"Should Old Acquaintance Be Destroyed...": On New Year's Eve 1941, in the White House, a private celebration is held by President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, the Atom, Firebrand, Hawkgirl, Johnny Quick, Liberty
- After that, you will be yourself, until you hear the words: "Now begins the age of chaos!"
Synopsis for "Should Old Acquaintance Be Destroyed..."
On New Year's Eve 1941, in the White House, a private celebration is held by President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, the Atom, Firebrand, Hawkgirl, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Robotman, and the Shining Knight, all of whom join in toasting Commander Steel, on the occasion of his being promoted from Private to Commander, by FDR personally. At the Atom's urging, Steel continues telling his story from last issue.
Flashback to 1940: Steel and two British commandoes (Mike Antoni and Ludcek) had landed behind Nazi lines in Poland, to join up with the Polish Underground. Their target is a concentration camp, near the town of Tczew, which Hitler is expected to visit soon. A squad of German soldiers shows up, with attack dogs, and the officer commanding it ("der Schlachter") claims to have already encountered and killed their contacts in the Resistance. The Allied team fights back with submachine guns, but Antoni and Ludcek are quickly gunned down, and the bulletproof Steel is headkonked unconscious with a rifle, which shatters from the blow.
Steel awakens in a concentration camp, packed with emaciated inmates, with grim stories to tell. He hears that his two friends are in the Nazis' hospital for medical experimentation, and he snaps. He shreds several yards of barbed-wire fence, punches down two armed soldiers and steals their guns, then opens up on more soldiers, while racing to the hospital at 50 mph. One soldier in a staff car manages to crash it into him and knock him out.
Steel awakens in the hospital on an operating table, surrounded by gloating Nazi military and medical men. His bulletproof costume is being examined nearby, by the main officer, who is curious about the prisoner's amazing strength. Meanwhile the surgeons are preparing to examine the micro-motors powering Steel's joints. The officer lets slip the news that Hitler is expected there, within the hour. Steel reveals the capabilities of his steel-reinforced body by bursting free of the straps holding him to the table, but it takes him two tries to get loose, to grab a bottle of acid off the instrument table, and to dive out of the hospital through a closed window, with two soldiers shooting automatic weapons at him the whole time. Without the costume he's not bulletproof, and eventually a slug does catch him, grazing his skull just enough to knock him unconscious.
While he's unconscious, one young Jewish inmate grabs the acid bottle from the ground where Heywood has dropped it, and he flings it in "the Butcher's" face, then gets shot very completely dead by submachinegun fire. Then Steel awakens on the ground, with Hitler himself walking into the camp, accompanied by Heinrich Himmler, and that's the last thing he remembers, but it's not the last thing he did. According to Baron Blitzkrieg, Steel had momentarily shaken off the effects of the bulletwound to his head, and lunged toward Hitler, but one quick bodyguard managed to knock Steel out with a rifle-butt to the head. After that he remained imprisoned, unharmed, for several long weeks, then was brainwashed, hypnotized, and programmed by Baron Blitzkrieg, into an amnesiac assassin.
Flashforward to 31 Dec 1941, and Heywood still has no recollection of how he got from Poland, in 1940, to Ottowa, in December of 1941.
Elsewhere in Washington, Baron Blitzkrieg and his henchman Zwerg have established a listening post capable of eavesdropping on the White House itself, from a microphone which is surgically planted in Steel's steel skeleton. Blitzkrieg's old plan is out the window, but his backup plan is about to pay off. But first, some gloating. You see, that acid-scalded Nazi officer "the Butcher" was surgically and pharmaceutically experimented upon by the Reich's finest doctors, and in the process developed into the super-powered Baron Blitzkrieg himself. Blitzkrieg also reveals that the Black Assassin had been set up, to be taken down by Steel, and that Kung's follow-up attack on Churchill had been an entirely unwelcome coincidence, which had nonetheless worked out to the Baron's advantage. Now he anticipates Steel's imminent lethal attack on Churchill and Roosevelt, and any who would seek to defend them.
Back at the party at the White House, Hawkgirl gets a specially-connected phone call from Carter Hall, romantic remarks are exchanged, then a big clock in the White House starts striking midnight. Carter and Shiera's conversation is interrupted when the phone company breaks in with an urgent call for Steel. But wait, FDR points out, nobody at the phone company could possibly know that Steel was here. But it's too late, Steel's caller has already pronounced the trigger phrase that initiates Steel's preprogrammed assassination attempt.
Liberty Belle spots the change in Heywood's demeanor, and directs Johnny Quick to whisk the two heads of state out of the room. Steel immediately pursues, punching the Atom out of the way. Johnny can only make so much speed indoors, with two men in tow, so he turns and dukes it out with Steel, which works out badly for him. Firebrand puts a ring of fire around the two men; Steel ungallantly punches her out. The Atom takes a second poke at him; down goes the Atom. Robotman steps up, and this fight goes on for quite some time. Unbeknownst to the All-Stars, Baron Blitzkrieg is remotely psionically augmenting Steel's strength and stamina, until he's actually able to throw aside the more massive Robotman. Firebrand rallies up and whaps a flameball upside Steel's metal-masked head, which does no physical harm to Steel, but inflicts a psionic backlash onto Baron Blitzkrieg. In his hidden listening post, the acid-traumatized Baron collapses, and goes blind. Zwerg comforts and reassures the fallen superhuman that all will soon be well.
Back at the White House, Commander Steel reverts to his normal personality, with no memory of the previous few minutes; Firebrand reabsorbs all of the rings of fire; and Johnny Quick recovers consciousness. Johnny & Belle, and Firebrand & Sir Justin, each share a romantic New Year's moment.
Appearing in "Should Old Acquaintance Be Destroyed..."
- All-Star Squadron
- Kung (Flashback only)
- Nazi Party
- Mike Antoni and Ludcek, two commandoes (both die)
- Reprinted in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1.
- The "flashback" material related by Steel was originally written and drawn for the cancelled series, "Steel, The Indestructible Man" #6, which was itself published as part of Cancelled Comic Cavalcade Vol 1 2.
- Hank Heywood gets knocked unconscious four times in the 1940 segment of this story.
- 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