by Martin Maenza, adapted and expanded from Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
In the frozen WHIZ Broadcasting building in Fawcett City, the villains were gloating. “It appears we have our foes on ice, Sivana,” a metal-masked villainess said.
“Hee hee hee,” cackled Sivana, now wearing a purple parka. “You know it, Doctor Cyber.” He glanced at the captive heroes in their civilian identities. “Oh, I’ve been awaiting this day for so long. Billy Batson bound and gagged, along with the rest of his accursed Marvel Family!”
Working at a console next to Hector Hammond, a criminal scientist was unconvinced. “Don’t gloat yet, shorty,” he said. “The heroes are heading our way.”
“We are prepared for them, T.O. Morrow,” Doctor Cyber said with assurance.
“Cyber, I like the way you think,” said Sivana.
On a platform of ice overlooking the main floor, a green-costumed woman stood next to the alien Despero. “Indeed, let them come,” she said, “and let them experience their greatest fears.” She eyed the captives and released her mental illusions upon them. Billy Batson and Mary Bromfield saw demonic figures clawing at the icy cage, and their eyes grew with terror. “None can resist the power of Phobia.”
Phobia’s dark skinned teammate from the Brotherhood of Evil agreed. “And those who do, my friend,” he said, “will suffer the voodoo pain as only Houngan can give it.”
“Quiet!” Hector Hammond mentally broadcast to them all. “We’ve been found! Prepare yourselves!”
Through one of the icy walls, a figure appeared as if passing through like a ghost. “No, Hector Hammond,” the green-skinned, caped figure said, his eyes glowing.
“The Martian Manhunter?!” cried Despero, thinking nothing could help them now.
“I am tired of you humans!” said J’onn J’onzz, even angrier than any of these villains had seen him before. “Tired of your evil! Tired of your lust for power!”
A green-and-purple-clad villain leaped forward, preparing to fire upon the intruder.
“Out of my way, Deathbolt!” His eyes flared, and the Martian Manhunter blasted the villain in his path with Martian vision. “Surrender to us now. Let us return order and justice to this Earth!”
Burrowing out of the icy floor, a shimmering female sprang into the room, and the female contract killer called the Enforcer dived for cover. “Uh-uh,” the newcomer said. “J’onn J’onzz, look at them. They’re not interested. OK, let’s show them what we can do!”
“Ahh, she attacks,” said Phobia, unconvinced. “Now, girl — what is your greatest fear?” she asked. “What will cause your mind to become numb with horror?”
Despero shook his head in panic. “Phobia — it won’t work with her,” he warned. “That’s Platinum of the Metal Men! Sh-she’s a robot!”
“Red-head’s right!” the determined female member of the Metal Men said. “And I’m a mighty angry robot at that!” Platinum sent a punch flying, stretching out her robotic arm so she could nail Despero, Phobia, and Per Degaton in one fell swoop.
While the battle raged in the main room of the frozen lair, inside the icy prison that held seven people and one talking tiger, a rescue was in progress. The blue-and-red-garbed Atom materialized within the cold storage, his sword drawn.
“Luckily the villains didn’t think to post a guard inside,” he muttered to himself. The Atom glanced at the prisoners. “OK, J’onn told me to free a certain one first — one of the boys.” He flipped through the air, and the heavyset one with a red cap on his head caught sight of the moving form. Fat Billy Batson’s eyes grew wide as the tiny figure landed on the red-sweatered shoulder of his friend.
The Atom moved closer toward the dark-haired young man’s ear. “Pssst,” he said, getting the youth’s attention. “You, kid — shake your head if you’re Batson.”
The gagged young man nodded and said something, but his voice was muffled by the material tied tightly around his lower face.
“Guess that means yes,” the Atom said. “Don’t worry, pal. I’m called the Atom. I’m one of the good guys.” The tiny titan raised his sword and hoped the young man would hold still. “Don’t wiggle. I was told to cut off your gag. Only nobody told me why!”
With a swift swing, the tiny weapon sliced through the cloth as if it were butter. “Still don’t know what a kid can do that the rest of us can’t,” the Atom said.
The white material fell to the floor, freeing his mouth. “Thanks, Atom,” Billy Batson said. “But I’m more than just a kid! SHAZAM!” And with that one magic word, a bolt of lightning from out of nowhere struck the youth.
The Atom jumped away in shock just in time. When he looked back, the boy was gone, and in his place stood a man in a red costume with a yellow bolt on his chest.
“Now you can call me — Captain Marvel!” the hero proclaimed. “Quick, Atom, help the others with their gags!” He wound back his fist. “We’ll need everybody for this!” With the strength of Hercules, Captain Marvel punched the icy walls and caused them to crack. A second blow, and the walls came down.
“What the–?!” T.O. Morrow exclaimed.
“Curses!” Sivana said. “Someone freed the Big Red Cheese!”
There was the sound of five more lightning bolts behind Captain Marvel. The hero smiled. “Wrong, Sivana!” he said. “We’re all free now!” The hero took to the air, followed by the similarly costumed Mary Marvel and the three Lieutenant Marvels.
Captain Marvel Junior, adorned in blue and red, entered the battle as well. “It’s time for a little payback — Marvel Family style, Cap!” he said as he punched the horrific, skull-faced Doctor Destiny.
There was a rumbling of the south wall of the botanical gardens, and the vines and other materials sprayed outward as a giant red-gloved fist punched an opening. Then another hand joined in and made it wider. “Knock knock,” said the red-Mohawked hero named Nuklon, who currently stood fifteen feet tall. “Who ordered the weed control?”
“Good one, Nuklon,” a blue-costumed hero with white stars said as he flew into the opening, followed by the Silver Scarab. “You tear this place apart while we go free the Freedom Fighters.” And Star Spangled-Kid shot a barrage of energy blasts from his converter belt at the vines that held the heroes hostage.
“No — my pretty plants!” Poison Ivy exclaimed.
“You’ll pay for harming the Green!” the Floronic Man vowed.
Suddenly, the earth beneath their feet began to shake. The two villains dived for cover as the ground erupted up. “Play time’s over!” a red-haired man in green and yellow announced. “We’re taking this Earth back from you fiends!” Geo-Force propelled himself at the two villains with his lava blasts, smacking them down as he passed them by.
“No!” yelled the Silver Ghost. “I won’t have it! I’ll turn you all to silver!” He lunged forward with his left hand to touch the nearest hero.
“Ah-ah,” said the Silver Scarab, blocking the attack by letting the villain’s hand hit his armor. “I’m betting my ninth metal armor can counter your touch.” He wound back his fist. “Or at least long enough to do this!” He let his punch fly, knocking the Silver Ghost backward across the room and into a thicket of thorns.
As the Star-Spangled Kid cut Black Condor down from the vines, the Joker slipped behind a large tree. “This isn’t fun any more,” he said softly to himself with a frown. “Time for me to run away, so I can laugh another day!” The villain spun around to slink off and stopped suddenly. “Uh-oh.”
Standing before him was a white-haired man in red, white, and blue. His fists were clenched, and his face looked angry. “Now, where you think you’re gettin’ off to?” Uncle Sam asked. The Joker tried to flee, but Sam snagged him with his right arm and held him fast. “I reckon you owe a certain little lady an apology, son!”