Before the two heroes could go much farther, a shimmering curtain of yellow light enveloped them. The energy paralyzed their muscles, rendering them immobile. Then the energy changed to a slightly acidic tingle that the Justice Leaguers recognized as very similar to the teleportation device used by their satellite headquarters. In a twinkling, they disappeared.
When they rematerialized, each hero was inside a transparent cylinder just barely wide enough to contain him. The material seemed like glass but was actually a kind of plastic that resisted even Aquaman’s great strength. The heroes looked around and found that they were in the center of a fully automated manufacturing facility of some kind. Neither could tell what was being manufactured, but Aquaman noticed a catch basin into which waste chemicals were constantly dumped. He saw the huge gray pipe feeding those chemicals into his beloved sea.
A frail-looking man in magenta coveralls turned to the heroes and grinned maliciously at Green Arrow.
“Well, well, the emerald archer himself,” the little man snickered. “We meet again, after so long.”
Green Arrow squinted at the man. “Have we met before, skin-‘n’-bones? Can’t say I remember you.”
The man visibly started at that, offended. But he quickly recovered himself. “Oh, but I remember you, Green Arrow. I spent ten years in a dingy, dim cell remembering you. And now fate has brought you into my hands. I intend to pay you back, Green Arrow, for every lonely hour I spent in that cell because of you!”
Green Arrow stared at the little man for a long moment. Then realization slowly dawned on his face.
“Suuurrre!” he said. “Now I place you. Horace Kates, AKA the Wizard! Been a long time, shorty!”
“The Wizard?” Aquaman echoed. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Aquaman, you remember about ten years ago, when two of our enemies tried to outwit us by exchanging locales? You chased a pirate named ‘Shark’ Norton onto land, while I dealt with this Luthor wannabe at sea!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Manhunt on Land,” and “The Underwater Archers,” Adventure Comics #267 (December, 1959).]
“And now, at last, the time has come for my revenge!” Kates raved. “I have spent the last year on this island, perfecting my new super-weapon. Just a few more adjustments, and it will finally be ready for testing. Once it is complete, I will sell it to the highest bidder and retire a wealthy man!”
“Uh-huh,” Green Arrow said, with the air of one who had been there and done that. “And I suppose you’ll be testing it on me, huh?”
“Oh, no,” Kates corrected. “This weapon is far too powerful for that. To use it on just one man would be like swatting a fly with a Buick. I had intended for you to die under its power, but this will be much better. You get to watch as the weapon destroys its first target: Star City!”
Green Arrow hammered against the unbreakable plastic prison. “You’d destroy a whole city of innocent people? My God, Kates — why?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Kates grinned. “I really hate your guts, you know.”
Just then, Kates heard a strangled cry for help. He spun on his heel and saw two of his henchmen fighting off tentacles that were wrapped around them. The tentacles were rising from the catch basin of the factory’s waste chemicals. The henchmen had been standing near the basin and now were caught by…
“An octopus?” Green Arrow gasped. “Um, one question, ocks… how?”
“I figured I might need an ace in the hole,” Aquaman said. “Before I set foot on the island, I coated my octopus friend Topo with liquid rubber, like I once did when we fought the Electric Man. It protected him from the chemicals while he swam up the dump pipe and into the factory.”
Kates drew a fantastic-looking pistol and fired an energy-beam at the waving tentacles. Topo countered by tossing a henchman like a rag doll directly into Kates.
“Buys us the time we need,” Green Arrow said, drawing an arrow from his quiver. “This acetylene arrow will burn through this plastic, but it’ll take time. Couldn’t do it with Kates watching us, but Topo makes a class-A distraction!”
Kates struggled to get past the flailing bodies of his henchmen. “Enough, fools! Let me blast that octopus to kingdom come with this proton-pistol!”
“Uh-oh,” Green Arrow said. “Call him off, ocks! I don’t want Kates hurting your octopus pal! I’m almost through this oversized test-tube!”
At Aquaman’s silent command, Topo retreated back down the drainage pipe. Kates fired a brilliant energy-beam into the water after him, then watched him escape.
“Bah, the octopus has given up!” Kates announced. “All right, you men, get the weapon ready for test — aahh!”
Kates turned to see Green Arrow wading into his henchmen, fists flying. He looked to the tubes and saw a huge hole cut through one of them. Aquaman was still in his prison, obviously anxious to get into the fight.
The villain snarled as he leveled his proton pistol at Green Arrow.
“Boss!” one of his henchmen called. “Don’t fire! It’s too close — you’ll hit one of us!”
“Consider that an occupational hazard,” Kates growled, and slowly pulled the trigger.
“Not so fast, Kates!” a commanding voice barked out. A green-gloved hand shot out and shoved Kates’ pistol aside, even as the energy-beam lanced out.
“Ocks!” Green Arrow gasped. “How’d you get out of the tube?”
“When you got out, you dropped your acetylene-arrow,” Aquaman explained. “It landed near mine and burned a small hole in it. Small, but large enough for me to get my fingers into it and use my sea-born strength.”
“You fool!” Kates howled. “You made me shoot the computer banks!”
“Is that bad?” Green Arrow asked.
“Bad?” Kates screeched. “It’s started a chain reaction! This island is going to go up like a firecracker in less than ten minutes!”
Green Arrow and Aquaman looked at each other.
“Eight?” Green Arrow asked.
“Seven,” Aquaman declared.
Seven minutes later, Aquaman and Green Arrow were riding away from the island on the back of a whale. Kates and his henchmen, securely bound with arrow-lines, were sulking farther back down the whale’s back.
“Told you,” Aquaman said. “Seven.”
“Lucky,” Green Arrow grumbled.
A few minutes later, Green Arrow stood solemnly and watched Starfish Island explode in a great incendiary display.
“Starfish Island,” Green Arrow sighed. “The birthplace of Green Arrow. Ah, well. Easy come, easy go.”
“Say, G.A.,” Aquaman asked, putting a friendly hand on Green Arrow’s shoulder. “What were you doing on the island, anyway? Reminiscing?”
“More of a retreat,” Green Arrow explained. “You know how depressing the super-hero biz can get. We put slime like Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Black Manta in stir; in six months’ time they’ve either escaped or been freed on a technicality. Every now and then I’ve got to remind myself why we bother.”
“And do you remember now?” Aquaman asked kindly.
“Sure,” Green Arrow said, smiling. “For the next six months.”