A darkly beautiful woman sat in a chair near a wall of complex machines. She had a rare and exotic beauty that suggested India and Eastern realms. She also had a brilliant mind, and she used it well as she made numerous adjustments to the precise devices before her.
“My study is completed at last,” she said. “As I always suspected, Linda Danvers was Supergirl. They each lived in the same areas at the same exact times. From Midvale, to Stanhope College, to Vandyre University, to San Francisco, to New Athens school, to New York, to Chicago led their mutual path. They both died in the Crisis, too. Numerous acquaintances knew Linda and also encountered Supergirl as well. I always suspected that girl-next-door act of hers hid something more, and a Luthor is never wrong!”
A sultry blonde in the red minidress and spiked heels nodded. “Excellent, Nasthalia! I have completed my own project, and our pawn now feels ready to go into action against our target.”
As she spoke, the blonde demurely adjusted her flowing blonde hair with excessive care. She placed an exceeding amount of effort into presenting a feminine persona, since she was in truth a being composed of both machine and woman. As Brains, she had led the Gang in their criminal career before being integrated with a computer called Matrix-Prime. She now retained a female beauty of form and body and manner, yet also possessed the capabilities of a computerized killing machine.
“My old friend is newly confident, and the makeover of sorts I gave her has fueled her desire to excel,” purred Brains. “The old Ms. Mesmer is now a strikingly capable Spellbinder!”
Nasty Luthor stood up and smiled eagerly. “Lex Luthor himself will be pleased and awed when my erstwhile uncle sees me accomplish a goal that ever eluded him — namely, the death of a member of the Superman family!”
Brains pursed her lips and applied lipstick carefully. Speculation: Nasty is possibly the child of one of Luthor’s old flames. His only sibling, Lena Thorul, is no older than Nasthalia herself and has a son. The evil genius thus allows her to use his surname as a mark of the approval her brilliant mind earns from him. She is not truly related to Superman’s most deadly foe. These thoughts passed silently through the enhanced computer mind of Brains as she agreed with her partner.
Meanwhile, the pretty blonde named Lena Thorul Colby was blissfully unaware that her sinister sibling’s protégée was planning an attack upon her newest friend. She turned from the set of Secret Hearts to mark through her script, since she was an assistant writer for the hit New York soap opera, and her best friend Lydia Lee was its star. As Margo Hatton, Lydia was the show’s most dynamic vixen. Lena smiled as she thought of how very different the true Lydia was from her sultry role.
Lydia-7’s futuristic society was so closely regulated that things like individuality were frowned upon, mused Lena. Margo would be reconditioned or worse if she acted as she does on the show in that lost future time.
Lena had certain abilities of her own that made her special. She was psychic, and her son Val also possessed a high level of mental prowess. It was those gifts that first led the lovely young woman to form a friendship with the original Supergirl and to detect the secret of her futuristic heir apparent Lydia-7, the new Supergirl.
Lydia, meanwhile, was enduring a long session with the show’s makeup and costume staff, who were transforming her appearance into that of the Margo Hatton character.
“Lydia, darling, we want to try something daring,” said the hairdresser. “Margo is going blonde.”
Lydia frowned. Great moons of Wegthor! If I am seen as a blonde, it could well expose my role as Supergirl! She jumped up and drew upon her acting skills. “No way! This little girl walks if you mess with her proven look. Star power is something subtle, and I have it. There is no way will I let you mess with perfection.”
She stalked off, then changed to her Supergirl costume at super-speed. She flew out of the studio as a blur of red and blue and reached the busy streets of New York in the blink of an eye. That distemper tantrum bought me time but added more material to the legion of Lydia Lee bashers on the set. I must seem like a total witch to those people, she mused in her normal diction, which mixed the slightly formal language of her era with her still-imperfect knowledge of twentieth-century slang.
Lydia had spotted an alarming sight with her super-vision, and now as the Maid of Steel she rushed to investigate the odd display. How odd! Those bank employees are loading that van with cash, and yet they are not dressed as those menials who normally do such a task, she mused. They are tellers and bank officers, as their clothing indicates. This is strange and worth checking out.
She landed before the group of busy workers, who ignored her and continued to pile cash into a colorful van. “Why are you putting money in this vehicle?” she asked. “It is clearly not a secure truck for the traditional delivery of currency.” They ignored her question and continued to work.
