Justice Society of America: 1978: The Redundant Rogues, Chapter 3: The Green Revolution

by Libbylawrence

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The Floronic Man had never been popular. True, he had seduced a young woman or two before, but that was hardly the norm for the disturbed being. Now he enjoyed the sensation of finding not just a friend but a soul mate.

He had been on his way to find one of the Wizard’s treasures when something spoke to him from out of the very greenery around him. Some voice urged him to forget about William Asmodeus Zard’s power ploy and to instead seek self-actualization of a kind. He luxuriated in a forest as every leaf, tree, and blade of grass seemed to resonate with new life, and all in a key he could feel.

“See? It is wonderful, the power of the green!” said a green-faced man who crouched nearby. The leafy tendrils that draped his odd face seemed to caress him like a lover, and perhaps, just perhaps, they did.

“Ramulus, you have opened up a whole new world to me!” cried Floronic Man. “I have had pawns, henchmen, even a protégé of sorts, but now I have a friend!”

“I felt your arrival as well,” cackled Ramulus, who in former days had been known as Nightshade. (*) “You and I are kindred spirits. Together, we can lead this world into a new green era in which man is subordinate to plant life, and we are rulers of all!

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Adventure of the Magic Forest,” World’s Finest Comics #6 (Summer, 1942).]

“Even now, our commingled powers have turned this once-barren field into a forest,” he added. “Next, we shall lead the trees themselves in a march upon man’s cold, metal world — an army of living plants who will slay those beneath us in the plan of nature!”

***

Elsewhere, an old man shook his head in dismay. He reached for a cane and pulled himself to his feet in an unsteady manner. He spoke softly to his house plants, soothing them with whispers.

Then he picked up the phone and dialed directory information. “Hello, operator?” he said. “I need the listing for Diana Trevor in Georgetown. Oh, OK. Then how about her office?”

Soon after, a young woman answered perkily, “Wonder Woman help line. Please relate your problem, and we’ll direct your call either to a local support agency or pass it on to Ms. Trevor.”

“Well, my name is Joe Jackson,” the old man began, “but I suppose she knew me better as ‘Creeper.’ (*) I need her help!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Octopus Plants,” Sensation Comics #41 (May, 1945).]

***

Soon, Wonder Woman, the Sandman, and Starman were sitting across from Captain Comet in JSA Headquarters.

“I’m sorry so many of the others are occupied,” said Wonder Woman. “These sudden crisis-style situations around the globe are occupying them, along with the disappearance of Hawkman and Doctor Fate.”

“Well, I’m glad you three are here,” said Captain Comet. “I understand you have a lead on my enemy, the Floronic Man?”

“Indeed we do!” said the Sandman. “Diana was contacted by an old foe of hers. ‘Creeper’ Jackson was his old nickname, and he apparently talks to plants.”

“I assume you mean literally,” said Starman.

“Right,” continued the Sandman. “Well, he says the plant world is in an uproar over two beings who have promised to take over the world and rid it of mankind.”

“That sounds like Woodrue!” said Captain Comet.

“And Sandman’s old foe Ramulus, too,” added Starman.

“At least Nightshade is in jail,” said Wonder Woman, referring to Ramulus’ female protégé, Pamela Isley. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: Times Past, 1944: Crisis at the Cotillion.]

“Let’s go pull these weeds,” said Captain Comet. “Thanks for keeping Sapphire on ice for me, too!” He nodded to where the alien woman was locked in a security chamber in a type of suspended animation.

“Thank Amazon science!” said Wonder Woman with a smile as they hurried out.

***

The Atom was surrounded by the gang of Lone Wolves. He knew none of them had super-strength, and frankly the scrappy Al Pratt would not have cared if they had. He smiled and tore into them.

“You boys need a flea dip!” he joked as he tackled one and slammed him to the ground. He heard the rush of the others toward his unprotected back and, timing it correctly, leaped away, rolling to safety as they pounced on their own ally.

Kicking one in the head, he caught him up by his furry costume. “You’d make a great coat for the wife!” he joked as he hurled one Lone Wolf into the others.

As he was struck by a raking claw, he winced in pain. “You boys don’t need to take this Lon Chaney bit too far!” he said, punching his attacker flat.

Gasping for air, the Atom kept punching until at last he stood triumphant, if battered. “Now to take their prize back to JSA Headquarters!” he mused.

