The Mighty Isis stared with wide eyes that glistened with tears as she saw scenes drawn from her own clouded memories and projected in the air. She saw a beautiful Egyptian girl standing before a mystically imprisoned man who had a long white beard and an expression of wisdom and power in his piercing eyes.
“In ancient Egypt, magical powers were given to a young girl who freed a trapped but benign wizard,” she whispered. (*) “These same powers became the birthright of her heirs as they used them to protect the natural world. At times they seemed to rest within the individuals, and at other times they were within an ornate amulet. In all cases, they were used for good, and the name of Isis became celebrated and honored!”
[(*) Editor’s note: This was the old wizard Shazam, who was living in Egypt at the time.]
“And in the year 1970,” continued Prince Michael Dromov, “a college student named Andrea Thomas unearthed the amulet and embraced the power that was hers by right of birth. The shy, studious, rather plain girl from Fairfax, Missouri, was, in fact, a descendant of the ancient Isis!”
He projected a scene in which a rather severe-looking woman with long brown hair and large glasses crouched in the desert sand and held an ornate box that contained the fabled amulet of Hatshepshut.
“This young woman of the twentieth century used the amulet to tap into her birthright, and she transformed at will into a composite being who had the looks and power of Isis, along with the humanity of Andrea Thomas! (*) She protected the world during the last few years in which the Marvel Family and many others were trapped in Suspendium.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Scarab, the Man Who Would Destroy,” Isis #1 (October-November, 1976) and “The World’s Wickedest Plan,” Shazam! #1 (February, 1973).]
She saw herself in her customary costume and jewelry, doing battle with an endless array of criminals, super-villains, and supernatural menaces.
“When the heroes returned in 1973, they embraced Isis as one of their own. She was a true heroine, but she was troubled, since some twist of fate had led her to discover the amulet before she was truly destined to do so. Thus, her transformation from Andrea into Isis was a conflicted one that changed in nature from moment to moment.”
She saw herself as Andrea Thomas consumed by anger at the loss of her teaching job and the well-meaning condescension of colleague Rick Mason. She rashly vowed to give her up her life as ordinary Andrea Thomas and live only as Isis. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Perilous Pyramid Power,” Isis #5 (June-July, 1977).]
“This decision was a sign of your inner turmoil. You even showed up to class as Isis, with naturally disastrous results!”
She saw herself dressed as Isis and coldly informing Andrea’s young pupils that they should not dare to question the ways of the natural world, but should merely accept them as sovereign over human intellect.
“I was losing my sense of self,” she said softly. “I was sometimes a combination of Isis the goddess and bookish Andrea, and other times I was merely one or the other! I couldn’t decide if I was distant goddess or lovesick girl!”
“And then Rick Mason — the man Andrea had an attraction to — was trapped in amber by an ancient being known as Serpenhotep!” continued Prince Michael. “He assumed Rick Mason’s form and plotted against you, since he knew your true identity!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Feel the Fangs of the Serpent King,” Isis #7 (October-November, 1977).]
“Rick was imprisoned in some magic jewel?” said Regina. “I was away at that time. I never knew any of this!”
They saw the gloating figure of the purple-clad Egyptian wizard Serpenhotep as he wore Rick Mason’s body like a garment.
“He yielded to Mason’s mortal feelings for Andrea and kissed her! That kiss revealed the truth to Andrea, and as Isis, she struck back!”
The scene showed Isis standing before Rick Mason, but Mason’s features were consumed with hatred.
“Altered form be my clue, to your inner selves be true!” she had shouted.
Serpenhotep shrieked as his spirit left Rick Mason’s body, but he managed one final act of defiance. Even as he returned to being a mere wraith without a body, and Rick returned to normal with no memory of what had occurred, the evil wizard deflected some of the spell back on Isis.
“My own spell sealed my fate! My Isis self — the goddess — was entombed in my pyramid, while Andrea’s secret desires were manifested in a series of fragmented and ever-changing pocket timelines!”
She saw herself as a radiantly beautiful, if shallow teen pageant queen named Drea Thomas.
“I was a mousy girl who envied the popular beauty queens and cheerleaders,” she said. “I suppose that spell allowed one such secret self to manifest herself.”
She saw a swashbuckling woman in a fedora battling Nazi agents in the 1940s.
“I always loved the romance of archaeology and the World War II era! I came from Fairfax, and my fantasy self — Fairfax Thomas, daring world traveler and heroine of the ’40s — manifested as well.”
“I sense merely by becoming aware of how your spell created these other selves and their own transitory timelines,” said Prince Michael, “you have dispersed them and regained much of your old identity.”
Isis nodded and said, “And yet I’m not done, am I?”
“This may prove painful,” said Prince Michael. “You also embraced Andrea’s attraction to Rick Mason and conjured a timeline in which you were his wife!”
Regina gasped as she said, “I don’t understand. Rick is single. I sure never realized Andrea Thomas was Isis! And yet, I’ve read about Fairfax Thomas in my books!”
“All these separate selves truly lived at times, but they flickered in and out of reality as Isis stirred in her magical sleep!” said Prince Michael. “In truth, none of them were real! This final fantasy may wound your feelings.”
Isis saw herself as Andrea Thomas Mason — a very pregnant Andrea Thomas Mason — but she also knew the truth. “By Osiris! Ever since my confrontation with Serpenhotep in 1978, I’ve lived these fantasy lives in various eras, while my true self slumbered here!”
She turned to the young mutant and said, “What of the child? If I disperse this spell-self, what will happen to the child… to my child?”
“Your marriage to Mason and your pregnancy never truly occurred, except as magically created fantasies,” said Prince Michael.
