by Martin Maenza
When Gizmo and the two former members of the Gang arrived at the flier, the other three villains were waiting for them. “Glad you didn’t keep us waiting too long, Giz,” Copperhead said. “I barely got these two to start acting civil towards one another.”
Power Fist smiled to see more company, but Ace of Spades wasn’t as thrilled. “Hey, snake-breath, what’s the deal?” Ace asked. “I thought you invited me along ta make up for the mess back there. What’s with these other guys?”
“I told you we had need for some muscle,” Copperhead hissed as he started the engines. “If you want out, the door’s still open.”
The others stopped where they were, waiting to see if Ace was going to make a move. The man rubbed his chin, considering his options. “OK, I’ll stay,” Ace finally conceded.
Bulldozer and Kong settled into their seats in the back, while Gizmo joined Copperhead in the front. The dwarf leaned closer to his partner and said, “Well, this should be interesting.”
Copperhead nodded as the vehicle took off. “Oh, yeah, real interesting.”
As the flier sped off back toward San Francisco and the Sinister Citadel, Ace of Spades monopolized the conversation in back. He told the others about how he took the Royal Flush Gang to a whole new level after Amos Fortune had abandoned the team, how he switched the costumes from clubs to spades to give the group a new image, how the team upped their technology to using flying cards, and how the group eventually competed with the Joker for a prized set of paintings. He purposely left out the part where the Joker tricked the villains, thus landing the Royal Flush Gang back in jail.(*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Joker Goes Wilde,” The Joker #5 (January-February, 1976).]
Kong and Bulldozer seemed to be impressed, while Power Fist only listened with half-interest.
Before they approached the city by the bay, Gizmo activated the auto-tinting of the back windows. Mirror Master insisted on this added precaution to ensure the secrecy of the Society’s base for the time being. It wasn’t until the flier made its approach toward the Sinister Citadel that one of the passengers noticed.
“Uh, ‘scuse me, Gizmo?” Bulldozer called to the cockpit. “Where exactly are we?”
The dwarf turned back and smiled. “Relax, guys,” he said with a reassuring voice. “We’ll be landing in just a minute.”
The elevator doors opened up, and Copperhead led the way down the corridor. Power Fist, Ace of Spades, Bulldozer, and Kong followed, with Gizmo bringing up the rear. The hallway was fairly nondescript, painted in an off-white color with periodic decorations like paintings and mirrors along the way.
“Gentleman, let me show you to your rooms,” Copperhead said. As per instructions, the serpentine villain escorted the guests of the Secret Society to two rooms at the end of the hall. He gestured to the doors on each side of the hall. “Two of you can have this one, and the other two can share that one. If you get hungry or need anything, there are call buttons to ring Winston, the butler. He will come and see to your needs.”
“We’ll take the room on the left,” Kong announced. He and Bulldozer walked toward that door.
“Hey, wait a minute!” Ace of Spades proclaimed. “I gotta share a room with this guy?” He gestured toward Power Fist. “No way!”
“I ain’t wild about being wit’ him, either,” Power Fist said, crossing his arms.
Ace stood aggressively in front of the black man, face to face. “Well, I don’t trust you much after you jumped me in the bar! How do I know you won’t do it again?”
Power Fist smiled. “Just mind ya own business, and we’ll be fine.” The man’s attitude began to anger Ace once more.
“Sorry, guys, but try to make it work out,” Gizmo said. “Kong and Bulldozer are old friends, so they should get to room together if they want.”
Suddenly, the discussion became louder, with everyone talking at once. The situation threatened to get out of hand until Bulldozer piped up. “Hey, no need for another fight,” the man in blue said. “To make it easier, I’ll share with Power Fist. Ace can room with Kong.” The parties involved discussed the option briefly and decided it best. Soon, the two pairs retired to their chambers.
Gizmo and Copperhead headed back down the hall. “Well, that didn’t go as bad as I thought it would,” the dwarf remarked.
“Hey, the night ain’t over yet,” Copperhead said. “We’ll see what they’re like come the morning.” The two headed for the kitchen to get a sandwich before calling it an evening.
From the privacy of his office, Mirror Master switched the monitor view so that both rooms could be shown at the same time. Thanks to specialized two-way mirrors, he could easily monitor the actions and conversations of the guests. The man in orange and green blew out the smoke from his cigar. “So, what do you think, old friend? Will these four meet your needs?”
Gorilla Grodd studied the monitors carefully. “Yes,” he said in his low, guttural voice. “They certainly appear to be very fine specimens, healthy and strong.”
“I checked their backgrounds, too,” Mirror Master said, handing over a printout. “They seem to each possess strength levels well within the guidelines you specified.”
Grodd looked over the numbers. “Yes, this will indeed work out for the plan.”
The reflective rogue inhaled once more. “So, when do you think you’ll be ready?”
“Very soon. Perhaps within twenty-four hours.” Grodd started for the door. “I should get back to my work, though.”
Mirror Master started to chuckle.
“Is something amusing you, Mirror Master?” Grodd asked.
“I was just reflecting on the irony that one of them is called Kong,” the man replied.
Grodd didn’t say anything. He merely made a heavy sound with the air in his nose and headed for the door.
