Gerta von Gunther smiled as she worked in her laboratory on the small isle called Science Island near the Amazon homeland of Paradise Island. Gerta was still young and pretty, as was her famous mother Paula, who was chief scientist of the Amazon nation. Both women were young due to the magic of Aphrodite, and both women were brilliant. However, Gerta had never equalled her mother in terms of intellect or beauty. But few men or women could match the skills of the once-notorious Baroness Paula von Gunther.
Still, Gerta was happy with her own talents and did not resent the occasional scolding she received for being more reckless than one with access to such scientific marvels should be. It had not been her fault that Madame Mayhem had escaped from Transformation Isle. The woman who had been plucked from an alternate timeline by a futuristic descendant called Black Barax had once been called Geri Sloane. She had renounced all use of that name and embraced a purely evil role as Madame Mayhem. (*) The Amazons had tried to reform her. The demure, beautiful blonde Mala had worked selflessly to convert the redhead, but she had steadfastly refused to accept the ways of love and peace.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Vanity Fair (Play).]
One morning, her amnesia faded away, and she recalled her true name and role. She still lacked the memory of the secret identities of the members of the Justice Society of America, and she was more determined than ever to never again use her given name of Geri Sloane, but she still retained her amazing mental talents.
She used her own strong mind and will to resist the sapping magic of the so-called Venus girdle she wore around her hips. She fought back soothing thoughts of peace and smiled wickedly as she deftly picked the lock and dropped the golden belt to the sand. In seconds, she had made her way past the guards and furtively slipped the belt around Gerta’s own hips in the lab.
“You will remain silent unless anyone comes too close. Then you will get rid of them,” she commanded the startled Austrian. The magic belts would work as mind-control devices in the wrong hands, and in Madame Mayhem’s control they were very dangerous.
She hurried to a machine in the lab that resembled the legendary Magic Sphere. She activated it and rewired parts to achieve a bizarre new function. “Electronics was a hobby of mine,” she sneered in mockery of her late father. She smiled as images flickered across the screen.
Watching, she smiled with malice and said, “I’d love to beat that insipid Mala to a pretty blonde pulp, but this takes precedence over putting little Miss Peace and Love out of her misery. The JSA must always pay before anyone else suffers my anger.”
On the screen she saw a handsome man in an odd and colorful costume. She adjusted the controls and gasped. “Perfect! He would be perfect, forgotten hero that he is!” she said.
She rushed over to a second device that was dusty from lack of use. “Ah, the space-transformer! Only the Amazons would leave such wonders unused! Only the Amazons could be dumb enough to leave a machine like the Sphere unguarded when the right user can use it to get an inventory of all other Amazon science!” she cackled.
Stepping within the space-transformer, she activated it, and in a flash of light the evil redhead was gone, while Gerta sat dumbly to one side with a vacant smile on her plump but pretty features.
In the year 1950, Madame Mayhem lost little time in discarding her skimpy Amazon tunic for a sleek red jumpsuit with a mask. She had used the space-transfomer to jump to this year, where she rushed toward a massive bunker.
“He did prepare well!” she said. “That is good, since even now I hear the alarm sirens that indicate the attack on America is occurring. Too bad Mr. Concord did not prepare for this one-woman blitz!”
She leaped up and swung nimbly between rays of infrared light. Her Olympic-level agility enabled her to dodge the security system beams her brilliant mind’s technology allowed her to see.
Once she landed, she removed her special contacts and smiled. She studied a computer panel for seconds before punching in a code. The bunker door slid open, and she stepped within. “Idiot. A child could have cracked his code!” she gloated.
She entered the bunker, which was actually an advanced laboratory on the inside. “He may be a dullard compared to me, but he is very bright,” she said grudgingly as she admired the man’s inventions.
The handsome man from her screen whirled to confront her. He was gaunt but obviously a good fighter. He frowned and reached for a brightly colored device.
She knocked it out of his reach with a perfect throw of a test tube. “Ah-ah-ah! Not so fast, Ultra-Man! You don’t need your blaster, not with your little parallel timeline crumbling around you!” she taunted.
