Justice Society of America: Vanity Fair (Play), Chapter 2: The Strange Case of Miss Terrific and Madame Mayhem

by Libbylawrence

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The hero called Doctor Mid-Nite stood before his friends Wildcat, the Atom, and the Flash on Transformation Isle while Paula and Mala spoke.

“We studied Geri’s past as shown by the Magic Sphere, and it revealed some disturbing things,” said Mala. “She truly believes her father rejected her, and that drove her to the mad Anarchy Society scheme she tried to bring to a tragic end.”

“Hold it! I know better,” said the Atom. “How many times do I have to say that Mister Terrific was as good a parent as he was at everything else?”

“Yeah! I can verify that,” added Wildcat. “But I can also say that, even at Terry’s funeral, Geri was the same sweet girl you’d expect a couple like Terry and Lysette to raise. That story about his rejection of her and her plan to show him up before his death is just some delusion!

“True,” added Mid-Nite. “But even if Geri is drawing upon delusions and false memories caused by her mental illness, to her mind they are real. She is firm in her conviction that Terry didn’t want her. Every word she said in terms of explaining her motivation might as well be true from her point of view. Her ill mind won’t accept that she could be wrong, and indeed all her extraordinary brainpower only helps her justify her belief with false logic rather than see the truth.”

“So what else did you learn?” asked the Flash.

“We learned via the Magic Sphere that she was the sweet girl Wildcat and the Atom remember,” said Paula. “She was even trained by her father and by Ted. In fact, she developed a costume like her dad’s and first wore it not long ago. She felt it was time to honor his name after the Crisis ended so many lives.”

“See? The Sphere shows Geri in a green minidress with red tights and the fair play emblem,” explained Paula. “She was obviously dressed as a Miss Terrific, as the Sphere shows.”

“Yeah! That is exactly what I’d expect a bright and talented girl like Geri to do,” added the Atom.

“But her first case led to her current tragic state,” continued Doctor Mid-Nite.

“What do you mean? I can see she was sane and sweet, and eager to fight the good fight at that point just after the Crisis,” said Wildcat. “Was I right about her being controlled by some creep?

“No, not exactly,” said Mala. “Her every crime and her every scheme, even her every evil word, came from her sick mind alone. Still, the poor girl was driven mad by an unnatural agent. She realized certain chemical thefts around Gateway City could be combined to create a formula that instilled artificial insanity in anyone injected with the toxin. She had Sloane’s keen mind.”

“Wait a minute! Artificial madness?” shouted an excited Wildcat. “You mean she tracked down the mastermind behind the crimes, and he beat her? He injected her with the madness toxin, and from that moment on she has been insane and deluded by that illness into thinking Terry rejected her? That means everything she said was true from her point of view, yet Terry was still the good father we knew him to be!”

“See for yourself on the Sphere,” said Paula.

“I guess you all know who first invented the potion that created this artificial madness,” said Doctor Mid-Nite softly. “Remember my first case with the team, Atom? You were there.”

“Professor Elba! Able was his real name,” said the Atom. “He tried to drive his enemies insane with a chemical before, but we stopped him, and he died later on.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Two New Members Win Their Spurs,” All-Star Comics #8 (December, 1941-January, 1942).]

“Exactly,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “The Sphere shows that his son, the new Professor Elba, fought Geri and fell to his death in his lab after injecting her with the deadly chemicals that drove her hopelessly mad. She even made use of his lab after he died in their fight.”

“He looked like his old man. I can see that,” chimed in the Atom as they watched the images on the Sphere.

“So if her insanity came only after the Crisis, and she is deluded enough to believe all that story she told us, then how can we help her?” asked Wildcat.

“Could the purple healing ray restore her mind, since her madness is chemical in nature?” asked the Flash. “Perhaps I could get Rex, and we could whip something up together. I mean, I know we can’t cure most normal mental illnesses, but this was due to that Elba’s drug.”

“We sure could try!” said the Atom.

“The poor child. She is welcome here if her madness cannot be cured,” said Mala.

“I may be able to save her mind yet,” added Paula. “I still have mind-control devices, or their plans, at least, from my evil past. Perhaps an alteration of one could cure her.”

The JSA members talked late into the night. Wildcat thought that he would risk all he could to help his buddy’s daughter. She was a victim and had started out as a true daughter of the champion of fair play. How unfair could her family’s fate be?


Geri Sloane felt like she had awakened from a nightmare. She had several vague memories of fighting and danger, but nothing concrete since she had first donned the green minidress and red tights of Miss Terrific.