As the door closed, Mirror Master thought to himself, Some people around here could use a sense of humor. He continued to observe the four as he finished his cigar.
Over the period of the next twenty-four hours, the four strongmen began to relax and enjoy their posh surroundings. While kept isolated to the living quarters floor of the Sinister Citadel, they ate well, took advantage of the exercise equipment and swimming pool, and relaxed in the recreational room while playing pool and watching sports on a large-screen television. All the while, either Copperhead, Gizmo, or both chaperoned them.
“Sweet Arbor Day!” Power Fist exclaimed as he got another beer from behind the bar. “This sure is the comfiest gig I’ve had in the longest time.”
Ace of Spades sprawled out on the couch with his feet on the large coffee table. “Gotta agree with you there,” he said, then let out a loud belch and laughed obnoxiously.
Bulldozer and Kong continued their pool game. The one in blue asked in a low voice, “So, was he tough to share a room with?”
Kong nodded. “Yeah, between all the snoring and the farting, it wasn’t a picnic.” Bulldozer shook his head, feeling a bit sorry for suggesting the room arrangements.
Just then, Lydia Anastasios stepped into the room. “Um, Copperhead, can I see you for a minute?” asked the miniskirted young woman. The other males turned their heads at the sound of the female voice. A murmur among them grew, and Ace let out a few catcalls. Lydia blushed, but also felt a bit uneasy.
The serpentine villain crossed the room to talk to her. “What do ya need, doll?” he asked.
She leaned in closer so that she could whisper to him. “M.M. needs to speak with you,” she said, having been instructed not to speak certain names around the newcomers. Mirror Master insisted that they be kept in the dark about the organization and such for the time being.
“OK, but Gizmo’s not back yet,” Copperhead said. “They can’t be left alone, so you’ll have to stay here until I get back.” He then scooted out the door before she could protest.
Lydia realized her predicament but tried to make the most of it. Four pairs of eyes were on her. She smiled and made her way over to the bar.
Power Fist grinned at her. “Can I get you something, little lady?” the black man said with some charm in his voice.
“A glass of wine will do,” Lydia replied. She turned to catch Kong and Bulldozer staring; the two then quickly returned to their game, but kept eyeing her every now and again. She reached for her wine glass and noticed Ace was practically on top of her. “Oh, sorry.”
The Royal Flush Gang member looked at her legs hungrily. “Hey, nice tattoos,” Ace said. “They cover every inch of your body, sweet thing?”
Lydia took a long drink, hoping that Copperhead would be back very soon.
Later that evening, a loud sound in the hallway woke Bulldozer from a deep sleep. He got up carefully and put his ear to the door; he heard nothing. The large man then opened the door and looked out. The hallway was empty, but he barely caught the elevator door at the far end closing tightly.
I wonder if Kong heard something, he thought as he reached for the doorknob across the hall. The door was slightly ajar. Bulldozer opened the door, allowing the hallway light to shine into the room. “Kong,” he called out in a whisper. “Kong, you awake?”
He wasn’t sure which bed his old friend had gotten, so he carefully approached the one nearest the door. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room, he saw that the first bed was unoccupied, and the covers had been discarded to one side. Bulldozer glanced to where the bathroom would be, but saw no light under the door. Odd, he thought to himself.
Checking the second bed, he found it, too, similarly unoccupied. “Where the hell could they be?” he wondered to himself.
Feeling a slight wave of panic, Bulldozer decided it best if he didn’t continue exploring alone. He hurried back across the hall and began to shake Power Fist. “Luke, Luke,” he said, calling the black man by his first name. “Wake up, man!”
Power Fist rubbed his eyes. “Yo, wassup, B.D.?” he asked. “Why’d you wake me? I was havin’ a dream about Vanessa Williams.”
“I’m not sure, but I think something’s going on,” Bulldozer replied. “I heard this loud noise in the hall that woke me up.” He then paused a second. “And Kong and Ace aren’t in their room.”
“Just chill a sec’nd,” Power Fist said as he reached for his yellow pants. “We’ll go look for ’em together.” Soon the two men were down the hall and entering the elevator. They decided to start their search on the next floor above them.
The door opened on another hallway, similar to the one on the floor they resided but not decorated. No one was in sight. As they stepped out of the elevator, they heard a loud sound coming from down the hall. “Was that a scream?” Bulldozer asked.
“One way ta find out!” Power Fist replied. They charged down toward where they heard the sounds. “It’s coming from behind this door!” Without testing it first, they charged the unlocked door and tumbled into the room as the door gave way to their combined weight. The two villains could now clearly see where the agonizing sounds had originated.
Both Power Fist and Bulldozer looked up in shock and horror.
“Sweet Arbor Day!” Power Fist exclaimed.
“Oh, my God!” Bulldozer screamed.
The impressive form of Gorilla Grodd stood before them in the center of the laboratory. “Excellent,” he exclaimed in his gruff voice. “You saved me the walk to retrieve you.”
What had shocked Power Fist and Bulldozer, though, were the two figures who flanked Grodd, one on each side. They were large gorillas, much like Grodd himself, except for the torn remnants of material that clung to their bodies in places. The material, easily recognizable, belonged to the costumes of Ace of Spades and Kong.