Doctor Mid-Nite had been a prisoner in the New Bunker for three days, having been captured as part of a personal plan of the golden-armored Baron Blitzkrieg. He had learned that his captors were old Nazi villains from the 1940s. They had been brought forward to the current year from points in the distant past when they were still young and strong. A genius named Helmut Streicher, once known as the Red Panzer, had used a modification of the time-scanner he had created decades ago to assemble this army. His hired thugs the Aryan Nation had served as distractions while his neo-Nazi soldiers had stolen the parts needed to recreate the invention. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: The World on Fire Again.]
The old man was sick and dying, yet his hatred was strong enough to enable him to gather former Nazi super-agents Baron Blitzkrieg, Armageddon, and Night and Fog, as well as Fausta Grables, who still retained her youth in modern days. (*) He had even plucked his younger self from a time shortly after he had become the Red Panzer to serve as his aide. Mid-Nite knew all of this because the old Nazi never stopped talking. He came from the old school in which the villain boasted of his wonderful plans in minute detail to the captive hero.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman, Comic Cavalcade #2 (Spring, 1943).]
Dr. Charles McNider suspected that the younger Red Panzer hid feelings of revulsion behind his iron mask as he gazed at his sickly elderly self. Must be an alternate timeline version or something, he mused. The superhuman Nazi gloated over the bound hero.
“I hope you are enjoying the accommodations, Herr Doktor!” said Baron Blitzkrieg. “We pride ourselves on German hospitality in the New Bunker. You deserve a quick death, since you have proven to be of no use to me. I assumed a man who could so obviously see in darkness could reveal a secret by which I could forever free myself of my recurring psychosomatic blindness. However, your condition cannot be replicated, and your lens are nothing beyond our science. Thus, I should end your life, but I shall allow you life as a bait for your comrades. I shall let them come for you — and then slay them all!” He laughed.
“As for your hospitality, it is typical of the kind you Nazi rats showed the Polish,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “I can only tell you that when I look at your smug face, I wish my eyesight was less keen!”
The Baron slapped Mid-Nite, and the doctor winced from the pain. The big Aryan could control his own bodily energies and direct the adrenal power to any of numerous superhuman powers. However, an acid bath had robbed him of sight once, and he still lost his vision whenever the danger of flames grew too great. In truth, even then he could see unless his frightened mind refused to let him do so.
Elsewhere, the elderly Helmut Streicher defended himself against a bitter blonde named Fausta Grables, the Nazi Wonder Woman. “You lost your precious Mordmaschine, and it availed you nothing. Green Lantern and the others still live!” she sneered as she pulled on her black thigh-high boots.
“Ah, my dear, you see the trees but not the forest, as the Americans say,” wheezed the old man. “I did hope my Murder Machine could slay the three heroes just as its earlier version once stunned them or a close proximity. But it was never my intent that the machine’s raw power do all the work. I wanted it to be taken within their citadel, where it shall rid us of them all at one swift stroke. This eventuality shall still come to fruition!” The masked younger Red Panzer turned away from his future self in disgust.
Armageddon, who had been one of the top Nazi saboteurs in America and had fought Wonder Woman and other JSAers during the war, noted it all and mused, I sense you shall regret bringing your younger doppelgänger here. (*) I also suspect Baron Blitzkrieg will fall victim to his personal weaknesses, and the sexy Fausta shall prove lacking in intellect, though she rivals Wonder Woman in physical prowess. Thus I alone shall benefit from their work.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “And Death My Destiny,” Wonder Woman #234 (August, 1977), “The Biology Bomb,” Wonder Woman #235 (September, 1977), and “Armageddon Day,” Wonder Woman #236 (October, 1977).]
Doctor Mid-Nite had ideas of his own. He had worked his bonds to the fraying point, and now he made his move.
Hourman paced restlessly back and forth at the head of the table in the JSA’s meeting room. The Sandman noticed his friend’s distress; he shared it, in fact. However, he remained outwardly calm while Rex Tyler burned off nervous energy. The two men had been friends for decades, yet their personalities were polar opposites, with Rex being a self-made, emotional man driven by a restless love of adventure and only just in control of various inner demons. He had overcome an addiction to Miraclo — a miracle drug of his own creation. He had tamed that inner tiger, yet he still could not master his passionate love of excitement. Now he worried over his missing friend and physician, Charles McNider.
