Sandra Knight was chilly as she sat in the Senate chambers, listening to her father grumble about the long hours he went through and the little reward he got for them.
“I tell you, Sandra, no one takes an interest in politics anymore,” said the elderly Senator Henry Knight. “At least, no one cares about national politics, only foreign affairs. Why, half of these goldbricks aren’t even listening!”
Sandy leaned forward with a contented smile on her pretty face. “Hmmm, yes, Daddy,” she murmured as she watched a young senator cross the floor. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and he moved with a grace unseen off the ballet stage. He was also intense and serious, from all she could see on this February morning in 1942. He seems to just float on his feet, like he has to make an effort not to soar across the room like a graceful and powerful bird, she thought.
Tom Wright did indeed move with the agility and power of a natural athlete. He also worked with dedication, speaking to his peers and their guests with passion.
“You know, Sandra, until a year ago that young man never even spoke up before, except with a kind of smooth, uninvolved rhetoric,” said Senator Knight, who had noted his daughter’s interest. “Now he’s a changed man! The words are less precise, not so polished as before, but the power and passion behind them stir every listener. He has quickly become the leading crusader for both crime bills and conservation reforms.”
Sandy nodded. “Yes, I read about Tom Wright’s anti-crime legislation, but I didn’t know he cared for natural issues,” she said. “Nice shoulders, too.”
Tom Wright passed close by, and Sandy smoothed her dress and excused herself to go meet him. “Hello, I’m Sandy Knight,” she said. “You are a wonderfully impressive speaker, Senator Wright.”
“Thank you. Please call me Tom. I think my causes are vital, and that helps me find the words,” he replied modestly.
“You do seem to love animal life, with the anti-pollution bill and all,” she said, stumbling for a topic she knew little about. The laboratory and the crime scene occupied most of her time as Phantom Lady, while Sandy Knight was often found in D.C.’s debutante circles.
“Well, I should — I was raised by birds,” he whispered with a serious look on his face.
Sandy smiled. “Birds? Why not say you were raised in the jungle by apes?”
Tom Wright said, “That’s been done.” And he walked off. Only after he had passed the pretty girl did he allow himself a small grin.
Further conversation was not possible because of a sharp crack from the gallery. A man fell forward, and Tom Wright’s keen eyes picked out the reason. “The Black Assassin,” he muttered to himself as he saw the black-clad Nazi sniper who had twice tried to kill Winston Churchill as well as President Roosevelt. But from what he understood, the Black Assassin had been killed when he had attempted to make himself a human bomb. (*) He supposed that this must be another Nazi killer using the same costume.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Afternoon of the Assassins,” All-Star Squadron #8 (April, 1982).]
Slipping away in the chaos, Tom Wright soon returned as the high-flying Black Condor. He soared above the heads of his excited peers and closed in on the Black Assassin.
“This is a hall of justice, not a shooting gallery, although I know you Ratzi creeps like to mix the two things up in your government!” he declared.
Black Assassin said nothing but merely leveled his laser rifle and fired at the heroic Black Condor. The Condor dodged fleetly and slammed into the gunman with both feet. The Nazi grunted in pain and swung his rifle at Condor’s head. He stopped the swing with one strong hand and wrenched it free from the gunman’s gloved hand. A second beam of deadly heat sliced across his shoulder, and he winced at the nearness of the thing.
“You need someone to watch your back — I volunteer!” said Phantom Lady as she vaulted over the gallery rail to kick another figure dressed as the Black Assassin.
“Thanks! Didn’t know there were two of these trigger-happy jerks,” said the Black Condor.
Phantom Lady gasped as she rolled over the gunman’s back and kicked him in the back a second time. He’s Tom Wright! she mused, glancing at Black Condor. Others can’t tell, since he has stayed up in the shadows or moved so fast, but I recognize him.
The Black Assassin spun to shoot at the bare-legged beauty, but he gasped as his world grew black. “Can’t see! I’m blind!” he shouted in panic.
“Oh, do grow up! It’s just the blackout ray used by cute li’l ol’ me!” she said with a quick uppercut that dropped the frightened man.
The Black Condor followed up by slugging his own gunman. One blow knocked his foe cold, since Wright’s strength was above average. “That last scream was in perfect English,” he said, frowning as Phantom Lady bent over to unmask her gunman as well.
“Lefty Johnson! He’s no Nazi — he’s a small-time thug from a Gotham gang!” said Sandra.
