"Afternoon of the Assassins!": On December 30th 1941, in Ottawa, while addressing the Canadian Parliament, Winston Churchill is almost assassinated by the Black Assassin, but the first shot misses, and Churchill's bodyguards, Sir Justin and Liberty Belle, lea
- I don't know how you pulled that little stunt, fella--but if I were you, I'd turn myself into the North Wind, and blow!
- — Hawkgirl
Synopsis for "Afternoon of the Assassins!"
On December 30th 1941, in Ottawa, while addressing the Canadian Parliament, Winston Churchill is almost assassinated by the Black Assassin, but the first shot misses, and Churchill's bodyguards, Sir Justin and Liberty Belle, leap into action. The Assassin is armed with a laser rifle. Two Canadian soldiers try to capture him alive, but he guns one of them down before the two All-Stars reach his position. He shoots the Shining Knight right in the chest, he falls, then Liberty Bell leaps onto him and smacks him about for a moment, before the cowled intruder grabs a large nearby flag and tangles her up in it, then lines up another shot at Churchill. That's when Steel, the Indestructible Man, jumps in and punches the daylights out of him. He grabs the "light rifle" and squashes its firing mechanism with one hand, but the "Scwarzer Meuchelmorder" is wearing a suicide bomb belt, and just as Steel pounces on him, he sets it off!
Sir Justin and Liberty Belle are among the first to recover, Steel is among the last, and the Black Assassin is dead. Steel flickers in and out of consciousness for a few moments, trying to speak, and hands a charred diary to Churchill before Sir Justin carries him away to an ambulance, while Churchill finishes his famous speech. From a nearby hospital, Belle calls the White House and talks with the Atom; FDR has new orders, bring Steel back to Washington ASAP. The Canadian Prime Minister arranges a special train for the team, and accompanied by a handful of soldiers, off they all go, including the bedridden Hank Heywood, who is only alive at all because of his steel skeleton and metal bodysuit. First Churchill, then Liberty Belle, read Heywood's diary, which recounts his transition, in 1939, from medical student to U.S. Marine to explosion casualty to cybernetic superhuman.
- In February 1940, in London, Steel had encountered the Black Assassin and a squad of German agents, and disrupted an earlier attempt on Churchill's life. He took out the henchies but the Assassin had escaped. Churchill at that time was still First Lord of the Admiralty, and his American liaison Major Morton USMC, was coincidentally Pvt. Heywood's former C.O. Churchill now, having met this incredibly strong and fast American adventurer, cooked up a plan for kidnapping Adolf Hitler.
- Two nights later, Steel and two British commandoes had parachuted into Poland's Danzig Corridor from an RAF bomber. A moment later the bomber was shot down by two Messerschmitts, and in the following ten seconds Steel had leapt onto one fighter, taken it over, and used it to destroy the other. Steel had then parachuted to the ground and linked up with his jump team. That's the end of the final entry in the diary.
By dusk, Churchill's special train is crossing Maryland on its approach to Washington D.C., and is being electronically tracked with Baron Blitzkrieg's special radio equipment. His initial plan for killing Churchill has failed, but his back-up plan is working out well. But an unplanned new danger is also stalking Churchill and his colorful companions. A very large eagle, with an eerie golden glow, swoops out of the sky, lands on the roof of the hospital car, and metamorphoses into a young Japanese man, Kung, "The Assassin of a Thousand Claws." He then transforms himself again, into a glowing tiger, and projects a supernatural drowsiness into the car, then the tiger rips apart the car's steel roof!
Before he can dig his way into the car, Hawkgirl accosts him, swinging a hefty flail-style mace. They briefly converse (to Shiera's great surprise), then the melee begins. Fortunately for Shiera, before things really get going, a biplane piloted by Firebrand swoops in and drops off Robotman and Johnny Quick onto the train's roof. In the next few moments, Kung changes from tiger to eagle to rhino to giant preying mantis, Hawkgirl gets flung from the train and caught by Johnny Quick, and Robotman dukes it out with the shape-changer until Robotman falls off the train. While Quick and Hawkgirl are catching up to the train, Kung gets inside Churchill's car, and prepares to snap the Prime Minister's neck, but before he can, Steel rallies off of his hospital bed, and grabs Kung by his neck. Kung escapes by shifting into a smaller form, the eagle, and flies out the gash in the car's roof, while Steel relapses into semiconsciousness. Churchill theorizes that he was able to rally because Steel was asleep when Kung cast his mental spell over the passengers, thus was unaffected by it.
That night, Baron Blitzkrieg gets news of Kung's abortive attack, and curses that oriental meddler, but then does some anticipatory gloating about how, on New Year's Eve, his special agent, Steel, will accomplish the dual assassination of both Churchill and Roosevelt.
To be continued.
Appearing in "Afternoon of the Assassins!"
- All-Star Squadron
- Steel (Flashback and main story)
- Nazi Party
- Canadian Soldiers
- Harry (Only appearance; dies)
- Jack (Single appearance)
- Dr. Allison (Single appearance)
- Gloria Giles (Flashback only)
- Gilbert Giles (Flashback only)
- Gerry Conway and Don Heck are responsible for the Steel segment of this issue. It was originally planned as a sixth issue of Steel Vol 1 but the series was cancelled before it was printed. It was published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade Vol 1 2 and then re-worked to be presented in this issue and All-Star Squadron Vol 1 9.
- Reprinted in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1.
- First chronological appearance for both Baron Blitzkrieg and Major Zwerg.
- Justice Society Recommended Reading
- Adventure Comics (Volume 1)
- All-Star Comics (Volume 1)
- All-Star Squadron (Volume 1)
- America vs. the Justice Society (Volume 1)
- Infinity Inc. (Volume 1)
- JSA (Volume 1)
- JSA: All Stars (Volume 1)
- JSA Classified (Volume 1)
- JSA: Strange Adventures (Volume 1)
- JSA vs. Kobra (Volume 1)
- Justice Society of America (Volume 1)
- Justice Society of America (Volume 2)
- Justice Society of America (Volume 3)
- Last Days of the Justice Society Special #1