She recognized the classical architecture of Paradise Island’s Transformation Isle from tales told by her beloved late father, Terry Sloane, who had died seven years ago. She even knew the blonde before her to be Paula von Gunther, the former baroness-turned-Amazon science whiz.

“My dear, I know you feel confused, but let me assure you that you are among friends, including your father’s famous allies,” said the beautiful woman.

Geri was embraced by Wildcat and the Atom, while the more reserved Doctor Mid-Nite smiled in approval.

“You did it, Paula,” said Mid-Nite. “Full recovery from the injection Professor Elba gave her.”

She smiled and whispered to the blind physician, “My old devices finally worked for the good of someone other than the Nazi regime.”

“Geri, honey, are you OK?” asked the smiling, almost teary-eyed Ted Grant. “You had a bit of an accident while fighting Professor Elba. He drugged you, and that led you to do some things you normally would not have done. Mr. Grayson, your attorney, has fixed things up for you. You will be on a kind of JSA-sponsored probation, but nothing to worry about!”

The Atom picked up the laughing redhead in his mighty arms and said, “You decided to join our little community! You’ll make Terry proud. You always did.”

Geri nodded. “Daddy was very caring and demonstrative. He knew how to make all children feel like heroes and heroines, especially his own daughter! I want to run his Fair Play Club, but not interfere with the Fair Play Gym you started, Uncle Ted.”

Mala watched happily. It was a remarkable reformation and recovery.


In the far future of the 76th century, a black-bearded tyrant named Black Barax laughed deeply as he gazed into a screen showing the above scene. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: Black Barax first appeared, sans beard, in “The Fate of the Future,” Sensation Comics #28 (April, 1944).]

“Well may you laugh now,” he said. “In your regular timeline, you saved Geri Sloane, and she became a famous heroine named Miss Terrific, but in one of the many alternate ones I have at my disposal as a tyrant of the seventy-sixth century, you failed, and Geri — or Madame Mayhem — caused much misery for you all, eh?”

The evil smile on the face of the alternate timeline version of Madame Mayhem was a twisted version of that which covered Geri Sloane’s on Transformation Isle.

Black Barax turned to face the evil Geri Sloane, whom he had plucked to his future empire from an alternate timeline. “What are your plans now, Geri? Need I say you have all the time in the world?” he chuckled.

“No, you could have kept that little witticism to yourself,” she said. “I wish to make a side-trip or two before returning to my rightful time. Will you aid me in transportation, or must I cobble together a time machine on my own? Oh, and never refer to me as Geri Sloane again! I renounce that name and the hated and hypocritical legacy that accompanies it. From now on, history shall know me only as Madame Mayhem!

He rubbed his heavy beard and nodded. “True enough! I can tell you that, from my vantage point, that name shall gain much infamy and, if events unfold as I have seen them, will be held in particular disdain and regret amongst the Justice Society and their successors.”

Making the necessary adjustments as the fiery woman ordered, he smiled and said, “It is only fitting that I aid the woman who will give birth to my ancestors! I see a bloody path before that spitfire. Poor Terry Sloane has unknowingly given birth to his own worst foe!


“Miss Sloane?” oozed a mustachioed man named Simon Stendal. “So nice to see you after such a long time. The Sloane Fair Play Clubs have carried on as best they could in the absence of their lovely director!

A redhead in a tight green dress sat before him with her legs crossed and a patient look upon her face. “Thank you, Simon,” she said cooly. “Now that I am back from an extended time abroad, I need the proper documentation to remove all money from the Sloane Foundation for a special investment.”

“Ah, but Miss Sloane, that is highly irregular,” whined Simon. “Your late father make it clear that nothing was to disturb the financial security of the scholarships and youth clubs he founded.”

Geri Sloane leaned very close to the man and said, “I insist. I am legally entitled to do so. Do you value your position? If so, obey your employer now! Oh, and don’t worry; the money will be used in a delightful and creative manner.”

Simon considered the risks involved in calling Lysette Sloane, Geri’s elderly widowed mother, and gulped. “Certainly, Miss Sloane,” he said. “Here is what you’ll need to remove the funding… temporarily, of course.”

Geri smiled. “Thank you. It’s only fair, since I’m Terry’s only biological child.”

She walked out with a deliberate purpose, leaving Simon to worry over his job security. She was, of course, Madame Mayhem.


Madame Mayhem’s next side-trip through time ended in a bar in 1955 near the Gateway City Harbor Club. Wealthy yachting enthusiasts would go slumming in the seedy dive when they grew tired of their spoiled debutantes. Dressed in a bright red strapless dress, which complimented her locks of bright red hair, she sat seemingly in no hurry, but secretly planning her every move.

