“It has been done, Master!” said a ghastly looking figure with red eyes and white skin.
“You have personally seen to the deliveries?” said a deep voice from within a shadow.
“Yes. My legions did the actual delivery work, but then they all obey my mental commands, as of old,” said the vampiric figure.
“Excellent! I feel the stirring now,” he gloated. “Yes! Joan Williams Garrick, Myra Mason McNider, Lois Lane Kent, Molly Mayne Scott, Mary James Pratt — they are all fallen beneath my sway, due to the rings!”
“What next?” asked a beautiful redhead in a variation of a Wonder Woman costume of black, red, and gold.
“Next, my Orana? Next, you and Niteshade and the rest make certain that those heroes who do not die at the hands of their loved ones, die at your hands!”
“And you?” presumed the white-faced ghoul.
“I? I shall reap the benefits of what has been a thousand or more years in the making,” he said. “I shall bathe this world in shadow and enjoy the darkness thereof!”
Clark Kent laughed as James Olsen regailed his old boss with stories of newpaper drama.
“So I said, ‘Look, if you get any slower with your rewrites, I’ll change your byline to Turtle Boy’!” said the balding Olsen.
Clark smiled at his good friend as they sat in the office he used to command at the Daily Star. “It’s been good to see you again, Jim. That last meeting when Halk Kar crashed in your window was no time for socializing,” the man said, smiling with small laugh lines around his eyes that gave him a permanent look as if he was always squinting. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: The Coming Doom.]
James Olsen nodded happily, much like the cub reporter he had been over forty years before.
Clark stiffened suddenly. “Gosh! What’s wrong?” asked Jim. “Plane falling? Metalo back in action?”
“Worse,” said Clark. “It’s Lois! Something is wrong with her. Her emotions register on our wedding bands!”
Ripping open his shirt, he flew off as the colorful Superman. James had seen it all before, but he still thrilled as his best friend did what he alone could do so well.
“Be careful, pal!” said Jimmy. “I hope Lois is OK.”
Superman streaked across the country like a red and blue blur before he reached the Kansas farmhouse that was the home he and his wife had made for themselves. “Lois, what’s wrong?” he called. “That cold chill showed up even in Metropolis!”
Lois Lane Kent stood still. She looked unhurt, but something was wrong.
He moved closer and turned her to face him. “Darling, what is it?” he began.
“Nothing! I was just afraid,” she cooed. “You were gone so long. Hold me.” He embraced her, only to stiffen as magic assailed his mighty form.
“What’s wrong, lover? Is my touch draining the very life from you? Is that it?” she laughed madly.
Superman pulled back and fired his heat-vision at the black diamond ring on her icy hand. “Lois — take off that ring!” he said. “It’s controlling you!”
The heat reached her ring and spread no further, exactly as he had intended, but the ring’s magic resisted his alien might.
Grabbing his wife by the hand, he tried to remove the ring. It would not move; instead, she screamed in pain. “Clark, don’t!” she gasped. “It’s burning me up inside!”
Seeing shadows close in from all sides, Superman made a painful decision. He flew off and cried, “I’ll be back! I’ll save you, Lois!” He hated leaving her in the grip of this magical malice. Yet after forty or more years as a mystery-man, as the mystery-man, he knew when he was in need of help.
Lois Kent smiled coldly. “Master, he is on his way to summon the others. Did I please you?”
And in a hidden base shrouded in shadows, the dark man laughed.
Superman headed directly for the ominous Tower of Fate in Salem, Massachusetts, where his Justice Society of America ally Kent Nelson lived. Superman knew his own powers enabled him to bend steel, alter the course of raging rivers, and leap over buildings in a single bound. However, he was still vulnerable to magic. The magic ring that had enslaved Lois and turned her into some kind of succubus could also kill him. Thus, for her sake, he needed to bring in the magical powers of Doctor Fate.
It was odd, he mused, how Kent Nelson had truly become another being by donning that weird helmet. Superman had spent years posing as a milksop behind a pair of fake glasses, but no matter how much of Clark Kent was a façade, he realized that deep down he was really the same man. In Nelson’s case, when he put on that helmet, he had lost much or all of who he was as plain old Kent Nelson. He became an inhuman being of raw magic called Doctor Fate, or even Fate’s mentor, Nabu. Of course, Doctor Fate was now no longer Nabu. Instead, Kent and his wife Inza Nelson combined themselves to become a hybrid being called Fate. (*) No matter — in this crisis, he could use a heavy hitter like Nabu, or Fate, or whatever name he was using at the time.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Doctor Fate: Fate Revealed.]
Superman was not alone in his rush for Doctor Fate’s help. Al Pratt, alias the Atom, hurried toward the Tower, as did Alan Scott, alias Green Lantern, Dr. Charles McNider, alias Doctor Mid-Nite, and Jay Garrick, alias the Flash. But no sooner did they recognize each other from a distance, than they were attacked.
“It’s a trap!” cried Jay Garrick as his super-fast senses detected the rush of enemies from all sides.
Indeed, it was a trap. The evil dark man had enslaved their spouses with his black diamond rings and had known that these heroes would all rush to Doctor Fate for help. As they were all now drawn to one locale, he sent his minions to strike.
