One day in 1956, Alan Scott was visiting Carter and Shiera Hall in their mansion in Westchester, New York. The former Green Lantern and the former Hawkman and Hawkgirl had been talking about old times until the subject of newer heroes came up.
Turning to the Halls, Alan asked, “What do you two make of Ed Blake’s new team?”
Carter smiled and said, “That boy has his heart in the right place. He truly believes in us, so much so that I would almost say we should join him!”
Shiera smiled. “You say that now, but then a new dig will come along, and you’ll be racing to learn more about the lost past!”
He nodded ruefully. “I admit it. Solo crime-fighting can keep us busy, but the lure of ancient things draws me ever backward!”
“Kent is going great guns as a medical doctor,” said Alan. “I don’t think he ever wears the shiny old pot anymore!”
“Charles still ventures out solo occasionally, and he still can’t see Myra’s love for him,” said Shiera.
“He can see in the dark, not in the light,” quipped Carter.
“Jay is busy, too, but I can’t say I’ve heard from him in quite a while,” said Alan.
“Ted, Al, and Terry still suit up rarely, but their outside interests keep them busy, too,” added Carter.
“I’ll tell you, the big story these days, aside from Team Justice, is the race issue,” said Alan. “I sense something more than just hate is behind some of the news.”
“You mean a devious hidden mastermind?” asked Shiera, an old twinkle in her eyes.
“Exactly,” said Alan.
“Let’s hope the kids can handle it,” added Carter Hall.
Time passed, and Charles Lane Junior married the Prankster’s daughter, Deena Loomis. They perfected the stolen gems as weapons and emerged from their seclusion with new costumes and new names. She had slowly managed to wear away at any last remaining scruples he had about heroism.
“Punch and Jewely! I like it,” said Charles. “Crime gives me the same thrill that I thought crime-fighting would, plus we live better than Dad ever did!” Since he had come to accept Deena’s criminal ways, much of his mental energy was spent justifying his decision to turn to crime.
“My Daddy is proud of us!” cooed Jewely.
“Yeah. That’s great,” said a suddenly grim Charles.
On a busy street in Civic City’s diamond district, passersby began screaming in terror as they saw precious stones float away from the display cases. Loud laughs echoed from nowhere. One young man knew what was happening. He was Edmund Blake, and he had guessed correctly.
It must be the Invisible Band! mused Mister Alpha as he donned his costume in an alley. They fought the JSA once. (*) They are invisible, and when they choose to be so, they are also intangible. How can I stop them?
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Adventure of the Invisible Band,” All-Star Comics #46 (April-May, 1949).]
He ran out and, seeing a diamond float by, tackled the air where he estimated its carrier was. He struck an invisible body, and they rolled to the ground. But seconds later he was alone, for his foe had turned intangible. Now he saw the ghostly form that had been invisible before.
“Can’t fight what you can’t touch!” sneered the thug.
“We can touch ya!” said a second thug, who kicked Alpha down again.
“Perhaps you cannot be touched by mortal hands, but no one is beyond the reach of justice, which extends beyond the grave!” said a cold voice.
The three thugs whirled to see a floating young girl in a long white gown of lace. Her hair was dark black, and her eyes looked icy and distant.
“No floating dame can hurt us!” said the leader.
“Good! Then this will not grieve me at all,” she said as she landed and gestured at them. They gasped as they found themselves suddenly solid against their will.
Mister Alpha took his cue and slammed into the first one. A roundhouse right knocked him cold. The other two fled, only to be blocked by the hovering, ghostly child.
“There is no escape from the consequences of an ill-led life!” she intoned.
They turned back, and Mister Alpha dropped them with a tackle. He punched one and kneed the second. In minutes, he had beaten them both.
“Thanks for the help!” he said. “Without their weapons, they were no trouble.”
“Mister Alpha? I am the Spectress,” she said.
“As in the Spectre’s daughter?” he suggested blindly.
