Times Past, 1980
Prelude to Odyssey
by Libbylawrence, partially adapted from Wonder Woman #270 by Gerry Conway and Jose Delbo
When Mary Marvel breaks up an evil but routine plot by Georgia Sivana, the world’s mightiest girl has no idea how her actions will change forever the destiny of an Air Force pilot!
In Washington, D.C., the crowds cheered as a beautiful girl rode on a float for the May Day Parade and waved to her admiring audience. Her auburn hair was flowing in the breeze, as was her red and gold mini-skirted outfit.
“Gosh, Mary Marvel is a dream!” said a lovesick teenage boy.
“She is at that, Lyle, but she is also busy rescuing the whole world from nuts like Sivana, so don’t count on meeting her anytime too soon!” said a smiling young man wearing the dress uniform of a United States Air Force colonel. He was blond and handsome, and boyish in his demeanor. Ruffling his nephew’s brown hair, the colonel said, “C’mon, squirt, let’s get an ice cream sundae. The base makes them like sawdust, so this pilot has a real craving!” Anything to get my mind off that flight tomorrow morning, the pilot thought. If all goes well, I’ll be making history by flying the F-38 faster than any other plane has ever flown! I just wish I knew why the general and the others have been behaving so oddly lately.
The two departed as Mary Marvel’s float passed them by. She hadn’t really noticed them except in the same way she had glanced at others in the sea of faces. Golly, this is fun, she mused. It could really go to a girl’s head having all those folks cheering!
As she enjoyed this rare time of peace and celebration, the world’s mightiest girl little realized that she and the handsome USAF pilot would soon risk much for America.
Mary was the world’s mightiest girl, but she was not the only teenager with a title all her own. The world’s wickedest girl, Georgia Sivana, had her own claim to fame, or infamy, as it were. She wore a white lab coat and black horn-rimmed glassed above a mouth that brimmed with bucktoothed malice.
“Heh-heh-heh!” she cackled.
“Must you do that?” whined a gray-haired man who stood idly by as the girl laughed over smoking chemicals.
“You wouldn’t rob a girl of her pleasure, would you?” she snapped. “In fact, you have little to say about it, since you are my mindless slave! For a mindless slave, you have a most annoying personality!”
General Phil Blankenship sighed again. He was her slave. He knew it. She knew it. Everybody in her lab knew it. Ever since she had slipped her mind-altering brew into the office coffee pot at Moulton Air Force base, all of the general’s staff had danced to Georgia’s weird tune.
“Yes! I have you where I want you,” she taunted. “You do what I say when I say it, and you can’t tell a soul! Nah nah nah-nah nah!”
Blankenship wished he had been able to quit his coffee habit years ago like his wife Betsy had demanded. Now look at him. That foul brew had made him a slave to an insane teenybopper.
“When I give you your next order, you’ll deliver me a nuclear payload, and I’ll use the F-38 fighter plane to carry it into the sky and hold the United States hostage! Why, Daddy will be sooo proud of me! I’ll be his favorite! I’ll be famous! I’ll even outshine Mary ‘Insipid’ Marvel! Why…” She paused with dramatic fervor. “I could be bigger than… Deborah Harry!” she cackled.
At Moulton Air Force base, as dawn crept across the horizon early the next morning, the handsome blond pilot prepared to make a very fateful voyage.
“There you have it, Colonel,” said a middle-aged man in civilian clothing. “The F-38… the most advanced computer-controlled supersonic jet in the world.” This man was the project head in charge of the F-38 project, which was all too evident by the protective, even jealous way he regarded the jet and the young man who had been selected to fly it on its inaugural run.
“And the fastest, or so I hear,” said the pilot.
“Oh, it’s fast, all right, mister,” said General Blankenship. “The brain boys estimate you can crack Mach 10 in this baby.”
“That’s ten times the speed of sound, Colonel,” said the project head, who wrongly assumed that the pilot would be ignorant of that fact. He had always liked to think of himself as the smartest person in the room, and his brusque manner showed it. “No one’s ever flown that fast on earth.”
“But don’t push it to the limit first time out, mister,” warned the general. “We want the plane back in one piece!”
“I’ll do my best, General,” said the pilot. “After all, if this test plane doesn’t get back — I don’t get back.”
“You’re all checked out, Colonel,” said the mechanic as the pilot settled into the cockpit of the fighter jet. “How does it feel?”
“Like a glove, Freddie. This bird and I were made for each other,” said the pilot. “Tell the brass to clear the runway… I’m moving out!” At that, the pilot started up the engines, and soon the F-38 had lifted off, soaring swiftly into the sky.
General Phil Blankenship gulped but tried to keep his cool as he watched the F-38 disappear into the horizon. He’d had no choice, he told himself, but if he managed to successfully pull off Georgia Sivana’s wicked plan, the United States itself was at risk. “May God have mercy on my soul…” he muttered under his breath.
