Lysette Sloane embraced her daughter Geri while a beaming Wildcat stood to the side. He had insisted on accompanying her home after Al Pratt was called home by his concerned wife, Mary. The redheaded Geri had her mother’s good looks, although Lysette had been more of a blonde in her youth. The former Gateway City policewoman had been a perfect partner to the multitalented Terry Sloane, alias Mister Terrific. She still acted as her late husband’s representative at the numerous literary or charitable dinners held regularly by those he had helped in some way. Now she was just a mother, thrilled to be reunited with her child. The ugly circumstances of Madame Mayhem had been resolved, thanks to Dick Grayson’s legal talents and the clout of the JSA.
Grayson had been more than willing to help, since he had been a friend to Mister Terrific. They had shared some cases during the time the former Robin had first joined the team in his ugly gray costume. He had been eager to assert himself as his own man back then, but a part of him had gravitated toward the paternal Terry Sloane, who reminded the ex-Boy Wonder of his gifted mentor Bruce Wayne in many ways. Dick had known that Batman had carried a deep respect for the man of a thousand talents, and the Batman did not impress easily.
As the family bid farewell to Ted Grant, they talked, cried, and began to heal from the recent hurt. Then Geri decided to visit her father’s local Fair Play Club, which was the main branch of the organization. She met the oddly nervous Simon Stendal, who stood waiting as if eagerly expecting her return. “Oh, Miss Sloane! I have been sick — just sick — over the money. Our funding is so essential. Have you brought back the money after having secured that special investment?”
Geri frowned. “I don’t know what you mean. I have not withdrawn any money.”
He showed her the paperwork and shrieked, “Here’s your signature! What are you trying to do — drive me insane?”
Geri knew without any doubt that the signature was her own. Perhaps I did this while suffering from that madness caused by Professor Elba, she mused. If so, where did I put the money? If I’ve lost it, then what will become of Dad’s legacy and kids he loved so?
The phone rang, ending her worried thoughts. It was an angry Al Pratt. “Geri! What have you done? I know it must have been you from the description. Did you have some relapse?”
Geri frowned. “Uncle Al, calm down! What did I do? I fear that while under Elba’s chemical influence, I may have done more harm than I know!”
“It wasn’t back then, Geri!” said Al. “It was today! You went to the public access TV station in Gateway, and they passed it on to the national media. Just turn on CNN, and you’ll see!”
Geri switched on the television set while Simon hovered about, nervously clutching his papers.
The gorgeous Bella Shaw read a late-breaking story. “And once more, we received this tape today. It originally aired on a local Gateway City station in violation of the Moore-Clayton Act protecting a masked hero’s identity until they are convicted of a crime. After the breach there was no need to keep the tape suppressed, as any damage had already been done. We now switch to the film.”
A tape showed Wildcat and the Atom sitting unmasked in the Sloane family home. Their names Ted Grant and Al Pratt were clearly printed across the screen.
Oh, no! I revealed their secret identities while posing as Madame Mayhem! she realized as the phone slipped from her hand. But how could I have done these things today? It’s not possible! The tape is one from a family gathering, but who could have filmed it back then?
In Calvin City, Mary James Pratt shook her blonde curls as she clutched her husband. “Al, the calls started this morning. How could that sick girl have done this? Terry was one of your best pals. I thought you only got back to the U.S. this morning.”
Al shook his head. “We did. I lost my temper when I saw how shook up you are. The press is swarming over the campus. Geri, are you still there?”
“I couldn’t have done it!” said Geri on the other end of the line. “I haven’t been alone since we returned. Could the tape have been made somehow by me when I was sick, and some pawn of Madame Mayhem’s turned it in today?”
“That makes sense, except the woman who brought the tape in and paid the jokers at the local access place to air fit your description to a T. Could you have an evil twin? In our experience, that question is neither weird nor impossible!”
“I know of another act that I could not have done, but circumstances make it appear that I did!” said Geri. “I’m going to figure this out, don’t worry. I am sorry… so very sorry!” she said as she put down the phone and turned to face Simon. “I will either get the money back or go to jail for fiscal misconduct! You have my word!” she said grimly.
She raced out and, once home, received a call from Ted Grant. He trusted her word that she had not revealed his secret, either.
“Uncle Ted, I dusted the tape and the documents I signed at the Club for prints, and they show my exact prints. It has to be some kind of double… a clone? I have to stop her before she ruins us all!”
Wildcat frowned and answered, “Look, kid, I’ll take care of myself, and Al’s a big boy, so to speak, so don’t worry none about us. You just call us if you need backup. Oh, and Geri — do Terry proud!”
Geri smiled and slipped into the red tights, green slippers, and green miniskirt with the words Fair Play emblazoned across the chest. She pulled on a red mask that allowed her hair to cascade over the top. She was Miss Terrific, and she would make things right, or die trying.
In the far future, Black Barax saw it all on his screens and smiled. “She does have that spirit. No wonder she becomes a legend in her own right! But she has yet to stop my ancestor, and history does not reveal the outcome with any clarity. Both live, but what are the details? And when does Mayhem kill the forgotten old hero?”
Meanwhile, Madame Mayhem, having used Barax’s time-travel device to slip into the Sloane home during a night when the three friends had gathered after a case, had secretly filmed them unmasked and slipped the tape to the local station with a good deal of Carter Sloane’s wealth to ensure they aired it. This was merely to occupy them while she completed her true plan, which centered around the dead scientist’s discovery from 1948.