“Who are you? Great guns! The alarms! We’re under attack!” he gasped. The bunker shook as bombs began to fall and high-pitched engines whined above. The foam-like gel that bubbled in a large vat suddenly fumed up, and a cloud enveloped the shocked Gary Concord. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Gary Concord the Ultra-Man, All-American Comics #8 (November, 1939).]
Madame Mayhem laughed as history played out as it had on her Magic Sphere. “That’s my pet. Sleep within your suspended animation while your timeline’s world finally enters World War II,” she cooed. He fell into the suspended animation she had witnessed before on the sphere.
She walked over and scooped up a sample of the gel in a beaker. “This will enable me to get revenge and reshape a world or two of my own!” she laughed as her high-heeled boots echoed across the concrete floor. She blinked out, leaving a slumbering Ultra-Man still and unaware of the fate his genius would bring to the JSA.
November 9, 1950:
The midtown Manhattan hotel whose ninth floor had once housed meetings of the legendary Justice Society of America from its founding in 1940 to 1946 was now the site of a gala celebration.
Superman turned to Daily Star reporter Lois Lane and said, “That’s a lovely gown you’re wearing, Miss Lane!”
“I’ve told you before to call me Lois. This is a date, right?” she said, blushing with pleasure.
Superman smiled. “Well, actually, it’s more of a media event, and you are the best reporter in America!”
Lois flashed her bare leg and said, “Look, Jimmy Olsen could never have worn this dress, so surely it’s more of a date!”
Superman smiled. He could never quite resist teasing Lois, although he wished her admiration of him extended to his true identity as meek Clark Kent.
The ravishing Joan Williams had no trouble flashing her leg, among other assets, as she shimmered in a silvery gown.
The Flash smiled as she waited impatiently on him to blow up a hundred balloons. “Be done in a flash!” he quipped. She tossed back her blonde hair and smiled at his boyish glee.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl helped stream a colorful banner across the doors. “You know, I don’t see why I had to wear this old thing!” pouted Shiera Sanders. “I do have a collection of designer gowns that would have put some of these women to shame!”
Carter Hall grinned. “Now, honey, you always said you wanted to be taken seriously as Hawkgirl by the other JSAers. If you had shown up in some ball gown, they’d only admire your considerable charms, not your crime-fighting skills!” She harrumphed and continued to hang the banner.
Batman and Robin looked on. “Holy anniversary!” quipped the young man.
The Caped Crusader nodded. “Enjoying the festivities, old chum?”
Robin grinned. “I’ll say! It’s great to be your guest at the tenth anniversary celebration of the JSA’s founding!”
The Sandman stood by with Dian Belmont by his side. “Why so glum?” she said. “Sandy would not want you to be so downcast. You, Rex, and Lee have worked tirelessly to cure him.”
He nodded behind the gas mask that concealed his expression but not his sad and dejected demeanor. His young partner had been a monster for several years now, and he blamed himself for the accident. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Creature in the Velvet Cage,” Justice League of America #113 (September-October, 1974).]
Hourman came over and said, “Listen, you’d better show some life, or I’ll woo Dian away from you!” He tried to cheer his friend with the banter.
Dian batted her eyelashes at the chemist in mock sincerity. “I can’t resist a man in a hood! You know, why a lady-killer like you is still single is beyond me!” she cooed. Rex Tyler smiled and hoped his friend could forget his poor health and sorrows for one night.
Green Lantern carried in a giant cake on a green cart. “Does that cake taste like the Green Flame?” asked Johnny Thunder. “I get heartburn easy!”
“I made the table, not the cake!” said the smiling Alan Scott. He wished he had a date for the event. Maybe Molly Maynne would have come, if he’d asked, but he also occasionally wondered how Irene Miller was doing.
Johnny Thunder smiled sheepishly. He was powerless these days, but his friends still invited him, and he felt happy to see most of them. Black Canary, in her fishnet splendor, made his heart race and ache even now. She stayed away from him in an effort not to hurt his feelings even more than her rejection of him had done years before. Her escort, Larry Lance, swigged punch and frowned.
