The Marvel Family’s second lieutenants, known as Hill Marvel and Tall Marvel, flew into the light of a tunnel as their magic gemstone guided them directly back to a startling scene. Shazam himself stood before his evil twin Mazahs with an ornate box in his gnarled hands.
Mazahs grinned and stared balefully at the good wizard. “I wanted to find and slay your pitiful pawns with my own Masters of Evil, but instead I was drawn here, as were these witless dolts!” he said as he gestured to the Lieutenant Marvels.
“You came here because you had no choice,” said Shazam. “You came from my soul as naught but formless evil, which I banished in order to ensure my future champions would remain pure. Thus you share a connection to me. You are linked to me still, and the fact that you now reside within a mortal form makes you yet more vulnerable.”
Mazahs sneered as he scoffed, “Vulnerable to your magic?”
Shazam stood aside to reveal the eager youth known as Kid Eternity. “Nay. Vulnerable to a power which came from a higher source than you can conceive. I died when my time came to an end. Thus, like all departed souls, I — and through the bond we share, you — are subject to that power, with the addition of other magicks you might well remember!”
Kid Eternity whispered to Mr. Keeper and said, “I knew that Shazam would not have held me back when he sent the others on to look for the evil wizard if he had not had a good reason.”
“He wanted to prepare you for this great duty!” said Mr. Keeper.
Kid Eternity whispered, “I never imagined that my power boosted by Shazam could summon beings like the ones who brought Mazahs here!”
Mazahs scowled and screamed, “I can’t imagine your paltry might could summon me, but I can still act before you can command me, if even your power actually can do such a thing!” He generated a blast of green energy that shattered the ornate box to dust.
“Within that infernal trap I suffered too long until I was freed by error. While I could not break it from within, I easily shattered it from outside its many magical glyphs and wards! You won’t have the boy trap me inside it now!”
Shazam smiled wearily. “No. ’Twas never my intent. You escaped from the box once, and it would not make a good prison for you again. Thus, I merely displayed it to lull you off-guard while my magic combined with this lad’s to bring forth those who truly brought you here and may hold you forever!”
Mazahs frowned as he saw six figures float into view. The regal spirits surrounded him, and their power seemed to wilt his very form. “The original elders! How can it be?” whispered Mazahs as he began to shrink.
The evil wizard screamed, then vanished as light filled the cavern.
The regal spirits nodded in approval, and their leader said, “Tis done! We have purged the multiverse of his evil. He will never return while we six will it to be so.”
Shazam turned to the pair of Lieutenant Marvels and said, “My sons, just as I empowered you all through young Billy, so was I once empowered when I was young, and these great beings mentored me as I do mentor you. I present to you my elders: Voldar, Lumian, Arel, Ribalvei, Elbiam, and Marzosh.”
Wise Lumian said, “When Shazam spoke the magic word Vlarem, which came from the first letters of our own names, he gained our gifts. He served as our champion until eons passed, and all forgot our names except for our loyal champion. We faded from mortal realms, but we never truly departed so far that we could not heed the summons of one who needed us! Kid Eternity and Shazam united to bring us back!”
Shazam smiled and said, “My thanks, great ones! You have rid the world of evil born of my folly!”
“Shucks!” said Hill Marvel. “It makes a fella right humble to know that even Sha — himself has elders. Elder elders, I guess you could say!”
“My own mentors must depart to higher purposes of their own, but they have defeated my double,” said Shazam. “Now, my sons, find the others and hunt down the Masters of Evil and the Black Adam Family. Though their master be gone, those pawns still live and possess malice enough for you all!”
As the blinding light of the elders faded away, the two Lieutenant Marvels found themselves left in the dark again, where they were joined by Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny.
“Well, the gem says we should keep flying,” said Tall Marvel. “I guess we’ll find Cap, Mary, Junior, and Cool when we emerge from the tunnel.”
But as they flew off, they little realized that the Masters of Evil were hiding in the shadows.
Spy Master grinned and said, “They’re gone. With the old wizard gone as well, we’re free to serve ourselves. I say we follow the magic old turban head here has, to get to Earth and start a good, old-fashioned crime wave!”
