The JSA meeting room was filled to capacity. Nearly all active members were there, tense and anxious. On the large monitor screens were images of the six colorful villains who had attacked them on JSA Day, video images captured from the news footage of the events.
“These two identified themselves,” Hawkman said, indicating Fusebox and Death Metal with a laser pointer. “The others did not, so we don’t even know their names. None of the six have come up in any cross-references with any law enforcement agency’s files. It’s safe to assume they are entirely new to the super-villain game.”
“Not a bad first time out, was it?” the Flash offered. “They managed to humiliate us on national television and destroy Heroes Park and the All-Star Youth Center.”
“Not to mention what they did to Superman,” Hawkman said. “Doc, what is Superman’s medical condition?”
“Not good,” Doctor Mid-Nite said grimly. “The red fungus has put him into a state of coma; his vital signs are dangerously low, and he sometimes rants in his sleep, as though he were having vivid nightmares. I theorized the fungus, since it attacked Superman so viciously but did no harm to anyone else who came in contact with it, may be Kryptonian in origin. I tested this theory by scraping some off and exposing it to kryptonite; it died almost instantly. But Superman is so weakened by the fungus, exposing him to kryptonite may kill him before the fungus. I’ve managed to stabilize his condition by placing him under a red-sun lamp, but I’m not sure what else I can do.”
“Doc, I may be able to help,” Power Girl said. “My cousin’s counterpart on that other world — the one that so arrogantly refers to itself as Earth-One — once gave him some samples of exotic forms of kryptonite that he encountered. One of them was something called white kryptonite, which killed all forms of plant life but had no effect on humans.”
“That could be the answer!” Doctor Mid-Nite exclaimed, suddenly enthusiastic. “Kara, how quickly can you get some of this white kryptonite to the med lab?”
Before the end of Mid-Nite’s question had reached the ears of those in the back of the room, Power Girl was gone in a blur.
“Well, that’s good news,” Green Lantern said. “But we’re still no closer to figuring out who these new villains are.”
“They seemed to know our weaknesses, just how to immobilize us,” the Patriot offered.
“That’s true,” Green Lantern agreed. “Those sawdust particles were even coated with an adhesive made from tree sap; it was just woodlike enough that my ring didn’t work on it, either.”
“Sadly, after forty-plus years, our weaknesses are fairly well-known,” Hawkman pointed out. “I am wondering where that plant-girl got a Kryptonian fungus, though.”
“What’s bugging me is, what do these kids want?” Wildcat asked. “They ruined JSA Day and made fools of us, but they could have killed us once they had us sandbagged, and they didn’t. With the possible exception of Supes, of course. Is humiliating the JSA all they’re after?”
“Perhaps they were just trying to make a name for themselves by beating the JSA on national TV,” the Atom suggested.
“If that’s the case, wouldn’t they have identified themselves more clearly?” countered the Sandman.
“Well, whatever their primary goal, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of these youngsters,” Hawkman predicted. “I suggest we all be on the alert for any further activity by them. Patriot, we’d appreciate any help Infinity Inc. can give on this, as well.”
“Count on it,” Patriot declared.
More than one of the JSAers found their eyes straying to the video images of the six young villains. There was something familiar about them, some nagging point they couldn’t quite identify, but kept nagging at the backs of their minds. Just who were they, anyway?
“Mmm, you’re quite the kisser,” the girl in green murmured, her embrace tightening on the man in leather.
“I’m good at all sorts of things, baby,” the big man growled. “Why don’t you let me show you?”
Before the girl could reply, the big man felt something grab him by the shoulder and spin him around. He found himself face-to-face with a young man in a costume nearly identical to the girl’s, and he was angry.
“You keep away from my sister, you poor man’s Peter Fonda!” the young man demanded.
“Huh. You her keeper?” the man in leather asked. “I must not have seen the leash. My bad.”
“Why, you miserable–!” the man in green began. He was cut off by a blast of scarlet energy striking the floor between them. Both men looked up to see an attractive young woman standing in the hallway, smiling at them.
“Recess is over, kiddies,” she said sweetly. “Boss lady wants us all in the meeting room — now.” With that, she turned away and walked down the hall, high heels clicking.
“This isn’t over,” the man in green snapped at the leather-clad man before taking his sister by the wrist and following the woman down the hall. The green-clad girl winked at the man in leather as she followed her brother.
“I sure hope not,” the man in leather remarked to himself, then followed his colleagues to the meeting room.
The meeting room contained an enormous round table. All six villains were now seated around it. A lithe-formed young woman, wearing a costume and mask that completely covered her features, stood at her seat, addressing them.
“I want to congratulate you all on your efforts during JSA Day. You succeeded beyond even my expectations. I am very pleased.”
“Thanks for the kudos, Madame Mayhem,” said the one called Death Metal, in his thick Liverpool accent. “But mind tellin’ us what we were supposed to accomplish? Beyond makin’ bloody fools of the JSA drongos, I mean.”
“Ooh, don’t you just love his accent?” the woman of the scarlet eye-beams purred.