Wes Dodds was a wealthy, philosophical man who also loved adventure but had a more introspective side as well. Wes had suffered from health problems and emotional strife as well. He had spent years searching for a cure for a malady that plagued his young partner. This curse was one he blamed himself for, and he had surrendered a career as a mystery-man — indeed one of the first of all of them — to work through his problems and cure the lad. He worried about Mid-Nite, too. However, no emotion or needless energy bespoke his concern.
Liberty Belle watched them both as she crossed her legs and listened with concern to her friends. Her romantic partner Johnny Quick stroked her long blonde hair and wished for the hundredth time that he had been somehow faster during the fight in which Doctor Mid-Nite had been taken. As superhuman as his own reaction time was, somehow he had missed the abduction of Mid-Nite, and he cursed himself again as a second-rate Flash. Jay would have saved him, he thought. The speedster and the all-American girl were not JSAers but were trusted allies and had been involved in the case in which Mid-Nite had been taken.
Wildcat slammed his fists together. “So you figure these Nazi Rip van Winkles somehow survived to our time with the same old spring in their goose-stepping that they had forty years ago? Figures creeps like them live well and long, while good Joes like Mister Terrific and Batman die young!”
As Hawkman spoke, the room hushed to hear their chairman. “We know the situation well. We know we can’t track Doc by his signal device, either. Night and Fog refuse to talk. I suggest we change that situation quickly. Wonder Woman’s lasso, Doctor Fate’s Ring of Fate, or G.L.’s ring can shake the truth out of those fiends.”
The team’s newest member, Hawkgirl, blotted her lipstick and admired the way the other heroes all respected her husband. He commanded giants with his sheer force of will. She was proud to finally have been accepted as a full, equal member in her own right. (*) Of course, they did take Wonder Woman and Black Canary long ago, and that still annoyed the temperamental Shiera Sanders.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Doctor Fate: Children of Fate, Chapter 4: Death and Life.]
“Ahead of you for once, Hawk,” said Green Lantern. “The Flash and I just got back from the cells, and the ring reveals that Night and Fog truly are the brother/sister act from the 1940s we fought before. They were brought directly here from the year 1944. The man who brought them is Helmet Streicher, alias the Red Panzer, who used a time-scanner. They are not alone. Baron Blitzkrieg is back, along with others. Even my ring could not pull more from their treated minds. We face a world on fire anew!”
Liberty Belle gasped. “The All-Star Squadron revival of a while back pitted us against the Aryan Nation and a murder plot, but that seems small compared to a return of those Nazi killers. I’d like to get my hands on the Baron for poor Tom Revere!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Give Me Liberty, Give Me Death,” All-Star Squadron #45 (May, 1985).]
Johnny Quick kissed her and said, “You and me both, doll! I feel like I’m to blame for losing Doc to begin with!”
The Flash stepped over to the blond man and said, “You know something, Johnny — fast as I am, I still wish I could be quicker. I don’t think that’s wrong. It’s just human nature. You can’t help that, and you could not help Doc. Don’t beat yourself up. I’ve seen a lot of speedsters in my day. The Rival, your old enemy Chuck Drake the Speed Demon, and good men like the other world’s Flash, and you measure up just fine with them as a hero and a runner!” Johnny beamed at the praise from a man he admired greatly.
Red Robin suddenly said, “I think we have a more pressing problem than poor Doc!” They turned to listen as the ex-Boy Wonder pointed to the computer screen. “We have trouble brewing. The computer picks up weird events when they register any pattern worth our attention. It’s showing something mighty odd. Everyone in the town of Billingsley, Missouri, just died of heart attacks — everyone in town, old folks, kids, the whole bunch! That is what the Red Cross is having a fit over. They alerted the NHO, and they called it in to us.”
The Sandman felt odd. “This is more serious. If as we assume this was due to some sinister outside intent — and how can it fail to be? — then we have to stop the killer before he acts again! Doc would be the first to say that we owe it to those poor victims!” He spoke firmly, as a man who had suffered cardiac problems several times over his own life.
Hawkman nodded. “If we can summon Doctor Fate, then he or the Spectre can help us get to Doctor Mid-Nite. The rest of us had better investigate these odd deaths!”