The wizard Shazam stood before the fabled Marvel Family — Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Junior — in the huge abode that existed both on Earth beneath a subway station and yet also formed part of the epic Rock of Eternity.
“My children, I fear the warning signs that are upon us. An attack on this citadel is imminent from the realms beyond,” he explained. “I know only that these felons seek something from this location itself. You will need help, and so I have summoned the others who once made up the Squadron of Justice.”
“Holy Moley!” said a worried Cap. “If you need all of us, it must be serious, great sir!”
Junior said, “Don’t worry. We’ll stand beside you to the end.”
The lovely Mary Marvel leaned over as if to pat the old man’s arm. “We won’t fail you,” she said with girlish determination.
“I have no doubt in your courage,” he answered. “Only I realize the magnitude of this evil aborning on worlds beyond.”
The heroes sped off with the speed of Mercury to face this invasion force.
Elsewhere, Dr. Doome rubbed his fat hands together with relish at the secret irony only he enjoyed as he watched the lovely but evil redheaded woman lead the team of time-plucked villains sent to Earth-S via time machine. These pawns were chosen by him at Alexei Luthor’s direct order. But even Luthor did not know just whom he had selected, for the young and brilliant woman leading this Task Force S was Luthor’s own daughter, Alexis Luthor. She had, of course, not been born in 1943 when Luthor sent Doome out with the time machine to select evil allies to raid the so-called Rock of Eternity for him. Still, Doome knew of her from his own trips through time. She was perfect in that she had her father’s flair for leadership and invention, and she was still young enough that she aimed to please. She, too, shared an amusement at being the source of her father’s possible safety without his knowing it, and she was eager to meet him once more as an adult, despite having mixed feelings about it.
Her team members came from different Earths and different times, but they all shared a love of larceny. From Earth-One came the giant Chemo, who now towered over them along with Validus from Earth-One’s thirtieth century. Below these titans stood the gorgeous and lethal Killer Frost, Cheshire, Cat-Man, Felix Faust, Black Spider, and Heat Wave, all from Earth-One. From Earth-Two in 1948 came the Joker and the Fiddler. And from Earth-Four in 1967 came the wildly tumbling Madmen.
Alexis shrugged off the grasping hand of Cat-Man and slapped his face. “Try that again, and you’ll lose all nine of your pathetic lives!” she snapped.
As a group they descended to the streets of the city, and Faust said, “Why here? I thought our objective was on the fabulous Rock of Eternity.”
“It is,” she replied. “We are practicing a bit of misdirection while our teammate goes solo.”
Faust frowned. “What other teammate?”
She ignored him and ordered, “Now, my friends, create destruction, and occupy the heroes!”
And they did.
A beautiful blonde woman in a blue teddy posed on the bed in the Virginia mansion of Alan Armstrong. She was his wife, Eve Corby Armstrong. The blonde look was new, and she hoped he’d like it.
Hearing a noise, Eve rushed downstairs to surprise him. He worked late on various charities, and she knew he would be tired. Feeling playful, she reclined across the banister and said, “Welcome home, lover.”
A mad laugh greeted her efforts. “For me? Why, you shouldn’t have, dear!” Then a frightening clown face loomed into view over the railing. The Joker grinned his death’s head smirk, and the pretty blonde sank into a deep faint. “Must be my breath!” he giggled as he carried her up the steps.
Eve awoke to find herself tied securely to a chair in her bedroom while the Joker was looking through her desk. She struggled against her bonds, and the Joker spoke to her, noticing she was now awake.
“So you’re the daughter of Admiral Corby himself,” he said, whistling.
“Yes!” she said, desperation in her voice. “You’ve heard of him?”
“Why, no, I haven’t. Just making conversation!” He laughed and stuffed a glove in her mouth.
Alan Armstrong was indeed busy with charity work of a kind that had occupied him for over forty years. He was the mystery-man called Spy Smasher, and he had secretly fought the nation’s enemies in his costumed identity with all of his passion. He had used the name Crime Smasher for a while in the postwar years but soon resumed using Spy Smasher. After all, he didn’t have to be so literal. He’d fight anyone who threatened to harm another or commit a crime.
