As the Monster League of Evil closed in on the girl, Mary Batson dived between the legs of the hulking Frankenstein’s Monster and rolled across the floor, then jumped to her feet and leaped skyward. She had caught a glimpse of the three magical belts while she had fought the fiends.
Just maybe they’ll work for me, too! she thought. After all, the Lieutenant Marvels gained their power merely from having the same name as Billy! Her fingers scraped the edge of one of the three magic belts that hung suspended from above as if to mock their captive owners.
Trying again, she managed to pull one down. “Thunder!” she yelled as she rubbed the buckle.
A brilliant flash of light filled the room, and Mary Batson was transformed into Mary Thunder. In fact, she was truly Mary Marvel once more, but her costume now matched the sunburst-themed dress worn by the heroine of this Earth. She grabbed the other belts and ripped the chains loose from the wall.
“Curse her!” screeched the Salem Witch. “She was able to use the belt! How can that be?”
“She looked enough like Mary Thunder to be her tvin!” said Dracula. “That must explain it!”
Mary kicked out and held back the League as rubble flew upward between them.
Meanwhile, Willie Fawcett slipped his own belt on and tossed the other one to Otto Beck. They rubbed the buckles and together said, “Thunder!” The boys were instantly transformed into Captain Thunder and Captain Thunder Junior.
“Thanks!” said Captain Thunder. “Creepies, but that felt good!”
“Don’t worry, Mary!” said Mary Marvel. “I’ll give you your belt back soon enough!”
Mary Fawcett nodded eagerly and said, “I trust you completely! You’re wonderful!”
The Salem Witch drew back one bony hand and opened her mouth, only to be swept away as Captain Thunder Junior swooped down and wrapped her tightly in his cape.
“No spells! We’ve had more than our share!” he quipped. “She can’t chant, and she can’t gesture, so she shouldn’t be able to turn us back!”
“Now, Dracula, I think it’s time we settled things once and for all!” said Captain Thunder.
Dracula hissed defiantly as his regal persona became more savagely inhuman. “You do not face a mere League of Monsters! You face an army!”
At his mental command, the transformed villagers, enchanted by the Salem Witch’s spell, began to emerge from below and make their way up the slope toward the castle.
Captain Thunder tackled the vampire and cried, “You fiend! Those poor folks can’t help themselves!”
Dracula laughed and said, “I know! It pleasures me to think of your frustration! You vill either be killed by those you vish to protect, or you vill harm them!”
“Hold on!” said Mary Marvel. “I’ve got something I want to try!” She removed the magic belt and tossed it to Mary Fawcett, who caught it and swiftly transformed herself into Mary Thunder.
Mary Marvel rocketed out of the castle and flew into the dark night until she had left the planet entirely. I’ve got to try something by myself that the whole Marvel Family did once or twice before! she thought.
She turned and faced the globe, then rocketed back toward the Himalayas, where she carefully began to exert her incredible strength against the planet itself until she managed to stop the rotation and move it backward. She strained against the planet’s own force and then smiled as she succeeded in her goal.
Captain Marvel once learned our Earth was sentient, she thought. Perhaps this counterpart Earth has enough wits about it to know I’m trying to do some good! Maybe that’s why nothing more than mere rotation is occurring! Magic or science or plain old willpower is keeping things intact as I’d hoped it would, based on what we’ve experienced back home in the past!
Mary Marvel then streaked downward to where Transylvania was now being illuminated by a new morning sunrise. The transformed villagers had been cured by the touch of the sun’s rays, and as Mary had expected, Dracula and his bride had crumbled to ashes when their nocturnal lair had been exposed to sudden and impossible daylight.
She smiled as she saw the Thunder Family standing triumphantly over a beaten Salem Witch, Frankenstein’s Monster, and a startled human who had formerly been the Wolf Man.
“You cause it to become daytime!” said Mary Thunder. “That was wonderful!”
Captain Thunder smiled broadly and said, “We can free our pals from the cell below now!”
“We owe you a great debt!” added Junior.
“Well, I know you’d do the same for me!” said Mary Marvel. “I am sort of your counterpart from another Earth!”
Mary Thunder embraced her and said, “I always wanted a sister! No offense, Cap!”
Mary Marvel laughed warmly and greeted the emerging heroes as they were freed from the cells. At the back of her mind, she retained some concerns that remained unspoken.
While I freed them from their version of Suspendium, thanks largely to the way Merokee showed me how to use their belts, I wonder if I’m just dooming them all to death in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, she thought.