***

Doctor Mid-Nite found himself confronting a gem-wielding man he did not recognize. He was bearded and wore dark glasses and an odd backpack of some high-tech nature.

“I’m the Getaway Genius, and you, my nocturnal foe, are just in time to see me earn my nom du crime once again!” he said suavely. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-Two Getaway Genius is based on the Earth-One foe of Batman, as first seen in “Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks,” Batman #170 (March, 1965).]

Doctor Mid-Nite frowned. He had arrived in time to get the magic prism thanks to Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt, but a fluke medical crisis in the area had demanded his expert services. No matter what he was doing, this crusader placed healing above fighting crime. He had treated the ailing victim for smoke inhalation before rushing to the source of the smoke: a fire created by Roy Reynolds, the Getaway Genius, to cover his escape from a curio shop with the gem sought by the Wizard.

Wasting no time, Doctor Mid-Nite hurled a blackout bomb at the grinning man’s hand and gasped as Reynolds used the gem to deflect the darkness back at the source. This slowed Mid-Nite in no manner, and he dived through the dark cloud to reach the feet of his foe as he rose skyward on a jet pack.

“Ah, you are quick!” said Reynolds. “But, my friend, can you fly? That would be the question of the moment, eh?” And he kicked Doctor Mid-Nite in the head.

Smiling, Mid-Nite swung up to hit the release button on the jetpack. It flew off, and they dropped to earth. The agile Mid-Nite rolled to a smooth landing, while his startled foe crashed down hard.

The magic prism rolled across the pavement and into Doctor Mid-Nite’s hand. As he pocketed it, he casually said to the moaning Getaway Genius, “Now let’s get you a nice leg cast!”

***

Johnny Thunder found himself in India, where he admired the scenery and located the sorcerer’s mantle used by a would-be holy man to dupe tourists and locals with a vanishing act.

“Say, you know, that guy should not be allowed to con the folks like this!” said Johnny.

“Ah, young man, step up and allow the Mesmerizing Ramir to demonstrate his mental prowess!” said the con man.

“Sure, I’m game!” said Johnny as he stepped onto a rickety stage.

“With but one wave of my hand, I shall put our American friend into a deep sleep!” said Ramir, posing upon the stage.

“I’m not tired, but say, you look like you could use a nice nap!” said Johnny with a smile.

Instantly, the con man fell into a sleep caused by Thunder’s use of the magic phrase Cei-U.

Turning to the crowd, he said, “Folks, this guy’s a crook. I’m giving back all the money he collected.” He was rushed by the eager crowd, some of whom turned to the green-suited man and asked for magical help.

“Gosh, I’m glad to help and all, but I’m kinda pressed for time!” he said sheepishly.

“No matter! I’ll take the cloak, and you’ll be free for the rabble!” said a man with a curling black mustache, oiled hair, a top hat, and a tailcoat.

“What Dudley Do-Right cartoon did you crawl out of?” said Johnny as he ducked a razor-edged cane. Despite his odd appearance, this villain was a bit too odd and obscure for almost anyone to recall. He called himself the Scuttler, and his only claim to fame was once crossing paths with the Batman and Robin. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Mails Go Through,” Batman #29 (June-July, 1945).]

“Bah! You belittle your better!” cried the Scuttler.

“Say that five times fast, if you can!” joked Johnny as he punched the rogue across the stage.

The Scuttler kicked him back, catching the edge of the sorcerer’s mantle. “The Wizard wants this invisibility cloak, so you will lose it,” he said, swirling his own long coat. “That is as natural as the progression of the seasons themselves!”

“You need a new act,” said Johnny. “This silent film bad guy look doesn’t sell with today’s crowd.”

“I bid you farewell!” cried the Scuttler dramatically as he swept the sorcerer’s mantle around his shoulders.

“That thing is loaded with germs,” said Johnny with a grin. “You’re getting a rash. In fact, I’d say you’re getting a nasty infection.”

The Scuttler suddenly reappeared, red-faced, scratching desperately, and sneezing. He tossed down the cloak.

“Go directly to jail, as they say in Monopoly!” said Johnny, and the Scuttler –wanted felon that he was — did just that. “Now to take this cloak back to JSA Headquarters!”

“Hold it! Take off the spell of infection first!” warned the Thunderbolt.

“I almost forgot!” said Johnny with relief.

