Justice Society of America: 1949: The Science of Revenge, Chapter 2: Magic Words

by Libbylawrence

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The Flash and Green Lantern could travel via their respective speed and flight powers, causing normal humans to look on in envy or confusion at the sight of red or green blurs going by. However, irony touched these fleet mystery-men by making them arrive too late at the home of Simon Orr. The scientist had already been abducted by a powerful hooded man in black and gray. Orr’s wife explained tearfully that she had watched helplessly as the intruder stepped right out of the shadows and threatened Simon with a terrible hatred in his strange voice before carrying him off in a flash of light.

“I guess we’d better get back to headquarters,” said the Flash.

“No,” said the Green Lantern. “A certain blonde may tease you about being perpetually late, but I’m not used to coming in second in any race, old friend. I have an idea.” Alan Scott gazed into the emerald ring on his finger and said, “Green Flame! I seek the truth of what happened here! As your champion, I need to see what occurred!”

Green fire danced in the night before it illuminated a weird, yet vivid scene before them.

“You’ll put television to shame with that kind of trick,” said an impressed Flash.

The green flames painted a picture of a confident man sitting at a table with his wife, Selena Orr. He was suddenly startled by the appearance of a hooded man, who stepped through the walls of the manor. “You are the one who mocked me longest!” said the grim figure as he approached Orr. “You are the one I hate the most!”

“Now, see here!” shouted Orr. “I don’t know you! I’m calling the police!”

“Brave cuss,” said Green Lantern as he watched the events unfold.

“Stubborn,” added the Flash.

The costumed figure, who called himself the Ebon Blade, cursed at Orr before grabbing him in a blinding flash of black light. “Why, you and I will settle things at my abode!” he had hissed.

“Same odd speech pattern as described by Wonder Woman and the Atom,” said the Flash. “What do you make of it?”

“Artificial voice — produced through a speaker, broadcast in from afar?” suggested the radio-television engineer.

“Clever,” said the Flash. “That would explain the hoods to conceal the speakers, but why does he want to disguise his voice — or, better yet, why are these goons wired for sound? They have such broad powers that I could hardly speculate on a need for speakers.”

“We’d better find out,” said Green Lantern, “since the hate in that voice suggests that Orr and the others may be dead men as we sit here now.”


Back at JSA Headquarters, the Atom watched Mister Terrific in action. The genius scanned through old files guided by the traces of a pattern suggested by his photographic memory and deductive mind.

“This does it,” said Mister Terrific. “We were wrong to assume that the think tank was the only connection between the missing men. True, Blush and I served with them all on that think tank, and it seemed a logical tie between Dr. Albertson and Gayner, but no one attacked me or Blush, and that means that there has to be more to the mystery. I knew I could trace the other connection eventually, and now I think I have it. All of them except for Blush and myself knew one another from being members of a New Jersey Science Club. They shared membership there back in 1941 before Blush and I ever joined them in the think tank years later. Another two names were in that club as well, with no ties to our think tank: Hans Iker and Rex Tyler!”


Wonder Woman amazed Doctor Mid-Nite even years into their close association. The woman had it all: beauty, brains, courage, humor, and such astonishing power. She could almost do the JSA’s job on her own; she was that good. He had noticed the dark figure seconds before she did, due to his special night vision, but she had reacted with a speed that left the agile and skilled doctor in the dust. She had thrust herself forward and blocked a silvery projectile with her gleaming bracelets. He watched as the Amazon princess made wonders look easy.

“Aphrodite’s girdle! The woman moves as swift as Artemis in the hunt! I only hope we may teach her that haste makes waste!” Wonder Woman looped her golden magic lasso swiftly across the pavement outside the home of Ben Carr, the last scientist from the think tank.

The rope looped around the bare foot of the woman in the white hood, even as her robe slipped back to reveal bare legs. “I order you to tell me who you are!” said Princess Diana. The woman merely stood stock still, and Wonder Woman noticed the odd delay in reaction time that the Smasher had displayed. She said, “I command you to surrender.”

“Why, you might as well ask for a free trip to the moon!” cried the woman beneath the hood, speaking in the same strange tone as the others.

