In Broome, Nebraska, Captain Comet fought more robots created by a reluctant Will Magnus. He deflected one’s energy blast into the chest plate of a second, even as he ducked beneath the swinging hook of a third.
This team will be scrap metal soon enough, mused Captain Comet. I suspect Will Magnus built in a flaw or two on purpose. If he’s like the one I met, then he’s a clever and moral man.
Comet fell as a robot kicked at him, and he caught a spinning rotor bade with one hand. Twisting it off, he sliced through another robot’s legs with it. “You haven’t a leg to stand on!” he joked.
He then saw the world grow brightly green as a newcomer flew into view, a young woman wearing a very familiar uniform. She smashed the two robots together with a huge and stylishly manicured female hand made of glowing green energy. “Need a hand?” she quipped.
Captain Comet smashed the head off another robot and grinned. “That’s the kind of line I expected, but not from one so pretty.” She wore a black and green costume that Comet knew well. It was the uniform of the galactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. “I’m Captain Comet, and you’re a Green Lantern,” he said. “Odd, but I somehow expected Abin Sur to still be the G.L. of this sector, even on this odd world.”
“It’s odd to you, but we natives like it,” said the Green Lantern as she smoothed down a lock of long brown hair. “Abin Sur was my predecessor,” she said, “and he is still active elsewhere. The Guardians deemed Earth in need of its own Green Lantern, since big plans are in store for this humble mud-ball.”
Captain Comet nodded with interest. “Fascinating. In my time, they were less willing to share at times.”
“I’m Donna Parker, suburban mom of three, and handpicked G.L.,” she explained. “I was asked to wear this skintight suit by the Guardians of Oa. I’m sure you know of them, Captain Comet. I’ve read of your adventures, too.”
“Call me Adam. I could use your help. Could you join my team of Crusaders, at least for now? I know parenthood is demanding and heroic work, too.”
She smiled warmly. “Well, my kids come first, but sure!”
“The robots wanted a comet. It is in the local museum, I assume?” he asked, pointing toward the building across the street.
“Right,” she replied. “It was found and placed in our Space and Natural History Museum a couple decades ago.”
“Well, it’s the object of a quest for power by some deadly men. Together, I hope we can stop them!” he said firmly. He was happy to have gained another ally.
“Those fools ruined my plan!” shrieked Lex Luthor. “I need a robot that can be directed by one with true intellect. That’s where someone other than Magnus is needed. Bring me Dr. Bob Crane!”
General Immortus grinned. “Of course. But the device you had cobbled together from the plans stolen from Caulder looks promising.”
Luthor rubbed his hands together in glee. “Oh, it should be even better after we force Crane to contribute his own talents.”
The newly assembled Comet’s Crusaders also sought Dr. Bob Crane, and they found him in his suburban laboratory.
“If one robotics master has been taken, then perhaps others are in danger, too,” Captain Comet had stated. Thus, he and his five allies journeyed to Crane’s modest lab.
“Dr. Crane? I’m Captain Comet. May we talk to you?” asked Adam Blake, leading Flying Fox, Green Lantern, Aquaboy, Insect Queen, and Superboy inside.
A metal being with a weird smile frozen across its inhuman face loomed in one corner. “I’m Doc Crane. What can I do for you?” it said.
“That… that thing is alive!” said Lana.
“It’s a combination of a human mind, Crane’s, and his robotic body,” explained Comet.
“What brings Comet’s Crusaders to the lab of a humble, if shiny, lab jockey?” asked Robotman.
Superboy extended a hand. “Dr. Crane, we need your help. Magnus has been abducted, and we fear you may also be a target of a deadly foe of mine called Lex Luthor. He’s in league with General Immortus.”
“I’ll help,” said Robotman. “I’ve been fighting crime in my own way for sometime now. I’d be proud to join your club!”
“You’ll make a welcome sixth agent for Captain Comet,” said Aquaboy.
“Indeed!” said Adam Blake, pondering the existence of the Robotgirl that he knew in his own world and time, who now called herself Joan Carter. She had been the lover of the Bob Crane of Earth-Two. Perhaps, he thought, he should take her to visit the Bob Crane of Earth-One when he returned to his own place and time.
Sometime later, fifteen goons burst into the laboratory with high-tech rifles blazing.
“G.L. — shields now! Superboy disarm them!” called Comet, jumping forward.
Donna Parker created a green screen that deflected the energy blasts, admiring Comet’s leadership. What a man! He reminds me of my poor, late Don, she mused.
Flying Fox rolled under the barrage of energy to rise up and kick a goon flat. “Going down,” he joked.
Superboy streaked forward and used heat-vision to turn the rifles red hot. The gang yelped and dropped them in pain. “Now to bowl them over!” he said.
As he moved forward, so did Captain Comet, who fell in his path as a goon lashed out with a left hook. Aquaboy tackled another and slammed him to the ground with stunning force.