***

Captain Comet frowned as he looked through Wonder Woman’s invisible plane to see the wildly mutated plant life below them. As Creeper Jackson’s call had warned the amazing Amazon, the odd pair of Ramulus and Floronic Man were leading a revolt of sorts with plants and trees warring against mankind. Vines, thorns, and spores all erupted in a mad display of the power of nature turned bad.

A building near the park had been overrun by growths. The very earth beneath the structure had become threaded with vines, and the unnatural change spread to make the foundation itself crack, causing the building to teeter madly.

“Sandman, you and Starman evacuate the place, while Wonder Woman and I take a direct approach!” shouted Captain Comet.

Starman nodded and flew off to lift screaming office workers to safety on a gleaming platform created by his cosmic rod. “Don’t worry, folks. I’ll have you safely down in no time!” he said, even as his scientific mind marveled at what the unholy pair had wrought. I’ve pondered science gone wrong more than I’d care to admit, but this is even more frightening in its potential, he mused. Nature, distorted and twisted to the will of maniacs!

The Sandman swung up and carried others to safety with the use of his remarkable wirepoon, defying heights and taking amazing risks as he saved lives and simply kept on moving. I’ll be all too eager to get my hands on Ramulus, but the helpless come first! he mused. Comet is right about that!

Captain Comet and Wonder Woman used a combination of her magic lasso, the power of the plane, and his mental might to support the towering structure, even as their allies rescued the occupants. She’s as capable as her Earth-One double, he mused as Wonder Woman literally towed the building back to a steady resting place.

His mind is so strong that my plane seems more likely to obey him than me! thought Diana as she dropped back down to join the rest.

“Floronic Man, give yourself up!” yelled Captain Comet. “This is the final stand for your Secret Society of maniacs!”

Wonder Woman jumped across the park to deflect a sudden barrage of thorns as they were fired from the greenery around the heroes. Her bracelets flashed as she deftly blocked every poisonous projectile.

“Sandman, any obvious weaknesses of Ramulus?” asked Captain Comet.

The Sandman fired a wirepoon into a swelled spore just before it was ready to explode and pulled it out of Comet’s path. “Plants are his mania, and he shares their strengths and weaknesses,” said Wesley Dodds.

Captain Comet ripped a tree from the ground and hurled it into the thicket. “I thought as much,” he said. “I detect the minds of Floronic Man and Ramulus all around us. They truly are directing the attacking foliage. Perhaps I can block their contact with the plants!”

Reaching out with his powerful mind, it was flooded by images of life — ripe, fertile, and nearly overwhelming. As he persisted, he slowly severed the hold the plant men had over the flora around them.

Starman blasted down a wall of thorns as quickly as they formed and said, “Let’s take our friends, here, on a little tour!” He scooped up Ramulus out of the thickest section of the greenery and carried him skyward.

Wonder Woman’s lasso snaked out as she agilely caught Floronic Man and drew him into her arms. “You need a good pruning!” she laughed, lifting his stalky form into the air. He screamed as his best efforts to plant roots were defied by her speed and strength.

She tossed him to Starman, who formed a tight stellar energy bubble around him and carried him into the upper atmosphere until he and Ramulus lost all touch with the nature below.

The heroes took Ramulus to a special cell at STAR Labs and returned the stunned Floronic Man to their headquarters, where he was placed in stasis alongside the Star Sapphire.

“Thank you all for your help,” said Captain Comet. “Now I need to get Professor Zoom, Blockbuster, and the Wizard himself!”

Wonder Woman smiled warmly at the man of the future. “We can help you more,” she said. “Zoom’s super-fast body must have some type of aura to protect him from his own friction. We can trace it via a device my friend Paula once made to track the Flash when she was working for the Axis!”

Captain Comet agreed readily, and they went to work. A mental radio call to Paradise Island led to instructions from Paula von Gunther. Comet’s keen mind soon enabled him to duplicate her device.

“How odd,” he said. “I coded it to ignore the readings for your Flash and this Johnny Quick fellow you named, but it still seems to show two speedsters in addition to them!”

“Is the reading for an adult?” asked the Sandman.

“Yes,” said Captain Comet. “Two adult males. One is Zoom. Who is the other? Both are heading for Keystone City, too!”

“I have an idea who the other might be,” said Starman. “We’d better get moving, because he’s heading for Joan Garrick, if I’m right!”

They rushed off again to fight the Secret Society’s speedster.

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