Justice Society of America: American Nightmare, Chapter 2: The American Brigade

by Libbylawrence

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Hawkman led the Justice Society to the complex in Washington, D.C. The Huntress had already checked out a few facts about the large base, and she discussed the data with Power Girl as the maid of steel carried her through the sky.

“This complex isn’t really a secret,” said the darknight darling. “It is supposedly a privately owned research lab, but apparently the clients who hire the staffers within the place to consult for their companies are all very tight-lipped about what they actually do for them. I think your theory about Chief Wilson of the D.C. police force being involved is not too far-fetched. All of their alleged clients are men and women with considerable influence. It was not easy to hack into that amount of data. This place could be the hub of a real web of dangerous activities!”

“I’d like to go shake Wilson around until he talks, but for now we might as well check out the source of the problem,” said Power Girl. “Wilson and his group may be making their own private army of super-powered soldiers.”

“Power Girl, scan the place with your super-senses and give us a report!” said Hawkman.

Power Girl grimaced and said, “Speaking of soldiers, Hawk gets increasingly dictatorial every day!” She looked down at the labs and said, “Lead shielding prevents me from seeing a thing. I hear plenty of activity, though.”

“That much lead suggests they deliberately wanted to block the x-ray vision you and Superman possess,” said the Huntress. “If they are really trying to create super-soldiers, then they naturally prepared for interference from us!”

Power Girl smiled and said, “I’d love for them to try to stop me from interfering! I’m more than a little angry about the way they abused that poor woman I brought to headquarters!”

Within the JSA’s Sky-Skimmer, Johnny Quick turned to the Atom and said, “You know, I could have checked out that place in record time if you’d allowed me to go on ahead!”

“And they call me the impatient one!” said the Atom. “Johnny, you and I have something in common beyond rugged good looks. You are trying too hard to impress us. We wanted you in the group. Jay picked you personally to replace him, and that was months ago now. (*) Relax!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: The Race, Book 2, Chapter 1: Big Shoes to Fill.]

Johnny sputtered for a moment, then laughed and said, “You got me! OK, I’ll try to reign in the Quick ego!”

“Atom, you’ve become a regular elder statesman of the super-hero set!” said Hourman. “I guess you just can’t take the college professor out of the man, even when he’s wearing a mask!”

“Since I lost my atomic powers and reverted to being just a fighter, I’ve been working out a great deal more than I had been in years,” said the Atom. (*) “It has given me time to think and readjust my views on a couple of things!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Atom: Atomic Attraction.]

Hawkman called down and said, “A mellow Atom! This is something I never thought I’d see in a hundred lifetimes!”

They landed and entered the main lab building, where they were greeted and ushered inside by uniformed guards.

“This way, sir. Dr. Syn is eager to talk to you all,” said one guard.

Hawkman frowned. “Syn? He was one of our harshest critics back in the 1950s. He was very eager for us to unmask during that witch-hunt that led to our disbanding!”

The Atom slammed one fist into the palm of his other hand and said, “Yeah! I remember him! If he’s behind this place, then we can expect a hostile reception!”

They were led into a spacious room in which Dr. Anthony Syn awaited them. He nodded to his portly aide Johnson, who frowned and eyed the JSAers warily.

“Welcome! I have been expecting you. You might even say I have dedicated my life to this moment! You see, I have never trusted any of you. I put together this project with the help of a network of agents placed around the nation in positions of authority. We were content to monitor your actions until one of your ilk, Jay Garrick, presumed to throw his shiny winged hat into the political arena. That action made it necessary to take a rather more drastic measure to make sure your long reign over the hearts and minds of the deluded masses ends abruptly!”

“Why, you sanctimonious old creep!” said Power Girl. “You go around torturing and imprisoning helpless people and dare to talk to us about trust and the public good? If you weren’t well past Social Security time, I’d show you a thing or two about misuse of power!”

“Easy, P.G.!” said Hawkman. “Dr. Syn, we’ve learned that you are conducting experiments here on unwilling test subjects. We’re shutting you down now! We’ve received full authority from a source a bit higher than your own well-hidden connections. The president himself has authorized us to take appropriate action!”

