The Black Canary and Mister Terrific soon found themselves scrambling down a rocky slope in Colchis, Greece.
The fishnet-wearing beauty smiled. “Medea’s kettle! I seem to have a real thing about running into big pots. Remember the way those crones tried to cook me alive in their cauldron during the New Olympians case?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1947: The New Olympians, Chapter 7: The Sound of Thunder.]
Mister Terrific nodded. “Odd coincidence. Medea’s kettle was found here in myth. She used it to restore a ram to vitality and used it as a weapon against Pelias. She tricked the old tyrant into thinking the same tactic could make him young. It only left him dead, since she did not tell his daughters exactly how it worked.”
Black Canary frowned. “Those old myths were pretty bloody. I guess Zodiac wants it for its potential restorative powers. His own fountain of youth waters turned me and other JSAers into kids just last month. I suppose this is his way to refine the technique.”
Mister Terrific nodded. “I think the evidence I’d put together from a bit of research and local legend suggests that this cave holds what might be Medea’s kettle. Too bad Wonder Woman didn’t decide to follow up on this lead. The kettle comes from her very heritage.”
The lovely blonde touched Mister Terrific’s arm. “Look! I believe this proves we’re in the right place,” she said, pointing up the slope toward a large, green-scaled figure.
“The Green Dragon! Wooden, as G.L. said. I guess Zodiac can make more of this, like some kind of Henry Ford of golems!” said the man of a thousand talents. “There’s no doubt the thing is a wooden being. Notice it does not breathe or show any sign that the dash down the steep slope winded it.”
“I’m a girl who prefers a hands-on approach!” said the Black Canary, jumping forward under the Green Dragon’s swinging tail, then chopping down with her martial art’s skill. The wooden tail broke in half. She smiled and backflipped out of the reach of the silent Dragon.
Mister Terrific smiled appreciatively. “You really are a mistress of the martial arts!” He kicked out and shattered the Green Dragon’s hand.
The Black Canary grinned and kicked out to shatter more of the creature. “You are black belt material as well,” she said. The Dragon caught her and slapped her across the face.
Mister Terrific ran forward and said, “The fiend has no respect for a lady. I’ll teach him some manners yet!” He rolled under the creature and heaved upward to send it tumbling down the slope. It broke against the rocks and slowly shuddered until it remained inert. “The Green Dragon is destroyed. I guess we can look for the kettle now,” he said as he lifted the Canary to her feet.
“Thanks for the hand,” she said.
They searched the cavern but found nothing. “Odd,” said Mister Terrific. “I was certain my calculations were correct.”
Black Canary shrugged. “Everybody makes a mistake sometime. The Dragon thought this was the place, too.”
“I wonder…” said Mister Terrific. “I wonder if Zodiac knew this was the place, or if he baited us with the four creatures and then set others to follow where we led them?”
“Beats me,” said the Black Canary. “That pudgy Peter Lorre knockoff is capable of anything.”
They emerged from the cavern as the tide came in. Mister Terrific smiled. “I have it! Look! The cavern! Hallowed out not by erosion or the tide — initially. The whole cavern is a kettle. We’ve found Medea’s kettle. They did things big back then!”
Black Canary kissed him on the cheek. “You’re right! This cavern as taken from above does form a large kettle. Of course, some natural environmental changes have occurred to make the function less obvious.” They continued to talk as they climbed back up the slope. “This thing isn’t going anywhere,” she said. “Let’s try to connect with the others and locate the man himself!”
The Flash and Green Lantern searched the majestic landscape of China and gazed in awe at a huge palace built high upon a mountain. “Fascinating,” said the Flash. “I never knew Aladdin lived outside of the Arabic nations.”
Green Lantern nodded. “He settled here in China with his wife after his magical genie brought the whole palace from Africa.”
“I see you spent your childhood in libraries, too,” said the Flash.
Green Lantern nodded. “My folks prided themselves on encouraging me to read. The idea of magical rings and lamps and such appealed to me. I’d say it shaped my choice of this colorful costume, too.”
The Flash frowned. “Look! A certain ebony-hued warrior is hot on our trail.”
Green Lantern grinned. “Yes. He’s making time better than Errol Flynn!” The Black Warrior charged the heroic pair with his gleaming blade flashing in the still air. “I wanted a rematch with my wooden pal from the museum, but change is good!” he said, shielding them from the blade as he drew closer.