“What’s wrong, Supergirl?” sneered a young woman who appeared before her startled eyes. “Are you not used to being ignored? Are you used to being the center of attention with all that healthy blonde beauty of yours?” She had pink, spiked hair that was upswept in an alarming punk hairdo. Her metal collar was studded, as was the hot pink jacket she wore over a brief black bodysuit that left her legs bare until they met her high-heeled pink shoes. “I’m the new Spellbinder, and these dopes are totally bound by moi! And, this is the clincher, doll-face, there’s nothing even a big, strong girl like you can do about it!” she said with a mocking laugh.
Supergirl frowned and reached out for her foe. “I can do this!” she snapped but grasped thin air and whirled around as her foe appeared and posed defiantly.
“You are, like, so totally yesterday,” she said. “You cannot defeat me.”
Supergirl realized her daring foe was using some type of illusion projection to appear to be standing where she was not. “I can find you via your heartbeat,” she declared and jumped to the left, where nothing was to be seen except for the empty pavement.
Spellbinder deliberately snuggled closer to Supergirl and batted her eyelashes at her in mockery. “My, my, my! I declare, you do give a girl the vapors, but I want to give you a little something too, sugah,” said Spellbinder in a heavy, fake Southern accent.
Supergirl gasped as the woman in pink twisted around and wrestled her to the pavement. She placed one foot on the Girl of Steel’s back and pinned her arms painfully. “I forgot to tell you that I am much more than just a pretty and to-die-for face. I’m stronger than you!” said the woman as she tightened her wrestling hold.
Lydia’s eyes widened with pain as she realized, She has super-strength! Still, I have not used all my own abilities yet. She vibrated through the pavement and out of her foe’s arms at super-speed. She then returned and swept her around in a powerful whirlwind. “Now you aren’t able to joke,” she said calmly. “You lack the air to even breathe.”
Spellbinder shattered into a cloud of tiny pink diamonds and rained down on Supergirl. “She’s gone, and so is the van of money!” said Supergirl as she scanned the street and saw nothing. “How did she make her escape?”
That night, Lydia sat across from Lena in her apartment as Val Colby played a video game nearby. “Look, Lydia! I shot down all the Star Invaders!” called the bright little boy.
Lydia smiled and said, “You are truly a formidable pilot.”
Lena swatted her friend on the arm. “Try cool. Val’s bright, but you still speak like a Vulcan.”
Lydia shrugged. “I am working on mastering the correct idiom, but my other duties take my time away from such studies. Merely memorizing the words does not give me the ability to mimic correctly all I hear.”
Lena laughed. “And though it pays my rent, I should add that you do not want to copy the way the characters talk in my scripts.”
As Val departed for bed, Lydia laughed and said, “Lena, you have become a good friend. I have missed the companionship of another woman since coming here. Superwoman is well-meaning, but I feel more of a bond to you. In fact, you remind me greatly of a close friend from my own time.”
The Supergirl from the far future became quiet as she thought of her best friend from childhood, Lydia-T. After Lydia died along with the floating cities of her future era, the woman known as Louise-L had renamed herself Lydia-7 in honor of her friend. Now, every time she heard her adopted name, thoughts of her dear friend came to her mind, sustaining her desire to do only good. But there were times like now when she wished her long-lost friend was here in person to offer her advice.
“You’re upset about this Spellbinder,” said Lena. “Even Linda met some tough foes when she was wearing the costume and cape. In fact, Valor took her very identity, as well as mine, back when she was just the evil Lesla-Lar.”
Lydia nodded. “I am not discouraged; merely determined to bring Spellbinder to justice.”
Meanwhile, back at their secret base, Brains greeted and praised the new Spellbinder for her efforts. “You were wonderful!” said Brains. “Think how very far you’ve come since your frumpy days as Ms. Mesmer in our old Gang.”
Spellbinder flinched. “Please don’t say that corny name. I want to forget my old life as a costumed loser with no fashion sense and no confidence. Of course, Brains, you’ve become a big player, too. You’ve fought the Justice League, no less!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Off on a Tangent.]
Brains glanced down at her nails and said, “And so I will again, but first I wish to see you defeat Supergirl once more. Luring her into battle was my purpose in having you strike a New York bank in such an obvious manner.”
Spellbinder said, “I wondered whatever happened to our old Gang members Kong and Bulldozer. I guess the dumb apes are still in jail.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Secret Society of Super-Villains: Gorilla Warfare, Book 1.]
Brains smiled mysteriously and watched as her pawn departed to strike anew. “That’s my girl! Go out and make us proud… or at least serve as a pawn by which I may gain needed data,” she whispered.