Falcon the Fearsome, the evil counterpart of Ibis the Invincible, smiled coldly and said, “So be it!”
Spy Smasher frowned as he walked slowly across the arid landscape. He rubbed his face and wiped away sweat as he trudged onward. He had been walking for hours, and he felt as if he could not continue onward. His powerful brain knew that his only chance of survival was to find some type of community in which he could eat and drink and rest for a bit.
I know the Marvels will come looking for me, but while I await their timely arrival, this Virginian needs some basic necessities, he thought. I was almost certain that I would reach a town by now!
Finally, as he made his way down a sloping ridge, he looked down on a small town, and he nodded in approval. This looks like something out of the Old West. I guess that wizard’s magic knocked me all the way into the days of the gunfighters!
Removing his helmet, he revealed his handsome if weary features. Alan Armstrong knew that he had plenty of things to return to in his own time. His lovely bride Eve was the most important one, but he also valued his charity work, and he vowed that, one way or another, he would get home.
Spy Smasher attracted plenty of stares as he entered the town, where dirt streets and horses combined to create a noisy and dusty environment. He smiled as he noticed the hoop skirts and crinolines of the women in their bonnets. He also saw their men in their rough homespun clothes and large hats. I guess I might as well enjoy this living history lesson while I have the chance! he thought.
Spy Smasher noticed a disturbance at the bank, and he rushed forward with his customary courage and speed. He saw three masked gunmen and frightened bank clerks and figured out what he had to do.
“Crime doesn’t pay,” he said. “Haven’t you boys heard that? Maybe it’s a new expression in this era, but you’ll learn to remember that little slogan when I’m through with you!”
Spy Smasher darted forward and connected with a right hook that sent the first man staggering. He also dived across the room and shoved a small counter into the second man’s path. As the startled crook tripped over it, Spy belted him as well and turned to face the last robber. This outlaw had already fired his gun at the hero, but he could not hit the agile champion. That did not mean his aim would not improve.
I guess I was a bit cocky, since these crooks seem like something out of a Saturday show at the Bijou! he mused as he stood ready to take action.
But he never got the chance to do so, because the whiz-bang of a bullet disarmed the gunman as a lanky man with a sheriff’s star on his chest swaggered into the bank from the rear.
“I reckon I got heah just in time, stranger!” said the man as he tipped his hat and bound the gunmen.
Spy Smasher smiled and said, “You did, at that. Thanks!”
The cowboy grinned and said, “My name is Lawton. Folks call me Lucky, ’cause things seem to go my way!”
Spy Smasher shook hands with the famous lawman and said, “I think some of that good fortune rubbed off on me as well!”
Lawton directed his deputies to take the crooks away, and then he turned to face Alan. “I can’t help noticing your fancy duds, like some kinda pilot from back east. I think you might like to meet another fella who dresses kinda odd.”
They entered the local hotel, where Lawton took Alan to a room on the second floor and entered after knocking. They saw a young man in twentieth-century clothing who sat at a table covered with paper.
“My word! Spy Smasher!” gasped the slender young man.
“You know me? You come from my era!” said Alan.
“You also come from parts unknown, huh, Mister?” said Lawton.
The man at the table said, “Of course I know you. I’ve read about your exploits. I little thought I’d run into you in the 1870s!” Standing to shake his hand, he said, “I’m Mark Swift. I travel through time with a machine called a ‘time-retarder,’ though its actual name is the History Express. It was completed in the year 1940 by my guardian and schoolteacher, a remarkable scientist named Rooney Kent. After using it so many times over the years since I was just a kid being given the opportunity to learn history firsthand, I’ve improved it, so it can go in many directions, even into alternate timelines. Let me give you a lift back home. We could talk. Your famous Gyrosub fascinates me!”
“Mr. Swift, you have a deal, and a very appreciative hitchhiker!” said Spy Smasher. They hurried out into a barn where Swift had stored his craft.
As they vanished into the time-stream, Lawton whistled softly and strolled back inside. I ain’t never seen nothin’ to beat that! he thought.