Super Friends: The Return of the Elementals, Chapter 2: Magical Manipulation

by Libbylawrence

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The next morning, the Super Friends — Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Aquaman — assembled in the Hall of Justice in Gotham City along with the Wonder Twins.

Batman stood at the head of the meeting room table and said, “Now that you’ve heard about the encounters some of us had with two of the Elementals, you can understand why we wanted to get together and figure out if indeed the Overlord could be back!”

“See, we learned that Jeanine was completely unaware of how she had been acting as her costumed self,” said Robin. “It was like her alter ego had assumed a life of its own.”

“Right!” said Aquaman. “Because, just as Batman and Robin questioned a confused Jeanine Gale before her concert, Crystal Marr also told me that she had no memory of our fight, nor did she understand how she came to be where we fought!”

“The Overlord is not at large,” said Superman. “I checked on that myself after getting your summons!”

Wonder Woman smiled and said, “Perhaps we should say Overlords? There were two of them, you know.”

“Leave it to a member of the military to be a stickler for detail,” said Batman. “Diana is right. Sandor Fane was the first Overlord, and his nom du crime was later taken by one of his former henchmen who, in fact, had been manipulating him all along!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Puppets of the Overlord,” Super Friends #25 (October, 1979).]

“I checked on both of them,” said Superman. “They are in no position to threaten anyone or to control the Elementals!”

“What about the other two members of the Elementals?” asked Robin. “Shouldn’t we check on the Gnome and the Salamander?”

“Hey, you’re right!” said Zan. “If two of them had amnesia-like spells and committed crimes, then why didn’t the other two as well?”

Below him, Gleek the blue alien monkey chittered in agreement, crying, “Gleek! Gleek!

“Good thinking, Zan,” said Aquaman. “Actually, Crystal Marr and I contacted Ginger O’Shea last night. The Salamander was fine and assured us she was fully in control of herself.”

“And that leaves the Gnome,” said Batman. “Grant Arden is in New York. I did learn that he went out of town on company business. He owns the largest chemical company in all of Gotham City.”

“There is a somewhat more metaphysical explanation for their odd conduct,” said Superman. “The four citizens whom we call the Elementals are not truly responsible for their own powers. The first Overlord used some arcane formula of Parcelsius to invoke real elemental spirits, who merely use Grant, Jeanine, and the others as human hosts. They wear them like you and I might wear a suit and tie!”

“Or a cape!” said Jayna, and beneath her Gleek suddenly whirled in place, his purple cape twirling in the wind to her amusement. “Oh, Gleek…”

“Exactly,” said Batman. “Although those self-same spirits are benign and have denied being behind the attacks in the cases of the Sylph and the Undine, even they could be victims of a greater power!”

“We might need to call in our JLA ally Zatanna or Doctor Mist for some magical help!” said Wonder Woman.

Robin grinned and said, “Put the hocus-pocus on hold, Diana. I’ve got a better idea!” The teen wonder continued, “I have a hunch that we’ll be hearing from the Elementals real soon. We know the Sylph’s raid on GCU was directed at getting an amulet on display that was associated with the Druids, but the Undine had no reason to be at the lighthouse except to attack Aquaman.”

“Good reasoning, chum,” said Batman. “I wondered about that myself. It leads us to an unsettling conclusion. The Sylph was not truly after that amulet, although she made us think that she was. She was there in costume to draw us out, and she somehow knew we were there!”

“A magic-user would be able to deduce our secret identities or track our movements,” said Wonder Woman. “We could even be under watch as we speak!”

“Jeepers!” said Zan. “You mean we’re targets of this evil force, and it’s using the Elementals against their will to strike at us?”

Jayna said, “Then all we have to do is wait for the Gnome and the Salamander to come after us!”

“True enough!” said Aquaman. “When I probed the Undine’s mind, I felt pure hatred, and yet it did seem different in some manner from the rather benign mind of the elemental within her! I’d wager we are dealing with magical manipulation on a grand scale!”

“Jeanine and Crystal could be forced into action again, too, even if they seemed totally normal when you confronted them last night after your fights,” said Superman. “I’m afraid their personal lives will have to suffer while we check them out. We better split up and secure them as well. It goes against my nature to be a human target. I say we should track down the Gnome and the Salamander, too.”

“Jeanine’s concert schedule is common knowledge,” said Robin. “She should be heading for Bludhaven tonight!”

“And I know from our conversation that Crystal is staying at Collinsport, Maine, while Ginger is holding a fashion show across the pond, as they say!” said Aquaman.

“Grant Arden is at a meeting in New York City,” said Batman.

“Well, then, while some of us act as bait, the rest will collect the Sylph and the Undine to be on the safe side,” said Wonder Woman. “We could conduct some tests upon them as well, with some help from more magical sources!”

The Super Friends divided up and headed away for their assignments.

***

Superman smiled as he swooped through the air over a large estate in Collinsport. I recall that storied old place from an adventure I had here a few years ago, he thought. I don’t blame Crystal Marr for wanting to turn the legends of this haunted home into a novel!

