James Olsen left the office of the Daily Star, whistling as he headed home. He had put in a good day’s work and was impressed with several things. Lana Lang’s oddly rejuvenated form was just one of them. The red-headed beauty was looking like a twenty-year-old again after a case a few months ago in which she fought the Prankster. (*) She had left Jimmy in awe of her beauty and youth. The balding editor was used to the bizarre, but he never took it for granted.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Insect Queen: The Last Laugh, or Cocoon.]
He gasped as strong arms suddenly wrapped around his neck and pulled him into the shadows outside the Daily Star Building. He soon found himself tied up (not a rare condition for Superman’s pal of over forty years) and faced by a familiar crook.
“Colonel Future!” he said as the portly old villain smiled at him with sinister intent.
“Ah, Mr. Olsen, how like old times, eh?” said Colonel Future to his prisoner. He turned to one of his hired men and calmly ordered, “Probe his mind as we discussed.”
A helmet device was placed on Jimmy Olsen’s balding head, and soon the device glowed pale green. Seconds later, Colonel Future ordered his men to lead the blindfolded Jimmy back to the Star and release him.
“But, boss, won’t that guy cause trouble by tipping off the Man o’ Steel?” asked a thug.
“Do not presume to do the thinking, here! It will little matter what Olsen does now, for his memories have enabled me to make use of a way that will rid us of the hated Superman forever!” declared Colonel Future. I do wonder why I could not find out Superman’s identity, though, he mused. I was sure Olsen would know by now. (*) I suppose he has taken some protective measures against having anyone probe that part of his mind. Kryptonian science can do wonders.
[(*) Editor’s note: Jimmy Olsen learned Superman’s identity in DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 1, Chapter 2: Rich With Hope.]
In the Kansas farmhouse where Clark and Lois Kent lived these days, many a bustling scene ensued, with Lois expecting her first child and guests coming from everywhere to pay their respects. Lois Lane Kent now found herself alone in the empty house, and she was very worried, as shown by the color of her mood-reflective wedding ring.
“Clark, I know you’ll come back to me, but when and what has happened to you this time?” she moaned, glancing at an empty chair in front of a table set with a plate of half-eaten steak covered with ketchup. Her husband had literally vanished in the middle of his meal, and she knew it was not of his own volition, either.
The search for him would be a long one, and one undertaken by his estranged cousin, Kara.
No sooner had Power Girl returned home than she received a phone call from a worried Lois Kent.
“Kara… I am sorry to bother you. It’s Lois,” she said slowly. “I need your help. Clark has disappeared! I didn’t know who else I could call… Dick was out.”
“I’ll be right there,” declared Kara.
Despite being each other’s only living relatives from Krypton, she and her cousin had never really connected. She had always felt overshadowed by him and had resented his every well-meaning act. And he had angered her greatly after the Crisis by not letting her know for months that he had survived. Now, however, she didn’t care about anything except finding him and making things right.
Using her super-speed, she landed in the kitchen of the Kent home before Lois had finished putting down the phone.
“What happened?” she asked. “How did he vanish? Could he just be on a case?”
“I was serving him dinner when he literally popped out of sight!” said Lois. “I don’t think it was his idea! Oh, Kara, with the baby and all, I can’t rush out to track him down like I would have years ago. Can you please help? He is so sorry about what he put you through…”
“Forget it. He’s family. You all are,” she said. “I have a good idea who took him. That little creep from the land of Zrfff! Stay put. I’ll be back, ASAP. Klptzyxm!”
Invoking the backward-spelled name of Mr. Mxyztplk transported only those who knew the trick to his wacky land called Zrfff. She had a hunch that imp had spirited Superman away for a joke.
She appeared in the fairytale land where the imp, as she preferred to call him, lived as a court jester to the harmless and ineffectual king. She saw streamers of light and sparklers everywhere as crowds of little people filled the streets. “What’s going on?” she asked one eager watcher.
“The wedding of King Brpxz to his beautiful young bride, of course!” he snapped. “Don’t you ever get out? Those legs are long enough!”
She smirked at the little man’s sarcasm and watched as a wheelless wedding coach rolled along. There she saw a bald, childlike old man with a long, white beard wearing a crown sitting next to a ravishing young blonde in an ornate harem outfit.
