back in med school. I skip the literary dinners when I get invited. I’m the original wallflower.”
The pretty nurse led him to her car, and they soon arrived at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where a charity performance was being held. Anything for the war effort, but I’d rather be facing down Professor Elba, thought the reluctant doctor.
“There’s Veronica Lake! And I see Bing Crosby!” cooed Myra.
McNider did enjoy the sights, and the music was good. Maybe things would be more fun than he thought. Since he was supposed to be here to listen, he tried to do so over Myra’s happy squeal. Then the hall was suddenly overrun by gunmen led by a tunic-wearing blond with a receding hairline. The gunmen lined the hall and proceeded to rob the crowd of jewels, money, and other valuables.
Myra knew what she needed to do; she pretended to faint. McNider glanced down and recognized the signs. Whether he was used to Myra’s reaction to danger, worried about the gunmen, or just relieved to get an excuse to leap into action, he didn’t notice that the lively blonde was faking. Go get ’em, Charles, thought Myra.
McNider waited for the right moment, then slipped out of his seat. The nearest gunman pointed a gun at him, only to be knocked out of sight behind a curtain as the surprising agile supposed blind man made good his escape.
Moments later, he returned as Doctor Mid-Nite. His patented blackout bomb brought the hall to pitch-black night. He moved with skilled precision and stunned thug after thug; the guns were of little use to the blinded gunmen. After leaving eight crumpled on the floor, he looked up through the crowd to the stage, where the leader seemed to be awaiting Mid-Nite’s arrival.
“Come up, mortal! I see as well as do you!” he boomed out.
This could be tricky, thought Doctor Mid-Nite. Nearby, Myra watched him and hoped her hero would be up to this odd threat.
Doctor Mid-Nite was not pleased. He was not used to thugs, even the tunic-wearing variety, being able to see through his blackout bomb. It set a bad precedent. Next, the Vigilante will run into a foe that’s bulletproof, or the Jester will meet up with a guy with no sense of humor. Of course, no one really thinks the Jester is funny, anyway.
Mid-Nite leaped up to the stage. The gunmen were all out, as their boss had either not shared his immunity with them, or he did not care to help them. This began to look like anything but a typical robbery. “That is correct, McNider,” said the man in a very quiet voice, to McNider’s relief. “This is no typical robbery, and I, Argos, am no mere thief.”
Argos? He can read my mind! thought Doctor Mid-Nite. That may be how he can track me through the dark.
“No, I fear for you that all my senses are enhanced,” replied Argos. “Even now I hear your heartbeat race, and I smell the heady perfume on yon starlet.” He pointed through the dark to a sultry redhead in the crowd. Mid-Nite threw a punch, only to have the hyper-sensitive Argos anticipate it and avoid it easily. “I am only here for chaos and damage,” said Argos. “These hirelings are merely useful to draw out such as you.” He sliced out at Mid-Nite with a cruelly curved dagger.
Luckily, Doctor Mid-Nite thought, this guy’s reflexes are only human.
“True, but they will suffice for the likes of you,” said Argos.
Doctor Mid-Nite knew that his every idea, his every move was being read by the strange Argos. He tried to hide his thoughts. But how did one do that? Mid-Nite aimed at wild kick at Argos, which barely touched the darting Olympian.
“You almost caught me. Too bad — almost is not good enough.” Argos threw the dagger at Mid-Nite. It grazed his right arm, and he grunted in pain. In the crowd, Myra winced.
The two danced back and forth in an intricate duel, until finally Doctor Mid-Nite decided to rely on pure instinct. He flipped through the air and crashed into Argos in a desperate move that hurt him as much as it did his foe. He saw a machine backstage, and as the ever-acute Argos anticipated his next move, both men dived for the sound system. Mid-Nite won out by a second or two, and hit the volume for the entire Radio City Music Hall.
