Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

Justice Society: Continuations

by Allen Neuner

In current continuity, the Justice Society of America was called before a joint Congressional committee investigating un-American activities and requested to reveal their secret identities so that they could "gain government clearance". Hawkman, as chairman of the JSA, spoke for the group in refusing to reveal their identities to the committee. Upon returning to their headquarters, the JSA disbanded.

The time: 1951. The place: Justice Society headquarters in Gotham City. The Justice Society of America - the Atom, the Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Wonder Woman - have returned after refusing to disclose their true identities to the members of the Un-American Activities Committee. Waiting for them are Hourman, Starman, and Hawkgirl, who have been following the hearings on the radio, and Dr. Fate, who has been monitoring recent events in the Orb of Nabu.

"Don't you think you were being a bit premature, Hawkman?" asked Wonder Woman. "'You will not be hearing from us again'? From what I have heard recently, the Justice Society is needed now more than at any point in our history."

"Polly's right," said Green Lantern. "Several of my best writers and actors have been called before the committee. It made no difference if they cooperated or not - their careers were ruined. Some lucky ones were able to find work in Europe. Some less lucky... Well, you've heard what happened to May Arden, the actress? Or John Stanley, Jr., the award-winning scriptwriter? Those things happened after they had a 'friendly chat' with the committee."

"It's not just artists, Alan," said the Flash. "Some of my scientific colleagues are starting to be called before the committee, too. A lot of them are terrified."

"They should be, Jay," said Hourman. "I went to some socialist rallies in the early 30's. I've already been told that if it weren't for the work Tyler Chemicals did during the war, I'd have been before the committee long before this. Some of my top researchers weren't so lucky. They quit before they could bring more suspicion on Tyler Chem. Thank God none of us have been personally affected by this yet."

"Think again, Rex." Starman's voice was cold and dead. "I have."

"Sorry, Ted. I didn't know."

Hawkman interrupted. "I must ask the members what course the Justice Society is to take. Are we to continue...or are we to disband? If we continue, we will be doing so under the official displeasure of the United States government - "

"No. Not the government," said Dr. Mid-Nite forcefully. "Only the displeasure of those who take delight in, and think they gain power by, crushing the voices of those whose only crime is disagreement. Only little men like Senator O'Fallon, and Senator McCarthy, and their ilk in Congress."

"Whatever the opinions of the honorable Senators, Starman and I will stand again as members of the Justice Society," Hourman declared.

"If what I have seen in the Orb of Nabu is a true vision," said Dr. Fate, "a Justice Society will be needed. As Wonder Woman has said, now more than at any time in the past."

"Doc's Orb has never steered us wrong yet," said the Atom. "I say the JSA goes on!" Everyone else echoed the Atom's sentiment.

Dr. Fate spoke again. "My task here is now complete. I have given the warning of the Orb of Nabu. It is time for me to leave the Justice Society and depart for my Salem tower. The blessing of Amon-Ra be upon you, my friends!" A golden glow began to envelop him.

"Fate, stop!" cried Hawkgirl. "I know the Orb may tell of future perils, but only if those perils include an element of magic. If this is true, if there is magical danger ahead, then the JSA - the whole world - will need the power of Dr. Fate!"

The magician paused, the golden glow fading. His faceless helmet gave no clue to his thoughts as he stood silent for several moments. "You are indeed wise. The Orb does foretell perils where magic is involved. Very well; Doctor Fate will stay, and rejoin the Justice Society.

"But," he continued, "we have need of other valiant and wise comrades in arms. I propose that Shiera the Hawkgirl become a full and active member of the Justice Society of America."

"She's proven herself as our ally many times over," said the Flash. "I think I speak for us all in saying her election will be unanimous. Hawkgirl, will you join our ranks?"

"It's about time - "

"Shiera!" roared Hawkman.

"Oh, Carter, you know it's true. And you know how much I've been looking forward to this day! I'm proud that you all want me to join, especially at this grim time in our history." Hawkgirl folded her wings behind her and moved into the protective crook of Hawkman's outstretched arm. "There's just one change I want to make, though. We're facing a time of trouble, and we need to face it as adults. I'm no longer going to be a Hawk-girl," she said. "I'm a woman warrior, so from now on I'm calling myself - Hawkwoman!"

