“Power Girl, Fate says there’s something screwy about this Arion, and the keys are too deadly to bring together,” explained the Flash as the Justice Society assembled once again.
“Arion is good and heroic. His magic may just be beyond yours!” declared Power Girl, pointing a finger at the cold form of Doctor Fate.
“Nobody but the Spectre is beyond Doctor Fate!” replied Green Lantern.
“I did question the validity of his claims of Atlantean ancestry for you,” said Superman as he put an arm around Kara Zor-L. But the angry blonde shoved her cousin across the room. As he got back up, he said grimly, “Look, you don’t shove Superman like that! I think you’ve lost your sense of–”
“Shove it!” announced Power Girl.
The assembled keys pulsed, and Arion appeared in midair.
“That’s Arion, all right!” said Hawkman.
“How do you know?” asked the Atom.
“I studied scrolls about his appearance and deeds long ago,” explained Hawkman.
“I see you have almost finished the task I assigned you, kinswoman,” said Arion.
“High mage of Atlantis, you seem not as I expected!” said Doctor Fate.
“Geez! A guy can change after forty-five thousand years or so!” joked Wildcat.
Starman turned to Hourman. “Rex, do you believe this guy’s on the level?”
Hourman shrugged. “He seems a bit edgy for a good guy, in my opinion.”
“Without the full twelve keys, I can’t achieve my goal,” said Arion.
“Tell them,” said Power Girl wistfully.
“My goal is to unlock the Darkworld and free my material form!” he declared.
“That’s impossible,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “What are you saying?”
“You lied to Kara!” said Superman. “You said you wanted to keep someone in — not let yourself out!”
“It served my purpose to ensnare the keys, and the woman now serves me as well,” sneered Arion. “The original disk I gave her should have turned her mind over to me now!”
In a flash, Power Girl was altered. Her outfit became a black bikini with thigh boots.
“Kill them for me, my Nike, and free me at once!” ordered Arion.
“I hear and obey!” said Power Girl.
“Uh-oh!” said Wildcat.
The transformed Power Girl, called Nike by Arion, had no feelings left for her teammates as she tossed them aside like rag dolls.
The Star-Spangled Kid wore an agonized look on his face as he pleaded with the woman he had such strong feelings for. “Kara, fight this spell! It’s me! I care about you!”
But her only response was a fist that shattered his energy sphere, almost taking his head off his shoulders.
“She is mine!” laughed the maddened Arion. “She’ll retrieve the other three keys, and I will escape this prison!”
Doctor Fate stepped forward. “You are not what you appear to be! Let the light of Osiris reveal your true nature!”
A beam of light blasted the mage’s hovering spirit form, and, under the potent glow, his features changed. They grew pale and hateful, revealing not the heroic Arion, but his evil brother, the deathly pale Garn Daanuth.
“I am not my insipid brother Arion,” he roared. “’Twas he who trapped me in this Darkworld, but with the zodiac keys I can be free to enter your world anew! While my beautiful slave finds the keys you denied me, I may draw upon those keys here — not to exit the Darkworld, but to bring you here!”
A wind whipped up, and a portal loomed in the sky.
“Superman, catch your cousin and get away from that door!” cried Hawkman. “It’s magic, and you are as helpless as any of us near it!”
Doctor Fate nodded. “True! Man of Steel, step away!”
Superman had hesitated in his desire to stop this fiend who controlled his young cousin, and that proved his undoing. He was swept through the portal into Darkworld.
Fate cried out immediate orders. “Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wildcat, Atom, and Robin! Attend me and help me rescue Superman!” He flew upward with them and said, “Flash, Starman, Doctor Mid-Nite, stay back and aid the Star-Spangled Kid in his quest to stop the mad Nike!”
They obeyed his wisdom about all things magical.
In an instant, the team he led had entered the Darkworld portal after the trapped Superman, and the portal shut ominously with Garn’s shrill laugh.
Starman and the others remaining behind flew off desperately after the magically altered Power Girl.
“Call her Nike or Power Girl or hot legs,” said Hourman, “she’s still got enough power to tear this city apart!”
The Flash nodded grimly.
The power of Ted Knight’s cosmic rod was impressive, to say the least. That made it even more disconcerting to him when the mad Power Girl now called Nike smashed through a globe of the stellar energy with little effort.
“Kara, stop!” pleaded the Star-Spangled Kid as he chased her.
“Together, Kid!” yelled Ted Knight.
The young man nodded, and with the combined power of Starman’s cosmic rod and the Star-Spangled Kid’s cosmic converter belt, they managed to trap the bikini-clad blonde in a tight bubble.
“Oh, Syl! I’m so sorry! Hold me!” pleaded Nike.
