The Tyrants of Time
Famous conquerors from history are snatched out of time. Alexander the Great, Nero, Attilla the Hun, Genghis Khan and Napoleon are all brought to New York in 1942 by Dr. Doome (no relation, though it would be funny if there were!). Doome has invented a time machine, obviously, and he offers the five men a chance to rule the world in the future, if they’ll help him steal what he needs to finish another machine that will send them into the future. The five men all like the idea and agree to help Doome. I like that all these historical conquerors are shown as intelligent and able to at least cope with the 20th century and to understand that they’ve traveled in time.
Meanwhile, on Wall Street, Oliver Queen and Roy Harper are testing a new short wave radio when the villains of history rob some of the brokers of their cash. When Roy tries to intervene, he’s knocked down by Genghis Khan, and his radio is taken by the curious Mongol. A plane carries the five conquerors to Dr. Doome’s lighthouse hideout, with Nero and Genghis Khan marveling at the miracle of flight. Deciding that this is too much for Green Arrow and Speedy to tackle alone, Oliver calls a meeting of the Seven Soldiers. The tale of tyrants having traveled through time is accepted readily by the group, with the Shining Knight noting that he comes from the past, so why couldn’t they? Can’t argue with that logic. And it’s fortunate that Khan stole the radio, because he’s left it on, and the plans come through loud and clear with each of the villains going to different places to steal different metals. Naturally, the Seven Soldiers split up to take them on.
1 – Defeat before Waterloo
The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy go after Napoleon near the Canadian border, where the Frenchman is after a shipment of gold. Napoleon isn’t too happy with the disrespect the gangsters working for him are showing him, and he runs the theft like a military operation, with himself as the general. They blow up the tracks and cut the telegraph wires. The Kid takes on Napoleon and his men, but even with Stripesy’s help, they are overpowered. Napoleon has them tied up and thrown into the river with a stone to weigh them down until they drown. Stripesy saves them both by managing to get their heads above water, where some nearby hoboes pull them out of the river. Using the Star Rocket Racer, the gangster’s plane is brought down and the men captured, though Napoleon gets away, lost in the woods. When he finally gets out at the site of a carnival, he’s mistaken for a madman, and rather than submit to the disrespectful treatment, he uses the device that Doome gave all five conquerors and returns to his own time.
Dr. Doome is watching PIckett’s charge at Gettysburg when he sees Napoleon fly by, headed back to his own time. Amazed that he’s failed, Doome figures Alexander can get the gold after he brings back the radium from Florida.
2 – The Radium Robots
Green Arrow and Speedy head to Florida to stop Alexander the Great from stealing radium, stored in the hidden Everglades workshop of Leo Starr, who has created robots powered by radium to fight America’s wars instead of humans. But one robot, Oscar, has somehow developed a prankish sense of humor, something even Starr doesn’t quite understand. But he has very little time to ponder it when he’s killed in Alexander’s attack. Oscar accepts orders from whoever he perceives as the “boss”, so when Alexander demands the radium he brings it, only to drop it on his toe. Meanwhile Green Arrow and Speedy are captured and brought to the workshop by the other robots. As usual in these stories the status quo goes back and forth. At first GA and Speedy disable Alexander and the robots, but Alexander recovers and captures Speedy. With the help of Oscar, GA reverses the situation and Alexander runs into the swamp, dodging snakes and gators, only surviving because GA is killing the animals before they can kill Alexander. A robot appears to lead Alexander to safety, but it’s Green Arrow in disguise, which amuses Oscar to no end. Alexander has had enough and returns to his own time, once again observed by Dr. Doome, who wonders if some organization is working against him….
One question: why does the reprint in the Archives keep giving Oliver Queen brown hair when he’s blonde?
