The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy were locked in a fierce combat with a hulking brute on the Hollywood hills.
“Stripesy, move number thirty-four!” called the Kid as he flipped wildly through the air.
Stripesy grinned and rolled to position himself where the agile Kid landed. Catching him, he heaved him up and back so he landed in the face of the villain known as the Monster.
“Arrrgh!” screamed the Monster. “You insipid brat! I’ll strangle you and that oaf as well!” He grabbed for the Star-Spangled Kid, who was just too nimble for him, and spun to the left.
Stripesy slammed a ham-like fist into the black-cloaked man’s face. He barely blinked and tried to choke the big, redheaded man to death.
The Star-Spangled Kid frowned. “We can’t overpower this guy! Yet we don’t want to hurt him, since he’s not in control when he’s in this form! He’s a modern-day Mr. Hyde, according to what the Sandman told the Avenger once!”
A little over a year ago, the Justice Society of America had fought a mad criminal called the Monster, who turned out to be the split personality of a man named Jason Rogers. (*) Although he had been struck with a lethal dose of radiation and was believed to have died at the end of that encounter, it turned out that his body had merely fallen into a deathlike state from which he revived later. After being thought dead for over a year, the Monster had made his public reappearance suddenly with a mad threat to blow up Beverly Hills as revenge upon the so-called beautiful people who lived there. The Star-Spangled Kid had heard the news on the radio and rushed in search of the madman with his pal Stripesy. Now, having tracked him down through use of a radio wave frequency detector suggested by the Kid and built by Stripesy, they fought a wild battle against the sinister, ugly figure.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Movie that Changed a Man’s Life,” All-Star Comics #20 (Spring, 1944).]
“I’ll shut you up!” yelled Stripesy, breaking free of the Monster’s iron grip and tackling him anew.
The Star-Spangled Kid took that moment to rip free the wires that were set to blow up a huge section of the landscape. Can’t use the bombs against the poor jerk! he mused, then stopped thinking and kicked the Monster in the head to give Stripesy a breather. The Monster roared and ripped at the Kid, who tumbled safely away. Got to trick him, since we can’t muscle him down! thought the Kid.
Stripesy wheezed and nodded that he was game to try anything. They had worked together so long and so well that they needed little more than a look to communicate their plans. Kinda feel sorry for that guy, mused Stripesy. I’m a bit like a monster at times. I often feel like a dumb, oversized palooka, too.
The Star-Spangled Kid, alias wealthy Sylvester Pemberton, lacked any of these self-doubts, since he had been good at most everything he had ever tried all his life. But he had been lonely as well, and Stripesy had filled that void since his folks were often busy. He did have a much-older brother, but he never visited home and was a stranger to the Pemberton clan in all the ways that mattered.
The sympathy they felt for the mad Monster, however, did not stop them from doing what they needed to do to stop his rampage.
Sylvester had an idea. Perhaps they could forcibly change the Monster back into the meek industrialist he was before he became the Monster. They lacked the brute strength to knock him unconscious, which might change him back into industrialist Jason L. Rogers, but the Kid hoped that another idea might work just as well.
Grabbing the wiring that led to the bomb, he ripped them free of their casing. The sparks were dangerous, and he risked much to try the next move. He shoved them into the Monster’s back as Stripesy rolled to safety. The high voltage surged into the villain and began the rapid transformation back from misshapen brute to a confused old man.
“Oh, dear! Did I do it again?” asked the frail man.
“Yeah, but don’t worry. We stopped ya before anything got hurt!” said Stripesy, patting him on the back.
The Kid grinned. “Yes, in fact, I believe we may have performed our own shock therapy. Maybe you’ll never need to transform again!”
They walked off as the meek man turned himself in to the authorities.
“‘Shock therapy’? That was pretty lame!” said Stripesy.
“I didn’t hear you come up with any gems of comedic wisdom,” said Sylvester.
“Now you’re talkin’ like an egghead again. I thought I cured ya of that!” said Stripesy.
“It pops up once in while!” laughed the Kid.
The Hollywood hills offered a beautiful view for Oliver Queen and Roy Harper as they took the Arrowplane out for a tour.
“Gosh, Oliver!” said Roy. “The scenery is wonderful, and I don’t just mean Joan Fontaine and Portia Storme!”
The Green Arrow smiled at his partner’s youthful excitement. “I’m glad you didn’t just lose yourself in the glamor girls of Hollywood!”
“No! I–” began Speedy, but stopped when he heard something, and turned up their special radio. “Listen!”
“That’s some kind of flight radio between planes,” said Green Arrow. “Our specially built radio can pick up cloaked signals, unlike other planes. We’ve stumbled onto an invasion, or at least a bombing raid over California’s munitions works or shipyards!”
“The others need to know, too! What do we do?” said a worried Speedy.
“Signal them with the plane’s special flare!” yelled Green Arrow as he banked sharply and watched his partner release a flare in the form of the number seven over California.
The others were even then battling their foes, as described before. However, the maniac named Clayface had struck and already been stopped by another visiting hero, so as luck would have it, the archers were above ground to pick up the signal.
“They’ll meet us when they can!” said Oliver Queen. “We’d better track that signal.”
“I think that won’t be necessary! They’re coming over on the horizon!” shouted Speedy, pointing toward a flight squadron of eight bombers that appeared over the horizon, headed for the defense works below.
