The Flash and Green Lantern had tracked the energy of the duplicate of the Icicle’s ice-gun to a warehouse, where the pink-hued, oversized alien was holding off a squad of security men.
“This place contains artwork waiting to be displayed at the local museum,” said Green Lantern. “Some of the works are priceless! Our alien has certainly picked up the thieving ways of Icicle and Fiddler.”
The Flash raced forward, using his vibrations to free the startled guards, who thanked him readily. “Flash, thank goodness! That goon caught us by surprise! He moves as fast as you do!” stammered one guard.
“Friend, I’m going to try to prove that claim wrong!” said the Flash.
Green Lantern had been circling the alien warily. He knew that, while he had battled many aliens in his career, he had never encountered a being quite like this mimic. He frowned as he remembered his Earth-One counterpart, Hal Jordan. It was natural to recall that hero and his peers from the Justice League of America after this new case seemed to have connections to the one in which Alan had met Hal. He had talked with that hero during one part of that case in which the two men had flown through the void.
Hal Jordan was a test pilot, and he was also something far more meaningful to Alan Scott. He was the other Earthly double for the late Hal Jordan of Earth-Two. That Hal had been a child whom Alan had failed to save long before, and that boy’s death had not only robbed Earth-Two of a potential force for social change and political reform, but it had left a deep and personal guilt within Alan Scott. He had dealt with those feelings with the same determination and willpower that made him a hero among heroes. But he also could not really look at the Green Lantern of Earth-One without recalling what might have been. Thus he liked and respected the young hero, but he didn’t crave time with him in the way Jay Garrick already had developed a real friendship for the Flash of Earth-One. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Green Lantern: Times Past, 1963: Redemption.]
Creating a huge emerald mallet, Green Lantern brought it crashing down on the speeding alien, who fell down but regained his footing and stared intently at the hero. A flash of green energy covered the alien, and a razor-sharp sword of energy appeared before him and sliced at Alan Scott.
Green Lantern dodged, because he expected exactly such a response from the alien. He and Jay Garrick had, in fact, been counting on the alien to mimic Alan’s power. They would soon know if they had deduced the results of such a duplication correctly.
The Flash raced forward and, with stunning force, slugged the alien, who crashed to the ground and remained still. The Flash stood over him and tossed a wooden baton in the air. “I hated to use a weapon like this to knock him cold, but we figured it would take something of wood to hurt him, since he was copying your powers.”
“As someone who has been hit far too many times by wooden clubs and chairs,” said Green Lantern, “I can sympathize with our fallen friend. Still, I’m glad he picked up my weakness to wooden objects when he used his mimic ability on my ring.”
“Now, I’d suggest we take him to that Limbo void between Earths,” said the Flash. “I’d say that is where we’ll find the Wizard, too. If he had been on Earth-One, we would have been contacted by the Flash or Green Lantern. Call it an instinct that this old scientist should scorn, but I think Limbo holds the key to our mystery.”
“Then I suggest we get moving,” said Green Lantern. “I’d like to resolve this case swiftly.” They vanished with a flash of emerald energy, along with the stunned alien.
The Flash and Green Lantern of Earth-One — Barry Allen and Hal Jordan — were confronted by the Wizard. The evil magician wore his customary black tuxedo, and his oddly opaque eyes gleamed in the dim light. He smiled coldly and said, “This was a prison for alien criminals, as you guessed, but now it will serve as a fortress from which I shall conquer two worlds! It will also be your new home until I bring down the curtain on you and your costumed friends! It already holds Faust and Alchemy, who failed me miserably when we teamed as the Crime Champions. When the hounds brought them here I was surprised, but I had taken over the prison by that time and readily found a place for them! I expected Chronos to be brought here also, but you two will do quite nicely.”
The Flash rocketed forward but quickly gasped as he found himself running helplessly in place. Green Lantern created a green boxing glove fist, but the Wizard merely stood there and laughed. “I have shielded ourselves from anything you two can throw at us. I didn’t expect you two, but I still have had time to prepare. ”
“Maybe you’ve prepared for his speed and my ring, but how about a good, old-fashioned right hook?” Green Lantern swung at the Wizard but grunted in frustration, as his blow passed harmlessly through an illusion.
“Ha-ha-ha! I am merely a phantasm,” said the Wizard. “That is why your pretty light yielded such a paltry return! Still, wraith or not, I may bring you two to your destined cells.”
