Spy Smasher frowned as Ibis the Invincible continued speaking.
“I believe I can help you learn who is behind this plot against you and your loved ones,” said the Egyptian sorcerer. “We know he or she is receiving supernatural help from the foursome that empowered the beings known as Ibac, but this mortal agent of theirs could be traced as well through the power of my Ibistick!”
Spy Smasher nodded slowly as the suave Egyptian said, “This foe must be someone you have crossed in some manner in the past. The words his pawns parroted to you when you were led to believe it was an heir of the dead Robur, or even your own lost sibling returned to life, indicated an old grudge!”
“Then the answer rests in my past career,” concluded Alan Armstrong. “I know my old Nazi enemy, America-Smasher, died in 1945 in Berlin. The sultry temptress Dark Angel is still active, according to Mister Scarlet. She is still young because of a variation of the Suspendium effect. Still, she always relied upon sheer cunning or manipulation of men through her sexuality. This doesn’t ring true for her.”
“False leads, personal knowledge of you, and a machine that alters the mind,” said Ibis. “These are the threads my Ibistick will attempt to weave into a pattern, if you will allow me to use the talisman upon your mind!”
“I trust you, Ibis,” said Alan. “In fact, I now regret that so many of us old mystery-men never really connected regularly to get to know one another and share information or resources more than for the occasional battle as Shazam’s Squadron of Justice.”
Ibis lowered the golden rod and said, “Ibistick, bring forth the interlinking memories within this man’s mind. Produce, from what he has experienced, the truth we seek!”
The magical talisman glowed, and Alan’s eyes grew wider. “Great Scott! You did it! Only one man could be behind this. He learned my secret in 1941, when he used his Brain-O-Graph and Hypno-Chair to turn me into a terrorist and killer, until finally, Captain Marvel cured me! (*) He could be using the same type of machine on Jack, here, and on Eve! Her amnesia might have stemmed from remote emission of such a mind-scrambler! Plus, he loved deception, as befitted the top Axis spy in the nation in those pre-war days!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Spy Smasher, Whiz Comics #15 (April, 1941), Captain Marvel, Whiz Comics #16 (April 18, 1941), Spy Smasher, Whiz Comics #16 (April 18, 1941), Captain Marvel, Whiz Comics #17 (May 16, 1941), Spy Smasher, Whiz Comics #17 (May 16, 1941), Captain Marvel, Whiz Comics #18 (June 13, 1941), and Spy Smasher, Whiz Comics #18 (June 13, 1941).]
Ibis nodded and said, “The Mask — your sworn enemy from the dark days! It makes perfect sense!”
Spy Smasher slipped his own mask back into place as he said, “My first foe, and perhaps my greatest enemy! However, I wrongly thought that I had killed him while under the rage-inducing influence of his Hypno-Chair. Perhaps it was just one of his doubles, or perhaps I was not as thorough as I thought!”
“I want to come with you,” said Jack Smith. “He used me as well. Let me help you!”
Spy Smasher hesitated, then said, “Fine. My days of going it alone are over.”
“I will join you as well, if only to shield you from the infernal beings we spoke of before,” said Ibis.
“Uh, one question,” said Jack. “Where are we going?”
“We’re going to the last place I fought the Mask,” said Spy Smasher. “I think he’ll be there, since he would relish the irony of hiding where he’d once been found before!”
Soon, the Gyrosub landed outside an old skyscraper.
“This old place near the naval shipping yard was his original base, back in 1941,” explained Spy Smasher. “He delighted in being right around his preferred target. It was closed down when most of the main shipping contracts went north.”
“Ibistick, reveal what rests within!” said Ibis the Invincible. The building glowed and then became transparent from the outside looking in.
Uniformed figures, technological equipment, and the huge Gyrosub that had taken Eve Armstrong all filled the interior. The bound Eve paced restlessly within a locked room. At the center of the building stood a tall man in a dark suit and a solid white cloth that covered his face.
“Eve and the Mask! Plus, the ship itself!” gasped Spy Smasher. “I’m counting on you two to get Eve to safety while I deal with the Mask!”
“I could not locate her via my magic, but I can bring her to me now that we have spotted her,” said Ibis.
“Do it! I’m going in after we shake things up a bit!” declared Spy Smasher.
Jack Smith watched his uncle, marveling at the man’s determination. He had admired his father based upon what little he had gathered from his late mother’s memories and from his personal research, but he now saw a kindred spirit in this living and heroic reminder of the lost Jack Armstrong.
Spy Smasher adjusted the controls on his Gyrosub and blasted away at the building, careful to avoid hitting the section Eve was in.
Ibis spoke clearly and triumphantly. “Ibistick, bring Eve Armstrong to me safely!” The glow filled the ship, and Eve appeared and fell into his arms.
“Ibistick, grant her slumber!” he cried, then carried her to a resting place in the rear of the craft.
“Is she hurt?” yelled Spy Smasher as he fired again and again at the building.
“No,” said Ibis. “But I felt it best to sedate her, since she still writhes under the madness of the Hypno-Chair.”
“They’re returning fire!” cried Jack. Indeed, the dozens of men below were firing away at the Gyrosub, and their blasts were damaging the craft. “What kind of shells are they using?” he cried.
“The Mask has had decades to upgrade his weaponry,” said Spy Smasher. “I guess he knows how to penetrate my ship’s defenses!”