"Strength in numbers might not be a bad idea," mused Starman. "Lots of us had retired at the end of the war, but some of us are still active. I suggest we fan out, find the other active heroes, and offer them JSA membership. It won't be just for our own good, but theirs too. You know if the JSA was a target, then individual heroes will be targets. They'll need our support getting through this." The others nodded their agreement.

"That settles that," said Hawkman. "Now, we'll need to split up into recruitment teams. Atom, you and - "

"Um, sorry, Hawk," said the Atom. "The JSA will have to go on without me. I've loved every minute of it with you guys, but I've been splitting my time for the last ten years between the JSA, the Army, and my college work. I need to get serious about my post-grad work. All you guys entered the life after you started your outside careers, or else you're millionaires. I started when I was a college freshman. I gotta start working on my own career. I mean, I can't spend the rest of my life in short leather pants and a hooded cape, can I?"

"He's got a point, Carter," said Hawkwoman. "Al, I'll miss you, but I understand. This is something you have to do for yourself."

"Just remember," said Dr. Mid-Nite, "you'll always be welcomed back if you ever miss all this."

"I hope that applies to me as well," said Wonder Woman. "I have been visited in dreams these past nights by the twin goddesses of the Amazons, beautiful Aphrodite and wise Athena. My time in Patriarch's World is coming to a close, and I must return to my duties as queen of Themyscira."

"What will this place be like without you, Polly?" asked the Black Canary sadly. "You were one of my inspirations when I started out, and your going will be a great loss for the JSA."

"Fear not, Dinah," replied the Amazon queen. "The goddesses say I must leave, but also that there must be the continuing influence of an Amazon envoy to Patriarch's World. When I return to Themyscira, they shall assist me in choosing my replacement in that role. You will not be without a Wonder Woman for very long."

And so, after a round of good-byes mingling well-wishing with sadness, the Atom and Wonder Woman took their leave of JSA headquarters. As the doors closed, the remaining heroes looked at each other, then decided their recruiting assignments. When they finished, Hawkman said, "We'll meet here at this time next week with any new members. Good luck to us all! I haven't used this rallying cry since the war ended, but... For America! And democracy!"

********************

At his retreat on the north shore of Long Island, Charles McNider was enjoying Sunday breakfast with his houseguest. "I'll be leaving for Philadelphia tomorrow morning on my JSA recruiting drive. Will you be staying here for the week?"

"No. I have to be back at the base tomorrow myself. Mac... I've told you there are crackdowns coming in the Army. They're not just hunting Communists, either... Men like us. Women, too."

"We'll get by. We just have to continue to be extremely discreet, the way we always have. We made it all through the war years, didn't we? And a few years before that, too." Charles smiled warmly at the man across the table.

"They needed manpower during the war, and they weren't fussy about how they got it. Now it's going to be hell. Too many in the service are going to be ruined by all this...this witch-hunting. But, Mac..."

"Yes?"

"I don't understand. You could have walked out with the others yesterday. You've always wanted to spend more time on your medical career, your research. You could even have continued your nightly rounds, if you wanted. Why did you decide to stay?"

"Remember Niemoller? 'And then they came for me...'? I'm doing it for all those men and women who are going to be hurt, so they'll know they're not alone. And I'm doing it for us."

"That's the man I love. What about your Justice Society buddies? Do they know yet?"

"Fate knows; he knows everything. The Spectre, too. I think Hippolyta guessed long ago; she once told me that some of her sister Amazons chose each other as loving companions, and that some of those choices lasted until one of the partners died. And, God love her, Abigail Hunkel knew."

"Abigail...?"

"The Red Tornado. Not much book learning, but loads of heart. God rest her soul. The cancer was too far spread for me to help."

"So when will you tell them? About yourself? About us?"

