That night, a pair of oddly familiar figures raced across the rooftops with ease and certainty.
“The films never told us when Robin donned this new costume and took the name Red Robin,” said the powerful man. “I’d say we’re witnessing a totally unknown era in the Wayne chronicles.”
The agile youth next to his said, “Holy identity crisis!”
The man in black smiled. “Never say crisis! That word has ugly associations for any student of the Heroic Era.”
“Brane, do you think we’re in time?” asked the blond youth. “Can we help?”
“We have to be,” said the caped man.
Superman kissed his newborn daughter and his wife Lois, then prepared to join Red Robin at the Batcave. “I’m working directly with Dick and Helena on this,” said Superman. “Bruce would want me to do it. I know he’d be here for you and Mary if things were different.”
“I sometimes still can’t believe that he and Selina are gone,” said Lois Lane Kent. “He particularly seemed invincible, even though he lacked your power.”
“I know. Batman was the one man I would have bet on in any crisis. I checked on those foreign heroes he inspired, like the Legionary, the Gaucho, and the Knight. They or their successors are safe and on guard. Hourman says he has secured Batmantown. The Flash is running around Gotham, since there are so many places associated with Bruce there, and the new Starman alerted Infinity Inc. to check on all the West Coast Wayne properties.”
Baby Mary cooed as she took her father’s finger. “She has a real grip, there,” he said adoringly.
As he flew off from Smallville, Kansas, a sinister figure watched on a view-screen.
“You’re next, you self-centered creep!” he sneered. “After we tear down your buddy, we’re gunning for you, you witless buffoon!”
Maniacal laughter was his ally’s reply.
The Huntress swung across the city skyline and perched atop a stone cornice. She scanned the empty Batman Museum and wondered how the Joker or any ally of the grinning fiend could have learned all of her father’s precious secrets. The method of death was a little like a Joker tactic, but not very close to his normal style. Could this be some Joker wanna-be? I know one or two thugs tried to imitate him before, like those three Two-Face copies Dad fought.
She walked inside using her pass card and saw the suit of knightly armor used by Batman to conceal his radiation suit when he fought a radium-using foe. She noticed the colorful Starman and Owlman suits worn by Batman and Robin during different cases.
“Dad, you always had all the answers,” she mused. “How can I solve this case for you?”
“Maybe I could help!” said a squeaky voice from above her head.
She whirled to see an odd little sprite dressed in a Batman costume with sagging ears. “I can’t believe it!” she cried in delight. “I haven’t seen you since I was a little girl!”
“Hey, never forget a loyal ‘imaginary friend’!” said the smiling Bat-Mite.
The Huntress greeted the magical imp warmly. He had been a childhood playmate, although she had never really told anyone else about his visits, and she had never been sure in her adulthood if he had been real or imaginary.
“I was away when he needed me most,” said the little being tearfully. “He was my hero, and I let him down!”
The Huntress hugged him and said, “He knew you loved him, and he appreciated it, even all the times he acted like you were a pest.”
She whirled around suddenly and tossed a batarang into the shadows of the museum. A flying tackle brought out a man clad in a Batman costume and a blond boy dressed like Robin. “Who are you? You picked the wrong time to wear that suit!” she demanded.
The Batman-costumed figured brought both legs up and kicked her off as he said, “Hold it! I’m a friend!”
The Huntress rolled to her feet and crouched like her mother, the Catwoman, had done in the past. “Who are you?” she demanded.
“Hey! I know these guys!” yelped Bat-Mite.
“I am Brane, and this is Ricky. I’m a direct descendant of Bruce Wayne from the year 3003, and am the twentieth man in my line to share his name, Bruce Wayne. In our time, we contract first and last names, so ‘Bruce Wayne’ becomes ‘Brane.’ After finding a time capsule from 1940 containing motion-picture footage of Batman and Robin in action, we became the dynamic duo of the thirty-first century.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Year 3000,” Batman #26 (December, 1944-January, 1945).]
“Yeah,” said the futuristic Robin. “They helped us once, and Brane later helped them! (*) We’re admirers of their heroics. We came here in our own time machine to warn them of a plot by other time travelers. Only we know so little about this era that we were thrown by the sight of Robin as Red Robin. You know we never knew exactly when Batman died… or how. That piece of data was lost in our era.”
[(*) Editor’s note: Although versions of these stories take place on Earth-Two, the original stories take place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Lost Legion of Space,” Batman #67 (October-November, 1951) and “The Batman of Tomorrow,” Detective Comics #216 (February, 1955).]
“They are good guys!” assured the Bat-Mite.
“Who are you?” Brane asked the Huntress. “The era we are from records that Dick Grayson carried on his own heroic role for years as Batman’s successor, but we have no records of when Batman died or of you.”
Helena frowned and said, “I’m Batman’s daughter…”
An explosion rocked them to the floor as a weird craft broke inside the walls and fired red rays at them. “Get back! Those are photonic blasters!” cried Brane as he shoved her aside, and Ricky rolled clear of the smoke and debris.
