Superman had always felt rather alone in the world since the death of his adopted parents. True, he had access to a host of past memories of both the Kents and the Els due to natural memories and the advanced science of the memory scanner, and of course his lovely young cousin Kara Zor-El and his relatives in Kandor now offered him more immediate familial ties. Still, Kara was a girl, and he often felt that he lacked adult peers with which to share concerns.
There was a certain pleasure in having others of the same age around with whom to work and discuss relationship concerns. As Clark Kent he enjoyed discussing the rewards and petty irritants of journalism with Lois Lane or the mentoring relationships he enjoyed from two different roles with young Jimmy Olsen and the older Perry White. Still, journalism was only one of his jobs. His more pressing occupation was being the costumed hero called Superman. This role had isolated him since, merely by being a hero, one was separated from the masses. So he relished the idea of the newly founded Justice League of America.
He could now actually be with people who also had fabulous powers, heavy responsibilities, and dual identities to deal with daily. Batman had been his close friend for a few years now, but even Bruce Wayne could not fully relate with what it was like to live in constant fear of accidentally damaging someone or something through a careless use of superhuman power. Of course, the team had not revealed their secret identities to each other, so only Superman and Batman knew each other’s real names so far. But perhaps someday the team would gain the level of trust needed for that step.
Superman glanced over their new headquarters — their Secret Sanctum — and while it lacked the grandure of his Fortress of Solitude, it also lacked the solitude itself. This place was usually full of voices, movement, and action. A large percentage of the above elements came from the teenage boy who presently entered with his fingers already snapping.
“This is the toppermost of the poppermost!” gushed Snapper Carr. “The most far-out hangout yet! Don’t ya agree that no place could be cooler?“
“It is nice, although there is much to be said for Mars,” said a solemn-voiced, green-skinned man who accompanied the youth inside.
“Welcome, Manhunter, Snapper!” greeted the Man of Steel. “I thought I’d get here a bit early to make a final check of security and iron out any bugs.”
“Well done. All is in order, I trust?” asked the Martian Manhunter.
“Nothing out of place that I can see, except that we might want to make adjustments to the perimeter alarms due to the hiking season and all,” said Batman as he seemingly appeared from the shadows. He smiled warmly at his friends as he and Superman related a joint case of theirs in which they had fought Doctor Double X. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: This is an untold tale of the World’s Finest team.]
“A ghostly double? That sounds weird enough to fit in with my Rogue’s Gallery,” offered the surprisingly timely Flash.
The Flash, in turn, was followed by Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman. The assembled JLA was now ready to meet for the second time in their new headquarters. A set of rules quickly gave way to informality as Green Lantern bantered with the Flash, and Aquaman shyly praised Wonder Woman’s new hairstyle.
“Thank you, Aquaman,” said the Amazon princess. “I may even change my costume itself one of these days. Maybe get rid of the sandals and go back to boots.”
“The sandals do give you more of a classical Greek look,” added Superman.
Snapper said, “You want Greek? This whole book is literally Greek to me!” He waved a schoolbook in one hand.
Green Lantern smiled. “The Argonautica? Sounds like a rock group. Seriously, though, I’ve read it before.”
Batman chimed in, “As have I. Snapper, you should relate to that book more than most people. It’s about a gathering together of super-powered heroes to quest for a rare magical item.”
“Yes, the Golden Fleece,” said a smiling Wonder Woman. “I’ve seen it on Paradise Island in mother’s room.”
Superman added, “See the connection? The JLA is like a modern version of the Argonauts.”
“I dig it!” said Snapper. “So I need to just ditch my bad vibes and think of those dudes as crime-fighting swingers!”
The Flash looked rather lost in daydreams as Green Lantern’s energy fingers waved in front of his face. “Earth to Flash! Come in,” he said.
Barry Allen, the Flash, said, “You know, the JLA owes a lot to an even more recent group than those Greek champions. Have you heard of the Justice Society of America?”
Superman nodded. “In the comics? I read those back in Smallville. My foster father saved some from a neighbor kid’s collection for me.”
Wonder Woman leaned forward. “Justice Society?“
“They were a group of heroes who fought crime as we do, but in the 1940s,” said Batman. “One fascinating element is they also had a Flash, a Green Lantern, and others.”
“I can’t recall much about them,” said Superman. “It’s like that part of my memory is clouded.”
“That is odd,” said Aquaman. “You never forget a thing, usually.”
“I wonder how that writer came so close to reality by creating a speedster named Flash, a ring user named Green Lantern, and others,” said Martian Manhunter.
“He did not create us!” said a blur as a figure rocketed inside the headquarters without setting off any alarms. “We’re the real things!“
Soon, as Barry Allen’s eyes adjusted to the speeding form, he gasped, “That is the Flash!”