He was handsome and strong, brave and smart, a wealthy man of ancient Virginia stock. His people knew the Henrys, the Campbells, and the Randolphs, who had formed first Virginia, then the new nation long ago. He was a patrician, and he knew that carried more duties to the community than it did privileges if one wanted to be fair about it. He was fair. He served his nation in war and peace and had never shirked that duty.
His wife Eve had been his loyal spouse for only a few years. She had been caught in the same time-suspension that he had been in, and thus she wasn’t much older than she had been in the 1950s. He had proposed to her immediately after getting his freedom, and he did not regret it. The only problem was that he had never told her about his secret identity. He could not bring himself to reveal this most precious secret, even to the woman he loved.
Armstrong returned home after stopping a robbery and frowned as he noticed a broken window. Without any delay, he raced around to the back and climbed up a hanging vine of moss and ivy that covered the rich outsides of Armstrong manor.
“Oh, Eve, be OK!” he breathed as he gazed within his home to see his wife tied like a doll to a chair by a prancing maniac with a face out of nightmares.
“I came a-callin’, Miss Scarlet, because your daddy is a traitor to Dixie!” crowed the Joker. “I say… I say… he is a Yankee sympathizer! So we’s a-gonna hold us a trial to determine if we tar him or just feather him!” He laughed frantically at this. Eve’s dad had died long ago, and this maniac’s bizarre version of Southern history tormented her, as did the fear that poor Alan would soon walk in on this fiend.
“Seriously, Missy, I came here to Beaulah so I could take the papers to your prize horse, Laughing Boy,” he said. “That name just speaks to me!” Eve struggled as he explained his reasons for invading their home. “I do hope the papers are in order. The horse is housebroken, right? If not, we’ll just spread the papers while I break the house!”
Mary Marvel was flying as fast as she could. She knew that she had her work cut out for her, since the city was threatened by a giant green creature who spat chemical toxins as it crushed cars with his massive steps.
“That creature looks like something out of the shock theater movies on the Saturday late show!” mused Mary as she circled around to fly a car and a trapped motorist out of the path of its crushing feet.
A thankful driver said, “Mary Marvel! Thanks so much! Could I have an autograph for my son?”
Mary smiled. “Maybe after I stop this rampaging beast!”
She saw Chemo breathe out toxins that hissed and crackled as they burned through the bridge upon which he stood. “Oh, my goodness!” she gasped. “He’s going to collapse that bridge full of cars!” She knew she could not move every car off the bridge to safety before the monster could rip it down, but she didn’t need to. She was more than an adorable woman in a cute outfit. She was the World’s Mightiest Girl, and she could work miracles.
Mary Marvel flew directly at Chemo and struck his enormous chest with enough force to topple him into the waters below. “That should stop that inhuman thing,” she said as she tossed back her brown locks.
A fiery explosion erupted from below as Chemo broke the surface again. She sighed and said, “This is not going to be easy, is it?”
Chemo swung for her and closed his fist around her body. Mary pried his enormous fingers back with effort and watched as the chemical reactions churned within his clear body. I wonder how he’d react to a magical bit of super-charging, she mused. She flew toward his open mouth, and with a final gulp, she flew inside and yelled “Shazam!” Seconds later, she again cried “Shazam!” and burst free before the toxins could harm her body.
The magical fire within his unstable body cause him to bubble and seethe wildly. “I think he’s going to explode!” she realized. “I have to get him away from people or the ocean before he does something serious.”
She dropped into the water and returned at top speed with a hastily fused-together platform made from wreckage on the sea floor. She slammed it under the giant and hurled him skyward to send him into orbit around the sun.
“The gravity has him, and that means I can get back to Earth before I end up a little too tanned for class pictures.”
Chemo spat and fumed for a while before settling helplessly into a solar orbit.
Spy Smasher crashed through the window to confront the fiend that held his wife. “You’re a little late for Halloween!” he said as he tried to step between Eve and the grinning devil.
“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” said the Joker as he fired a blast of acid at the green-costumed hero.
The acidic fire had no effect on Spy Smasher’s specially treated costume. “I fought Nazi troops in this outfit. It has been treated to resist the worst you can throw at it.” He circled the room as the Joker dragged Eve along by the hair.