The Flash vanished and found himself in a clear tube along one wall. He noticed Doctor Alchemy’s sorrowful expression in the tube next to his own. Al Desmond had removed his hood and now stared out at the prison in despair. Felix Faust glared bitterly through another such tube. I bet the other aliens in those tubes are the former guards of this prison, the Flash mused. Those uniforms give away that much of a connection between them. The Wizard must have made a deal with the other prisoners in exchange for freeing them. The Flash began to vibrate in various frequencies in an attempt to find a way out.
Green Lantern also materialized within one of the tube-like cells, and he noticed that a yellow coating prevented the energy of his power ring from breaking the tube. The Wizard caught us off-guard. I never expected to find him in charge here, he thought. Knowing that the Flash would be trying to free himself, he felt no qualms about their situation. He knew that he and his friend were capable of dealing with almost any crisis. He also believed that no crisis would ever prove to be too much for them.
Hal Jordan calmly considered heating the air in the tube until the pressure would expand and break it open, but even though his ring could affect the air but not the cell, he was uncertain that his ploy would work on this alien cell. He didn’t have a chance to try this stunt before he saw the arrival of the Green Lantern and Flash of Earth-Two, along with their captive.
“Great Guardians! This looks like a real break for us!” said Hal.
Barry Allen saw the Justice Society of America heroes as well, and he smiled broadly. Jay Garrick was his hero, and he had no doubt that the tide had turned in their favor now.
As for the two elder heroes, they quickly saw everything and realized the plight of their younger counterparts. “Those tubes won’t hold you two for long!” declared Jay as he ran over to where the heroes were held. He started to try to break open the tubes when the Wizard appeared in a burst of smoke and brimstone.
“Ah! The elder statesmen of the caped and cowled world are here! What a pleasure!” he said, rubbing his hands together like a silent film villain.
“The Wizard!” muttered Alan Scott as he generated a bright flash of blinding light.
“Watch out!” cried Barry, but the sound didn’t carry through his tube.
“Why should I tire myself when my troops may subdue you?” said the Wizard. “I am a man of power, and I must learn to delegate!” He gestured in a theatrical manner as a dozen alien beings entered in answer to his summons. They were a mixed group with no particular common characteristic. Some were amorphous and moved across the room in a slow but steady ooze. Three were hulking brutes with ridged foreheads. The rest were almost human in appearance, except for their lack of any obvious mouth.
“Hold on, son, I’ll have you out of there in no time!” Jay Garrick, the elder Flash, created a precisely concentrated whirlwind that shattered the tube that held the younger Flash and then helped his friend to freedom. “Steady, son. You’ve had a bit of a shock. Seeing the Wizard never agrees with my digestion, either!” he said.
“Thank you,” said Barry. “I’ll be fine. Let’s get G.L. out!” The two speedsters rapidly freed Hal Jordan, while Alan Scott held back the alien crooks with a massive shield of emerald fire.
“Don’t hurry on my account, fellas!” said the elder Green Lantern as he grimly forced the aliens backward through sheer force of will. His emerald shield turned into a battering ram that drove them away with sudden impact.
“Bah!” said the Wizard. “The aliens are out of condition from their time in the sapping cells. They also lack my awareness of how to defeat you mystery-men!” He rapidly chanted a few unintelligible words, and a thorny stalk soon erupted from the ground to slam into Alan and wrap around him with crushing force. “That should hold you!” he announced as he blasted an bolt of force in the path of Hal Jordan. The yellow energy struck his chest, and he fell to the ground.
Barry saw it all, and he and Jay raced around the Wizard in an ever-tightening circle. “Bah! You seek to draw away the oxygen from me! That old ploy has moss growing upon its broken back!” shouted the Wizard, who hurled a small pellet to the ground. The two speedsters found themselves swimming in a gel-like sea that robbed them of their precious momentum.
The Wizard smiled as he surveyed the scene. His foes were occupied or contained, and he winked at the still-captive Doctor Alchemy and Felix Faust. He saw the mimic beginning to stir, and he frowned. “I know you. I feel a connection between us. I will secure you, then ponder the nature of the link.”
He sent the alien into a sapping cell and said, “Let me see… I was trapped in jail on my Earth. I decided to try to create a spell that would transfer me from Earth-Two to Earth-One. After all, I had found myself brought to that alternate Earth by the Fiddler’s sonic prowess and had no doubt my magic could do as much.