“I know those planes from newsreels,” said a grim Oliver Queen. “The White Lions — Hitler’s handpicked pilots, the latest Axis answer to the Blackhawks, led by film hero-turned-Nazi, Death Mayhew! No better propaganda victory could they ask for than having a former American movie hero bomb California in service to the Nazi cause! The others must be busy with distractions sent by those creeps!”
“Yeah, if we hadn’t been up here, they would’ve sneaked in on the coast!” said Speedy.
“I guess it’s up to us to stop them!” said Green Arrow.
“We’re good, but they’re experts!” said Speedy.
“Son, we just work with what we’ve got.”
Green Arrow turned to fly toward them and released a special button. A huge arrow-shaped projectile erupted from the plane and shattered a wing of one White Lion plane. The pilot bailed out, and the plane burned to a crash.
“You did it!” said Speedy. “You shot down one of them!”
“Yes, but that one device is all we’ve got, except for the smoke screen, which I’m releasing now!”
“What do we do after it clears?” asked Speedy. “We can’t outfly seven expert Nazi fighters!”
“We pray,” said a grim Oliver Queen.
The Shining Knight saw the flare as he left the Penguin in the hands of the law and flew across the lot to signal to Greg Sanders, who changed into his Vigilante outfit and leaped onto Winged Victory behind the Knight.
“What’s up, pard?” he asked.
“I fear the worst, since our comrades have summoned us thusly!” said Sir Justin.
“Where are the others?” asked the Vigilante.
The Crimson Avenger and Wing were at the airport, where they persuaded a famous young pilot to take them up immediately. They swooped low and spotted the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy racing to the airport as well.
“Can you drop the ladder?” asked the Avenger.
The pilot nodded and smiled at the heroes. “Sure! Let them climb up now!” Soon, the foursome was reunited in a plane flown by none other than Hop Harrigan himself, currently visiting Hollywood to provide technical assistance on an upcoming feature film based on his adventures.
They spotted the Arrowplane through a thick fog of smoke, then saw the winged stallion bring up their friends as well.
“The Nazi rats!” said Stripesy. “Trying to bomb Hollywood like this! Can’t believe their guts!”
“Let’s endeavor to teach them a lesson about dropping in uninvited!” said the Star-Spangled Kid.
Wing How sat nervously as they drew near to the planes. This wasn’t the first time in his life that he had seen death from the sky.
The Shining Knight rose up and charged a White Lion on his horse as his sweeping lance deflected several bullets from above. He flew up and around the plane and saw the Vigilante jump from the horse to a plane. He gripped the metal frame and kicked in the glass window.
“Reckon I better just take over here!” he drawled. Knocking the startled pilot cold with a left hook, he then dropped into the seat and steered the plane wildly into a second one before diving out.
Sir Justin swooped desperately and caught his friend. “Valiant as ever, but a most perilous journey, my friend!” he said. The sword he whipped out sliced through another plane’s front, and as he twisted away, the pilot bailed out.
“That takes care of four of them, and there’s four left!” said the Crimson Avenger. “Pull up close, Hop! Let me drop this out.”
The pilot obeyed, and before long a crimson fog covered the closest White Lion windshield. The Nazi plane steered into the ocean in a blinding red mist.
“Is the pilot safe?” asked the Avenger.
“Yes, I think all have escaped via their chutes,” said Hop.
The Kid frowned. “I wish we could help, but what can we do up here?”
“I got an idea,” said Stripesy. “Let me modify that radio device the Monster was usin’. I can create some static and ruin their pilot’s concentration!”
He did just that, and by linking onto the White Lion frequency given them by Green Arrow’s radio, he startled the remaining Lions, including Death Mayhew himself.
“They won’t be able to fly or even think straight with that loud roar in their headsets!” said the Kid.
Mayhew was made of sterner stuff, though, and he pulled out of a spin to unleash a rain of bullets on the Arrowplane. It burst into flames as the archers bailed out.
The Shining Knight charged Mayhew’s plane and hurled his enchanted sword directly at the cockpit. The blade shattered the glass, nearly impaling the pilot. Sir Justin flew near and retrieved the blade as the Vigilante jerked the dashing pilot out.
“I guess you better surrender now, ya no good rattler!” he said. “Less’n you wanta just jump down on your own!”
Mayhew reluctantly climbed onto the horse, and they all landed. Green Arrow and Speedy had parachuted to safety as well.
The Crimson Avenger and Wing greeted them warmly. “Nice work, guys! You’ll make pilots yet!” said Lee Travis.
Hop Harrigan grinned as well. “You two are aces!”
Speedy laughed. “Hey, we didn’t even need a boxing-glove arrow!”
Although they went on to question Death Mayhew, the Nazi agent kept his silence.
Elsewhere, an angry Baron Blitzkrieg made his escape via submarine.
“I tell you, those Seven Soldiers ruined my plan!” he shouted disdainfully. “I hoped no heroes would even be on the West Coast, and those seven villains were to create enough chaos to distract all from my bombers! However, it is all too clear that, even with the Justice Society occupied, America has plenty of other equally worthy, if less famous, defenders.”
His aide Zwerg remained silent as the Nazi submarine sank below the dark waters.