by Dan Swanson
When Wizzo the Wizard regained consciousness, he found himself in a prison hospital. Red Rocket had contacted the wizard Shazam for help in making the prison magic-proof, but Shazam hadn’t needed to do very much. A quick magical examination showed that the staff of Volthoom was nearby — the pocket dimension was apparently somehow attached to the wizard — but the spell that Wizzo had used to create this dimension required the use of either the staff or the now-disintegrated emergency staff to reopen. So the staff was always nearby, near enough that Wizzo could sense it — in fact, it was near enough that he could still hear Volthoom in his mind.
And there was nothing he could do to silence the ancient wizard. The mishap with the emergency staff had backfired, and somehow completely destroyed his ability to manipulate magic. Shazam thought it might be self-inflicted by Wizzo’s subconscious, but whatever the reason, Wizzo was no longer a wizard.
Not wanting to take any chances, Shazam cast a monitoring spell on Wizzo. If the powerless villain ever regained his magical abilities, Shazam would be alerted at once.
Meanwhile, back in a suburb of Fawcett City, Sandy discovered that she was with child. With no sign that her lover was ever going to return, she married one of the men who had constantly bombarded her with marriage proposals (and other, less decent proposals as well). It wasn’t, of course, Ben Smith the former used car salesman that she married, but one of the other salesmen who still had a job. Their baby, a beautiful little girl, was born a month premature, so her husband never found out about her dalliance with Wizzo the Wizard.
When Ernie Earnest got out of the hospital, he needed crutches, and the doctors told him he would need them forever. He had expected Grant Gardner to come get him, but Grant never showed up, and repeated calls to his house went unanswered. So he took a cab home. Grant wasn’t around. Ernie tried calling the store, but he kept getting a recording telling him that the number was no longer in service.
He called directory assistance, but they had no listing for All-American Art. He opened the Yellow Pages, but the store wasn’t listed. He even found a copy of last year’s Yellow Pages, and it wasn’t there, either. He knew there had been an ad in that book — he had helped lay it out, and had opened the book to see his handiwork as soon as it had arrived, and he had shown it off to friends a few times, too. It wasn’t like the page had been ripped out or anything — as far as he could tell, there had never been a listing for All-American Art.
Ernie was starting to get really spooked. Catching another cab, he went downtown to the address where the store should have been. There was a burger joint there instead, and no sign of an art store. Ernie asked around, but no one had ever heard of All-American Art, and the burger joint had been there for years.
By now, Ernie was questioning his sanity. When he got home, he noticed that his name was on the mailbox. He ran inside and opened the important papers drawer, where he found the deed to the house — which had his name on it. Was his memory of his whole life false? He hurried downstairs as fast as he could move, and found the gym still there, and a bundle with his costume and shield in it, with Detective Spinelli’s return address. By the date, it had arrived yesterday, and someone had carried it down here. He tore open the shield cabinet, and it was empty. But there was a folded paper in the cabinet, with his name written on it.
Sorry, I have to tend to other obligations. But I’ll be back. Good luck in your healing process — and your search for truth!
— My best always, Grant
DuPaul didn’t want a handicapped worker, so they eased Ernie out the door — with a generous settlement. It wasn’t long until he found a job teaching high school science and chemistry. He resumed his exercise routine as well as he could, ignoring the pain and constantly pushing himself.
He missed his best friend, of course, and it was made worse that no one but Ernie himself remembered Grant. He needed something to fill his spare time, and something drove him to volunteer work.
That helped him find a job he really liked — he became a citizenship instructor, teaching new immigrants everything they needed to know to pass their U.S. citizenship tests. And he developed a deep friendship with Tony Spinelli, who was promoted to captain.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Wizzo affair, Bonnie Drake received a large package via private courier. There was no return address, and the courier hadn’t actually met the sender. She handled it very carefully, but it didn’t seem heavy enough to be a bomb.
As she closed the door and turned toward the living room, her beautiful framed picture of Lady Victory caught her eye. Todd Drake had commissioned it shortly after they were married, and it showed a fantasy version of Bonnie in a red, white, and blue costume, throwing a round shield at some villains. She had always thought it was a very good likeness, although the artist may have under-emphasized her bosom somewhat.
She then noticed the hand-produced Lady Victory comic-book in its glass case on the table beneath the painting, and she realized why today’s delivery had seemed so familiar to her. The Lady Victory comic-book had come the same way, delivered by a courier, and she had never discovered the identity of the artist who had created it.
By now excited at the coincidences, she hurried to the living room, pulled out a pocket knife, and opened the package. She was already certain of what she would find — and she was right. Inside this package was the shield of Lady Victory. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The name change of Miss Victory to Lady Victory is intentional.]