3 – The Man Who Told a Fish Story
The Shining Knight chases Genghis Khan to Alaska, where Khan is at the town of Jackpot, planning to steal platinum en route to Seattle. The Knight lands and gets involved with fisherman Bill Bates, who has bet his friends that he can catch a whale. If he doesn’t, he’s out a hundred dollars. Bates leads the Knight to the docks just as Genghis Khan and his men attack the guards and take the platinum, hiding inside a hollowed out iceberg. Puzzled by their disappearance, the Knight is able to find them. Their guns don’t hurt him, but they toss him overboard, expecting his armor to weigh him down and drown him, but the Knight uses his sword to stab the iceberg, stop his fall, and climb out of the (presumably freezing) water. Does the magic armor keep him warm as well? The story breezes past this point, and the Knight ends up riding a whale and capturing Khan, while Bates is able to tow the dying whale back to port and win his bet. Just like the others, Genghis Khan returns to his own time. This time, Dr. Doome hears the news on the radio and hears of the presence of the Shining Knight, making him realize the Seven Soldiers are after him.
4 – The Spirit of Wild Bill Dickson
The Vigilante pursuies Atilla the Hun to the Black Hills of South Dakota and gets mixed up with old Wild Bill Dickson, a former old west sheriff now living as a hermit. This is a nice character touch, since an old man in the 1940s would have been alive during the heyday of the “old West”. Dickson survives an encounter with Atilla, but is nearly lynched by the local townspeople, since a surviving guard who had been taking the tantalum out of the hills accuses him. In another great little character moment, Atilla sees Mount Rushmore and thinks the carvings of Washington and the others must be “the idols of the land”. Despite an attempt to trap him, Vigilante survives and he and Billy Gunn capture Atilla and save Dickson’s life, only for Atilla to retreat into the past like the others. Dr. Doome has only Nero to rely on now.
5 – Fiddler’s Farewell
The Crimson Avenger and Wing take on Nero out at sea as the Roman emperor tries to steal a shipment of uranium. The story opens following young Sammy Singer and his dog Scraps (whose barks are helpfully translated for the reader), who stow away on a ship for adventure, but find out that all they’ve earned is trouble and hard work for months until the ship hits port. There’s a running gag where Nero plays his fiddle and all his flunkies tell him it’s great music while secretly thinking about how bad it is. Crimson Avenger and Wing take on the Roman soldiers but are badly outmatched and left to die on the burning yacht that the Romans have plundered. While the captain and crew fight to save their ship, the Avenger and Wing pursue the Romans, only to be captured again. Sammy helps free them from rowing in the galley, and iwth the help of the rest of the galley slaves, the third time is the charm and they capture Nero. However Nero had nearly reached Dr. Doome’s lighthouse hideout, which Crimson Avenger sees before Nero returns to his own time, so now the Seven Soldiers will know where to find him.
6 – The Tyrants of Time, conclusion
The Seven Soldiers head for the lighthouse, foil some death traps and confront Doome, who escapes into the past. The Soldiers rather rashly charge after him, while Speedy takes the time to grab one of the hand-held time travel wands that all the historical conquerors had used before following the group. They end up in the past at the battle of Troy, where Doome had been busy convincing Ulysses that they were a threat. However, Ulysses is impressed by the fighting prowess of the Seven Soldiers and after talking with them, decides that he believes them rather than Doome. Doome sneers that he came to Troy to trap the Soldiers and returns to the 1940s. And his plot would have worked if Speedy hadn’t been smart enough to grab that time travel device. Doome is shocked to see the Soldiers return to his lab, and in desperation his uses his unfinished time machine, the one that he needed all the components the tyrants were stealing for him to complete, to travel into the future. The machine explodes, and no one is sure if Doome lived and made it to the future or not. But the threat is over, and the Shining Knight salutes his comrades.
Like so many stories of the 40s, it’s inevitable that when one of these mad scientist types like Doome invent a miraculous invention, the first thing they do is turn to crime. Never mind exploring time for the sake of learning and exploration (though Doome is shown observing past events and enjoying them), science is there to exploit for power and wealth. That being said, in a crazy comic-booky way, picking successful military leaders and conquerors to help carry out his plan makes a certain level of sense, and showing the five tyrants as smart men who can grasp the situation they’re in is a nice touch. The five individual chapters are typical runarounds of the day where the hero fails to capture the villains at first and then his fists ultimately solve the problem. A few details elevate some of the chapters for me, from the funny robot in the Green Arrow story, to the Shining Knight’s jousting on the back of a whale, to Atilla’s assumption that Mount Rushmore is an idol. And everyone is saved by the sidekick in the end, or Doome’s trap would have worked. Not a bad issue for this non-powered team.