by Vendikarr DeWuff
Amanda Waller entered the senator’s office, quite curious about why she was there. She had quit the Suicide Squad after Commander Steel had made it clear during the team’s inaugural mission that he intended to sidestep her authority and run it himself. (*) As far as she knew, there was no good reason for Neptune Perkins to request the visit.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Suicide Squad: Path of the Immortal, Chapter 1: New Arrivals.]
Entering the room, she noticed that Perkins was not seated at his desk. He stood to the right of it, and another man she recognized stood to the left. She stared at the man seated at the desk and didn’t turn her eyes until he blinked.
The man stood up and offered his hand. “Mrs. Waller, I’m so glad to meet you. My name is Maxwell Lord.”
“Lord, eh? You run Queen Enterprises, don’t you?” (*) Amanda walked to the desk and stood facing Lord as she continued. “We have Neptune Perkins here, Dyna-Man there, and the man who runs the former Green Arrow’s affairs in front of me. Someone wanna tell me what’s going on?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Arrowette: The Archer’s Legacy.]
Amanda stood before Lord and waited. He extended his hand toward her chair, motioning for her to sit. Amanda waited, and Lord waited, and then Lord moved from behind the desk and started to walk. Amanda admired a man whom she couldn’t make back down.
“Mrs. Waller, Senator Perkins and Ambassador Dunbar are here with me to speak to you about this great country of ours — and about the troubles it’s seen since the Crisis.” He paused, waiting to see if Waller would interrupt. When she didn’t, he continued. “I learned from Senator Perkins of your recent government work and of your career helping a junior congressman from your district get elected before that. That is the skill we are looking for.”
“I don’t get you,” said Amanda.
“Mrs. Waller, surely you’ve seen the state of the nation since the Crisis. Many areas were ruined in battles with the shadow demons, and it seems only the rich, affluent areas of the major cities have been repaired. The common people need help.”
Amanda thought back on her return to Chicago, and how the Loop and Gold coast had been repaired, but the neighborhoods — especially Cabrini-Green — looked worse than ever before. Her sister even told her that the police didn’t even patrol there anymore. The gangs had taken over, and many parts of the city were a no-man’s land. Several other cities were in similar conditions.
“And how do you plan to save this country? You don’t believe the current government can?”
“No, I don’t believe they can. They have had a year to put a plan on the table, but the president believes it’s not the government’s place. I think it is.”
“So then elect the Democrats next time.”
“Mrs. Waller, they’re no different than the current administration. We need old-fashioned honesty in the White House. And neither party can give us that.”
“Cut to the chase, Lord. I know what you want, but I want to hear you say it.”
“OK, OK… Mrs. Waller, we need to elect a new president in ’88, one who’s not tied to either party. Someone who the people can trust and rally behind.”
Amanda stared at him. Political parties were started all the time, but never made it far. But Lord had some interesting backing here, with the former Dyna-Man — Ambassador Daniel Dunbar — and Senator Perkins. But in her mind, neither inspired her.
“OK, another political party,” said Waller. “But neither of these guys can run.” Perkins and Dunbar stared at her, and she continued, “They both have ties to politics already. You need someone strong and savvy. But not a politician. And not you, Lord, ’cause I don’t trust you.”
“Mrs. Waller, I had no intention of running,” said Lord. “But what you say makes perfect sense. So who would you suggest?”
“I didn’t say I would do it, but even before a candidate, you need to stand out. If I was running it, I would start with a press conference. Announce the formation of the party, and that Dunbar and Perkins have both joined it. That way, you have members of the party in political power. Wait — even before that, you need a name.”
“We did think about that, Amanda,” said Senator Perkins. “And here’s a list of possible candidates.”
Amanda read the list and promptly threw it to the ground. “Gentlemen, you’re selling yourselves short, here. Those are OK bland names, but you need to set the American people on fire. Make your issues theirs. And a name like that won’t work.” She paused, “But I have the perfect name.”
“Well, what is it, Mrs. Waller?” asked Dunbar.
“First things first. I will help you, but here are my terms. I am party chairperson and campaign manager. And when we are elected, I am appointed to the new cabinet position of Secretary of Superhuman Affairs. I want to make Steel suffer.”
“Just a moment,” said Perkins, as he and the others went to discuss Amanda’s demands.
She could see she had started some friction. The pieces of conversation she picked up told her party chair was going to be Lord’s job. Those were the breaks. Amanda turned and looked at the magnificient ocean paintings on the walls, admiring the detail. The men turned back to Waller.
Max Lord said, “Mrs. Waller, we anticipated making you campaign manager, so there is no problem with that. Ummm, party co-chair is the best I am willing to offer at this point, and the cabinet position you want is yours.”
Amanda smiled and said, “I’m in. Your new party is the All-Star Party. And I have a great idea for the presidential candidate. Set up a press conference for next week; I will get us a presidential candidate.”
