by Dan Swanson
Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana wasn’t quite ready to give up on his son’s first career yet. “Junior, are you really sure you want to do this? Think of the excitement you’ll be giving up, knowing that someday you are destined to rule the universe as my heir, matching wits with that little blue ninny all the time, bringing heartbreak and suffering to all those who deserve it — heh-heh-heh! — all those who are not Sivanas! Why, we might even end up as opponents. You know I want what is best for you, but in case I haven’t told you, you can’t possibly know how proud of you and your sister I have been for following in my footsteps!”
Sivana Junior smiled and hugged his father. “Thanks, Pop. No way I’m going to pass this up! She promised me she would never expect me to oppose my family. I know it’s going to be tough, giving up all those neat things, but she’s worth it! Besides, I can’t be the next ruler of the universe until you’re gone, Pop, and that’s not gonna happen for a long time! Who knows what might happen between now and then?”
Tears filled Sivana’s eyes. His boy was a man now, and making a man’s decisions. He didn’t like this one, but he was proud that Junior had the courage to stand up for himself and the woman he loved. “OK, Junior, all I can say is good luck. I’ll get hold of the Big Red Cheese. You take care of the other stuff we discussed.”
“Thanks, Pop! I mean, really! I am so proud to be a Sivana — I’m so proud to be you! I’ll never forget this!” The two men, so similar in every way but age, exchanged hugs, and then went about their separate tasks.
In the end Captain Marvel agreed, as he had known all along he would. “I know I can’t keep you from going back to your life of wrongdoing, but you and Georgia must remain clean until at least a month after the wedding! And, of course, Junior as well.”
“A month? Might be difficult, but for Junior — yes, agreed.” Sivana was actually relieved; he had been prepared to promise up to six months. “And you, Captain, must confirm with your fellow ‘super-heroes’ that Georgia and I are off-limits during that time. We can escape the mundane authorities easily enough…”
“Well, the rest is up to you and Junior. It seems somewhat surreal to be saying this, but good luck, Captain Marvel! I’ll take my leave.” He pulled a small device from his pocket, flipped his wrist, and spoke. “Georgia, I’m done here.” And he vanished.
Later that day, a messenger delivered an envelope to Station WHIZ addressed to Captain Marvel. The famous lawyer, Perry Dixon, hoped that Captain Marvel would agree to a meeting with Counselor Dixon and his current client the next day on a matter of utmost urgency.
Just less than two weeks later, Captain Marvel, Counselor Perry Dixon, and Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, Jr. were admitted to a meeting with the president of the United States in his capacity as the chief law enforcement official of the nation. The president did most of the speaking.
“Mr. Sivana, I have here a presidential order granting you a provisional pardon for any past crimes of which you have been convicted in the past, amnesty for any past crimes for which you are under investigation, and clemency for any past crimes you may have committed of which we are yet unaware. Counselor Mason has made a convincing case regarding your lack of a childhood, the absence of a mother figure from your life, and the emotional and spiritual coercion brought to bear on you by your father, giving you no choice regarding your lifestyle.
“Frankly, son, I don’t believe a word of it; it’s bull$#!*! Seems to me like you’re just a young punk who finally realized you’re in too deep, and now you want out without facing the consequences.” Junior was about to respond angrily, when Dixon touched his shoulder and shook his head.
“But, son, I’ve been wrong before, and I’d sure like to be wrong this time. One of our country’s greatest heroes–” He nodded at Captain Marvel. “–has vouched for you. Your fiancée, a lovely lady, insists that you have changed. And all of my scientific advisors have been pointing out, over and over and over again, just how much you could accomplish for the good of the race and the world, if you were only on our side. They are already asking me to assign you to the Star Wars program. This is America, son, and one of the greatest things about America is that we are willing to give a man a second chance.
“As I mentioned before, this document is only provisional. It expires in three months. During that time, you need to convince one person, and only one person — me — that you have indeed turned the corner, and that it would be in the best interests of both justice and the law, again represented by me, to make this permanent rather than locking you up and sending you to trial. Three months, son. Make them count!”
As Captain Marvel saluted his president, Junior replied, “Thank you, President Reagan. (*) I’ll do the best I can to be worthy of your trust.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Picture Biography of Ronald Reagan,” Sweethearts #111 (May, 1952).]
Perry Dixon looked at the document, making doubly sure it was signed. Many of the best legal minds in the world had come together to produce this extraordinary document, and he could still hardly believe it. Captain Marvel must be extraordinarily persuasive.
The three men adjourned to Dixon’s private club for a celebratory lunch in one of the most private dining rooms. Dr. Sivana was there waiting for them, even though Dixon was sure he wasn’t a member, and the private security service the club used was very good.
“Congratulations, Junior! My thanks, Captain. You are upholding your end of the deal with honor, as I expected. Although I am about to say something I would never have imagined I would ever hear myself utter, very well done, Counselor!”
Although Dixon was stunned beyond words to be complimented by the most infamous outlaw of all time, the Captain had words of his own for Sivana. “Thanks for your own compliance to our terms, Doctor. You know, it is going to be a shame if you go back to your old ways.”
“Bah! I warn you again, talk like that is very close to a violation. I like what I do, I like my life, and I love making you miserable. Don’t mention this again!” He turned and shook Junior’s hand. “Congratulations, son. Good luck!”