As expected, the Black Warrior altered his body to a rushing cascade of water that poured over the emerald gladiator’s shield and then into a huge funnel that appeared at the hero’s command to separate the golem across the mountain.
The Flash spun around, and his whirlwind further dispersed the creature’s now-liquid remains. “The combination of your instant funnel and my super-friction has turned it to steam or vapor. It can’t re-form!” said the speedster with a smile.
Green Lantern nodded. “My ring indicates that the legendary ring of Aladdin is directly below that palace’s marble hallway!” He used his ring to create a tunnel to lead them below the floor without actually breaking the ornate decorations.
“Clever!” said the Flash. “Hiding the treasure beneath the palace. Of course, who needs an ‘open sesame’ password when you have a ring like yours?”
“I think that tale came from the one about the forty thieves, and we are more concerned with one,” said the Green Lantern.
The Flash handled an ornate ring. “This ring and the other treasures stored here would make Hawkman happy for weeks. He loves the past.”
“Rubbing it, even at super-speed, doesn’t produce any wonders, I see,” said Green Lantern. “I suppose the lamp is equally powerless.”
The Flash nodded. “You know, for a second I actually wondered if the lamp would summon a T-bolt like poor Johnny’s. I’d dearly love to restore his lost powers someday. It was hard seeing the poor guy so dejected when he left the team.”
Green Lantern nodded. “I hoped it would, too. I’ve asked the ring about it before, but the Thunderbolt’s magic is beyond its realm.” They resealed the tunnel and flew off to tell their partners of their wondrous find.
The amazing Amazon called Wonder Woman was swifter then Hermes, stronger then Hercules, more beautiful then Aphrodite, and wiser than Athena. This was no mere press release hyperbole, although her onetime crooked agent, Al Kale, would have loved to use such colorful phrases to promote his cash cow. (*) She truly was that remarkable a woman.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942).]
Doctor Mid-Nite knew all of this and needed little convincing, since they had formed a close friendship over the years. Even the supposedly blind physician could see how wonderful she was as she deflected the solid bursts of air that came from the White Tiger.
“I rather expected the Black Warrior,” said the Amazon princess as she kept the Tiger at bay. “I guess Zodiac decided to test his pets against new challengers.”
Doctor Mid-Nite nodded. “You’re showing him up rather well!”
Wonder Woman smiled and said, “Let’s bell this hot-air kitty!” She jumped forward and slammed into the White Tiger as it turned to air. Rolling agilely through his body, she whipped out her gleaming magic lasso to scatter him across the green lawn of the ancient French chateau behind them.
Doctor Mid-Nite frowned as the creature began to re-form. “No good, Wonder Woman,” he said. “It’s drawing upon the existing air to hold itself together.” He tossed a blackout bomb into its midst, and as the inky cloud formed within the creature, it shuddered and vanished. “I assumed my bomb’s chemicals could alter the air within its area of proximity enough to weigh down or slow its re-formation,” he explained.
Wonder Woman clasped his arm. “Well done, Doctor. As usual, you have the right prescription for any situation!” She gestured toward the large home. “This was once a hunting lodge used in legend by the reformed Fierabres after Oliver defeated him. Notice the huge iron statues? He was known as Iron Arm.”
“Strange how there is an extra statue,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “One at each corner — each gable has one. Yet an extra looms oddly out of place to the far right.”
Wonder Woman nodded. “I suppose, if I’m wrong, I’m going to be one busy Amazon trying to repair this ancient work of art.” She wrapped her mighty arms around the statue and shattered the iron to scrap to reveal an urn. “The balm! It gave him his vitality in the tales of the peers of Charlemagne,” she said.
Mid-Nite sniffed at the urn. “It does contain a rather pungent odor, but no ointment. Time has robbed it of its value. Ironic. No pun intended.”
Wonder Woman smiled. “Now, let’s get back to JSA Headquarters.”
The Atom shrugged his shoulders. “So, this is Samarkand? Some golden road! Looks more like a dirt path!”
