Superman led Lois Lane Kent through the JSA Brownstone to where Power Girl and Red Robin were waiting. “Well, we must not have made as good a time getting here as I’d hoped,” he said with a smile. “Hope you two weren’t waiting long.”
“No, we allowed you old folks extra flying time,” teased Kara Zor-L. “You were probably stuck behind some antique bi-plane.”
Superman gave a mock look of displeasure and shook hands with Red Robin. “I’m glad we were able to reign in those villains from the future before any more harm could be done,” he said. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman Family: Family Legacy.]
Red Robin nodded. “True. Bruce was watching out for us.”
Power Girl exchanged news of baby Mary with her proud mother as they walked on.
“She needs plenty of time with her aunt,” said Lois of Kara, who was actually the girl’s cousin, once removed.
“I… I don’t think I’m up to the task of changing super-diapers,” said Kara.
As they prepared to leave for their planned lunch, they passed the now-empty lab where the elderly, obese Chuck Grayson — the former Robotman whose brain was housed in Chuck’s body — had been working on his tampered-with remote-control robotman that had fallen into the wrong hands. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Blitzkrieg, Chapter 1: Machines of Murder.]
The inert figure gleamed suddenly, and a powerful energy swept unseen across the foursome. After this initial wave of radiation, the machine remained still as if the power source had exhausted itself.
This would prove to be a good thing in light of what would befall the four people in the next few hours.
As Superman carried Lois, and Power Girl brought along Red Robin, the foursome began to experience the effects of the radiation that had bathed over them from the altered robotman.
“Seriously, you weren’t late, anyway,” said Power Girl, smiling. “With our commute speeds, time is never a problem!”
At that ironic moment, she found herself flung across time and space, as did her friends. The chronal energy that had been released from the Murder Machine had sent them on four wildly different journeys.
Back at JSA Headquarters, Chuck Grayson entered with Jay Garrick, alias the Flash. The STAR Labs scientist frowned. “Jay, the robot has been altered. Something has burnt out within him — something most definitely foreign to my original design.”
The Flash examined the creation at top speed. “Sensors detect a release of chronal energy. He was drawn away by the Red Panzer’s time-scanner, remember?”
Grayson nodded. “Plus, he was made partially from old parts from my original Robotman body. I wonder if I received some unknown virus from my interaction with Mekanique. She was a time-traveler, too. I might have been carrying some dormant virus for years until the time-scanner activated it.”
The Flash smiled. “Well, now that we know, at least we found it before any harm was done.”
Superman frowned as he found himself suddenly alone in a strange setting. He squinted instinctively in that old habit he had formed in his youth. He saw castles, crumbling battlements, villagers with huts and horses, and an obviously medieval way of life.
Time displacement, he mused. Well, that’s no problem for someone with my powers. This must be Camelot, although it has certainly fallen into disrepair since my last visit here with Sir Justin and the JSA back when old Vandal Savage tried to rid the world of us. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Yesterday Begins Today,” All-Star Comics #64 (January-February, 1977).]
Superman had been to Camelot more than once. That spoke volumes of the amazing life he had led thus far. He knew that one of his past selves was not present from any of his past trips, because he was solid and substantial. Certain time-travel methods rendered him phantom-like due to the fact that he could not exist during his own lifetime or during a period in which he was already present from some other trip through time.
The Man of Steel flew toward the main castle and shoved open huge doors. “Great Krypton!” he said. “If that is what passes for the Round Table now, then I know times are hard!” He gazed at a circular table whose glossy sheen was shattered from midpoint on to a crumbling, dirty far side.
“The swell don’t approve o the boss’s décor,” sneered a man in a slick suit with the mannerisms of a cheap hood of the 1930s or 1940s.
“Yeah? Well, that fancy dress-up suit means he’s Sooperman!” said a pale man with a slouch hat over one eye.
“Superman! It can’t be!” said the first thug. “He don’t even live until our time!”
“Gentlemen, I assure you, rumors of my birth are largely exaggerated. Let me provide my credentials by a little demonstration,” he said, grinning as he hefted the Round Table and spun it on one finger like an enormous frisby.
The second thug gulped audibly and croaked, “That’s him, all right!”
They turned to flee, but before they could exit the long hallway, the Man of Steel had replaced the table and jumped to block their path.
“What brings Reny Reynolds and Tony Salvadore to ancient times?” he demanded. “I see being back in the days of yore hasn’t stopped you boys from carrying your driver’s licenses in your pockets.”
“The Boss brought us here!” said one goon. “He runs this place. You’ll be sorry ya crossed him!”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it takes a big man to make me sorry about anything,” said Superman.
“Their liege is a fatal man; more is the pity,” said a knight who entered solemnly.
The thugs ducked and ran as Superman allowed them to exit and turned to greet the old man.
“You are most welcome here, my son,” said the old man as he lifted his red helmet. “Dark days reign long into darker nights, and this old man has lived far too long to make cursed fate right once more.”
“Say, I’ve seen that coat of arms before,” said Superman.
“Well should this crest be known to one such as you,” said the old knight. “It is the symbol of the Kent family. I am Sir Brian Kent of Greystone, and you are my descendant. That is what brought this poor kingless land to sorrow, I fear.”
“Wait! Sir Brian was the legendary Silent Knight,” said Superman. “If you are that knight, then much has changed from the legends handed down.”
Brain nodded. “Ere Camelot fell, I revealed my true identity and wed my lady love, the fairest Celia. We lived in bliss, even after noble King Arthur’s passing, till recent years when she died and our children were taken, along with other youth, by the cruel savages who roam this lawless realm in search of plunder. I sought remedy to their plight by magic — something not unknown to me from my youth, but yet foreign compared to the gleaming blade or the stalwart lance. I saw into the future where you lived as a mighty hero. You are Clark Kent of the line I sired. I sought to bring forth my closest descendant from your era with the intent of bringing you as a champion. Sadly, you are not truly the closest blood heir of my line.”
