Lacy’s Department Store was huge and packed with shoppers. In the women’s wear department, the demure and lovely Dolphin was trying on a fuchsia minidress, posing in front of the store mirror amidst the shoppers. “For a girl who wears a blue bikini most of the time, I shouldn’t be uncomfortable in minidresses like this one, but I still feel a bit odd. Maybe it’s because of the retro look to it.”
Dolphin wistfully wondered about her unknown origins. She was a beautiful platinum blonde who could survive under the sea, and she had grown up underwater with no human contact for years. She was unsure of her origin, her true name, and even her age, although Lesla-Lar thought from her physiology she was around twenty-six years old, and Lesla was seldom wrong. Little did Dolphin know that others were headed her way, eager to solve all those mysteries.
Outside, observers watched from a car. “She is inside and wearing a purple miniskirt,” said a woman. “You can’t miss her with that platinum blonde hairdo and that figure.”
“Thank you,” said a dark figure. “You’ve served us well. Now take your pay for following her, and allow us meta-humans to do our job for the boss.” The woman nodded and happily took her pay. “Now, we collect the Little Mermaid and get big bucks.”
From the back of the store came another dialogue. “Did the babe go inside?” began one thug. “Yes! So, is she solo? That partner of hers is one mean–”
“She’s alone and inside, so we grab her, and the boss’ll pay us plenty,” said his friend.
“Why’s he want her, aside from the obvious babe factor?” asked the other figure. “She’s not rich, is she?”
“Naw! But he has a grudge against her old man or somethin’.”
At that moment, two sets of costumed super-villains hit Lacy’s, and they weren’t looking for a sale. Each were working for different employers with different goals.
Suddenly, two costumed thugs burst through the front door and charged toward women’s wear. The first, who wore a yellow costume, tossed an energy projectile from his hand, which blew up a display model and sent shoppers running in every direction. “There’s the babe,” he said. “What a looker!”
His ally smiled and charged forward, shaking the floor as his mass shot up and he became a near giant. “Come here, lady,” he said, reaching for a beautiful blonde in purple.
She ducked his huge hand, kicking over a display of coats that rolled in his path. Tripping over them in his haste, he fell flat with a huge thud. The blonde smiled at his clumsy move and kicked his ally in the face with one heel. “Keep your hands to yourself, creep!” she said.
Then the giant slapped her from the side, and she fell out cold on the floor. “Tough little number!” said the yellow-costumed thug. “No wonder the Doc wants her so bad.” He and his accomplice grabbed her and raced off.
Just then, Valor and Jimmy Olsen landed outside the store, dropping down from the sky, as yet unaware of the conflict within. The two costumed criminals ran out the front door, carrying the unconscious form of a platinum-blonde woman.
“Look!” yelled Jimmy, spotting them. “I think they’ve got Dolphin! I recognize her from her photos!”
Before Valor could react, a black shadow enveloped her, preventing her from seeing, even with her x-ray vision. Let’s see how a little heat-vision drives back this attacker, she thought, shooting a beam of heat from her eyes, but she was then forced to drop short as she felt herself drained of all energy. “Can’t move!” she gasped. Then an idea occurred to her. Don’t need to move an inch out of this spot. I’ll just spin right here.
She spun in the exact same spot, since she could not move forward or back an inch. The whirlwind she created blew the darkness outward, and a yell indicated her foe had been shoved out of range of the power cast upon the Kandorian heroine. As the darkness faded and her energy came back, Valor saw Jimmy fighting a black man who was carrying a glowing object that looked like a crowbar. She streaked between Jimmy and his foe and backhanded the man away.
Meanwhile, during the chaos, other costumed figures had entered the back of the store with abduction on their minds. “That’s her,” said a woman in green and orange armor.
The platinum blonde woman who was their target saw her coming and kicked off her purple high heels to kick the woman in the chest, cracking the armor slightly.
The armored woman’s ally gasped. “She’s strong!” he said. “But how’d she do that? She doesn’t have any powers, does she?”
