Power Girl paced the floor of the JSA Brownstone. “Could you please hurry up!” she demanded.
“Hey, girlie!” said Wildcat. “Give us old-timers a chance to catch up to speed. This wild tale of yours about long-haired wizards and ancient magic and fake memories isn’t exactly standard operating procedure!”
“Yes, Kara, I can’t believe you aren’t my cousin,” said Superman. “Every instinct I have says you must be. Why, remember how Lois taught you how to walk in high heels, and I helped you learn about the effects Earth’s sun has on our bodies, et cetera. You couldn’t be more family if you were my daughter!”
Power Girl hugged him. “I’m sorry. You may have angered me by keeping me down, so to speak, for so long, but I never have doubted your love,” she said. “I will always be your cousin, even if I am not a true Kryptonian!”
“Nice to see Kara showing some vulnerability for a change!” whispered Doctor Mid-Nite.
The Star-Spangled Kid spoke up. “How about a hug for me, too?” he asked eagerly.
“I’d crack your spine, Spangles,” she replied.
The Flash spoke calmly, “Now, everybody, settle down. We can trace these lost zodiac keys with the replicating disk, according to Arion, right?”
“Right! As I already told you all,” taunted Power Girl. “I’d have expected the so-called ‘fastest man alive’ to not be so slow!”
“Now, hold on!” said Green Lantern.
“Don’t let her bug you, Alan!” said the easy-going Jay Garrick. “She’s just worried over this new family member she discovered. Finding new kids or cousins, or whatever, out of the blue would rattle even you!” The Green Lantern, alias Alan Scott, nodded.
As Hawkman and the Atom stayed silent, Hourman smiled and laughed, “You guys enjoying the show, too?”
The Atom piped up, “Rex, the girl’s a pistol!”
Robin raised his hand. “One question: if Kara is not really Superman’s cousin, then why is she harmed by kryptonite?”
“Score one for the detective!” said Hourman approvingly.
“Could be part of the false memories, like a psychosomatic reaction,” offered Mid-Nite.
“Get the others,” declared a grim Superman. “Grab a disk and divide up into teams. If Kara is this upset by it, then I’ll do anything to help her!”
The other heroes followed the suggestion of their teammate at once.
Robin clutched the copy of the detecting disk he had been given and swung out over the city. His copy led him via the Batplane across the world to London. As he admired the buildings and the women, he closed in on the lost zodiac key hidden in this ancient island. This place has changed quite a bit since Bruce and I captured Professor Moriarty in that Scotland Yard case back in 1946. (*) And I was only eighteen then!
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Batman and Robin in Scotland Yard,” Detective Comics #110 (April, 1946).]
He dropped down into a slum district. Odd that the key I seek seems to be here, in a neighborhood worse than Crime Alley back in Gotham! Stopping before an area that looked as if it had never been rebuilt since the days of the London Blitz, he mused, Guess the reconstruction projects of row houses for returning troops left this area abandoned!
Robin saw a bombed-out heap of rubble and a gleam of light. Slicing through the brick with his laser, he uncovered a weird key-shaped device. This is it — I’ve seen enough magic in my day to know, he thought. Plus, that symbol is the zodiac sign of Gemini.
A glow from the device flashed wildly, and a weird figure appeared, clutching a machine gun and grinning madly with a twisted and distorted face. “Well, well! It’s a blast from the past, and my bad old days! Die, you annoying brat!” sneered the villain called Two-Face as he opened fire at Robin.
It can’t be! Harvey’s face was fixed in the 1940s! (*) He reformed! thought the acrobatic man as he leaped for cover, and bullets rained where he had been standing.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The End of Two-Face,” Detective Comics #80 (October, 1943).]
Robin reached cover and spun. A batarang cleared the air, pushing the gun away from him. With speed borne of hundreds of life and death battles, he cleared the distance between him and his foe before Two-Face could swing the snared gun back to aim at the red-and-yellow-clad man. Robin kicked it in the air and slammed a right into Two-Face’s chin. The villain snarled and raked the hero’s mask so it blinded him momentarily. A second punch rocked Robin back for a minute.
Rolling out of range, Robin tackled the grotesque foe. “You’re not Harvey Kent!” he said as he punched out at the garish man. “You’re just some magical manifestation of the Gemini key! His dual nature fits your motif!”
“So? I can still kill you, punk!” said the creature as it kicked him below the belt.
Robin groaned and fell, only to see his foe close in. “Got to stop this now!” he declared, and flipped the creature in the form of Two-Face over his head. Avoiding him, Robin grabbed the glowing key. “I order you to stop!” he shouted, holding the key before him. “I command this end in the name of Arion!”
Two-Face suddenly shimmered and vanished, leaving Robin to catch his breath. “Whew! Lucky for me I assumed the key would listen to its old master’s name!”
Robin walked off with the weird zodiac key and fought old memories of dark nights and deadly misfits.
Hourman grinned as he breathed in the tropical air. The sunny beach looked like a paradise. Nice vacation spot! mused Rex “Tick-Tock” Tyler, chemist, hero, and adventure-seeker. Too bad Johnny didn’t show up for this case. This little isle is close to his Badhnisian stomping grounds!
The disk led him immediately to a sandy cove, where he soon uncovered a gleaming key with a crab symbol on its top. His hour-long enhanced powers due to a drug called Miraclo had barely started, and he was feeling fine.
The key pulsed then, and an odd figure materialized. He wore golden shell-like armor, and his hands were armored claws or pinchers.
“Cancer, I presume!” said Hourman.
“Yes, and not just any Cancer, Rex Tyler, but the Cancer of choice in your case!” whispered the creature as he clutched at Hourman with his sharp pinchers, and a fight broke out.