The loud, pulsing music surged like a physical beast through the hall, driving both men to their knees. As Doctor Mid-Nite clung to the volume switch in pain, Argos writhed and finally collapsed into a different and mortal form. As Mid-Nite had hoped, the hyper-sensitive Argos could not stand the blasting noise as well as Mid-Nite with his normal hearing. Ears ringing, he rose up and headed for the wings of the hall. His head would be hurting for hours, but at least he had stopped Argos.
But his motive puzzled Doctor Mid-Nite, and that Olympian motif made him think of Wonder Woman. He thought he had better call her.
Dinah Drake smiled as she gazed at the stylish and costly decorations that adorned the Star City Theatre. She had never visited Star City before, and this brief vacation from Gotham City had proved to be a real delight. The ballet had performed beautifully, and now she was even fortunate enough to be one of the audience who had been selected to attend the post-performance anniversary dinner. Her lucky ticket was really paying off. Dinah had always loved the ballet; the grace and beauty of the movements, the fanciful costumes, the music, the emotions — all combined to entertain and amuse.
As a girl, her passion had been for the many aspects of police work. She had been driven by one desire: to emulate her policeman father. She had excelled at every sport, mastered most areas of criminology, and aimed her every ambition at achieving a uniform. “To serve and protect others is the highest calling,” her father repeated again and again as he had proudly watched his lovely daughter grow into true officer material. However, all along she had a second side to her. She had retained a desire for things more artistic, more feminine. Whether it was the ballet, painting, flowers, or just the joy of a new dress, sassy heels, or fishnets, Dinah had never lost an appreciation for being a woman and an officer.
The police career had failed to work out for numerous reasons, but she was now protecting and serving the cause of law and order as the blonde bombshell called Black Canary. It was true that, mere weeks ago she had begun her career posing as a Robin Hood type who robbed from criminals, even as she was believed to be a criminal herself, but she was at heart a defender of justice, even if the police and the rest of the world didn’t know it yet.
During one of her first outings in costume a couple of weeks back, she’d also met Johnny Thunder, a member of the famous Justice Society of America who, she could tell, was already hopelessly smitten with her. (*) Johnny happened to be in Gotham at the time following a regular Justice Society meeting. (*) Although she wasn’t too sure about any kind of romance with him, she was sure she would see him again soon.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Black Canary,” Flash Comics #86 (August, 1947) and “The Day that Dropped Out of Time,” All-Star Comics #35 (June-July, 1947).]
As Dinah watched the Star City company’s president Ralph Watson gather around other trustees and sponsors, selected audience members, and his group of talented dancers, a huge cake was wheeled out. The Star City Company of Dancers was two years old tonight. The crowd hushed in anticipation — well, most did.
Roy Harper yawned. “Sorry, Oliver, but ballet? I mean, I like art and music, but this stuff bores me.”
“Hush, youngster,” whispered the handsome, brown-haired Oliver Queen. “My company is a leading supporter of the theater. Besides, you might like it if you see enough of it.”
This night was not meant for merely artistic pursuits. Outside, a lovely blonde in little more than what would someday be called a bikini waited with a bitter look on her otherwise perfect features. She spread the wings of her skimpy costume and flew down, disrupting the ceremony. “The Silver Swan flies once more, and this house and the traitor Ralph Watson shall fall this evening!”
The Silver Swan gracefully performed a type of aerial ballet as she posed dramatically above the theater troupe. With a purpose behind her every seductive and poetic movement, she mesmerized every male on stage, including a startled Oliver Queen and Roy Harper, alias Green Arrow and Speedy. One exception was a fearful Ralph Watson. She had left the object of her hatred free — free to be destroyed.
The Swan spoke in a lilting, almost musical voice, “I wish this man to lose his troupe, his dreams, and his life! Begin to please me by killing his so-called ballerinas!”
As a whole, the men surged forward and began attacking the screaming women. A struggle wracked the features of Queen, Harper, and a few others as their strong moral codes, willpower, or souls wrestled against such a fatal command. Most gave in to the sultry siren easily and grabbed, pounded, and tore at the frightened women.