He fired a beam from his helmet, and the blonde fell blind long enough for the armored woman to sting her with an energy current. Successful in subduing their kidnapping victim, they carried her off out of the back, then blasted the roof of the store with the helmet and wrist-blasters.
From outside, Valor and Jimmy were startled as the explosion rocked the store. “The roof’s giving in!” Valor said, racing inside at top speed and hurling herself upward to brace the roof until everyone had fled. Then, with ease and agility, she snatched up the debris and fashioned a support beam to hold the weakened roof until it could be fixed.
“Valor, how can I thank you?” cried Mr. Lacy himself.
“No thanks are necessary,” she said with a smile. The shoppers cheered as the super-heroine soared off with her red-headed companion. “Jimmy, what happened to Dolphin?” she asked.
“They got away with her!” said Jimmy. “That store explosion was a master stroke, since it drew you away just long enough for them to get away. I tried to tackle that guy in the hardhat, but he decked me.”
Valor fumed. “They won’t get far! Let’s see if Dolphin’s tracker is working.” A few minutes later, they came to a deserted alleyway, where they located the tiny, pill-shaped tracking device in a pile of garbage. “Those super-criminals must have removed it from Dolphin’s clothing when they kidnapped her,” she said grimly. “We’ll need to get Captain Comet and Lyla to figure out who’s taken her.”
Minutes later, Valor and Jimmy Olsen were sitting in Lesla-Lar’s laboratory at the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency, where they explained everything that had happened to Lyla and Starman. “I wish Captain Comet was back,” said Lyla. “He left suddenly for a charity event raising money for sick kids.”
“Look, Harbinger, we can’t wait on Adam,” said a pacing and worried Will Payton, alias Starman. “Dolphin could be in deadly danger every second we delay.”
Lesla-Lar patted his arm and said, “The important thing to do now for Dolphin is not to panic. We’ll get her back, but we can’t afford to let our fears master us.”
Lyla, who was wearing a white blouse and a black miniskirt with heels, shook her curly blonde hair back and read a printout in her hands. “From the data you and Jimmy gave me, I’ve managed to identify the abductors,” she explained. “They’re members of a criminal gang called the Cadre. The JLA fought them last year before the Crisis, back when the team was based in Detroit. (*) They are strong and resourceful, but leaderless now. I assume their employer is a new figure. Their last leader was an alien called the Overmaster, who is now long gone.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Rebirth,” Justice League of America #233-236 (December, 1984, to March, 1985).]
“Can you track them somehow?” asked Starman.
“Yes. The Cadre were normal people transformed into meta-humans by a distinctive alien power source,” she said, smoothing her short skirt.
“That’s what I was thinking,” said Valor. “The same energy that altered their bodies is unique to them, and I can quickly adapt a detector that should lead us to them.”
“Then let’s go,” said Jimmy.
“Hold it, Jimmy,” said Lyla. “This is too dangerous for you. As it is, only Valor, Robotgirl, and Goldstar are joining Starman to rescue her. Too many people would just get in the way.”
“Hey, I have fought aliens, and I once–” began Jimmy before Valor placed her hand delicately on his lips.
“Shhh! Trust us on this one, Jimmy,” she said forcefully. “We’ll be back as soon as we can. Wait here.”
Jimmy sat down, glaring rather harshly at the swaying, miniskirted blonde as she raced off with her team. Lyla smiled sympathetically at his frustration. “Jimmy, it really is for the best. You don’t have super-powers,” she said.
“Yeah, but I have had them — several types, in fact,” he said. “Hmm. Plus, I’ve got an idea all my own.” He rushed off, leaving Harbinger behind, sitting on her desk.
Valor soared high over the Pacific Ocean to a desolate spot of water which held not even the smallest trace of land. “I’ve got a lead here,” said the pretty blonde. “They are below us.”
“Where?” asked Starman, who was carrying Robotgirl.
“My x-ray vision doesn’t detect them, but the tracker and my super-hearing show life below us,” said Valor. “I suspect an invisibility field is up blocking sight of the island. In fact, my microscopic vision does show some radiation traces right below.”
