Super Friends: The Return of the Elementals, Chapter 1: Super Friends or Super Foes?

by Libbylawrence

Return to chapter list

On the elegantly appointed campus of Gotham City University, three young people enjoyed the summer sunshine as they strolled across the commons where other students and staff mingled or hurried by to their own destinations.

Dick Grayson, a handsome young man with dark hair and keen eyes, smiled to himself as he watched the younger pair who eagerly gaped wide-eyed as they took in the sights and sounds.

“For students who have traveled as extensively as you two have, you sure seem to be dazed by GCU!” he said. “I’m sure they have even bigger colleges back home.”

John Fleming, a blond boy, shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Sorry, Dick, there were learning facilities on Exor, but we never saw them. We were raised in Dentwil’s Trans-World Shows, a traveling carnival, and never had a proper education!”

A pretty and perky blonde girl in a pink halter-top and white shorts shook her head as her slightly almond-shaped dark eyes caught sight of Dick’s amused grin. “What my rather careless twin brother means to say is that we worked during our childhood back in a tiny town in Sweden called Eksjo and never had the opportunities available at a big college like this!” she said, elbowing John in the ribs.

John leaned over and whispered, “Sorry, Jayna. I guess I’d get a flunking grade in Secret Identity 101 if the Super Friends heard me make that slip in public!”

Jayna smiled and whispered, “No problem, Zan. I don’t think Grax or the Overlord are pledging any fraternities here, so we’re probably safe.”

In truth, the pair of siblings were the extra-terrestrial heroes in training known as Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins, and their true homeworld was a place far from Sweden or any other place on Earth. John and Joanna Fleming were merely made-up Earth names. The planet Exor was where the shape-shifting twins had been born, and as Zan had mentioned, their childhood had been spent as members of a traveling space carnival.

Dick Grayson was more than he seemed as well. The glib youth was, in fact, the dynamic hero Robin the Teen Wonder, and he rather enjoyed acting as mentor to the pair, much as his own legendary partner Bruce Wayne, alias Batman, had acted as a guide during his own adolescence. “I’m glad you two decided to join me,” he said. “I’ve been here before, but this will be my first semester as a student. Transferring from Hudson University will give me plenty of time for activities beyond my studies, if you get my meaning!”

Joanna Fleming said, “I know Bruce is thrilled to have you back home! You certainly proved yourself during your time at Hudson U., and coming back home to finish your education at Gotham City University doesn’t mean you aren’t your own man!”

Dick grinned and said, “Now you sound like Alfred! He and Bruce were always urging me to come back here and enrol locally, and I’m not too proud to admit that they were right. Gotham City just feels right to me. It’s where I belong!”

“Maybe we could enrol here when we complete our studies at Gotham Central High!” said Joanna. “Professor Nichols is a GCU alumni as well!”

John nodded and said, “This place has more to offer than a good education. Look at that poster!” He pointed to a campus activities board where a flyer announced that Jeanine Gale would be giving a concert at the Student Union building. “Gosh! I’d love to see her!” he said. “She’s my favorite singer!”

“I think you are sticky on her,” said Joanna.

“I think you meant to say John is sweet on her,” said Dick. “He does seem to have a crush.”

John blushed furiously and said, “Well, she’s more than just a great singer! You know that!” He referred to the fact that the pretty blonde vocalist was also a super-heroine in her role as the Sylph. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Elementary,” Super Friends #14 (October-November, 1978) and “The Overlord Goes Under,” Super Friends #15 (December, 1978).]

“Well, I thought you might get a kick out of seeing the show,” said Dick, “so I got tickets for all three of us, plus Bruce!”

John smiled broadly. “That will be great!”


That night, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Joanna and John Fleming all sat together in the front of a crowded room on campus. A small, slightly elevated stage loomed in front of their seats.

“I’m rather surprised a big star like Jeannine would perform for free at a college like this,” said Dick.

“She attended GCU for a year,” said Bruce. “Perhaps she feels a certain loyalty to her former school.”

“I never knew that about her!” said Joanna.

“Well, she mentioned it to me one evening over dinner,” said Bruce.

“Sorry, John,” said Dick, “it sounds as if your lady love is one more conquest in a long series of Bruce Wayne’s women!”

Bruce smiled and said, “That’s a bit of an exaggeration, old chum! The lovely Ms. Gale and I merely had dinner together once or twice. That’s all!”