Yellow Peri — she’s Mxyztplk’s daughter! thought Kara. He used to control the poor, senile old king, and now he’s making his daughter the new queen! (*) What a creep!
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Dimensions of Danger,” Superman #33 (March-April, 1945).]
Power Girl flew up toward the coach, only to be stopped by guards on flying platforms. She used super-breath to topple them all and landed them down gently. “I demand to see the king of this nuthouse!” she bellowed.
Yellow Peri smiled. “You? My favorite toy! How dee-lish! But you’re not dressed for the ceremony. Be my maid of honor… or just my maid!” she laughed. Power Girl’s uniform then magically changed to a maid’s uniform of black high heels, fishnets, and a brief tunic.
Power Girl melted the coach tapestry so it dropped down and slapped Peri in the head.
The king gazed at Kara in wonder. “Stop the wedding!” he cried.
“Good. You’ve come to your senses and aren’t going to marry this little witch,” said a smiling Power Girl.
“No! I want to marry you!” declared the staring king.
Kara frowned in dismay as her maid outfit flickered into a wedding gown. “I’m not here to marry anybody!” she snapped. “I just want you to release my cousin, Superman!”
“But you are so very pretty!” King Brpxz said. “Please be my wife!”
“Look, Kingy, I am the bride to be, not this bleached-blonde muscle girl!”said the Yellow Peri. “She is nothing but trouble! She and her cousin drove Daddy into early retirement! I’ll send her packing soon enough.”
She snapped her fingers, and Power Girl found herself becoming enormously fat. “See? She’d look bad during swimsuit season!” giggled Yellow Peri.
Power Girl bobbled her double chins and said, “Change me back, or I’ll tear this crackerbox palace down around you both!” She smashed her fist through a building and shook the wall precariously.
“She would pick the dinette!” teased Peri.
“Please don’t hurt my land,” said Brpxz. “I am king, you know. We do not have your cousin. I swear it!”
Power Girl returned to normal and nodded. “OK, but I’d avoid marrying this Barbara Eden wannabe,” she said as she exited the land at the whim of the Peri.
“Left a little going-away gift for you, blondie!” called the Peri as her silvery laugh echoed.
Power Girl emerged back on Earth in the Kent home, only to find herself feeling tingling all over. What did she do to me? she mused.
Lois Kent looked up eagerly. “No luck?” she asked.
“None. But I won’t give up,” she vowed.
Elsewhere, Colonel Future smiled at a floating talisman in an odd device. “See, boys? Olsen’s memory revealed this little beauty to me, and in my time-displacement ray the item is here, but also surrounded by a chronal null field which makes it 1898 for the talisman. Thus, though powerless in our century, it will work for us, since for all intents and purposes for the talisman, it is the last century!”
The goons frowned. “OK, whatever you say, boss.”
He laughed at them. “That device lets me tap the power of the talisman to grant three reality-altering wishes, and I wished Superman out of our world with the first one!”
Colonel Future smiled benignly at his dense associates. “My poor, benighted employees, the memory probe we did on Olsen — Superman’s pal, in case you forgot — told us of a talisman in his apartment. This Indian relic had the power to grant three wishes once each century. Jimmy Olsen — how I hate that vulgar nickname — used the magic up during his time with the talisman in the 1950s. Being of a singularly loyal or fawning nature, he tried to use them to benefit Superman. I have no such motivation. The talisman is useless in this century. Thus I placed it in the aforementioned chronal displacement device that makes it 1898 or so for the area in which the talisman sits. Thus, the magic is back, since it was hidden from sight during the nineteenth century in a cavern and thus unused then. I used the first wish to eliminate Superman from this world, and now I shall use the second one to fulfill a long-cherished desire of mine.”
The gang filed out in some confusion.
Colonel Future gazed at his balding and portly frame and said, “Youth is not to be sought, since I am exactly as mature as I want to be. Thus, I wish for eternal vigor.”
He glowed and was filled with stamina. “Now, I have ensured that Colonel Future is a name that shall live on in the centuries to come,” he declared. “I shall use the final wish to add to my legacy. I wish for a fully grown and loyal son with all my superior qualities!”