“Death Metal, will you please drop the Benny Hill accent?” Madame Mayhem asked. “I happen to know the closest you ever got to England was seeing Quadrophenia at the Keystone Mall Cinema.” The young woman began to giggle, but a fierce look from Death Metal shut her up.
Madame Mayhem continued. “What we accomplished was sowing the seeds of doubt in the minds of the public. For decades they have counted on the Justice Society to save them from any and all threats. Now they have been soundly thrashed on national television by a handful of unknowns. The people will never look at them the same way again.” Madame Mayhem visibly stiffened beneath her costume. “Justice. Ha! What a joke! There is no such thing as justice in this world; it’s only an opiate, a cotton-candy dream the underdogs cling to, to make their miserable lives tolerable. My father taught me that. It was the only lesson he had to teach me, but I learned it well. I have made it my life’s work to bring that lesson to the entire world, and to that end I have assembled the six of you.”
Her gaze turned to Death Metal. “Jascha Bowin, also known as Death Metal, you have adapted the teachings of your grandfather, the Fiddler, to your own style of music, and created effects he never dreamed of.”
The mysterious leader now looked at the young woman with the eye-beams. “Aurora Kresler, known to us as Bright-Eyes, your father, who battled Doctor Mid-Nite under the nom de guerre Doctor Light, made you the guinea pig for his experiments — his own daughter! (*) Fortunately, the experiments were successful, and granted you laser-vision.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Light,” All-American Comics #82 (February, 1947).]
She now turned her attention to Fusebox. “John Dillinger Simmons, you who call yourself Fusebox, your father was Deathbolt, the Ultra-Humanite’s electrically powered lackey, and you inherited his abilities.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Tale of Three Citadels,” All-Star Squadron #21 (May, 1983).]
Her gaze now took in the brother and sister dressed in green. “Jennifer and Gregory Carvell, twin daughter and son of the man alternately known as Nightshade and Ramulus. (*) The alien formula that allowed him to create and control monster plants permeated his genes, and you were born with those powers that made you Oleander and Sumac.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Adventure of the Magic Forest,” World’s Finest Comics #6 (Summer, 1942).]
She now looked at the man in leather. “Solomon Quinn, the Sky Angel, you have embraced the path of the outlaw biker, but your bike can fly, thanks to the technology of your uncle, the Sky Pirate.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Freedom of the Skies,” Green Lantern #27 (August-September, 1947).]
Madame Mayhem spread her arms, taking in all her subordinates. “You are my elite soldiers, and you will help me carry out my plans for the world.”
“So, what are we, anyway?” Oleander asked. “The new Injustice Society?”
“No!” Madame Mayhem snapped. Then, softer, she added, “Don’t you see? If there truly is no justice, then injustice is a hollow concept as well. No, we preach a different standard entirely. We are the Anarchy Society of the World!”
“OK, so we’re the Anarchy Society,” Sumac said. “So what’s next?”
“He’s right,” Fusebox said. “I mean, most of us turned down Alexis Luthor’s group because of her stupid plans. (*) What have you got lined up for us?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two.]
“Never fear, gentlemen,” Madame Mayhem said. “I have something ‘lined up’ that I’m sure you can sink your teeth into. Namely, the complete and utter collapse of the United States of America!” Mayhem paused to let that sink in.
“Sounds like fun,” Bright-Eyes said. “But how do we accomplish it?”
“With four carefully planned strikes,” Mayhem said. She lifted a small device onto the table. “This device, Bright-Eyes, you will attach to the new communications satellite GBC is launching the day after tomorrow. Death Metal will create the necessary diversion for you to sneak into the launch area and attach the device. Once the satellite is operational, this device will blanket the Earth with a particle beam that will neutralize all electronic communications. Telephones, televisions, radios, cellular phones, computer phone lines — everything will go dead!”
Mayhem next hefted a black sphere about the size of a bowling ball, but obviously much lighter, onto the table. “This sphere contains a poison gas of my own devising,” she explained. “When dropped into the center of an average-sized city, it will fan out and blanket the city with enough poison to quickly and quietly kill every living creature in it. Sky Angel, you will drop this on Washington, D.C. With Congress in session and the President in town, virtually all of America will be rendered leaderless!”
Mayhem next brought out a device that looked like some kind of high-tech harness. “Fusebox, this device will channel your electrical power and turn it into an electromagnetic pulse which will erase all computer records within a ten-mile radius of it. You will use it in the heart of New York City’s financial district. All financial records will be wiped away!”
She continued, “Oleander and Sumac, you require no devices to do what I ask of you. I want you to use your monster plants to destroy America’s interstate highway system. Let the mighty vines rip the concrete ribbons into rubble!”
The villains smiled at one another as the import of Madame Mayhem’s plans sank in.
“Yes, think of it,” Mayhem said. “The President, Vice-President, and all senators and representatives slain. Communications paralyzed. Financial records destroyed. Travel between states halted. And the mighty Justice Society already humiliated and brought low in the public’s eyes. There shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Hell shall come on Earth, and we shall be its harbingers!”
Madame Mayhem began to laugh to herself. Her Anarchy Society joined her, and soon the meeting room was filled with the evil laughter of the wicked.