Before the friends could continue their good-natured banter, a frightened girl rushed inside and shouted, “The antiquities display over in Smyth Hall is being robbed by a crazy woman in a costume!”

The crowd began to mill around excitedly as some students hurried outside, while others merely moved deeper into the room.

“I read a bit about that display during our tour,” said Joanna. “There are some priceless items dating back to the time of the Druids on display there!”

“Right!” whispered Bruce. “There’s plenty there to attract a crook or two… as well as a few crime-fighters!”

Taking advantage of the confusion and making use of their own proven experience in such matters, the four heroes swiftly exited the building and soon emerged from the darkness as Batman, Robin, and the Wonder Twins.

“Jayna, how about some winged transportation?” said Batman.

Jayna nodded and touched hands with her sibling as both shouted, “Wonder Twin powers activate!

“Form of a roc!” said Jayna, using her Exorian power to turn into any animal form to assume the shape of a massive bird.

Batman, Robin, and Zan jumped on her feathered back as she flew across campus and landed just as a lithe woman flew into sight. She was wearing a light blue costume that consisted of a jumpsuit that left her legs bare, while a thin strap was draped over one shoulder. Very long blonde hair flowed out of the back of her blue mask.

“The Sylph!” said Jayna. “It looks as if Ms. Gale is going to lend us a hand!”

“Yes, although I don’t see any sign of a criminal!” said Zan.

Batman scowled as he replied, “That’s because the Sylph is the criminal! Look at what she’s carrying!”

Robin nodded and said, “That’s the amulet of the Druids! I saw a photo of it in the Gotham Gazette!

“She must have recovered it from the real thief!” said Zan.

Before the Exorian youth could continue his speech, the Sylph whirled around to face them, then scattered them with a concentrated blast of wind.

“She’s attacking!” warned Batman as he flipped nimbly away from Jayna.

Robin followed suit and landed with the grace of the acrobat he was before hurling a pellet at the silent Sylph. “She can’t harm us with her air-based powers if she can’t see us!” he said.

The smoke pellet broke open, and a cloud covered the area between the heroes and the apparently angry former heroine.

“Since I’ve already touched hands with Jayna, I can use my own power at will!” said Zan. “This looks like the right time to do so!” He assumed the form of a hot spring as his body altered, and he surged toward the blonde beauty.

She laughed and said, “You think you can harm me? It doesn’t matter how hot or cold your liquid form becomes — I am the mistress of the winds, and my hurricane force can turn your spring into a slab of frozen ice!”

Zan gasped as his altered body suddenly solidified against his will as the Sylph’s powerful frigid air swept through him.

Batman hurled a batarang at the Sylph, only to see his perfectly aimed toss fail to connect as an unseen wall of air blocked the projectile.

“You can’t touch me unless I will it to be so!” she said in a taunting manner.

Robin rolled agilely forward and grabbed the amulet out of her hand. “And you can’t hold this amulet while you are totally intangible, either!” he said. “If you re-form, then we’ll get you! Face it, you’re a real air head!

She tossed her flowing blonde hair as she turned angrily toward the dynamic youth. But before she could attack, Batman said, “Sylph, don’t run away! Let’s talk this over! Why do you want the amulet? Are you being controlled by the Overlord again?”

“I control my own fate now, Batman!” she said. “You’ll regret interfering!”

Jayna swooped down and scattered the woman’s airy form with a powerful flap of her huge wings.

As Jayna’s wing touched Zan’s frozen body, he said, “Form of a frost giant!” Zan then became a huge being of solid ice with the added benefit of mobility. “Now we’ll see how tough she really is!”

“Zan, she can create a thermal updraft like the one that enables her to glide around,” said Jayna. “I don’t think any temperature extreme will work on her!”

Her twin brother nodded ruefully as his hulking body began to melt under the intensity of the Sylph’s heated air.

“Sylph, Robin’s taken the amulet away while we occupied you,” shouted Batman. “You have nothing more to gain here. Tell us how we can help you!”

The Sylph glanced around the campus and said, “This isn’t over! I’ll be back!” She tossed both arms over her head and created a miniature hurricane that forced the heroes backward as she swirled into the now dark and threatening sky.

“Are you kids OK?” asked Batman. “The Sylph certainly was playing for keeps tonight!”

“We’re fine,” said Zan. “I’m just disappointed in Jeanine! I can’t believe she would go bad!”

“Don’t be so quick to be swayed by a pretty face!” said Jayna. “After all, a crook doesn’t have to look like Grax to be a crook!”