“Ah! ah! ah! Not so close, or I’ll let her have it,” said the Joker. “Oh, by the way, what is it?” he laughed madly and ran out with Eve under his arm.
Spy Smasher swung up for the light fixture and dramatically crossed the hallway to land in front of the Joker. “Give up!” he urged as his heart pounded at the sight of Eve in the Joker’s grasp.
“My momma didn’t raise no quitters!” said the Joker. “She did raise squash!” he joked as he tossed Eve over the railing of the high staircase.
Spy Smasher jumped off after his bride, tumbling down like the trained acrobat he was and landed first and under her as she hit his body. He knew she was unhurt, but he felt a rib break, and his breath became ragged.
The Joker said, “As much fun as this has been, I’ll just show myself out and take the lady’s horse!” He dropped a pellet, and a gas spread throughout the room.
Spy Smasher had fought in the war, and his costume was designed for things like gas attacks. He dropped his mask flap across his face and covered Eve’s mouth. He ran for an exit, and when he reached the lawn, he noticed that the Joker had made it to the stable.
He saw that Eve seemed to be safe, so he ran after the mad clown. He almost was run down by the galloping villain until he got the idea to whisper “Whoa!” The horse responded to the whispered voice of the man who had trained it for long weeks, stopping in place. This sent the Joker reeling forward to crash onto the grass.
Spy Smasher was on top of him before he could rise. He delivered three smashing blows, seeing red before his angry eyes.
Then he saw Eve approach. “I’m OK!” she cried to the hero, whom she had met many times.
He turned to face the Joker, and the wily clown slipped free of his coat and raced off. Spy Smasher tried to catch him, when amazingly enough he blinked away in electrical fire. “Teleportation!” he realized.
There was nothing left to do but run off to change and comfort his wife as plain old Alan Armstrong.
The four Madmen wore brightly colored costumes, face paint, and made weird cries as they tumbled through the busy banking district. No one dared to stop them. The police couldn’t handle them as they twisted and fought like their namesakes. However, one hero had what it took to match these bizarre thugs. His name was Minute Man, and he had made a career out of quick comebacks and insane banter.
He ran to face them after hearing about their rampage on his car radio. “So… which investment firm do you guys work for?” he asked.
Mick Fleeter, the red-faced leader of the group, sneered at the red, white, and blue hero and said, “We’re the Madmen!”
“I’d be mad, too, if I had to wear those tacky outfits!” joked Minute Man as he dodged a punch from the nearest one and kicked him in the face.
A second one said, “You think you know madness? We live with the random violence of life every day! We see what no one else can stand to face!”
“You mean Partridge Family reruns?” he bantered as he spun through the air to land away from them.
“Get him!” said Fleeter. “Forget the money. He’s stealing our bit! He’s making us look silly!”
“I’m not even gonna touch that line!” joked Minute Man as he ran and led the group on a mad chase down the street. “Too easy! I do have my standards.”
He slammed a revolving door hard and spun through it to reappear with both fists raised. Slamming into two Madmen, he sent them to the pavement. “Fore!” he cried, then broke a nearby hotel guest’s elegant cane over the head of a Mad Man. “I’ll pay for that. Call my people!” he yelled to the startled old man. I really will, he mused silently.
Minute Man tackled a Mad Man and pounded his face into the sidewalk. Then two others grabbed him. “Now the shoe is on the other foot!” sneered one.
“No time for a foot fetish!” he quipped as he dropped low and let his weight pull on the two thugs. “I have heads to break!” He kicked back off the sidewalk to sail over their heads and land behind them, then kicked both in the back, and they flew into a wall.
“Keep back, or I’ll hurt this hostage!” cried the final Mad Man as he grabbed a woman.
Minute Man froze and said, “OK, don’t do anything rash! That’s my department!” Then he jumped for them both and landed his fist perfectly beside the woman’s head in the face of the Mad Man.
She fell in his arms, and he accepted the cheers of the crowd. “Thank you, thank you! The boys and I will back for the afternoon show at four!” He bowed and smiled to the appreciative crowd as the defeated Madmen were teleported back to their time ship.