Lord smiled and extended his hand. “Perfect, Mrs. Waller. Welcome to the team.”
Jay Garrick, the veteran super-hero known as the Flash, arrived at home moments after his wife Joan’s call. She had told him Neptune Perkins and another person had arrived to speak with him, and that it was a matter of importance. Jay sat down with Joan by his side, and Perkins and the woman with him — Amanda Waller was her name — started talking.
Not wanting to be rude, Jay engaged in some minor chit-chat. He and Joan caught up with Neptune about the old All-Star Squadron members and expressed his regrets when Neptune told him that he and Tsunami had very recently decided to try a trial separation. Jay noticed the woman Waller watching him impatiently. He could tell immediately that she was a get-to-the-point kind of person.
“Well, Neptune, why don’t we get to the reason you and Mrs. Waller stopped by. She looks like she has something to say.”
“Thank you, Mr. Garrick,” she said, turning and glaring at Perkins. “We do have a lot to do today. Let me come to the point. I want you to run for president.”
Jay looked at her, stunned, and Joan coughed up the drink she had just sipped. “President? Ma’am, I am not a politician, I’m a businessman, and I like to help out others when I can. But honestly, I’ve had very little need for politicians since FDR.”
“That’s why I want you, Mr. Garrick. ‘I help out others.’ What a great way of saying you’re a super-hero. And we don’t want a politician. I don’t like many of them myself.”
“Mr. Garrick, this country is a mess since the Crisis. I know you and your friends have done some to help, but let’s face it — super-villains keep you busy. Mr. Garrick, you’re an honest, decent man who is loved and respected by the everyday Joe and the super-hero community alike.”
Jay sat and thought about it. President — it was a dream of his when he was a kid, but what kid didn’t want to be the president? “I’m honored, Mrs. Waller, but–”
“No but, Mr. Garrick. This country needs new blood in the White House. And with you on the ticket, plenty of people will be joining the All-Star Party. Without you, Mr. Garrick, there will be no All-Star Party, because I don’t see anyone else leading it.”
“Mrs. Waller, I am honored, and truthfully, not totally dismissing it. But I need time to discuss this with Joan. I’m sure you understand.”
“I do, Mr. Garrick, but time is something I have very little of. You have five minutes. We’ll wait here; you two can discuss this in the kitchen.”
Jay rose from his chair and then paused, noting he had just been given orders in his own house. But Joan got up and followed him to the kitchen, and they talked.
“Jay, it’s so strange. But it does make sense to me. Have you seen the countryside while you run by? There is a lot that needs to be done.”
“Joan, I understand, but what about my company? What about the JSA? And what about that woman? She’s like a force of nature.”
“Jay, I love you, and will respect your decision, but honestly, they wouldn’t have come here if they didn’t think you were the one who could do it. I want you to do it.”
“You’re not just saying that so you can become First Lady, are you?”
Joan Garrick smiled an innocent smile, then said, “No, of course not. Now go give them your answer.”
The two left the kitchen and entered the living room, where the very look on their faces was answer enough for Waller.
“Great. Mr. Garrick, you have things to do, and so do I. There is a press conference set for next Tuesday; we will let you know the details. This is need-to-know information right now, so the fewer you tell, the better.” Amanda and Perkins stood and shook hands with Jay and exited the house.
Jay then said to Joan, “I need to make a few calls. Do you know where I left the number to Infinity Inc. headquarters?”
“Amanda, that was quite a performance,” said Perkins after exiting the house. “What would you have done if he said he wasn’t interested?”
“Gone to my second choice, of course. Glad I didn’t have to, though. I like Garrick better than Carter Hall.”
The Flash stood at the head of the table thinking over what he wanted to say to his colleagues. He started over and over again, but just could not find the right words. He sat in his seat and waited.
The meeting began, and it was a small group. Green Lantern called the meeting, since Hawkman was on a dig. Johnny Thunder, Hourman, and Wildcat were there, as was the Huntress. Meetings had this kind of turnout on occasion, what with everyone trying to maintain a life outside the costume.
Jay Garrick sat there lost in thought and only perked up when Green Lantern called for new business. Jay raised his hand and stood.
“I have a few things to say, and would appreciate no interruption,” said the hero who had been the original chairman of the JSA at the team’s founding. Johnny looked like he was going to say something, but the Flash raised his hand in a shushing motion, and Johnny kept his comments to himself. “It’s simply this,” continued Jay. “I have been approached by a new political party to run for office. The party will be named the All-Star Party, and its official announcement is at a press conference tomorrow.”
“So what are you saying, Jay?” asked Johnny, not able to keep quiet.
“Well, Johnny, I’m saying I’m taking a leave of absence from the JSA to run for president of the United States. And I ask that you accept Johnny Quick as a member in my place.”