“Not quite. My father is J. Percival Poplaski,” she began. “He partnered with–”
“Percival Popp, the so-called Super-Cop!” said Edmund, snapping his fingers as he remembered the case files he’d gathered over the years. (*) “He worked with the Spectre for a while — they were virtually inseparable from 1942 to 1945, as I recall. So how did you get powers like these?” he asked as they left the scene.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Introducing Percival Popp, the Super-Cop,” More Fun Comics #74 (December, 1941).]
“Well, my father first met the Spectre a couple of years before I was born, and worked alongside him more than anyone else!” she said. “And during the time when the Spectre was invisible for a while, he and my father were always fighting crooks together!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crime-Buster by Proxy,” More Fun Comics #90 (April, 1943).]
“Yes, that happened just after the Spectre’s last case with the JSA in late 1944,” said Ed Blake. (*) “If what I remember hearing is correct, when his mortal self enlisted, separating from the Spectre, it removed his visibility and forced him to resign from the JSA.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Plunder of the Psycho-Pirate,” All-Star Comics #23 (Winter, 1944).]
“Right! And after Jim Corrigan returned home from the war, he merged again with the Spectre, who then just disappeared altogether,” she said. (*) “But over the years he worked with him, the Spectre’s supernatural powers affected my father, which somehow enabled me to be born with the power to turn intangible and float, or turn that which is intangible solid again! My father didn’t know I’d been born until I was two years old, not long after his last case with the Spectre. (*) But as soon as he found out about me, he settled down and married my mother, who forced him to shut down his failing private investigation business and get a normal job. He’s been a security guard at an office building in Cliffland ever since. My father has kept my powers a secret from my mother ever since we discovered I had them, since she just wouldn’t understand, and he was the one who came up with the Spectress.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “War That Shook the Universe,” Showcase #60 (January-February, 1966) and “The Unsafe Safe,” More Fun Comics #101 (January-February, 1945).]
“You have a mature air about you, but you can’t be more than twelve or thirteen years old,” said Blake, himself now twenty years of age.
“I’ll be thirteen in two months,” the girl said with a smile.
“So with your powers you decided to become a mystery-woman — or girl, as the case may be?” asked Blake.
“Only when I saw that my powers could so easily stop that Invisible Band gang. Oh, and my name is Nelly Poplaski.”
“I’m Ed Blake,” said Mister Alpha, pulling back his mask to reveal his face. “Would you like to join a team I help lead? We’re dedicated to carrying on the JSA’s legacy.”
The Spectress smiled eagerly. “If I may help when I choose to do so, then I would accept. I still have to go to school, after all.”
“Solid!” said Mister Alpha.
Elsewhere, a violent protest against bus segregation like the one Dr. Martin Luther King led earlier that year caught the eye of another Dr. King.
Dr. Henry King, the Brain Wave, smiled at the news. I can use this unrest, even though I am not the cause of it, he thought. If heroes are busy with civil strife, then I may take power more assuredly.
The red, white, and blue-costumed form of the Real American shouted to a crowd of hooded listeners. “It’s time to take back the liberties surrendered to those who are no true Americans!” This drew cheers from a gathered mob, and Selma, Alabama, grew hotter with passion and hate that day.
Will Everett, the hero known as the Amazing-Man, stood up and boldly said, “That racist talk ignores that fact that black Americans died to end a war against another racist madman named Hitler! Others died recently in Korea. How much blood does it take before you become a real American?”
The hooded man whirled and faced the brave black hero. “I would see all your blood run here!” he vowed, menacing him with a whip.
Will touched the tip of the whip, and his body changed to a metal hue. “I can see you need a lesson in history!” he said, ripping the weapon from the posing fiend.
“You can’t stop me!” said the speaker as he slammed into Everett, who stood firm against his superhuman power.
This robot creep is tougher than ever! he mused. He recalled his days as an All-Star Squadron member, when Amazing-Man had fought such a suited man years before, only to have him turn out to be a robot. (*) But as they wrestled, Will came to a startling conclusion. This Real American — he’s human! He has warmth, not icy cold skin!