Insect Queen spun a silky, yet strong cocoon that imprisoned another thug. She smiled and said, “He’s under wraps!”
Robotman stood impassively and extended his fists to knock two others down. Being on a team could be fun, he mused. He was a very lonely man, trapped as he was in an inhuman shell without much real human contact.
Suddenly, the flash of the now-familiar teleportation ray took him out of sight. The goons vanished, too.
“We had them beat, and they pulled that same stunt again!” said Lana as she stomped one high-heeled foot in anger.
Superboy shook his head. “As Comet told me telepathically, we wanted them to get away. He and Bob planted a surprise in his robotic form last night.”
“So, you wanted them to escape?” asked Donna, the Green Lantern. “How can we rescue poor Bob?”
“We built a receiver in his body last night,” explained Comet. “We can track him down to General Immortus’ headquarters.”
“Plus, we developed a way to block that teleportation ray next time,” said Flying Fox.
Green Lantern nodded. “I only hope I can find a sitter!”
Aquaboy looked grim as Insect Queen put her arm around his broad shoulders. “Arthur, cheer up, we’re going to win!” she said.
He nodded and said, “But what of my brother Orm? He’s the one I care about most. I mean, I want to save Bob and keep your dad safe, too, but I only came to begin with in order to get Orm out of crime!”
Felix Faust was a chilling young man. He addressed Lex Luthor, Orm Marius, and General Immortus with words of scorn. He may have accepted the mission to locate a means of gaining immortality for the old rogue, but he saw it all as means to power for himself.
“I located something better than the Doctor Mist I heard rumors of or the land of the Homo Magi my mentor died trying to find. I found a scroll of power. By reading this spell over the energies of the reassembled comet fragments, I may draw upon a power older than this star-spawned rock. In doing so, you will gain your immortality, and I will gain the power of life and death!”
“You think a bunch of folk tale phrases and a comet will give you such powers?” said Luthor. “I outgrew fairy tales as a toddler.”
Orm said nothing. He and the other uniformed thugs were not truly of any value now that the fragments had been assembled.
“We no longer need the final parts,” said Faust, completely ignoring Luthor’s jibe. “The ones lost in Egypt and still in Nebraska may rot, for all I care!”
“Lex, can Faust invoke his spell even while your device siphons the energy of the comet fragments into my body as you promised?” asked General Immortus. “Thus I can cover all bases. I play it safe, and by means magical or scientific, I live forever!” said the old fiend.
“This fraud may chant and mutter all he wants while I work my equipment,” said Luthor scornfully. “I could use a good laugh.”
“And this preening man of science may twist and turn his precious knobs all he wants while I call upon the dark powers,” said Faust.
“What of Bob Crane?” asked Immortus. “Did you get him to complete the plans you took from Caulder?”
Lex nodded. “I needed his input very little. I’ve grown beyond needing the help of anyone else!”
“Shall I slay him and Magnus?” asked Faust.
“Not yet. I believe in saving my resources,” said Immortus.
“You’ll have plenty of time to save them when you rot in a cell!” shouted Captain Comet as he burst into the base.
“The security — he avoided it!” gasped Immortus.
“Easily done when you have stealth and knowhow!” said Flying Fox.
“Plus, the ants told me the passwords!” said a grinning Insect Queen.
“Get them!” cried Immortus, and Luthor ran for a long hallway.
“Going somewhere, Lex?” asked Superboy as he flew down.
“Going to send you to your grave!” sneered Luthor as he pushed a button.
Faust cursed and began to chant. The room rocked as thugs fell to the punches of Flying Fox and the furious fists of Aquaboy, who desperately fought to reach his brother.
“Orm! Come away with me,” he shouted. “These creeps are your enemies!”
Orm drew a sword. “You’re the one who ruined my life. Father always preferred you!” They began to wrestle with each other.
Donna Parker sent a fan of huge size to blast the goons down. I hope little Charley ate his spinach, she mused.
Insect Queen stung goons as they neared her transformed body. “This works, but it is sooo undignified!” said Lana, blushing.
Captain Comet led Magnus and Robotman to freedom as Bob Crane said, “The signal worked. I’ve also scrambled the teleporter. They won’t go any place with that!”
Comet smiled and said, “Excellent! Now for Immortus!” He approached the old man as the uniformed villain hit a switch.
“The process is not perfected, but I’ll bathe in the comet’s power now or die trying!” he screeched.
Captain Comet saw the energy surround the comet hull and streak toward the old man, whose eyes gleamed eagerly.
“G.L., funnel it into space now!” cried Comet.
Donna Parker whirled and created such a green cone that sent the energies directly into space.
“No! You’ve robbed me of eternal life!” cried Immortus as Captain Comet and Robotman gripped his arms.
“Orm, put down the sword!” pleaded Aquaboy as his ducked a slicing move by his sibling.
Orm Marius shook his head. “Never! I won’t kill you, but I warn you — never cross my path again!” He raced off, and before Aquaboy could follow, Superboy crashed to the ground in his path.