Rex grunted and pried the sharp pinchers open, gripping the armored shell. “Listen, crusty! I’ll have you for lunch on the hard shell!” With a mighty heave, he ripped the shell open and tossed it across the sandy shore.
The Cancer manifestation laughed as it was now revealed to be entirely black in composition. “See, man of the hour? I truly am your Cancer!” he laughed. “Note the faint aroma, feel the texture of my body. You know both all too well, do you not? I am a living Miraclo being! I can offer you a choice of death: by my hands or by the effect my touch has on your already-speeding metabolism,” The creature closed in on Tyler.
Rex gasped, for this magical manifestation of the symbol Cancer defended itself all too personally. The drug Miraclo was his personal cancer, his private demon. Too much made his heart pound dangerously, and too long without the seductive lure of its siren call left him craving more — more power, more thrills.
Hourman choked as the creature grappled with his neck, and, worse, his heart sped up as the drug that made this monster seeped through his skin at every touch. Two ways to die, indeed. He thought quickly, and a nice irony popped into his agile brain. Cancer was a water symbol. He let go of any resistance and tumbled down, pulling the beast with him. A second flip sent it into the water, and a scream confirmed his hunch.
“Miraclo is water-soluble!” said Rex.
The creature of the water dissolved in its own element due to the very properties of the drug it had formed a body out of. Hourman rested for quite some time till all calmed down, then he carried the key and headed back home.
Power Girl found herself drawn to an urban night spot, of all places, where the disk tugged on her mentally until she found the key. It flashed above a disco. The key was that of Ares the ram.
“Weird and weirder!” she mused as music played, and lights strobed around her lovely body.
At the second her gloved hand touched the key, it pulsed and produced a manifestation of Ares to protect the key. He wore a white suit and had long, oily hair. His chest was thick with hair, as were his hands. He seemed an extreme personification of machismo. Horns arched from his wavy-haired head. “I am Ares, babe! What’s your sign?” he said.
“Look, Travolta, the only Saturday Night Fever you’re getting will come from your stay in the infirmary, if you don’t get out of my path!” she said.
Ares grabbed the blonde and planted a kiss on her lips while slapping her bottom. Power Girl kneed him and pushed him back.
“I don’t know how you got away with that much contact, but I’ll gladly shake you until every gold chain turns green!” she said angrily.
“It’s male power! You resist it futilely. All you do is swagger and assert your independence, but like all women, you need a strong man to govern you, and that’s what I represent.”
Power Girl slammed her fist into his oily features, but found herself swept into his arms and dipped as music grew louder. In fact, every punch she swung left him unhurt and placed her in increasingly odd positions as she became his unwilling dance partner. She spun, swung, and swayed against her will, and couldn’t fight it.
My every aggressive move makes me more helpless to his advances! she mused. It goes against my every desire and instinct, but I bet I can only beat him by playing along!
Power Girl submitted, and with every second that the powerful woman allowed the man to control her, she noticed him fade slightly. She took a chance and faked a swoon in his arms, and he disappeared completely. “Sucker!” she said as she grabbed the key and hurried out.
That magical creep knew giving in and playing the weak female was the last thing I wanted to do, but he didn’t count on my being smart and flexible enough to play along to beat him, she thought. Did go against my nature, though!
The Star-Spangled Kid used his cosmic converter belt to fly high above a mountain range near Tibet. He began to slow down as the disk he carried led him to a snowy mound. Guess this must be the place! thought young Sylvester Pemberton as his belt allowed him to drift down effortlessly.
After he used the belt to melt some snow, he found a key. At his touch, a figure manifested who was disturbingly familiar to the Kid. An archer stood before him in green and red. His brown hair and feathered cap did not disguise his well-known face.
“Green Arrow! Oliver! How are you here?” he said.
“You do well to ask of my whereabouts, or those of any of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Our comrade Wing lies buried nearby, not that the mighty JSA member deigns to remember the Law’s Legionnaires!” he said with a bitterness that struck home to the Kid more than the arrows he suddenly unleashed at him.
The Star-Spangled Kid deflected all of the arrows with cosmic energy, but the Kid paused. I can’t believe the Arrow would attack me, and he shouldn’t be here! thought Sylvester. I guess he is just a manifestation of the archer symbol of the zodiac, Sagittarius! Still, does he have a point, besides the ones on those deadly arrows!
“Oliver!” he said aloud. “I never meant to abandon the Soldiers! I just became busy.”
Arrows exploded with enough raw power to cause him to drop his energy-shield. A second arrow knocked the cosmic converter belt askew, and he fell.
“You have never called Stripesy!” cried the manifestation of Green Arrow accusingly. “You even acted as if you barely knew Sir Justin when he teamed up with all of you to fight Vandal Savage at Camelot! (*) No words for an old war buddy? Ego and pride and social-climbing mark you as weak and unworthy to live!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Yesterday Begins Today,” All-Star Comics #64 (January-February, 1977).]
The Star-Spangled Kid was not without defenses, even without his powerful belt. He rolled to the side and acrobatically kicked out at the face of his old friend. The Green Arrow fell back, and the Kid powered up enough to bounce the bow out of his hands. A swift left dropped the Kid to his knees, but a judo flip caught the Archer off guard.
“I learned that from Wing!” he cried. “Don’t say I forgot you all! I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have just been guilty of neglect, like all friends sometimes are, but the real Oliver would know that, since he, too, is human! You aren’t real. You just represent some combination of my own guilt and the sign of the archer. Arion’s magic can explain you away!”
At the name of Arion, the Green Arrow vanished, and the Star-Spangled Kid sadly grabbed the key and said a silent prayer at the grave of his friend Wing How.
Got to call them soon! he mused.