The Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency building:
“Captain Comet, there’s big-time trouble brewing!” shouted an upset Rick Flag, director of the MHRA. “The NASA folks have detected their missing satellite, and it’s brimming with energy of a source that is best defined as potentially deadly on a universal scale!”
“Where?” asked Captain Comet. “We’ll get right on it.”
“I’ve already got the position programmed in the skimmer,” said Lyla.
“Let’s move out!” he said. “Lyla, stay here and contact the JLA, the Outsiders, and the New Titans in case they’re needed.”
Lyla ran up and kissed him on the lips. “For good luck,” she explained.
Comet smiled and led his team, including an annoyed Golden Glider, into the shuttle. “That Pollyanna Harbinger is after you, Adam,” she said.
Ignoring her, Comet piloted the craft to the position Lyla had entered. They could spot nothing at that location.
“It’s there!” cried Lesla-Lar. “I can hear the machines and see the radiation from a cloaking device.”
Comet nodded. “I also pick up very sinister thoughts. Great Scott! Someone there is making plans to destroy the world!”
Goldstar followed Comet’s whispered instructions and concentrated. An energy shield formed around the skimmer and molded itself on to the satellite, which sparked into view at the touch of her star-band energy. “This will allow us entry without letting the atmosphere leak out,” she explained.
“Good work. Valor, Starman, and I will take the lead,” said Comet. “Dolphin, Glider, Cheetah — follow.”
As they raced forward, Lesla cried out, “There are about seven of them in there. I recognize my foe, and the others fit your descriptions.” Valor streaked forward and saw her orange-miniskirted, green-caped, blonde foe from before. “So this is where you ran off to,” she said, slamming into her at top speed.
“I didn’t run! I left you tricked and beaten,” the blonde grunted as she kneed Lesla. Valor turned, and her eyes blazed heat-vision that sent the speeding red and gold woman Dolphin had faced careening off-course. Her foe slapped her and said, “You’ll bow before your better, you smart-mouthed little girl!”
Valor twisted and sent her foe crashing into a woman below none of the team yet encountered, who appeared to be made of metal. “I may be a girl, but I am a supergirl,” she said.
“That’s your problem,” said the orange-costumed, green-caped foe as she blew Valor backward with super-breath. “I am Tharka the Superwoman.”
Valor scanned the room as Captain Comet entered and ordered the foes to surrender. The super-fast, masked, strawberry-blonde woman in yellow shorts, red tights, a red top, and yellow boots and gloves circled him at blinding speed. “Can’t see me, huh, tall, dark, and handsome?” she said.
“No, but I don’t need to see you to beat you,” he said, tracing her position by her thoughts. He thrust out to a spot, and she crashed into him, falling down stunned.
Dolphin leaped over them and tackled the dapper master of magic. “No tricks this time. Just a quick left hook,” she mused as she batted him down.
“My dear girl, you are simply divine,” said the man from his position on the floor. “Too pretty to be a brawler. You should be immortalized in stone.” Instantly, Dolphin turned to stone.
Seeing what had happened to his girlfriend, Starman flew into a rage and went wild. He blasted the strong, robotic woman of metal the team had spotted with his full force. She extended a robotic arm to grapple with him with surprising strength until he let loose with a stellar blast. She crumpled, and her legs dissolved into molten pulp as Starman released his full power — the heat of a star itself — for perhaps the first time.
“No, Will!” called out Captain Comet. “She is not just a machine! There’s a human brain in that metal shell!” A chastened Starman froze in horror, and magician wearing the turban took that moment to blind him with dazzling pyrotechnics, sending him crashing to the floor.
Goldstar sent her Starlings racing forward to tear into the green-skinned, purple-suited man whom she had seen wreck the U.S. Army plane. His weird, futuristic weaponry held the horde of Starlings at bay, no matter how fiercely she ordered them on. “Stop him! Destroy him, you witless fools!” cried a passionate Karin Grace.
The Cheetah pounced on the hooded man in red, who clumsily fell under her and rolled around the floor in panic, with the clawing Debbie Domaine wrapped around him.
The Golden Glider screamed as her agile skating led her to the feet of their leader. This man wore a shiny yellow hood over his face, and his orange and yellow suit was impressive, while his very presence was commanding. Before anything could happen, he rose one hand and fired a green energy beam at Valor, who screamed and fell to her knees. “Kryptonite!” she gasped.
“Yes, and why not kryptonite, since I am Atoman!” he roared, speaking with a distinct German accent.
“Atoman?!” questioned Glider. “You’re from Earth-Two! I remember seeing you once fight Superman and Batman on TV, and that older Earth-Two Superman, as well. (*) Why are you trying to destroy Earth-One with the stolen equipment?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret Origins of the Superman and Batman Team,” World’s Finest Comics #271 (September, 1981).]
“He’s not,” said Captain Comet. “He must have brought these forgotten heroes here from Earth-Two during the Crisis — plucked them from their own times and somehow enslaved them all to destroy Earth-Two, not Earth-One.”