“The spell brought me instead to this Limbo, where I found myself in this cosmic Devil’s Island! I had switched places with one of the inmates by chance! Apparently, he ended up back on Earth-Two in my prison, and there he broke free and caught your attention. That, in turn, led you here. I never anticipated that my arrival would displace another in such a manner. How careless of me!” He smiled as he saw the elder Flash gasp for air as the younger eponymous hero fought to reach his side. “I have no idea what led the Justice League pair to take the place of Chronos. I really can’t say why the hounds set out after Faust, Chronos, and Alchemy to begin with, but I digress.”
At that moment, the elder Green Lantern blazed through the wooden tendrils that had been crushing him as the younger Green Lantern broke out of the yellow energy cage that contained him. They distracted the startled Wizard long enough for a surprising event that led to his defeat.
Before he could continue speaking, Doctor Alchemy and Felix Faust erupted from their cells and struck him with stunning force. The energy from Alchemy’s gun changed the air in the Wizard’s proximity to solid steel, which bound him, while Faust delivered a surprisingly skillful flurry of super-fast blows that left him dazed. Then, as the Wizard collapsed, Alchemy and Faust rushed over to where the two Lanterns had easily freed themselves and the struggling speedsters.
Doctor Alchemy ripped off his hood to reveal the masked Barry Allen, while Felix Faust shimmered for a moment and then changed back into Jay Garrick.
“Using your rings to make us exchange places and appearances with Alchemy and Faust was a master stroke!” said Jay. “Their specially designed sapping cells could not hold folks with our super-speed, while their time in the cells dazed them enough that neither of them could do more than try to stay afloat when the Wizard trapped them in that gel.”
“Well, switching rings with me while that bright flash blinded the Wizard enabled us both to overcome the special traps he used against us,” said Hal. “My ring could defeat the weakness he tried to use against G.L., here, while his ring did the same for me with my weakness!”
“You two reacted like experts,” said Alan. “The whole thing didn’t rattle you a bit. We’re proud that two fine men like you are carrying on our legacies, in a manner of speaking.”
Barry led the dazed Faust and Alchemy away from the ooze and smiled. “That means a lot to us. Let’s free the prison guards and get this case finished!”
Soon, the heroic foursome were standing before an obese alien who served as the warden for the prison in Limbo. “Your Wizard switched places here with the mimic by accident while trying to get to Earth-One. When the mimic vanished, it set off our automatic search and capture plan, which released the hounds. They mistakenly went to Earth-One and trailed the three Crime Champions who had some residue from their time here that led the hounds in their wake. That’s why the hounds brought Doctor Alchemy and Faust here and tried to capture Chronos, whom you took the place of as you said.”
Barry Allen, the Flash of Earth-One, nodded in agreement. “Right, Warden Hgrt! We didn’t know that the mimic was also drawn to the Icicle and the Fiddler on Earth-Two due to their own energy residue from their time between Earths. He copied their weapons and began his own crime wave there, which in turn led the JSA heroes here.”
Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth-One, said, “When Green Lantern mentally alerted us to his plan and switched rings with me, I played along for long enough to lull the Wizard into a false sense of victory.”
“Exactly as we intended for you to do,” said Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-Two. “The Wizard’s ego is his downfall! He was so wrapped up in gloating that he failed to notice that we Flashes had also been posing as the villains since that bright flash of light from G.L.’s ring!” He turned to the now bound and gagged Felix Faust, Wizard, and Doctor Alchemy and added, “Since the warden has called off the hounds, you boys can take your pair to jail on your world along with Chronos, whom you say you left in stasis. We’ll take in the Wiz, here, and make sure he doesn’t pull any more magical teleportations.”
The heroes all shook hands as Hal leaned over and said, “Green Lantern, you saved the day for all of us. I owe you a lot!”
Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-Two, nodded and said, “You’re more than welcome! Call it a debt I had owed for some time.”
Barry leaned over and removed the gag from Doctor Alchemy, who had mumbled something. “It was our speed that enabled us to break out of your cells, which were resistant to both magic and your alchemy gun, but in a way you helped,” said the younger Flash. “What is it you’re trying to say?”
Albert Desmond said, “You risked your life to help me. You even came here after me. I owe you! I’m not getting soft, but I’m not going to forget this, Flash. I got some thinking to do.”
Barry Allen nodded and said, “Are you saying I’m a catalyst for change, Alchemy?”
Desmond smiled ruefully as they prepared to return to their proper worlds. Who knows? I may just end up going straight, he thought to himself.