Booster Gold found himself confronted by the soaring black-clad form of the man called Shrike. “Hate the costume! You’ll never raise your Q-rating with that ugly get-up!” joked Booster as he dodged the other flying man.
As Shrike spread his cape, Booster yelped in pain as deep cuts appeared on his arm. “You cut me!” he said. “You’ve got some kind of razor at the end of that cape!”
Shrike smiled coldly and said, “It is a victory of function over form, you superficial American!”
Booster drew closer, and as the Shrike attacked, he activated his force-field. The villain thus bounced backward against it, and his own momentum caused him to struggle for balance. Taking advantage of the moment, Booster dived forward and deftly ripped the edge of the cape away from the other man’s wrist with one glowing energy glove of his own.
As Shrike began to fall, Booster dropped down and connected with a stunning punch that left his foe dazed on the ground below. “I’d say form wins out every time, pal!” said Booster, smiling broadly.
Liberty Belle had found herself on the receiving end of Sandstorm’s own impressive attack. As Belle race forward, acrobatically rolling across the room to tackle her foe, the smirking Sandstorm literally fell apart in a cascade of sand.
Belle began to gasp for air as the stinging and choking sands swirled over her, threatening to bury her. Holding her breath, she soon managed to kick free of the bizarre woman’s smothering embrace.
Liberty Belle ducked as a sledgehammer-like blow narrowly missed her head and smashed the wall behind her. “You can alter your density!” she said thoughtfully.
“I can alter your destiny… for the worse!” retorted Sandstorm.
Spinning around, Belle aimed a kick at her mocking face, but once more the woman merely shifted form and allowed the spinning heel-kick to sail harmlessly through her soft, sandy form.
With her other arm, Belle grabbed a fire extinguisher and aimed it at the bigger woman. Sandstorm clutched her stomach in agony as her still-sandy form mixed with the CO2 in the extinguisher.
As Sandstorm collapsed to the floor in pain, Liberty Belle bent over her prone form and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll recover in time!”
Peacemaker was facing the almost-transparent Borea as she unleashed her hurricane-like wind on him. Falling backward, he breathed a sigh of relief that he wore such a well-insulated costume, but he was definitely feeling his age now more than ever as the oldest member of the Sentinels of Justice.
Making a futile effort to reason with Borea, Peacemaker was unable to make himself heard over the howl of the localized wind, then found himself without the breath to speak. He began to choke until he switched on the oxygen supply in his helmet, and he managed to crawl forward until he could aim with some chance of success.
Tossing a small sphere from his weapon’s pack at Borea, he nodded with relief as the freon within caught her and froze her solid. That would never have worked on a normal human, but since she was almost entirely made of air, it was just like a sudden winter chill freezing vapor! he mused as he studied her now icy and helpless form.
Blue Beetle was barely avoiding a series of powerful blunt force blows from the glowing eye that manifested itself over the head of the Orb.
“You can’t dodge my power,” the Orb said in a rather matter-of-fact manner. “I am sorry for your situation, but I have no choice! I must defeat you if I hope to ever regain my own humanity. You are very agile, but how can you avoid the force of pure mental energy?”
Blue Beetle grunted as one of the force-blasts struck him directly in the chest. He’s right! he realized. Can’t move quicker than he can think, but if his power is all mental, why use that weird eye?
Flipping himself around, the Beetle fired his own BB-gun. The blinding flash of light caught the Orb directly in the face, and he fell backward in dismay.
“I can’t see!” he cried.
Blue Beetle nodded as he knocked the little man out. I’d hoped the whole eye motif meant he had at least some kind of psychosomatic connection between his real eyes and his mental one, he thought.
The animalistic Leonine was charging at Felina, but her agility enabled her to wait until he was in reach and then vault over his hulking body to rake her claws down his back. He roared in pain and spun around to try to tackle the faster woman.
“Hey, big boy, you know, you could use a trim!” she joked as she warily circled him and waited for his next attack.
Leonine was angry, but he was able to draw upon his old wrestling skills, and he managed to trick Felina into stepping too close. Crushing her in his arms, he swung her into the air as his powerful grip began to squeeze her.
Felina struggled to lift both knees until she managed to place them between her chest and the lion-man’s body. Kicking against him, she managed to break free.
“You play rough!” she muttered as she fought to regain her breath.
Ignoring her chatter, Leonine swung at her with one huge fist. Felina ducked beneath his arm and kicked him in the side, managing to hurt him, because in spite of her smaller size, Felina possessed impressive strength of her own.
Catching her leg, Leonine began to twist it, but she leaped up and used her own speed to counter his move and kick him with the other leg. As they fought, Felina glanced left and right to see if there was anything in the vicinity that she could use to her advantage.
“Great!” she said. “There’s never a Frank Buck type around when you need him!”
Nearby the Countess was having animal troubles of her own as the sultry Menagerie closed in on her with the speed of a lion or that of the nearby Leonine. The main difference between Leonine and Menagerie was simple. Menagerie didn’t want to serve Alistair Kord, while the ex-wrestler Leonine had no qualms about doing Kord’s bidding.
Menagerie swung at the Countess, but the red-haired seductress managed to avoid the blow and transform herself into a bat. She shrieked as she drew closer to Menagerie, who decided to draw upon the other woman’s own bat-like powers.
But a wave of nausea quickly swept over Menagerie as something in the way the transformed Monica Lake’s odd powers worked caused a strange reaction in the model-turned-mutate. “Can’t draw on your power!” gasped Menagerie.
