The Amazon princess pointed out a group that approached the two teams of heroes.
“No! The costumed ones!” cried the men when they saw the costumes. “We saw the flash of light when you arrived, but we did not realize it was you! Do not harm us, we beg you!”
“We don’t hurt people!” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “We help them. I’m a doctor!”
“But the woman wears the costume of… of the Dark Queen!” cried one.
Wonder Woman frowned. “I may be a princess of the Amazons, but none of us are dark in purpose.”
“Amazons! She is one of them!” cried a fat man. “Heaven help us!”
“So this world has Amazons — big deal!” said Wildcat, shrugging.
“This dark queen you fear — who is she?” asked Doctor Mid-Nite.
“She is Queen Hippolyta — the ruler of Section Two!” explained one of the men.
“Sounds more like you need a section eight!” joked the Vigilante.
“Our world is ruled by seven rulers of costumed power and dread intent,” said another man. “You resemble them in some ways, especially the woman and the man with the star on his chest.”
Starman spoke up, “I am called Starman!”
“The Star Czar is the one you dress like!” cried one of the men.
“They brought this ruin upon us. But wait!” said a feeble ancient man. “In truth, you resemble not the tyrants as much as their legendary progenitors!”
“Bah! They died long ago,” said one man. “They died before they could feel the shame for what their successors did to Earth!”
“These tyrants sound like they need a working over!” declared Wildcat.
“Perhaps that’s why Oracle brought us here!” said Wonder Woman.
“No matter what the location or the time, the JSA fights for freedom!” vowed Hourman.
Red Tornado, who had remained silent and apart from the others, spoke suddenly. “Your established method is to divide up and investigate. Seven sections allow us to do so now.”
“Well said, friend automaton!” said Sir Justin.
They divided up and separated, even as Diana wondered about the name of the Dark Queen and the fear and hatred her own costume inspired.
Starman, the Star-Spangled Kid, and Stripesy arrived at what could only have been Egypt — an Egypt twisted by change and burned by warfare. Charred ruins mingled with ancient pyramids. In fact, to scientist Ted Knight’s keen eye, one of the most striking features of the altered nation was that even the reminders of a lost era were artfully manufactured with modern materials.
“You know, I just came from being a slave in Egypt, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled to be back!” said Pat Dugan. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Stripesy: Times Past, 1948: Danger in Ancient Egypt.]
“You were a slave? I paid you better than that!” joked Sylvester Pemberton.
“Har-har! The rich kid made a funny!” said Dugan good-naturedly.
“Seriously, Pat, I saw you move a slab of stone that was the size of a car,” said Ted Knight. “Later, Batman, Hourman, and I saw you rip down a solid wood post like it was a toothpick! I suspect the energies of the Nebula-Man gave you super-strength!”
“Yeah, I wondered if that might’a been what done it! I’d like to thank him by shattering his teeth!” said Stripesy.
“Do you really have super-powers? That makes me feel like a real useless fifth wheel!” said a morose Kid.
“Naw! You always said you were the brains of our little team, anyhow!” said the big Irishman, smiling.
“Look! A fascinating mixture of science and ancient magic!” said Sylvester. “Notice how the nation seems to have fallen back to the ways of ancient Egypt, à la Cecil B. Demille and Albert Einstein!”
Ted Knight smiled and thought, Bright boy! Very bright! He wondered if his sons David and Jack would ever have such a passion for learning. Sylvester was obviously exceptional in many ways. Being a hero or even a team leader — for he clearly did dominate Stripesy — at such a young age. Why, when Ted was that age he was a bored playboy, and his own sons were still ordinary young boys.
“This tyrant they fear so must have a mania for Egyptian culture of the Hyksos era!” mused the Star-Spangled Kid.
Hyksos! That made Ted shiver. That was the era in which his JSA ally Hawkman believed he had lived in a past life, not that Ted Knight put much stock in such wild ideas.
“They fly! They fly! They must be minions of the Pharoah!” cried a man far below.
“So this jerk flies!” said Pat Dugan. “I guess that impresses the locals somethin’ fierce!”
Starman’s mind raced as certain implications passed through his imagination. “They said we reminded them of the forefathers of the tyrants. They even named Diana’s mother as their Dark Queen, or so I assumed. Diana’s mother is not the only Hippolyta. Her little girl is named that, too.”
“So you think it’s Wonder Woman’s kid who took over the Earth?” asked Dugan.
“I suspect she is one of the ones who did. That would mean this section is ruled by–” he began to say until a sudden blow knocked him cold. He plunged to the ground, as did the now-helpless Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy.
As he fell, the last thing he recalled was the leering face of a youthful Carter Hall behind an ornate mace that creased his skull from on high.
The Star-Spangled Kid made a frantic grab for the cosmic rod and willed a bubble of stellar energy to congeal around their falling bodies. He succeeded, and the floating energy bubble not only held them aloft but also protected them from the flailing attack of the Hawkman.
“Kid, I’d kiss ya if you weren’t such an ugly punk!” said Stripesy as he bent over the bleeding Starman.
