Carter Hall smiled as he gazed upon his collection of ancient weapons. These relics of the past sometimes brought him comfort, and he often imagined or remembered images from ancient days long past. As the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince, he had used such devices in many a fierce, daily struggle against evil merely to survive, and he mastered them. They had served him as well in the modern era; he had used them and his gravity-defying Nth-metal as the high-flying Hawkman to battle both Axis and homegrown villains alike, such as Dr. Anton Hastor and many others who followed in his wake.
But the amateur archaeologist was lonely, since his lover Shiera Sanders was in London doing her heiress routine, and he felt her absence strongly. She was his soul mate now, just as she had been in Egypt as a princess of Horus. He hoped she’d be careful and return home soon. Knowing Shiera, she’d be mistaken for some British princess and be kidnapped by some group of fanatics… who would beg her to go free after a few displays of her hot temper. He chuckled and returned to sorting his collection.
Carter felt an odd tingle as he touched his recently reclaimed artifact, the so-called Hammer of Thor. It had been one of a set of twin hammers of odd mystical power and uncertain origin. Some said they were Norse, and others Roman. He knew that the Hammer of Thor had been used in a frantic battle with the Ultra-Humanite back in 1942. (*) It also seemed to emanate odd vibrations, as some psychic sense spoke to him just as the odd glass dagger had first called to him before he started his career as Hawkman. He had certain sensitivities to the magic of the past, and wondered what ill omen the hammer posed. He found out, soon enough, as news of a rampaging, hammer-wielding madman blared out of his costly television set.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Powerstone Corrupts, Absolutely,” All-Star Squadron #22 (June, 1983).]
Donning his gear, Hawkman soared out over the city to the Regency Riding Academy, where he spotted a weird figure brandishing a hammer all too similar to the one he now carried at his side.
“I am Vulcanus, god of fire!” he screamed. “Your mortal creations pale near my work!” His skin had a shiny metallic gleam to it, and his tunic spoke clearly to the expert artifacts collector of the early days of the Roman republic. Hawkman flew down to subdue this modern Vulcanus.
Vulcanus waved his hammer, which Carter recognized as the so-called Hammer of Vulcan, and bolts of sheer heat irradiated from it over the stables. The horses were already scared, and their neighing echoed out of the burning gates. Hawkman saw them and veered away from the metal titan. Swooping down with a tarp, he soaked the gates with a cascade of water. As the flames died down, he snapped open the gates and sent the horses galloping off to the safety of the riding pasture.
His warrior’s instincts paid off when something urged Hawkman to turn. Seeing the burning hammer coming down on him, he felt the heat from his almost flaming foe. His wings absorbed most of the intense heat and certainly saved his collarbone from being snapped. He dropped down in pain, but used this fall to his own advantage.
Hawkman’s thickly muscled arms grabbed the metal boots worn by Vulcanus and pulled upward. As his wings spread, up he soared. The heat grew worse as Vulcanus, now upside-down, raged and waved the hammer at Hawkman, who clipped expertly under an arch that sent the Hammer of Vulcan flying out of his foe’s hand, continuing the ascent. These burning hands are getting to me. I wish I had worn the fire ghost costume. He only needed to hold on for a few more minutes. He sighed with relief as he reached the academy pond. Dropping his flaming foe, he watched him plunge into the pond. Steam flew upward, and Hawkman dodged to one side. There was no sign of Vulcanus, as no one emerged from the watery grave.
The winged wonder dropped warily down. He would have to dive in after him if he did not resurface. Killing was out of the question for the hero in this modern age. Taking a deep breath, he swam in the pond, but as he reached the bottom, he began regretting his actions. Vulcanus grabbed him and, with a fatal precision, snapped off his wings. Hawkman watched them sail by in the churning water. This pond may just boil me alive if I can’t free myself! he thought.
The underwater combat was uneven, since every indication proved that his foe was able to ignore little things like breathing, or, more likely, had superhuman lung capacity. Hawkman was able to knee Vulcanus in the stomach, and he followed this by a hasty Heimlich maneuver. The air gushed out of Vulcanus as Hawkman rushed to the surface, towing his stunned enemy behind him.