“Thanks, Pop!” Tears were streaming down Junior’s cheeks. “You’re incredible!”
“Heh-heh-heh! Actually, son, I’m infinitely better than just incredible.” It was a boast, and it sounded very much like the other Sivana, but it wasn’t that far from true. The world really had never seen a more incredible genius and villain than Sivana. On that note, Sivana disappeared with a faint pop.
Junior turned to the other two. “I guess it’s time for Phase Two!”
In order to prove himself, Sivana Junior was working hard on several inventions that would benefit the world: a gasoline additive, which he called Botane, would improve gas mileage by twenty percent and cut toxic emissions virtually to zero; a new lubricant made from sand, which he called DuraLube, would be thirty percent more effective at reducing friction than lubricating oil, and would only need replacing every one-hundred-thousand miles; and he was developing plans for a dual gasoline/electric-powered car, which used several other of his inventions and would get a minimum of one-hundred and twenty miles per gallon. He had set up a non-profit organization to license these inventions, and over ninety percent of the earnings would be distributed to charities for abused kids. He spent a lot of time with his fiancée, and they had high hopes.
Sivana Junior placed an urgent summons to Captain Marvel, but instead he found himself talking with Captain Marvel Junior instead, when the young hero showed up in his place.
“Sorry, shorty. Cap’s busy, and he asked me to see what’s up.”
“Why, you skinny blue twerp! Why, if I wasn’t on my best behavior, I’d smite you down! Heh-heh-heh!”
“Good to see you too, Thad!” The genuine respect that these two had always had for each other when they were enemies had given way to a developing friendship. Sivana Junior had several unlikely cheerleaders these days. No one thought it would be easy, but there was a good chance he might actually impress the president. “What’s up?”
Thad was suddenly very serious. “I think we got big troubles, blue! I was checking some of Pop’s sky monitors, and they’re showing something I don’t like.” Junior was working in one of Sivana’s old hideouts. Strangely enough, the lab was filled with telescopes, radio telescopes, long-range radar, and some extremely advanced equipment that nobody but Junior understood. “There’s something big out there, and it’s coming this way — something the size of Mars, but it’s not natural! It has changed directions several times, and I think it’s some kind of battleship.”
Captain Marvel Junior was skeptical. “If it’s that big, how come nobody’s reported it yet?”
“Well, it’s invisible.” Captain Marvel Junior was starting to look annoyed, so Thad kept talking. “It has some kind of stealth technology. Even with Pop’s super-heterodyning amalgamated vision-scope, you can just barely see it. Sandalyn thinks it’s part magical.” Sandalyn Wizzolinsk, his fiancée, was the illegitimate daughter of the villainous wizard Wizzo, and had a great aptitude for magic. She was trying to help Thad to a better understanding and acceptance of magic, and he was always happy to show her his mastery of science and technology.
“Where is it now?” Junior asked. “I’ll go have a look.”
“It’s out near Pluto now, but it will probably be here in a week. But how are you going to check it out when you can’t even see it, you little blue idiot? Heh-heh! And how are you going to get out there and back that fast?”
“Rock of E, Thaddy, me boy! But you’re right. How will I see it?”
“Bring me along, and use this!” He handed the young hero a space helmet, which had special goggles built into it, and a radio. As he pressed a button, a trap door in the floor pulled back, and an elevator rose to floor level bearing a small space ship. “I’m coming, too! The goggles won’t work until you get within a million miles, so you’ll need me to guide you.”
“Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, Jr.! You’re going nowhere without me! If that thing is magical, you might need my help!” A small figure bustled through the door.
“Aw, gee, Sandalyn, can’t a guy get away for some guy-only fun? Besides, I’ll be with the world’s mightiest bum — heh-heh — sorry, Marv! I’ll be with Marvel Boy, here. How could I be safer?”
“You go without me, and just see if the Boy Wonder, there, can protect you when you get back!” Sandalyn Wizzolinsk snapped her fingers, and a globe of fire about the size of a baseball appeared an inch from her hand. As she flicked her finger, the fireball flew right at Sivana Junior, then faded just before it could hit him. “C’mon, Thaddy, where you go, I go!”
Thad looked at Captain Marvel Junior and shrugged. “For this I’m going straight?” He turned and gathered his fiancée in his arms, and they shared a quick kiss.
Captain Marvel Junior was amazed at the change in Sivana Junior. The man stood straight up now, not perpetually stooped over. He had improved his hygiene, and had finally started wearing some stylish clothes, no doubt selected by Sandalyn.
And Sandy herself was even more amazing than the change in Thad. Sandalyn Wizzolinsk was about five feet tall, with long brown hair and a nice figure. She had a cute face with an absolutely amazing smile; it reminded him of Sunny Sparkle. She was athletic, a world-class gymnast, and she had an affinity for magic. If Captain Marvel Junior hadn’t already been interested in Mary Marvel, he would have been jealous. This girl seemed perfect; it seemed amazing to think that her father was a super-villain. Well, Thad was a clone of the world’s wickedest scientist, wasn’t he? And not long ago, he was also Captain Marvel Junior’s most deadly enemy.
Sivana Junior pressed a button that retracted the roof. Captain Marvel Junior put on the helmet, while Thad and Sandy climbed into the rocket.
“Keep up if you can!” Captain Marvel Junior taunted as he raced skyward.