Coutour Wear at Kingswear!
The colorful banner proclaimed the name and theme of Ginger O’Shea’s annual fashion show in the United Kingdom. The successful black-haired beauty had made a name for herself around the globe, and thus she could afford to hold such events at places that either appealed to her puckish sense of humor or were otherwise usually in terms of location or venue.
A series of large tents had risen across the central area near the Dart Estuary near the Dart River at the town of Kingswear, and it was within one such tent that rows of designer dresses and numerous impatient models waited for the show to begin.
One stylish woman in the crowd outside the first tent had the looks and beauty of a supermodel in her own right. Dorcas Leigh, the heroine of Great Britain known as Godiva, looked every inch the glamor girl as she sat on a chair in the sun and gazed around the area through dark glasses. She wore a short black dress with a plunging neckline and an intricate spider-web pattern of crossing straps that formed the upper back of the revealing outfit. A pair of black slingback high heels completed her look.
Azzedine Alaia may be my favorite designer, but he’s not called the “King of Cling” for nothing! This fabric fits like a shrunken glove! she thought as she shifted her weight uneasily and crossed her legs.
Dorcas then frowned as she heard a loud crash from within the tent. Ignoring the startled noises from the other attendees, the pretty blonde woman hurried across the landing and entered the tent, where she saw screaming models diving for cover as battle raged within the now-chaotic tent.
Godiva saw a pair of costumed men in blue-gray and red-green costumes diving away from a raging blast of fire generated by a woman in a brief red costume. That’s Batman and Robin — the real ones, too! she thought. I can tell by the way they move! If I’m not daft, that’s Ginger O’Shea beneath that mask. I think I read something about her being a super-duper type in one of the files at Global Guardian Headquarters!
Turning around, she quickly slipped out of the designer dress and kicked off her heels. Don’t have my costume with me, since I couldn’t very well conceal it beneath that skimpy number! thought Godiva. I guess I’ll just go into action in my scanties and hope none of the Fleet Street vultures get in with their cameras!
Indeed, the dynamic duo had arrived moments before to talk to Ginger O’Shea, who was secretly the elemental known as the Salamander when the fiery designer had literally ignited her body in a burst of flames that left her costume revealed to all and sent the models scampering around the tent in fear.
“Batman and Robin!” cried the Salamander. “Your colorful names are fitting, but hardly daunting to one who may burn either of your namesakes as easily as she might char your bones to ashes!”
“Ginger, I know from experience with the Sylph that there’s no use reasoning with you,” said Batman. “Because of that, I’ll just have to take you down without any preliminaries!”
Robin sliced open a side of the tent and bowed low as he ushered the frightened models to safety. “I knew supermodels were hot, but this is a bit extreme!” he punned.
Godiva noticed the last of the models depart, and then she concentrated for a moment. Her uncanny ability to alter the texture, length, and formation of her incredibly durable and responsive hair allowed her to instantly elongate several locks of her blonde hair with the precision of a marksman.
“Cor! I’ve heard you Yanks hold what you call fire sales in the States, but I can’t see any profit in the bloomin’ thing!” she said as she deliberately assumed the faux Cockney diction she used while in public as Godiva.
“Godiva! You’re just the girl to help us untangle this situation!” said Robin as he hurled a rope at the Salamander, only to see her turn it to smoldering ashes with a blink of her eyes.
The British super-heroine smiled and shaped her hair into a spinning fire that blew out some of the smaller blazes. “You’ll turn a girl’s head, you will!” she said.
“I’ll turn your head for you!” hissed the Salamander. “I’ll turn it on a roasting spit!” She grew larger as her body’s fiery composition swelled up along with the intensity of her blaze.
“She’s needs to breathe in order to fight,” said Batman. “Just like her flames die without air, so will she pass out if cut off from oxygen!” He whipped out a couple of pellets from his utility belt, even as Godiva flew out of the tent on wings of hair.
The Salamander laughed with a sound like coals crackling and said, “Your pretty ally didn’t want to get her nice long locks singed!”
But before she could attack the caped crusaders, Godiva returned at top speed and slapped the other woman with an engulfing cascade of hair. Water splashed everywhere as Godiva’s soaking wet tresses doused the startled Ginger O’Shea.
“Had to scamper off and soak me curlies in the Dart River!” explained Godiva.
Batman leaped forward and held the gas pellet under the Salamander’s face as the other woman gasped for air and tried to reignite her now-flooded form. When she fainted, Batman signaled a thumb’s-up gesture to Godiva and Robin. “Great work!” he said. “She’s helpless now! My thanks, Godiva!”
