by Doc Quantum, adapted from Super Friends #7 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon
A strange sight could have been seen on one particular plain in South Africa this hot summer day in January had there been anyone to see it, although if there had been anyone present, they likely would not have seen anything unusual. Perhaps all they would have felt was a slight gust of wind. Only eyes that were attuned to extremely rapid movements could have possibly seen a man dressed all in crimson with a lightning bolt on his chest racing a Zulu in his full, traditional, tribal outfit.
The man in crimson was a Central City police scientist named Barry Allen, who called himself the Flash while wearing this costume, while the Zulu was named Mbulaze, called Impala by his people, for whom he acted as their champion and hero — the only hero, to their reasoning. “Nice running, Impala!” the Flash said to his companion as they sped along the short grasses of the plain. “Not many men could keep up with me!”
Impala laughed and said, “I know you’re not letting yourself go all out, Flash! If you did, I’d be left in a cloud of dust!” This man smiled easily and laughed heartily like a hero of old. “But I have other talents!” he added as a qualifier.
“There’s our target,” the Flash said as they spotted their objective, the culture bomb, which was hovering about three feet above the ground, “a bomb vibrating at super-speed! A couple of speedsters like us should be able to dispose of it!”
“We must!” the hero of the Zulu people declared. “The heritage of the Amazulu and King Shaka must not perish!”
However, as they reached the bomb, and the Flash extended his arms for it while vibrating at the same rate of speed, it began to move away. “No!” he cried, just as he was about to touch it. “It’s rising in the air — out of my reach!”
The two watched the vibrating bomb rise to a level several feet above their heads and tried to figure out a way to get to it. “If there were a wall to run up — a tree, maybe — I might reach it,” the Flash said, scratching his head as he thought. “But jumping that high is out of the question!”
“For you, perhaps, not for me!” Impala said. He laughed again and continued proudly, “Why, last year at a track meet, I shocked the judges of the pole-vault event by easily clearing nineteen feet!”
The Flash looked at him and answered without batting an eye, “So? We don’t have a pole here.”
“That’s what shocked the judges — I didn’t use a pole!” Impala laughed.
“A nineteen-foot high jump?” the Flash realized, now impressed.
“That’s why I’m called Impala,” the Zulu said, “after the antelope which is not only fast, but a champion leaper… like this!” At that, Impala leaped into the air, easily reaching the bomb. “Got it!” he shouted, one arm holding onto the vibrating, metallic object. He attempted to use his weight a couple of times to pull it down. No use. “It won’t budge!”
Impala leaped back down to the ground and addressed his American companion. “No good, Flash! Nothing’s going to bring that thing down to Earth till it’s been deactivated!”
The Flash was not so sure. “I see one chance,” he said. “Can you make that leap with my weight on your shoulders?”
“Of course,” Impala said in his deep voice, “but I can’t stay up there more than a fraction of a second!”
“That may be enough time!” the Flash said as he climbed upon the tall man’s shoulders. “Let’s go!”
“All right, Flash! Hang on!” Impala said as he crouched down and then thrust his powerful legs from the ground, springing himself and the Flash on his back into the air.
The Flash realized that he would not have much time and that this had to work on the first try. As he came into reach of the bomb, the Flash sped his reflexes up to a point where everything seemed to have stopped, as if the world was on pause. Suspended for less than the time it took to blink an eye, the Fastest Man Alive moved his hands at blurring speed across the various wires that made up the bomb. The fact that the bomb itself was vibrating at super-speed only helped him in his own speed.
Finally, in what was less than a fraction of a second, the Flash successfully disarmed the bomb, and he then pushed it away from them with all his might. “Did it! The bomb is harmless!” the Flash shouted. The two heroes landed five feet away from where they had leaped, and for good reason, since now that the bomb had been deactivated there was nothing keeping it up in the air, and the heavy mass of metal landed on the ground below, five feet away from them.
“And I thought I was fast!” Impala shouted incredulously but with a great deal of joy. “Wheee-eeew!”
Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the Thanagarian-born heroes whose true names were Katar and Shayera Hol, had found little difficulty in locating the full-blooded Cherokee heroine known as Owlwoman, as she had made headlines in recent months in her native state of Oklahoma. She was rapidly becoming known over North America as the champion of the American Indians, and although her secret identity of Wenonah Littlebird was unknown by all but a select few, she was trusted by all, both native and non-native. She was dressed in animal skins, with an owl-like cowl; she was in truth the daughter of a true shaman and held the secrets of many generations of Cherokee within her.