A bored Karin Grace, AKA Goldstar, snapped suddenly into life. “Look! The insipid technology below fails to equal the power of the star-band. It can disrupt any invisible field.” She flew past Valor and generated a huge glowing screen that spread across the empty waters to color in an island base hidden below.
“See? Valor was right,” said Robotgirl.
“Valor? Hmmph. It was the star-band that exposed the secret lair,” snapped Karin.
Lesla-Lar frowned at Goldstar’s attitude. “Let’s go. Now, thanks to Goldstar, I can see inside the field with my x-ray vision. The Cadre are there with a lot of lab equipment designed for surgery.”
Starman burst through the field, his stellar energy streaming in all directions. The young hero was worried about his lover and, as always, a bit unsure of himself. He flew through into the huge base below the waves, scattering the costumed figures there with his stellar bursts. Goldstar followed and perched regally on a platform made of energy, while her mindless Starlings appeared and started tearing the equipment apart.
Valor landed with a graceful drop to see her foes from the store, as well as a metal-masked lady in purple. “My, my!” said the woman through a metal screen in her mask. “I sent the Cadre to abduct Dolphin because she was beautiful and powerful, and thus perfect to host my brain when it is removed from this scarred body. But seeing you up close makes me want you even more.”
“Look, Darth Vader, my body is all mine, and you aren’t my type,” quipped Valor as she strode forward.
“I am Doctor Cyber, and you, my pretty, are outclassed, since I have bested Wonder Woman herself,” said the raven-haired, armored woman. She fired energy blasts from her gloves.
The purple energy hit Valor, but she pushed forward unharmed. “Aside from matching my outfit, that energy doesn’t do a thing to me. And in case you couldn’t tell, Wonder Woman would have to work out to be in my class,” she said, crushing one glove’s ray nozzle and lifting Doctor Cyber with one hand.
“You are magnificent!” said Cyber. “But you are also equally matched.” She slapped Valor across the face, and the blonde dropped her suddenly.
“I felt that! But how? Unless…” she mused.
“Yes, bright and brainy, too,” laughed Doctor Cyber. “My armor absorbs any impact and returns it as I direct. Thus, your own strength will enable me to slay you.”
Meanwhile, Robotgirl had slipped to a computer and plugged one finger into a slot. “I’ve got the location of their holding cell near her operating room!” she shouted. “No doubt that’s where she is holding Dolphin. Getting her body prepped before putting her own mind in Dolphin’s body.”
Starman heard her, and they zoomed off, leaving Goldstar’s Starlings to wreck the base and Valor to deal with Doctor Cyber and the onrushing Cadre. As Will followed Tina’s directions, he reached a prison cell. Glancing in, he saw a beautiful platinum blonde girl sitting facing the wall. “Honey, it’s Will!” he called out, ripping off the cell door. “I’m here to save you!” She smiled thankfully and turned around. “You’re not Dolphin!” he gasped.
“No — who said I was?” the platinum blonde woman said in an annoyed tone. “I’m Angel O’Day!” She was a stunningly beautiful platinum blonde who did, indeed, resemble Dolphin greatly. “I’m a private investigator, and I’ve just been visiting D.C. while on vacation. I was shopping at Lacy’s when those goons grabbed me. They called me Dolphin, so I assumed they made a mistake and left the real girl in the store.”
“You do look greatly alike,” said Robotgirl as she helped the feisty blonde out of the cell.
Starman frowned. “Then, if the Cadre took you by mistake, where’s the real Dolphin?”
“Time for that later. Let’s get out of here,” said Angel. They ran back to where Valor was fighting the entire Cadre and Doctor Cyber.
Valor had reacted quickly at top speed, leaving the arrogant Cyber bragging about her power while she slammed into Black Mass with her considerable might. The giant had tottered backward and dropped directly on top of the man called Crowbar. Lesla smiled and blasted the flying Shrike with her super-icy breath. The bird-woman froze and fell hard to land on Fastball.
Shrike rose weakly, and although she could not fly for the icy sheath covering her body, she could scream — a sonic cry that could paralyze, but only if it reached the right target. Instead, Valor dropped Doctor Cyber in Shrike’s path, and the sound cracked the woman’s armor, leaving her dazed. The sonic nature of the attack lacked a physical form she could absorb, as Valor had counted on.