"About myself? If the subject ever arises. About us? When we don't have to worry about your military career anymore. Now help me clean this up. It looks like it'll be warm enough for a last swim before we have to close up."

********************

"A fine performance tonight, Mr. Sanders." Dinah Drake settled down across the table. "Thank you for accepting my dinner invitation."

"Thank you, ma'am," replied Greg Sanders, the man known as the "Prairie Troubadour" to most of the world. "Singin' used to be my whole world, until my father died."

"I've heard about that...and about what you did after his death." Dinah took a sip of her wine.

"You mean my movie career?"

"No, Mr. Sanders. I mean your other career. The one with the guns and the lasso and the motorcycle."

Greg glanced quickly from side to side, then looked closely at his companion. "You don't look like anyone I remember from that career..."

Dinah laughed. "You men! I swear, you never look at a woman's face! Look closely, and imagine me with long blonde hair."

After a moment, it was Greg's turn to laugh. "You got me, ma'am! Now I remember a pretty bird with dark feathers. What brings you to Texas? Aside from my show, that is."

"I've heard that you're still working at your other career, even after your group folded. Is that true?"

"Yes, Miss Drake - "

"Please, call me Dinah, Mr. Sanders."

"And I'm Greg. It's true, I'm still keepin' my skills sharp ever since the Seven Soldiers disbanded. But it's startin' to get lonesome out there on my own. My sidekick just started college this year. Harvard Business School! Can you believe it?"

"Good for him! But let me get down to my own business. I may just be able to help you with that lonesome feeling."

"Dinah, you're one fast-workin' woman! I'm open to any honest offer."

********************

"By the way, thanks for letting me tag along. Will you be able to see through the smoke of my blackout bombs?"

"My eyes see in infra-red as well as the visible spectrum. Why haven't you made this offer to me before?" The metallic voice displayed no sign of emotion, but even a blind man could sense a sting of annoyance.

"I hate to say it, but the JSA has never recruited before. Everyone who's joined asked to join. Weakness on our part, I think, but there it is. It has nothing to do with you personally." The doctor was using his best bedside manner, even while keeping watch over the diamond district from the rooftops.

"I suppose that explains why the JSA was always so small in numbers. So you'd like me to join?" The electronic eyes searched for small signs of movement in the darkened stores.

"I hope you accept our offer, Robotman. I'm no psychologist, but I studied my All-Star Squadron companions. If you don't mind my saying so, you always seemed more...content, shall we say, when you were in a group than when you worked solo. Am I right?"

"You're only asking me so I won't feel alone, is that it?"

"Not really, but I thought it might sweeten the deal. You've heard about the JSA's meeting with Congress. You know what the committee's doing to anyone who doesn't fit its narrow little vision of this country. A metal man with a human brain definitely doesn't fit. None of us in this business do. I think we'll be better off together than alone. What do you think?"

"It's about time."

"Funny, that's what Hawkgirl said when we asked her. Sure you two aren't related?"

"Let's discuss family trees later, Doctor. We have a robbery to break up. Three doors down on the right. Business before pleasure, I always say."

********************

"A recruitment drive, Jay?"

"Yes, Andrew, and it's our first, so forgive me if I'm not more polished at this." Jay Garrick took a sip of his drink. "We're not here just so Joan can trade gardening tips with Martha - although that's been part of our visits since before any of us were married."

"Oh, Jay, really!" Joan Garrick rolled her eyes. "You make us sound like two middle-aged biddies!"

"Two, definitely. Middle-aged, one day. But biddies, never." Andrew Dane kissed his wife Martha, who was still a new enough bride to blush. "Are you asking for both Doll Man and Doll Girl, Jay?"

"Yes, if you're both willing. But it's not a deal-buster if one of you decides to opt out."

Andrew gave a big smile. "We'd be glad to join, Jay, both of us."

Martha interrupted her husband with a smile of her own. "Darling, I didn't have a chance to tell you this earlier, but I'm going to retire. If you want to join the JSA, go with my blessings."

"Bur why, honey? Doll Man and Doll Girl have always been a team. I'd feel like I was deserting you, leaving you all by yourself."

