Justice Society of America: 1978: The Redundant Rogues, Chapter 2: Outside Influences

by Libbylawrence

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Inza Nelson was worried about her missing husband. He had been abducted by a shadowy figure from their Salem sanctuary the Tower of Fate. Wearing a white teddy, she paced the floor nervously.

“Curse you, Nabu!” said the lovely red-haired woman. “You rob me of my husband, yet fail to defend him when he needs you most!”

She wondered at the nature of the threat. Few beings of even great magical power could so lightly defy the Lord of Order magic that surrounded the tower and protected its champion.

Then she shivered and turned as light grew brighter and luridly purple. A woman now stood before her, and Inza gasped as she recognized her aura, if not her costume.

“You’re not in the black fishnets this time, but I know you from almost forty years ago!” she gasped. “You’re the Star Sapphire I fought once before! Kent banished you into the opal!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: Times Past, 1942: Gender Gasp.]

The lithe woman warrior laughed. “You speak the truth, Inza Cramer Nelson!” said the mistress of the Seventh Dimension. “When last we met, you and the lesser gender champion called Fate drove me to bitter defeat. Indeed, my material form is languishing still within that accursed gemstone. However, when this woman arrived upon this world, I was able to control her as one truly kindred to my own powers. She serves me as my host body, and now she retrieves my true one!”

The Star Sapphire of Earth-One had indeed been possessed, body and soul, by the inter-dimensional ruler who had fought the All-Star Squadron as the Star Sapphire so long before and had battled the Flash on two separate occasions since then, though the second encounter was wiped from all memory because of the vagaries of time travel. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Amazing Star Sapphire,” All-Flash #32 (December, 1947-January, 1948) and “The Last Man Alive,” Comic Cavalcade #29 (September-October, 1948).]

“I returned to that foul gem prison when the Flash beat me,” she said, shoving Inza across the room with disdain. “I shall pay him back as well. No mere male shall ever challenge me with impunity.”

“Leave the lady alone!” shouted Captain Comet as he stepped inside the room.

“You?!” cried the part of the alien warrior that came from Earth-One.

“I tracked you here by your energy pattern,” said Comet. “Now, let’s settle our feud once and for all!”

Inza crawled out of the way as the man of the future faced the queen of the seventh dimension and her other-Earth host body.

***

“What about the Wizard’s gang?” Johnny asked his fellow JSAers. “We need to locate them, too!”

“True,” said Mister Terrific. “I have an idea. Earlier I read the lips of our captors. The Wizard is using those so-called sorcerer’s treasures from Earth-One, but he also wants more power. He is after the counterparts to those items that exist on our world.”

“So, just where will those relics be found — a museum?” asked the Atom.

“No,” said Terrific. “On Earth-One Superman hurled them into space, but they apparently fell back to that Earth, and the Wizard claimed them. On our world it is just likely that our Superman may not have ever encountered them, so they would still be with their last owners, or scattered across the globe if they were never found!”

“T-bolt,” began Johnny, “take us each to one of the–”

“Hold it, Johnny,” interrupted Mister Terrific. “Before you do that — and that is a fine idea — I want to take certain precautions.”

They conferred, and Johnny spoke his command once more. “T-bolt, take us to the four sorcerer’s treasure items!”

They vanished in a flash of pink energy.

Zor watched in amusement. They may locate them for me as well as that witless Zard! I’ve already gained the dragon box, which they think destroyed. It took careful teleportation and taxed me greatly, thanks to this cursed limbo that drains me of my might. Now to just add the four they seek to those Zard has! Then a certain dead man shall face his day of doom!

***

Inza Nelson scrambled desperately through a large trunk of arcane items, almost frantic with the desire to find the opal that housed the true body of the Star Sapphire she had fought so long before. In truth, she sought the opal to help combat her foe, but under a strange influence by the Earth-One Sapphire, her will was not quite her own. Later, she would remark on the difference between the two women. Her Star Sapphire could not directly control females, while apparently the one whose body she fought could do so.

Captain Comet was blasted with energy of a lurid purple color. Struggling forward, he fought his way ever closer to the woman. Her mental acuity was almost palpable, and he realized that this woman was not the one he had fought for so long. She was both more and less.

“In truth, your mind is impressive for a male!” she scoffed.

Ignoring her barbs, Captain Comet forced himself forward.

Inza produced the opal and held it aloft under the sway of the Star Sapphire. “Here is the opal!” she cried.

The alien conqueror laughed a silvery laugh and said, “When that gem is mine, then I shall be free once more, and you shall be dead!”

Captain Comet tried a desperate ploy. He allowed Star Sapphire to touch the Opal, and as her mental energy flowed out of the woman whose body she wore, he shielded her with a mental barrier. He quickly did the same thing to the opal. The mental force that was all the alien queen could manifest outside the gem hovered helplessly, torn between and separated from either host.

“You can’t go into the gem to claim your body, and I’ve made sure that you can’t possess the sapphire of my earth again,” he said. “You’ll soon dissipate!”

The mistress of the seventh dimension screamed and flickered away like a bad television signal.

Inza shook her head. “Is she dead?” she asked as Comet gently cradled her in his arms, then lifted her to her feet. “I no longer feel the influence of that witch!”

Captain Comet shook his head. “No. Her body is still within that opal, but I prevented her mind from touching either her own body or the one she possessed. That form is the one my old enemy from Earth-One wears. She was perhaps the only mind that captive queen could still touch from within the opal!”