Hawkman smiled. “Don’t blame me. I’d say that particular bit of boosterism came from the writer Fleckner. Still, maybe it’s not the golden road to knowledge, but it’s still impressive.” He gestured toward the open countryside and said, “The name Samarkand means stone fort and was once a cultural center for the Mongol Empire. In The Arabian Nights, Prince Ahmed found his apple here. The apple gave him renewed vitality. That’s what Zodiac must want. I’d never followed up the old scroll’s legends before Terrific translated one line that led us here.”
The Atom began, “I knew fruit was good for you, but…!” They stopped as the fiery Red Bird swooped down from above. “Look! He’s your old sparring mate, unless somebody set a vulture aflame!” said the Atom.
Hawkman nodded grimly. “Be careful. He can ignite at any moment.”
They circled warily, and the Atom said, “OK, enough playing. I’ll bring him to ground!” He lifted a huge rock and hurled it skyward.
Hawkman shook his head, knowing his pal could not resist indulging in displays of his newfound atomic strength, which had taken six years to manifest after his exposure to radiation at the hands of Cyclotron, whose costume inspired the Atom’s current one. (*) The rock clipped the Red Bird’s wing, and he crashed down to generate a ring of fire.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Ultra War,” All-Star Squadron Annual #2 (1983).]
That’s a new trick, mused Hawkman. If he’d tried that at Hall Manor, I’d be camping on the lawn — or under it! He tossed a mace toward his foe and watched as the creature stood fast and ignited it. Glad that was only an extra, he thought. I’d hate to lose a true relic.
The Atom charged and jumped over the ring of flame to slam both atomic-powered fists into the creature. But as the elemental being exploded, the Atom flung himself backward as Hawkman desperately grabbed his arm and flew him clear.
“You could have been killed!” cried Hawkman. “That was risky, reckless, and… admittedly successful!”
The Atom grinned. “I wagered my atomic punch could disrupt the thing’s weird metabolism. Fight fire with fire in a figurative manner. Plus, I knew you’d pull me clear.”
Hawkman nodded, and his grim frown turned to a grin. “Yes, you did, at that,” he said. They glanced around and found a withered tree. “This is not native to these parts, and the charred remains look like apples. I’d say that our fiery foe just destroyed the very fruit his master sent him to retrieve.”
“It’s the just fruits of his efforts!” said the Atom, smiling.
Professor Zobar Zodiac rubbed his plump hands together in pleasure as his four elementals returned to his lair. “Excellent!” he said. “They all succeeded! I rather expected some to fail.”
“Well, you should have bet the farm on it, ’cause that’s exactly what they did!” said the Atom as the green illusion of Green Lantern’s ring images faded to reveal the Justice Society in place of the pawns of Zodiac.
The man known as the Alchemist scowled and reached within his voluminous cloak. “Looking for these?” said the Flash with a smile. “A super-speed search divested you of your potions!”
“I am never without my resources!” said Zodiac. “If you destroyed my pets, then I shall merely summon more!”
Green Lantern created a gag over the portly man’s excited features. “No summoning allowed, pal,” he said.
Doctor Mid-Nite nodded. “With his mouth shut and his hands tied, he should be no threat. After all, it was easy enough to trace him through the arcane items he purchased.”
“Good thing Flash took all of his potions away first,” said Wonder Woman. “Some of these look positively deadly!”
“True!” laughed the Black Canary. “I have absolutely no desire to be turned into a frog!”
“You’d look swell in green!” joked the Atom.
Mister Terrific shook his head over a huge book. “This tome looks to be from the collection of Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus! That’s how Zodiak learned to summon the creatures.”
“Well, for a man who was willing to go to such extremes to prolong his life,” said Hawkman, “time just ran out!” The Justice Society members led him away happily.
“I wonder why he was so desperate to find a way to cheat old age?” asked Black Canary. “He’s not past middle age by much.”
“His kind always value personal power over any other consideration,” said the Flash. “He likely wanted to live forever. That youth potion of his would merely have turned him into a baby.”
Later, as Zobar Zodiac sat in a cell, a feeble old man and a man resembling Zodiac himself departed. The Alchemist sadly gazed at the backs of his departing visitors.
“Poor father,” Zodiac muttered to himself. “He did not even know me in spite of my brother’s efforts to explain. If only I could have found a way to restore his once-fine mind. What a tragic waste! Senility has robbed him of his very awareness of self or family.”