A handsome young man appeared; he looked like a younger version of Colonel Future and had an eager look about him. “Father, I am glad to see you well. What may I do to serve you, and thus serve the family?” he asked.
“Excellent, Edmond, my boy!” he said; the young man was named after his father, Edmond H. Future. “I shall defer to you this time. What new ideas do you bring to the table?”
“Battle armor. It is the wave of the future, so to speak. Here’s my idea…” He was eager as he spoke with a combination of his father’s brilliance and his own youthful flair.
The future is good, thought Colonel Future.
Kara Zor-L looked at herself in Lois Kent’s mirror. “I can’t see any change yet. That witch Peri said she had left some ‘gift’ for me. With her, that always means transformations. What do you think, Lois?”
“Well, honey, you do look a bit younger, I suppose,” said a frowning Lois.
“Great. She may have turned me back into a baby again, only in steps this time,” she said. “Well, Clark is our first problem, not my impending toddlerhood.”
She flew off, returning a few moments later with a little device. “Some of the boys at STAR Labs offered me this trinket. It is set to do one thing: It detects Kryptonians! It’ll lead me to Clark if he’s anywhere on Earth,” she announced.
Lois sat down wearily. “Thank you, Kara. I hesitated to bother you, and I know you and Clark had some problems.”
Kara patted her on the shoulder. “All families have problems. I will never forget how kind you both were to me when I arrived on this Earth. Don’t let my bad temper and defensiveness keep you away. I love you both!” she said breathlessly.
Lois kissed her and watched her fly off with the tracker.
England! mused Power Girl. This says a Kryptonian is in England! Has to be Clark. As far as I know, no other Kryptonian ever arrived here on this Earth except for Kil-Lor, and he met his doom long ago, according to Clark.
She saw the financial district of London itself and zoomed in as the device beeped its way toward a crowd of businessmen and women.
A gray-headed man with broad shoulders and a blue suit edged through the crowd near a blonde woman in a green suit and heels. “That’s his old blue suit, all right. Why’d he come here?” she wondered. Landing, she said to him, “Excuse me, sir…”
He turned, and she saw a very tanned man with a heavy beard. “Ah… s-sorry. I thought you were someone else,” she stammered.
“Blasted New-Wave punks!” he muttered as he hurried off. “Probably a druggy. One of them Culture Club types.”
Kara said to herself, “I was sure that device pointed to him.”
“Perhaps it pointed to me!” said a blonde whirling around at super-speed and changing into familiar black thigh-high boots and a leather costume. She looked exactly like Kara.
“Nike!” she gasped. “That’s impossible! I was Nike!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1977: The Man from Atlantis, Chapter 3: Call Her Nike.]
Then her evil twin slapped her through a wall, and the fight began.
Power Girl crashed through the wall and was staggered by a series of sharp punches from Nike. The woman may have looked like Power Girl, but she fought like Wildcat or a berserk Wonder Woman. She pummeled Kara through the ground. Power Girl flashed heat-vision at her foe, who yelped in pain and kicked her in the face.
“I’ve seen you on the news, luv,” said Nike. “Guess this was meant to be, you know? Two super-women can’t share the Earth. We might show up in the same dress or somethin’!”
Kara blasted her with super-breath and froze her solid for all of a second. Nike erupted free, sending icy shards flying.
“Guess you’d better make like a good little girl and scarper off to save your public!” Nike sneered as she shattered a wall with the same breath trick. Kara flung herself forward to shield a panic filled crowd of commuters.
“Faster than the speedin’ bullet-train?” said Nike, heaving a passenger-filled London Underground train in the air.
Kara moaned at the sight. Shaking off the last of the crumbled wall, she sped off to catch the train — literally. Got to match the velocity, or I’ll do more harm than good! she thought, pulling up even with the train and slowly steering it down to earth safely and remarkably gently. “You’d better leave the innocent out of this cat fight!” she yelled.
Nike posed in midair as she called back, “No one is that innocent!” She caused the gas jets under the street to ignite, and Kara fell in a fiery explosion that left her weak and angry. She sped around using sheer wind speed to snuff the fires, and Kara saw the shattered remains of her tracking device.
