Hawkman and Hawkwoman: Liberty or Death, Chapter 3: The Shadow Lands

by Libbylawrence

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Meanwhile, after securing the golem in a storage facility aboard the JLA Satellite, the Hawks had returned home to prepare for their evening guests.

Shiera Hall wore a short pink dress with a lilac bow, along with matching heels and a lilac sweater. She placed plates on the table while her husband Carter Hall measured seasoning and added it to a pot on the stove. He wore a crisp white shirt with creased gray pants and a striped tie.

“I think this Thanagarian stew is about ready,” he said. “It’s a shame Whitney had to cancel. She would have loved it. Of course, we would have had to tell her that it was Romanian or something equally esoteric.”

Shiera laughed and said, “Of course, we don’t have to disguise the source of the food from Stewart. He loves anything from our culture.” She referred to the fact that the handsome and capable police officer knew their true identities and relished data about their home planet.

A knock on the door led her to jump to her feet and open the door. “Stewart, how well you look tonight! Please come inside,” she said with a smile, placing one hand on the young man’s arm.

Stewart Frazier smiled and wiped his feet on their porch mat before entering. “Thanks. You always are a treat for these world-weary eyes! I brought you some flowers. Hope you like carnations.”

As Shiera placed the flowers in a vase, Carter slipped into his suit jacket and greeted their guest. “Stewart, I know you have big news for us,” he said. “Well, I’m eager to hear it.”

“Well, you two are looking at the newly appointed, official police commissioner of Midway City,” said Stewart. “George Emmett resigned today. He called me personally and told me the news. He has some political ambitions. He might even make it here tonight, if his train arrives on schedule.”

Carter shook the shorter man’s hand and said, “Congratulations! You’ve been the best leader the force could hope for in George’s absence, and I know you’ll do him proud.”

Shiera kissed Frazier’s cheek and said, “I’m so happy for you! What exactly are George’s plans? I can’t see that clever old fox sitting idle for long.”

“Well, I don’t want to spoil his own surprise, but I think he’s eyeing the office of mayor,” said Stewart. “There is an election coming up next year.”

Carter smiled as he thought of the stately George Emmett. The wise old cop had been their first ally on Earth. He had helped them establish their roles as Carter and Shiera and even secured their jobs and home for them, since both had previously been occupied by his own retiring brother. Emmett had been their friend in both of their roles, and he was not the kind of man the city could well do without. He would be a terrific mayor.

A sudden flash of colored light caught their attention, and the trio all hurried toward the front windows. They looked out the window, but all that could be seen was a strange fog that swirled wildly and only cleared briefly enough to reveal a stark and barren landscape.

“Carter, the city’s gone!” gasped Shiera.

A dark and gaunt figure loomed up out of the shadows behind them. Laughter rang out, and they whirled to see an infamous form.

“Shadow-Thief! You’ve got your nerve coming here! What have you done to Midway City?” demanded Shiera.

The Shadow-Thief grinned as Stewart Frazier’s sudden leap failed to connect with his altered body. “Tell Super-Cop, here, that no one lays a hand on me unless I allow it,” he said. “Hence the name Shadow-Thief. Oh, and as for Midway City, it’s just fine. In fact, I’d call it ripe for the taking!”

“Sands, you just stay where you are!” said Frazier. “We don’t want any trouble here!”

“He knows our secret, Frazier,” explained Carter. “There’s no need to play coy with this snake.”

The Shadow-Thief, alias Carl Sands, laughed and said, “Very well. Let us put all our cards on the table. I’m here to tell you goodbye. This will be our final meeting.”

Shiera had started to ease closer to the rogue when he nodded toward her and said, “I see you, legs. Just freeze for a moment. This won’t take long.” He raised his hands and said, “I have the honor of being the one to finally eliminate you. One of your own people has equipped me. She combines brains with curves, much like Mrs. Hawk over there.”

“I’m warning you, Sands…” began Carter.

“My, aren’t we the hero?” interrupted the Shadow-Thief. “Well, some people never change. So I’ll cut through the formalities and simply end this now by saying that my lovely Thanagarian ally equipped me with a Dimensiometer large enough to shunt your precious home into this limbo between dimensions. The city is fine. You three and this lovely domestic scene have been cast away, though. I hope you all rot here!” He vanished abruptly as his laughter faded away.

“He’s right,” said Carter. “It is not the city — it’s our home. He’s shunted the whole building into another dimension!”

“I don’t understand,” said Frazier. “I thought he was just a thief who used some fancy gimmicks to blend into shadows.”

