“It has now been two months since the fabled Justice Society of America appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington, D.C., and all over the country, people are talking about the startling announcement that came out of that historic meeting. According to Committee spokesmen, the JSA has disbanded and will be seen no more. This startling development has led many to speculate about the true motives of the members of that once-revered organiza–“
Al Pratt angrily switched off the radio in his apartment. “Blast it all! Ever since we turned tail before those congressmen, people have been taking pot shots at us! It ain’t fair, I tell ya!”
Across the room, a big man sat on a kitchen chair turned backward. “Calm down, buddy. Fill me in here, will ya?” replied Ted Grant. “I been on the road, and I’ve only heard bits and pieces of what happened.”
“I’m not sure I understand it all myself, Ted. A couple weeks ago, the gang and I had just captured the Key, when this funny little flying television showed up. (*) This guy on the screen gave us a line of hooey about how he was representing some folks who wanted to reward us. This thing led us up into the sky, to this sort of space-ship that he said was being offered as our new headquarters.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Mystery of the Missing Detectives,” All-Star Comics #57 (February-March, 1951).]
“Sounds like something out of a Flash Gordon story, Al.”
“You got that right. It even had robots, which started out acting like servants. But before we were done, they turned on us, and managed to take down the whole team. It was a trap, and we fell for it. We managed to break loose, but then the government came after us.” Al went out to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of bottles of soda pop from the refrigerator, then came back into the living room. “Of all the crazy stuff! Those creeps in Congress tried to make us look like traitors, claiming that the guy who led us into the trap was a foreign spy, and that the stuff we saw couldn’t exist because the USA doesn’t have it! Ted, they wanted us to unmask for them, so they could ‘prove’ that we were ‘good Americans’! (*) Whatever the hell that means!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Defeat of the Justice Society,” Adventure Comics #466 (November-December, 1979).]
Ted popped the top from his bottle with a flick of his thumb, and took a long swallow. “Sounds like the line that the Real American was trying to peddle back during the war. (*) Can’t believe it’s our own government that’s pushing it now.” He took another drink. “So, Hawkman had you all leave, and disbanded the JSA. What about the guy who set you up? Anyone doing anything about that?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Detroit is Dynamite,” All-Star Squadron #38 (October, 1984), “Nobody Gets Out of Paradise Valley Alive,” All-Star Squadron #39 (November, 1984), and “The Rise and Fall of the Phantom Empire,” All-Star Squadron #40 (December, 1984).]
“Nothing,” said the dejected longtime college student. His friend stood, came over, and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Then what say we suit up, buddy, and we’ll see if the Atom and Wildcat can solve this one!”
“Hey, what’s with the old costume, Al? You haven’t worn that one for a long time.” Ted Grant scratched his head, looking at the yellow, brown, and blue outfit that his long-time friend pulled out of a trunk; it was the Atom’s original costume.
“I’m hoping that people have forgotten this one,” replied the Atom. “I don’t want to upset the Justice Society members by making a public spectacle. If we’re spotted, maybe I won’t be recognized so easily.”
“Good thinking, Doc,” said the heavyweight champion with a grin.
“I don’t have that doctorate yet, Ted. I haven’t gotten my final marks yet, and the graduation ceremony isn’t until this weekend.”
Ted stepped into the bathroom to change into the black bodysuit that he wore as the hero called Wildcat. “I’m just glad I could be here for it, buddy. You’ve been working toward this for a long time.”
“Longer than most. I’ve spent more than a decade here, between getting my own degrees and working on campus to earn the money to continue my education. Calvin College has become my home, you know.” Al Pratt pulled on the modified weightlifter’s uniform that he had worn when he first started his crime-busting career, followed by the full-face mask and cape.
“Given any thought to what you’re gonna do after this?” Wildcat stepped out from the bathroom, sans mask. His body was completely covered from the neck down, except for his hands. Bare-knuckles brawling was his speciality, and he wanted nothing to get in the way.
“A little bit. I have a meeting tomorrow with some people from Princeton. They started up a nuclear studies program there after the war, and I’ve been leaning towards that. Did most of my post-graduate work in nuclear physics, you know.”
“Yeah, like I’d understand any of it. I understand why, though. Old Terry had a pretty big effect on you, didn’t he?” Terry Curtis, alias the Cyclotron, was a villain who had died a hero during World War II, leaving a daughter whom Al had looked after and viewed as a niece. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Ultra War,” All-Star Squadron Annual #2 (1983).]
“That, and maybe I thought it would help me understand the changes I’ve experienced the last few years. I have found some references to experiments in the Soviet Union in which muscle density and strength were increased by exposure to radiation.” The two men slipped out a window onto a fire escape, and made their way to the roof.
“Can’t hurt, I guess. Wait a sec! You said Princeton? Isn’t that where old whatsisname, the guy with the wild hairdo, has been teaching? I think I remember hearing that he was involved with rockets and such in Germany. Think he could help us out?”
“He just might!” exclaimed the Atom. “And I know the hotel where he’s staying tonight!”
“So, you see, Doctor, we were hoping you might know who, if anybody, would be capable of building such a thing to use against the Justice Society,” said the Atom, wrapping up the story of the JSA’s final case for the famed physicist.
“I do not think there is any one person or just any group who could do this, young man,” said the older gentleman with a heavy Austrian accent. “It would require a combination of a great many scientific disciplines, much like our efforts on the Manhattan Project. If anybody has brought together a group for such a project, they have not asked me to participate.” The tone in his voice clearly indicated his disappointment if such should be the case.
“Hey, it was worth a shot, you know?” said Wildcat, trying to fend off his partner’s own disappointment.
“Yeah, I know, and besides, why should the Doc, here, and others like him, work for a crumb like that, anyways?”
“Yes, indeed, my young friend. Why should anyone do such a thing, unless they did it unknowingly. I may have something for you,” said the doctor. He ran a hand through his unruly mop of white hair. “It was a strange thing that happened to me a few months back, and I have found out that some of the other scientists at the university experienced something similar.”
“What is it, sir?” asked the still-in-awe Atom.
“I awoke from a most strange dream one night, and I was unable to get back to sleep. I walked out from the small house I have on the campus, and found a number of my colleagues wandering similarly. They all reported having similar dreams.”
“What sort of dreams, Doc?” asked Wildcat.
“We were working on great, wonderful devices. One was working on a new form of the television; another was working on great robots. I was helping devise a small rocket system that might carry a single man, and I was helping someone build a device that would drain the life’s energy from a man.” He was staring into space, trying to recreate the images from the nearly forgotten dream. “Yes, yes, it was like a train station in space, where rockets and other devices or persons could meet and exchange passengers or cargo.” He snapped out of his trance. “That could be it, my friends. It is as if someone used our minds to design it for him.”
The Atom and Wildcat stood up to leave. “Thank you very much, sir!” said the Atom enthusiastically. “There aren’t many who could do something like that, and we can check on the whereabouts of the known ones tomorrow.”
“I hope you will let me know what you find out. I will be here until the day after tomorrow, so if you can call on me tomorrow night…?”
“We will, sir! Count on it!”