by Martin Maenza
Frances Kane, meanwhile, had run smack-dab into a concerned Barney Sands. “Frances, run!” the brown-haired youth said in a panic.
“Why?” the blonde woman asked. “The threat’s back that way.” She gestured to where the Flash had been off battling the cyborg.
“Wrong,” Barney replied. He then dived onto Frances, knocking her to the ground. “Duck!” The two tumbled behind one of the tables.
Frances pushed the young man off of her. “What’s going on? Why’d you do that?”
A gleaming sword blade sliced through the table next to them, sawing it clean in half with one cleave. “That’s why!” Barney said. “C’mon, run!”
The two scampered to their feet and started to run. “What’s going on here?” she asked. “What are we running from?”
A figured whipped through the air over them, landing in their path. Standing before them was a well-built, muscular woman. Her long black hair was tied back into a single ponytail. Her body was only slightly covered by a few pieces of black metal armor that had less material than one of Frances’ two-piece bathing suits. In the woman’s hand was a long, gleaming metal sword. She stood poised, ready to strike.
“Not what,” Barney said. “Who!”
“You know this woman?” Frances asked.
“Know her,” Barney replied. “I created her. She’s called Blade-Babe!”
Frances let those words wash over her. “Blade-Babe?” she asked. “No wonder she looks so pissed. Between the name, the lack of wardrobe, and the burden of carrying around such a large chest, I’d be mad, too!”
“Quiet, cowards, and prepare to die!” Blade-Babe raised her weapon high above her head and let out a bloodcurdling scream. She flexed her muscles and prepared to bring the weapon down hard.
Instinctively, Frances pushed Barney away and gestured with her free hand. A wave of magnetic energy hit the oncoming sword, sending it hurtling backward. The warrior woman held fast to the hilt, and thus she, too, tumbled backward. Frances didn’t like using her magnetic powers, but the situation seemed to warrant it. She felt, however, a slight twinge of pain when she did so. This was something new to her, but she didn’t have time to worry about it.
Frances grabbed Barney’s hand. “We’ve got to run — now!” Her first thought was to get the young man to safety, if nothing else than to allow her time to ask him how one of his creations from ink and paper had actually come to life.
As they ran, Frances used her powers to cause some of the metal tables they passed to turn over. Papers, books, and such showered into the air as the tables became an obstacle course to slow down the sword-wielding siren. With each use of her powers, the twinge was there.
“Barney, you said you created Blade-Babe,” she said. “How is it she’s come to life?”
“I honestly don’t know,” the youth said. “But this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.”
“It’s not?” Frances asked in surprise.
“Nope,” Barney said. “Something like this happened about six years ago. One of my earlier creations, a bald powerhouse by the name of Master Villain, suddenly showed up in Central City. The creep was terrorizing the town, making trouble. Even the Flash, the first one, had a hard time stopping M.V.’s wide array of powers.
“I racked my brain trying to figure out how that drawing had come to life, but I came up with nothing. In desperation, I whipped up another drawing of a character called Super-Hero in hopes that the same thing would happen again, and there’d be an equally fantastic good guy to battle my bad creation. To my surprise, Super-Hero did end up showing up alive and cleaned the floor with M.V. Then, as quickly as they appeared, both vanished. (*) Since then, none of my other drawings have come to life.”
[(*) Editor’s note: This all occurred in “Challenge of the Cardboard Criminal,” The Flash #248 (April, 1977) and “A Hero Named Super,” The Flash #249 (May, 1977).]
“Until today,” Frances concluded, “with Blade-Babe?”
“Right,” Barney said. “I can’t believe this is happening! It’s all my fault!”
Frances gave Barney a hug. “Maybe it’s not your doing, Barney,” she said, trying to calm his panic. “We just gotta let this play out, then we’ll straighten it out. Flash will help. Trust me.” Frances couldn’t help but think about the time her own powers had gotten out of hand, and Wally and the rest of the Titans had helped her get them under control. If Barney was behind any of this, she knew there’d be help for him.