Wonder Woman gasped as she found herself being forcibly propelled through the atmosphere. “Got to use my rope!” she said as she flew helplessly skyward. She snagged a tree and watched as it ripped itself free of the earth.

Doctor Mid-Nite ran forward. “Stop! Your friends claimed no malice towards the Atom when he fought Dynamo! Save her!”

The woman in white said, “Return to earth now!” Then she reached down to scoop up an infant. “This is Carr; he always was a whining baby!” she said as she flickered away.

To Doctor Mid-Nite’s relief, Wonder Woman suddenly plunged back to the ground and into the earth for a few feet. She erupted up through the soil and said, “That woman almost sent me to my doom!”

Mid-Nite helped her up and said, “Lean on me a while, Princess. Even an Amazon needs a helping hand after something that bizarre happens.”

As he held her, he thought over what his keen eyes and ears had witnessed. Obviously, the woman’s voice came from within her hood, but to his perception, it seemed not to originate from her throat, but from something attached or artificial, like a radio receiver. That made him very curious. He hoped to confer with Mister Terrific quickly.


Mister Terrific and the Atom had hastily used the mental radio at JSA Headquarters to summon Wonder Woman and Doctor Mid-Nite back to the meeting room. Green Lantern and the Flash soon followed, as did Hawkman and the Black Canary. A handsome, dark-haired man waited for them with the Atom and Mister Terrific. He was Rex Tyler, the former JSAer called the Hourman.

“Rex, good to see you!” said the Flash. “I see you are wearing less formal attire, though. Bugs with the black-light projector?”

“It’s on the blink,” Rex said with a grin. “I could always go back to my pill, for old times’ sake.”

“Your doctor will not allow that,” said a grim Doctor Mid-Nite.

“No, he won’t, nor will my better judgment,” said Rex ruefully. At least not until I can find a way to make Miraclo safe for use once more, he added inwardly.

“Rex and I know who is behind the abductions — Dr. Iker,” said Mister Terrific. (*)

“We checked his last known lairs, and they were clean,” the Atom announced. “Looks like he is our bird, though. He was in this Science Club in New Jersey, of all places, with Rex and the other eggheads. They booted him out for being a nut, and he vowed revenge upon them all, especially Simon Orr. He tried to kill him with giants and dwarves supposedly from the ‘fifth dimension’!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Little Men Who Weren’t There,” Adventure Comics #64 (July, 1941).]

“Then the mystery foes we fought are a ruse?” said Wonder Woman. “Not truly humans with colorful names like Sportsmaster, the Thinker, Cheetah, and the like, but inhuman or magical beings purposefully posing as ‘ordinary’ super-foes?”

“It was magic that turned me into a real bird,” said Black Canary. “I’m still picking feathers out of my wig!”

“So my old enemy Dr. Iker is back and using his other-dimensional gang to pay back his old club for expelling him back in 1941,” said Rex.

“I learned of the connection through old files and called in Rex, here, to confirm it,” said Mister Terrific.

“That must be why this gang only targeted those particular men,” said Hawkman, who was now his normal age again. “How did Iker create or empower such titans?”

“What about the weird radios or microphones they seem to speak from beneath those hoods?” asked Doctor Mid-Nite. “Iker giving them orders?”

“Right!” said the man of a thousand talents. “Based on what Rex told me about his first meeting with Iker, I have a hunch about where he got his so-called gang. I also suspect why he wants us to think of them as powerful but human thugs with names like the Smasher, Dynamo, Godiva, and such.”

“I’ll bet you have a plan,” said Hawkman.

Terrific nodded. “Yes, thanks to the courage of Rex Tyler, here.”


Rex Tyler sat around his home and waited for Dr. Iker to strike. He assumed that the blow would come soon, and to his relief, it did. They figured that he’d come for him as plain old Rex, since he was in that club in Newark. Too bad he didn’t know Rex had ties to the Justice Society.

The figure who smashed through the roof was in blue and white, and the hood draped his head as hoods did on the others before him. “I am Supremo, and you shall suffer for what you did to me!” he cried in a mechanical tone.

