The original Mister Scarlet and Pinky the Whiz Kid, alias Brian and Rob Butler, found themselves in a strange courtyard near an ornate palace. The architecture indicated that they were standing within what appeared to be ancient Baghdad.
But they had no time to take stock of their surroundings before a bizarre figure on a flying carpet swooped down from a minaret and swung a scimitar at their heads.
“Down, Pinky!” shouted Mister Scarlet, even as his partner rolled forward out of the path of the portly man who rode the wildly swaying carpet.
“I am Pasha Plunda, and you will die for invading my kingdom!” he cried. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Plundering Pasha,” The Marvel Family #81 (March, 1953).]
What craziness is this? thought the increasingly despondent Mister Scarlet. I should be with Cherry! I should always have been with her!
Absorbed in thought, he hesitated a moment, but Pinky had already vaulted upward to catch the end of the flying carpet, using its magically solid surface to propel himself into the fat Pasha. They grappled on the carpet for a few moments, but the older rogue was no match for Rob Butler’s physical prowess. The Pasha Plunda fell from the carpet and landed with a thud below.
Mister Scarlet raced over and pulled their enemy to his feet by his collar. “Where’s the time bomb?” he demanded. “I don’t care who you are or what Arabian Nights fairy tale you’re playing here, but I want answers!” He slapped the Pasha across the face with the kind of deliberate violence he had rarely displayed since his earliest days as Mister Scarlet, before Pinky became his ward.
Rob had dropped down from the carpet with his usual agility, and now he hurried over to where his old partner was about to slap their foe once more.
“Genie, defend me!” the Pasha cried, grabbing a small oil lamp that was hanging from his broad red sash.
A cloud of smoke began to pour out of the lamp, and the two heroes drew back as the cloud assumed a humanoid shape, complete with a mocking facial expression and two outstretched arms.
“As my master commands, so do I act!” said the mystical being.
Mister Scarlet shook his head in disbelief. “He’s carrying the whole motif to the limit!” he said.
“Where’s Barbara Eden when you need her?” remarked Pinky.
They exchanged knowing glances, and in unison hurled pellets drawn from their belts at the looming specter. As their own crimson mist mixed with the genie’s ethereal form, he cried out in shock and faded from view.
“It will take him a bit of time to separate himself from our mist, although I doubt the narcotic agent in it will harm him,” said Mister Scarlet.
The Pasha gasped as Pinky tackled him and pinned him to the ground. “OK, Aladdin, where is the time bomb?” demanded Pinky.
“It is concealed within the minaret,” said the Pasha. “I agreed to safeguard it in exchange for time-tossed slaves to populate my kingdom! I am the only living being here since my people disobeyed me, and I cursed them with the Black Death eons ago! Zotan promised to give me new subjects to rule in exchange for using my magic to safeguard his device!”
“You idiot!” cried Mister Scarlet. “He would have left you adrift in this limbo as soon as his bomb exploded!”
Pinky climbed aboard the magical carpet once more and soared to the minaret. In a few minutes, he had deftly attached the device to the bomb, and the time-tossed Baghdad faded around them.
The duo returned to the Time Field, but for Mister Scarlet it was a hollow victory.
Could that magical lamp have saved Cherry? he mused. I’ll never know now! It’s lost to me, along with that city itself and its insane ruler!
Minute Man shook his head as he materialized in what appeared to be a darkened concert stage. “The place has some rather modern-looking equipment. This is certainly not 1953.”
The red-white-and-blue-clad champion of liberty made his way down the aisle toward the elevated stage. He casually vaulted from the aisle to the stage and glanced around the area. “I see the time bomb! This may be entirely too easy!” he said.
Minute Man moved closer to the weird device, then fell from the impact of a sudden blow. He gasped as another blow hit him, and he rolled over to see a colorful figure standing over him.
The man had long, dark hair with a shocking streak of pink down one lock. He wore garish make-up around his eyes and lips, and he wore tight black leather from head to foot. He held a striped guitar slung across his chest like a weapon. As he strummed the guitar with one gloved hand, waves of solid sound slammed into Minute Man again and again.
“What’s wrong, old man? Don’t you like my sound? Lawrence Welk is more your speed, huh?” he said with a sneer.
Minute Man pushed himself to his knees and said, “Who are you?”
The man laughed harshly and said, “Heavy Mettle! It’s a pun. It’s also my sound. See, my generation has what it takes. We won’t let you tell us what to do. My music will break down the barriers your generation wants to impose on us!” He hit the strings again, and Minute Man reeled backward as blood began to pour from his nose.
