DC Universe: The Race, Book 1, Chapter 3: Responsibility

by Doc Quantum, Starsky Hutch 76 and Vendikarr DeWuff

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“Alan?”

“Hello, Jay,” replied Alan Scott as he opened his front door with a smile for his old friend. “Glad you could make it, what with all the preparations you must be making.”

“You sounded somewhat strange on the phone; are you all right?” asked Jay Garrick with concern.

“Well, I hardly had time to hang up the phone before I heard my doorbell ring,” he laughed. “Give me a second. I need to change into my working clothes.”

Alan Scott held his ring up to face himself, and the ring glowed brightly, changing his casual clothing into the outfit of the Green Lantern, the JSA member and legendary crime-fighter of the golden age.

“Let’s go,” he said, opening the front door and taking to the air; he caught Jay Garrick, dressed in his Flash outfit, in a protective green globe. They flew off in the sky toward the west as the sun was setting.

Fifty miles inland, Alan spoke up after being strangely quiet. “Jay, what made you decide to run for President?

Jay Garrick thought for a moment. “I suppose it all comes down to making a difference. In the nearly fifty years you and I have been super-heroes, we’ve done a heck of a lot of good in our time. And we’ve seen another couple of generations rise to the occasion to continue the job we started. Our kind of crime-fighting is a game for the young, though; I’m starting to see that I can make more of a difference through the political process than in putting the Fiddler in jail for the umpteenth time. And maybe, just maybe, after close to fifty years of being the Flash — a hero to generations of youngsters — I’ve decided to grow up, expand my horizons.”

Alan was still strangely silent for a moment, and Jay continued. “Hey, do you remember way back when we were in our twenties? Do you remember what we thought of people our age back then?”

Alan laughed. “Yeah. Back when I first became the Green Lantern, I couldn’t imagine being as old as I am now. I guess the kids in Infinity Inc. think the same way.”

“I remember watching the Veterans’ Day parades back then. I never identified with those men when I was young, but somehow fifty years has gone by. I’m one of them now.”

“We both are,” said Alan as they passed over Kansas.

Jay laughed and looked at his friend. “Of course, you’re looking better for your age than I am!”

“I guess so,” said Alan, who had been transformed into a man in his twenties thanks to the energies of his ring. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Green Lantern: Emerald Renaissance.]

“How far west are we going, Alan?”

“California,” he responded, becoming suddenly quiet once more.

A few minutes later they slowed down, finally settling down in a small town in a valley — Broome, California.

“Jay, I — I wanted to show you something,” Alan said as they passed over the small town and headed toward a graveyard on the outskirts. “It’s important that we remember the past from time to time. This is one of those times.”

The two men stopped before a small, lonely grave. Jay Garrick read the tombstone: “Harold Lawrence Jordan. Born February 20, 1930, died June 28th, 1941… Alan, I–”

“I don’t blame you for not remembering,” said Alan Scott. “It was a long time ago, and we didn’t know what were were in the middle of back then.”

“That was the case where we fought Ian Karkull and his gang, wasn’t it? And we ended up saving the lives of all those men, who we found out later became the country’s presidents for the next forty-plus years.”

“Yes,” said Alan. “Except I failed in my mission. The boy who would have been the president after Reagan was killed by Wotan, and I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t save his life, and history was changed.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984).]

“I think I understand,” said Jay.

Alan looked into the eyes of his friend. “You have a responsibility, Jay. If I had been able to save him, that boy would have become the 41st President of the United States of America. He died, but maybe there’s a purpose in there somewhere. I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re going to run for President, then give it all you’ve got, man. This country needs a leader — a man like you. I know you have what it takes to be President.”

Jay smiled. “Thank you.”

The two men embraced each other as brothers for a moment.

“Now,” said Alan, smiling, “I wonder if it’s too late for the Earth-One Hal Jordan to get his political career on the right track?”

The two old friends changed back into very casual clothes via Green Lantern’s ring and walked into the middle of town toward a pub for a celebratory drink. They both knew that this would be one of the last times this would be possible. For Jay Garrick’s face would be known to the entire world soon enough, and anonymity would be one of those luxuries no longer available for him.

***

Clark Kent paced about the room with his infant daughter Mary cradled in one of his massive arms. The other hand held her bottle.

“I hope you aren’t going to be pacing about like that when the press conference finally comes on,” said his cousin, Karen Starr, AKA Power Girl. “The rest of us would like to see it.”

“Sorry,” he said, grinning sheepishly. “Just nervous for Jay, I guess.”

“And you hold still!” Karen said to the teenager seated in front of her. “Unless you want me to accidentally take off your ear with these special scissors built from my rocket-ship!” As one of the few people with the required strength, she had been recruited to cut the long locks the Boy of Steel had acquired in his last adventure.

“I kind of anticipated losing a little blood during this, anyway,” the youth known to the world as Superboy teased.