“Exactly! But you can’t stop me,” sneered Atoman.
Valor, weakened but still able to use her vision powers, spotted the madman’s belt device and used her heat-vision on it, causing the device to melt. Immediately, painful kryptonite radiation shot out from his body, causing her to scream.
“Fool!” cried Atoman. “Without the regulator, I can’t control my kryptonite emissions!”
Captain Comet called out to Goldstar, “Shield Valor!” As Karin erected a protective energy bubble around Valor, Comet tackled Atoman, soaring out into the skimmer and away from Valor.
“You can’t win!” Atoman ranted as they struggled. “I can beat you! I’ll kill the Superman of Earth-Two by destroying his whole world. This world of yours has given me greater power than I had back there. I took those heroes were from various time periods on Earth-Two and brainwashed them to do my bidding — to be my super-slaves — and they will help ensure my victory! My ray will destroy Earth-Two once and for all!”
Captain Comet ducked a rapid punch and hit him in the stomach. He followed up with a left hook. “You fight out of inner hatred and a desire to destroy!” he said as he slammed into the kryptonite-emitting Atoman. “I fight for life and justice, and those ideals always win.” He blasted out with a mental bolt and spun around to kick the yellow-suited super-villain down. A final, desperate lunge by Atoman only resulted in a right cross from the hero that finally knocked him out.
Meanwhile, the shielded Valor slugged Tharka the Superwoman and then flew into the death-ray machine, tearing it apart and tossing it into her blonde foe’s path. Tharka fell down hard, and around her the other Earth-Two slaves blinked their way to normalcy with the destruction of Atoman’s equipment. “What have I done?” asked a sorrowful Tharka. “What did we all do?”
Valor watched as Captain Comet dragged the unconscious Atoman back into the satellite, and she smiled. She also saw Dolphin return to normal as well, as the turban-wearing magician ended his magic spell over her. “You did nothing that can’t be undone.”
Captain Comet turned to the six figures from Earth-Two and said, “Now, folks, just who are all of you?”
Later, at the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency, the Rehab Squad — along with Rick Flag and Lyla — sat in a room with the Earth-Two natives, who each formally introduced themselves.
“I suppose, chronologically speaking, I should go first,” said the dapper magician. “I am Nadir, the Master of Magic! Although I was born a prince in India, I rejected my royal heritage to dedicate my life to fighting crime, using a mixture of modern science and the mystical knowledge I gained as a young man. I began crime-fighting before Superman, Crimson Avenger, or the esteemed Zatara. But in July of 1938, while I was on vacation in the South Seas, I was nearly choked to death by a group of criminals that I had been tracking for a friend of mine. (*) I was unexpectedly saved by Atoman’s time-ray, which plucked me from that deadly moment in 1938 and brought me, enslaved, to this year around one week ago. To me, 1938 was a mere eight days ago.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Nadir, Master of Magic, New Adventure Comics #30 (September, 1938).]
“I am Tharka the Superwoman from Zor,” said blonde in the orange minidress and green cape next. “Much like your Captain Comet, I am a mutant born with greater strength and speed than my fellow Zorians. As a teenager I once visited Earth — Earth-Two, that is — in order to meet my fellow crime-fighter, Superman, in the Terran year of 1952. While I had super-powers on Zor, where the gravity is much weaker, I was no more powerful than an ordinary human woman while on Earth. Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time, since Superman used his powers to make it seem as if I was just as super-powerful on Earth as on Zor. (*) He did this to spare my feelings, I suppose, but I later realized what he must have done while visiting another Earth-type world and finding in a very humiliating way that all my wondrous strength and speed was gone. In the years since, I have developed my latent mental powers to compensate for my lack of other powers under higher gravity. A few years later, in 1969, I left for Earth once more, this time to return a super-criminal from that world who had plagued Zor with his crimes. (*) But I never reached Earth-Two. Instead, I was plucked through time by Atoman to this point a week ago, though I don’t know what happened to my prisoner.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Superwoman from Space,” Superman #81 (March-April, 1953) and Showcase: Tharka the Superwoman: Times Past, 1969: Invaders from Earth; Atoman’s ray must have duplicated Tharka, since the real Tharka the Superwoman did continue on her voyage and helped save Earth in All-Star: Times Past, 1969: Aquarius Redux.]
“It’s strange that, although you had no powers while on Earth-Two,” said Lesla-Lar, “you now have powers equal to that of a Kryptonian on Earth-One.”
Tharka shrugged and said, “I suppose Atoman’s ray or the journey to Earth-One changed me somehow. And while I’ve gained greater strength and speed, I’ve also lost my formidable mental abilities. This will take some getting used to.”