Dinah had vanished at the first sight of the Silver Swan. She and all females were immune to her dance of enchantment, and she had read about the so-called Helen of Plunder before. This blonde femme fatale had tried to kill Watson once before, but another masked heroine named Liberty Belle had stopped her. Well, since there’s no sign of Liberty Belle tonight, another blonde bombshell will have to do, thought Black Canary. Good thing I packed my costume, wig, and mask in my travel bag.
Black Canary raced on stage and upended the huge cake, toppling it down atop the embattled men and women, and separated a panic-stricken Watson from his foes. The Canary next launched herself into a perfect pirouette, then kicked three men sharply enough that they fell off the stage and remained motionless. “I guess her spell saps their stamina, too. They don’t put up much of a fight against a trained mystery-woman like this little bird!”
She then quickly somersaulted across the stage and sprang upward to deliver two devastating blows to the next two outraged males. As they fell, the Black Canary spotted the Silver Swan diving toward her from above.
“No one interferes with this woman scorned!” screamed the Silver Swan.
Black Canary ducked, leaving her foe to fly past her. Spinning abruptly, she caught the Swan’s left boot and pulled with her full strength. She found herself lifted upward by the stronger blonde.
“Say, one gorgeous bird lady to another, what are you here for? Let’s just forget the jerk and go catch a Gable film,” tried a joking Canary. The Swan slapped Canary so hard she nearly fell to the floor far below. Although she kicked out, she had little effect on the Swan. Finally, she fought her way up Swan’s leg and wrestled her foe’s arms to her side. As her wings were pinned, the Silver Swan fell hard to the stage with an agile Black Canary suddenly safely on top. The Swan groaned as she rose weakly from her fall.
Black Canary whirled out of the Silver Swan’s reach as she lashed out with a left hook. She noticed Ralph Watson racing out the stage exit, along with the ballerinas. All of Swan’s entranced pawns had either been knocked out by the Canary, had fled when the Swan’s control had slipped after her own fall, or, as in the unique case of Green Arrow and Speedy, had made a rapid change of costume.
“Sorry about that ‘swan dive,’ but I thought it would be kinder in the long run than to just pluck your feathers,” said Black Canary.
The Silver Swan opened her rose-shaped lips, and a solid blast of sound emanated. The Black Canary fell down hard, but the archers fired with skill and accuracy. Their trick arrows enveloped the Swan in a metal net, which ended up shattering with her second cry.
The Black Canary shook her blonde tresses carefully and leaped over the Green Arrow to deliver a stunning kick to the Swan. “Excuse me, boys, but this lady owes me few bruises, and maybe even a run in my fishnets!”
The Canary’s nimble footwork caught the Swan before she could emit another sonic blast. They wrestled across the stage, with the better-trained Canary emerging on top. Grabbing an arrow from his quiver, the Green Arrow fired. A gooey mass exploded over the Swan. It muffled her cries and diluted their intensity long enough for Dinah to close in once more on the struggling Swan. She slammed the dangerous blonde again and again, and finally her foe moved no more.
The archers helped her tie up the Silver Swan, and they exchanged thanks. “That Black Canary sure is swell!” said Speedy as they watched the adorable blonde walk off.
Nice guys, but that Green Arrow is kinda stiff, thought Dinah with a smile. There’s really no attraction between us.
Mars fumed. Mars raved. In short, the war god was very upset. Every pawn was failing him. Worse still, that vixen Gudra had purposely revealed his involvement to the Amazon. She and her ilk would now storm his earthly temple, and Zeus would learn of his actions. Even the Silver Swan, a pawn he had created a few years before, had failed. She had even retained her own personality and ignored his desires. She followed her own personal agenda! he thought angrily.
All he could do was try to make the best of a bad situation. He would prepare the hill of Mars for the heroes and use his powers as needed, perhaps even directly. Zeus could not see his every move. Perhaps he could yet triumph.