Bat-Mite gasped as a sphere closed over him. “My magic can’t open this thing!” he wailed.
The Huntress kicked at the tank-like device, only to leap back as coils erupted from the side, and maniacal laughter echoed from within. “The Joker! But how?” she said. “Red Robin realized that he was still in a coma after he had time to check on his condition!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Red Robin: Auld Lang Syne.]
Brane and Ricky hurled clear pellets toward the coils, which dissolved at their touch. “That’s what we came here to warn Red Robin about!” he said as a shadowy figure appeared to freeze them solid in an amber-like casing.
The Huntress turned to dodge the bald man who aimed the rifle. “Luthor?!” she shrieked. She kicked the gun out of his hands. “He’s bald! Our Luthor had red hair!”
She confronted the mad genius, only to be caught from behind by a disk that shocked her to her knees. She looked up through blurred eyes at the tank. It opened to reveal a clown-faced killer in purple.
“The Joker, too… but how?” she said.
He cackled madly, “Wouldn’t you just love to know?”
Libby Lawrence and John Chambers strolled through the elegant halls of the royal palace in Moldacia, where the still-beautiful Princess Portia ruled as a widow.
“I am flattered that a journalist of your reputation would want to interview me as part of a documentary on screen beauties of the 1940s,” said the graying woman. “My time as Portia Storme, the actress, seems as forgotten by most people now as my debutante days as Julie Madison of New York.”
Libby smiled at Bruce Wayne’s former fiancée, who had become a figure of romance and glamor after a smitten European prince had married her in the 1950s, taking her away from her acting career.
“Your Majesty, we are thrilled to spend time with you in such a lovely setting,” said Libby.
Johnny smiled and scanned the area for danger. He and Libby had agreed to help the JSA out with their efforts to guard all the people who were once close to Bruce Wayne by posing as creators of documentary films while protecting the woman Bruce had first loved in the 1930s.
Elsewhere, the skillful Will Everett III, alias Paragon, listened as Professor Carter Nichols talked about time travel via hypnosis.
“Oh, my, yes,” said the wise old man. “I sent young Bruce Wayne and his ward through time often in those exciting old days!”
Will listened with interest and hoped that no one would interrupt his time with the famous man.
Elsewhere, Linda Page Owens looked as if her facelift had been worth every penny. The former society gal turned nurse who had been the romantic object of Bruce Wayne’s fancy for most of the early 1940s talked calmly about her new line of dresses as she led Geri Sloane, alias Miss Terrific, through her new salon.
Fascinating, mused the daughter of the late Mister Terrific. This woman had drive and ambition enough to leave behind an idle life as a playgirl for a career as a nurse, and after marriage she became a fashion designer! The Sloanes aren’t the only people with multiple talents!
Superman and Red Robin exchanged their news while Power Girl watched Bruce N. Wayne. He has a family resemblance to the Bruce I knew, she thought. His very presence here shakes poor Dick up so much. He still mourns Batman every day.
“Batman Jones is OK,” said Superman. “He works as a doctor these days! He is still good-natured about being named after Batman by his parents, who were saved by Bruce years ago. He joked that he was just glad Wonder Woman had not been the one to rescue them!”
Red Robin smiled. “I also sat through a boring talk with Bruce’s kid cousin, who is now my age. Vanderveer Wayne still can’t forgive me for being taken in by Bruce and depriving his part of the clan of even more Wayne millions! (*) I’m still ‘that circus boy’ to that snob!”
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Boy Who Was Robin,” Batman #148 (June, 1962).]
Power Girl chimed in, “You should have my luck. I ended up being pinched by the four-foot-tall Batboy! Imagine a circus dwarf in a baseball uniform trying to fight crime! He’s retired now.”
An alarm echoed through the cave. “Trouble at the museum! This could be it!” cried Red Robin.
The trio made their way to the Batman Law-Enforcement Museum, where a weird scene greeted them. Out on the plaza in front of the halls that honored Batman and law enforcement in general was a strange craft with several odd surrounding objects.
“That’s Brane under that cowl,” shouted Superman. “He and Ricky are trapped like flies in amber!”
“Look!” said Power Girl. “Hanging on that vehicle from some space movie — the Huntress trussed up like a Thanksgiving Day turkey!”
Red Robin glanced over at the crystal structure that hovered weblike above them all. “That can’t be good,” he said. “It appears to be some type of lethal weapon. It could take out all of Gotham, based on the sheer size!”
The figures who emerged from the craft were even stranger. One was Lex Luthor’s twin, except for the fact that he was bald, while the other leered and capered with a manic malice in the exact form of the Joker.
