Justice Society of America: 1964: Missing in Action, Chapter 2: Mystery in Space

by HarveyKent

Return to chapter list

“Much obliged, Superman,” Warden Jackson said as the guards at Metropolis Penitentiary took the Puzzler into custody. “I’m sorry about this. I promise you he won’t escape again.”

“I understand, Lars,” Superman said to his old friend. “I know you’ve got your hands full just trying to keep Luthor behind bars! Glad I was able to corral him before he did any serious mischief. So long!”

With a thought, Superman soared up into the night sky from the prison courtyard. It had been a long day, and he still had work to do.

As he flew, however, he suddenly saw a glowing green arrow appear in the sky. “Great Scott!” he exclaimed, braking to a halt in front of it. The arrow hovered for a moment, then streaked up into the sky. Superman followed it, right out of Earth’s atmosphere. He knew what it had to be: a message from Green Lantern.

The Man of Tomorrow followed the glowing emerald signal right into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Realization dawned on him as he saw where the arrow was headed. He had been to this asteroid before.

As he flew into the perimeter of the asteroid, he saw his old friend Green Lantern. The cloaked hero hung in midair in a nimbus of glowing green energy, limp-limbed like a deer on a butcher’s hook. He flew up to his friend. “G.L.! Can you hear me? Are you OK?”

“He’s fine — for now, Superman,” came a voice Superman had not heard in a decade-and-a-half, and hoped he never would again.

“You!” Superman snarled, as a tiny man with a large head and purple skin came into view from around a boulder. The man held a small box-shaped device in his hands.

“Yes, I,” the little man sneered. “Martler, would-be conqueror of Earth, whom you marooned on this asteroid!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Black Magic on Mars,” Superman #62 (January-February, 1950).]

Superman leaped at Martler, but soon found himself trapped in a field of green energy similar to the one that held the Green Lantern.

Surprised, Superman?” Martler sneered. “Thought yourself rid of me, eh? After you and that insufferable actor ruined my plans to invade Earth! Well, you see now how wrong you were!”

“Superman!” Green Lantern said weakly, raising his head. “He got — you, too?”

“Lantern!” Superman said, grateful to find his friend still alive. “What happened? I got your signal, followed it here–”

“Sent no signal,” Lantern said, shaking his head. “Starman… saw strange light-flashes on this asteroid… in his telescope. Asked me to investigate. Found… him,” Lantern indicated Martler with a nod of his head. “Trapped me.”

I sent the signal, Superman,” Martler sneered. “I spent the last fifteen years trying to find a way off this barren rock! Finally, I hit on an idea. From materials present in the asteroid, I was able to cobble together a crude, but effective, energy siphon device! It can absorb energy from nearly any source, and redirect it any way I choose! I drew energy from passing comets and was attempting to use it to steer this asteroid like a spaceship, when this cloaked fool with his wondrous ring showed up! I couldn’t have asked for a better power-source! I used the energy to lure you into my clutches, so I can destroy you and pave the way for my takeover of your world!”

Superman had heard enough. He moved his arm through the field of green energy; it was like boring through solid rock, but he did it. He reached into the pocket of his cape, where he stored his super-compressed civilian garments. Drawing a small object out of this pocket, Superman flicked it from his hand with his thumb. Swift and accurate as a bullet, it sped through the force-field and straight at Martler’s device.

No!” the diminutive alien shrieked as his device exploded in a shower of sparks. The force-fields holding Superman and Green Lantern dissolved. The Lantern quickly rose to the occasion, and trapped Martler in a green energy-cage.

“One question, Superman,” Green Lantern said. “What was that you took from your pocket?”

“A wooden nickel,” Superman said, smiling. “Jimmy Olsen of the Daily Star brought it back from his vacation in New Mexico. Supposed to be good luck.”

“I never really believed in luck until now,” Green Lantern said.