The hooded man in red coughed nervously. “I am Albert Elwood, and I’m an inventor. Some people call me a crackpot inventor, but I like to think of myself as eccentric. In December of 1962, I became the new Crimson Avenger and assisted Batman and Superman of Earth-Two in their case against the Octopus Gang. (*) But I retired after that one case, because — despite all my scientific gadgets — I simply didn’t measure up to them or to the memory of the first Avenger, who saved me when I was a young man in the 1940s. My retirement started a week ago, as well, but Atoman’s device brought me through time and space to this point.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Mystery of the Crimson Avenger,” World’s Finest Comics #131 (February, 1963).]
The thin, green-skinned man wearing a purple outfit and goggles smiled at the second Crimson Avenger. “I, too, met Batman of Earth-Two,” he announced. “He aided me — the first lawman of our peaceful civilization on Mars — in tracking down a rare Martian criminal named Quork when I arrived on on his world in 1953. (*) My last memory is of the Earth year 1966 before I was brought here. My real name is Roh Kar, and Batman called me the manhunter from Mars.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Manhunter from Mars,” Batman #78 (August-September, 1953).]
“The parallels to our own J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, is fascinating,” said Captain Comet.
The disembodied robotic head that remained after Starman melted the robotic female body spoke strangely as well. “I am Robotgirl,” she said, sadness in her artificial voice. “My human mind was placed in this crude metal shell by Chuck Grayson in 1953 after the real Robotman disappeared, and I suffered injuries looking for him. In crossing from one Earth to another through time, I have lost some memory, such as my true name or if I ever succeeded in finding Robotman. Now I need a new body.”
“I’ll bet Doc Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, could whip you up a new body that would even look more feminine than that old one, honey,” suggested Golden Glider.
“That would be wonderful,” Robotgirl said, hopeful once more.
“I am Joanie Swift!” said the strawberry-blonde, red-clad speedster. “And that’s not just my crime-fighting name — it’s my real name, too! I gained my super-speed nine days ago and worked alongside a hero called Johnny Quick. I’m a college student who also worked as a secretary at State University for a professor pal of Johnny’s. While reading aloud several scientific formulas, I stumbled upon the formula that grants Johnny his speed and gained those powers for myself. I became Johnny’s crime-fighting partner only nine days ago and made this swell costume, but I never got to really start my official career as a mystery-woman, since Atoman caught me and brought me here from 1952. It’s strange, though — I’d forgotten the formula that granted me speed, but after I was caught in time, it came back to me while dreaming, and I’ll never forget it now!”
“So can you return us to our proper times and to the universe you call Earth-Two?” asked Tharka the Superwoman hopefully.
“Unfortunately, no,” Captain Comet said, frowning. “All access to Earth-Two and the other Earths has ended. I doubt Atoman’s ray could have even worked. And based on that fact, I surmise that he actually captured all of you during the Crisis on Infinite Earths last summer and just kept you entranced somehow until his plans were ready around a week ago.”
“All right,” said Tharka, rising. “I suppose I’ll just have to locate the counterpart of my homeworld of Zor in this universe. Anyone care to join me on a trip into deep space?”
Roh Kar, the manhunter from Mars, was the only one to step forward after a moment. “I have no place here on Earth,” he said. “I will join you gladly, if you’ll have me. All I need is transportation.”
“Glad to have you with me, Kar,” said Tharka. “I’ll lead you to where I spotted an abandoned ship that we can use to travel through space. Its engine no longer works, but that won’t be a problem, thanks to these new super-powers of mine.”
Saying their goodbyes to the others, the two left the building, and they flew off at top speed, Tharka the Superwoman under her own power, and Roh Kar, the manhunter from Mars, using his jetpack.
“I guess there are enough super-women and Martian manhunters around now, anyway,” said Lesla.
“I’d like to stay here — for now, anyway,” said Nadir, the Master of Magic. “And in particular I’d like to meet Zatara and this Sargon the Sorcerer, whom I understand are also here now.”
“Well, actually, Zatara is dead,” explained Captain Comet. “He died last October.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See John Constantine, Hellblazer: The War of Darkness and Light.]
“I am sorry to hear that,” said the regal Nadir. “The young man was very good.”
“I’m eager to have that new body you mentioned,” said Robotgirl. “Could I really look like a woman again?”
“Sure!” said Starman. “Wait ’til you see Platinum of the Metal Men.”
“Well, I’m sure eager to start my heroic career for real,” said Joanie Swift, “even if it has to be on another world and another time entirely from my own.”
“As for me, I’m through with heroics,” said Albert Elwood, the Crimson Avenger. “I’ll just be happy to find a job and some peace and quiet as a scientist.”
“We’ve got some contacts at STAR Labs,” said Lesla-Lar. “We’ll put you in touch with them. They might be interested in hiring you.”
“You would do that for me even after our battle?” said Albert.
“Of course,” said Lesla.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” he replied with a smile.
“Then it’s settled,” said Captain Comet. “We’ve put an end to Atoman’s insane plans, and our world has gained a few new heroes and a brilliant scientist in the process. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.”