He landed on a rocky cliff and scanned the area with his super-vision. “Odd, I don’t see her! Then again, I think I do!” he said as he spotted an elderly woman with a cane inside the library of the old mansion.

Vibrating through the wall at super-speed, he confronted her in a stern manner. “OK, Undine, you can change back to your normal appearance,” he said. “Your shape-shifting may have given you the appearance of the owner of this house, but your heartbeat is still unique. You can’t fool all my super-senses! The real Delia Collinsport has a pacemaker!”

The old woman smiled and changed into the attractive, green-costumed Undine. “I hoped I could surprise you,” she said in a voice that was not like the normal tone of the sultry author. “You see, I have to kill you. I have no choice!”

“That’s the elemental talking!” said Superman. “We were right! In spite of your denial, you are under the control of another, and you are using poor Crystal like a puppet!”

The Man of Steel moved closer, only to see her change into a fly and dart aside. “I can track you all day, no matter what form you assume!” he said.

She returned to normal as she led him outside and drew him closer to the cliffside. “In the days of colonial shipping, lovers stood atop this point and watched for their sea-traveling mates,” she hissed. “When they failed to return or were even wrecked on the rocks below, the women would jump from this cliff. Too bad you can’t end your own life on such a romantic note!”

“Sorry, but I could jump from the Moon without any harmful effects,” said Superman. “Now, Crystal, I’m going to have to stop you before you get hurt!”

But as she made a gesture, he gasped as his vision clouded. Great Krypton! I can’t see! Can’t breathe! he thought as he choked. He blinked rapidly and saw Lois Lane standing before him in a wedding gown with an adoring look on her lovely face. It has got to be an illusion! he thought. I can resist it! I can still triumph!

Superman stomped the ground, and as it cracked apart and formed a massive trench, the Undine fell forward and struck her head. The Man of Steel’s vision cleared, and he carried the stunned woman into the sky.

“I’m lucky the impact of my stomp knocked her flat,” he said. “If she had been able to change form, then I’d have lost the fight. Her elemental power was great enough to induce a form of nitrogen narcosis in my super-body! I was suffering from a magical version of rapture of the deep, like some divers do due to loss of nitrogen due to compression of air!”

Superman carried the fallen woman through the skies without glancing back at the old manor beneath them.

***

Wonder Woman smiled as she entered the Bludhaven Arena where Jeanine Gale was scheduled to perform that evening. My, I do admire the way they designed this concert hall to look like the amphitheatres of ancient Greece and Rome! she thought. It makes me think of my home on Paradise Island. Perhaps someday, Steve and I could attend a show here!

She referred to Steve Trevor, the handsome and daring Air Force officer she loved. It was rescuing him after his plane crashed on that mysterious isle of women warriors that led her to eventually leave her home in order to bring him back to his own home. Thus it was love that first brought her to Man’s World in order to champion Amazonian ideals of peace and equality and to be near Steve.

Now Princess Diana attracted more stares of awe and admiration and quite a few wolf-whistles as the shapely beauty made her way back to where Jeanine Gale was dressing for the show. “Jeanine, I’m sorry to intrude like this, but we need to discuss what happened to you at GCU,” she said. “Until we have answers, we need to be able to account for your location. You see, we now feel a powerful magical enemy is behind what occurred!”

Jeanine ran a comb through her cascading blonde hair and nodded. “I understand,” she said. “I guess I was selfish to want to go on with my life as if nothing happened. That rationale is just the way this girl singer has dealt with being the host of a powerful ancient elemental spirit! I’ll just collect my gear and tell the folks to cancel the show!”

“Thank you,” said Wonder Woman. “I’ll help you make it up to the crowd. Perhaps when you give a rain check concert, I could appear and sign a few photos!”

Suddenly, the Amazon princess felt unsteady on her high-heeled boots as the room became blurry, and her breath came in halting gasps.

Jeanine Gale smiled and allowed her white-fringed jumpsuit to fade away until all that was left was her blue Sylph costume. She could alter the fabric in such a way, since her clothing was largely made out of air via a chemical process created by Grant Arden, the Gnome. “I can still speak, even though I’ve drawn all air out of your body and away from proximity to you!” she hissed. “While I posed as goody-goody Jeanine, I was always truly seeking to kill you!”

Wonder Wonder could hold her breath far longer than a normal person, but that was not the case when her oxygen had literally been pulled out of her lungs at once via the Sylph’s uncanny control of air. Still, as she fell to her knees, she hurled her gleaming tiara through the air, only to see it drop to the ground.

“No air! Your toy can’t move unless I will it!” said the Sylph.

Wonder Woman moved with blinding speed and kicked the other woman in the face with stunning force. As air flooded back into the room, she said, “You didn’t know the tiara was meant to do nothing more than occupy you while I drew upon the compressed air within my special earrings. That extra supply of air gave me the energy to knock you cold!” She picked up the stunned Sylph and carried her out over one shoulder.

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