The Star-Spangled Kid released his bubble, only to receive a high kick in the chin that sent him spinning out of control.
The ever-alert Flash softened his fall and sped off hurriedly after a whispered chat with the clever Doctor Mid-Nite, who waited rather helplessly. Mid-Nite checked out the Kid’s injuries and pronounced him merely stunned.
Starman grew angry. “You toyed with that boy’s feeling for you! Teammate or not, you’re going to be stopped here and now!” He charged the laughing Nike, who landed on a rooftop and posed with her hands on her hips.
“Come and try your luck, old man!” she said.
Starman used his cosmic rod to create a chain made of pure energy, and he draped it over her supple form.
But Nike merely caught the end and jerked him across the sky. She even backhanded him at top speed and sent the rod crashing across the roof. “Now do you realize that no man can beat Nike?” she sneered.
From behind her appeared the Flash with an impressive figure in red, white, and blue.
“No man needs to stop you as long as I am here!” said a determined Wonder Woman.
Meanwhile, as the greatest hero on Earth cursed himself for getting sucked into the magical portal to Darkworld, his allies tumbled quickly in behind him.
Hawkman, Wildcat, the Atom, Doctor Fate, and Green Lantern caught up to the angry Superman, but they were, in turn, too slow to stop the portal from shutting behind them.
“We’re trapped in this Darkworld!” said the Atom.
“Not when Doc, here, gets his mojo working!” said Wildcat.
The silent Doctor Fate turned to Green Lantern and said, “We are indeed trapped as flies in ancient amber! Can you add your magical fires to my own efforts?”
“Just say when!” declared the heroic Alan Scott.
Superman grimaced. “I feel a bit better knowing that the magic of this weird realm has power that even the two of you must team up to battle!”
“True enough, Man of Steel,” intoned Doctor Fate. “However, the danger grows with every second’s delay!”
As Fate and Green Lantern flew near the open sky where the portal had been hovering, a shout drew their attention.
“Look! Someone’s coming!” yelled Superman.
“Hey, you’re right,” said the Atom. “They don’t look like the Darkworld version of the welcome wagon, either!”
“No!” said a concerned Hawkman. “In fact, based on their appearance, I’d say this place Garn called Darkworld is already known to some of us by another name, entirely!” As ogres, trolls, and witch-like figures approached them, he spoke again. “I’d say we’re trapped in the same place we once visited years ago — Fairyland!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Invasion from Fairyland,” All-Star Comics #39 (February-March, 1948).]
Nike and Wonder Woman faced each other warily.
“Nike was the goddess of victory for my people,” said Diana. “You choose a grandiose name, Kara!”
“This from someone draped in a flag and calling herself Wonder Woman!” replied Nike. She hurled herself at the Amazon princess, who braced herself and held firm. They struggled back and forth with grim looks on their lovely faces.
“You know as a young woman I was asked to be the JSA’s secretary in spite of my raw power!” Wonder Woman said. “That was unenlightened, but the time itself was equally backward. The era of Rosie the Riveter had not quite begun, so I accepted, and by example I showed these male heroes the worth of a strong woman. I did not do so by smart aleck comments and hateful overly sensitive reactions to simple actions by heroic men. You’ve long been in need of a lesson in being a woman and an example!”
With a grunt, Wonder Woman tossed Nike down and rolled her to the ground. Nike lashed out with a back kick that would have killed a normal mortal. She caught Wonder Woman and swung her off the roof by one leg.
The Amazon landed hard. She did get back up, however, and tried a new tactic. She swung the amazing magic lasso and looped it around the grinning face of Nike, who laughed and tried to pull it away from the Amazon. Wonder Woman let herself be tugged up to the roof before she ordered Nike to surrender and sleep. Power Girl blinked back to normal and fell into a heavy slumber.
“The rest will do her good. I believe this needs to go, however!” said Wonder Woman as she grabbed the magical disk and crushed it to powder.
“The first and still the best!” announced the Flash as he, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Starman congratulated her.
“I guess you are the true Nike!” said Mid-Nite.
Wonder Woman carried Power Girl, now back in her normal costume, down as they followed.
In Fairyland, the weird world where earthly fairy tales were real, the other JSAers faced a dilemma. Superman was powerless in the magic world, while the others had only their normal strength, except for the magical Green Lantern and Doctor Fate.
The Atom was just a normal scrapper in this world where science-based powers like his atomic punch did not work. Hawkman could still fly, as his Nth metal had Egyptian lore behind its craft.
Wildcat was as skillful a fighter here as elsewhere, and, as if to prove it, he plunged into a pile of evil goblins and sent them reeling with rapid blows.