"That's the reason, Andy. In about eight months, I won't be all by myself when you're not at home."

Andrew looked like he'd been hit in the face with a brick. "You mean... We're... It's... I'm going to be... Martha, honey!" He gave his wife a big bear hug, then jumped back. "Oh, honey! I didn't mean to squeeze you like that! Are you okay? I didn't hurt the baby, did I?"

Martha laughed, and Jay and Joan joined in. "No, love, we're both all right. But now you understand why Doll Girl is hanging up her tights."

"Are you sure you'll be all right with my joining the Justice Society?"

"Yes, I am. You'll be doing what you love, and you won't be going crazy worrying about me and the baby!"

Andrew turned back to Jay. "So who else is in?"

"Dinah, Charles, Alan, me, Carter and Shiera. Rex and Ted Knight have re-upped. So has Kent. Al and Polly decided to quit. We're asking some others, but I don't know who's said 'yes' yet."

"Al's retiring? In that case, there's something I've been thinking of doing, and this is the perfect chance."

"What's that?" Joan asked.

"Change my name! 'Doll Man' was my second choice. I wanted to call myself 'the Atom' but Al got there first. Now I have the chance to change to what I wanted in the first place. You think he'll mind?"

"I think he'll be delighted at the tribute," answered Jay. "Sounds like the JSA will have an Atom after all!"

"Fine, darling," said Joan. "Now, Martha, about those Peace roses along the fence..."

********************

Woodley Allen, bureau chief for the FBI, was polite. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Green Lantern. It seems to be my lot to work with mystery men. When I first started out, I was liaison in Opal City for Starman. I haven't heard about him for a long while now. Do you know how he's doing?"

"He's in mourning - a recent death in the family," replied Green Lantern. "But that's not who I'm here to talk about. I understand you're now liaison for someone called Plastic Man."

"Please give Starman my condolences. And yes, I am. He's one of our best agents."

"Always glad to hear you say that, Chief!" A red wastebasket with a yellow stripe quivered and stretched into the form of a lanky man wearing sun goggles and a red outfit with a yellow belt.

"And here he is now. Green Lantern, I'd like to introduce Plastic Man."

The two shook hands. "Call me Plas! Everyone does. What can I do you for, GL?"

"I'd like to offer you membership in the Justice Society, Plas. Think you'd be interested?"

"No," said Allen abruptly. "Sorry, Green Lantern. FBI policy towards meta-human agents is that they cannot belong to outside meta-human groups. This comes all the way from the top. Besides, isn't the JSA under suspicion from the Joint Congressional Un-American Activities Committee? We couldn't possibly have any of our agents tainted by association with you." As he talked, Allen wrote on a memo pad.

"But, Chief - Well, what if I quit?" Plastic Man asked. "I mean, this is a once-in-a-lifetime dream, the numero uno group, the big time! It's the JSA!"

"We've invested too much in your training to just let you walk out. You're too valuable an asset to the bureau to be let go." Allen pushed the pad across his desk so that Plastic Man and Green Lantern could read it. Their eyes widened as they saw the note: "Hoover's paranoid about this - Wants our metas to spy on other metas - Only thing he hates worse is bad publicity for the FBI - I think this office is bugged."

"I understand the bureau's position, Mr. Allen. I hope you understand mine," said Green Lantern as his power ring made the note pad disappear. "I happen to know that Plas here started out as a crook in his other identity. In fact, if I recall correctly he was on your Most Wanted list for a couple of years - while he was working for you! You know that I have many contacts in the news media, especially at Gotham Broadcasting. It would really be a shame if I happened to let slip that one of the FBI's Most Wanted was an agent at the same time, and your bureau didn't even know about it. Wouldn't it?"

Woodley Allen relaxed, a big smile on his face. "How dare you blackmail us in this manner, Green Lantern!" he bellowed. "That was a closely guarded secret! No wonder the JSA is under investigation! You people think you can dispense your vigilante justice and dig around classified information with no respect for the law!" Allen reached out and shook first Green Lantern's hand, then Plastic Man's. "You leave me no choice but to expel Plastic Man, despite the cost to the taxpayers, to avoid bringing unnecessary scandal to the bureau! Get out, both of you, and don't ever come to us for any favors again!" Allen mouthed "I'll keep in touch! Good luck, Plas!" as the two heroes prepared to leave the office.

