Within the brownstone headquarters of the Justice Society of America, two concerned members stood over a young woman who sat within an odd network of wires and dials. She was very attractive, and she was determined. Beneath her steely façade, however, she was very afraid. She did not know her name. She did not understand how she had gained amazing powers over matter. But she did trust the two costumed heroes who had cared for her for several days and had established global reputations as champions of justice and humanity.
Doctor Mid-Nite made certain adjustments to the machine in which the woman sat, and he listened keenly as Wonder Woman gave him certain suggestions as to the best use of the Amazon device.
“That’s the correct setting,” said the Amazon princess. “Paula herself confirmed that via mental radio. I believe we’re ready to begin, if our patient is willing.”
The woman in question smiled ruefully. “I am ready. I’ve felt like such a fool! I fought Power Girl and created so much panic when she first found me. I should have trusted her! Even in my day, the JSA was known for integrity and mercy. But something made me lash out at her and fear her because she wore a costume!”
“I think your brief fear of costumed characters came from some attempt to manipulate your instincts by the captors who robbed you of your memories,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “It passed too easily once we managed to talk to you and assure you that you were safe here.”
“I noticed you mentioned your era, as if you came from another time,” said Wonder Woman. “You’ve mentioned that you have memories of the year 1951, but you recall nothing since that date. You also recall a man with a name like Tim or Jeff and a newspaper called the New York Daily Star.”
She nodded eagerly. “I can’t understand it! I fluctuate between remembering the late ’40s and early 1951 with sensations or images that stop much earlier! I must be crazy!”
Wonder Woman took her hand and gently said, “Do not be afraid. This memory re-learner was designed for a far different purpose, but it should enable us to break through the mental barriers that plague you!”
“Remember, I am a physician beneath this Halloween garb,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “We’re going to help you and not harm you.”
She nodded in appreciation, and the machine was activated.
“The link to the Magic Sphere will allow us to see mental images drawn from your own mind as we restore your memory,” explained Wonder Woman. She said this to reassure the woman and not to inform Dr. Charles McNider. She knew her close friend was very familiar with Amazon science.
They stared at a screen as images began to form.
“That’s Washington, D.C.! I know the city like the palm of my hand!” said Wonder Woman.
“That’s where Power Girl first fought her,” whispered Doctor Mid-Nite.
The Huntress, who had entered and sat down silently until this time, noted, “That complex she came out of appears to be a rather well-concealed structure! From without, it appears to be nothing more ominous than a private research facility. Inside, it reveals another story! Notice the guards and the ruthless experimentation!” They saw a spacious complex displayed before them on the Magic Sphere.
Wonder Woman nodded and said, “Be calm, sister! There is no need to fear. No matter what occurred within that place, you are safe here!”
The young woman nodded and said, “I can’t recall the facility, except for brief moments. I think I was held there since 1951 in some type of sleep! I was only awakened occasionally, and all I know of the place comes from those brief times in which I was awake!”
“Certain physiological facts from your exam shows that prolonged suspended animation did indeed keep you from aging for the last thirty-plus years!” said Doctor Mid-Nite.
“You escaped from that lab during your most recent period of being awakened,” said the Huntress. “Your lack of memory made you fearful, and you lashed out when Power Girl tried to catch you.”
“Yes!” said the young woman. “I regret it all, but I just felt such fear.”
“I’m going to ask you to try to recall how you first came to the lab,” said Wonder Woman. “When we first questioned you about where you came from before meeting Power Girl, you could not recall. Your most recent memories had faded already. Thanks to our machine, you seem to be regaining all the memory you lost!”
The woman gasped as she replied, “I was abducted by them! They used machines and chemicals to give me my powers, but I retained free will, and my efforts to resist their programming caused my mind to just shut down! I know that now!”
The Huntress leaned forward and said, “If this place was trying to create super-beings back in the early 1950s, then we could very well have encountered other creations of theirs over the years! Why, maybe many of our old foes gained their own powers from that place!”
“Hera help us!” said Wonder Woman. “We’ve discovered a super-villain factory, for lack of a better way to put it!”
“I did some digging,” said the Huntress. “The New York Daily Star went out of business years ago, but I found a list of former women employees dating back to the 1920s.”
“We need to know who our guest is,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “You were abducted and experimented on, but how does the Daily Star fit in? Did you work there? You said the paper’s name meant something to you.”
