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All-Star Squadron Annual Vol 1 1

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"The Three Faces of Evil!": Mid-January 1942: In New York at a war bond circus, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash perform high-wire stunts for a large crowd, which includes Tubby Watts (who manages to capture some of these events on newsreel film). One stunt is made more excitin


Quote1 Hmmm.. They must teach good Psych courses on Paradise Island, Princess. But that still doesn’t tell us how he did it - - if he did. Quote2
-- Green Lantern



Appearing in "The Three Faces of Evil!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for "The Three Faces of Evil!"

Mid-January 1942: In New York at a war bond circus, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash perform high-wire stunts for a large crowd, which includes Tubby Watts (who manages to capture some of these events on newsreel film). One stunt is made more exciting by a fake accident in which GL sneakily snips the tightrope, enabling the three to perform a well-rehearsed team-up rescue. Their next stunt, a 10-flip aerial somersault by the Flash, goes awry for real, when a sudden glare lights up the whole venue, blinding everybody including Green Lantern, who misses his catch. The Flash creates an ultra-speed updraft to save himself. This irritates the crowd, who now feel there’s too much fakery going on, and are turning surly. The weird glare diminishes, and floating above the center ring is a transparent sphere, containing Wildcat, and the Atom, whom our three performers recognize, and the Guardian, whom they don’t. GL brings the bubble down to floor level, it opens, and the three masked figures inside rush silently out. Wildcat actually gets close enough to tag Green Lantern with a solid punch, before Wonder Woman and the Flash run some circles around the three of them, then close in to close quarters. Amazingly the unspeaking Guardian tags the Flash with a roundhouse left, then is able to fend him off by using his shield. And suddenly the uncharacteristically-quiet Atom can run as fast as Wonder Woman, and his grip is as strong as hers, but she still has better moves, and she throws him a goodly distance. The audience begins to wonder whether this is all just an act or not. Green Lantern sends a big green hand to grab Wildcat, but he just shrugs it off, jumps in, and pastes Lantern again! He rallies, and creates a bright emerald light onto the three silent attackers, which stops their attack, and restores their talkative personalities. This is all very perplexing to the Atom and Wildcat, and especially to the Guardian, none of whom knows how they got there. The crowd likes this outcome, and a lot of bonds will soon get sold, as GL whips up a green flying carpet and the six fighters exit via the open top of the big circus tent.

Chapter Two: "Secret Origins": Seated around a green table, floating on a green carpet, hundreds of feet above NYC, our six heroes discuss their disturbing new situation. To encourage openness, Green Lantern offers to hypnotize everyone present into forgetting any secret identities they might learn here tonight.

Wildcat tells his origin story, mentioning his mentor and coach from college, Joe Morgan, and his career-ending fight with former heavyweight champ Socker Smith, who had died in the ring during a title bout, seemingly killed by Ted Grant himself. Inspired by a child’s story about Green Lantern, Grant had adopted the secret identity of Wildcat, solved the murder, and un-framed his own alter ego in the process. This all happened “a few months back.” Earlier on this particular evening, Wildcat has broken up an armed robbery, and a man-sized glowing sphere had appeared in the alley and levitated Wildcat into itself. Next thing he knows, GL’s bright green flare is snapping him out of a trance.

The Atom tells his origin story, mentioning his mentor and trainer, former fight trainer Joe Morgan, who had hit the skids in the depression, and who spent a year building 98-pound weakling Al Pratt into a “little Superman,” who soon adopted a secret identity as The Atom. This all happened “a year or so ago.” Earlier on this particular evening, there was a teary farewell between Mary James and Al Pratt, who had gotten aboard a train, bound for his new U.S. Army duty station. Seeking solitude on the troop train, Al wandered into a nearly-empty baggage car and was doing some heavy thinking when a man-sized glowing sphere had appeared in the car and levitated Al into itself. Next thing he knows, he’s at the circus, waking up.

The Guardian tells his origin story, starting out as a juvenile delinquent orphan in Suicide Slum, and eventually straightening out and developing himself as an all-around athlete, mostly thanks to the guidance and relentless training of his mentor Nat Milligan, but also due to the death of his boyhood pal Leo, who had become a mob hit man, and gotten shot dead for it by other mob hit men. He’d been a rookie cop, gotten mugged by some thugs, adopted a secret identity as The Guardian, and beat up those same hoods and left them trussed up for the police, that same night. On his way home, he encountered a levitating man-sized glowing sphere which absorbed him into itself. Next thing he knows, he’s brawling at the circus. As he tells his story, he’s been casually draped in Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, so all present know his story is true.

Notes are compared, with the assistance of Green Lantern’s power ring, which mentally probes the three storytellers, and forms three very similar images, of one man’s face. Atom and Wildcat recognize him as Joe Morgan and the Guardian recognizes him as Nat Milligan. This new information raises more questions than it answers, and Diana has a theory that Morgan/Milligan’s professional frustration and personal bitterness may be a factor in the evening’s odd events. So where is he now? So they split into three teams to go find this guy.

Chapter Three: "Tragedy in Triplicate": The Guardian and the Flash visit “Nat Milligan’s” last known address, a dumpy tenement in a bad neighborhood. Jim and Jay are wondering why Joe Morgan had changed his name, along with wondering about his connection to the mysterious, glowing, floating, vigilante-abducting, brain-washing sphere that’s been making all the mischief. They break into Milligan’s locked apartment, hoping that he’s still the tenant there; Flash speed-jiggles the doorknob (“a few thousand turns per second”) and they’re in. Inside is a large, bright pink, glowing, athletic-looking, older man, with Nat Milligan’s face and voice, and a score to settle with Jim Harper. He projects two glowing spheres at the Guardian; Flash counters the spheres with a super-vibration technique; Guardian attacks the glowing man, and to his own astonishment, and Flash’s, he knocks him right out, with one punch. Then Flash and Guardian watch as the glowing figure undergoes some transformation that they (but not we) can see.