“Holy future shock!” said Red Robin. “That’s Rohtul — Luthor’s evil thirtieth-century descendant, whom we fought back in 1957! (*) Next to him is Rokej from the twenty-first century. He was Joker’s good descendant and the police chief of Gotham City when we met him in 1950.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Three Super-Sleepers,” World’s Finest Comics #91 (November-December, 1957); see “Batman in the Future,” Batman #59 (June-July, 1950).]
“Times change, Boy Wonder!” said the now-evil Joker descendant. “I guess the old bad blood got to me at last! I decided to forgo my copper’s pay and use my buddy’s scientific skill to come back here with him and destroy the two men who ruined our own ancestors!”
Rothul laughed. “Yes. I went back in time and picked him up and convinced the Gotham police chief, here, that he could make a bundle by helping me loot the past and by eliminating the legacies of the heroes who bedeviled our ancestors — the Joker and Luthor!”
“That’s how they knew all Batman’s secrets,” said Red Robin. “To them, it’s all ancient history.”
“You were next on the list!” sneered Luthor’s descendant. “We planned to kill your precious Superwoman before she came of age!”
“Not while I can still breathe!” vowed Superman. But he suddenly groaned in pain, as his muscles failed, and he fell to earth next to an equally weakened Power Girl.
“Our ship is lined with that handy, dandy, oh-so-easy-to-manufacture-in-our-time cure-all called kryptonite!” shrieked Rokej.
Red Robin heard the Huntress moan beneath the silky netting that held up tightly. He drew out a batarang and stepped forward. “I see you even caught Bat-Mite, but you know it really always had to come down to a duel between me and you two,” he said. “I’m the one you want most. The Huntress and the others are Batman’s family and friends, but I was his partner. I put you away, Rohtul, and I saved your hide when you were a lawman, Rokej!”
“True!” said Rokej. “You are the heir of the Bat, and now this death-ray will take you out of our hair — excuse the pun, Lexy — by blowing Batman’s beloved city sky-high!”
“I sent the Flash on a wild goose chase, too, so don’t count on anyone saving you now!” said Luthor’s descendant. He touched a button as a wide screen of solid steel fiber blanketed the area and trapped Red Robin even as he hurled a batarang.
“You fired them with some belt launcher! But all the altitude in your little arsenal won’t do you good if you aim so poorly!” laughed Rokej, as the projectile that was the Batman’s legendary symbol had soared above the heads of the criminals from the future.
Superman and Power Girl saw their friend fall to the netting, and they tried to rise even as his weapon seemed to veer wildly off course.
“Too bad the old Bat didn’t teach you to throw!” laughed the Joker’s descendant.
“Now, with the flip of a switch, this crystal beauty wipes out Gotham!” said Rothul.
Suddenly, a brilliant flash of light shot through the crystal before they could activate it.
The two villains screamed as they were blinded by the blazing Bat-Signal when its glowing beam was directed down on them from above. By shining directly through the crystalline structure above them, its radiance was intensified, and the future crooks were blinded by the powerful glow. Their own death-ray had become the instrument of their defeat.
A blur ripped through the netting, and the Flash appeared. “Got here just in time!” said Jay Garrick. “Nice work, Red Robin! You used that batarang to activate the signal and blind them both. Batman would be very proud!”
Red Robin tied up the two crooks as they rubbed their eyes. “You two won’t return to trouble us again,” vowed the Huntress. “The Batman and Robin of the future can return you in their time machine and lock you both away for a long time.” She rubbed her sore limbs and said, “They got the drop on me and Bat-Mite, here.”
Brane emerged from the amber prison as Superman cracked it open. “We saw everything,” said the future heir to Batman’s legacy. “You preserved Batman’s city. No wonder you and he are legends in our time!”
Power Girl smiled as the Flash wrapped lead around the craft and allowed her to smash it to bits. “That takes care of their craft, and Superman is already disabling their crystal death-ray,” said the blonde beauty.
Red Robin exchanged greetings with Bat-Mite and waited as the others departed. Power Girl snuggled against him and said, “Why so quiet, hero? Your toss saved the whole city!”
He shook his head. “I tried to save the city, but I missed! I can judge a throw in the air, and I was slightly off. There is no way I could have hit the signal button with the only batarang I had time to launch.”
“I guess the Flash or Superman blew it to the right spot,” said Power Girl.
Red Robin nodded. “I’ll catch up with you in a minute, hon.” She flew off, and the young man approached the looming signal whose emblem meant the world to him.
Dick Grayson picked up the fallen batarang and gazed into the shadows around the device on the roof of Gotham City Police Headquarters. “Thanks, Bruce,” he said quietly. “You came through again. I love you.”
As he swung off, a spectral figure stepped out.
“Thank you, Spectre,” said the late Bruce Wayne, alias the Batman. “This meant a lot to me.”
The Spectre materialized next to his departed friend. “Even a ghost can feel friendship. The love you have for that young man and this city moves even a dead man’s heart,” said Jim Corrigan’s spirit as he ushered away the legendary Batman, who appeared to smile.