by Martin Maenza and Starsky Hutch 76
When Steve Lombard and Jimmy Olsen’s vision cleared, they found themselves in a subterranean tunnel. They had been fitted with leg manacles, and each had a pick in their hands.
“Get back to work, scum!” a loud voice boomed. They turned and saw a large mole man brandishing a whip. “Don’t make me use this thing!” he said menacingly, gesturing to it. “I’ve been known to flay a work-slave alive with but one flick o’ the wrist!”
“Great Caesar’s ghost!” a familiar voice said. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life!” Steve and Jimmy both turned in the direction of the speaker.
“Chief!” Jimmy exclaimed. “How’d you get here?”
“I don’t know!” Perry White exclaimed. “I just woke up here, and they set me to work! I’m still in my pyjamas!” Perry motioned down to the dirty, pin-striped sleepwear he still wore.
“I’m the only chief around here!” the mole man work crew boss boomed, his whip flicking perilously close. “Get back to work! You’ve got tunnels to dig!”
As the trio of humans worked on digging, Jimmy’s reporter mind raced through the facts thus far. With Perry White and Kent Shakespeare involved in all this, too, Mxyzptlk is targeting all of Superman’s friends and family, he thought. We’ve got to do something.
“So one minute we’re fighting freak lawn ornaments on Kent’s lawn,” Steve was saying to Perry in a whisper, “and the next moment Olsen and I are inside and Mxyzptlk is there.”
“Really?” Perry said. “What’s he up to attacking us?”
“I wonder that, too,” Steve asked.
Jimmy slipped over to the others. “Guys,” he whispered. “We need to get out of here, and I’ve got a plan.” Quickly, Olsen began to outline his idea.
In a carved-out jail cell, Lydia Lee found herself with the other three captive females. “Kristin, they have you, too?!” she exclaimed, hugging the familiar face.
“Lydia, it’ll be OK,” the other woman replied. “We’ll get out of here. I have been doing some thinking and have an idea.”
“We’ll have to find the others, too, once we escape,” Lydia said.
“Others?” Gerta asked.
“Two of them I recognized from the history tapes,” Lydia said. “One was Jimmy Olsen, and the other that sportscaster friend.”
“Steve!” Kristin said. “That’s right, they were coming over.”
“Right,” Lydia said. “And there was a little boy, too. He looked a bit like Kal-El but young.”
“Kent Shakespeare,” Kristin said.
Jasma started to clap her hands with glee. “Kent here? Kent here? We go find him.”
Kristin nodded. “We’d better. If he’s not here with us, he must be with Jimmy and Steve.”
Superman had been watching the movement of the mole troops in the tunnels, trying to get a better handle on the situation. He had a determined look on his face. I don’t like this, he thought to himself. With Mxy’s magic involved, my powers are severely reduced. Plus, I have no idea where he has taken my family. I can’t imagine how this could get any worse.
Suddenly, he felt a slight tug on his cape. The Man of Steel spun about, only to see who was trying to get his attention. He recognized the person instantly. “Kent!” he exclaimed upon seeing the boy. “How did you get here?” Then, noticing the change in the child’s attire, including the beanie, he concluded that the imp had brought the boy into this little game.
“Sup’man!” the boy exclaimed. “There you are.”
“Kent, shhh,” the hero said softly. “We have to be quiet, OK?”
“‘Kay.” He made a motion across his lips.
“Good,” the Man of Steel said. He reached forward and picked the child up, placing him onto his shoulders. “Now, I want you to hold on tight to my cape and don’t let go, OK?” The boy nodded.
With the boy safely in place, Superman was ready to take action.
“All our powers seem to have been negated by the imp’s magic,” Kristin grumbled.
“All of them?” Lydia asked.
“Strength, vision, super-speed, invulnerability… everything,” Kristin said.
“It sounds as if you forgot one,” Lydia said.
“What’s that?” Kristin asked.
“I’ll show you,” Lydia replied with a sly grin.
A few seconds later, the mole man prison guard turned at the sound of a seductive voice. “Yoo-hoo, mister prison guard…”
“What do you human females want?” he grumbled, turning around. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when, instead of humans, he saw four very attractive mole-women. “Hubba-hubba! How’d you get in there?”
“Those mean old human women escaped and stuck us in here while you were napping. Can you help us out?”
“Well, I could…” he said, fidgeting with his ring of keys.
“I’d be ever so grateful,” the mole woman said, batting her eyelashes at him.
The guard quickly dashed over and stuck his key in the lock. The door opened, and he said, “Now, how about a kiss?”
“My hero,” she said. “Close your eyes and pucker your lips, and I’ll give you a kiss you’ll never forget.”
“Heh-heh… OK,” he gushed, obeying her.
