Hourman whistled idly as he waited for Wildcat, the Flash, and the others to show up. He knew Dr. Charles McNider was honeymooning with his new bride, as was Johnny Thunder. (*) And Al Pratt had been inspired to take his wife Mary, newly young as well, on an anniversary honeymoon of their own.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Doctor Mid-Nite: Nite Fall, Epilogue: Wedded Bliss and Johnny Thunder: Hectic Honeymoon.]
Still, he and the others would be enough for this regular meeting. Then again, Starman had been missing for months, too, and the Hawks were busy. (*) Who knew where — or even who — Doctor Fate was at any given time, now that Kent and Inza Nelson shared the role? (*)
“Maybe I’m it for this evening.”
He had also not seen the retired Sandman in a while, and that bothered Rex Tyler, since Wes Dodds was one of his best pals. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The JSA still hasn’t learned of the Sandman’s own recent rejuvenation as seen in The Sandman: Season of Mists.]
“Hola!” greeted Wonder Woman as she walked inside the JSA Brownstone.
“Diana, you’re looking as lovely as ever,” said Rex. “How’s Steve? Recovered from that government mission you mentioned to Charles?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Suicide Squad: The Price of Redemption.]
She nodded. “He saw many harsh things during his war service, such as the Nazi concentration camps, yet he never became a hard man. This new team and the questionable ethics of the leaders worry him greatly.”
“I know! The good guys can’t be separated from the bad these days!” he said.
“Ah, but you can be separated from your head!” said a snarling voice.
Rex looked up to see Wildcat in fighting fury. He slugged Hourman before the man of the hour could activate his Miraclo powers.
“Ted, what in Aphrodite’s name are you doing?” cried Wonder Woman.
“Forget Aphrodite. It’s Hades you’ll be meeting soon enough!” said Superman as he slammed Diana to the floor with a powerful right.
Wonder Woman could battle and still retain a keen sense of observation and intuition. “You’re not Superman!” she said as she rolled into a ball and flipped the Man of Steel over her head. “You have his power, true! But the hair is wrong. The Man of Steel I know doesn’t use Grecian Formula.”
She tossed her golden lasso over him even as he surged forward to grab her hair. “Release me!” she commanded. He let her go and became still.
Wildcat slugged Rex Tyler again before the heroic Hourman blocked his friend’s punch and connected with his own uppercut. “You aren’t Wildcat, either!” said Rex. “You move like him, but you sure don’t talk like the man I’ve known so long.”
A second punch, and down went Wildcat. Wonder Woman ripped his mask off and gasped. Beneath the catlike cowl was revealed… nothing.
A face was seen where the mask ended, but when she pulled off the hood, nothing was to be seen. Just a nose and eyes without any hair or characteristics to be seen on the bald head.
“Creepy,” said Hourman.
“This creature is not even human,” said the Amazon. “It’s like someone made a Wildcat based only on what features of his body they could see. They lacked his unmasked face to copy!”
“Right! And we lack a human’s normal helplessness under your shiny jumprope!” sneered the false Superman. He quickly slugged her, and she fell to the floor, stunned.
Hourman ran forward, only to be tripped and choked to submission by a suddenly appearing Atom.
“Nice work!” sneered the little man who stood slightly taller than the real Atom.
They carried the three stunned heroes off into the street, where a van awaited them. At the wheel sat Funnyface. “My painted versions of the JSA have worked well! I must be careful, though. I can’t create the whole team too fast. I’ll just pick them off slowly.”
“I think not!” declared a stern voice from the street.
Funnyface turned to see the Cavalier approaching. His plumed hat and dapper costume made him instantly identifiable. “What is this?” he said. “Trying to horn in on my action? I work alone!”
The Cavalier had overheard the last remarks as the faux JSA carried out the real Wonder Woman and Hourman.
“Let me murder this fop!” said the false Superman.
“Do so!” ordered Funnyface.
The Cavalier drew his sword. Maybe coming here after talking to Red Robin was a bad idea, he mused. I can’t duel a renegade Man of Steel!
“Superman! What in heaven’s name are you doing?” cried the shapely and newly costumed Lana Lang, the Insect Queen. Her blonde wig still covered her shapely form, but her costume was now yellow and ended below her thighs. High heels completed her new look which, unknown to her, now resembled that used by her Earth-One counterpart.