Suddenly, a sword blade plunged into the floor inches from their feet. “There you dogs are!” Blade-Babe leaped upon the table before them, pulling two small daggers from the sheathes in her boots. “Die!” With a yelp and a flick of her wrists, the dark-haired woman flung the weapons directly at the two people.
“No!” Frances yelled, and instinctively she lashed out with her powers. The magnetic burst caught the daggers in midair, spun them around, and sent them plunging back into Blade-Babe’s rather pronounced chest. The woman screamed out in anguish, fell to the table, and then faded in twinkling lights.
“Is she…?” Barney started to ask.
“Gone,” Frances said. “C’mon! We’ve got to see if we can find the Flash!”
The Flash ran around in a tight circle, creating a mini-tornado that whipped into the air.
Within the fast moving funnel of air, a musclebound, white-haired man dressed in silver with a red cape struggled against the sheer force of the wind. “Unhand me!” the man bellowed through a grimaced face. “I am Supremo!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the Flash said as he adjusted his speed, allowing the man to drop very quickly into the funnel. The Flash then reached up, grabbed the end of the cape, and began to spin the attacker round and round. “You look like a Superman wannabe to me.”
After a sufficient number of rotations, the speedster timed his release of the cape. The speed and the angle made the man called Supremo slingshot through the air only to slam directly into a large, green, musclebound man with a large fin on his head. Both were buried deep into the wall and then vanished from view.
The crowds, who watched from the sidelines, cheered.
The Flash gave a brief nod. “I guess they think this part of the show or something,” he said to himself, “though the place is getting torn up big time.” He started to rub his chin. “I wonder, though, with how quickly these guys are coming and going, if all of this is related.”
Suddenly, there was a great whine in the air. The Flash barely turned when an incredibly long chain whipped around his body. The chain wrapped around him a dozen times, and the surprise attack knocked him to the floor. “What now?” Flash asked as he looked up.
Above him floated a costumed figure in a macabre black and red costume. His face was covered with an ornate skull-patterned mask with green eyes. Chains much like those that bound the hero wrapped around his body, and an incredibly long red cape flowed about the figure in the air. “Hold fast, demon!” the figure bellowed in an eerie voice. “For it is the curse of fates that forces me to hunt your kind down, returning you to the foul bowels of Hades! For I am the Hellspawn!”
“Oh, give me a break,” the Flash said, fed up with these weird characters. He began to vibrate his body at super-speed, making his very molecules unstable enough to allow himself to pass easily through the chains around him.
“Impossible!” Hellspawn roared. “No one is able to escape my mighty, enchanted weapons!”
“Yeah?” Flash said. “I’d get your money back if I were you.” The speedster picked up the chain that was around him, began to whip it around like a lariat, and wrapped it around the latest attacker. “Here, let’s see if you can get out of them, Houdini!”
With a quick jerk of the one end of the chain, the Flash brought the character crashing down to the ground.
As the latest attacker vanished like the previous ones had, the Flash looked about quickly. “Where are these guys coming from?” he asked himself. “And why do they disappear so quickly after I beat them?”
Glancing up, the Flash thought he saw a figure moving up near the roof by the broken skylight. He didn’t get a good look at the person in the shadows, but it was definitely someone who had been spying on the events below. Ah-ha! the speedster thought. Let’s just have a quick look-see.
The Flash raced out of the convention center doors, down the street, then cut back. With the extra build-up of speed, he was easily able to run up the side of the large building to reach the roof.
Sure enough, by the broken skylight, the Flash came upon a very small figure of a person. “Ahem!” he said, drawing attention to his arrival by tapping the figure on the shoulder.
“Aaah!” the figure jumped with surprise. But instead of coming down, he hovered there in the air.
