As Jim and I flew off, after I explained my situation, the dear man kissed me and asked how I was, even though he knew very well that, after so many years as Bulletgirl, I could handle most anything from thugs to monsters.
Jim Barr is a study in contrasts. He was a studious, even bookish man until he developed the formula that boosted his strength and added the Bulletman equipment. However, even though he became a hero’s hero, he retains this scientific, abstracted air about him that can be endearing and frustrating at the same time. I mean, it’s cute that life can amaze him still, but it’s an annoyance for me to, say, be wearing a silky lace babydoll nightgown and have my husband just vacantly ask for clean test tubes for his lab.
But as I was saying, Jim told me that he had been looking into some pirate types of his own who had been demanding protection money from the fishermen on the dockside. He caught them and beat them handily, but one of his fishermen had then dropped a real bomb on him.
Captain Jake Cuttler was an old salt like one in a Popeye cartoon or comic. He thanked Jim for his help, then showed him a second mystery — a real cliffhanger, like something from the serials.
That something was an old boat that Cuttler and his men had managed to salvage. The weird thing was as follows: the boat was a vintage 1930s boat, but though sunken, it had as little real age damage as if it had only been sunk a few weeks back.
The brine was not thick, and as my brainy hubby noted, the other residual effects indicated that the boat was only ten to fifteen years old. It was damaged, but it was not old.
“So?” I asked. He loves me for my sparkling conversation, too.
“It’s a real enigma. How can the boat be old and yet not be old — if you get my drift?”
“Remember, you would be collecting Social Security, and I would be getting slightly gray if it wasn’t for that Sivana suspended animation trap. Something like that could have happened,” I proposed.
Jim smiled. “True, but while we have a reason for our prolonged youth, there’s no reason Sivana or anyone else would have frozen an entire boat.”
“What is the name of yon vessel?” said I.
“The Brian Boru,” announced Jim.
My husband was ever the detective, so I knew he’d have an answer for me. I asked him anyway to boost his ego. (We wives-turned-super-heroines do that, too.)
“What is Brian Boru‘s owner or registration?” I asked.
“The Coast Guard records show an amazing fact. The boat with that name was registered before the War and operational until the early 1950s, and that would make it the age this model is, but not explain how a boat wrecked over thirty years ago would be as new as this wrecked one is.”
“Who owned it, and where did he live?” I asked. “Or is it crazy to expect a record that old to be readily available?”
“It was usually docked at a small island called Maloana in the South Seas back then, and that would even fit with where this wreck was found accounting for currents for the last few weeks or so,” said Jim.
“So are we going island-hopping? I look great in a swimsuit or sarong,” I teased.
Jim smiled. “Susan, honey, you look great in anything. Yes, we’re going to this Maloana place, if we can find it.”
As we flew off, I remembered my other question. “Jim, who owned the Brian Boru back then?”
“His name was Lance O’Casey,” he answered.
Jim and I rocketed to the tiny South Sea island of Maloana, where this Lance O’Casey had been a resident. We spotted some debris along the coast, along with other old-yet-new ships.
“It’s weird. The storm must have wrecked the Brian Boru recently, and that’s how it turned up, but why it is still like new, though made in the 1930s, is still a mystery,” said Jim.
I said, “Jim, look at the people, the natives all frozen as if in a trance or something!”
Sure enough, we saw people standing in odd action poses, but without any movement or sign of activity. It’s like time had stopped on this island.
“There’s magic here — powerful magic. We’ll need help to figure this one out,” he said.
“Ibis?” I asked.
“Not likely. I have not seen him for years. I know a closer source, if he’ll help us.”
We set off again.
After a non-stop flight back west, Jim and I soon landed on the strange isle once more, this time accompanied by a friend. As I mentioned before, we saw no signs of life. People were there, but they were literally frozen in time. This magic phenomenon suggested how the Brian Boru could be both old and new. Our ally could hopefully clear up the rest. Oddly enough, all I wanted to do was take him on my lap and sing him to sleep.
Before you wonder just how open a marriage Jim and I have, I’ll add that I’m not that kind of girl, thank you! Our friend was all of six years old!
“Atom, thanks for coming with us like this,” I said to the tiny, black-eyed little boy Jim was carrying.
“Gosh, Miss Susan! I’d love to see real pirates and stuff like in Peter Pan!” Atom Blake said eagerly, his black eyes darting everywhere at once.
Jim laughed, “Well, Atom, since you are the famous Boy Wizard, I’d say you’ve seen more wonders than old pirates! Can you tell what spell holds these poor folks?”
Atom smiled. “It’s a weird one! It freezes folks in time! Kinda shuts ’em down like a toy without batteries or somethin’. It’s pretty strong, but I betcha I can fix it up!”
