On Mount Olympus, the battle continued for the Justice Society. Wildcat’s fists had dented more gold women than he could keep count of, and Hourman’s superhuman might had enabled him to drive off a crowd or mob of the automatons.
Now Doctor Mid-Nite spotted an opening that led to an unknown destination. Taking the opportunity, he slipped into the darkness. That was when the ornately decorated temple suddenly gave way to an ocean breeze. He looked back, and his path had vanished.
Mid-Nite was now alone on a quiet, sandy beach that, for all his sharp eyes could discern, could have been on the shore of an Aegean inlet. He headed on toward a cavern. This could be more of a mystery than I want to solve, he thought. As he passed into the huge cavern, he spotted pens of livestock. He also saw bones that his medical eye easily identified as belonging to humans.
Behind him came a roar, and he turned to see a giant, man-shaped monster looming over him. It had a gaping maw for a mouth, and above this opening gazed one round, red eye. The Cyclops! thought Mid-Nite.
“Who dares enter my home?” thundered the creature as it blocked Doctor Mid-Nite’s exit.
“Call me no-man!” yelled Mid-Nite as he threw his blackout bomb. As the grenade exploded, darkness filled the cavern.
“No-Man has blinded me!” screamed the Cyclops. He groped for the Justice Society’s resident physician, but to no avail. Mid-Nite dodged agilely in the blackness, which was as clear as day to him. Rolling out of the creature’s way, he dodged out of the cave, then ran down the shore and saw no sign of pursuit. The dumb creature is still milling around in the cave, thought Mid-Nite as he hurried down the beach. I hope he stays there. I can’t see myself pulling a Ulysses on him.
Back on Olympus, the Batman noticed an extra shadow from above. He knew where his flying allies were, so he instinctively leaped back. A rock crashed into the ground where he had just been standing.
A shrill cry rang out, and a foul, clawed bird-woman circled above. A harpy! thought Batman. Reaching out, he flung his batarang around the creature, pinning her wings to her sides with the batline attached to it, and she fell. Swing the batline, he sent her into more of the gold women. They were surrounding a beleaguered Wonder Woman, who had managed to crush dozens of them alone. The Batman marveled at the amazing Amazon. To think that the Justice Society wastes such a powerful member merely as their secretary! he thought.
Wonder Woman smiled her appreciation at the caped crusader. She was fighting with more aggression than usual, since she was taking this battle personally. Her friends and allies had been used as pawns in some game by the hostile Olympian, and she bitterly resented seeing good mortals used by capricious gods, even if she did worship some of them. Spinning her golden magic lasso, she brought down three more harpies as they appeared.
The Hawkman was even now smashing his trusty mace on a winged monster. His mighty arms held the sharp claws at bay with some difficulty. I’ll never mentally call Shiera a harpy ever again, even after one of her patented heiress hissy-fits! he thought, bringing a knee up into the bird-woman’s chest. She cried out, and his right hook dropped her like a rock.
The Green Lantern created a fan that blew back a hoard of the winged terrors. As he did so, he thought about Irene Miller. She had ultimately made some progress in her effort to come to terms with his intended career as Alan Scott. I owe Mars a giant green fist or two for what he did to her.
Wildcat and Mister Terrific saw a tunnel to their left. The impulsive professional boxer headed down it, with Terrific on his heels. “This may lead us right to the big gun himself,” said Wildcat. “I’d like to see how well a war god can box!”
Mister Terrific silently agreed. They now found themselves in a room with ornately decorated walls. Ancient tools, instruments, and ornaments hung in a shining splendor. “Wildcat, I think this is a trap!” said Terrific as around fifty screaming, wild-haired, bloody-nailed women charged them from four sides.
As the battling pair watched, the angry women closed in on them. Their eyes were wild, and they tore savagely at the heroes with dagger-like claws. The Wildcat plunged in, and his lightning-quick blows sent the nearest three reeling. Mister Terrific wrestled another two into submission, wondering at the irony of using Greco-Roman wrestling on real Romans, of a kind.
The determined heroes struggled on, but the sheer numbers of the howling women threatened to overwhelm them. “What are these dames? Mars’ ex-wives or somethin’?” asked Wildcat as he pushed down another madwoman.
“They are Maenads — insane women in frenzied bloodlust!” replied the ever-ready Mister Terrific. “I have an idea.”
“Oh, of course ya do,” said Wildcat. “That’s what we keep ya here for!”
Mister Terrific had noticed something as he entered the room. “Where…? There it is!” Agilely leaping up, he spun head over heels through the air, then landed and grabbed a stringed instrument from the wall. He paused a moment before strumming the lyre he now held. As his melody gathered strength, and his powerful baritone swelled in accompaniment, the maddened women began to slow their rampage. As one, they stopped, listened, and — amazingly enough to Wildcat — sat attentively as Terrific performed.