Mary Batson hurried into her pink sweater and a long white skirt. Slipping on her high heels, she ran for the car. “Bye, Mom! See you later, Daddy!” she called to the Bromfields, her adoptive folks, as she hurried to school that morning.
I wish Billy was back from that trip out west in the van, she thought. Bet he’s having a swell time with Uncle Dudley!
She smiled as she enjoyed her memories of her brother and “uncle” from their last visit. They had dropped by while they were seeing Wyoming. “When you’re secretly Captain Marvel and Uncle Marvel, it doesn’t take long to whip across country for a visit!” they had said.
Reaching school, Mary hummed to herself. “Heart of Glass! Nice tune. I could get to like modern music.”
Sitting through first period, she excelled as always. Nearby, a girl glanced at her pretty face and stylish, if a bit old-fashioned clothes. “That Mary sure is a teacher’s pet!” she said, fuming.
“Aw, she’s sweet!” said another. “Give her a break. She can’t help it if her folks are rich, and she is smart and pretty.”
“Class, we have a sudden news bulletin!” said Miss Rich, the teacher. “The importance of it is such that we are showing it on the in-classroom TVs!”
They only do that for things like elections or worse! thought Mary.
Along with the other students, she saw and heard a terrible tale. A nuclear payload had been stolen, and a mysterious person now claimed to be behind the theft. That individual’s identity only became clear as the blurry image on the screen slowly formed into a very familiar but hateful visage.
“Heh-heh-heh! I, Georgia Sivana, have broken in to your morning talk show and soap opera world to say that, unless I receive fifty-million dollars and… oh, yes, am crowned Miss Teen America by noon today, I shall unleash my nuclear weaponry! Oh, and I’d like to take this time while I hold the airwaves hostage to say a big hello to Daddy and Thaddy in jail!”
“Miss Rich!” cried Mary, holding her stomach as if nauseous. “I need to be excused!”
Mary Batson rushed past the blonde teacher in the leopard print blouse, and, once alone, spoke one magic word.
“Home base, this is Hi-Flyer,” came the USAF pilot’s voice over the radio back at the base. “I’m at optimum main-thruster altitude. Preparing to disengage booster section.”
“All systems sound go so far, General,” said a uniformed officer.
“We’ll see, Major,” replied General Blankenship in a wistful tone of voice.
“Give the booster disengage command, Marconi,” instructed the project head. “Tell the colonel he can fire his main thruster in mark forty-five seconds.”
“Roger, sir,” replied the radio operator. “Processing now.”
“Booster away, home base. I’ve got my finger on your little red button,” the colonel radioed back.
The blond USAF colonel, who had earlier enjoyed the parade with his nephew, was not a habitual coffee drinker. Thus he proved to be the only staff member working out of Blankenship’s department who had not fallen under Georgia Sivana’s evil sway. Although he had indeed noticed the odd conduct of his peers in recent days, he had not been present when men working under the direction of his mentally dominated superior officer had tampered with the F-38 jet’s booster rocket.
Despite his unsubstantiated misgivings, the younger officer had taken his chances and gone ahead with the scheduled test flight this morning. As it had taken off, while Blankenship’s new mistress had radioed her mad commands, the blond man only began to suspect the enormity of his plight when he saw Mary Marvel racing through the air below.
Although the world’s mightiest girl had originally intended to stop the plane itself, it was when the radio operator remotely launched the booster rocket that she had to change her plans. Unbeknownst to the pilot, that rocket contained the stolen nuclear payload that Georgia Sivana had threatened the nation with. Mary Marvel, making a split-second decision, went after the booster rocket instead of the jet. It was a good move, because the booster suddenly thrust off through the air under Georgia’s full command. In fact, the booster rocket would be able to stay in the air while under remote control until her demands were met, acting as a nuclear threat from the sky that could be dropped at any moment. But what the young mad scientist hadn’t counted on in all her hours of planning was Mary’s quick action that morning.
Matching her speed exactly with the flying bomb, Mary slowly began clutching it in hands that were far stronger than the dainty impression they gave to observers. Got to steer this thing up and out into space before it detonates! she thought grimly. Slowly, she succeeded in hurling the booster rocket into space. It harmlessly entered the sun and was eliminated.
Meanwhile, thinking that the worst was over, the pilot had begun to count down to the next stage of his test run. “Ten seconds to main thruster ignition…” the pilot began, remaining as professional as possible under the strange circumstances. “Nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one… ignition!”
But as the plane thrust forward at incredible speed, the pilot immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. Startled, his whooping cry turned into a startled scream. “Losing control! No readings on instruments! The whole world’s blacked out!” the pilot cried frantically over the radio.