The Countess resumed her normal form and assumed a sultry pose as if for an unseen camera. “Consider that a blessing,” she hissed.
At that moment, Felina leaped forward and caught Menagerie from the side with a dropkick. She was able to stun the animal-morphic woman, since she wasn’t drawing upon any animal’s strength at the moment.
The Countess, in turn, gazed directly over Felina to catch Leonine’s glance and hold his somewhat-diminished mind in her hypnotic thrall. “You will remain still! You will not move a muscle! You are mine to command!” declared the vampiric Countess as her eyes blazed with alluring power.
Felina sighed with relief and said, “Now why didn’t we just trade partners at the start?”
During the battle, Titania had frozen. The transformed Abby Ladd didn’t know what to do, and she felt that no action was better than making the wrong move. I’m not a criminal! I’m not! she thought. I’d rather be a freak than go to jail! She brought one huge fist down on the dazed Leonine and knocked him cold.
The Countess gazed up at her and said, “You’re Abby Ladd!”
Abby admitted as much as she pressed the collar and returned all too briefly to normal size. “You won’t believe me, but this is all some nightmare!” she cried. “Alistair Kord made us all into monsters! He hates this place and wants us to hurt it to get back at his son!”
Blue Beetle heard his father’s name and swung over to confront the altered girl reporter.
The Countess hesitated a moment and then said, “I’m Monica Lake. The show I do is now all I can do as an actress, because I’ve been turned into the character permanently!”
Abby stared at her and then nodded slowly. “You mean I don’t have to be a monster just because I look like one now?” she said.
Blue Beetle touched her arm and said, “Ms. Ladd, if you can help us like you just did, we’ll help you as well! Maybe we can even restore all of you. We can at least make your tormentor pay for what he did!” He said the words in a resolute tone even as he fought with memories of the father he thought he had known once upon a time.
Kinetik had waited until the time was right to attack, then darted forward and touched the Beetle, only to smile with satisfaction as the acrobatic Ted Kord suddenly weakened and lost his normal agility. “My very touch robs you of your kinetic energy!” gloated the blond villain.
Bounding forward with renewed vigor, Kinetik tried to steal Booster’s vitality as well, but the million-dollar man merely activated his force-field and projected it around the villain. “You can’t use your powers if you can’t touch anything!” said Booster. “Call that a Boosteriffic Fun Fact!” he said.
“We’ll free the employees and secure these poor transformed people!” said Liberty Belle.
Beetle nodded and said, “Fine. Meanwhile, I have something to do elsewhere! Thank you all for your help!”
“Hold it!” said Booster. “I heard Abby. She said they were turned into what they are by Alistair Kord! I’m coming with you.”
Beetle shook his head and declared, “No. This time it’s personal. I’m handling this solo!” At that, he ran out of the room.
Booster hesitated a moment, then silently followed his friend.
Dr. Melody Case would later realize that a pair of pantyhose had changed her life forever. This thought would come much later than the traumatic events of the day in which a run in a pair of stockings had caused her to be uncharacteristically late for her shift at the KORD labs, which unbeknownst to her were under siege by action-villains at the time. She had been dressed and ready to go in her customarily cheerful and vivacious manner when she had snagged her hosiery on something and had been forced to make a quick change before heading out the door of her condominium.
She was thus late for work and was walking hurriedly toward a corner to flag down a taxi at a time of day at which she would normally have already left that area. Thus, because she was late due to the hosiery problem, she found herself suddenly under the scrutiny of the hovering Bug and its pilot, the Scarlet Scarab.
The last couple of hours had been rough for the maddened vigilante. He had kept Tracey Kord aboard the craft, but he had failed to get any answers from her. She was clearly ill with something more than mere stress or fright, and she had fainted more than once. She also collapsed in a near-hysterical sobbing fit without ever truly revealing anything more than she had initially told him.
“Ted lost the scarab his old mentor used!” she had exclaimed. “He can’t tell you where it is, because he doesn’t know!”
Now, after a fruitless, fitful interrogation, the Scarab realized that she was of no use to him except as a hostage or bargaining tool with which he might force her husband to help him find some peace by renewing his contact with a mystical scarab like his own lost one.
It was obvious to him that a dead Tracey Kord was of no use to him. But he couldn’t take care of her and concentrate on his own plans, and he could tell she was in a bad condition. Thus, when he spotted the beautiful Melody Case below, recognizing her from old man Kord’s files, he decided that she would make the perfect caregiver for his first captive.
Switching the Bug to autopilot, the Scarlet Scarab dropped down on a descending rope ladder to snatch the computer scientist off the sidewalk and up into his arms. “Don’t struggle!” he said. “You won’t be hurt if you do as I say!”
Melody gasped as she found herself first high above the city and seconds later inside the fantastic flying craft. She immediately recognized Tracey, and when the Scarab shoved her roughly across the deck, she landed on her knees by the frightened Mrs. Kord.
“Tracey, honey, how did you get here? What does he want?” she asked, even as she placed an arm around her employer’s wife.
The Scarlet Scarab barked out orders as he resumed control of the Bug. “All I want from you is to take care of her and do I as tell you!” he said. “Her husband will be the one who brings about your eventual release if he does what I want!”
As Tracey explained her plight, Melody listened and scanned the interior of the amazing Bug. She recognized the design of some of the computers, and, combined with all that she had heard, the redhead came to a logical, if surprising conclusion. My boss is the Blue Beetle! she thought.