“And yet, I’m almost certain that there’s more to this situation than we know,” said Batman. “Obviously, Jeanine Gale won’t turn up for the concert now. Let’s go find Robin and get some answers at the Hall of Justice!”

Robin dropped down from above and said, “I’m here. I secured the amulet and heard the rest. This may sound crazy, but Jeanine is tuning up behind the stage right now! She’s planning to carry on with the show!”

“I’ve heard the show must go on, but this is a bit extreme!” said Zan. “Doesn’t she remember that we know her secret identity? We know she is the Sylph, even if the other kids don’t know it!”

“She’s not stupid,” said Batman. “I’d say we should pay her a visit before the concert.”


Meanwhile, at a small but brightly decorated lighthouse off the coast of Maine, a group of smartly uniformed military men and women paid honor to a hero well-known to Batman and Robin. Captain John Hartley smiled as he raised a glass to toast the man of the hour, Aquaman.

“And it is with great pride and true admiration that the U.S. Navy names Aquaman naval man of the year for his continued service in protecting the seas!” said the robust and beaming Captain Hartley.

Aquaman was a ruggedly handsome blond man in an orange and green costume. He smiled and said, “Thank you, Captain Hartley. It means a great deal to me to be honored by true heroes like you. I’ve had a bit of trouble with certain members of your service before, but I’m happy to join the present company. My father was a navy man, and I have always respected all you stand for! I grew up in this very lighthouse, and I’m delighted with the way it has been restored!”

Applause filled the room until Aquaman raised one gloved hand to calm the cheering crowd. It feels good to hear sincere cheers like that! he thought.

Before the Super Friend could resume his speech, he frowned as his keen eyes detected a figure lurking in the shadows. She was a strikingly pretty woman in a brief green costume. “The Undine! I’m happy to see another defender of the ocean’s depths here!” said Aquaman as he recognized the Elemental heroine.

She smiled coldly and sauntered forward in a rather cocky manner. “You touch me with your platitudes, half-breed!” she hissed. Now let me return the favor and touch you all with my power!”

Aquaman shoved a woman officer aside moments before a thundering crash shook the building, and the far wall buckled and broke apart. “Great Neptune! She’s flooded the place!” he gasped as he realized the mistress of the seas had indeed used her power to summon a massive tidal wave. “Get back, all of you!” he shouted. “I’ll try to get her to pull back the wave! That’s our best chance!”

The frightened naval crowd obeyed his commanding tone as he focused his own powerful telepathy on the laughing Undine. She’s part sea elemental, and as such she is subject to my commands to a limited degree! he thought. I once forced her to back down in a fight, and this time I can’t fail if I hope to save this whole crowd!

As he probed her mind, he found only a bitterness and hatred that surprised him but failed to weaken or deter him. He nodded grimly as the red-haired woman drew back the looming wave and backed away from the room.

“I don’t know how you made me do that, but I won’t be humbled by any frail mortal!” she cried.

Aquaman ran forward and said, “Undine, you are no killer! What’s come over you? Is it the Overlord again?” He referred to the evil genius that once controlled the elemental spirits within four normally honest citizens to turn them into super-villains at his beck and call.

Crystal Marr is a romance novelist with a sweet and loving heart to match! he thought as he tried to grapple with the dodging woman. She would never risk killing so many people just to show off her power! Something is seriously wrong!

Aquaman reached out for her and missed as she used her shape-shifting powers to change from a comely woman to a slippery serpent. A second change enabled her to vanish into the mud and sand outside the old lighthouse as one of innumerable grains of sand. She didn’t accomplish much except to pique my curiosity, he thought.

Seconds later, he spotted the sands rise up to assume the shape of the figure of a woman. He tackled the odd form and found a startled Crystal Marr in his arms.

“Aquaman, what are you doing?” she said as she twisted and turned but failed to escape from him.

“Crystal, you don’t know? You really have no memory of what you did here mere moments ago?” he said, forcing her to submit to his greater physical strength.

“No!” she said. “I was driving to Collinsport up the coast to research local lore for a book I’m doing. I don’t even know how I ended up here and in costume!”

“I think you’re telling the truth,” said Aquaman. “You were so shocked to see me that you didn’t even try to slip away by changing your form like Proteus!”

She nodded and said, “Oh, Aquaman, you don’t think the Overlord is back!”

“If he is, he’ll be sorry!” vowed Aquaman.

Return to chapter list