The young woman looked over the list of names and said, “I was a reporter! I know you’ve said the paper went out of business since then. The names you found of former employees don’t mean much, except for one name — Joan Dale! Something about that name speaks to me!”
“Joan Dale?” asked Wonder Woman. “That was the name of a heroine from the 1940s! I never met her, because she disappeared before my time. Didn’t she die on another Earth?”
“She was a heroine who predated you,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “She called herself Miss America, and she died on the alternate Earth we called Earth-X around the very date Pearl Harbor was attacked! Hourman was with her, and he should be called in! I think we’ve found Joan, after all!”
“I am Joan Dale!” said the pretty woman. “I almost know that! You said I was a heroine! Did I have matter-altering powers?”
“Yes, and you were better known to most of us as Miss America!” explained Doctor Mid-Nite.
Later, Doctor Mid-Nite, Power Girl, the Huntress, the Atom, Hawkman, and Johnny Quick sat around the JSA meeting table and talked over the matter.
The Atom leaned forward in his chair and rested his powerful hands on the table. “It’s too bad Wonder Woman had to leave so abruptly. When that Greek joker popped up like an ancient-world version of Marley’s ghost and ordered her into action, I almost fell out of my seat!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman: The Green-Eyed Monster.]
“Diana was called away to complete one of the labors of the Titans she has been doing as a way to rescue the captive gods,” explained Hawkman. (*) “I offered our help, but you know our favorite Amazon princess — she likes to do things for herself!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman: The Olympian Games.]
“Diana is eager to finish the mission,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “Working on the whims of the Titans is getting to her!”
“Every time we get mixed up with those cosmic ego cases, we get in trouble,” said Power Girl. “Take it from from someone whom Odin tried to recruit as one of his heavy metal cheerleaders!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Power Trip.]
Johnny Quick laughed and said, “You mean he wanted you to become one of his Valkyries? You sure have a colorful way of talking! I like your style, lady!”
“Kara does have a unique way with a phrase,” said the Huntress, “but then you always did like blondes who could turn a phrase, as well as turn heads! Speaking of your ex-wife and current romantic partner, I just read Liberty Belle’s book on the World War Two generation! It’s a fascinating read!”
Before Quick could answer, Hawkman cleared his throat and called the meeting to order. “I’m sorry to end the small talk, but we need to get down to business! As you know, Power Girl brought a super-powered young woman here for help. Doc learned that she is Joan ‘Miss America’ Dale. Miss America was a heroine in the dark days immediately prior to Pearl Harbor. We have always thought that she had departed from our Earth to an alternate Earth around that infamous day in 1941. Apparently, we were wrong!”
“Don’t be so sure, Hawkman! As you can see, our pretty guest may be Miss America, but I can assure you that she is not Joan Dale!” said a gold-and-black-clad figure as Hourman entered with a newly costumed and masked Joan Dale.
She wore a very brief red-and-white-striped skirt with a sleeveless blue top and high heels. She looked very much the picture of a patriotic heroine in spite of her slight nervousness. “Hourman says he knew Miss America,” she said slowly. “I have no memory of ever meeting him. He also says I can’t be Joan Dale!”
“Hourman should know!” said the Atom. “I almost forgot that he was one of the mystery-men Uncle Sam recruited all those years ago to act as a founding member of the Freedom Fighters on that alternate Earth we called Earth-X!”
Hourman grinned and said, “Is your memory as short as your stature, pal? I can say with certainty that, even after forty-plus years, I know this woman is not Joan Dale. For one thing, this woman’s hair is auburn brown, while Joan’s hair was raven black. Even in the rather fetching costume, she looks as much like, say, Lois Kent as she does Joan Dale.”
“But she certainly has many of the same memories one would associate with Joan Dale, although they end before that day in 1941 when you met her,” said the Huntress. “She also has some memories of years after the war going up to 1951! I’d suggest you use that memory-re-learner along with the Magic Sphere a bit more. Perhaps Joan’s memories have been implanted over top of her true memories of her own life and identity!”
“I agree,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. He turned to the young woman in the red, white, and blue costume and said, “I suggest Miss America and I stay here and work with the machine, while the rest of you investigate the complex shown in her memories of D.C.”
