Chapter Five – The Shining Knight
In the hidden Wamona valley, cut off from the outside world, lives a tribe of Indians whose lifestyle is the same as it was hundreds of years ago. The Red Dragon arrives at the valley and promptly kills Chief Wamona, thus apparently fulfilling a prophecy about the coming of the Wendigo, and how he would take power and bring prosperity to the valley. The Red Dragon and his thugs force the Indians to mine for radium, which the valley has in abundance.
The Shining Knight arrives, and with the help of an Indian who has escaped the mines, leads the Wamona in fighting off the Red Dragon and his thugs, thus genuinely fulfilling the prophecy and bringing prosperity to the valley. The Shining Knight engages in an aerial battle with the Red Dragon and manages to down his plane and capture the Red Dragon.
- I really like the Shining Knight with his purely heroic and chivalrous attitude. I first ran across him and Vigilante on episodes of Justice League Unlimited and had no idea who they were at the time. I’ve since learned a lot about both characters, and enjoy reading their early adventures here.
- The “lost civilization” is an old plot, but it’s put to good use in this story. It would be interesting to see how the Wamona react to the modern (for them) world of the 1940s.
Chapter Six – The Vigilante
The Dummy has gone to Hollywood, where he is apparently turning people to stone statues and demanding a huge ransom to restore them to normal. Of course it’s a scam, and he’s actually kidnapping the victims and substituting statues in their place. The Vigilante arrives to deal with the problem, and ends up demonstrating his outstanding skills at lassoing and sharpshooting on his way to ending the Dummy’s plan.
- Why go through all the fuss with the statues? Why not just hold the victims for ransom?
- While not remotely plausible, the Vigilante riding bronco on the tiger and tying him up like a steer is all kinds of awesome.
- I love how the thugs all wonder who is operating the ventriloquist dummy, not realizing that the Dummy is alive. They’re all freaked out when they find out the truth.
The Hand despairs the ruining of all his grand schemes, and declares that if he weren’t dying, he’d have been able to make them all work. He decides to challenge the Seven Soldiers on his own home turf, and tells them to come and get him, reasoning that with all the traps he has in his lair that there’s no way they’ll beat him. He comes to regret issuing the challenge though when his doctor calls him and informs him that they’ve found a surgeon who can cure the Hand’s condition. It’s too late to call the whole thing off now, and the Hand prepares for his visitors.
The Seven Soldiers arrive, and fight their way through many different deathtraps, finally confronting the Hand himself. An electrocution trap meant for them instead shocks and apparently kills the Hand, thanks to the Vigilante’s sharpshooting skills. The group decides that they should stay together in order to face any future threats.
- And that’s the first adventure of the team. The setup is just like the JSA, with only opening and closing chapters featuring the full team, but what interaction we get between these different characters is a lot of fun. I always enjoy seeing them as a part of each other’s world.
- The villains are pretty competent in a couple of instances. The Needle very nearly pulls off his scheme and nearly kills the Kid and Stripesy. The Hand almost kills them a couple of times in his house. I like to see the heroes challenged, and I like to see them operate with a positive attitude and just keep pushing forward until they win. Classic stuff.
- And of course, it’s retconned later on that the Hand didn’t die here, but it won’t be until Justice League of America #100 nearly 30 years down the road that we’ll learn that.