Isis covered her eyes with one hand for a moment and then nodded sternly as the pregnant Andrea faded from reality.
“I am myself again! Perhaps for the very first time, I have fully integrated my Andrea persona and my role as Isis! I am a new woman — one born of both heroic resolve and some personal loss!”
Isis smiled at Regina and touched her hand with a compassion that demonstrated exactly how unified her roles as Andrea Thomas the teacher and Isis the goddess and heroine had become.
“Regina, your brother is a dear friend to me, but our relationship never progressed beyond the earliest steps of romance,” she said. “Clearly, the spell tapped into my imagination to alter reality. Still, I feel a sense of loss at what might have been!”
Regina nodded slowly and said, “This has been quite a day. I can’t think clearly yet!”
“You are the same bright and loving girl you were before this day’s events,” said Isis. “You will be fine again, in time. I will help you come to terms with the strange new powers the Orb granted you. You may find them to be a blessing and not a curse!”
Turning to Prince Michael, she said, “I owe you a debt of thanks as well. You may have briefly been my pupil, but you taught me a precious lesson this day! Now leave here. I have a job to do, and I may do it with a clear mind and an easy heart if I know you are safe!”
Prince Michael smiled and said, “You are stronger than ever before! Your spirit almost radiates health and courage!” He took Regina by the hand, and they faded from view. His mutant power had teleported them away.
“Will Isis be OK?” asked Regina. “I feel like she is a friend to me!”
She didn’t realize it, but Prince Michael had erased her memory of the secret of Isis, so that she only remembered Isis and Andrea Thomas as two very different people. He felt that it was the least he could do, since it was through his mental projections that Regina had learned the truth about the heroine.
Within the Pyramid of Isis, Isis quickly located Adrianna Tomaz. She truly knew every inch of the mystical structure by instinct, and the new Isis stood out like a sore thumb.
“Adrianna! You and I might have been sisters, had your own heart not been so married by greed and malice!” she cried. “I will reclaim my role and bring you to justice for your assault on a helpless girl!”
Isis stepped forward with her hands on her hips. She was majestic. She was defiant. She was truly regal in every way.
Adrianna backed away from her. This Isis was nothing like the broken woman she had fought earlier. Adrianna was no coward. She was entirely too egotistical to see anyone else as any type of threat to her superiority, but she was admittedly afraid of the powerful woman who now faced her.
Still, she hid her feelings well and smiled that same mocking smile that had infuriated and bewitched many a man. “The little bug has emerged from her plastic cocoon,” she said. “What a pity I will have to rip your wings off all too soon!” She cried, “I am Isis alone — char her bones!” And flames crackled around them.
“Fire die, hear my cry!” said the true Isis as she walked directly through the wall of magical flames, and her enemy stepped back. “Surrender!” she said. “You cannot truly face me. I have experience, and the identity of Isis is mine alone!”
Adrianna cursed and said, “Winds howl and sigh, make her die!”
As a whirlwind roared into existence and ripped at Isis, she calmly spread her arms wide and allowed it to sweep through her cascading hair. She stood still, and the wind itself seemed to cower before her as she waited for it to cease its raging.
“Let this be the sign, that your power is mine!” she said as the amulet ripped itself away from Adrianna and clasped itself around its proper owner’s neck.
Adrianna fell to her knees and crawled desperately beneath the winds, which now surrounded her at the command of the one, true Isis. She looked left and right, and her eye caught a gleam from one of a row of strange portals that seemed carved into the walls of the pyramid. Screaming, she hurled herself directly through one portal, which flashed before returning to its previous color.
Isis rushed forward and gently touched the portal. She frowned as she realized that, in some way, the false Isis had been ripped away from this world. “May she find peace,” she whispered as she detected no trace of the angry girl.
Later, Professor Andrea Thomas stood outside the stately halls of Columbia University, where she had accepted a teaching position. It was quite a step up for her professionally, since she’d previously worked only as a high school science teacher. Still, she had taken that job in part because Andrea had lacked the confidence in herself to pursue something a career in higher education. She had actually been overqualified for the high school teaching role, thanks to her extensive education. The fact was that she had once been offered a professorship several years earlier but had turned it down.
Now, after regaining her sense of self, Andrea had lucked upon finding a last-minute, open position at this New York-based university, and an old friend of hers from her college days who was a tenured professor there had given her a glowing recommendation. With a bit of magic, she also managed to fill in the eight-year gap in her resume by explaining it away as work overseas; she knew it was somewhat unethical, but she didn’t have much choice, if she wanted to find a new job. With this professorship, she couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to start an exciting new chapter of her life. Still, she felt sad over leaving her friends back in California.
It was hard to say goodbye to Rick, thought Andrea. While my magic helped explain away where Andrea Thomas had been for the last eight years, there was still a bond between us. I just couldn’t resume my old life near him, though. I am too independent a woman to live in a fantasy, and even after the reality in which we were married ceased to be, it left me all too aware of what it had felt like. I don’t want to play a role or live as the woman a spell caused me to be. I needed a new start, and life here as a professor at Columbia will give me just what I need! From now on, the future is bright and is mine to determine as both Andrea and Isis! At that, she eagerly walked up the steps toward her new office and a new beginning.
Adrianna Tomaz gasped as she found herself face-to-face with an evil-looking bearded man. “I know you!” she started to say. “Some memory from my time as Isis!”
The man silenced her with one raised hand. “While certain business will occupy me for the immediate future, I also have plans for you, my daughter!” he said. (*) “In fact, in the odd language of this modern era, you will be what might be called my back-up plan!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Challenge of Shazam.]
And the evil wizard continued to speak, wearing a twisted grin as he explained his plans for her.