“And that’s what kept Superman and Green Lantern away from our adventure,” Hourman said. “An honest-to-goodness mystery in space!”

“Let’s look in on another couple of members,” Doctor Fate said, making passes over the crystal ball, “and learn where they were during our battle with the Crime Syndicate.”

The scene changed to a massive banquet hall. Tables were crowded with men and women in resplendent dress. A banner was draped across the back wall, reading BATMAN in huge bold letters. Batman himself stood at the speaker’s position at this table. On his left sat Robin, and to Robin’s left Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Kent. On Batman’s right was Commissioner James W. Gordon, and on Gordon’s right, the rarely seen Batwoman.

“Batman was attending a banquet given in his honor,” Doctor Fate explained, “commemorating twenty-five years of his guarding Gotham City.”

The scene changed again, to a boxing ring where two young boxers were pounding away at each other. Spectators filled the arena; stern-faced men sat at the judges’ table.

“Wildcat,” Hourman’s voice explained, “was a judge at a world heavyweight boxing event leading up to the 1964 Olympic Games!”

“And now let’s look in on two more of our JSA champions,” Doctor Fate said, as the scene changed again.


“Swell of you to come along today, Mister Terrific,” Johnny Thunder said to his friend. The two JSA champions stood on a parade float making its way down the main street of the town of Citrusville, Florida. Banners hung from storefronts, proclaiming this to be Johnny Thunder Day.

“Glad to be here, Johnny,” Mister Terrific returned with a smile. “I’m sorry we had to miss the JSA meeting, but that’s OK. You deserved this honor.”

“Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” Johnny said, swelling with pride. “I mean, the Flash gets parades in Keystone practically every other week! Why not me?”

“Johnny — look there!” Mister Terrific said urgently, pointing. Johnny followed his gaze to a nearby small bank. Strangely costumed men were racing out of the bank, carrying large canvas bags stuffed with what was undoubtedly stolen money. Bank guards were calling for them to stop.

“Holy cow!” Johnny exclaimed. “A robbery! Say, you goons can’t spoil my parade this way! Come on, Mister T! Let’s go stop ’em!”

“Just as you say, Johnny,” Mister Terrific said, leaping expertly off the float, turning a somersault in air, and hitting the pavement running. Johnny climbed carefully down to the street and took off after his friend. By the time Johnny reached the bank, however, all the costumed robbers were lying on the sidewalk unconscious.

“Er, nice job, Mister Terrific,” Johnny said. “Sorry it took me so long to get here.”

“That’s OK,” Mister Terrific said. “Look at their costumes, though.” Johnny looked, and saw that all five wore snow-white uniforms with the pattern of a playing card printed on them; the ace through the ten of spades.

“Weird!” Johnny exclaimed. “Some kind of… card-crooks?”

“My ‘Royal Flush Gang,’ to be precise,” boomed a voice from above them. “Just hired muscle, but they served their purpose.”

Johnny and Mister Terrific looked up. Johnny gasped at what they saw; Mister Terrific remained grim-faced. The Gambler stood on the roof of the bank, arms crossed over his chest, sneering down at them. Next to him stood the Wizard, grinning like a shark, holding up a black wand. A nimbus of pink light surrounded the wand; Johnny could make out the Thunderbolt’s face in it, and the face was contorted in pain.

“T-bolt!” Johnny cried out. “What’s he done to you?”

“Trapped him,” the Wizard gloated. “I finally recaptured the most powerful magical artifact I ever possessed: the Glastonbury Wand. Never mind how I got it back; that’s not important. I knew that, with this wand, I could imprison your Thunderbolt, a creature of pure magical energy, and use that energy to my own nefarious ends.”

“The trick was how to get you into a setting we could control, and make you call your Thunderbolt,” the Gambler explained. “I came up with the idea of this fake Johnny Thunder Day parade.”

Fake?” Johnny repeated, crestfallen.

