On a remote dig in the Middle East, archaeologists Kent Nelson (aka Dr. Fate) and his wife Inza discover the fabled Masks of Medusa. These masks supposedly forced the viewers to be overcome with emotions. Their dig a success, the Nelsons return home to an unveiling party hosted by longtime friend Rex Tyler.
The Medusa Masks are put on display at the party, with Rex Tyler’s fiancé Wendi Harris admiring them. However, when a mysterious man lights a cigarette lighter underneath one of the masks, Wendi is filled with the desire to steal the masks. When the rest of the guests notice the theft, the stranger passes the lighter under another mask, and all of the attendees burst into uncontrollable laughter. When the laughing wears off, they run outside, to find that Wendi was compelled to give all of the masks to a homeless man.
Dr. Fate tries to use magic to find the masks, but is unable. Unbeknownst to him, the masks are with the stranger, Roger Hayden. Hayden was a cellmate of the Psycho-Pirate, an old foe of the Justice Society. He learned about the masks, and decided to become the new Psycho-Pirate. Using the masks, he learns how to contort his face to mimic the masks. Putting his plan into action, Hayden and his gang go to a nearby bank, and Hayden uses various face contortions to manipulate the emotions of the bank customers and tellers. Dr. Fate, who has been searching for the masks, learns of the bank robbery. When he intervenes, however, Hayden uses his face contortions to make him believe his greatest enemies are attacking him. Hayden is able to escape.
Meanwhile, Rex Tyler becomes Hourman, and goes in search of the masks to exonerate Wendi’s name. He follows leads from the bank heist, and finds Hayden and his gang at their next robbery. While he defeats the gang, a facial contortion from Hayden convinces Hourman that they are friends. Hayden then gets Hourman to do the heavy lifting of this newest heist. When Dr. Fate arrives, Hourman snaps out of it, and the two team up to follow Hayden.
They follow Hayden to his hideout, and change in. Hayden’s facial contortions cause the two heroes to first feel fear, and then to feel hatred towards each other. Dr. Fate and Hourman turn on each other, and fight to exhaustion. When Hayden goes to deliver the knockout blow, Dr. Fate sucker-punches him.
Dr. Fate magically attached a mask to Hayden’s face, to prevent him from using his abilities again. Meanwhile, with Wendi exonerated, Rex Tyler reveals his secret identity to his fiancée. Wendi promises to stand by him all twenty-four hours a day.
- “What’s Wrong With These Pictures?”
- “Origin of the Original Psycho-Pirate”