In the Justice Society of America’s Gotham City headquarters, it was a somber group that stepped out of the dimension-spanning transmatter device.
Hawkman, Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, the Huntress, Power Girl, and an especially grim-looking Flash stepped out. In Power Girl’s arms was the lifeless body of the recently slain Terry Sloane, better known as Mister Terrific. The Flash looked somber; it was he whose body the Spirit King had possessed to actually murder his fellow hero. And the Spirit King had escaped scot-free by returning to Earth-Two in the Flash’s body, then fleeing the Flash, who could do nothing but return to the Justice League of America’s satellite headquarters above Earth-One to report his failure to find the villain. They had left Earth-One with one goal in mind — to avenge the death of Mister Terrific by bringing the Spirit King to justice. (*) But first there were things that needed to be done.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Murderer Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One,” Justice League of America #171 (October, 1979) and “I Accuse,” Justice League of America #172 (November, 1979).]
“We need to let the others know,” said Hawkman. “As chairman, I guess that job falls to me.”
“What about his family?” asked an unusually subdued Power Girl.
“One of us should tell them. I don’t know. It’s hard to believe we’re going through this again so quickly,” replied the group’s winged chairman, the thought of Bruce Wayne’s all-too-recent passing still in mind.
“I think it would be best if we let Al and Ted talk to Lysette,” said Green Lantern. “They were Terry’s closest friends in the group.”
“Good idea, Lantern. Maybe they can make the news a little easier to take.” Hawkman walked to a console and activated the JSA’s communications system. He sent out an alert to all active and inactive members, which would result in either their arrival at the JSA Brownstone or a call from them.
“It would best be done quickly, Mr. Chairman,” said Doctor Fate. “Perhaps Green Lantern and I can bring Wildcat and the Atom here more quickly.”
“Yes. Thank you, Doc.” Even as Hawkman agreed, the room was filled with a golden glow, and Doctor Fate was gone. He was followed by Green Lantern, phasing himself through the ceiling with his power ring.
“Kara, are you all right?” The JSA’s newest member, the Huntress, looked concerned.
“I-I just don’t know,” said the young, blonde Kryptonian. “I mean, I know that most of us are mortal, but until recently I’ve never had to deal with the death of a teammate before, and this is the second one this year. This isn’t supposed to happen, is it?”
The Huntress, recalling her mother’s death while in costume as the Catwoman just a few years before, and her father’s death as the Batman only six months ago, tried to comfort her friend just as Kara had comforted her then. “It isn’t supposed to happen, but it does. Good people die for all the wrong reasons. But we can’t dwell on it. Better to focus on the good that Terry did and try to continue his ideal of Fair Play. Right, Flash?” She turned, looking for the JSA’s speedster, but he was already gone.
Gotham City, the East Side Fair Play Club:
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Ted Grant. Can you tell me where he might–? Oh, never mind. There he is.” The tall blonde man excused himself and walked past the information booth and into the gym.
“No, Charlie, you have to keep your guard up. Otherwise, your opponent can slip one right past ya and knock your wind out.” The one doing the coaching was a well-built man, standing well over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a square chin. “Let’s try again.” With that, he and the young teenage African-American boy started circling each other. The older man feinted with his right hand, watching the boy raise his left fist to match his action. He tried to punch quickly with his left, only to meet the boy’s rising fight forearm, which was followed by a stinging hook from the boy’s left.
“Dang! That’s it, boy! Nice move there!” The man put his arm around the boy’s shoulder, leading him to the edge of the boxing ring.
“Hello, Ted. Got a minute?” The tall blonde was waiting at ringside, a slight smile crossing his features.
“Sure, Alan. Private?” said Ted. Alan Scott nodded. “Let’s head for my office, then.”
Moments later, behind a locked door, Ted “Wildcat” Grant sat with his head in his hands. “Geez, I knew it was gonna happen again, sooner or later, but I never figured on it being this soon. A bunch of middle-aged guys out there saving the world, it’s a wonder all of us aren’t dead. Lord knows I came close enough a couple months ago.”
“I know, Ted. We’ve missed you.”
“Well, I figured it was time I got back to helping some of the kids out. Charlie, there, was the one that made up my mind.” Ted Grant thought about how he had taken a leave of absence shortly after the Batman’s death in order to start training the next generation of heroes, beginning with a boy named Charlie Bullock. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “To Everything There is a Season,” Adventure Comics #464 (July-August, 1979).]
“I thought you and Al might be the ones to tell Lysette and Geri.”
“Yeah. Just let’s get it over and done with, OK?”
The ring on Alan Scott’s hand glowed, and his suit and trenchcoat disappeared, revealing the garish costume of the Green Lantern. “Ready to go now?”
Ted stood and opened a closet door. “Give me two minutes.”
“And so we find that the effects on the subatomic level are indeed what the mathematical model predicted. Any questions?”
At the front of a Calvin College classroom, Al Pratt stood at a podium. He looked out over the bored faces of his students, most of them in his Physics 101 class to satisfy a minimum college requirement. Seeing no hands in the air, he sighed, then dismissed the class. He walked to his office, happy with the thought that he would only be teaching for another two weeks; then he could return to the university’s labs where he normally worked. Sitting at his desk, he reached for the latest stack of journals. Before he could start reading, however, there was a glow behind him, and he realized he was no longer alone.