********************

"And that's the news for this evening. For KLAX-TV in Los Angeles, this is Libby Lawrence wishing you a good night, and a better tomorrow."

"Aaaand...that's a wrap! Great job, baby, as always!" John Chambers walked over to the news set and gave his wife a peck on the cheek.

"I swear, Johnny, you've taken to TV news directing better than you ever did to newsreel work! Tubby...would have been proud of you."

"Yeah, I know. One of these days I gotta dig into where he went. Here one day, gone the next, no notice, no nothing. I don't get it. What could have - "

"Maybe we could shed some light on what happened to Theodore 'Tubby' Watts - that is, if you're free this evening." Carter and Shiera Hall walked over to the set where John and Libby were. "Good to see you back on top, Libby, and great to see how well you're both taking to this new television thing."

Later, over coffee in the Hall's hotel room, John turned serious. "You said before you could shed some light on what happened to Tubby Watts?"

"Yes," replied Shiera. "You might not have known, but about two weeks before he disappeared Tubby was summoned to Washington."

"He told me he had some sort of job interview there."

"It was an interview, all right, but not for a job. The Joint Congressional Un-American Activities Committee wanted to interview him - in private. One of my college friends works for Senator O'Fallon; she was pulled in to take notes. She told me they went right to work on him. They had membership lists and visitor rosters from socialist and communist front groups all over the country, with 'T. Watts, Hollywood' on them. That meant he was a courier between these groups, they said. They wanted names and addresses of his contacts." Shiera paused and Carter took over.

"He said he hadn't even heard of most of those groups. He could provide some evidence - hotel bills, expense account vouchers, phone records - for some of the dates, but not all. The committee claimed that was proof he was lying. He was threatened with contempt of Congress and given a month to come up with the information they wanted."

John groaned. "But why didn't he come to us? Me, his best friend, and my wife? It couldn't be because he was ashamed, and it couldn't be because he didn't trust us - "

Libby jumped in. "No. It's because he was trying to shield us. As an investigative reporter, I've been ruffling government feathers since before the war, remember? I'd be a juicy target for this committee, as would my husband, guilty by association. He didn't want us to put ourselves in danger by trying to stick up for him...so he just vanished from the face of the earth. That's it, isn't it, Carter?"

"Yes. You know even the Justice Society has been under suspicion, but we've decided to go on. We'd like Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle to join us."

Libby glanced at John, then faced the Halls. "We'd like to, especially after what you've told us tonight. But we're not going to. Johnny and I have been working on an expose about the committee and its tactics. We're doing a lot of the legwork for Ed Murrow, who'll be presenting it when the time is right. We feel it will do more good in the long run if, instead of putting on colorful costumes and using our powers, we use our civilian occupations to educate the people and expose O'Fallon and McCarthy and the rest for what they are. We hope you understand."

"Of course we do," said Shiera.

"Any time you need info," said John, "just let us know. Our contacts around the world will be at your disposal. Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle have hung up their costumes, but John Chambers and Libby Lawrence are still in there fighting."

********************

"I must admit you're not the one I expected to find behind this doorway." Helena of Themyscira stepped through the portal from the royal palace to an unusual landscape of pathways, bridges, and staircases, some of which seemed to be moving. "I was told that Queen Hippolyta sent word to Doctor Fate, asking him to give the new Wonder Woman guidance and instruction on her journey to Patriarch's World." She walked alongside a slender red-haired woman.

"And Doctor Fate is here. At least, part of Doctor Fate." The woman smiled, her green eyes glittering. "I am called Inza. When Hippolyta knew Doctor Fate, he was the union of the mortal Kent Nelson and Nabu the Wise, a lord of Order. But Kent, my husband, did some research into the lords of Order and their mortal hosts. It seems that Nabu had been...shall we say, frustrated? - in his dealings with his former hosts, and neglected to tell Kent one secret. Doctor Fate would be powerful, but without this secret he could never attain his full power and Nabu could maintain control."