Superman nodded. “Magic is unreliable at best. I am not a Kent by birth — merely by adoption. My powers come from my alien birth.”
Brian frowned. “I deemed them magic and naught else. Thus I foolishly summoned a worse peril than the one I sought to cure. Instead of getting Clark Kent, my heroic descendant–”
“You got me!” sneered a man with a face that was twisted with scarred tissue on one side and a handsome profile on the other. He led a gang of modern-dressed thugs, waving machine guns at the startled knight.
“Two-Face!” said Superman, frowning as he saw Harvey Kent, the evil madman who was apparently the closest living Kent of Brian’s line.
“Aye! This warlord of the visage dual, this fiend of double meins, came when I invoked my spell and used his foul weapons to conquer this once-noble realm,” said an angry Silent Knight.
“Well, we’ll just see about unconquering this land,” said a determined Superman.
“Not so fast, cuz, or however we’re kin,” warned Two-Face. “I wouldn’t unleash those muscles just yet. I don’t do anything by halves, so to speak. I double-crossed these peasants by taking over their village and then selling them out to the warlord Karn. As such, he holds pretty little Lady Celia, Lady Mary, and Brian Junior, along with other young kids as insurance that their Camelot-spawned folks don’t try anything funny. So make one move, and you’ll be the cause of many deaths.”
“I’ve located them already,” said Superman. “Not a lot of lead around these parts. I’ll have them free before you can flip that coin, you double-dealing madman!”
“Ah-ah-ah,” said Two-Face. “Not so fast. You’re vulnerable to magic, and a magical field surrounds yon castle. You hit it, and boom goes the place.”
“I fear he speaks the truth,” said Sir Brian. “Mine own sorcerous efforts have revealed as much.”
“You forget one thing,” said Superman, smiling confidently. “If you or anyone else harms the descendants of Sir Brian, here, then you won’t be born. You are his direct bloodline descendant.”
“Yes, that’s true, but I could kill the one child of his that is not my many greats grandfather,” he sneered. “It’s a gamble, but I like the odds.”
He tossed his coin, and Superman blew it over with a furtive use of super-breath. It landed clean side up, as he intended. Two-Face waved back his goons. “The coin says we stay back this time,” he said, scowling.
Superman moved quickly and melted the gun nozzles before tapping Two-Face across the face. The onetime enemy of Batman slumped to the floor as Brian stepped up and held a sword to his neck.
“My allies and I can hold these knaves, thanks to your removal of their foul weapons,” said Sir Brian. “Now I plead with thee to save my family!”
Superman nodded and flew toward the castle where Karn and his men held the village youths. He stopped in midair. “I won’t risk their lives with that magic field. I’ll just try a different approach.” He landed and dug through the earth. The tunnel ended under the cells that held the men and women. Can’t detect any magic from below, like I could with the field above. It glowed dimly under the scan of my super-vision.
He crashed inside and sent troops scattering with ease. “The chains are going next!” he vowed, freezing and then shattering the bonds that held dozens of men and women.
“Foul magic-spawned dog! I’ll take my vengeance ‘pon you through the blood of these!” cried the hairy warlord called Karn as he grabbed a beautiful blonde maiden and raised his sword.
“Watch yer mouth, you smelly old creep!” said a grim-voiced figure who launched himself forward and knocked the warlord cold with one smooth blow.
“Wildcat?! How can this be?” gasped Superman as his costumed JSA ally stepped out of the shadows.
“Superman!” said Wildcat. “I was sent back here by a weird old dwarf to right a wrong or two and bust some heads. It seems his village was threatened by this jerk named Karn. The little guy had pulled this kinda hoodoo on me and my pal Stretch before, so I knew he was on the level. (*) I came from the year 1947, but you seem older.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Trapped by Time,” Sensation Comics #64 (April, 1947).]
Guess magic fields don’t respond to non-super types, mused Superman. Before he could do much more than greet a younger version of his friend, the blonde girl rushed forward, a vision in pink and white.
“Good sire, you have wrought much joy this day,” she said amorously. “I am Lady Celia. My sister and brother owe you many boons.”
Superman thought about this lovely maid possibly being his father’s great-great-great — et cetera — aunt and gently discouraged her.
“A pleasure to help,” he said, smiling. “Now, let me get you back home and return Wildcat and Two-Face and his mob back home.” He imagined that Two-Face would forget his secret identity of Clark Kent through the vagaries of time travel. He must have, he knew, since this Two-Face must have come from 1943 — during the brief time when Harvey Kent operated as the original Two-Face before he was cured — and had never revealed his knowledge before.
Superman smiled and flew off as Wildcat said, “So how old are ya, anyway?”
As Superman returned to the present, he wondered again and again if Lois was safe. He had little fear that Dick and Kara could handle anything, but the sudden time-displacement had obviously affected all of them. He had assumed that some spell of Sir Brian’s had only pulled him to Camelot in mid-flight. Now he hoped that Lois and the others had not also experienced the weird chronal displacement.
Reaching the point at which he had vanished, he observed in phantom form. Great Scott! They all vanished, he mused. That means something other than Brian’s spell pulled me away. Lois and the rest could be anywhere — anywhen!
Superman popped back into normal form as he passed the moment in which he had vanished, making it appear that he had not vanished into the time-stream at all. Got to track them down, he thought. But I’d better get something from JSA Headquarters to help.
As the Man of Steel flew onward in search of something to track chronal energy, his friends and wife experienced their own adventures.