“That situation shall cease as I command it thusly!” vowed Ibis. “Ibistick, contain the troops below!” A glowing sphere enveloped the troops and left them helpless. “They will revive when I remove the sphere,” explained Ibis.
“Ibis, can you take the wheel?” asked Spy Smasher. “I hate to use autopilot in combat!”
“I can!” said Jack. “I’m a trained pilot. I’ve been studying for months now!” He raced to the cockpit and listened as Spy Smasher gave him a rapid series of instructions.
“It almost flies itself,” said Spy Smasher. “That’s the beauty of it.”
Jack nodded as his eyes grew brighter, and passion filled his face. “This is amazing! I’ve dreamed of a ship like this baby!”
Spy Smasher smiled briefly. “You’ll get plenty of time to fly it when this is over, son. Ibis, put me inside! I want the Mask now!”
Ibis obeyed, and Spy Smasher materialized in the flaming building and faced his old foe.
“It has been too long, Alan Armstrong!” said the Mask. “I never imagined we would meet again!”
“Come, now,” said Spy Smasher. “You must have been planning this for years! How did you make that nightmare over there? Did you really find Robur’s old plans, or copies of them?”
“That esteemed gentleman gave me his plans prior to my release!” said the Mask.
“What?” said Spy Smasher. “Robur is dead. I know that now!”
“And so was I!” said the Mask. “It was in that hellish inferno in which we dwelt upon our demises that we exchanged secrets and learned of our common enemy. I was granted a return to life by my justly worshipped benefactors! That release from the land of the dead was the release I spoke of just now.”
I did kill him in 1941, thought Spy Smasher. Those infernal powers brought him back to life to attack me! But why? Resting gracefully on the balls of his feet, he prepared to spring either right or left, depending upon what his white-masked foe did next.
“I used the plans and created my ship,” explained the Mask. “I used my awareness of your identity to find your loved ones. The boy Jack Smith came to your Virginia estate seeking you, but found me instead. I abducted him and used my Brain-O-Graph to make him think he was his own late father, and that you were to blame for his near-death! You see, I have watched your property for some time in preparation for this day!” The Mask said, “Now, with a single flip of a dial, you die!” He clutched at a small handheld device, and the Gyrosub exploded.
“No — Eve!” cried Spy Smasher.
“Foolish one!” gloated the Mask. “I planted a self-destruct device within the controls of your stolen ship when I claimed the man Smith! I knew I could blow it up at any moment, and what better moment than one when you wrongly thought victory had smiled upon you! Your rescued wife and your allies are no more!”
Spy Smasher screamed in fury and tackled the masked agent. “You’ll die right now!” he bellowed, pounding the Mask again and again, until he finally stood over his foe’s still form as smoke and flames filled the crumbling building.
A roar shook the structure as the massive Gyrosub itself rose up and created a huge hole in the remaining wall.
“Get in! We’re all aboard!” yelled Jack Smith as he poked his head out an opened portal.
Spy Smasher gripped the battered Mask and carried him into the ship he had designed. Ibis and Eve sat within the huge ship, and Ibis smiled as his friend entered.
“The Ibistick shielded us all and teleported us within this ship itself!” explained Ibis the Invincible. “While I had no idea of the peril that lurked within your craft, young Jack did! He deduced that the only place he could have run into your old enemies was at your very home. That suggested that access to your estate meant equal access to your equipment! I responded barely before the blast and used my talisman to put us in the other ship!”
Jack grinned as he piloted the ship skyward. “This ship the Mask made flies even better than your destroyed one!”
“Ibis also teleported the captive thugs to jail,” said Eve.
“Darling!” cried Spy Smasher as he embraced his wife.
“I’m better now! The Mask used that machine to cure me! He said he was responsible for my memory-loss years ago!” she said as tears poured down her cheeks and she kissed her husband.
“He wanted you to die with your mind intact,” said Spy Smasher, nodding. “He always was a cruel monster.”
“Your old foe still lives,” said Ibis. “I detect life in his battered form! It was clearly those dark beings we feared that brought him back!”
“I don’t care who did what, as long as we are together!” said Eve. She frowned as she saw Jack Smith for the first time.
“He looks so much like you did when you were younger!” she said.
“He’s Jack’s son,” explained Spy Smasher. “He’s Jack Armstrong!”
“I hoped you might feel that way,” said Jack. “My sisters and I are the only family we have, and knowing our real name is Armstrong means a lot to me! They’ll be thrilled to learn we actually have living relations!”
“You’re family now,” said Alan Armstrong. “You all are. I’ll use my wealth to help all four of you in any way I can! I owe it to poor Jack!”
Ibis the Invincible remained aloof from the rejoicing family. He still wondered exactly why the infernal powers had done so much to enable the Mask to strike at Spy Smasher.
In a veiled limbo, the four evil beings discussed that very topic.
“Curse them all!” said Cesare Borgia. “We used our power to give the Mask a second chance to hurt Spy Smasher, since it was our hope that the deeds would break the hero and drive him so into bitterness and hate that he would become our chosen champion. By making him turn to evil, we would secure an even better host for the newest Ibac than ever Printwhistle or Slade were!”
“He would have been perfect!” cried Caligula. “He is a true champion, but he retained his morality. Did you see the fool carry the Mask to safety? Bah!”
“There will be other choices to be made,” said Attila the Hun. “We will yet find the ultimate Ibac!”
Ivan the Terrible merely laughed a barking laugh in reply.