Flying Fox gasped, “What is that?” He pointed to a huge robot in which Lex Luthor rode, gloating triumphantly.
“I took this from a fool called Caulder and made Magnus and Crane modify it with me,” he said, laughing. “It was to be called ROG, but I prefer to call it the machine that killed Superboy!”
“Great Scott!” cried Captain Comet.
The robotic shell that housed Luthor in its head rose up and shattered the roof. Green Lantern and Captain Comet shielded the others as Insect Queen flew the stunned goons to safety outside.
Aquaboy frowned and shouted, “Let me try to slow it down!” He gripped one metal leg and wrenched it apart, even as electricity flooded his body.
“Is he dead?” gasped Donna as she scooped the fallen youth out of the path of the stomping robot.
“No, just shaken!” moaned Aquaboy as he bravely struggled to his feet.
Captain Comet saw Flying Fox kick Felix Faust in the chin. “Just shut up!” said the purple-cowled youth to the chanting man.
“Bah! I’ve failed to summon the arcane might I planned to draw from the comet,” he whined. “Something blocked me at the last second!”
“That would be one who is but a stranger to you and a friend to all in need,” said a darkly cloaked man who stepped from the shadows as Flying Fox led Faust out in cuffs.
“Who are you?” asked young Wayne.
“Men call me the Phantom Stranger,” said the shadowy figure. “I would be one of you for the nonce, though most of the time I ever walk alone.”
Superboy charged the huge robot and pounded against the shielding. “Luthor, you’re crazy!” groaned Superboy, fighting bravely to destroy the machine even as every blow exposed a glowing green kryptonite lining. “The kryptonite lining can kill me, but you can’t beat my friends!”
“If you die, then I’ll be satisfied!” hissed Luthor. “Can’t you understand my hate?”
“No! Only pity you for it!” said Superboy as he plowed underground to emerge with an armor hastily fused out of lead. He spun toward the robot, and the sheer wind force buffeted it back on its treads.
Green Lantern shone a bright light that pulsed and strobed in front of Luthor, who yelled, “Curse you, woman! I can’t see!” He hit a switch, and yellow fire blazed for Donna Parker’s sprightly form.
Flying Fox swung over and carried her to safety as she exclaimed, “My goodness!”
“Comet, Lex watched me like a hawk,” explained Robotman. “All I could do to weaken the ROG bot was to tie its controls to a frequency I can try to dominate.”
“Do it!” said Captain Comet as he blocked the robot’s huge arms from the fallen Superboy.
The Boy of Steel rolled aside and said, “Thanks!”
They flew up, and as Superboy battered the creation, Captain Comet stared at Lex Luthor, sending a mental bolt directly to his mind. The evil teen genius fell out of the control seat as Robotman slowly shut down the device.
“Thank goodness! Hate to see my science used for ill,” said Will Magnus.
Aquaboy shook his head sadly. “It’s over, then. Poor Orm. He’s refused all help.”
Insect Queen cried, “Look at Immortus!”
The old fiend had crawled toward a machine console and now hit a dial. “Farewell!” he cried as he was enveloped in pure energy.
“Stop! The teleportation ray is scrambled!” cried Captain Comet as he and Superboy rushed forward.
They reached the old villain as he turned pale, and his final shriek reached their ears as his molecules scattered into the atmosphere.
“Poor, deluded man,” said Captain Comet. “He wanted to live forever, and perhaps he’ll do so now only as a disembodied energy wraith unable to touch or affect the world around him.”
In the aftermath, they turned toward the shadowy seventh hero called the Phantom Stranger. “I sensed Faust’s dark magicks building and became involved,” he said to Adam Blake. “I brought you here for the purpose of stopping these fiends.”
“Then you can take me back to my own era and world?” asked Captain Comet. The Stranger nodded.
“Wait! Don’t leave!” said Insect Queen.
Green Lantern nodded and rushed into Comet’s arms. “We need you, Adam!” she said. Superboy, Flying Fox, and Aquaboy agreed readily, while Robotman merely listened stoically.
“I believe you are well under way to making a difference,” said Captain Comet, smiling at the team of young heroes. “Another who might help is coming here now.” He pointed to a red spacecraft that appeared on the horizon. It was a replica of his own Cometeer.
“The Captain Comet of this world is back from space,” explained Comet. “Perhaps the energies we deflected into space caught his eye. He can lead you.” He kissed Lana and Donna and shook hands with the boys and Bob Crane. “Now, Stranger, take me home — and thanks,” he whispered.
Adam Blake reappeared on the street in front of Madame Xanadu’s shop, where Zinda Blake awaited him.
“Now you’re back,” said the blonde. “Sorry I kept you. You know how we girls are with our shopping.”
Adam looked in at a smiling Madame Xanadu and turned to his pretty cousin. “No problem. I kept busy. Made a difference, too,” he said with a grin.