In Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, the other members of the Crime Syndicate gathered in Microbe’s lab. The six-inch-tall man was a gifted scientist, and he held his own with the group by sheer intellect. He looked across the room toward the two he knew the best. Power Ring, a slender man with a widow’s peak amidst balding hair, was powerful, reckless, and seemingly without fear or wisdom.
His crony, Charlie Drake — also known as Johnny Quick — was a dangerous man with a stolen power of super-speed. He was a lecher with an eye for the ladies and little time for planning or using his brain over his agility and lethal speed. He said, “Look, Ken Doll, we know the drill. Beakbrain, Muscles, Marvin, and Babydoll have been missing for days. You want us to search for them.”
Microbe smiled. “Indeed I would, although I’d prefer to see their reactions to your nicknames.”
Power Ring nodded. “Yeah, Diana’s gonna kill Speedy here, one of this days.”
A gangly blond man grinned and said, “Hey, he’s got a point. She is hot! Right, Deadeye?” Rubberneck glanced left and right as if seeking approval. He was an attention-starved man who wanted nothing more than peer approval and public infamy.
The bowman called Deadeye nodded. “If you go for that type.”
Microbe cleared his throat. “I have learned they all met with violent attacks. If someone is seeking out Syndicate members, then we could all be in peril.”
“You know, if I was smaller than the typical Rita Farr dress-up doll, I’d be a bit of a coward, too,” sneered Owlman as he stepped out of the shadows.
“Owlman! We thought you were in trouble,” said Deadeye.
“Your concern is truly touching. Still, it is a bit misplaced,” said the man in the dark cape.
Superwoman stepped inside and said, “True, for we are better than we have ever been before. You are the ones in danger.”
She smiled coldly and, with one right hook, dropped the startled Power Ring to the floor. “His energy shield was useless against my unexpected attack,” she said, rubbing her hands together.
Johnny Quick rocketed forward, only to gasp as the huge form of the Martian Murderer appeared from thin air to strike him down. Ultraman swooped down and attacked his allies as well.
Owlman had already knocked Microbe cold with a pellet of gas, and Ultraman’s mighty power had slapped both Rubberneck and Deadeye to the ground. They looked toward their master as the leader of the Brethren entered in their wake.
“Well done for humans. Your mental reconditioning was flawless. I almost hate to kill you all, but then again you are the old, and progress is so cruel to those left behind genetically,” he said, smiling.
The defeated Crime Syndicate members awoke to find themselves imprisoned within their own headquarters, the Eyrie of Evil. Storm, Excelsior, Centrigrade, and their leader watched with smug looks on their faces while the four mentally dominated Syndicators stood silently.
Storm, the black man with the keen mind beneath the verbal facade of the street thug, said, “You did it! I can’t believe we took down the whole group.”
His leader nodded. “I always knew we would emerge victorious. We are a better race. The mutants shall always triumph over lesser beings.”
Centigrade kissed him passionately. “Oh, Adam — you thrill me when you talk in such a manner.”
Excelsior said, “I could thrill you more. Remember, my mutant gift is being able to duplicate other folks’ abilities at a higher level.”
Adam said, “But not my own. You should recall I mentally conditioned you to never challenge me.”
Excelsior shrugged. “I know, I know. Sorry, boss.”
Adam laughed and clapped Storm on the back. “Look at them. Quick and Power Ring are beside themselves trying to figure out where they think they know me from,” he chuckled.
Johnny Quick said, “I can still speak, even though your weird science robs me of my speed. You’re that Captain Comet creep!”
Adam Blake said, “No, my benighted foe. I am his counterpart from this Earth, although I have never needed a colorful costume or nom du crime. I have used my mind-reading abilities and other mental gifts to control and guide every President since Stevenson. Thus I have never needed to publicly be a figure of reknown. Still, boredom led me to form my Brethren and subdue you rogues once and for all. Luthor will fall next.”
Microbe struggled as his size-weight controls remained inert. He’s good — too good. Can’t even shrink, he thought.
“No, you can’t shrink, Mr. Raymond Palmer of Ivy Town. You can’t do anything,” said Blake as he read the scientist’s mind.
Centrigade giggled and snuggled closer to Blake. “I suppose I should sent these pawns out to kill Luthor and his gang, but I wonder if perhaps I would not be better served to simply eliminate them all now,” he said.
Storm caressed Superwoman. “I could see the wisdom in that, my brother.”
Adam Blake nodded. “So be it. We shall take down the Secret Society and rid ourselves of the remaining Syndicate members Sundown and Chaos soon enough. Now for these poor primitives.”
Rubberneck wondered where the missing Syndicate members were. Chaos spent much time away in some mystical realm, while Sundown was a loner at best. He thought of his ex-wife Sue. She was in some shelter for battered women. He didn’t know where. Too bad. He’d liked to have slapped her around one final time.
Deadeye thought of his fortune. He had embezzled millions and only used his bow and arrows for thrills. He wished he could see his drug addict ward Roy one last time. They’d enjoyed many evenings of substance abuse together.
As Adam Blake walked toward the prisoners, a blinding flash of energy filled the cave.
“Mortal swine! You little realize how much you have angered me. The immortal Doctor Chaos shall sift you like chaff,” said the mysterious Syndicator who appeared in magical fire.
Blake said, “That accursed helm shields him from my mental gifts. Syndicators, kill him!”
Ultraman charged his ally. “Sorry, Chaos — I can’t help myself!” He slammed into the wizard with superhuman speed, and they crashed through the cavern walls.