“Al Pratt, your presence is required for a matter grievous to all of the JSA.”
“And good afternoon to you, too, Doc. What’s the matter?” Even as he spoke, Al was already pulling open a drawer in his desk and seeking the button that would release the fake bottom that hid his Atom costume.
“Bad news, my friend. Mister Terrific has been murdered whilst we were associating with the JLA.”
Al froze in place. “Terry? Terry Sloane is dead? That can’t be! I was just talking to him last night; we were going to take our wives out to dinner together this weekend!”
“I-I’m sorry, Albert.” The spirit of Nabu, the otherworldly Lord of Order who was the dominant personality of Doctor Fate, reached out, laying a hand on the grieving hero’s shoulder. Such displays of emotion were difficult for him, even if sometimes necessary.
“Has anyone told his wife yet?”
“Actually, it was suggested that you might be the one to tell her.”
“Very well, Fate. Take me there, would you?”
“What happened to the Flash?” asked a puzzled Huntress, worried about her fellow teammate. She couldn’t imagine how hard it was for him to know that his body had been used as a weapon of murder. “He was just here, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, he was. Where could he have–? Oh.” Hawkman once more went to the communication console. “I hope I can locate him via his communicator. I hope he doesn’t do anything rash.”
Typing at the keyboard, Hawkman brought up a screen that would show the Flash’s location anywhere on Earth. What it showed surprised him.
“He’s right here, according to this. In fact, zooming in, he should be standing right behind you.”
The Huntress turned around to find a silver belt buckle emblazoned with the JSA logo sitting on a table. Underneath was a note, reading, Forgive me.
Outside the Gateway City mansion of millionaire philanthropist Terry Sloane, four heroes gathered.
“I appreciate you guys doing this. I’m not good with families and such,” said Green Lantern.
“I must go, my friends. Grave matters call to me. I am likely to be out of touch for a few days.” Without waiting for a reply, Doctor Fate took off into the air, only to fade away before rising more than twenty feet.
The door was answered by a teenage girl with bright red hair. “Please, come in quickly.” Ushering the heroes in, she called out, “Mom! Some of Daddy’s friends are here!”
“Bring them back to the den, please, Geri,” came a reply from deep in the house.
“Hi, fellas. I’m afraid Terry isn’t here right now.” Seeing the looks on their faces, all-too-familiar for the former police officer, she stopped, the color draining from her face. “You already know that, don’t you? Something’s happened to Terry, hasn’t it?”
“I’m afraid so, Lysette.” The Atom took a seat next to Mister Terrific’s widow and held her hands in his as Green Lantern related the story of her husband’s death. Geri Sloane huddled in the strong arms of Wildcat.
“So senseless. All because of a sick man he fought thirty years ago. And he got away, you say?” she asked through her tears.
“Not for long, Lys. I promise!” vowed the diminutive Atom.
Meanwhile, unnoticed by the others, a blurred figure streaked through the house, seeking Terry’s private study.
“He had to have some information on this Roger Romaine here somewhere.” The Flash flipped through all of the files and books he could find in the room. He was checking the desk for hidden compartments when he caught a bit of conversation from the den.
“Lysette, one thing puzzles me. Terry mentioned something about a room that he rents off-campus. Where you have trouble?” came the voice of Green Lantern.
“Oh, no! When Terry joined the faculty of Gateway University to alleviate some of the boredom of retirement, he moved all of his mementos and stuff from his career as Mister Terrific to an apartment near the school. He was planning to sort through it and donate a lot of it to the university.”
In the study, the corner’s of Flash’s mouth turned up slightly. Now he knew where he might find the information he sought.
“Flags around the country are flying at half-mast today in memory of Terry Sloane, the inventor, philanthropist, and university professor who devoted his fortune to helping those less fortunate all over the country. Word of his death has stunned people, from the poorest folks on the street, right up to the White House.”
The screen cut to an interview with the President of the United States, the former governor of Georgia.
“Yes, Mr. Sloane and I met several times when he came to Washington to gain more government support for programs to help the poor and disadvantaged. While we didn’t always agree, Mr. Sloane’s dedication never wavered, and he always put others before him. He was a fine American, and will be missed.”
“In Gotham City, the family of late Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne offered their condolences to the Sloane family and told us that the Wayne Foundation would continue to work with and support the Fair Play Centers, which Sloane administered. At the same time, Wayne’s long-time associate Richard Grayson and his law partner, Wayne’s daughter Helena Wayne, offered the services of Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne to the Sloane family to help fend off any false claims of inheritance that may crop up upon Sloane’s death.”
“The great and wonderful Terry Sloane. Bah! You destroyed my life when you put me in jail for twenty-five years, all over the life of a miserable little museum guard. But the Amulet of the Succubi was worth it, and I proved it, didn’t I? The Amulet allowed me to possess first your own body, then that of your friend, so I could take my revenge. And now, my dear, late, unlamented Mr. Sloane, I’ll finish my revenge by killing off your family. But not before I arrange for your wife to write a new will: one that leaves everything to one Roger Romaine!”