Music soothed them! He’s done it again, marveled Wildcat to himself. The heroes waited until all the women seemed at ease, then raced back the way they had come. None of the Maenads chased them, so they assumed that this one chamber was their special abode. “I didn’t know you could sing. You’re no Sinatra, but you’re pretty good!” said Wildcat.
Mister Terrific dismissed the praise. “I do OK, but it’s just a hobby of mine.”
“Buddy, let’s hope you never run out of these ‘hobbies’!” replied an amused Wildcat. As they returned to the main hallway, they met a returning Doctor Mid-Nite. “Where have you been, Doc?” asked Wildcat.
“Long story. Let’s just say I was soaking up some sun,” quipped Mid-Nite as the threesome ran to rejoin their battling comrades.
The Hourman glanced down at his hourglass. It looked as if his sands were in the same place they had been when the team first entered the temple. Perhaps time moved differently on Olympus. He wouldn’t grumble, however, since although they had been fighting the hordes of Mars for what felt like hours, the time governing his hour of power showed that only a few precious minutes had passed. Thus, his enhanced abilities would last much longer than he ever dreamed. “Wonder if there’s much call for chemists around Olympus?” he joked.
The Black Canary kicked out like a Rockette, her trim form showing little wear and tear as she struggled against three bony but strong old women. She had been forced to stop fighting when the annoying double-diamond-shaped domino mask she wore slipped and obscured her vision. When she moved the mask back into place, she was startled to find herself surrounded by these three old hags, who took that moment to grip her tightly with a fevered intensity. Black Canary tossed one long, blonde lock back out of her eyes and struggled as the old hags carried her off to one side. Her mouth opened, only to close as a gnarled hand clamped over her ruby lips. She was dragged off, away from the Justice Society members, and she found herself helpless in the three hags’ collective clutches.
As the beautiful blonde fitfully tossed and turned, her old captors entered a dirty shack of a room with one very prominent object in the center of the chamber. It was a huge cauldron. OK, these old bats are witches, she mused. That’s all I need.
They tossed her unceremoniously into the huge pot. “No! They’re cannibals, too, and I’m on their lunch menu!” she gasped.
As the three sisters closed in on her from three sides, she took a deep breath and dived under the bubbling waters in the giant pot. A nasty smell filled her nose, but she kicked downward and crouched at the bottom. Then, with a strong kick, she thrust upward and burst up and out of the pot, landing gracefully, and rolled across the floor. As her captors raced to catch her, Black Canary delivered a jab to the first old hag’s throat. She pushed her across the room, and as she neared the pot, her sisters closed in on her hungrily. “That is one family dinner this pretty bird wants no part of!” murmured the Canary as she made her back to the Justice Society.
Pulling the domino mask completely free, after it had become dislodged while she was in the boiling cauldron, she looked at it. “And this mask of mine is about as useful as a wet rag, so…” She tucked it into a pocket in her jacket, though she wondered if she should just get rid of the mask altogether. It protected her secret identity, of course, but the blonde wig seemed to be doing a good job. Nobody she’d met as Black Canary had ever guessed that she was really a brunette who owned a flower shop, after all. Plus, there was a precedent with a few other heroes going without masks, including a former JSAer named Starman, so if he could get away with it, why couldn’t she?
Suddenly, the temple became empty of everyone except for the assembled heroes. All of the metal women vanished. A stern, stout figure with a red beard appeared in the center of the hall.
“Mars! At last you show yourself!” said Wonder Woman as she walked purposefully toward the war god.
“You are well met, my old foe. Your words befit the warrior race from which you sprung! If you would abandon your pacifistic ways, you could be a true daughter of Mars!”
Wonder Woman bristled, then calmly announced, “You have used my friends and endangered helpless people for some petty spite. It ends here. I demand a final combat!”
The rest of the Justice Society listened and watched as the amazing Amazon spoke defiantly. “This’ll be good!” crowed Wildcat.
Wonder Woman charged the Roman god and gripped his armored tunic. With ease, she tumbled his large figure to the floor, then lashed out with two blows that could have bent the strongest mortal metal. He roared his disapproval and struck back.
The JSA hesitated, then started forward, but a magical force-field appeared to keep them back. “This battle is between us, mortal vermin!” Mars shouted to them as he struggled up. Wonder Woman kicked him soundly in the chin, and he tumbled backward one more.
Green Lantern aimed a vibrant blast from his ring at the field, but it merely shimmered and held strong. The Flash vibrated through it, only to be bounced back outside instantly.
Superman started to charge it, but stopped in mid-stride. “I think this is a job for Superman!” rang out as the Man of Steel saw a huge creature come out of the wings. It had three heads and otherwise resembled a large dog.
“Cerberus!” chimed Batman, Mister Terrific, and Doctor Mid-Nite in unison.