As Mary Marvel spun back down to the airbase to confront those behind the nuclear plot, the blond USAF colonel fought to manually override the preprogrammed flight path of the fighter plane.
The pilot’s desperate emotional cry over the radio suddenly cleared General Blankenship’s mind, and as Mary Marvel burst into the control room, all the mental anguish from the last few days finally exploded out of him. “Please!” he cried to the powerful girl. “I was under her control! Couldn’t resist! Now save Steve!”
Mary Marvel gave him a reassuring smile and hurried to do just that. But as she soared back into the air to stop the experimental plane and the heroic man who fought to save it from pre-planned destruction, it suddenly accelerated even more.
Within the F-38, the pilot was still trying to summon help. “Come in, home base! Emergency! Emergency! Emergen–“
And then, before Mary Marvel’s amazed eyes, the plane and pilot shimmered and completely vanished. “Goodness! It was just swallowed up!” she gasped.
The F-38 came roaring down in the part of the Atlantic Ocean known as the Bermuda Triangle, its pilot unconscious from the shock of the crash and the trans-dimensional trip that had brought it to this new Earth.
Had this happened at any other time, the pilot’s crash might have remained unnoticed, and his chances of survival would have been extremely slim. However, observers on an ancient-looking sailing vessel had watched the craft fall into the sea, and one dark-haired young woman wearing a short pink dress leaped into the waters to his rescue.
For this amazing young woman, the half-mile swim from the vessel to the downed jet was accomplished in seconds. Upon reaching it, she wasted no time climbing atop the sinking plane, its locked cockpit proving only a momentary obstacle to her incredible strength as she tore it open and pulled its unconscious pilot out. She then swam the pilot back to the sailing vessel.
Soon, a bedraggled figure in a blue Air Force flight suit laid in a spreading puddle of sea water on the deck of the trireme, surrounded by several women in archaic clothing. The young woman’s gentle hands removed his protective crash helmet, and her blond mother gasped with disbelief as she recognized his face.
At last, the pilot’s blue eyes opened and stared groggily about, finally fixing on the beautiful young woman who had saved his life. “An angel!” he said, still in a daze. “Tell me I’ve died and gone to Heaven!”
“You’ve been injured,” began the young woman, “but I think you’ll survive, Colonel…?”
“Trevor! Colonel Steve Trevor!” said the pilot, smiling up at her as if she were the only beautiful young woman on the vessel; in fact, hers were the only truly kind eyes that he saw there. “And something tells me that this is my lucky day…”
The young woman, whose name was Diana but who was also known by the much more famous name of Wonder Woman in Man’s World, returned his smile as she studied his face for the first time. Only her mother, Queen Hippolyta, knew why she didn’t recognize the face of the parallel Earth counterpart of her own departed Steve. It was a cruel twist of fate, to her mind, since she’d so recently used the mists of Nepenthe to erase her daughter’s memories of the two previous deaths of the Steve Trevor of Earth-One in order to ease her pain and loss.
After clearing up the situation at Moulton Air Force Base and sending Georgia Sivana to join her father and brother in prison, Mary Marvel found the answers she sought at the Rock of Eternity from wise old Shazam.
The old wizard spoke as follows: “Young Mary, that plane and its brave pilot were plucked from this world into another parallel Earth, where his destiny awaits. Fear not, and do not worry, for on that Earth, Colonel Steve Trevor will walk with legends!”
Mary felt somewhat better about the situation, especially since she knew the pilot had survived, but she still wondered exactly what her patron had meant.
Although Colonel Steve Trevor did reach the parallel universe of Earth-One intact, thanks to the machinations of the goddess Aphrodite of that world, he would never recall knowing a world where Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel were among its champions. Instead, he and the people of Earth-One would be made to think, through the wondrous powers of the mists of Nepenthe, that the real Earth-One Steve Trevor’s previous deaths had never taken place, that Wonder Woman had not loved Steve before now, and that he was the Steve Trevor who had lived on that world. Even though Wonder Woman’s career would remain otherwise intact in the world’s memories, it was as if their lives were starting over. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Rebirth on Paradise Island,” Wonder Woman #270 (August, 1980), “Renewal on Paradise Island,” Wonder Woman #271 (September, 1980), and “The Man with All the Angles,” Wonder Woman #272 (October, 1980).]
It would only be shortly before the so-called Crisis on Infinite Earths raged through the universe that Steve would finally learn the truth about coming from a parallel world. And his memories would be merged with those of the original Steve Trevor. (*) He would also marry his beloved angel, Princess Diana of Paradise Island, but lose her after a short honeymoon, thrusting him into the next stage of his destiny. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Bid Time Return,” Wonder Woman #322 (December, 1984), “Of Gods and Men,” Wonder Woman #329 (February, 1986), and Wonder Woman: Paradise Lost, Prologue: Odyssey.]