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Nobody Gets Out of Paradise Valley Alive,” All-Star Squadron #39 (November, 1984).]
A fire broke out then, and Will heard a child cry. “Can’t let anybody get hurt. This joker can get his another day!” he declared, shoving the Real American down, then plunging into the crowd to carry a fallen child to safety. When he returned, the police were everywhere, and there was no sign of the hooded hate monger to be found.
Rick Nelson and Helena Kosmatos were kissing passionately in the apartment she shared with Selena, who had gone out for a swim in Civic City Harbor.
“You know,” said Rick, “when I learned that my dad was a super-villain with a weird name like Mister Who, I thought my world could not get any weirder. Now here I am, an aspiring super-hero, in love with a girl who was given super-powers by a mythical Fury!”
Helena smiled and caressed his face. “I can assure you that the myth is not as bad as the reality.”
“Yeah, you said that Fury blood lust once drove you nearly mad.”
She nodded and said, “That is one reason I embraced some of the pacifist teachings of the Amazons when I studied their culture. Now I wonder if I was wrong to give them up and leap back into action.”
“We make our futures with every day’s choices,” said Rick. “I can’t rid my name of Dad’s crimes. He fought Doctor Fate again and again with that crazy Z Solution of his. It’s what gave me the powers of size-changing and strength that I was born with, I guess.”
“Z Solution!” said Fury. “So that’s why you’re called Z-Man!”
“I wasn’t about to call myself Mister Who, Junior!” he said as they snuggled closer.
In the fall of 1957, Al Pratt listened as Edmund Blake and Sammy Skinner revealed their latest case.
“So this madman named Mister Zero attacked the zoo in search of Arctic animals for some experiment of his,” explained Sammy. “He actually tried to freeze us solid!”
“Yeah,” said the Atom. “He’s a Batman foe — one of the newer ones.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Mister Zero of Earth-One, which the Earth-Two version is based on, first appears in “The Ice Crimes of Mister Zero,” Batman #121 (February, 1959).]
“Well, there were only three of us there — Bearcat, Z-Man, and myself,” said Mister Alpha. “Z grew giant-sized, but that only made him easier to hit. He froze him like a block of ice! Z did something totally unexpected, then — he shrank!”
“He became so small that he literally passed between the ice molecules!” added Sam.
“Then Bearcat caught Zero offguard and decked him!” finished Mister Alpha.
“Good boy!” said Al. “How’s Fury and Aqua-Girl?”
“Fine! And this new occasional ally called the Spectress has shown up to help a few times,” added Bearcat. “She’s OK, but really young, and kind of weird!”
“Her old man was an odd egg, too,” replied the Atom.
“Any new members?” asked Al. “Any of us old JSAers come out of retirement to join up yet?”
“No, but we did meet an All-Star Squadron member named Will Everett,” said Edmund. “He came to us — actually to Johnny Quick, who directed him to us.”
“Will! He was Amazing-Man,” said Al. “He can become whatever substance he touches!”
“He’s a factory worker, and last year he encountered a racist villain named Real American,” added Sam. “The guy disappeared, but news bits say he has turned up around the U.S. I hope we can tackle him.”
“Hmmm. I seem to recall that name from an old case,” the Atom began.
A call rang out, and Al Pratt quickly spoke on the phone, then handed it to Edmund and said, “It’s Selena! She says there’s a big scene at the TV station in Metropolis — three goons in costumes. Need any help?” he asked.
“No, thanks. You and Mary have plans. I saw her in her gown!” said Sammy. “We’ll take them!”
Al watched them rush out, and part of him wanted nothing more than to join them.
The entire membership of Team Justice, except for the Spectress, arrived at WUBS-TV in Metropolis, where a force-field had closed off the entire building.
A pretty, raven-haired woman waited outside. “Team Justice! I’m Lois Lane Kent from the Daily Star,” she said. “Do you know what is causing that field? Signals get in and out, but not people.”