“No, not exactly,” said Shiera. “You see, he was given a device called a Dimensiometer by a friendly alien with whom he had accidentally made contact. The device allowed him to become the Shadow-Thief. It basically gave him access to the alien’s home dimension where his physical body would remain while only his shadow could be seen back on Earth.”

“So, he used some kind of projector version of the device to put this building into that other dimension?” said Frazier, thinking aloud.

Carter nodded and said, “It is more complicated than that. You see, he would never have been able to touch things in our dimensional plane while using the Dimensiometer had he not been given a second gift by the alien. He was given special gloves that allowed him to stay in that other dimension — a place called Xarapion — and still touch things on Earth when necessary.”

Frazier whistled softly. “So, since we don’t have those gloves, we can’t make contact with Earth, nor can we shunt the building back to Earth without a Dimensiometer.”

“He once trapped our bodies like that, but we had two things going for us that we lack now,” said Shiera. “We had access to birds that helped move our frozen forms, and we also made contact with the alien who started Carl Sands’ Shadow-Thief career by giving him the alien devices that gave him those powers.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Steal, Shadow, Steal,” Hawkman #5 (December, 1964-January, 1965).]

“Well, we can’t just sit here,” said Frazier. “Why don’t we head out there and find the alien?”

“We aren’t in Xarapion this time,” said Carter. “Sands stranded us and the whole house in some halfway point between realms. No birds exist here. No aliens, either. We are on our own.”

“How did he ever whip up a Dimensiometer big enough to move a house?” said Shiera.

“Honey, he claims one of our race helped him,” said Carter. “I begin to suspect the same help enabled Matter Master to make that golem.”

“Hyathis may have sent this agent,” suggested Shiera. “Her dominion of Thanagar can’t be as sweet for her, because we’re alive and well here.”

Carter began to remove his coat. “She may think she’s won, but Hawkman’s just begun to fight back,” he vowed grimly.


Carter Hall was as good as his word. He and Shiera hurriedly checked over the rest of their home and changed into their heroic costumes. As Hawkwoman and Hawkman, they rejoined Stewart Frazier and offered him assurance that they would not let their plight go unchallenged.

“Don’t worry, Stewart,” said Hawkwoman. “My partner thrives on things like this.”

Stewart nodded and said, “I know. I can almost see the gears turning. He’s hatching some plan now. Uh, no pun intended.”

Hawkman was indeed lost in silent thought. Nearly a hour passed before his expression changed, and he nodded confidently at the others.

“It took me a while, but I found the answer,” he said as he crossed the room and began to open a cabinet. “We may not be able to get back to Earth, but I think we may be able to get to Xarapion!”

“How?” asked Stewart. “What’s the answer?”

Hawkman actually smiled briefly as he lifted a box out of the cabinet. “Would you believe Christmas?” he said.

Hawkwoman laughed with delight as she helped him remove a rather dusty object from the box. “Of course!” she said. “I should have recalled this poor old thing. It dates back to our first Christmas on Earth.”

“Stewart, you’ve heard us mention the Absorbascon?” said Hawkman. “It is an electronic brain of sorts that the Thanagarian police use to gain data. It is stored aboard our cloaked and orbiting spacecraft. Basically, it gives the user access to all the data in the minds of the planet’s population at that time of use. Now, as time passes, all that stored knowledge does not go away, but it is also not readily available for my memory to access. In other words, I can’t tell you the name of composer Haydn’s mother. But I have that fact stored in my mind. It is latent data. In order to gain access to it or any other data we absorbed or gained through use of the Absorbascon, I have to consciously think on the matter and sift through facts until the data I need returns to my memory. It takes time, and in the heat of a battle or while on the trail of a crook, we simply can’t afford to use it.

“However, this situation is perfect for such a tactic. You see, I don’t know how to build a new Dimensiometer, but Shadow-Thief knew how to do so, and at some point after he gained this knowledge, I used the Absorbascon. We periodically update our data by using the device. Well, what this means is that I can draw on the data taken from his mind at any previous time when I scanned Earthly minds for data.”

“Amazing!” said Frazier. “So, this Christmas tree thing will do the trick?”

Hawkman held up a fan-like device with a multicolored wheel that slipped down and rotated in front of the body of the device.

“This old projector was used to decorate our first tree. The lights would shine different colors on our aluminum tree. That was the trend back then. By itself it is merely festive, but with certain other items, essentially the color wheel can serve as part of what we will use to duplicate one part of Shadow-Thief’s original device. It was through the use of alternating colors in rotation, along with certain light amplification and projection devices that first enabled Carl Sands to accidentally open a rift between Earth and Xarapion. This jury-rigged device of mine will match his exactly and thus should open a hole into Xarapion!” As he spoke, Hawkman began building a crude device from the old parts and equipment found in the home.