She wore the Madame Mayhem outfit proudly. “No more Geri Sloane for me! I have used that little role for the final time.” She smiled as the hardened felons she had tracked down with her skill and talent stood before her.
“Gentlemen, you were failures,” she said firmly. “No need to quibble there. You were losers. The JSA and their ilk defeated you each long ago. Now, as old men, I have given you a second chance at revenge — at glory! Merely obey me. Merely receive the gift my modifications of another loser’s device may bestow upon you, and know that your legends shall be writ large in the stars — and across the dead bodies of the JSA!”
Lyta Trevor, alias the heroine called Fury, walked calmly into Stellar Studios. Her retina scan allowed her entrance, and she greeted her allies in Infinity Inc. cheerfully. “Hola, as Mother used to say!” she called.
Obsidian and Red Arrow were the only two members in sight. Todd Rice, a gifted machinist, was adjusting the controls on the arrows displayed before the young men. “Just helping Roy fine-tune his latest creation. How’s your own little creation doing?” he asked.
Lyta smiled. “Oh, soon to be kicking like a kanga in heat!” she said, her hands over her bulging stomach.
Roy Harper glanced up at the comely blonde. “So, have you… uh… contacted the Halls?”
Lyta drew close to the blond man and said, “I know you have trouble with my condition because of your youth back in the more conservative 1940s, but can’t you just offer me some support?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean–” said Roy, before she jabbed his throat and dropped him gasping for air to the floor.
As Obsidian rose up in his shadow form saying, “What are you trying to do?” she activated a small bulb that flared impossibly like a miniature star. He fell back, weakened by the intense light blast while in his shadow form, and she left him trapped by his gasping friend.
Todd Rice heroically aided the gasping Roy Harper to get his breath back, but in doing so he had allowed the false Fury to gain her goal. She faced the busy Sylvester Pemberton in his plush office and smiled down at him.
“Lyta! What can I do for you?” began the Patriot.
With a smile, the false Fury handed him a long rod. “Do you recognize this?”
“It’s the 1940s version of the gravity rod, which Ted Knight modified years later into the cosmic rod,” replied Sylvester Pemberton, nodding his head. “How’d you get it? Is Dave hurt?” Taking the rod from the beautiful girl, he screamed as a massive energy blast rocked him back. As he dropped to the ground at her feet, she scooped up the now-harmless rod, which had been rigged.
“Too impulsive, Star-Spangled Kid-turned-Patriot,” she cooed. “Far too impulsive.” Helping herself to his own cosmic converter belt, she flounced out of the room.
Outside the old studio, she dropped the holographic disguise that she had created to fool the security system into thinking she was Fury. Revealed as Madame Mayhem, she exited with two very powerful weapons that had come from the mind of Ted Knight.
“Poor David Knight,” said the evil Madame Mayhem. “He’ll live, but oh, what a headache he’ll have! They’ll find him in the Western lot — the price he pays for carrying around a treasure like this little beauty. As for the Patriot, old Barax claimed that someone else had plans for that time-tossed twerp! The belt and the rod together shall serve as the catalysts to bring new possibilities to the mad and forgotten dreams of Dr. Felix Egri!”
Madame Mayhem returned to her lair, where the old men she had gathered talked amongst themselves.
“I may have fought the Atom — who is really this Pratt fellow, I hear — most often, but once, just once, I spanked the Black Canary!” gloated a gangly, thin man in a tuxedo.
“Ha! As I recall, Mister Fingers, you then spent weeks recovering from a broken jaw!” laughed Hot Shot, an obscure old foe of Hawkman. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Hot Shot first appeared in Hawkman, Big All-American Comic Book #1 (December, 1944).]
“Ah, but it was worth it,” began Mister Fingers. “So round, so–”
“Shut up, you sicko!” said a red-haired man with bushy brows and a red beard.
“Ah, Blaze, let the old loser enjoy himself,” said a bald and flabby former muscle man named Nick Crock, another old foe of the Atom. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Atom Vs. Nick Crock,” All-American Comics #57 (April, 1944).]
“He once told me he had pinched Wonder Woman!” said the Blaze, one of the most obscure enemies of the Batman. (*) “I think he makes it up in his sick head.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Batman, Detective Comics #95 (January, 1945).]
The Magnet sat brooding. He had fought the great Zatara, so why was he wasting his time with these idiots, who had only lost to non-powered types like the Atom, Batman, and the non-magical Hawkman? (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Case of the Walking Dynamo,” World’s Finest Comics #7 (Fall, 1942).]
Madame Mayhem turned to these men and the others with them, who had remained silent during this exchange. “Gentleman, I know each of you missed your chance at regaining your lost youth some months ago. Perhaps you could not afford the price Alexis Luthor was charging. (*) Perhaps you had merely slept in that day, like others your age are prone to do. Whatever the case, you now find yourselves wasting away in your frail, elderly bodies, unable to stave off your ever-approaching deaths. Well, as I promised each of you, I have the desired power source that will solve more than merely your advanced age. The stellar energy — the cosmic energy of these devices — and the machinery designed by the late Dr. Egri will also give you true super-powers.” She turned and said, “Mister Fingers, don’t even try it. Never move behind me again!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two, Chapter 3: Villains Rejuvenated.]
The old men eagerly positioned themselves within the machinery designed and used poorly by the late Dr. Felix Egri against the JSA years before. While he had merely drawn upon cosmic energy to empower weapons used by ordinary crooks, Madame Mayhem would use the scientific marvels to empower the criminals themselves.