"And this secret? Or should I not know?" asked Helena.

"I think the secret of Doctor Fate will be safe with the Amazon envoy. It is this: Doctor Fate was always meant to be the union of mage, animus...and anima. The spirit of magical knowledge, the male principle, and the female principle. Kent told me once that, before he and I first met, Nabu described me as 'the treasure worth having for a lifetime unending'. Kent thought it meant we were fated to be lovers, but Nabu knew it meant a more intimate union than that." A bitter look flashed across Inza's face. "There were times when Kent nearly died because he didn't know this."

"You honor me with your trust, Inza. What do you wish to know about me?"

"Hippolyta gave me some of the basics. Your goddesses have given you the gift of flight, and strength surpassing all Amazons before. You have been given the golden lasso, too. But you had to pass some tests to win the position... Tell me about those."

Helena thought back - was it only last week? "There were two sets of trials. The first were tests of strength and skill devised by my sisters. Lifting great weights. Jumping. Bullets and bracelets. Wrestling. Acrobatics. Many more. After that came a series of tests devised by the goddesses. I can say no more about them, except that while Wonder Woman may need strength and skill, the ambassadress of the Amazons must also have wisdom and confidence, composure and compassion."

"They sound like formidable tests indeed. What happened after they were done?"

"After I was proclaimed victor, I was given other gifts. My sisters in the royal guard worked under the guidance of Hephaestus to create a golden suit of armor, a shield, and a sword which can split atoms or slice marble yet never grow dull. The queen herself wove a ceremonial cloak of finest wool to complement my uniform, for which she herself designed the changes. I am truly honored above all my sisters, and hope I may prove worthy."

Inza studied the shy, dark-haired young woman. "I think you will. You know, you look very much like Hippolyta when she first appeared. The Justice Society is used to working with another Wonder Woman, and they may forget you are not Hippolyta; help them see the Helena within the Wonder Woman. Hawkwoman and the Black Canary will be able to teach you more of the ways of the JSA and Patriarch's World. And remember that whenever you see Doctor Fate, I who am your first guide and friend in your new life will be there within him. Now, we have a long journey before us, and you must have many questions..."

********************

"But why not, Sandra?" Ted Knight was starting to pace the floor of his cousin's Washington apartment.

"It's like I told Daddy. I'm getting married, and I'm moving out of the country."

"You're a lousy liar. You might fool your father, but you were never able to fool me. What's the real story?"

Sandra Knight, the Phantom Lady, pushed a button on her watch. "All right. The room's clean, at least for the next ten minutes. You can't tell anyone what I'm telling you, Ted. I'm going undercover. I've been recruited by - no, I can't tell you any more. But I want to do this. I'm tired of running around in that sprayed-on yellow outfit, freezing my you-know-whats in the winter and burning them in the summer. What I'm not tired of is the life. This is a chance not only to stay in the game, but to do it without having to hide my brains behind my boobs."

"That sounds more like the cousin I know!" Ted leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. "When do you leave?"

"Soon, very soon. You may not be hearing from me for a long time. But wait, I have something for you."

"A going-away gift? Aren't we doing this backwards?" Ted grinned.

"Oh, shush! This isn't for you, it's for Doc Mid-Nite. It's my black light ray. I know he's got his blackout bombs, but the ray goes them one better. Not only can it create a zone of darkness, it absorbs energy. And if you internalize the ray, it renders you invisible. He should be able to get some use out of it!" Now it was Sandra's turn to grin, but her serious look returned quickly. "Take care of yourself, Ted. We may have been opposites as heroes - me using shadows, you using starlight - but we were always on the same side. Love you, Teddy!"

"Love you back, Sandy. I know it'll be hard, but find a way to let me know you're all right."

********************

"I must ask thee to leave, stranger. My steed is unwell."