Hawkwoman smiled as the bright colors and the amplified and tightly focused normal light mingled, slowly beginning to erode the fabric of the dimension they were in to the extent that they could physically see a hole into another realm.

“It’s small — too small for me!” said Hawkman. “Obviously, knowing how Sands did it isn’t a perfect solution, since I don’t have access to his exact machines and tools.”

“I could squeeze through it without my wings,” suggested Hawkwoman.

“I don’t like it, but I know you can pull if off, honey,” said Hawkman.

She slipped off her wings and crawled through the small hole. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back before you can miss me!” she called.

Hawkwoman emerged in a pleasant-looking environment with grassy fields and blue skies. Xarapion is lovely, she mused. Maybe we should try to get the tourist commission for the place. It might be a perfect vacation spot.

She looked around and sighed as she realized that she was alone in the beautiful but empty field. Looks like I have a real journey ahead of me, she thought.

After hours of travel, Hawkwoman found her goal as a small community built on a rolling hill came into view. Within minutes, the resourceful beauty had made contact with some of the natives and was brought to a community court.

“We are all aware of your world and of the past indiscretions committed by Thar Dan,” said a little blue woman. “He wrongly gave deadly technology into the hands of an Earth criminal. He regrets his error of judgment, but we will not hesitate to help you return home. He has spoken of your courage and your desire to do that which is right.”

“Thank you,” said Hawkwoman. “I am here merely to seek a way to return to my dimension and enable my husband and a friend to do so as well.” She explained her situation.

“Carl Sands has shamed us with his ill-willed usage of our science,” said the small blue woman. “We will help you, but we also ask for your help. Will you separate him from our technology?”

Hawkwoman smiled broadly and said, “Most willingly. That is something I will promise.”

The small blue people agreed in unison, and after only a brief discussion, they presented her with a belt.

“This will enable you to return to this limbo land in which your house was placed, and it will activate a time-released burst of energy that will shunt the property back to its normal resting place,” said the blue woman called Sair Ven. “However, I must warn you that it will not function beyond that specific task. We can’t allow more of our wisdom to be misused, even by chance!”

Offering her thanks once more, Hawkwoman followed their instructions. She gasped as the belt transported her back to her home and then seconds later restored the whole building to its normal realm. Hawkman and Stewart Frazier barely had time to realize she was back before the whole house returned to its proper place.

The Hawks embraced as Shiera shared her story.

“Darling, you did it!” said Hawkman with a smile. “I knew we could rely on you!”

“Great work, Hawkwoman,” said Frazier. “Looks like your blue friends were true to their word. That belt is starting to crumble!”

Indeed, the belt fell apart, and Hawkwoman shrugged. “I can’t blame the natives of Xarapion,” she said. “They know how the Shadow-Thief has abused Thar Dan’s innocent gift.”

“Well, we’re going to out to stop him right now,” vowed Hawkman.

Before they could depart through their rear door into their heavily fenced backyard, the Hawks heard a familiar voice calling to them from the front.

“The Atom!” said Frazier. “It’s the Atom! But he’s with Ira Quimby. I recognize the guy from his mugshots!”

“Now why would Atom bring him here?” said Hawkman. “Ira may be reformed, but he certainly doesn’t need to know our real names.” He opened the door and ushered the odd couple inside.

“He told me right out who you were,” the Atom explained hastily. “He said he had deduced as much long ago.”

“I am a changed man,” said Ira. “I will never use this data against you or reveal it to another soul. I’m here to warn you of a planned attack upon you by one of your own people and some of your former foes!”

“If the Atom vouches for you, I’ll let the matter drop,” said Hawkman. “As for this assembly of evil, we’ve experienced some of its fruits. Matter Master and Shadow-Thief have each attacked with greatly enhanced uses of their standard M.O.’s.”

“We got here after an attack by the Fadeaway Man on Ira,” said the Atom. “We found your house missing, except for one massive shadow that didn’t change appearance even as it grew darker out here.”

“Thank you for your concern,” said Hawkman. “No doubt you defeated Lamont. Tell me more about this Thangarian who wants us dead.”

The heroes conferred for a few moments, and then Hawkwoman gestured to the front. “Something’s wrong with Stewart!” she said.

Stewart Frazier, having quickly stopped to listen to the radio in his car, frowned as he returned. “Folks, there’s trouble at the Midway City Museum,” he said. “Seems Carl Sands is looting the place and taunting my men!”

Hawkman nodded grimly. “Atom, if you and Quimby want to join us, we’re about to take care of Mr. Sands!”

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