“Spare me the witticisms, you big goon! Is Ted badly injured?” asked Sylvester as he glanced up at the savage Hawkman, who had not ceased bashing the bubble with the mace.
“He looks pale and he’s losing blood fast! Can you heal him with that magic wand?” asked Dugan.
“I don’t know. I wonder if stellar energy can revitalize the cells,” mused Pemberton.
“I’d sure like ta smash that creep’s mug!” said Dugan.
“Is he really Hawkman gone wacko or is he, as Ted started to say, the son of Hawman?” asked Syl. “He does look too young to have been the Hawk we know.”
“I dunno! Open the bubble,” said a grim Pat Dugan.
“OK, but watch yourself. He fights like he truly thinks he is an ancient warrior!” said the Kid.
As the bubble opened, in rushed Hawkman, and he was met by a wild-swinging Stripesy. He exchanged blows with the feverish young man high above the weird city where old and new mingled.
“You Hawkman’s kid?” asked Stripesy. “If so, your old man should’a given a good hidin’ years ago, you punk!”
“I was sired by the Hawkman, but my soul lived before in the body of his hated foe — Hath-Set!” said the wild-eyed blond man. “Imagine the joy of the happy couple when their baby boy was born — strong and healthy and… totally insane with hatred for them both! I killed them both and used the Nth metal to dominate this section of Earth, while my fellow JSA progeny rule the other sections.”
“Well, even a pug like me knows if ya lose your pretty feathers, you’ll go splat like an egg!” said a grinning Stripesy as he used the super-strength the Nebula-Man’s radiation had given him to rip the chest harness apart. That sent the ornate wings worn by the insane Hawkman fluttering to earth.
“No, son! That won’t help,” muttered a dazed Ted Knight.
The Kid nodded. “It’s the belt! The wings just let him steer!”
Stripesy learned his error when, instead of plunging downward, this world’s Hawkman brought the mace down on his head and began to choke him.
“Perhaps the cosmic rod’s stellar energy could negate the Nth metal’s lift for a time,” mused the Kid. He touched the rod directly to the belt around Hawkman’s body and saw him grow pale as his flying ability left him, and he dropped to earth.
Got to catch him before he hits! thought the Kid as he willed a snakelike tendril of energy to follow the madman and snare him just before he would have crashed to his death. He had the tendril crack whip-like, and the latest incarnation of Hath-Set hit his head against a wall and passed out.
“Well done, Sylvester!” said Ted Knight while Stripesy nodded in agreement.
Princess Diana and Red Tornado approached the formerly tranquil Paradise Island warily. The island was now heavily guarded and heavily fortified. The Temple of Aphrodite had been demolished, and a copy of the Temple of Mars loomed in its stead.
“By Aphrodite’s girdle! My homeland has rejected the ways of love and peace for those of war and hate!” cried a broken Wonder Woman. “This violates my every sacred teaching. How could they do this? What would drive them away from Aphrodite’s divine ways?”
Red Tornado looked at the beautiful woman who had been one of the kinder JSAers to him when he had joined their team, only to now feel both alienated and unwanted.
“I can only imagine that humans would change emotions so drastically due to some severe trauma like betrayal or despair, but then I speak theoretically, since it is my very lack of humanity… of gender, even, that allows me to most safely accompany you to this abode of females,” he said.
Diana glanced at the emotionless face. “I can accept your lack of gender, since the mechanical frame that houses your spirit is merely an artifice that could just as easily have been rendered female, but you do have emotions, too! I know that. You are caring, loyal, and questioning. If you lacked all humanity, you would also lack doubt!”
A purple ray blasted them out of the sky, even as the Red Tornado swirled around to avoid the next blast as he carried Diana in his arms to safety.
“The purple healing ray! Someone has set it to its highest intensity and made it a death ray! More signs of madness and folly!” she fumed as they landed, and she raced across the island while her flying ally hovered on circling winds.
The Red Tornado wondered if a being with no true gender could be accepted here. Perhaps the Amazons could teach a being of metal and steel how to live. Didn’t their Hephaestus forge inhuman beings of metal to better serve him in his flaming forge eons ago?
Diana stopped short. “Look at the palace! My mother used to sit upon that throne, but she was no blonde!”
A beautiful blonde woman wearing Wonder Woman’s costume lounged on the throne.
“Mother! Surely, you are my mother’s other-earthly counterpart! We dealt with the one who gave birth to me long ago!” laughed Queen Hippolyta.
“Sandals of Artemis! You’re my little girl grown up and grown mad!” said Diana in horror.
“Correct!” said the evil Hippolyta. “I am the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor, and it was your very act of treason in accepting a man — in direct rejection of Aphrodite’s orders that all Amazons keep apart from males — that drove them to despair and madness and the rejection of their bracelets! I put you on trial for treason when I brought you here in chains!”
“You also have a daughter of this image and name, do you not?” asked Tornado.
“Yes, but my Lyta is just a girl,” she said. “This fiend in her form has twisted the blessings of our family life into something wrong and distorted. Amazons never hated males!”
“Ah, but under my rule, we do!” cried the evil Queen Hippolyta. “We serve Mars, and he alone is the male we adore! All others fall to our swords, as you shall! Take her!”