She bit her lip in concentration, then said, “Captain Thunder, Mary, Junior, this may be hard to understand, but someday you’re all going to face a real cosmic disaster. The skies will turn red, and time will be disrupted. Then something called antimatter will threaten to destroy the planet! I don’t know that telling you this will enable you to prepare or do anything to divert your destiny. I don’t really even know for certain that your planet will die in such a crisis, but I couldn’t leave your era without giving you a fighting chance!”
The Thunder Family gazed at one another and the other heroes in concern. “We’d better talk to Merokee about this!” said Captain Thunder.
But before they could react, a portly figure in a green military uniform appeared before them, brandishing a strange weapon.
Mary cried out, “Zotan, the so-called King of Time!”
Zotan grinned and said, “Indeed, Mary Marvel, you remember me! You should, since I alone may claim to have conquered all of time itself!”
“You were also defeated by the Marvel Family in spite of your time-travel devices and multi-era armies!” said Mary, recalling how the tyrant from the year 1,000,000 A.D. had once tried to take over her world in 1953. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Marvel Family Battles the King of All Time,” The Marvel Family #88 (October, 1953).]
“I observed this world from my vantage point in the time-stream, and I drew upon what I saw to lure you here,” said Zotan. “You see, the ghostly Merokee of our world was never more than an illusion created by my futuristic machines! I wanted to get you here so you would die at the hands of the Monster League of Evil. It was easy to send you back in time to a point at which this world still existed!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Captain Thunder Junior.
“And yet, by sending me here, you actually enabled me to serve the real Merokee, who seemed aware of my purpose for being here!” said Mary Marvel. “Maybe you were the real pawn!”
Zotan scowled as a look of rage came over his fat face. “You insipid child! I know only that your actions enabled me to see the power of those belts! Now I’ll take them for myself! Imagine the power of the Marvel Family for my own use!”
Before the Thunder Family could stop him, Zotan had frozen them in time with his chronal-ray gun. Mary Marvel had anticipated his actions but had moved a bit too slowly to stop him from hitting her as well.
Zotan laughed smugly and walked over to the captive heroes and heroines. “I’ll take those belts!” he said. “Now to return to my Earth and rule every era!” Removing the magic belts, he vanished.
As soon as he left, Mary moved forward and removed a belt from within the folds of her cape. She adjusted a dial, then used it to free the others.
“What happened?” gasped Captain Thunder.
“When I saw the way Zotan was staring at your magic belts, I used my super-speed to switch your magic belts with fakes of my own creation,” explained Mary Marvel. “They won’t be of any use to Zotan! You see, I managed to avoid his freeze-ray!”
“But, Mary, won’t a guy who says he can move freely from one era to another and watch all of time at will,” began Junior, “be able to come back to a second or minute before you tricked him and stop you once he realizes you duped him?”
Mary Marvel handed the heroes their real belts and shook her head. “No. You see, I did more than switch your real belts with fakes. I altered the controls on his own time-belt so that Zotan didn’t go very far!” She began counting down. “Ten, nine, eight…”
When she reached one, Zotan popped into view, and she ripped his belt off. “You witch!” he gasped.
Mary Marvel laughed and said, “No, the witch is over there. Still, I understand your confusion. After all, instead of returning to our Earth, all you did was travel seconds into the future!”
Gripping his arm, she said, “Now, Zotan, without your belt, you can’t do a thing. Be a good little time-tyrant and come back with me!” Turning to the Thunder Family, she said, “Keep the time-belt! It may be of use to you!” Then she flew off with a struggling and indignant Zotan under one arm as Captain Thunder, Mary Thunder, and Captain Thunder Junior waved goodbye.
Moments later, she had reached Merokee’s cavern and swooped through it to emerge on her own world. I’ll just drop Zotan off at the local prison, she thought. He can’t do a thing without his weapons or machines!
Later, as Mary Batson, she slipped back inside the cabin where Goldie Sparkle still snored. My! I suppose I did all that in one night! she thought. I certainly hope the Thunders survived the Crisis!
Elsewhere, Captain Thunder smiled at his friends as life continued at its normal pace. “You know, it sure makes a fellow feel good to know that life will go on like always,” he said, “plus or minus a few crime-waves and alien invasions!”
The old shaman Merokee nodded and said, “Using Zotan’s time-belt to move our solar system into an alternate timeline of Mary Marvel’s parallel universe, where the Crisis never happened, has enabled us to avoid our doom. However, we may never know what our fate might have been had we not met Mary.”
Captain Thunder nodded and said, “Creepies! But having one universe to take care of is plenty for me!”