The mole woman swung her legs around and delivered a perfect klurkor roundhouse kick, knocking him unconscious. “We’re fortunate Mxyzptlk fashioned his guards from ’50s sci-fi movies, making them sufficiently stupid,” Lydia said. “Otherwise, he might have been more suspicious.” She stepped out of the cell, followed by Kristin, Gerta, and Jasma.
“Super-hypnotism…” Kristin said, slightly amazed as she looked back at the unconscious mole man guard. “I’ll have to remember that one.”
“Great Caesar’s ghost!” Perry White exclaimed loudly, dropping his digging tool to the stone floor with a clatter. The newspaper editor grabbed at his chest. “My poor old heart!” His eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell to the ground.
The large mole man with the whip noticed this. “What is it?” he grumbled and started to move to examine Perry’s fallen body. He put the whip down on the ground and reached to turn the human over. “Get up and dig, scum! Now!”
“Now!” Jimmy whispered to Steve Lombard.
The brown-haired ex-athelete nodded and dived through the air, executing a perfect tackle against the mole man. Steve hit the creature solidly, just as Perry had opened his eyes and grabbed at the slave driver’s legs.
“What?!” the mole man exclaimed in surprise as he was toppled to the ground by Steve’s assault.
Jimmy Olsen moved quickly, grabbing up a spare set of manacles. “Hold him down!” he instructed his friends. Then he slapped a metal cuff on one of the beast’s wrists. Jimmy ran the chain down around one leg and then another and brought it back up. He slapped the second cuff about the mole man’s other wrist.
“Hey! Undo these chains now!” the mole man shouted as he tugged in vain against the heavy chains.
“Ah, put a sock in it, ugly!” Steve said, picking up his discarded cardigan sweater and stuffing it in the creature’s mouth. He used the sleeves to tie it tightly like a gag, allowing their captive to not call out for help.
“Nice moves there, Lombard,” Perry White said as he rose. “Looks like you’ve still got it.”
“That’s what they say, Perry,” Steve said, beaming proudly.
“Guys, we have to focus,” Jimmy said as he motioned to a set of keys on the wall. “Let’s get our leg irons unlocked and go look for the others.” Both Perry and Steve nodded in agreement.
As they got free, Jimmy couldn’t help but wonder, Where is Superman?
There was a loud ruckus as the mole men scurried down the tunnel, their arms flailing in the air and their mouths crying out. Nipping at their heels were blasts of fire that made loud zapping sounds as they hit the rocky floor.
“Wheee!” squealed Kent Shakespeare. He held on tight to a red cape with one hand and waved his other hand in the air. “Get ’em, Sup’man!”
“Now, now, Kent,” the Man of Steel told the tot sitting tight on his shoulder. “These creatures are being used by a very bad man. We don’t want to hurt them. We just want them to stay out of our way.” The blasts of Superman’s heat-vision drove his point home as they struck the ground harmlessly behind the fleeing mole men. “Do you understand?”
“Uh-huh,” the boy said, nodding.
Superman continued to pursue the moles at a good pace. Soon the tunnel opened up into a larger chamber with other offshoot tunnels. The ceiling was high with many stalactites hanging down from the shadows above. The vastness of the cavern gave Superman a slight pause.
Just then, out of one of the side tunnels, a quartet of familiar females appeared.
“Kal-El!” Gerta Zim-Zee said as she held Jasma in her arms.
“We found you!” Kristin added.
“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!” another voice called out from the other side of the room.
Superman spun around to see three more of his friends. “Jimmy! Steve! Perry!”
The group gathered about the hero as the mole men who were cowering turned back, their numbers starting to increase with others arriving.
“Looks like we’ve got some trouble coming,” Jimmy Olsen pointed out.
“We’ll fight them if we have to!” Lydia said with determination.
“Tut-tut,” a voice said from above, the sound echoing about the chamber. “They’re just here to see my latest offering!” Mr. Mxyzptlk suddenly lowered down from the shadows, and behind him came a cage containing a dark-haired woman looking rather bewildered.
“Jeepers!” Jimmy exclaimed.
“Lois!” Perry White shouted.
Superman’s brow furrowed with frustration. He’d had enough of these games. “What are you up to now, imp?”
“Simple,” Mxyzptlk said with a wicked smile. “You’ve got a choice to make, Super-sap! Either Miss Lane here becomes my bride, or I take the cute little honey right next to you as my wife!”
“Me?!” Kristin exclaimed.
Superman glanced at her, then at Lois, then at the others gathered there. He last looked back at Kristin. She could tell what was going through his mind. He didn’t need to say a word. She gave him a very slight, confident nod. Superman knew what he had to do.
“OK, Mxy, we play your game. I choose Lois. Set her free!”
The imp smiled. “Fine!” He snapped his fingers, and the cage vanished.
“Aaahhh!” Lois screamed as she started to free-fall toward the hard stone floor thirty feet below.
Superman leaped up to catch her. “I have you, Lois.”
She was still a bit taken aback by all this. “Just what is going on here, anyway?”
“It’s a long story,” Superman answered.