Shazam’s Squadron of Justice: Voyagers, Chapter 1: Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

by Libbylawrence

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Continued from Minute Man: Every Minute Counts

Lance O’Casey hummed a tune as he polished the brass on the new Brian Boru II. His handsome features displayed his ready good humor. Being a man thirty-plus years out of his normal era had not slowed him down in the least. He relished life in all its many and varied nuances.

The sailor had found a belt within the subterranean lair of the Warrior of Wai, and this magical belt gave the brave sailor super-strength. (*) He had tested it briefly and enjoyed knowing that he could now bring added power to his already-impressive fighting skills.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Bulletman and Bulletgirl: Cruisin’.]

Chee-chee!” cried a capering monkey on the rail.

“Ah, sure and you’ve been a larkin’, haven’t you, laddie?” said O’Casey. “Mr. Hogan, you are too clever for your own good. Someone will make you a monkey stew one of these mornin’s if you aren’t more careful.”

A woman rushed up the deck and turned pleadingly to the sailor. “Mr. O’Casey? I need your help,” she said. “I understand you are a man who is willing to sail where needed?”

“My normal port-o’-call is the sweet isle of Maloana, but I’m willing to aid any lass in peril,” he said, ushering the brunette into a chair. Mr. Hogan listened intently.

She nodded with appreciation. “I can’t pay you, yet, but if you get me to where I need to go… well, a treasure awaits me.”

O’Casey smiled. “Fortune-hunting! That sets me mind reeling. In these days of atomic science, I hardly thought I’d hear of the glory and glamor of lost treasures again! You see, missy, I was last alert and ready in 1953, when the whole o’ sleepy little Maloana was put in a spell of suspended animation, or some such hoo-doo, by a misguided, well-meanin’ soul who sought to stop some Nazis. Well, when I woke up recently with the help of some real mystery-men and women, I found m’self thirty years out o’ date. (*) So you see, the sea brings me comfort, no matter how rough and how perilous the trip. On the waves I know where I stand, so to speak!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Bulletman and Bulletgirl: The Castaways.]

She smiled. “So you’ll take me — a stranger — to my destination with no surety of pay?”

O’Casey smiled. “If someone needs help, then it’s the duty of all who can provide help to do so. That’s my code, you might say. And in spite of his high spirits, Mr. Hogan, here, is as ready to help you as ever can be!” The monkey jabbered knowingly.

“You won’t be goin’ no place!” said a burly bald man leading three other thugs across the deck.

“Oh, dear, no! They’ve found me already!” cried the girl.

“The dame comes with us, and you just sit tight, ‘Popeye’!” said the surly leader.

O’Casey stepped forward. “You are not welcome aboard this ship, and I’ll see you off of her now. Now, whether you leave on your feet or head-first off the side is entirely up to how fast you make your exit.”

The bald man laughed and pulled out a gun. O’Casey moved faster and slapped it aside as he belted the man with a right hook. He connected again, and the thug fell flat.

As the others drew guns as well, Mr. Hogan pounced on each head long enough to distract them. Then his mighty pal charged them and swept two overboard with his skillful tackle.

As the final thug rose over him, a bolt of light slammed into him with solid force. They looked up to see a gorgeous woman with blonde curls, perfect makeup, and a short yellow miniskirted costume and cape.

“Lance! I’m so glad I reached you in time!” breathed the ever-sultry Carol Clews.

“Thanks for your help!” said O’Casey. “I believe I know you beneath that fetching little outfit. Carol?”

Carol smiled and patted down her curls. “Dan sent me on alone, since he’s still recovering from that accident. We’re on a case, and we need your help.”

O’Casey smiled as he rolled the thugs off the ship. “Ladies, let’s set sail where we can talk more freely.”

The noble Brian Boru II exited the dock and headed for danger.

O’Casey turned to the worried brunette as she sat down next to Carol Clews, who wore the new gold costumed minidress, but otherwise was the same glamorous beauty with perfect hair and makeup she always had been.

“Lance, I gained these powers of light-generation from those vapors I inhaled in Wai’s lair,” explained Carol in her breathy voice. “Dan suggested I wear a costume and use a name like the ones used by Mister Scarlet, Minute Man, or Mary Marvel. I was doing some legwork for poor Dan when I tracked a suspect — the bald thug you fought — named Linus Sertina to your boat! We’re looking into a museum theft that we think Linus was behind.”

O’Casey turned to the brunette. “Miss, I can see you’ve had a bit o’ a fright, and I know you are scared, but trust the pretty Carol and I to help you. You mentioned a treasure. Is it connected to the museum thefts, by chance?”

She nodded. “Yes, if they are of relics from Egypt. You see, I am Linda Lansing, and my husband is the one chasing me. He hired those thugs, and I can imagine that relic thefts would also be on their agenda, since…” She hesitated.

“Go on, dear!” urged Carol as she polished her nails.

“Since poor Jack — my husband is Jack Lansing… he… his whole life changed shortly before the war when he was given this ring by an old magician whose life he’d saved,” she said, pulled out a large diamond that was an unusual color: black.

“Why is he sending goons to chase you down?” said O’Casey with a stern look on his handsome face.