Hawkman’s hands were burned, as was his chest, but he had survived and defeated his foe. Vulcanus had now changed back to a drunken man named “Fairy-Tales” Fenton, an old Sandman enemy from the past who had once wielded the Hammer of Thor while posing as the Norse thunder god himself. (*) Hawkman mused over how this failed criminal and old drunk could have gained such power to become Vulcanus, now based on an entirely different pantheon. He decided to treat his burns, then make a few calls.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Villain from Valhalla,” Adventure Comics #75 (June, 1942) and “Vengeance from Valhalla,” All-Star Squadron #18 (February, 1983).]
The god of war saw his pawns fall. Mars had tasted their every blow and savored any sign of victory, but all such signs had ended quickly. Doctor Mid-Nite had bested Argos with mortal science. Circe’s magic prowess had failed to stop Batman and Robin. The passions of the Silver Swan and Nox had moved them out of his control, to the degree that each had formed plans of her own. Even the mighty Antaeus had been brought low by the power and cunning of Superman. He knew Gudra had betrayed him, and even now he saw the Batplane winging toward his sacred hill.
The invisible plane of the cursed Amazon carried other costumed figures. The many-gifted mortal Mister Terrific, along with the Wildcat, the Hourman, and the blind man called Doctor Mid-Nite, rode with Wonder Woman. The dangerous Superman flew on his own, as did the Green Lantern, who carried the Black Canary. The Hawkman rode in the Batplane, apparently resting from his last battle. The colorful Flash sat with the pilot, Batman.
Let them come! he mused. The war god would face them all down, and he would crush them with all the magic he had left. Perhaps someday he would even pay back the traitor, Gudra.
Wesley Dodds and Lee Travis had gone over the problem of the silicoid gun again and again, but they just could not make any progress. Still, Dian Belmont watched and hoped. Rex Tyler had chosen to join the rest of the Justice Society in their assault on Mars, while Wes had felt that his place was at home, trying to cure poor Sandy Hawkins.
Dian could only agree, and once more she prayed desperately that he would succeed this time after so many failures over the past several weeks. Even the magical ring of the mighty Green Lantern had failed to do anything to Sandy’s altered form, due to the minute wooden content of the new form the boy now wore.
Curse Mars! thought Dian. Curse the whole mystery-man game.
As the gathered Justice Society of America approached the famous Mars Hill in all its fallen splendor, their thoughts turned to those they had left behind.
The domino-masked Black Canary was thrilled to be with these legendary mystery-men for the very first time. She had met up with her new friend Johnny Thunder after her quick return from Star City to Gotham City. Johnny had proudly told the supposed villainess about his new job working Bruce Wayne’s company, though the poor dear didn’t seem to know exactly what his new duties would be, or when he would actually start them. In fact, he had been so proud of his new job, which would allow him to live in Gotham City and thus be closer to her, that he had completely forgotten that, as far as he knew, she was just a female crook who robbed from other crooks. Although the newspapers were full of this female Robin Hood’s crimes against other criminals, Black Canary hoped that Johnny would become her staunchest ally soon enough.
When the Green Lantern had found Johnny with the infamous Black Canary, a quick discussion about her involvement in taking down one of the myth-related new foes alongside the Green Arrow and Speedy had led to her being invited to accompany the Justice Society for this adventure in Greece, though the Green Lantern had made it clear that he disapproved of her actions, and said that all bets were off after the case was over.
Poor Johnny had looked so dejected when the Lantern had insisted that he stay behind to contact the Sandman or the Seven Soldiers of Victory should the JSA fail to return. With Johnny’s Thunderbolt being so unreliable lately, the Lantern knew Johnny was more of a liability than an asset.
Now, looking around at the assembled JSAers who were just as surprised at her presence as she was to be there at all, Dinah Lance smoothed her fishnet stockings and sighed. She had no desire to hurt poor Johnny or to push him out of his team. Still, how could a girl raised to fight crime not be thrilled to accompany giants like Batman, the Flash, and Doctor Mid-Nite?
The Flash noticed a grim look on the face of Green Lantern. Nudging his pal, he said, “Why so glum? We’ve handled worse yahoos than Mars before. Why, the guy wears a skirt!”
Green Lantern smiled. “I was just thinking how much easier this would be if Kent was with us, and he was still practicing true magic.”
“He and Inza are off on some romantic getaway, probably exploring some ruins somewhere,” replied the Flash. “Besides, you know, when he’s not off playing amateur archaeologist, he’s saving lives as a medical doctor. The last I heard, he had no intentions of giving that up in order to knock out crooks as the Superman knockoff he became after he lost the Helm of Nabu.”