The Flash was followed by a black man in green and gold, a handsome man wearing a turban, a broad-shouldered blond man, a redheaded woman, a red-and-green flyer, and — amazingly enough — an exact double of Wonder Woman.
The attacking group of heroes, members of the wartime All-Star Squadron of Earth-Two, had been enslaved by a time traveler named Dr. Doome. He, in turn, had given them to a fellow despot of the time-stream called the Lord of Time, who had brought them to this early point in the JLA’s history to slay his foes. Now Starman, Manhunter, Amazing-Man, Sargon the Sorcerer, Firebrand, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Captain Triumph had nothing on their minds but defeating this group of outlaws who patterned themselves after some of the Justice Society of America members.
The golden-age Flash raced around the table, only to be met by the current Flash, Barry Allen. “You move pretty well, but you lack the right stuff,” said the original Flash, who was really Jay Garrick.
“Well, you may impress the Buck Rogers Fan Club, fin-head, but you leave me dry,” said Green Lantern as he flew up to meet the hovering Ted Knight. A pulse from the gravity rod quickly shattered Hal Jordan’s own green shield. Great, thought the guardian of Earth’s space sector. He’s using stellar energy of yellow hue.
“Hold it!” said Superman. “If you’re the real JSA brought to life, then we have much in common!” His words stopped as Captain Triumph belted him across the room with ease.
The Martian Manhunter stepped up to restrain the blond battler, but the redheaded girl blocked his path with a wall of flickering fire that sapped his strength and drove him back, while Amazing-Man touched the iron of the table and slugged Aquaman with a sudden and skilled attack.
Wonder Woman gazed in dismay as her twin leaped over the table and pulled her to her feet by her hair. “You’ve got a lot to learn if you think you can copy me, sister!” she snapped. “The shoes are all wrong, for one thing.”
Diana tucked herself up in a ball and rolled back, freeing herself from her twin. Great Hera! It’s as if I fought my own reflection, she mused as she tossed her golden lasso, only to have her high-jumping double dodge it with ease.
Batman frowned as his agile moves were countered by the equally able Manhunter, who in fact was big-game hunter Paul Kirk. He admired Manhunter’s technique as they fought across the floor, as Kirk parried every move the Darknight Detective tried.
The Martian Manhunter probed their minds and frowned even more deeply than usual. “They truly are the JSA you’ve read about — brought here from another Earth and controlled by someone with evil intent,” he yelled.
Superman blew his super-cold breath across the flames generated by Firebrand, and the Manhunter took that instant to elongate an arm and ensnare the agile girl. He squeezed quickly, and she passed out before her heat could hurt him.
Green Lantern switched strategies, too, as Starman’s glowing power bested his every creation. He suddenly created a green cage around Manhunter, which freed Batman to toss his batarang and knock the rod out of Starman’s hand. As Ted Knight fell to earth, Green Lantern cushioned his fall, while restraining him as well.
The JLA’s Flash followed suit and spun around Amazing-Man just out of reach until he passed out from lack of air. The golden-age Flash tried to stop his fleet-footed foe, only to be caught by the golden lasso of Wonder Woman.
“Stop!” she ordered.
He did so, and Aquaman moved to trip the golden-age Wonder Woman. She fell, only to spring back up in Captain Triumph’s path as he was shoved in her way by Superman. They subdued the JSA with teamwork that, though new in the making, was already strong and effective. The various All-Star Squadron members, on the other hand, lacked both unity and will to reach their best potential.
“Do you think these heroes are under some spell?” asked Wonder Woman.
“I’d swear the Flash and his friends were heroes from my boyhood reading,” offered Barry Allen.
Batman said, “Can you trace the source of the mental domination?”
The Martian Manhunter nodded. “I do sense four locations, and nothing more.”
Superman said, “Perhaps the power ring could free them.”
Green Lantern Hal Jordan bathed them in his emerald glow, and slowly comprehension reached their eyes. He did not realize that nothing from Earth-Two would have worked, due to Dr. Doome’s spell.
The golden-age Wonder Woman frowned in worry. “What has happened? Where are we?”
“I think we are on another world,” said Starman. “The heroes here must be different from us in some cases. That voice that drove us to fight hated them.”
Amazing-Man looked at the Martian Manhunter. “I’m the only negro mystery-man on my world. It’s nice to see this place even has green ones!“
“We were under a spell,” said Firebrand. “We don’t really want to harm you.”
“We can use your help to deal with this unseen enemy,” said Batman. “We’ll divide up into groups to investigate the sights the Manhunter from Mars saw.”