“Of course,” the Wizard sneered. “You didn’t think anyone would throw a parade for the Justice Society’s comedy relief, did you? And now–”

The Wizard pointed the wand at the two heroes. “Johnny, move!” Mister Terrific shouted, leaping aside. Johnny barely avoided the blast of pink energy. Mister Terrific ducked around the side of the building.

“I can’t believe Terrific is trying to get away,” the Gambler growled. “He must be going in the bank, to try to get up here on the roof!”

“Well, head him off, then,” the Wizard suggested, taking another pot-shot at Johnny Thunder.

“Right,” the Gambler said, and dashed into the stairwell.

Johnny flattened himself against the wall of the bank, under a small stone ledge. The Wizard’s next magic bolt blasted right through the ledge. “You can’t hide forever, Thunder!” Johnny heard the Wizard shout. Johnny boiled with rage. His Thunderbolt, enslaved to the Wizard. It was too much.

The Wizard laughed as he raised the Glastonbury Wand high above his head, preparing for the next magical assault. When he brought his hand down, however, the wand was gone. It had been plucked from his hand with the skill of a master pickpocket; he hadn’t even felt it. The Wizard whirled on his heel and saw Mister Terrific holding the wand.

“You!” he gasped in disbelief. “How did you get past the Gambler?”

“I didn’t,” Mister Terrific said. “I didn’t take the stairs; I climbed the wall, clinging to the spots between the bricks.” The man of a thousand talents tossed the wand up and down in his hand. “Interesting toy you have here. I’ll bet Doctor Fate could put it somewhere you’ll never find it again.”

“Ha!” the Wizard snarled. “But you don’t know how to free the Thunderbolt, and if he’s not freed soon, he’ll be trapped forever!”

Mister Terrific smiled and raised the wand to the sky. “Cogito exodus sum!” he cried. The Wizard gaped in disbelief as the Thunderbolt rocketed out of the wand.

“Lemme at ‘im!” the Thunderbolt snarled at the Wizard. “Lock me up in a wand, will he? I’ll shrink that fink into a sausage link!”

“Better wait for Master John to give you that order,” Mister Terrific reminded him. The Thunderbolt stopped in midair.

Aah, you’re right,” he said disappointedly. “But I’m sure Master John wouldn’t mind this!” With a swift flash of his pink fist, the Thunderbolt rendered the Wizard unconscious.

“What’s all the — Mister Terrific! You freed the Thunderbolt!” Johnny Thunder said as he emerged on the roof. The unconscious Gambler was slung over his shoulder.

“Yes, I studied a thing or two about magic myself,” Mister Terrific admitted. “Your Thunderbolt is yours again, Johnny.”

Johnny Thunder eyed Mister Terrific suspiciously. “Say, you came with me today because you knew this was gonna happen, didn’t you?”

“Well, something like that,” Mister Terrific admitted. “I suspected something phony about the parade, so I thought it best I tag along.”

“Wow! You must have noticed something on the telegram I got, some giveaway, huh?”

“Um… yes. Yes, that’s it.”


“And there you have it, fans,” Hourman said. “The whereabouts of every JSA member not present for our battle with the Crime Syndicate, accounted for!”

“Not quite, Hourman,” Doctor Fate pointed out. “There’s still one member missing.”

“Oh?” Hourman said. “Who’s that, Doc?”

“You,” Fate reminded him. “We don’t know where you were during that adventure.”

“Oh, right!” Hourman said. “Well, a week earlier I had to stop the Icicle and his Frost Giants — these ten-foot robots of ice he gimmicked up — from robbing Fort Knox. I sprained my wrist in the battle, and I was benched on doctor’s orders.”

“Doctor Mid-Nite’s orders, I’m sure,” Fate joked.

Roy reached up and changed the channel. “That was cool, wasn’t it, Jerry? Wasn’t the Atom great?”

“He was OK,” Jerry said. “Come on, I think Rocket Robin Hood is on Channel 7.”

The End

Return to chapter list