“I expected as much from a man so smitten with public acclaim!” said Dr. Syn. “Before you do anything else, I think I should merely summon my American Brigade! They are real heroes, with nothing to hide or to fear!”

A group of costumed figures charged into the room from all sides and attacked the JSA.

Johnny Quick sprang into action, dodging a blistering bolt of energy that came from the hands of a black woman who wore a star-spangled jumpsuit.

“You move well, but then, your kind has always been known for physical and verbal acrobatics!” she said.

“Listen, lady, you have a lot of nerve to lecture me about my kind!” said Johnny. “I’ve lived my whole life treating people of all races equally. That means I have no qualms about trashing you, either, in spite of your gender!”

Starlight laughed and merely flew at him like a human rocket. She crashed into him, and they fell hard as her form of solidified light rammed into the hero.

A tall blonde in a brief pink costume and thigh-high boots slammed into Power Girl, and an explosion sent the girl of steel reeling.

“I’m called the Blonde Bombshell for obvious reasons, honey!” said the taller woman with a sneer.

Power Girl pushed herself to her feet and said, “I’ll call you something else for obvious reasons!” She charged forward and noticed how her larger foe’s hands crackled with explosive energy. She’s some type of human bomb! mused Kara Zor-L.

She traded blows with the other blonde and frowned as her best efforts did little more than hold her in place.

Meanwhile, Hawkman faced a flying man with a thick mane of bright red hair.

“I’m American Eagle, and I’ll pluck your feathers, old man!” said the brash newcomer in red and gold.

Hawkman received a punch in the stomach and kicked his foe aside as they circled each other warily above the fray.

The Atom rolled aside as one of Blonde Bombshell’s explosions shook the room. She has powers like my old ones, or like the ones the new Cyclotron has! he realized. She’s out of my league now. I’d better try to stop the more human types!

Drawing closer to a stocky man who wore no costume except for a gray suit and dark glasses, the Atom quipped, “So who are you — Lounge Lizard Man?” He tossed a right hook at the man, but he gasped as his punch sailed over the head of the suddenly smaller man.

“They call me Vocal Minority. Hear why?” he said as he screamed, and sonic blasts hit the Atom.

The Atom groaned in pain and fought to keep his balance. Got to ignore the pain! Got to keep moving! he thought.

Hourman activated his hour of power with a touch of his hourglass and a moment of concentration. He no longer needed to take the wonder drug Miraclo to gain such wonderful adrenaline-based power. Now he could merely concentrate and reap the benefits of the residue of the drug he had created so long before. He dodged a left hook thrown by Steven Syn, the Super Patriot.

“My father gave me the power to expose you and bring your JSA down to rubble, so real Americans can take their rightful places as national heroes!” said Super Patriot, moving with agility and a raw strength that made Hourman hesitate as he struggled to wrestle the younger man to the ground.

Hourman managed to connect with a smashing blow of his own, but the man in red, white, and blue merely lowered his head and rammed it into the gold-and-black-clad hero’s chest.

The Huntress nimbly jumped over the head of a young woman in a skimpy blue and white costume. She spun around to aim a high kick to the woman’s platinum blonde face, only to fall as her leg went directly through the woman’s head.

A high pitched giggle resounded as the woman called Free Spirit smiled as the Huntress rolled across the floor and rose up again. “No one can lay a hand on me unless I want him or her to!” said the ghostly woman.

The Huntress was the Batman’s daughter, and she had inherited more than her legendary father’s physical skills. She also had a keen and agile mind. “I seldom miss any target!” she said.

Whipping out her crossbow, the Huntress fired directly at the mocking woman. The bolt passed harmlessly through her chest and struck American Eagle as he hovered behind her.

“I never said you were my target!” the Huntress told Free Spirit.

The American Eagle cried out and whirled around to see the source of his wound. As he lost concentration, Hawkman brought a morning star weapon down with stunning force.

“Thanks, Huntress! I owe you one!” he said as he stood over the beaten Eagle.

The Huntress smiled and flipped nimbly across the room as Free Spirit bent over her fallen friend.