Rex Tyler's eyes were still adjusting to the dim light of the stables. "Justin? Don't you remember me? Oh, right, we didn't work together often, and you wouldn't recognize me without my costume. I'm Rex Tyler...Hourman."

"From the All-Star Squadron? Aye, now do I remember. Thou had'st a problem with thy potion of power, I recall. Hast finally overcome it?" Justin stepped forth from the shadows, leading a winged horse.

"Verily - I mean, yes, I have. The addiction problem is gone, and I've refined the formula so it only works with my own body chemistry. Is Victory really sick?"

"Nay, but I had not covered his wings ere I knew I was not alone. What brings you hither, man of the hour? Not new perils, I trust?"

"Actually, good news - for both of us, I hope. The Justice Society is inviting you to join. There are going to be tough times ahead, even for a knight in shining armor. There's safety in numbers, and you've been working solo since the Seven Soldiers broke up. What do you say?"

"Had you come even a few days before, I would have accepted, and gladly. But my liege lord, George the Sixth, did contact me yesterday. My king hath charged me to lead a company of heroes chosen from among the war-torn lands of Europe. This day have I said him 'yea', and the time of my departure draws near. Besides," he added, his face softening, "I would see my native land at peace once more. Too long have I been on these shores, and though many are accounted my friends here, my heart lies ever in the realm where noble Arthur once was king."

"I understand," replied Rex. "I may not always show it, but I know about duty and loyalty...and a little about homesickness, too. I can't fault your choice, Sir Justin. Just know that the Justice Society will come if you ever need our help."

"As doth the Shining Knight pledge his strong right arm, as your need requires. It would have been a mark of honour to strive with you 'gainst evil as we did in times past. But now I must prepare my faithful Victory for the trip. May fortune smile upon you, friend Tyler, and all those in your Society!"

********************

"That's everyone, then," said Hawkman after the last report was given. "Out of the nine heroes we contacted, four said yes. With the nine of us here, plus Wonder Woman, that makes fourteen...a good number."

"Better than thirteen, anyway," said Hawkwoman.

"Actually, I was contacted by a possible fifteenth member, if we'll have her. I asked her to come by at about the time the other new members arrived. I promised to keep her identity a secret until then." Black Canary looked around at her fellow members, who nodded agreement.

"It's time," said Dr. Mid-Nite, "for our new members to take their seats at the table." At a gesture from Dr. Fate, the huge oak doors to the waiting room opened, and the new members - the Vigilante, Robotman, the Atom, Plastic Man, and Wonder Woman - entered and stood behind their chairs, waiting to be sworn in. But before Hawkman could start the ceremony, there was a knock at the outer door.

"That must be our possible fifteenth. I'll let her in," said Black Canary. As she opened the doors, in walked a woman in jester's garb, idly strumming the strings of a mandolin.

"The Harlequin!" yelled Green Lantern. "What do you think you're doing here?"

"Applying for membership," replied the saucy redhead. "You may not know it, but I was working for the FBI - hi, Plas! - all through the war years and after the war, as a double agent. Agent H-9, that's what they called me. Doesn't show much imagination, I'd say! Anyway, after that little go-round you had with them over Plastic Man, some of the higher-ups threw a fit and terminated the bureau's use of any meta. Cut off their nose to spite their face, I guess. So I was let go. A little bird named Woodley told me you were recruiting, so I contacted the Canary and here I am. Besides, I figured you could use my help here, Alan."

Green Lantern paled slightly. "Alan? What are you talking about, Harlequin? My name isn't - "

"Oh, it most certainly is. Alan Scott. I figured it out long ago, but decided not to say anything until you figured out who I was. Well, I can't wait forever. You rely on me at GBS, and you probably need me just as much here in the JSA." The Harlequin took off her glasses. "Recognize me now?"

"Molly? Molly Maynne? But it can't be, you're my secretary! I would've noticed - "

"You men!" said the Harlequin. "I swear you never look - "

" - At a woman's face!" Black Canary joined in, glancing at the Vigilante.