“His date, here, also has a well-known mug shot,” said the Black Condor. “Jimmy Wilson — Babyface Wilson of Detroit.”
“Why would two mob figures doll themselves up as Nazi snipers?” asked Sandy.
“I suggest we ask him,” offered Wright as he scooped up Phantom Lady in one arm and dragged Wilson skyward as well.
Black Condor gently placed Phantom Lady safely on a rooftop. With a sudden grin, he said, “We’ll be right back!” He flew off with Wilson tucked under his arm.
“Arrrrghh!” cried the blond gangster as Condor swooped skyward and suddenly turned to dive from the sidewalk.
“I could do this all day!” said Tom Wright. “Unless I get careless or tired and hit a phone wire or flagpole — like that one! Close call. Almost took your head off! Say, if I had somewhere to go, I’d just turn you in to the police. So, tell me why you are dressed as a Nazi. Why try to kill senators? Is it to stop the anti-crime bill and place a blame on the Axis?”
“No! I — help!” cried Wilson as windows loomed ahead inched from his face.
That is some fancy flying Black Condor is doing, Phantom Lady thought admiringly from below. He must be able to fly better than Hawkman, Superman, or the Green Lantern. Such precise movement, such grace.
Wilson yelped. “I can’t take it anymore! We were hired by some mug ta kill Wright, so some bill he is working on will die! The boss is a masked guy. Here is his address, where we met up with him. The Nazi garb was his order. I don’t serve dem rats!”
Black Condor said, “I believe you. Now, back to good old mother earth for you.” He dropped the thug off to the police and carried off Phantom Lady.
“I do like being swept off my feet like this,” she said.
“Wilson claims a masked man at this locale hired him to stop a bill I was working on as Wright,” he announced.
“I’m surprised you just revealed your identity to me,” said Sandra.
“Well, Miss Knight, I figured a woman of your talents and intellect would have already put it all together,” he said.
“So you know who I am, too,” she said.
“Yes, as a man who knows D.C. society and crime, I figured you to be the mysterious Phantom Lady long ago. That’s why I was willing to make that raised by birds quip to you. I knew you could be trusted with a secret, since you had one yourself.”
“Well, this could be the beginning of a nice partnership,” she said with a wink.
“I’m counting on it. To Gotham?” he asked.
“Assuredly, sir,” she replied.
Tom Wright was not the Black Condor’s name at birth. He had been born Richard Grey, Junior, son of a noted archaeologist whose expedition was almost completely wiped out by Yakki raiders on the steppes of Mongolia. Poor Richard, Junior, had survived the slaughter and was taken in and, amazingly enough, raised by a flock of mutated huge condors. These birds possessed an almost-human reasoning ability, and their unique condition was possibly due to proximity to a glowing meteorite. In any event, Richard grew to young manhood as an accepted member of the flock. He could talk to the birds in their tongue, and his superior strength and agility, along with heightened senses, developed gracefully.
Finally, as an adult, he met another human. He met the kindly Father Pierre, who over the course of one year taught him the human language and educated his eager young pupil in the history and social mores of the human world, enabling him to become the mystery-man known only as the Black Condor, whose adventures spanned the world. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Black Condor, Crack Comics #1 (May, 1940).]
Several years after the Black Condor left his refuge in Mongolia, during his travels in America, he came across a dying senator named Tom Wright, who was the Condor’s twin in looks, if not in morality. Bringing Wright to Dr. Foster for medical aid, the Black Condor then took on Senator Wright’s identity in order to defeat a crooked bill, intending it to only be temporary. But when Dr. Foster was unable to save Wright’s life, he hit upon a daring idea — why couldn’t the Black Condor adopt Wright’s identity permanently? Since Richard Grey, Junior, had no real life in the human world, and Tom Wright could do much good as a senator, the man who would become known as the Black Condor agreed to give up one life to live another. He took on the identity of Senator Tom Wright and continued to fight crime as the soaring Black Condor, even if that meant the two men had to keep secrets from Wright’s fiancée, Wendy Foster. (*) As Wright, he battled for anti-crime, bolstering the nation’s defenses, and nature conservation legislation, all under the kindly guidance of Dr. Foster.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Black Condor, Crack Comics #11 (March, 1941).]
Now, the hero-turned-senator carried Sandra Knight down to a run-down hovel in Gotham. “I don’t hear any conversation, but I do detect movement within,” he said.
“Let’s go, then,” she replied.
The colorful pair broke inside to see a group of around six thugs. Some were well-known to Sandra from wanted posters.