Godiva smiled as she withdrew her hair and spun it around to try to dry it. “Glad to help, mate!” she said. Sniffing her hair as she drew it around her body, she said, “Cor! It’ll take me hours to wash the smoke smell out of me hair!”
Aquaman and the Wonder Twins were equally successful in locating chemist Grant Arden, and much like their fellow Super Friends, they were also soon engaged in a heated battle with his elemental alter ego, the Gnome.
The scene of battle occurred within Manhattan’s Hamilton Convention Center where Arden Chemicals had scheduled an annual conference for its board of directors. Aquaman had barely had time to clear his throat when Grant Arden exited the closed paneled meeting room to answer his request for a meeting.
“Grant, I’m here about your other self,” he said. “I need you to come with us back to the Hall of Justice!”
“Don’t presume to give orders to an elemental,” said Grant. “I’m more than capable of leaving you to rot like a fish on the sand, Sea King!” He gestured, and his lodestone-like powers over Earth and metal sent the nails and braces and every other metallic item in the room rocketing at the heroes.
“Suffering Shad!” cried Aquaman. “Protect yourselves, kids!” He knocked away some of the projectiles and noticed with satisfaction that Zan and Jayna were already taking proper actions. They had touched hands immediately prior to entering the center, so now all they had to do was concentrate on the forms they wished to take.
“Form of a storm cloud!” said Zan as his lithe form turned into a filmy cloud that hovered in the middle of the room and then unleashed a blazing bolt of lightning that struck the Gnome and drove him backward.
The Gnome cursed and said, “Bah! You play with shapes, while I carry the raw power of the Earth!” He fell again as Aquaman tackled him, but the Gnome returned to his feet with a spring-like movement that sent Aquaman flying into the wall. “I cannot be remove from Earth or any surface, if that is my will!” he said, pummeling Aquaman with his super-strength even as Zan tried to blast him with another bolt.
“Form of a gorilla!” cried Jayna, and the pretty alien girl shifted into a hairy gorilla and pounded the Gnome with her long and powerful arms.
The Gnome touched her with one hand and smiled as she found herself trapped in a yellowish substance. “My transmutation power allows me to turn the very air around you into solid amber!” he said with a harsh laugh.
“She can’t breathe!” cried Zan. He blasted at the amber with his electric bolts even as Aquaman rose up and connected with a stunning punch that knocked the Gnome cold.
“He’s out, but he won’t fall! His power keeps him standing!” said Jayna as she emerged from her shattered amber prison.
“He was a tough character!” said Aquaman. “I am a bit surprised I was able to knock him out. Superman said he resisted his blows once before!”
Zan grinned and said, “You just got the drop on him!”
Aquaman narrowed his eyes and said, “Maybe, but something doesn’t feel right about this!”
Back at the Hall of Justice, the Super Friends gazed down at the captive Elementals. Each one had been placed inside a stasis chamber like those from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
“They can’t do any harm while they are trapped like that, but they are good people under normal circumstances, and even the elementals that power them mean well,” said Superman. “Obviously, we have to free those same spirits from the evil magic-user that is controlling them and their human hosts!”
“Well, I guess we know where to find this mysterious being,” said Aquaman. “When I made brief mental contact with the Undine due to her link to all things from the oceans, I saw the mental image of the place known as the American Stonehenge!”
“Of course! That ancient archeological site near North Salem, New Hampshire, is a storied place,” said Batman. “Legends connect it with many supernatural or mystical occurrences!”
“I suggest we go there,” said Wonder Woman. “A direct confrontation with our unseen foe may be the only way to resolve things and enable our friends to resume their interrupted lives!”
The others nodded in agreement, and the Super Friends made a few final preparations before leaving their Gotham City base.
Soon, Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Undine, the Salamander, the Sylph, and the Gnome stood together within the Oracle Chamber in North Salem’s ancient series of manmade mazes known as the American Stonehenge.
“I’m sure glad the Elementals were back to normal when we freed them from those stasis chambers, or we would have had a big brawl on our hands!” said Robin.
“Remember, old chum, they’ve been returning to normal after each attack,” said Batman. “The only question is, how long will they be free this time?”
A blinding bolt of mystical energy erupted from the center of the ancient stones, and even Superman staggered from the sheer force. “Great Krypton!” he cried. “This is the magical attack we expected!”