“Guess you’re the main boss around here?” asked Green Lantern as he circled a flying witch. She cackled, and purple fire flickered around the hero. His power ring met the magic with its own green flame, and a colorful duel ensued.
Doctor Fate gestured, and his ankh-shaped power bolts tried to rend asunder the portal above. It failed to open.
The Atom leaped over the head of a dragon and ran across its neck and down its back. He pounded its back, where it could not reach him easily with claw or flame.
Superman, only mortal here, fought well, too. His decades of battling had made him formidable without any powers beyond a brave heart and a will to win. He tossed back an ogre who loomed above the hero, then dodged a club as it swung through the air, and he deflected it from the ogre’s paw with a skilled punch. Superman grunted with the effort it took to lift the magic weapon, but in the end he did it. He rammed it into the ogre’s chin, and as the ogre buckled over, Superman dropped him with a combination punch.
“Nice! You could’a been a contender, as they say!” teased Wildcat.
Green Lantern overcame the witch and trapped her beneath a bubble.
Hawkman soared upward to see a tower. Guess I’ll check it out. Feel drawn to it for some reason, he thought.
Flying in through the open window, Hawkman saw a beautiful woman sleeping on a canopied bed. Her auburn hair encircled a flawless face that resembled that of his wife, Shiera Sanders Hall.
Remarkable! She seems to be a real Sleeping Beauty! he thought. I wonder if Shiera’s looks are true or just some product of my imagination and the magic? Jay might have seen Joan if he had come here! Well, I was a prince as Khufu back in Egypt, so…
Bending low, he kissed the sleeping maiden, who instantly awoke.
“My prince, you’ve saved me!” she gushed.
“My pleasure,” he said with a smile. After a brief talk with the maiden, Hawkman called for his comrades. They assembled and looked to their leader for an answer.
“Princess Shay-Ra, here, says the way home is through this palace’s magical mirror!” he reported.
“Just as long as Atom doesn’t have to click his ruby slippers together three times!” joked Wildcat.
They stepped through the weird mirror and emerged back at the spot they had first entered. Hourman and Starman were waiting.
“Power Girl is normal again, thanks to some tough love from Wonder Woman!” said Starman. “She never got to get those blasted keys Garn wanted!”
“So, where do we go from here?” asked Green Lantern as the others joined them.
Superman and Power Girl embraced, and she apologized to him and the others for her actions as Garn’s bewitched slave, Nike.
“Kal, you are my only family, along with the JSA!” she said almost tearfully. “I let my own eagerness to be unique lead me into Garn’s clutches!”
“Kara, families make errors, but they are forgiven and forgotten,” said Superman. “I love you like always!”
“Touching, but trite!” boomed the voice of Garn Daanuth as he loomed spectrally above them.
“You dare much trying to enter the material world again!” said an answering voice as another figure appeared.
“Arion! For real this time!” said Hawkman. And the ancient mage of Atlantis did indeed resemble the illusion Garn had first cloaked himself in.
“Brother! You awake to duel with me anon!” said Garn.
“I awake to imprison you again for all infinity!” said the handsome red-and-blue-garbed wizard. He wrestled the phantasm of Garn Daanuth back until it shrank into nothingness.
“Whoa! Did you kill him?” asked Wildcat.
“Nay,” said Arion. “I merely banished him back to where he belongs. Kara Zor-L, I apologize for my brother’s deception, though there was a ring of truth to his story. I am searching not for my granddaughter as he claimed, but for my own missing daughter, who bears the same kind of beauty that you have. I offer you thanks for your aid in this family matter, and I say no member of the House of Mages of the City of the Golden Gate could be as brave or noble as you, young Kara Zor-L!” At that, Arion vanished in an instant.
Unknown to the Justice Society, Arion had returned Garn Daanuth and now himself to their place and time of origin, which was the ancient past of Earth-One. During a climactic battle with his brother many thousands of years ago, Arion was forced to use untried magic to save himself and his heir, but while the spell sent his infant daughter to the far future, it sent both Arion and his brother sideways in time to the parallel world of Earth-Two. There, Arion became a short-lived but well-remembered hero in this world’s scientifically based Atlantis, and fragmented legends of his exploits there would be preserved to the present for Carter Hall and others to study. After returning to his own universe in the present, the true Arion, Lord of Atlantis, would continue his search for his missing daughter, but not without obstacles. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home.]
“So, it’s over?” asked Wonder Woman after the room had become quiet.
“I guess so, but nobody bring up that bikini outfit with the spike heels again, right?” said Power Girl, looking meaningfully at Star-Spangled Kid.
“Never! But one question, Kara — what’s your sign?” he said with a smile.
Power Girl’s answer was a smile of her own.