“So her mind just dissipated?” asked Inza.

“Yes,” he said. “Sad fate, but she was planning the total conquest of this world. I read that much from her powerful mind.”

“Now maybe I should ask you who you are,” said Inza with a sigh.

“I’m Captain Comet from the Earth of the JLA, of which I’m an honorary member,” he said, smiling. (*) “I tracked my enemy here to your tower and then used my mental powers to create the impression that I was Doctor Fate, whom I learned about from Hawkman. It seemed to work, since the tower let me inside. Either that, or its magic is smart enough to know a friend!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Danger: Dinosaurs at Large,” DC Special #27 (April-May, 1977).]

Inza nodded. “Thank you! My husband is missing, too. A shadowy form took him. I guess it wasn’t related to the Star Sapphire.” She placed the opal back in the trunk.

Captain Comet tossed the stunned Star Sapphire of his universe over one broad shoulder and said, “I need the help of the JSA. I hope to end the threat of a group from my world who are led by one of their old foes — the Wizard!”

“Then I’d start at their brownstone!” said Inza.

***

The Wizard angrily repaired the damaged sorcerer’s glove and scowled furiously as the Blockbuster snored in the corner of a barn. They had fled from their battle with the JSA and found sanctuary in an old barn. The escape came about via Zor’s power, although the Wizard attributed it all to his own prowess.

The box is lost to me, the glove damaged, he thought. The cloak failed to thwart Doctor Mid-Nite. The gemstone alone may yet be worth the risks. Still, something drives me onward to locate their counterparts on this world. If I had known of them before I first left Earth-Two for Earth-One, I could have acquired them then. However, now I feel I must have them! Little did he realize that it was Zor’s subtle hand leading him to claim those relics. Almost forgotten was his original plan to defeat the Justice Society by using Earth-One villains as muscle.

My fellow Secret Society members deserted me, he mused. I shall have to acquire the relics on my own. There is no curio shop like the one on Earth-One where Batman’s foes first found them. I can sense the glove of this world nearby.

Shaking the Blockbuster, he said, “My friend, I have mystically implanted the image of a glove much like this one. Get it for me, and I shall reward you with Batman’s head. No, I shall give you two Batman corpses!” He laughed.

The Blockbuster grunted. “You do that! I shall kill Batman!” He raced off as the Wizard’s spell led him toward the sorcerer’s glove of this world.

The Wizard smiled. “Now for the other items. Who can I send to acquire them, since I cannot rely upon Sapphire, Zoom, or Floronic Man?”

As he pondered this dilemma, the Blockbuster found the glove in a field. He had been forced to dig deeply, but the spell and his own strength had enabled him to uncover the glove from where some magic had hidden it long ago.

“Hold it! You aren’t going anywhere with that glove!” said Mister Terrific as he stepped out from behind a shed to face the brute.

“Funny costume,” roared the Blockbuster. “You can’t stop me. I fought you before!”

“No, son,” said Mister Terrific as he removed his hood. “You don’t want to fight me. Remember me?”

The Blockbuster frowned as he gazed down at a handsome, dark-haired man. “Bruce?” he said softly. “You saved me. (*) You, my friend!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Blockbuster Invasion of Gotham City,” Detective Comics #345 (November, 1965).]

***

The Atom shook his head in concern as he spoke to his wife Mary on a pay-phone in California. “Honey, I’m fine, but this news about Ted is really upsetting,” said Al Pratt. “I’ve got to see him. Terry will want to as well. We didn’t know, and I guess Doc forgot to mention it in the heat of things.”

Giving her his love, Al put down the phone. It bothered him greatly that Ted Grant, alias Wildcat, had been injured so badly during the Thorn’s raid on Keystone City. He looked upon Ted as one of his best friends. They shared much beyond just a fighting style and a common mentor.

“The Thorn! Don’t they ever stay away?” he sighed. “Seems like they all come back, sooner or later!”

“Would that apply to me, punk?” said a man with a foreign accent.

The Atom whirled around, only to receive a kick to the head. “Lone Wolf! Shouldn’t you be howling at the moon in some retirement center for old spies?” he said as he ducked a second kick.

His lupine-masked foe grinned, or at least that was the impression the fanged wolf’s-head mask gave him. “You know, I’m going to enjoy this!” said Lone Wolf. “When Wizard found me and promised me the temporary vitality his magic gave me could be made permanent, I jumped at the chance to find the box he wanted. His spell even led me to it. Still, beating you to a sawed-off pulp will be a pleasure!”

“You can’t win!” said the Atom. “The Crimson Avenger left you battered back in 1945, when you were just wearing a cloth over your face. (*) I defeated you in 1948, after you started wearing that ridiculous wolf’s-head mask. (*) Now you want more?” He rolled aside, leaving the claws of his foe to merely skim over his back rather than tear.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Lone Wolf’s Number,” Detective Comics #85 (March, 1944); the Atom’s 1948 encounter with the Lone Wolf is an untold tale.]

The Atom then rolled forward to crash into the Lone Wolf. One hard punch with atomic power drove his foe through the fence that lined the road nearby. He did not get up. “What a loser,” he said. “A fancy costume doesn’t make a guy a world-beater!”

But just as he turned to leave, four more identically costumed Lone Wolves appeared.

“Oh, that word lone in our name? It’s figurative now!” sneered his original foe as he stood back up.

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