by Dan Swanson
The story that Woodley Allen told about Doctor Doog was fascinating.
Doctor Doog had just escaped from prison again. Although being captured and sent to prison was always painful and humiliating, he had to admit that there were few things in his life that were quite as much fun as figuring out new ways to escape from prison. It had become a welcome intellectual challenge in a world that usually didn’t provide him with many challenges.
Contrary to what Commissioner Red Bailey thought, the prison officials at Ellington State Prison, where Doog did most of his time, did indeed take special precautions whenever Doog was in their care. Certainly, each time he escaped, they improved their security, so each time he was recaptured, he had to develop a new plan. Doog held almost everyone in the world in contempt for their lesser intellects, but he had a grudging respect for the prison officials. Not that they could ever hold him, but it was something of a challenge to figure out new methods of escape each and every time. Sometimes they even surprised him, and fixed in advance some of the security flaws that he had noted for exploitation the next time he was incarcerated.
Most of the other prisoners were angry with Doctor Doog, because every time he escaped, prison security was improved, and it got harder and harder for them to escape. Doog really didn’t give a damn what other prisoners thought of him; if they couldn’t escape on their own, they deserved to be in prison. Nowadays, nobody dared to let him know about that anger.
A couple of years ago, several of the other prisoners had formed a supposed goodwill committee and discussed Doog’s attitude with him in the prison courtyard during a recreation period. The prison guards were used to so-called discussions like this, and while they usually made sure that nothing fatal happened, they rarely interfered otherwise. Doog had spent a week in the infirmary after that discussion. But that was nothing compared to what happened to the members of the goodwill committee.
Shortly after Doctor Doog got out of the infirmary, he escaped again. About six months later, a half-dozen prisoners came down with an unknown disease. This disease caused them to itch unbearably. Unable to control themselves, they scratched their itches until they actually ripped away their own skin. Taken to the prison infirmary and tied down so they could no longer hurt themselves, they struggled so hard against their bonds that they actually broke bones trying to break free.
The prison doctors sedated them. Each prisoner had an allergic reaction to the sedative, with effects similar to pneumonia, and their lungs filled with body fluid, and each prisoner drowned. These were the exact same prisoners who had been on the goodwill committee. Doog had been free for several months by that time, and no one could ever prove that he had anything to do with this unknown disease. But the prisoners knew.
Several guards contracted a milder case of the same disease. They needed to be restrained from scratching themselves, but the disease never got as bad, and none of them reached the point where sedation was necessary, to everyone’s relief. One of the afflicted guards realized that he and all the rest had been on duty when Doog was assaulted in the prison courtyard. The message was clear to everyone, prisoners and guards alike, and Doog was never again harassed by anyone when he was imprisoned.
During his most recent incarceration, Doctor Doog had volunteered to work in the prison kitchen, and the warden had given him permission to do so. Allowing Doog to follow his seemingly innocent whims was a lot safer than denying him. Doog continued to escape, time and again, but he had never again harmed other prisoners or guards. It was a game to him, and as long as the rest of the players followed his rules, nobody got hurt.
All of the prisoners on the kitchen staff sneaked food out with them when they left the kitchen and went back to their cells. The kitchen guards knew this, and looked the other way, because if the cons couldn’t sneak food, they wouldn’t work in the kitchen, and if the cons weren’t working the kitchen, some of the guards might have to. It was a crummy job, and no guard wanted to do it. So when Doog started sneaking food back to his cell, no one thought anything of it.
There were first-aid kits on the walls in the prison halls, and a patient Doctor Doog had managed to loot one of these and bring the entire contents back to his room as well. Doog’s vast scientific genius allowed him to mix the chemicals from the first-aid kit with various food items and concoct a compound that could release a very potent sleeping gas. He stole a handful of damaged ping-pong balls from the prison recreation room, stuffed them with his compound, and was ready to go.
The next time he was in the kitchen, he covered his mouth and nose with a wet rag, and smashed one of the ping-pong balls to the floor. Everyone in the kitchen, guards and cons alike, collapsed unconscious except for Doctor Doog.
He grabbed a billy club (no guns were allowed in the kitchen) and headed for the front door. He was able to put each group of guards he encountered to sleep before they could sound the alarms. Along the way, he picked up quite an arsenal of weapons from the sleeping guards, but he didn’t plan to use them. And he didn’t have to. He put on a stolen police uniform and drove away in a stolen squad car. Doog was the only prisoner who escaped. Several others tried to follow him, but he put them to sleep as well. This was his game — let them play their own game if they were smart enough.
Doctor Doog made a plan to bring Starman out of retirement. A vicious attack on his city by a super-powered villain ought to do it. But Doog wasn’t interested in being that villain. He needed someone else as a stalking goat, to fight Starman, wear him out, and lead him into a trap.
