by CSyphrett and Doc Quantum
Son of Vulcan spent several hours contacting all available agencies around the world about Mars Council’s international weapons-smuggling operation. Already he had alerted Blue Beetle at the Sentinel Building to involve the team, but he actually wanted nothing more than to take a personal hand in the case. He again tried contacting the one member of the Sentinels that he hadn’t earlier been able to reach. This man just happened to be the one member whom Son of Vulcan was sure would know more about the Mars Council’s operations in the United States than the others.
“Leave a message,” a recording said at the man’s private residence.
Son of Vulcan broke off the connection and settled into his chair. Gathering the living scrying cauldrons around him, he closed his eyes and listened, filtering anything that was not of interest to him at the moment. Finally, the sound of a hunt and the mention of his colleague’s name gave him a location to lock onto. He disappeared through a portal on Mount Olympus and reappeared in a suburb on the outskirts of Crown City.
A wall blocked his way for about the length of time for him to hurtle it. He landed lightly and headed for the manor in the middle of the grounds.
“Intruder!” exclaimed one of the men on the grounds as he passed. Men began to come out of the house armed with the same type of energy weapon the Son of Vulcan had encountered that morning. This time he didn’t wait for them to start shooting before jumping in their midst and swinging about him with his shield and mace. Men thudded to the ground unconscious. A car pulled past the centurion in an attempt to flee. His hand grabbed the bumper of the car and flipped it over smoothly. The driver tried to climb out but seemed to be too dazed to move properly.
The Question ran from inside the house but stopped in his tracks when he saw the gaudily dressed Son of Vulcan. “What are you doing here, Mann?” the faceless crime-fighter asked.
“Just wanted a talk,” said Son of Vulcan, whose other identity was journalist Johnny Mann. “Then these cheap hoodlums began to shoot at me. Can you imagine my dismay to find myself in a den of criminals?”
Luckily, the Question’s featureless mask hid any emotion he might have felt. He grabbed McKinley by the neck and lifted him off the ground before slamming him against the side of the flipped auto.
“Now we’ll have a more peaceful discussion. Where are the arms coming from, and how are you getting them?” the Question asked him.
The Australian action-hero known as the Creature Kid ran across the Outback accompanied by dust devils stirred by his slipstream. He was blond and wore a black uniform with a belt, blue gloves and boots, and a purple vest with a logo reading CK. He was currently using his newfound power of emulating animals — in this case, the emu — to make himself one of the world’s fastest men. The Creature Kid had been known as Kid Kanga for years, since the only ability he’d known he had was to leap and jump like a kangaroo. (*) It wasn’t until the Crisis that he had learned that he could emulate any animal he wished to emulate, not just his kangaroo friends. All he needed was to come into physical contact with an animal, and he could duplicate any of its feats.
[(*) Editor’s note: See E-Man (First Comics) #22 for the first appearance of Kid Kanga.]
Now the Creature Kid had trailed a convoy of trucks across the continent for the authorities. He wondered what was going on that the Special Branch needed an action-hero like him to follow the trucks along through the desert.
The trucks pulled into a side road shrouded from the Creature Kid’s line of sight by a stand of trees. He slowed down until he could look down the road. The trucks had vanished.
The Creature Kid slowed to a walk, wondering how the hell he could lose three huge Mack trucks and trailers in the middle of the Australian desert when he was only two minutes behind them. He jogged down the road looking for a clue to what was going on. Emulating the vision of a crested hawk, he gazed around but soon learned he was all alone to the horizon. He retraced his steps back to where he had lost his quarry. He stood for a long time lost in thought.
He inspected the road again, this time more carefully, and found something that seemed out of place — a crack that ran across the road. It was a wide crack in the asphalt. He ran his finger along its length. It didn’t seem natural to the action-hero, and he wondered how to test his theory. He needed something to cut it with, like a pick. He decided to run to the next town on the road and procure one, taking notes of the location. Then he took off at top speed. He needed to find those trucks as rapidly as he could.
Minutes later, the Creature Kid returned to the scene with a hand pick. He began to chop at the road using a combination of the emu’s speed and the strength of a tiger that he’d recently petted in the zoo. Underneath the road was a metal sheet fashioned into a garage door. Now what? the Creature Kid thought to himself.
He paused for a moment, wondering who in the world would put a garage door under a public road. All he had to do now was report this and keep track of the villains until the authorities arrived.
The door opened quietly as the Creature Kid watched. He ducked out of sight behind a bush. Another truck slid out of the ground. It pulled away as he watched. He was torn by indecision for several moments. Finally, he raced after the lone truck.
Keeping pace with the moving truck, the Creature Kid used the familiar leap of a kangaroo to jump onto the back, where he opened the doors and quietly climbed inside, pulling the door loosely shut behind him. The cargo trailer was empty.
The Creature Kid swung down from the trailer and went to find a telephone to contact the Branch. It seemed he had found his objective.
Crown City, USA:
Son of Vulcan and the Question were certainly an odd pairing of action-heroes, but they had more in common that it appeared at first glance. Both men, in their civilian identities, were journalists. It was this common bond that enabled them to respect each other’s vastly differing crime-fighting methods. And it was this common bond that enabled them to work together to get the essential facts they were after. It had only taken a little persuasion to wring some information from McKinley. That led the two action-heroes to a wharf in Crown City.
“McKinley didn’t lie about this, at any rate,” said Son of Vulcan. “I wonder what’s behind this sudden increase in armament.”
“The Mars Council has been selling to both sides,” said the Question. “Escalating the tension. Sooner or later, a war will start out over who has the most power.”
“I don’t like the thought of those things being fired in a crowded area,” said Son of Vulcan.
The Question looked through his binoculars at the peaceful scene. “Let’s go talk to them,” he said as he placed the glasses in his rover. “Maybe they’ll give us someone else.”
“I’m up for that,” said Son of Vulcan, leaping into the air.
Running at a somewhat slower pace, the Question took his time. Son of Vulcan would save him half the effort of rounding these thugs up and securing them. As he neared the tumult caused by the centurion, the faceless crime-fighter grabbed a man trying to escape the sudden fury unleashed by Son of Vulcan and threw him into the cold water.
The Question went through the open door of a warehouse. He headed straight for the records he knew must have been kept in the small office in the back. A man was already there and seemed upset to see the faceless mask. He pulled a pistol and emptied it through the window at the Question before turning back to the computer on his desk to erase everything.
The crime-fighter’s gloved hand smashed into the man’s face, knocking against the far wall. He shook his head and continued trying to destroy the records, but the Question knocked him unconscious with a swift kick. The faceless crime-fighter copied everything on disks before picking up the phone.
“Police?” he said in a disguised voice. “There’s a commotion going on at the wharf. You’d better send someone down to get these jerks.”
The Question headed out of the warehouse. Men lay everywhere from his Roman colleague’s fists and feet. “You done?” he asked the caped centurion.
“I’ve got to say how disappointed I am at the low quality of what passes for thugs these days,” Son of Vulcan said in mild disgust. “No challenge at all.”