I smiled at the perky little boy. “Atom, honey, I just know you can, but be careful!”
He beamed at me, and we landed. “This spell is kinda weird. The caster is that guy in the feathered hat who looks like a chicken,” laughed Atom.
“He caught himself in his own spell,” I declared.
“No doubt he’s a tribal shaman, and he never meant the spell to have this exact effect,” mused Jim, ever the thinker.
Atom Blake stared hard at the shaman, and energy flashed around him. Seconds later, the island was a hub of screaming and gunfire. The shaman started up like a wind-up toy and yelled, “Lance! Help!”
A muscular sailor with windswept blond hair and a smile as wide as the grand canyon raced up from behind a hut.
“S’ville! What in the name o’ the Emerald Isle are ye doin’? That magic o’ yours is never safe! Mr. Hogan and me has warned you about it!” he said. “Pardon me, miss, I forget me manners at times. Lance O’Casey at your service!” he said with a sudden bow.
I smiled, and Jim stepped up. “Mr. O’Casey, I’m Bulletman, and this is my wife Bulletgirl and our friend Atom Blake, Boy Wizard! Your island seems to have been under some spell that stopped time decades ago! It’s now — 1985!”
Lance blinked. “S’ville! What have you done, man? It was 1953 not a minute ago to me, and they say you’ve sent us through time over thirty years?”
S’ville said, “No, friend Lance. I merely tried to save us when those Nazis from 1943 popped up suddenly by using that preserving spell I mentioned a while ago!”
“Neato!” cried Atom merrily.
“Ah, that it is for you, lad, but for the likes of us it’s mighty weird and mystifying,” said the bulky sailor with a smile. “Mr. Hogan will think it’s a grand joke!” he said with what seemed like amazingly good spirits.
“He’s either in shock, or he’s unconcerned that he has lost thirty years in time,” whispered Jim.
“Ah, I heard that, my bullet-headed pal. I do know this will take adjustments, but life here was in 1953 like it was in 1900 or so, and the changes aren’t that severe for a globe-trotting adventurer like meself! Why, even Mr. Hogan won’t care nary bit, just you see!” he chuckled.
The shots rang out again, and we ran forward. Nazi troops were charging from the far side of the island.
“Good night! The Ratzi devils are here!” cried Lance.
“I guess they got caught up in the big time freeze, too!” shouted Atom.
“Nazis?!” Jim exclaimed. “I thought you had all been frozen in 1953!”
“Well, these other guys are actually from 1943,” began S’ville as he began running. He shook his hands and quickly added, “Ah, it’s a long story!”
A monkey landed on a Nazi’s head and pushed the helmet over his eyes while knocking his gun away with a swipe of his agile tail.
“See, lass? Mr. Hogan is in fightin’ trim, no matter what the year. Aren’t ya, boyo?” cried a laughing Lance as he tore into a Nazi with ham-like strength.
“Mr. Hogan is a monkey! He talks about him as if he was his cousin or something,” I said.
“Later, dear. Believe it or not — there’s a war on again!” yelled Bulletman as he flew upward. I followed, as did the now-levitating Atom.
“Boy! Nazi troops! I haven’t seen them since I was a kid!” said Atom.
“Atom, you’re only six years old!” I started, then stopped to kick a Nazi in the chin. I swung around, and a punch of mine disarmed another trooper.
Bulletman charged a huge machine-gun post, and with ease of years of battle skill, he crashed into it and tore it out of the ground. A right cross from Jim dropped the gunner, too.
Atom blinked, and a squad of Nazis fell over an oily patch of ground that appeared suddenly. He laughed, and I had to smile. The unaging boy seemed to love life now, even though he had been six for decades!
Lance and Mr. Hogan (Now I’m calling him that too! Next, I’ll invite him for tea!) fought the troops easily. O’Casey swung from ropes and swung his hard right hands and did anything a hero would do. I was impressed with this man. He was not the simple sailor he appeared to be on first glance.
A blast shook us all, and we fell from an impact of sheer force. Atom was stunned, and Jim and I were barely on our feet! Lance and the monkey lay still as well.
A man in a Nazi emblem and a metal face mask appeared with a machine that had rocked us all to the ground.
“Bulletman and his mate, I presume?” he said in a harsh German accent.
The Man in the Iron Mask! Spy Smasher told me about him. (*) Thought he died years ago, but I guess he, too, was caught in the time spell somehow! I thought.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Hitler’s Headsman,” All Hero Comics #1 (March, 1943).]
“Tie them up and put them with the others. We’ll make good use of the Amerikaner heroes, ja?” he said.
I passed out at that point. (So sue me!)