“Agreed,” said Hawkman. “Let’s go, team!”
The heroes departed, and Doctor Mid-Nite held out his hand to the attractive woman. “Hope you don’t mind if I call you Miss America. It seems like as good a name as any until we find your true name!”
She smiled and said, “Certainly. I believed it to be my name. I still do, but I can’t explain why. I suppose your Hourman can’t be wrong! If I’m not Joan Dale, then why do I have her powers and many of her memories?”
Doctor Mid-Nite nodded and began to lead her to the medical chambers once more.
Within the complex in question, the stern and elderly leader of the covert organization faced his creations and nodded approvingly.
“As you know, I first started this project in 1940. I was concerned that the sudden rise in the number of sensational costumed mystery-men could spell disaster for America! I was suspicious of them, and when Hitler’s mad talk of a master race began to become common knowledge, and the specter of the Axis Empire began to rise in lurid flames around the world, I started to look into the possibility of what might occur if Superman, Green Lantern, and their ilk decided to take over the world! It seemed likely that beings with such raw power could also carry within them the same seeds of dictatorship and disregard for what they imagined to be lesser beings as a Hitler!
“I worked briefly with another government project before I realized that I could not trust anyone to fully embrace my vision! Thus I took the data I had gathered as part of that group, and I brought it here. I lured Miss America here in 1941, and we examined her. We tried to duplicate her powers, but all we could do was study their nature. We released her, and she had no memory of the experience. An irony may be found in the fact that I believe she originally received her own powers from some associates of mine in the original government project I quit!”
A portly man nodded and said, “Dr. Syn, we know your proud history. We rejoice in all you have achieved for our great nation. You vowed to create your own team of super-patriots to protect the country from their champions, if ever they should turn evil!”
Dr. Anthony Syn nodded and said, “I used my personal fortune to finance experiments. I hired experts to dig into the truth behind the masks. I used every source of data, from spying on their allies to questioning their foes. Still, I bided my time. When the war ended, I waited. One terrible regime had been destroyed. Would it be replaced by one created in the image of the capes and the masks? They opposed the Axis. They won the war as well. However, could we truly trust men who hid behind masks? I doubted them!”
“And you were right to do so!” said the portly man. “You had a clear vision of the evil they cloaked beneath pious and patriotic symbols! You were there when they were put to the test!”
“I put the project on hold when the Justice Society was asked to reveal their names and secrets by a House investigative committee,” said Dr. Syn. “I was willing to give them a chance to prove their true intentions. Still, they refused to cooperate. They disbanded in 1951! That led me to take action of my own. Using the data I had gathered from my studies of Miss America and other super-powered individuals over the years, I made an effort to duplicate the Miss America powers in an unwilling but misguided captive. It worked but left her in a near-mindless state. I decided to keep her alive in suspended animation, in case we could ever make her loyal to us and serve this nation, as a true daughter of liberty should do!”
The portly man said, “I am still saddened by how she failed to surrender her will. She lost much because she would not obey us! But we may rejoice in the fact that those test subjects that followed her have succeeded wonderfully!”
“Indeed!” said Dr. Syn. “They stand before us as we await the invasion.”
The portly man named Johnson said, “Invasion? Ah, such a poetic way with words! You may indeed call it an invasion, for the infernal forces of the JSA will invade us when they learn of our existence!”
“I doubted they could do so at first, but I’ve changed my mind,” said Dr. Syn. “They are skilled. I will give them that. I also now eagerly wait their attack. We will defeat them and expose them to the world. Let them do their worst. We will do our best!” He continued, “My own son will lead our new breed of American heroes! Super Patriot, here, will make his father and his country proud!”
A blond man in a red and blue costume smiled with determination. “I have waited to serve since I left the military in the ’60s. I have waited while American boys died, while so-called heroes like Superman failed to help them end the Communist spread in places like Korea and Vietnam!”
“Steven, your day has come!” said Dr. Syn. “I know I am old, and I have little time remaining to me, but ever since the JSA re-formed, I have continued to create your peers in the American Brigade! These good American men and women will make my dream a reality before I leave this mortal coil!”
“With Jay ‘the Flash’ Garrick eyeing the White House, we must act!” said Johnson. “If one of them becomes president, then our cause is lost!”
Dr. Syn vowed, “The American Brigade will never fail me or their nation!”