Superman merely leaped up and slammed into the monstrous hound with a thunderous crash. “Sorry, puppy, but you need a collar and tags to run around loose!” he quipped as his superhuman power lifted the creature and sent it rolling back down the frescoed hallway.
As the JSA marveled at the raw power of their comrade, a second beast slipped silently up. It was obviously a Sphinx. It towered over them all, even more so than the now-chastened hound. Before any moves could be made against it, it lashed out with a huge paw and sent the Green Lantern reeling. He landed hard and did not get back up.
“G.L.!” yelled Hawkman as he swooped down to check on his pal.
“He’s OK. Just stunned,” said Doctor Mid-Nite after a careful examination.
As the heroes watched, Wonder Woman continued her assault on Mars with considerable success.
Then, as the Sphinx raised up ominously, Batman stepped forward. “I demand the riddle contest. If I answer correctly, you will leave quietly.”
“And if you fail?” moaned the Sphinx.
“If I fail… I die,” replied Batman.
Batman’s allies objected at once, but he dismissed their concerns, finally convincing them to back off. The Sphinx spoke slowly. “Selene’s daughter in wax or wane, potent beauty and lupine bane!”
“The Moon,” replied a calm Batman.
“Correct, mortal!” said the Sphinx as it slipped away once more.
“Great job!” said the Flash.
“I’ve had a lot of experience with riddles,” replied Batman with a grin.
During the battle with the large monsters, Wonder Woman’s attention had slipped just momentarily. Mars took advantage of the distraction and bound her bracelets together with a flash of intense heat. She struggled helplessly.
“Wonder Woman is powerless if a male binds her bracelets!” yelled Mister Terrific as they watched helplessly. Hourman and Superman pounded on the field, but its magic defied even their power.
Black Canary gasped. Was her first big case going to be the one that saw the death of a member of the famed Justice Society?
“Not even the bolts of Zeus can break my field!” gloated Mars. As the JSA planned their actions and desperately attacked the force-field, Mars stopped his combat to laugh, brag, and show his scorn for the heroes.
The Flash had rocketed away, vibrating furiously back to the mortal realm. Next, he raced to a location in Gotham City and hurried back with a thoroughly confused Johnny Thunder. I hope Terry’s idea works, thought the Flash as he brought Johnny to the Olympian realm. “Say the words!” yelled the Flash.
Johnny Thunder shrugged. “He’s hardly around these days! I’ve tried and tried, but he only shows up once in a while. Maybe next week he’ll be back, but then he’ll be completely gone again the week after that.”
“Trust Mister Terrific’s plan,” urged the Flash. “He says to get you here on Olympus and have you call your words.”
Shrugging, Johnny nervously yelled, “Say you!”
Nothing happened as the heroes and Mars watched with very different reactions. Then a bolt of raw magic power hit the field and left Mars in a dazed condition, along with a look of fear on his face. A mighty figure with a long beard appeared behind the power bolt and frowned in displeasure.
“Zeus!” called out Wonder Woman. The king of the Olympians waved a mighty hand, and the Amazon’s bracelets were separated once more. As her power surged back, she rose majestically to bow to Zeus.
“Mars, you have broken your vows to me,” said the king of the gods. “I am displeased. You will await my judgment anon!” Mars dejectedly followed his angry father away with a look of hate for the heroes. “Return home, brave mortals,” added Zeus to the assembled heroes. “My errant son shall not trouble you again!”
A moment later, with the merest flash of light, the Justice Society suddenly found themselves in Greece once more.
Wildcat smiled at a recovered Green Lantern. “How’d ya get that big man of Olympus to come clean Mars’ clock for us?”
“Actually, it was all Johnny,” said Green Lantern. “Mister Terrific figured his magical Thunderbolt might have some magical affinity to Zeus’ own magic thunderbolts. So Terrific whispered to the Flash to get Johnny here. Sure enough, Johnny’s words summoned Zeus himself.”
“Ya did good, kid!” said Wildcat as the other heroes congratulated a smiling Johnny Thunder. Superman was happy to see that Wonder Woman was unharmed by her combat, and he had a real pleasure in seeing poor old Johnny save the day. After all, it might have been one of his last hurrahs with the Justice Society, with the Thunderbolt not answering quite as often these days.
Johnny smiled and said, “Ah, it was really Mister Terrific and the Flash who did all the work.”
Green Lantern brought the Black Canary back to Gotham City, where he let her go free as he’d agreed. He, Johnny, and all the rest had realized through this experience that this female outlaw was much more of a heroine than they had first realized. And even Superman and Batman had been considered outlaws when they’d first begun fighting crime, so there was hope for her yet. Although they didn’t know it then, the members of the Justice Society would be seeing her again soon.
The JSAers returned to the team’s brownstone headquarters in Gotham to celebrate their victory. Once more, and as always, the Justice Society of America had emerged triumphant.