Soon, she caught the roving eye of a handsome, if balding, blond man. He sent over a drink, and she smiled invitingly. He soon joined her, and under the name Mala Gunther, she flirted shamelessly with the older man. An hour passed, and the following exchange occurred:

“So what ya want to do tonight, kitten?” he slurred. “Kinda boring around here.”

She smiled and said, “I never get bored. I have lots of talents.”

Show me, my dear. Show me every one at my estate!” he said.

They ended up together in his manor house outside of town, and as the night deepened, they grew ever closer. She charmed and flattered the dimwitted aristocrat until he rapidly installed her in his home and soon catered to her every whim with his family fortune.

Months passed, and before long, Mala had the poor oaf helplessly under her control. She drained him of his fortune and left him broke and desperate for cash. He never learned where the money went. Nor did he see her again after she vanished one night. He merely bitterly turned to his charitable cousin Terry for loans. His name was Carter Sloane, and he was Terry Sloane’s rather selfish and potentially criminal cousin.

He did not realize that the ruin in his personal fortune that eventually led him to crime was all due to the scheming of his former mistress, Mala Gunther, also known as his yet-to-be-born first cousin once removed, Geri Sloane.


Black Barax watched the timeline unfold from his seat of empire and admired what he saw.

Clever. Very cunning. I knew Carter Sloane turned to crime and fought his esteemed cousin Terry, Mister Terrific, but I never knew why. So much of the family history was lost to history, so to speak. Now I see Madame Mayhem not only gave birth to me through my ancestors, but also led poor Carter into his criminal career! Again much of Terrific’s sorrows came from his own loins!” He laughed with appreciation.


Paula von Gunther and Mala waved farewell as the cured Geri Sloane departed from Transformation Isle, along with Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Atom. The Flash had left earlier, and their ride, the Green Lantern, had just swooped down to carry them homeward.

The sight of the isle brought back painful memories for Alan Scott. He had been there before, and on one such trip he had met Rose, the woman he married and lost long ago. (*) Now he smiled with a brave face as he greeted the daughter of an old friend.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Green Dreams and Precious Illusions,” Infinity Inc. Annual #1 (1985).]

“Geri! It is a pleasure to see you healthy again. The JSA received word from your attorney, Mr. Grayson, that your legal troubles were smoothed over, too,” announced Green Lantern. “The name Sloane carries immense weight in charitable circles.”

“Yeah! I mean, what city does not have some kind of Sloane Foundation-sponsored scholarship?” said the Atom, grinning. “Half the kids at Calvin College are going there because of Terry’s legacy of endowments there and at Gateway U.”

“Maybe I ought to apply for one and finish that medical degree Pop always wanted me to earn,” said Wildcat. “Then we could have an even half-dozen doctors in the JSA!”

“I can imagine you making housecalls to the Fiddler!” teased Atom. “Take this — wham! — and call me in ten-to-twenty years!”

Geri enjoyed the banter, as did the silent Doctor Mid-Nite. She had much to consider. She knew what had happened to her now, and she had even seen images from her time as Madame Mayhem through the Magic Sphere. But she could not quite reconcile the evil woman in the tight costume with herself. The hatred and false memories were grim enough without the fact that she had worried and endangered so many people. Perhaps the sooner she resumed her costumed career as Miss Terrific, the better it would be.

Mala and Paula exchanged glances as they walked toward the lab. “Another success story due to your genius,” said the smiling, pretty blonde Mala.

Paula frowned. “I am pleased that young Geri could be saved, yet…” she began.

Mala took her hand. “What is it?”

Paula looked worried as she continued, “My lab equipment detected a pulse of some kind of energy… chronal in nature. I wondered if it was some residue from the JSA hero Atom, who once absorbed such rays, or worse, could it suggest something beyond our senses? Something dangerous?” The beautiful Mala had no answer.


Watching from the far future, Black Barax smiled. “Ho-ho! Look here! The true Geri returns to face the misery wrought by her double. The drama grows, and I am mighty pleased.”


In the year 1948, Madame Mayhem stood poised over a man she had just knocked unconscious with a swift application of martial arts prowess all her own. He was bald, had a white goatee, and wore purple pants and a loud blue-and-white-checkered jacket.

“I see science can’t give a man good taste!” she sneered as she kicked the gaudily clothed sleeper aside and rifled through his locked files, which opened easily at her skilled touch.

“Ah, promising! Felix, old man, you had a brilliant concept, but lacked the imagination to use it correctly,” she said. “That was why the JSA beat you so easily — or, from your point of view, will beat you so easily very soon. (*) I am more creative; it’s a talent of mine!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Case of the Cosmic Criminals,” All-Star Comics #45 (February-March, 1949).]

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