The Flash charged a gleaming figure out of the lost past. A Spanish nobleman with a sword and the armor of the Conquistadors stood defiantly before him. “Listen, Don Juan, you may be as white as the proverbial sheet, but I’ll bet my fists can send you back to El Dorado!” he quipped.
The speedster fell hard as the ghostly figure vanished and reappeared behind him. A blunt handle of the sword hit his head, and the Flash staggered where he stood.
The Green Lantern, sick with worry over Molly Scott’s own enslavement, which even his ring could not dispel, created an emerald net that dropped over the redhead below. “Orana! I remember you!” he said. “You had that delusion that you were Diana!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: Times Past, 1985: The Wonder Years.]
She leaped aside at the last second and hurled a tiara at him. It shattered his shield and knocked him to earth as it spun back to her awaiting hand. “I did not think I was your Diana!” she shouted. “I was and am Wonder Woman!”
Doctor Mid-Nite spotted a lithe female form in the shadows. “Louisa, I see you are still playing Niteshade! (*) If you’ve harmed Myra with that magic ring, I’ll show you a very grim bedside manner!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Doctor Mid-Nite: Nite Fall.]
The lovesick Dr. Louisa Soliz smiled seductively. “Charles, my love, when this world falls to shadow, you and I alone will see the path by which to walk ever and anon down romantic ways. I’ll show you.” She kicked out with the same dazzling agility that had surprised him when last they fought. Her lens allowed her to see as clearly in the darkness as his goggles.
The Atom was angry and needed to hit something. He hated the thought of his wife Mary under this evil spell. Her touch had drained him of energy as if she had become some vampiric lamia.
He turned to see Wildcat pounce from the darkness. “Wildcat, don’t tell me they got Ir–” he began. Then his old buddy Ted Grant slugged him, with lethal intent.
The Atom rolled back and raised his fists. “Wildcat — fight it! You’re under some spell, like our girls!”
Wildcat merely circled warily and continued to jab with brutal force. The Atom was prepared this time and knew his old pal’s style well. They’d even had the same trainer. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Three Faces of Evil,” All-Star Squadron Annual #1 (1982).]
The Atom dodged, wondering why his pal was so silent. “Who is it? Brain Wave? Psycho-Pirate?” he questioned.
“No, dear boy. Do you recall the Spirit King?” said Wildcat in an unearthly tone. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Spirit King once murdered the hero Mister Terrific while possessing the Flash; see “The Murderer Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One,” Justice League of America #171 (October, 1979), “I Accuse,” Justice League of America #172 (November, 1979), and Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1979: Swift Retribution.]
The Atom hesitated at the mention of a man he hated with a passion. That moment cost him dearly, as he was belted by Wildcat’s supernaturally enhanced fists, and he knew no more.
Meanwhile, Superman saw a figure fly up to meet him.
“How fitting!” hissed the Vampire Master. “You are almost a twin to my old foe!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Vampire Master first fought Doctor Occult, whose face resembles that of Superman, in New Fun #6 (October, 1935).]
Superman frowned. “Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you and Bela Lugosi!” He swung a hard right, but the evil figure caught his punch and glared at him.
Suddenly, Superman fell into the arms of his wife Lois as she soothed his worries, and he had made everything well again. He was a hero once more in triumph.
Then several quick, stunning blows from the Vampire Master knocked him reeling to earth. “Fool!” he hissed. “My illusions are drawn from your very soul. Do not try to resist me, and you’ll die in pleasure!”
“Never been one to take the easy way out!” said Superman from between gritted teeth.
He stood up as Vampire Master began to worry. No one had ever resisted his power, except for his old foe, Richard Occult. This twin to Occult was a true danger to his plans.
Niteshade tossed a silvery crescent moon with razor tips toward Doctor Mid-Nite, who ducked but was knicked by one.
“Louisa, you are a doctor — a healer!” he pleaded as he drew his own tranquilizer patch. “Think about what you’re doing!”
She laughed deeply. “My medical training is exactly what enabled me to formulate the proper dosage, dear!”
He saw the world swim before his drugged eyes as her words hit home. “Drugged darts…” he moaned, then fell at her feet.
The Flash spun around the ghostly El Espada, only to see the weird figure stab out precisely with his wicked blade. (*) The tip tripped up the Flash, and he also fell, hurt and stunned. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Haunted Mine,” Sensation Comics #21 (September, 1943).]
Green Lantern wiped blood from his head where the magically altered tiara had struck. He summoned all his legendary willpower, and a blast of green fire shook the hill. When he fell back, so did his foes.
“The hated Green Flame!” cried Orana. “Master recalls its touch after so long! We must flee!” They did so, leaving Superman alone with his beaten friends.
Then Hawkman swooped down, carrying a man. “Flash, Atom, what happened?” asked Hawkman. “Did his forces get to you?”
“A group attacked us,” said Superman. “They work for some master who enslaved our wives!”
“I know all too well, old friend,” said Hawkman. “He got Shiera, too. This is Lagra, an old pal, as well. I guess I can call him that. I met him around 1569 B.C.!”
The blond man nodded grimly. It was as his fateful dream had shown. The old evil was loose on Earth once more.