That guitar is a weapon of some kind, thought Jack Weston. Clearly, this punk comes from the present. I guess Zotan recruited him from the 1980s!
Weighing his options, Minute Man then raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Son, you’re right. Most of my generation don’t share your values or get your music. We… I… tend to live in the past. I guess that’s my problem, but you can’t defend your music or your values by siding with a tyrant! Zotan may have promised you a lot, but you can’t trust him. You hate my generation and its rules? Well, under his rule, you sure won’t be free to express that hatred. You’ll be a slave or a soldier. The only music Zotan will allow will be the sound of crowds shouting his name or weapons destroying those who oppose him! Fight your battles if you choose to, but don’t be a pawn to a dictator like Zotan!”
Heavy Mettle hesitated and then bent down to pick up the device Minute Man had dropped. He walked over and placed it on the Time Bomb. “I hear what you’re saying. I think you have something there! Go kick Zotan’s head in for me. I’ll serve myself from now on!”
As the scene changed, and Minute Man found himself back in the Time Field, he smiled ruefully. “That wasn’t exactly a conventional victory, but I’ll take it,” he said. “I’ll surely take it!”
As Taia’s high heels clattered across the floor of an arena, she screamed in horror at the sight of a hulking brute choking the life out of her husband. Ibis the Invincible was struggling futilely in the grip of a bare-chested monster with rippling muscles and a Mohawk hairstyle.
Ibac! That fiend is Ibac! thought Princess Taia. The infernal forces that so often have opposed old Shazam and his champions created him from a helpless old street cleaner named Stanley Printwhistle. When he says Ibac, he becomes the monster and only returns to normal after saying his name a second time! He struck with such speed and violence that even Ibis was caught by surprise. We appear to be a Roman amphitheatre.
Taia grabbed the mystical wand known as the Ibistick, which had fallen from her husband’s hand when Ibac had ruthlessly attacked from the rear. Ibis was fighting to break Ibac’s grip, but the bigger man was much stronger, and he fought with an almost manic frenzy.
Then Ibis brought both hands up and struck each of Ibac’s ears at the same time. The brute roared in anger and slammed Ibis headfirst against the floor.
Taia didn’t try to break the villain’s grip; she knew better. She was a smart, courageous, beautiful woman who knew her sultry looks often led people to misjudge her character. She was a princess, and she was capable of facing hardships without fear or hesitation. Thus she merely slipped the wand into Ibis’ hand.
“Ibistick, free me!” he gasped.
Instantly, the magic force hurled Ibac across the room.
Ibis allowed Taia to support him as they rose from the ground together. “Ibistick, contain him!” cried the Egyptian prince.
Ibac rushed forward, only to be snared within a block of stone. “You can’t hold me! No one can cage me!” he bellowed as he smashed through the stone and lurched forward at the duo.
“Beloved, can you make him say his name?” said Taia. “That will change him from beast to meek human once more!”
Ibis stared at the monster with piercing eyes of character, intellect, and compassion. “I do not know. I shall take another path. I will liberate poor Printwhistle from the curse of Ibac once and for all!”
Standing resolutely, he cried, “Ibistick, separate man from monster! So do I command it!”
A glow surrounded Ibac, and he screamed as a smaller, frail old man suddenly fell out of the brute’s body.
“Oh, dear! Did I do it again?” whispered Stanley Printwhistle.
Taia took his hand and whispered, “Do not fear, sir. Ibis has freed you from the infernal curse. You may say the word Ibac all you wish now, for you will no longer turn into that being. He now lives as a separate creature, and his sins are all his own!”
Ibac laughed as he realized what had happened. “Ibac is free! Ibac! Ibac! Ibac! I can say it over and over!” he gloated. “No one will ever trick me into turning back into him again!”
Ibis the Invincible smiled coldly and said, “That is true. However, this liberation also means you may now be dealt with as your crimes merit. No longer will mercy for your host compel me to stay my hand!”
Ibac’s black eyes narrowed in confusion or possibly in animalistic fear. “Ibistick, imprison him within the time bomb!” he said. Ibac vanished as a gleaming time bomb loomed over him.
Ibis calmly placed the device Steffi Swift had given him and smiled with satisfaction as the scene changed.
Back in the Time Field, he kissed Taia and said, “It is done! Stanley is safely in the present time he was taken out of, and Ibac is in limbo. Justice is served, and more vitally important, so is mercy!”