“No, Mrs. Kent, but we aim to find out!” said Mister Alpha.
Nearby, Fury and Aqua-Girl were smashing at the field with brute strength, but to no avail, while a second Daily Star reporter named Perry White inched closer. “Miss Fury, how about an interview later?”
Fury brushed him off gently. “No. Mister Alpha speaks for the team.”
Perry frowned, thinking, Alpha doesn’t have legs like you, though!
Mister Alpha shouted, “Z-Man, shrink through it!”
Z-Man nodded and did so. As soon as he passed through the field, they saw dozens of green-hued men charging them.
“Team Justice, hold them off and get to the station!” ordered Mister Alpha as he decked the first green man.
Bearcat swung into them with several eager right hooks. Like Wildcat, he was a very effective fighter, and he enjoyed the combat, too. “Round one to Bearcat!” he joked.
Aqua-Girl shoved the two green men nearest her aside with ease, and two more rushed up to take their place. She enjoyed being a heroine and felt that her mentor Aquaman qould be proud, not that the stern man ever showed it. She wondered what alien race these oddly silent invaders were members of, or why they wanted a TV station. “This is weird. They make no sound, even when I flatten them.”
Fury nodded as she plowed through ten more with ease. “I seem to get the idea that no matter how many we beat, there will be more of them to stop us,” said Helena.
Z-Man knocked down four more and called down to his lady love. “They don’t even come out of the station. They just appear from nowhere!” he said.
“I don’t think they’re alive,” said Mister Alpha. “They must be illusions or something!”
A lilting voice called down to him from above. “They flicker when I adjust the parking lot cables, Alpha. They aren’t just illusions, they’re TV signals or broadcasts made real by the man inside! His name is the Brain Wave!” At this pronouncement, she dropped down to the floor, where they all recognized her.
“Bat-Girl!” cried Mister Alpha as the pretty blonde in the short red and green skirt swung down. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One Bat-Girl, upon which the Earth-Two version is based, first appears in “Bat-Girl,” Detective Comics #289 (March, 1961).]
“What brings the teen queen of the crime scene to Metropolis?” asked Bearcat with eager interest in the leggy blonde.
“Personal business. And thanks for the flattery, but I am well past my teens,” she said with a smile. Can’t tell them Betty Kane is playing in the Metropolis Tennis Cup, she mused. “I spotted the crisis and did some silent stalking of my own. The Brain Wave is the man at the helm inside. A bald man with a green robe.”
“If he can use the equipment and his own powers to make green armies, then what would he do with the whole station?” asked Mister Alpha.
“We’d better find out!” said Aqua-Girl determinedly.
The team entered the studio, only to be confronted by three costumed figures in addition to the Brain Wave. The first wore a yellow costume with a white star on his chest and a red cape and finned red helmet. The second wore an orange costume and a purple cape with a yellow lightning bolt across his chest. The final foe wore a costume of white and green, with red bands and a yellow cape. All wore hoods or cowls that hid their faces.
The Brain Wave smiled with contempt. “Bah! Justice Society castoffs hold no fear for me! Get them, my Starman, Lightning-Man, and Mental-Man!”
Mister Alpha faced the grim Starman, who dodged his best punch with ease and blocked Bearcat’s swift left. Starman ducked, weaved, and landed two solid punches on each hero.
Fury charged Lightning-Man, only to be backhanded to the floor, as he also tossed Z-Man across the studio even at his giant size.
Mental-Man silently gripped Aqua-Girl, spinning her directly into a leaping Bat-Girl. They tumbled to the floor.
“These guys are tough!” announced Bearcat.
Z-Man wearily got back up and punched the flying Lightning-Man. He rubbed his knuckles as the foe ignored the blow and blasted him across the room with a heat ray.
“Bat-Girl, do you recognize Starman’s costume and fighting style?” asked Mister Alpha.
“I do! In fact, if I’m right, we are in really big trouble with these three!” said Betty Kane.