“You’re not Superman! He has graying hair!” said Lana, and she certainly had reason to know this, since she had worked with him on several cases and had seen him socially at Daily Star functions.
Funnyface cursed. “I didn’t have time for subtle details. A Superman should pass for a Superman. How’d I know you’d all be so… so detail-oriented?”
Lana used her broach to summon a swarm of bees, which she enlarged to the size of dogs. Their magically enhanced forms could hurt even the real Superman, and they closed in on the fake one.
Wildcat prepared to belt Lana when he was stopped by the Cavalier.
“No, no, my good man,” he said in his customary courtly manner. “A true gentleman never strikes a lady… especially a lovely one like this charmer!”
The Cavalier swung his weighted scarf, and it caught the fake Wildcat in the side of the head. He shifted position and dodged the feline fury’s right cross, only to be caught by a left. He reeled back and spun to deliver a kick to Wildcat’s face. He then punched him in the chin and used the weighted scarf to tug him off-balance.
“You know, my friend, I once had the honor to encounter the colleague of the true Wildcat called Mister Terrific, and he told me that a sure counter for a slugger is to wear him out, like so.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1944: The Evil Plot.]
He sidestepped nimbly, and the Wildcat stumbled. But the Cavalier had agility going for him. He sliced out with his sword, and electrical current dropped the faux Ted Grant. “Thus we conclude this little minuet of mayhem!” he said, smiling.
Lana’s bees were being blown back by the fake Superman’s whirlwind. She knew she could not stop even a fake Superman in close contact. Flying on gossamer wings that rose from her yellow costume, she thought of her next move.
Superman was sore and swollen from the magical stings, but he was still standing. “I’ll swat you like a leggy fly!” he roared.
“You say that to all the insect-powered heroines!” she teased and summoned a silkworm that grew and wrapped him in a cocoon.
“Won’t hold me long!” he roared from within.
“Won’t need to!” said a newcomer.
Paragon arrived and slammed the fake Atom to the ground before he could enter the fight. He saw the stunned Wonder Woman and took a necessary risk. He kissed her on the lips and became fully empowered with all her abilities. Hated to take advantage of a lady like that, but now with that kind of contact, I am more than ready to be a Wonder Man! he thought.
Blocking the speeding Superman from Lana, he clipped him with Amazon skill at one level greater than that of Diana Trevor. He kneed him and belted him again with true force. The fake Man of Steel lay still.
The Cavalier held his sword at the throat of the nervous Funnyface. “I believe we’ve won this encounter, old bean!” he said, smiling.
Paragon nodded. “I do believe you’re right!”
That creep is Funnyface, Paragon realized. He fought the JSA once with drawings of their foes brought to life. (*) Guess he did the same thing with these phoney JSAers. Great Hera! That magic paint from Atlantis is what he used this time. I recognize the texture from that JSA case Wonder Woman remembered from back in the 1940s! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: Times Past, 1985: The Wonder Years, Chapter 4: Orana’s Tale and “The Paintings That Walked the Earth” All-Star Comics #28 (April-May, 1946).]
He frowned to himself as he realized that the kiss had not only given him Diana’s powers but had also temporarily given him all of her memories, disorganized as they were, and perhaps also some of her personality. I won’t try that trick again, he mused. First time I activated my powers while kissing someone. Must be too risky.
Then Wonder Woman stirred and sat herself up. “Wonder Woman, are you OK?” asked Lana. “We all stumbled on those thugs and rescued you.”
Diana thanked them and woke Hourman, who added, “Thanks for the save!”
“We all came here to apply for JSA membership,” said William Everett.
“We’d have to have a full membership here for that type of decision, but we will remember your fine service tonight,” said Wonder Woman.
“I actually only came here by pure chance after meeting Red Robin,” said the Cavalier.
“I saw the end of your battle, and I give you my approval so far!” shouted Red Robin from the roof.
The Cavalier smiled. Bowing deeply to Wonder Woman, he turned to Lana and said, “Might your humble servant escort you homeward, fair lady?”
Lana smiled as he kissed her hand. “I’d be delighted.”
As the Cavalier walked her down the street, he mused, Maybe the joys of an honest life will be even better than I imagined!