Meanwhile Wonder Woman and the Atom fly at supersonic speed to Al Pratt’s late uncle’s farmhouse (now owned by Al), where Joe Morgan had lived for a year while training young Al. They use Al’s stashed key to get inside, the place is dusty and cobwebbed, and they encounter a large, bright blue, glowing man, who attacks Al. Diana lassoes him, but this fails to magically subdue him, so she punches him twice, and Al punches him once, and down he goes. That seems to them both to have been too easy. Then off-panel, the glowing figure undergoes a startling change.

Also meanwhile, Green Lantern and Wildcat fly to the famous Williams Gym, where younger Ted Grant had gotten his professional fight training. The gym is full of hard-working boxers, amidst whom appears a large, bright yellow, glowing man, who interrupts a practice bout. The boxers take umbrage and throw punches, but these just phase through the stranger’s body, inflicting no damage. He then throws two boxers over the ropes, and Wildcat leaps in to break one’s fall, while Lantern catches the other in a big green catcher’s mitt. Then Wildcat scrambles into the ring to fight this sneering, boasting menace. At first this “Joe Morgan” apparition uses his phasing power, but after a few taunts from Wildcat he makes himself solid, which turns out to be a mistake, because one punch later he’s laid out on the canvas. He stops glowing, shrinks down a bit, and still looks like Joe Morgan looked, back when Ted was still in college.

Lantern and Wildcat bring along “Joe” as they rendezvous with the other four All-Stars, and two more unconscious “Joe Morgans”, at Madison Square Garden. The three Joes have weak pulses and would need hospitalization, but no sooner does Green Lantern start to scoop them up with his power beam than all three merge into a single, very large, bright white, glowing man, and wants to fight. The good guys aren’t doing so well against him this time, and worse yet Wonder Woman is getting some feedback via her magic lasso, sensations of pure unrelieved evil, far greater and more powerful than any she’s ever encountered before! This pleases the big brute, and he tells them to call him “Evil” and that he has no other name, while he virtually ignores the others to focus his attack on Green Lantern. His three former pupils crash into him with a big beam of wood, battering ram style, knocking him loose from GL, then they climb all over him like angry cats. Evil knocks them loose with a sweep of his arms, then seems to have a seizure; he falls down and his voice changes to sound like the old, human Joe Morgan. He thrashes and babbles for a moment, then falls down, shrinking back to human size, as a glowing white sphere separates itself from him and hovers in place.

Joe is dying, and he gasps out the story of how he got this way, what little of it he knows anyway. He’d been psychologically troubled for a long time, to the point of living a double life as Joe Morgan and Nat Milligan, and then was completely embittered by Jim Harper walking out on him to become a cop, and he’d stayed that way for months, then earlier this evening, the glowing white ball had appeared, out of nowhere, and communicated to him the current super-identities of his former pupils, and offered him a chance to get even with them for abandoning him. Knowing that he was dealing with hundred-proof evil, he accepted anyway. Then the bubble had divided into four bubbles, three of which flew off to seek out Al, Jim, and Ted, and Joe had split into three giant versions of himself, each glowing in a different color. Whatever was going on, the Evil entity was really after Green Lantern, for some reason that wasn’t clear to Joe, who dies right then. It’s also not clear to Lantern, but he at least has an idea, which is to use his ring’s power to send the white globe off into deep space.

Prologue: Eons ago the immortal Oans, in the process of becoming the Guardians of the Universe, had purged their hearts and minds of all Evil.[1] Well they couldn’t destroy the Evil, so they compacted it into a glowing white sphere, throbbing and pulsing with malevolent life, then they sent it away into an alternate universe (known to us as Earth-Two), where they earlier had sent all (or supposedly all, anyway) of the magic that didn’t belong in their “universe of science”.[2] As a precaution, they rigged the globe-being to split into three weaker parts, if it ever attempted to act on its own evil volition. The only thing that would be able to reunite those three parts would be the discarded magic from their earlier purification (what's now known as the "Starheart"). And that magic was of course the source of power for Green Lantern’s lantern and ring.



Notes

  • Reprinted in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1.
  • All of the Guardian's participation in this story take place between panels 2 and 3 on page 4 of the Newsboy Legion story in Star-Spangled Comics #7, April 1942. Jim Harper's career as the Guardian was right in the middle of getting started, at the time of this story, mid-January of 1942. He had adopted the costume, but had not yet met the four newsboys.
  • Ted Grant’s career as Wildcat started in July of 1941.
  • Al Pratt's career as the Atom started in October of 1940.
  • Green Lantern has had his power ring for “a year and a half,” and is still learning new things about it.
  • According to the Atom’s reverie, at the end of Chapter 2, at the time of this story:
    • Carter Hall has returned to his Army Air Corps unit.
    • Shiera Sanders has decided to join the Nurse Corps.
    • Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, and Firebrand are on the West Coast, probably busting bundists and spies.
    • Robotman is having a serious legal problem with an unscrupulous lawyer.
    • Commander Steel has returned to New York to deal with some personal tragedies.
    • The Shining Knight is back in his native England acting as Churchill’s bodyguard.
  • The "Prologue" comes at the end of the story.
  • The term "Starheart" is not used in any caption or dialogue in this story, but a recap of the Starheart's origin is provided on the last page.

Trivia

  • No trivia.



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