Starman flew across the country, enjoyed the sheer sensation of flight. He had been trying hard to shake off the worries he’d had earlier about losing his own humanity. The Elongated Man had urged Will Payton to enjoy his powers and seek out friends and family. (*) The brown-haired youth was determined to do just that. He had departed from West Virginia and his self-imposed seclusion and now hoped to reach the Arizona home of his mother and sister Jayne.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Elongated Man: The Ghost of Piney Woods.]
On the way across country, he decided to stop in Midway City at its world-famous museum. I enjoyed the Survey of Architecture course I took back at Vandermere, so seeing some of the world’s most important relics will be a real pleasure, he mused. Plus, it’s a good way to shake off the glooms.
Landing behind the museum, he changed out of his red and black Starman costume into casual clothes — jeans and a shirt. Carter and Shiera Hall are like modern-day Indiana Jones types, he thought. It’s nice to think the romance of the film carries over to real life in their cases.
Walking inside, he soon spotted an attractive blonde woman with long, straight hair and a short pink suit. Her office door was ajar, and he readily admired her beauty. Man, she’s a dream, he thought. Art director? Must plan the displays the Halls bring back.
He followed the other visitors as they passed notable items from realms as diverse as Atlantis and Mu. “This small stone fragment came from one of the legendary Colossi of Manheps,” he read, staring through a glass case. Photos above the case showed the intact twelve Colossi statues, which resembled the Easter Island pieces in a vague manner.
“These relics are believed by many to be the remnants of a lost culture from an alien race that visited Earth long ago,” he read. My powers came from New Genesis, he thought. (*) I wonder if the space beings we met, like Melisande and Highfather, know more of these things?
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: A Cosmos Imperiled, Chapter 2: The Devourer of Worlds.]
Will Payton would learn more than he wanted soon enough.
The attractive blonde in the office of the art director was named Coral Shilak. In truth, her name was Corla Tavo, and she was an agent of the warmongering faction from Thanagar that had waged the Shadow War against Earth before meeting defeat along with the rest of the Alien Alliance during the invasion earlier this year. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “No Sound of Clashing Wars,” Shadow War of Hawkman #4 (August, 1985).]
Corla Tavo’s home was now peacefully ruled by the benign Rul Pintar. She hated Rul and thus was very much a woman alone. She had assumed the role of Coral Shilak to get closer to the Hols, who were known as the Halls in their civilian identities. Carter and Shiera Hall were, in fact, the Thanagarian heroes Katar and Shayera Hol, alias Hawkman and Hawkwoman. And while Corla’s spy mission was officially over, she still kept up the façade in the hopes of gaining either power on Earth or revenge against the Hols. They had no reason to suspect that the efficient blonde was anything but a good employee. She smiled coldly at the thought.
My former employers are dead and buried, but even without their leadership, my hatred still burns for the Hols, she mused. They fought against our world, and I’ll see them pay yet.
She looked up from her desk and saw a handsome man examining the Colossi display. Cute, for an Earther, she mused.
At that moment, a pretty, reddish-blonde-haired woman entered the office. She wore a pale green silk blouse and pleated short skirt with high heels. “Coral, nice work on the Markovian display,” said Shiera Hall. “The coat of arms was a wonderful touch. We’re so lucky to have you here!”
She rested one hand on her shoulder in a gesture of friendship, and Corla fought to keep from tensing up under the enemy’s touch. “Thank you, Mrs. Hall. I try to please,” she said with a cold smile.
Shiera nodded. “Believe me, you do! Carter agrees with me that you deserve a raise. Starting next month, you’ll find a bit more in your pay check. We won the trustees over, as did your work.”
Corla acted pleased as her employer walked down the hall. Brainless gadfly, she thought. I’ll see the only reward I desire when your fleshless corpse lies rotting in the sun.
Will Payton was one of the last of the visitors to leave. He bought a copy of one of Halls’ books and hesitated long enough to ask Shiera Hall to autograph it.
“How sweet of you to ask!” she gushed. “We rarely find anyone who has read it,” she explained.
“I enjoyed it,” said Will. “I admire the work you and your husband do. Have since college.”
Shiera handed back the now-inscribed book. “What do you do, Will?” she asked.
“I’m at loose ends right now,” he said, shrugging. “I have some computer skills, lab experience, and even a bit of business classes. I left college prematurely and traveled around with a band. Now I’m trying to settle down.”
“Finding a place to put down roots is difficult,” said Shiera, nodding.
“I’d think a world-traveler like you would be at home anywhere,” said Will.
The beautiful woman smiled. “Oh, you’d be surprised. I’m more of the nesting type, myself.”
Starman’s departure from Midway City was abruptly delayed as the hero flew away from the closed museum. Shiera Hall is quite a woman, he mused as he rose into the air.
Glancing down from above, he frowned as he spotted a green-costumed figure with a red beard. Something’s wrong, he thought. That decidedly suspicious character is up to no good!
The man entered the Midway City Museum, and Will followed. He saw the man in green wave a wand, and a statue of Achilles stepped down from its pedestal.
“Why steal myself when I can animate these statues and let them distract the cops and do the dirty work for me!” laughed the criminal known as the Matter Master. “Crime by remote control!”
Starman blazed inside and said, “Better check your batteries, pal! The ones in my remote are always going bad!”
Matter Master cursed and waved his mentachem wand. “Another hero?” he said. “I checked, and the Hawks flew off minutes ago. I figured the city would be mine for the picking! No matter… excuse the expression!” He chortled at his pun. The wand flashed, and Starman gasped as the statues charged him.
“Hate to ruin precious works of art, so rather than shatter them, I’ll take care of the source!” said Starman, who flared up brightly. The sudden light in the darkened museum blinded Matter Master.
Dodging the statues, Starman slugged Matter Master, who fell hard and did not rise. I think I broke his jaw! he thought. I didn’t realize my own strength. Seems to be increasing lately.
Bending over the fallen villain, he did not hear a noise as Corla Tavo slipped from her closed office door and bent quickly to grab the discarded mentachem wand. She slipped back into the shadows as Starman carried the fallen villain out to the police, who were just arriving on the scene.
Excellent! she mused. I do not know what Terran goddess of fortune smiles upon me today, but I shall take advantage of it all the same. Caressing the wand, she said to herself, “I have plans for this little treasure — yes, I do!”
Meanwhile, at Midway City Police Headquarters, Starman handed over the Matter Master to Stewart Frazier. The acting police commissioner thanked Starman warmly.
“We appreciate the help,” he said as he shook hands with Starman. “These super-crooks are drawn here like flies to a porch light. You’d think they’d avoid the city of the Hawks like a plague.”
“I hoped to see the Hawks myself,” said Starman. “I’ve always been a big fan of the Justice League.”
Stewart nodded. “I understand the sentiment. I feel the same way, too. I could introduce you when they get back. I’m a friend to them.”
Starman smiled. “Sorry, I’ve got to be moving on. Maybe I’ll pass back through Midway one of these days.”
As he flew off, he frowned. I left my bag on the museum roof, he realized. Wouldn’t do for Will Payton’s stuff to be found up there. In my rush to investigate Matter Master’s breaking and entry, I was careless.
He soared back and gasped as sounds of battle echoed from within the local landmark. More trouble! he thought. Commissioner Frazier was right. Midway City is a regular Mecca for trouble!
Drawing closer, he saw the returned Hawkman and Hawkwoman battling a group of ghastly figures in hooded cloaks.
Here goes nothing! he thought as he plunged inside.