At first the other JSA members were silent. Then a low rumbling sound came from behind Dr. Fate's blank-faced helmet - laughter! Hawkwoman started giggling. Flash, Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite - they all joined in until the room was filled with laughter. All of them, that is, except Green Lantern, who muttered, "I knew it was her all the time."

"Do we really need to put this to a vote?" asked Hawkman through tears of laughter.

"NO!" thundered back the rest of the Justice Society.

"Then take a seat, Harlequin," invited Starman, "and welcome to the JSA!"

********************

Later that morning, the new members were sworn in and given a tour of the headquarters. That same afternoon...


JUSTICE SOCIETY EXPANDS MEMBERSHIP
ENLARGED GROUP PLANS TO CONTINUE
DESPITE OFFICIAL DISFAVOR

By Perry White, Daily Planet staff reporter

GOTHAM CITY, June 6 - This afternoon, the Justice Society of America held a rare press conference, their first since the end of World War II, at their headquarters in this city. The JSA, which came under scrutiny recently by the Joint Congressional Un-American Activities Committee, announced the continuation of their mission and a shake-up in the membership of what many consider to be the premiere hero team.

Hawkman, current chairman of the Justice Society, spoke for the group. In a brief statement, he explained that the members of the team had refused to reveal their secret identities to the Committee, believing that information to be private and to have no bearing on their past record or current performance. Hawkman pledged that the JSA would continue to uphold the cause of truth and justice for which the group had always striven.

After Hawkman's statement, the other members of the Justice Society stepped forward to introduce themselves. Along with current members Black Canary, Doctor Mid-Nite, Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, the line-up includes:

  • Returning members Doctor Fate, Hourman, and Starman.

  • Hawkwoman, the former Hawkgirl, who has been Hawkman's partner of long standing.

  • A new Atom, formerly Doll Man, who can shrink to a height of six inches while retaining his full strength.

  • The Harlequin, wielder of illusion-casting glasses and a mandolin full of tricks. A former adversary of Green Lantern, the Harlequin's membership status will be determined following a review by the FBI of her recent activities.

  • Plastic Man, a former FBI operative, who can stretch and reshape his elastic body into hundreds of different forms.

  • The Vigilante, who brings the weapons of the Wild West into play against modern-day lawbreakers.

  • Robotman, whose metal body houses a human brain. Those with long memories can recall the dramatic trial at which Robotman was declared to be as fully human as people with artificial limbs or other prosthetic devices.

  • A new Wonder Woman, emissary from the Amazons of Themyscira, who replaces Queen Hippolyta in her roles as both hero and ambassador. (Her Majesty and the new Wonder Woman are not related.)

In response to reporters' questions, it was announced that both Hippolyta and the original hero known as the Atom had decided to resign in order to pursue private concerns, and that they were neither asked to leave nor forced to resign from the Justice Society.

When asked to comment on today's press conference, Senator Robert O'Fallon, head of the Un-American Activities Committee, said, "The members of the so-called Justice Society continue to consider themselves somehow above the law. Hawkman and his JSA comrades hide behind masks, refusing to let your representatives in Congress know their true identities. No loyal American has any need to act in this manner, and no true American heroes would associate with known felons like the Harlequin. My committee will be asking hard questions about the dangers of vigilante justice - the JSA's brand of justice - in a free society."

At the Justice Society's press conference, it was also revealed that renovations of their brownstone headquarters building were being carried out. These renovations include the upgrade of security systems; refurbishment of private quarters for the members' use; and an expansion and rearrangement of public areas, including the JSA museum and visitors center. Work is expected to be completed by mid-autumn, with the public areas scheduled to re-open for the start of the holiday season. Funding for the renovations is being provided by grants from the Dodds-Belmont Charitable Trust and the Terrence Sloane Foundation.

[Editor's note: See this Sunday's Planet magazine for an exclusive color photo spread of the new Justice Society in their Gotham City headquarters. Also, tune in Tuesday night when "The Daily Planet of the Air" has an interview with the JSA's female members, hosted by Libby Lawrence. Check your local paper for time and station.]

Allen Neuner has a blurb.

 
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