“Because he has gone mad, and I stole the ring from him,” she said, tears pouring down her face. “I thought I could get it away from him and return it to the place it originated. He found out and grew angry. He wants it back, and he is so mad about the loss that he will do anything to have it — even send killers like those!”

“You love him?” asked O’Casey.

“Yes, I do! He was good, noble, kind, and heroic for years until recently, when he changed, and his moods darkened,” she said. “I blame it on the influence of this gem. You see, it wasn’t always the black diamond you see now; it originally looked bright in color, even milky. But as it grew darker in recent years, until it finally became black as coal, Jack’s good nature likewise gave way to dark evil. That cursed black diamond turned Jack into a monster! I have to get it back to Egypt where it originally came from — the temple of Set. Then, perhaps, he’ll be normal again!”

“That’s where you want me to take you?” asked O’Casey. “What makes you think a ring could be behind his odd actions?”

“Because it has magic powers,” explained Linda. “It’s a magic ring. Jack used it to fight the Axis and criminals for over well over a decade before the trap that caught so many of us in Fawcett City placed us in suspended animation.”

“Your Jack — the man trying to kill you to get back this diamond — was a hero Sivana trapped when he caught the Marvels, Spy Smasher, and the rest?” asked Carol.

“Yes. He never wore a costume, but he was called Diamond Jack!” said Linda Lansing. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Diamond Jack, Slam Bang Comics #1 (March, 1940).]


Lance O’Casey was a masterful sailor, and he and the oddly bright Mr. Hogan worked well together. Carol’s perky demeanor had even added some hope to the emotionally strained Linda Lansing, who had gone on to explain even more about her husband’s history and was now resting below deck.

“It’s a sad tale, Mr. Hogan,” said O’Casey, relating all he’d learned to his monkey, who seemed to listen to his words. “A hero gone wrong. I’d never met Diamond Jack m’self, but my friend Jim Barr says he teamed up with the lad once. It could well be true that the magic ring that made him a crime-fighter also took over his mind. Some old magician gave it to him when he was a young man traveling in the Far East, and he later discovered that it was the lost eye-jewel of the idol of Khor. (*) But he’d never known the true source of the thing until Linda, whom he met after a few years of crime-busting, traced it through an old parchment and a legend to the temple of Set. I hope to reunite the sad family yet.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Diamond Jack, Slam Bang Comics #4 (June, 1940).]

“Do you ever wish for a family?” asked an oddly eager Carol Clews as she sat on the deck in a white bikini. Her long, curly blonde hair blew back from her tanned and flawless face. She looked every inch a model or glamor queen of the old silver screen instead of the sweet, slightly oblivious detective’s aide that she was.

O’Casey grinned. “I have a family. Mr. Hogan, here, S’ville the witch-doctor, and old Skipper Jones back on Maloana. Plus, I expect that my kid brother Charlie may still be alive. I have not heard from him or of him since being freed from that spell. He’d be an old man now, but he was healthy and tough as nails. I mean to look him up one fine day.”

Carol nodded as Mr. Hogan made faces and capered on deck.

Suddenly, Linda screamed and quickly rushed out of the cabin and onto the deck. “I had a dream!” she shouted. “It was so real! It was of death! Death closing in on us and on poor, mad Jack!”

Carol hushed her as O’Casey frowned. “I’d be gettin’ below, missy. I spy a ship o’ sorts a’closin’ in on us! She don’t look like any vessel from a port o’ call in this mortal world, neither!” Sure enough, an eerie white ship closed in silently but surely upon the Brian Boru II.

“Oh, my!” gasped Carol. “Lance, it’s made out of bones! It’s a skeleton crew — literally!” Indeed, skeletal sailors grinned madly from the rib-like sides of the boat as it drew along the sides of the Brain Boru II.

“I’ll be sendin’ them back to the iodine bottle they went AWOL from!” vowed O’Casey as he drew on the belt from Wai’s subterranean land.

Carol shrieked as skeletons boarded the boat and clutched her shapely form. She kicked helplessly in the air and then, as if remembering that she could fight back, blasted them to dust with her light powers.

“That-a-girl!” said O’Casey as he smashed his fist through one skull and hurled it bowling-ball fashion to trip up three other corpses. He tackled them and shattered them with the super-strength raging through his already superior body. “I suspect these creatures want your ring, too! Set dealt with such undead types in the lore I’ve read,” he said as he kicked down the nearest one.

Carol tried a new tactic and sent a solid light battering ram crashing into them. “Oh, this is actually rather fun!” she giggled.

Mr. Hogan watched warily and made the sound chee-chee! as the corpses closed in on Linda Lansing. As she backed away, O’Casey grabbed a rope to swing down between the woman and the ghouls.

“No closer! You lads need to get to the closest all-you-can-eat buffet as quick as possible!” he laughed as he blocked their approach.

“Give us the magic ring!” screeched one as he tossed it overboard.

“Sure, and it’s the ring they be craving. Let’s teach them that we don’t hand out rings on the first date!” he called to Carol.

Carol Clews smiled and blasted them off the edge with her light beams. “I might call myself Sunbeam! What do you think?” she said as she straightened from the fight.

“Not a bad name for such a blonde and lovely girl!” chimed in O’Casey. Mr. Hogan seemed to agree.

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