Wonder Woman whispered to Superman as they scanned the rocky terrain of the Hill of Mars. “Though the JSAers have the hearts of the Argonauts of old, they are only human, and we face a mad god,” she said. “I’m so glad your power is among us, Superman.”
Superman blushed and dismissed her comment modestly. “My power is nothing next to that of the Spectre. I hope that poor, vanished soul has found peace.”
The Black Canary shyly asked Hawkman, “Didn’t Sandman and Starman belong to the team, too?”
Hawkman frowned and looked at the supposed villainess for a few moments before he made his reply. “The Sandman stayed behind as backup,” he said. “As for Starman, he suffered more than some, due to the war. He is still working through some problems. It’s a shame he’s not here.” As the leader of the Justice Society, Hawkman carried the weight of all the team, both past and present. He wished he could have helped those missing in some way.
Wildcat said to Mister Terrific, “Too bad Al’s cold and grad school exams kept him home. He’d love this myth thing.”
Mister Terrific grinned. “Yes, Al loves a fight. He’s a classic case of inferiority complex and self-motivation combined. Fascinating. I still recall the time he and I fought the Aryan Youth at the Calvin College Quiz Kids Competition.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Young All-Stars: Times Past, 1943: Aryan Youth.]
Silently, Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite set up Hourman’s portable black-light projector. Hope I can settle this within my hour of power, mused Rex Tyler. If not, I’ll be of little help.
As the Justice Society members and guests climbed the steep and rocky hill to the looming temple, Batman commented quietly, “We’re being watched, so I see no need for extra stealth.”
Wonder Woman, trusting his keen observations, rushed forward and effortlessly lifted a huge column over her head. Tossing it through a hole in one crumbling wall, she led her team inside.
“Remind me to never keep that lady waitin’ at the door!” quipped Wildcat.
Once inside, they found themselves in a glowing field that quickly vanished, to leave them in an otherworldly temple that was different from the one they had entered. “Great Hera! He’s transported us to Olympus itself!”
“We’re also not alone,” said Doctor Mid-Nite as he scanned the darkness. Hawkman and Green Lantern flew upward as numerous odd figures appeared. An army of gleaming golden women marched out from all sides.
“Those are the magically animated metal servants used by the gods,” said Princess Diana of the Amazons. “Vulcan made them, but Mars must have instilled his with some lethal purpose.”
The Flash blew around them at top speed until a huge group were piled together. In superb teamwork, Green Lantern fashioned a huge bowling ball that crashed into the metal maids and sent the inhuman things flying into bits. “Strike!” yelled Green Lantern.
“Ah, but watch this seven-ten split!” called Hourman as he jumped forward and sent more of them spinning.
All around, the heroes battled on. The Black Canary nimbly dodged as maidens gripped for her lithe form. Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite efficiently demolished them with systematic skill. Superman used his x-ray vision to melt dozens as they drew near to his weaker pals. Wonder Woman tossed them out of sight, while Wildcat and Mister Terrific proved equally adept at slowing down the creatures.
From on high, Hawkman spotted a new figure approaching with snakes in place of hair. “The Gorgons!” he muttered warily. Yet nothing happened as he watched two more serpent-haired women appear above. So… you can’t believe every myth, he mused. Then a beam shot from the eyes of a close Gorgon, and the spot it hit near a dodging Wildcat turned to petrified stone. “I’ll retract that thought!” said Hawkman.
Mister Terrific saw the Gorgons as he kicked out at a metal woman. Having noticed the gleaming metal chest of his inhuman foe, with precise timing he whirled her around in an angle, so that the next ray from a hovering Gorgon hit her as he’d planned. The ray reflected back at her, and she abruptly turned to stone.
The Flash caught the eye of another Gorgon, and as she targeted his fleet form, he raced up the sheer cliff wall and grabbed the third Gorgon. Seconds later, he placed her directly where he had first been standing. She was hit by her sister’s beam and turned to stone as well. Not bad, he thought.
Hawkman swooped down at the remaining Gorgon and tossed his ancient gladiator net. It sailed toward the monster, and she instinctively turned the enveloping net into stone, only to trapped beneath the now-solid stone projectile. There she remained, as Hawkman had hoped she would.