But what if a menace to his city wasn’t enough to bring Starman out of retirement? If Doog could smear Starman’s reputation, that would be almost as good. If someone using a gravity rod destroyed the city, and Starman didn’t show up to stop him, plenty of people would be willing to believe that Starman had gone rogue. But where would Doog get a gravity rod?
In the mid-1930s, when Doctor Doog had first embarked on his criminal career, he had briefly worked for the Ultra-Humanite. At the same time, another young genius known only as Xnon had also worked for the Ultra-Humanite. Apprenticeship with the Ultra-Humanite was considered a rite of passage for aspiring criminal scientists of the 1930s, in that time before Ultra ever encountered Superman. The Ultra-Humanite always liked to keep some loyal minions with lesser intellects around to carry out his plans, allowing him to remain out of the spotlight and above suspicion.
These two Ultra-Humanite protégés quickly developed a mutual animosity. The Ultra-Humanite had been forced to let both of them go before their feud caught the attention of the authorities.
Xnon had gone on to invent a power rod and a suit of high-technology battle armor. Unfortunately for him, in his first major solo adventure, he had confronted the Spectre, and he had never been heard from again. (*) That power rod would be a perfect substitute for Starman’s gravity rod.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Spectre, More Fun Comics #60 (October, 1940).]
Doctor Doog had considered Xnon to be a potential rival, so he had kept close tabs on him. He knew where Xnon’s secret laboratory was, but he had never before felt that it was worthwhile to investigate.
Doog had hired some minions, given them uniforms, and informed them that they were now members of the third incarnation of the Brotherhood of the Electron. The original had been the old crime organization he had founded in the late 1930s, which was defeated by Starman in 1941. The second had briefly existed in 1942 and was defeated by the All-Star Squadron. (*) The name was supposed to impress them. It didn’t. All they cared about was getting paid. He sent them to raid Xnon’s lab, and they returned with a suit of armor and a power rod, apparently Xnon’s prototype. The next question was, who would wear it?
[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: Times Past, 1942: Overlord of the Underworld.]
Doctor Doog wanted someone who knew everything there was to know about Starman. A little research showed him that the man he wanted was Woodley Allen, who had been directly responsible for leading Starman to defeating Doctor Doog in their very first battle. (*) It didn’t matter to him that Allen was one of the good guys and worked for the FBI. The only person who had ever resisted Doog’s hypnotic power was Starman.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Amazing Starman,” Adventure Comics #61 (April, 1941) and “Catch a Falling Starman,” All-Star Squadron #41 (January, 1985).]
The new Brotherhood of the Electron kidnapped Allen. Doctor Doog was almost impressed by their competence. He then hypnotized Allen, and gave him the armor and power rod. He told Allen that he was now a super-villain named Xenon and gave him a plan to carry out. Terrorize the city, draw Starman out of retirement, and make sure the battle occurred in the downtown area so Doog could blast him with the Destructo-Ray.
Vic Valor made his first appearance the day before Xenon was scheduled to make his debut. Doctor Doog had held Xenon back until he had a chance to study Valor a little bit. Then he turned him loose.
The encounter at the power station had almost been a disaster. Doctor Doog’s current equipment wasn’t powerful enough to fully charge the power rod, so he had directed Xenon to the nearest location where there was enough power available. Xenon was supposed to be in and out before Vic Valor arrived. Doog blamed the near-disaster on Woodley Allen’s incompetence, but it was too late to change pilots now. Actually, Doog really didn’t care if Xenon got caught or killed, but he had to last long enough to draw Starman/Valor into range of the Destructo-Ray.
Doctor Doog considered the Destructo-Ray one of his ultimate achievements. He had designed the Destructo-Ray specifically to destroy Starman. The ray drained energy from whatever was illuminated by it. Specifically, it drained infra-ray energy, the energy that powered Starman’s gravity rod. And the ray was surrounded by a powerful force-field that would prevent Starman from escaping. Doog knew his plan was foolproof.
Fortunately for Opal City, Doctor Doog was wrong.
This story explained a lot to Ted Knight, just about everything except why he had become Vic Valor in the first place, and why the Destructo-Ray had apparently killed Vic Valor.
Green Lantern pulled Ted aside and told him he’d just received a mental radio message from Doctor Mid-Nite. As Dr. Charles McNider, he was tending to an unconscious Doris Knight at stately Knight Manor. It wasn’t an emergency, but McNider thought it would be a good idea if Ted were there when Doris woke up. Ted asked Green Lantern to hang around and help him investigate Vic Valor, and then the two made their excuses to Bailey.
Red Bailey assured the two of them that if Doctor Doog validated Woodley Allen’s story, Allen would not be charged, as his criminal activities were the result of Doog’s super-hypnotism. Green Lantern and Vic Valor left, and they flew together to Knight Manor.