It was a small person, perhaps no more than three feet tall in size. He wore a very familiar gray body suit with blue-black gloves, boots, cowl, and a cape. On his chest was a black bat insignia in a yellow oval. Even a yellow utility belt of sorts hung loosely from his waist. He looked like a large Kewpie doll in a costume. “What’d you do that for? Scaring me and everything!” the person squeaked in a high-pitched voice.
“Given what you’ve been doing,” the Flash said, forcing himself not to laugh at the man’s comical appearance, “I think you deserve it. Now, who are you?”
“Who am I?” the costumed imp parroted. “Who am I? You don’t recognize me?”
“I know the costume,” the Flash said, “but not you. Enlighten me.”
“I am Bat-Mite!” the imp said proudly.
“Bat-Mite,” Flash repeated. “Riiight.”
The speedster recalled the occasional comment from Dick Grayson, who mentioned that — back when he was Robin — he and Batman encountered a being with the same name. Dick had said this Bat-Mite was a magical imp that used to cause them tons of trouble. Wally had laughed it off as one of Dick’s jokes or tall tales. That would teach him to doubt his old friend.
“So,” Flash said, addressing the being once more who was now floating in the air with his legs crossed, “I take all that stuff down there was your handiwork?”
The imp smiled a big smile, wide as his whole chubby face. “Of course! Who else could make all of that marvelous fun?”
The Flash rubbed his temples. He felt a headache coming on. “OK, Mite,” he said. “Care to tell me why?”
Bat-Mite began to slowly turn around in the air, head over heels. “Sure thing! When you finished your autographs and such, all the little kiddies seemed so disappointed. I figured if some menaces showed up, you’d come back. And I was right!”
“So you whipped up the cyborg, and the streaker, Supremo, the dragon-man, and Hellspawn just so I’d be running around the Con again?” Flash asked. “You have a twisted imagination, you know that?”
“Why, thank you,” the imp said, “but I can’t take credit for those guys. I only brought them to life from the pictures by the young artists down there. It’s their images and my magic. Hee-hee-hee.”
“Why me?” the Flash said as he rubbed his face with his hand.
“What?” asked the Bat-Mite.
The Flash shook his head. “Why me? Why here? I thought you were a Batman fan.”
“Oh, I am!” the imp squealed. “See the costume?” He tugged at his tunic. “I am now and will always be a Bat-fan.” The Flash just stared at him with a wondering look. “Oh, so I guess you want to know why I came here.”
“Uh, yeah,” Flash said, trying his best not to lose his patience.
“OK, here’s the scoop,” Bat-Mite said. “A few years back, I had the chance to pop over to one of the other Earths, the one you all called Earth-Prime. There I dropped into the offices of DC Comics and approached editor Al Milgrom about an idea of putting me in one of their books. After bringing in a writer, artist, and such, Milgrom agreed to give me a feature. I was pleased as punch. True to his word, he put me in the comics they made.
“Well, I decided that maybe it was time for me to make another appearance, so I tried to go over there again. Much to my dismay, something blocked my access to the parallel Earth. That made me sad — real sad. So, the only way I could stay close to comics was to start hanging out at Comic Cons on this Earth. Sadly, there don’t seem to be any in Gotham City, so I ended up here.”
The Flash let out a deep sigh. “Well, luckily no one got hurt,” he said.
The imp started to smile.
The imp began to pout. There always was a but.
“…thanks to your shenanigans, there’s a huge mess down there. So, how’s about you wiggle that nose of yours or something and straighten things out? If you do, I’m willing to forget the incident and let bygones be bygones. Agreed?” The speedster held out his hand as a goodwill gesture.
Bat-Mite beamed again. “Agreed,” he said, shaking the hero’s hand. “You’re a real sport, Flasheroo!”
“And,” the Flash said, looking the imp straight in the eye, “next time you think about stopping in Central City, do me a favor and pass right on through. OK?”
Bat-Mite giggled. “Agreed.”