A humanoid figure loomed above them, but his transparent form indicated that he was merely a spirit or ghost.
“Simon Magus!” said Batman, recognizing him. “I should have expected the JLA’s oldest magical-based enemy to behind this!”
[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One version of this story, upon which the Earth-Twelve version is based, is “Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers,” Justice League of America #2 (December, 1960-January, 1961).]
“He fought the League long ago, but ended up trapped within another magical dimension,” said Aquaman. “It makes perfect sense that he could only work against us through other beings! No doubt something about their magical elemental natures allowed him to tap into and control the spirits within the Elementals without leaving his prison realm!”
Simon Magus laughed and glared down at them with angry eyes. “You have correctly deduced my ploy. Still, it matters little, since I have won or soon will do so! I had to use the Elementals to deliberately seek you out and draw you into conflict. That was necessary in order to get you all together, and I planted the images of this place in Aquaman’s mind. His unique link to one of the prime elemental forces — water — allowed me to do so!”
“You allowed Gnome to fall when I hit him!” said Aquaman. “You helped me knock him out! This was a setup to lead us all here!”
“You want to tap into the ancient magics of this place to free yourself!” said Wonder Woman.
“That is and ever has been my goal since I was imprisoned here in my old realm!” said Simon Magus.
The Sylph stiffened, as did her allies.
“He’s taken them over again!” said Robin.
Simon Magus laughed and said, “Aye! Tis so! The better to slay you with! You see, if an elemental being takes a life on such a sacred spot, then it loses all substance, and when I had them kill you all, I will in turn drain their dissolving spirits into myself and be free!”
“You could have had them kill any innocent being here all along if that was your only goal!” said Batman. “You wanted to pay us back for our involvement in your last defeat! Your motives are petty for one with such an ego!”
“Of course!” said Simon Magus. “Why kill those I do not hate when I can end your lives, and in doing so gain revenge and sweet liberty? Conflict feeds me, but only death will truly free me!”
The Elementals charged at the heroes, and the magical energy flashed ever brighter. The Undine waved her hands, and waves of water swept Batman and Robin to the ground with stunning force. Gnome pounded Superman down, even as the Salamander blazed up and trapped Aquaman in a ring of fire. Wonder Woman struggled with the Sylph as she tried to crush the Amazon princess with hurricane-strength blasts of tightly focused air.
Simon Magus laughed louder and grew more substantial with every moment. “My elementals are winning, and soon I will be free!” he cried.
As the fight continued, the wizard suddenly screamed in rage. Something was wrong. He faded from view, and only his voice could be heard as a faint whisper. “You tricked me! Curse you all, I am undone!” he said.
The magical energy disappeared, as did the lingering voice of Simon Magus, and the Super Friends exchanged smiles of relief.
The Sylph, the Gnome, and the Salamander hugged each other, and the Sylph said, “We are free, as are the spirits within us! You’ve driven him away for good!”
“He tried to enter this realm through a connection with the four elementals within you,” said Batman. “He gambled on that path being open through his control of you. He failed to get here and was swept back to his own realm when he tried to make the crossing through an incomplete pathway!”
The Undine smiled, and as water flowed around her, she touched it and then turned into Jayna. The water turned back into Zan.
“By having Jayna take on the Undine’s physical appearance with her ability to turn into any animal, including humans, and having Zan’s watery form mimic the Undine’s powers, we were able to fool Simon into believing he was using all four Elementals,” continued Batman. “Little did he know we left the real Undine back at the Hall of Justice in the stasis chamber.
“We only pretended to be attacking Batman and Robin, of course, but in his arrogance and eagerness to be free, Simon fell for the trick,” said Zan. “With only three elementals truly here to draw upon, his magical pathway fell short and left him stranded!”
“We owe you Super Friends a real debt!” said the Gnome.
Robin smiled and said, “Well, while we don’t need any chemical work done, or designs made, or a romance novel written about us, I know we’d all love to hear Jeanine sing!”
“Well, actually, Robin, I could offer you something, too!” said Ginger O’Shea, the Salamander. “How’d you like a new costume? I have a sketch or two in mind!”
Robin frowned for a minute and then said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about trading in these shorts! That would be great!”
“Short pants on a young man make you embarrassed?” asked Batman with a grin.
“Oh, I’m not worried about me being embarrassed,” said Robin. “I was more concerned about Robin being bare–!”
“Hold it!” interrupted Batman suddenly. “That pun is just too awful, even for you!”
They laughed as another adventure ended successfully.