Presently the trio of flying heroes made their way to a farmer’s cow-grazing field, where a large, cubed field of pure blackness had grown just above the grasses. “There it is!” shouted Owlwoman over the sound of the wind they flew through. “I was just about to investigate it myself!”
“A block of darkness,” remarked Hawkman, “but without the gravity of the one in Israel we just heard about!”
“Which means there must be some other menace connected with it!” Hawkgirl reasoned.
The trio landed and regarded the all-encompassing darkness. “The trouble is,” said Hawkman as he tried to peer into it, “it’s completely black — not a spark of light in it!”
“Reports say all attempts to shine strong light into it have failed!” said Owlwoman.
“Then there’s no way anyone can see inside it,” said Hawkgirl. “Even an owl can’t see in total darkness!”
“Not an owl…” said the young Cherokee heroine, grinning, “…but Owlwoman can!”
“That’s impossible scientifically,” Hawkman stated.
“My powers are not scientific in nature! Your scientists cannot study the spirit which gave them to me,” Owlwoman said as she took to the air and flew into the darkness. “Come — I’ll guide you!”
“Lead on, then,” said Hawkman, following, “we’re ready for anything!”
“Good,” said Owlwoman as the trio flew into the darkness, adding as she looked ahead, “from what I see, you will need your weapons! We all have some fighting to do!”
At that moment, several slimy tendrils began reaching for each of the flying heroes, although the Hawks could not see them. “Creatures of the dark — things which are part of the gloom — are attacking!” Owlwoman shouted as a warning.
“We can feel them!” cried Hawkman as he readied his mace. “Strike, Hawkgirl!”
Creatures of the blackness clutched the heroes with icy grips, but the Winged Wonders fearlessly struck back against them with their flails, while the amazing Owlwoman slashed them with her clawed gloves. “I will beat you…” she vowed as she battled a lizard-like creature, “…for my ancestors who came here along the Trail of Tears!”
And finally, in the very center of the dark cube, the piercing eyes of the damsel of darkness fixed on the culture bomb. “There it is,” shouted Owlwoman, “follow my voice!” The Hawks did so and made their way to the bomb while still fighting the strange, snake-lizard hybrids that lived within this field of darkness.
“I can feel the bomb,” Hawkman said as his fingers touched metal, “but the creatures won’t let us defuse it!”
“And I haven’t the knowledge for such a task,” said Owlwoman. “Only one thing to do — Hawkgirl and I must guard you till the bomb is deactivated!” And she turned to fight off all their attackers around them.
Hawkman found himself fumbling around the metallic bomb in complete darkness. “It isn’t easy to do this job by touch…” he shouted in frustration, “…but I think… I’m getting… there…”
“Hurry, Katar!” shouted Hawkgirl as a tendril began to wrap itself around her despite her struggles. “Can’t hold them back — much longer!”
“No use…” Owlwoman groaned as she found herself becoming bound by the tendrils, “…can’t beat… all of them!”
Hawkman continued to feel around the wires and equipment as he had been instructed and said, “This is it! Finished!” And as he pulled the last wire out of the bomb, defusing it, it fell to the ground with a thud.
“Fine work, Hawkman!” said the now-freed Owlwoman. “The darkness — and the lizard-creatures within it — are melting away!”
“Darling, I knew you could do it!” Hawkgirl shouted as the tendrils vanished.
“Are you all right, Shayera?” Hawkman said as he reached to embrace his wife.
“Yes, Katar!” Hawkgirl said, hugging him; this had been a close call. “And so is Owlwoman!” Owlwoman just smiled and turned away, giving the couple a moment together.
A figure in a darkened room sat before a monitor screen, intently eyeing the responses returning to his system. A pair of hands worked over the knobs and buttons, allowing for complete and up-to-the-minute data.
“Curses,” the foul figure snarled. “Those interfering heroes have already dismantled four of my bombs!” While one set of hands worked the controls, another right fist shook in anger at the image of the planet Earth on the view-screen.
“I believe I know how they found out about my bombs, but there is no way they will stop them in time! And then I shall have my revenge against Superman and his adopted homeworld!”
He adjusted the controls and brought up an image of a certain satellite orbiting above the Earth. “I will also have my revenge against those who oppose me!” And with that, the alien known as Grax laughed.