The Atom fought through his own pain and managed to deliver a rapid series of blows that dropped Vocal Minority to the ground. “A guy who can make himself smaller at will is not much of a threat, as long as he keeps a glass jaw!” muttered the powerful Al Pratt.

The woman called Starlight continued to fire concentrated light or energy beams at Johnny Quick, who managed to evade her with ease, but he was getting tired of being a moving target. He spun around rapidly, and the force of his spin created a whirlwind that swept the misty form of Free Spirit apart.

That freed the Huntress to use a small mirror from her belt to deflect the now-startled Starlight across the room into Blonde Bombshell’s eyes.

As the blonde powerhouse blinked in dismay, Power Girl brought both fists into her foe’s chest. She followed up by knocking her through the wall into an adjoining chamber and closing the hole at super-speed. She inhaled sharply and drew all the oxygen in the room into her own lungs. Without air, Bombshell staggered and fell flat at Kara’s feet.

Power Girl smiled mockingly and said, “Who’s the Blonde Bombshell now?

Back in the main chamber, Hourman managed to wrestle Super Patriot to the ground and hold him there. “Son, you’ve got a lot of skill, but you fall short when it comes to my experience!” he said.

As Starlight re-formed herself, she fell to a swift jab by Johnny Quick. “That woman was a real spitfire!” he said.

The Atom smiled and said, “Just the way you like them!”

Power Girl used a blast of icy super-breath to freeze Free Spirit’s still-vaporous body in place. “That wraps up the so-called American Brigade!” she said.

“All right, Dr. Syn,” said Hawkman. “We’ve bested your team. That means nothing to you. I’m sure you still see us as monsters in masks. I’ve read your old papers. I know your motivation. However, the methods you’ve been using are illegal. While these poor deluded men and women were willing test cases, the woman we’re calling Miss America was not! We’re closing down this place, and you’re going to jail!”

“Virtue ever triumphs over vice,” said Dr. Syn. “Thus I give my life to see my work complete!”

He clicked a button, but nothing happened.

“I deactivated your self-destruct mechanism at super-speed,” said Power Girl. “I also made a nice copy of your private files. It’s funny how easy it is to get into private records when you can enter a million passwords in a few moments!”

“Chief Wilson and all of your other agents will be exposed and may lose their jobs, if not their freedom,” said the Huntress.

Dr. Syn shook his head and said, “You are evil! I’ve known for decades that you were merely pretending to be heroes! Why have you won? This simply can’t be! This can’t be possible!”

“Dr. Syn’s lost more than his project here,” said Hawkman. “He’s confronting the infinitely more frightening prospect that he has been wrong all along. That’s quite a punishment for a man like that!” He gently led the old man out as his teammates collected the rest of the staff.

The fat man named Johnson shook his head in disbelief and turned off the lights as the heroes led him away. His leader was a broken man, and he had lost years of work in a moment. No defeat could be more complete.


Back at JSA Headquarters, Doctor Mid-Nite smiled as Miss America embraced him.

“Thank you!” she said. “You’ve given me back my true identity and my memories! You were right when you deduced Syn’s efforts to duplicate Joan Dale’s powers in me also grafted some of her memories over top of my own! That’s why I thought I worked at the Star and knew an FBI man named Tim Jefferson Healy. Those things applied to Joan, not to me.”

“But you were a reporter for a different newspaper in 1951 when you stumbled onto the project and became its first test subject,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “You were pretty brave to try to get into that place on your own all those years ago, but they did call you Lady Danger!

The auburn-haired woman nodded. “My real name is Valerie Vaughn. My colorful nickname of Lady Danger did get me a bit of attention back then before I was taken prisoner while investigating the project. (*) You’ve given me my life back, but after decades in suspended animation, what kind of life is it?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Shakespeare Clue,” Sensation Comics #84 (December, 1948).]

“Valerie, when our comrade the Star-Spangled Kid was rescued from time-displacement after some twenty-five years, he did adjust to the new world around him with some help from us. You have super-powers, and you have a rather suitable name and costume. I propose you join the JSA as an honorary member and let us help you get used to the changes that have occurred. You could do a lot of good with those powers!”

Lady Danger nodded and said, “That’s the best offer I’ve had in nearly forty years!”

The End

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