“Say, doll, do you know anybody who owns a suit that isn’t green?” Larry joked as he nodded toward Johnny and the Sandman. Black Canary smiled warmly and led him over to where Starman stood alone.
“Doris had a headache,” Starman explained as Doctor Mid-Nite questioned him about his solo status.
Bet she wouldn’t join him because this is sort of breaking his vow to never be Starman again since their marriage, mused the sensitive medic. Boy, I wish Myra could be here… not that I could bring her without risking my secret. She is far too bright as it is!
“Too bad the Spectre could not make it, not that any of us can locate him these days!” mused Doctor Fate as he smiled from beneath his half-helmet at his lovely wife, who nodded demurely. Inza Cramer Nelson was rather pleased that the ghostly Spectre and his possible ability to find and restore Kent Nelson’s castoff magic helmet was absent.
Wonder Woman posed for photos as Steve Trevor eagerly clicked away. “You know, Angel, this is great, but I wish we could go off alone somewhere!” he said wistfully.
Princess Diana smiled at his insecurity. He had always felt inferior to her JSA pals, and he still harbored some jealous fear that one of them could come between him and his angel. She said, “Now, Steve! The boys enjoy spending time with you, too. Football and other sports from Man’s World just don’t interest me, and I can’t get them to care about kanga racing, so you are a welcome guest!”
The Atom sat next to Mister Terrific and Wildcat. “I’m glad you fellows could make it,” he said.
“Sure! We JSA-come-lately types enjoy free chow as much as anybody!” said Wildcat.
Mister Terrific smiled back. “Atom, you know we also enjoy the fellowship of the JSA!”
Outside the building, a few ordinary folks enjoyed watching the super-team enter and occasionally exit.
One such onlooker was the aforementioned Jimmy Olsen. He watched near a very proper butler named Alfred Beagle who, in turn, exchanged small talk with Commissioner James W. Gordon. “This has to be one of the proudest moments in the JSA’s history,” said Gordon. “I know they’re based in Civic City now, but I wonder if I could convince the team to join Batman and Green Lantern and come back to Gotham. (*) Just look at how half the town has turned out to gaze on!”
[(*) Editor’s note: The JSA had its headquarters in Gotham City from the beginning of 1947 until the fall of 1948, while the team had its headquarters in Civic City from the fall of 1948 until early 1951, when it disbanded.]
“Indeed, sir! Master Bruce regretted being away on business,” said the butler.
“Business? Ha! Business with some blonde, no doubt!” said Gordon, shaking his head.
Doctor Mid-Nite’s blonde nurse, Myra Mason, watched as well. She hoped to see her hero and idly wondered if he needed her.
Other figures well-known to various JSAers dotted the crowd as well. But a figure unknown to the Justice Society of this era also hovered overhead in a sleek and cloaked plane. The aircraft Concord designed is perfect for this little mission, mused Madame Mayhem. It saves me the trouble of stealing an Amazon swan craft.
She said to herself, “Well, my father and his costumed peers are gathered, and now is the perfect moment to unleash Ultra-Man’s creation!” She activated a control, and the craft sprayed a foamy substance across the entire block where the building rested. It misted and seeped within the structure, even as it struck the onlookers.
The Justice Society and all their friends and allies gathered for the event fell into the same kind of suspended animation that had befallen the surprised Gary Concord in his own timeline that so differed from the one in which the JSAers resided. They also stiffened as the mist took effect. Muscles that could move mountains or vibrate through them with ease were of no use as they literally became inert and unaware of their environment.
Madame Mayhem laughed. In one smooth action, she had robbed the world of its greatest heroes. With the Seven Soldiers of Victory lost since 1948, the Freedom Fighters on another world since 1942, and the All-Star Squadron a long-defunct and largely powerless body in the postwar years without the mighty Justice Society of America, she had little to fear…
Or so she thought.