Magpie crossed her legs and perched on the desk of the beleaguered Star City mayor as the Detonator and Star Czar admired her audacity.
“You should have seen her try to save those pigs!” she laughed.
“Yeah, Dinah loves to play Daddy’s little girl,” said Star Czar. “She admires the cops something fierce.”
“I don’t want to run into the Green Arrow,” said the Detonator. “You’re sure he’s out of the city?”
“Why, Detonator,” said Star Czar. “Are you afraid of a man with a bow when you carry TNT around with you? Not to fear; he is getting an award from an environmental group for some good deed out west.”
The Detonator nodded. “OK. I can take him. Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to face him until it’s on my terms!”
Star Czar smiled. “I understand completely. Now, assemble the siphon, if you please,” he commanded.
A frightened woman and child watched from the sidelines as goons guarded them indifferently.
Later Black Canary ran across the grounds of the STAR Labs facility outside of Star City. The blonde bombshell had read the description of the stolen device and deduced that it would need an accompanying filter being worked on at the rival labs.
The combination should produce an experimental energy-source drawn directly from the stars, she mused. It’s almost like Ted Knight’s cosmic rod from Earth-Two.
She saw Magpie and climbed to the railing over the facility below. Acrobatically flipping through the air, she tackled her twin and knocked her to the floor.
“I could waste a lot of time matching you martial arts move for martial arts move, but I’d rather just put a bullet in you now!” sneered Magpie as she whipped out a gun.
The Canary tensed and rolled aside as the evil blonde took aim. She kicked it aside and wrestled her foe to the ground. “How unsporting of you!” she mocked as she punched her twin in the nose.
Magpie snarled, “You are just a pale copy of me. No life, no blood, no passion to you!”
Black Canary sang, and her sonic song shattered the upper railing that surrounded them. She kicked Magpie in the chin and watched with satisfaction as the rails fell onto her foe, pinning her to the floor. “Maybe not. But I just won!” she said, smiling.
Mayor Templeton sat slumped in his luxurious home and turned to the Star Czar, Magpie, and Detonator. “I’ve obeyed your every order since you took my family. I’ve made Green Arrow’s life miserable. I’ve tried to run him out of Star. I’ve even allowed you to release those felons who failed to kill him. Now, please, please, let my family go free!” he begged.
“Good news, Your Honor,” said Magpie. “They’re free. I released them quietly minutes ago when I brought this fake device!”
The Star Czar frowned. “You witch! You’re not Magpie! You’re the real Black Canary!”
Black Canary nodded. “I took her costume after some friends of mine helped me send her back to where she belongs — a mental health facility in an alternate timeline. By the way, she sang her heart out. She wanted me to find you!”
The Star Czar cursed. “I always did intend to take you, my dear, although I hoped to make you come to me as an outlaw. Still, you trumped me. Templeton is now free of my coercion. But even without his service in tormenting you and your beau — or bow — I’m winning!”
Black Canary jumped over his desk and gripped his costume. “The device I brought is a dummy, like you,” she said. “You won’t be stealing stellar energy anytime soon!”
“I’ve been doing so for some time,” said Star Czar. “The devices I already assembled are feeding me a steady diet of the stuff, my pet.”
Canary frowned, then looked shocked. “I know that voice, now that you’ve stopped disguising it. You’re Larry!”
The Star Czar unmasked, revealing features she knew all too well. “I am Larry Lance, your father/husband figure! How weird a family tree we have, princess! I’m the Larry Lance of Earth-One, to be exact.” He laughed as he gripped her arms.
“He died! How is this possible?” she said slowly.
“He did die, but I needed a material form, and his body made a perfect host,” he sneered. “It was like coming home, since I knew the other Larry so very well…”
His eyes gleamed, and she suddenly knew who he really was. “You’re Aquarius!” she gasped.
He nodded. “I am Aquarius, though sadly weakened and altered perhaps by my very existence in this other universe where none like me existed. I am the living star who killed your husband/father, the other Larry. (*) Now I need to regain my lost power. Thus, I took this body, that of the Earth-One Larry, and used it as the Star Czar — quaint little nom du crime, eh? — to take this city and make life hard for you. Seems I have a real love/hate thing for you. Must be due to inhabiting a human body. Gives you all kinds of emotions.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Where Death Fears to Tread,” Justice League of America #74 (September, 1969).]
Black Canary twisted free of the madman. “You robbed me of the only family I had. I’ll stop you!” she vowed.
“I tried to frame you and bring you to me, pretty bird,” said Aquarius. “I used Templeton, here, to turn your Green Arrow’s foes loose. I did it all for human malice while assembling various stellar energy deposits.”
Mayor Templeton raced out the door as Detonator approached.
“Let him go,” laughed Aquarius. “I need no pawn now, not when I have drained this much power. One more massive dose will restore me while putting out your sun! One kiss and you die — consumed by the very energies that killed Larry Lance!” sneered the twisted being.
Black Canary gasped as they locked lips. She could not overpower his cosmic energized form.
He frowned and said, “Nothing happened!”
She smiled. “You didn’t do much for me, either, pal!”
Detonator took off his helmet, and his features altered to reveal a handsome young man.
“Starman!” gasped Black Canary.
“I was drawn to Detonator when he robbed a lab of a stellar sapper,” explained Will Payton. “I defeated him and took his place. Looks like Canary had the same idea when she tracked down Magpie. I was drawn to this stellar energy. In fact, I’d wager you’ve been the cause of all the activity I’ve had lately.”
“You absorbed my radiation, so the kiss did her no harm!” roared Aquarius. “You also interfered when I drained the Amazon Sun Sword and activated the lost star-band. You’ve been a thorn in my side all along! I suppose you detected my energies each time in some mysterious manner!”
“It’s a hobby,” quipped Starman as he burned off the disguise to reveal his red and black heroic costume.
Black Canary rolled backward to join him. “Let’s take down this sick monster!” she said.
“With pleasure!” said Starman.
“No!” cried Aquarius. “This is not the time! I choose a wise retreat to return when I can slay you all and drink your sun’s energies.” He vanished in a flash of light.
“Odd — I can’t detect him,” said Will Payton. “He’s found a way to block my senses!”
“I owe him big,” said Black Canary grimly. “Take me with you, and we’ll find him yet!”