The heroine then ducked the blow of ninja-like Shatterfist, who said, “My hands are like unto a thing of iron.”
He hit her but was soon moaning in pain as his hand cracked. “I’m a girl of steel, not iron, you know,” she laughed and kicked him into Black Mass as he staggered upward.
Doctor Cyber fired her wrist-blaster, and Valor deflected it with a super-speed-polished metal cover from a machine. It hit Fastball, dropping him cold. His last tossed energy projectile hurled toward Lesla, who used Crowbar’s dropped weapon to bat it directly into Black Mass. The large man fell for a third and final time on Shatterfist, who was blown by Valor into the giant’s path.
Nightfall hovered nearby, ready to drain Valor’s kinetic energy when Goldstar suddenly captured her in a cage of energy. “No kinetics involved,” she sneered. “Just solid energy all around you in every direction.” Nightfall tried to drain the energy, but before she could even try, Goldstar willed six Starlings into form in the cage, where they battered Nightfall into submission even as she absorbed one of them.
“Strength in numbers,” quipped the returning Starman.
“Bah! It was the power of the star-band and naught else,” said the vain Goldstar.
Tina elongated her body wildly and wrapped herself around Doctor Cyber. As the scientist tried to blast free of the wiry Robotgirl, Tina merely conveyed the energy in a loop right back to Cyber’s armor and fried it. “Good plan, Lesla.” She smiled up at the blonde who had used her ventriloquism to suggest the plan to Tina.
Now, having defeated Doctor Cyber and the Cadre, the heroes fled the island with the lovely Angel O’Day. “I do appreciate the save,” she said. “Maybe I can help you find this Dolphin. I am a private detective, after all.”
“I pray you can,” said Starman.
Back in Washington, D.C., Jimmy Olsen eagerly showed Captain Comet the videotape he had borrowed from the Lacy’s Department Store. “See? It shows that there were two abductions! Dolphin was carried off by this pair — the woman in green armor and the guy in the helmet — while the super-crooks from the Cadre that Valor and I tried to stop actually took a different girl who just looked like Dolphin!”
“Great detective work,” said Captain Comet. “You really had a brainstorm when you thought of that store security system. So who is this lovely blonde the Cadre took? Perhaps her identity can somehow help us find Dolphin.”
“I can I.D. her as Angel O’Day, P.I.,” said Lyla, “and her kidnappers were the Enforcer and Crazy-Quilt. Angel is based in New York City, and I’ve got her family home and her office address.”
“Thanks,” said Captain Comet. “I can assume Valor and company will rescue her, since the Cadre took Miss O’Day. We’ll see her home and hopefully track down our Dolphin, too. I assume, based on the audio we augmented, they made an error. The Cadre member Fastball said something about a Mermaid when he took off with Angel. He must have wanted her look-alike Dolphin. I think checking out Angel’s home might help us track down who would want her and thus who ended up with Dolphin.”
“I’m coming, too!” insisted Jimmy.
“Of course,” said a smiling Adam Blake. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. You earned it.” Captain Comet, Jimmy Olsen, the Cheetah, and Golden Glider rushed into the skimmer and took to the air.
Several minutes later, they landed at a suburban house in New York City. “This is the O’Day home,” explained Comet. “Angel’s late dad lived here, and she grew up here.”
Suddenly, a large, hairy figure jumped out of the home and yelled, “What have you done with Angel?” To the great astonishment of the others, he was a talking ape dressed in an oversized trench coat.
“Talking apes — that’s all I seem to run into these days,” joked Jimmy.
“Wait one moment!” Comet said to everyone before a fight could break out. “I’m Captain Comet with the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency’s Rehab Squad. We are looking for Angel, too. You are obviously her detective partner, Sam Simeon.”
Sam smiled suspiciously. “Yeah, that’s right! How’d you know?”
“Uh, I read your profile from certain government files,” explained Comet. He chose not to mention that the rather small number of talking apes in trench coats made the ape’s identity somewhat obvious.