Superwoman darted forward to help subdue Chaos but received a shock as her vision failed her. “Sundown,” she muttered.
She staggered blindly as her final partner emerged from the darkness. He and Chaos had arrived just in time to stop Adam Blake and the Brethren from killing their friends. The Martian Murderer elongated one arm to wrap it around Chaos as his body erupted into a flaming nimbus.
“I regret this, but it is necessary,” said Chaos. He gestured, and a black glyph appeared to wrench Owlman, Ultraman, Superwoman, and the Martian from Blake’s spell.
Owlman gasped, “What did you do to us? I felt as though my very soul was being torn asunder!”
Chaos said, “It nearly was. I could do no less to shake Blake’s mastery of you.”
Superwoman said, “I’ll kill him!”
Blake frowned. “They are free. Chaos is shielding their minds as well. We’ll need to do this the old-fashioned way.” He darted forward and wrestled the furious Amazon to the ground, where they struggled.
“You male swine! I’ll kill you for using me as your toy!” she screamed.
Adam Blake blasted her mentally and smiled as she fell still once more. “I can still defeat them, even if I cannot control them,” he gloated.
Storm sent his potent energy blasts into the Martian as J’imm J’onzz flickered out of sight. “Don’t need to see ya to fry ya,” said Storm. He blasted out in all directions but gasped as Sundown used his ability to create blindness to place Storm’s world in total night.
The wild energy blasts threatened to take down the cavern’s roof, and Ultraman cursed as he reluctantly left the battle to protect his still-captive allies Power Ring, Johnny Quick, Microbe, and the rest. “Don’t have time to nursemaid you losers,” he said.
Owlman rolled under the energy beams to connect with a precise nerve punch that left Storm stunned. “Finesse beats raw power every time,” smirked Owlman.
The returning Martian Murderer slammed both fists into the ground and sent Centrigrade reeling off her feet. “Oh, power has its uses, too,” he said. Centrigrade’s icy spear impaled him, but he re-formed his amazingly protean body to attack her again. “Should have stuck to fire, little girl,” he said.
She screamed and sent fire toward him, only to see Doctor Chaos shield his alien ally. She gasped and ran for cover as the Martian reached out his arms for her nubile form.
Meanwhile, Excelsior mimicked Ultraman’s strength to knock him backward. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” he said.
Ultraman cursed and said, “I won’t believe that!” He fought forward, staggering beneath a rain of super-strong blows. He gritted his teeth and fought onward as Excelsior’s superior power yielded to Ultraman’s near-mindless rage.
Adam Blake turned to face his foes. “You’ve defeated my Brethren, and thanks to the inhuman Chaos, you’ve robbed me of my most potent weapon. Still, I can always learn from this battle and take needed steps to prepare for our next fight,” he said calmly.
Owlman smiled coldly. “Why do you think we’ll let you live to fight this promised rematch?”
Ultraman shook free of the now-battered Excelsior to smile and say, “Yeah, smart guy — this ends now!”
Blake helped Centrigrade and Storm to their feet as Excelsior staggered over. “I fail to see why you gloat prematurely. You haven’t taken into account our fifth member,” he said calmly.
The Martian Murderer shook his head. “I detect no fifth mind.”
Owlman said, “Nor do I see any hidden figure.”
Ultraman said, “He’s bluffing!” He raised his fist and prepared to strike the cocky form of Adam Blake.
Microbe, who had been freed by Sundown, cried, “Be careful, Ultraman!”
Power Ring nodded. “Yeah, this guy is smart.”
Ultraman smirked and swung with full force, only to nearly decapitate the Martian. “He’s got me under some spell!” gasped Ultraman.
He drove back his allies with super-force and hurled himself directly into Dr. Chaos’ mystical energy. The blast shook the cavern and allowed Blake and his team to vanish.
“He got away,” muttered Owlman.
Quick sputtered, “How’d he take you over, Ultraman? I thought Doc had shielded us from his mental reconditioning.”
Doctor Chaos rose to his feet. “I did, you lout! But Blake’s hidden ally did something different. He bodily possessed the Kryptonian,” he said.
Ultraman nodded. “It was like when I got ready to flatten Blake. Something entered my body and used me to hold you all back so he could escape.”
Owlman nodded. “I admire his planning. He had his fifth member — the one who can possess others — enter their bodies as a wraith hidden within his own body all that time.”
Deadeye nodded ruefully. “Got to hand it to him. That’s ingenious.”
Superwoman snorted disdainfully. “It was not the tactic of a true warrior.”
Owlman grinned. “Still, I admire his thinking. Those mutants weren’t half-bad.”
Ultraman said, “Next time I’ll be ready.”
Beneath the Capitol, in their hidden lair, Adam Blake and his Brethren of Mutants recovered from their battle.
“That Ultraman was like some engine of raw destruction,” sighed Excelsior.
Centrigrade whined, “And the Martian! He scared me to death, my love.”
Storm said nothing as he nursed his sore neck.
Adam Blake gestured to the curly haired blond man who had emerged from within Blake’s own body. “Young Joshua, here, saved the day. I knew having him stay within me would be a saving stroke someday. It was a good day for mutantkind when the government made your father a super-soldier and unwittingly led to your own birth with mutant gifts,” he said.
The silent Joshua smiled and rapidly signed a response.
Blake laughed, “Yes, lad. We’ll recruit more allies and regroup before our next battle. I have learned that even a man of the future can make mistakes, but the beauty of our situation is that we have all the time we need.”
His laughter echoed beneath the center of government, while above, the U.S. government and President Geraldine Ferraro obeyed his every command.