Rex jumped up and stood before him as he had planned. “You must be making an error!” he said to stall for his allies. “I don’t know you!”

A harsh crackle sounded in the room, and the costumed man stood still as if waiting for some instructions from afar. The odd tone echoed from the back of the house. “Why, you should bring the whole club here now along with Iker, then return to your dimension and never ever return!”

The figure then flickered like a bolt of lightning, and suddenly the whole Newark, New Jersey Science Club appeared in Tyler’s home, along with a battered Dr. Iker. The Atom stood over him with a grin. Mister Terrific came out of Rex’s back room with a small device.

“The jammer worked,” said Green Lantern as he flew in with the others. “Not only did it scramble Iker’s voice when he broadcast orders to Supremo, but it allowed Mister Terrific to broadcast the last order himself in Iker’s own voice!”

“Atom and Flash traced the signal at super-speed right back to the lair where Atom roughed up Iker a little, as you see,” said the Black Canary.

Dr. Hans Iker frowned. “Why, you–! Why, you…!”

“It won’t work anymore,” said the Flash. “We destroyed the machine back at the lab that allowed you to imprison the gang, and thanks to Mister Terrific’s electronic impression, you ordered him away yourself forever.”

Dr. Iker was led off dejectedly, while Rex Tyler calmed down the scientists from his old club and ushered them homeward.


Back at JSA Headquarters in Civic City, the heroes discussed the case.

“Iker first tried to kill the club with a giant and gray dwarves that had magic powers,” explained Rex. “Orr figured they weren’t truly fairy-tale beings, but other-dimensional types from what Orr dubbed the fifth dimension, though it’s probably not the same dimension that Superman’s foe Mr. Mxyztplk comes from. Well, as Terry deduced, this time Iker tried to kill the club by using a Thunderbolt! If he could summon beings from the so-called ‘fifth dimension’ back then, why not use a T-bolt from some neighboring realm, like the one that Johnny Thunder’s pal comes from?”

“Right!” said the Flash. “He used a device to summon and enslave one T-bolt, and it was this Thunderbolt in different forms — male and female are interchangeable to those magical beings — who posed as costumed thugs with names like the Smasher and such to fool anyone who encountered them into believing them to be a human gang like the Injustice Society.”

“But he still had to give orders to the Thunderbolt via the speakers under each hood,” said Mister Terrific. “Without a direct order from Iker, the Thunderbolt remained inactive, as you all noticed. The magic word he used to order the being was ‘Y-U,’ which sounded like ‘why, you’! I invented a scrambler that blocked Iker’s signal long enough for the Flash to trace back to his headquarters, while I used another device to electronically mimic Iker’s voice ordering the Thunderbolt to free the men and go home to the fifth dimension for good.”

The Black Canary leaned over to Mister Terrific and said, “Terry, could that device of Iker’s have restored Johnny Thunder’s control over his T-bolt?”

“No,” replied Terry Sloane. “I think it only worked for that one Thunderbolt due to something special or unique in its metabolism. Plus, Johnny would not want to enslave the creature that way. He always looked on the Thunderbolt as his friend.”

Black Canary nodded sadly. She still felt some guilt over the way things had ended with Johnny when he had left the group, and she had joined so eagerly.

“Diana, I guess I got a bit worked up over the way that T-bolt showed me up in front of a special girl,” said Diana. “I hope my mouth didn’t offend you when I mocked your culture.”

Wonder Woman kissed him on the cheek. “Al, no reasonable woman would ever think of you as any less than the true giant among men that your valor and heart make you.”

Rex Tyler eyed his friends and smiled. He sometimes hoped to rejoin them someday, if he could restore the black-light projector that gave him the hour of power he depended upon to be the man of the hour; it was acting irregularly, now, and he didn’t want to take any more chances with Miraclo.

Doctor Mid-Nite handed him a cup of tea. “You know, you proved you still have the all the right moves, even without the drug. The man is the hero, not the pill. Don’t forget that, pal.”

Rex smiled and said, “Feels good to hear you say that, Doc.”

The End

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