“Well, whoever that witch was, she must have been the Krytonian it detected,” she said wearily. “If Clark had been here, he would have risked anything to stop her rampage. Back to the drawing board.”
Since there was no further sign of Nike, she returned to Lois Kent’s home and was greeted by her eagerly.
“Kara!” she said. “Jimmy called and told us that Colonel Future kidnapped him, probed his mind, and stole an Indian talisman from his collection of Superman memorabilia. That talisman was powerful magic! It could explain what’s happened to Clark.”
Kara smiled. “I bet it does, too. Now, an idea I should thought of first.” She scanned the room and said, “I detect some faint energy trace, but it doesn’t feel like magical energy. Still, I could get some help from an expert.”
At that moment, a slender, bespectacled old man with a pencil-thin mustache wearing a plaid suit and a white derby hat entered the home without knocking. “Good evening, Mrs. Kent! A pleasure to see you on this most delightful evening!” he chimed in a mellow voice.
“Hocus? Or is he Pocus?” said a confused Kara.
“He is Hocus, and he’s welcome, but this is a bad time,” said Lois. “It’s Clark — he vanished while doing research. We summoned Power Girl to try to find him. Magic may have been involved.”
“Dear lady! Sweet frail blossom!” said the ex-stage magician also known as Doc. “Let your most humble servant exercise his own formidable magic powers to track your beloved spouse!”
“Oh, brother…” sighed Kara.
Before the so-called magician detective could continue, Power Girl said, “You know, I really could summon Doctor Fate, or maybe the Spectre… or even Johnny Thunder?”
“Nonsense, my pretty!” said Hocus. “I can track the magically abducted Mr. K. As the lovely Lois can attest, I have been a master of the mystic arts for decades. Indeed, it is my Midwest tour that brings me here.”
Lois Kent nodded reluctantly. The temporary transformation of the terrible stage magician to a real magic user had led to a bizarre adventure back in the 1950s that left her shuddering with embarrassment. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Magical Manhunters of Metropolis,” Superman Family #210 (September, 1981).]
Hocus touched his forehead and rubbed his other hand through the air. “Ah, the mental vibrations call to me,” he declared. “I sense… how utterly odd! I sense that magic has drawn poor Kent to the past — the American past, in fact!”
“What? Time travel! That would explain it!” burst out Kara. “I can’t bug poor old Dr. Nichols again so soon after the trip to Krypton. So I guess I’ll go by my own speed.”
“Wait, Kara!” said Lois. “If you go to a time when you already existed, you’ll become a ghost!”
“I may have had my aging slowed, but I’m not that old!” she fumed. “Think, Lois!”
“Kara, I mean that Clark would have also been a phantom if he had been pulled back within his own lifespan,” explained Lois. “You could not even see him.”
“I’d better use a time device taken from a JSA foe, Per Degaton, then,” she said. “It’s back at JSA Headquarters. That way I’ll remain solid no matter when I end up.”
“Ah, the vagaries of time travel,” mused Lois.
“Do you know where… when Clark was taken?” asked Lois.
“Alas, no, dear heart,” said Hocus. “I can’t be sure.”
At the JSA Brownstone, Power Girl scanning the Justice Society of America’s records about Per Degaton’s time machine and wasted no time in activating the device once she knew how to use it. She found herself spinning through the centuries until a sudden jerk slammed her off her feet and into the air.
“Machine was yanked into this era!” she said. “I had hoped to home in on Clark by pure mental direction via hooking the old Amazon mental radio of Diana’s to the Degaton device. But something stopped us short.” The second jarring impact as it landed left her dazed, knocking the machine’s doors open and flinging her to the ground outside the time machine.
She looked up from the ground to which she had tumbled and blinked. Using her x-ray and telescopic vision powers, she could see large cars and poodle skirts in the distance that marked this era well. It was the 1950s, she realized. She also spotted someone she easily recognized as she looked at a spacious country house next to the spot where she landed.
“I know you!” she said to a red-headed man leering at her from behind the building; weird lab equipment loomed near its windows.
“Yes, indeed?” he said. “Alexei Luthor at your service.”