“One more word out of you, junior, and you’ll be showing up for your date with Laurie Lemmon sporting a mohawk,” she said with a half-grin.

“You’re going to make Mary dizzy if you keep that up,” Clark Junior said, gesturing to his adoptive father.

“Yeah, Kal, what’s eating you?” Karen said.

“I just can’t get over the fact that Jay’s going to run for president,” Clark said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I’ve been asked to run before, too. I’ve never accepted, however. I figured my place wasn’t in politics. Seeing him now, I wonder if it was the right thing.”

“You’ve served this world a hundred times over,” Power Girl said. “And while — hold still! — and while Jay might be a great hero in his own right, you’re Superman! And to most of the world, that title means even more than Mr. President.”

“Thanks, Kara. But my Superman days are almost behind me now. This world is going to have a new one in a few years,” Clark said, causing Clark Junior to grin.

“True,” Karen said. “But you’ve moved on to a title even more important than that.”

“Really? What’s that?”

Daddy, of course!” she said, gesturing to the infant in his arms.

“Very good point,” he said, staring down lovingly at his new daughter. “Very good point.”

***

Cameron Chase walked on the Great Mall toward the FDR Memorial. Leave it to Lord to set up the announcement here. Symbolism coming out of his ears.

A small podium had been set up near the statues created from the historic picture of FDR with the JSA. Lord hasn’t missed a trick. Associating Garrick with FDR is a master stroke. The two have so much in common.

As she got closer, she heard the roar of a powerful motorcycle and saw the approaching Cat-o-Cycle with Wildcat in the driver’s seat. She hadn’t expected other JSA members here. But if anyone did show up, it would be Grant. The American people loved Wildcat. She remembered a poll done in People about favorite JSA members. Wildcat had come in third behind Garrick and Green Lantern.

Chase walked toward Wildcat and called out to him. He turned, and she saw the smile on his face drop off when he realized who she was.

“Miss Chase,” said Wildcat politely.

“Wildcat. It’s a surprise seeing you.”

“I’m just as surprised to see you. I assume you know what’s going to happen here, even though it’s a secret.”

“There’s not much that is a secret to the DEO,” she said, and then whispered softly, “Mr. Grant.”

“What interest do you have here, Miss Chase?” asked Wildcat.

“Merely observing. One never knows what could happen or who could show up. Maybe more of your JSA friends will be here, but not in their working clothes.”

“Couldn’t say, Miss Chase. Anything’s possible; now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to find Jay before this show gets started.”

As Wildcat started walking away, Chase said to him, “Why didn’t you ask about her?

He came to a complete stop, then turned and asked, “Is she OK?”

“Your granddaughter’s condition is the same as it was when we brought her in. She still hates you.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Nemesis: Beyond Redemption.]

He stepped right up to her and said, “I can understand why she dislikes me so. But why do you? I never did a thing to you.”

“Mr. Grant, I don’t like masks. It’s that simple. You people hide who you are, what a danger you are to a neighborhood, to friends, to a family.” She paused. “You’re children playing a game, and don’t stop to think of the pain you cause to those who are closest to you. I will see you all unmasked one day, and let your loved ones see how much you trusted them.”

“Lady, you don’t know nothing about–”

“Save it, Wildcat. I do know, because… well, it’s none of your business. But I know.” She paused to collect her wits; she had let out more of her anger than she anticipated. Then she continued.

“I admire your friend Mr. Garrick. He revealed himself to the world, and shortly after that The Life of the Flash by Jonathan Law was published, telling the whole story. Garrick let it all out and had been honest with his wife from the start. To tell you the truth, he has my vote. Now didn’t you have somewhere to be?”

She turned and walked away from him. Wildcat called out to her, “You need to treat that wound; it’s already festering and eating away at you. It’s gonna kill you if you don’t.”

Cameron Chase continued to quickly walk away from the masked man, fuming at the fact that she had let down her guard so much to him. How dare he presume to think he knows what I went through? How–? She stopped suddenly, because she had walked right into someone.

He was tall, had dark hair graying at the temples, and was wearing a blue pin-striped suit, with no tie, open at the collar. He was wearing sunglasses and had a matchstick in his mouth. “Better be careful, Cameron; someone might get hurt,” he said.

She stared at him, trying to recognize him, and then the match finally struck her. “Matches Malone? What are you doing here?”

“Just came to hear the announcement and be on hand in case there’s trouble. I imagine Steel sent you here for the same reason.”

“For the most part, yes. Did he send you?” Even as she asked the question, she realized how unlikely it was. Malone had a real problem with Steel, something neither discussed, but both made painfully obvious.

“No, Arn did. He wants me to watch over the Garrick family. And once the announcement is made, he’s gonna have strings pulled to have me assigned as part of the Secret Service detail. Funny, isn’t it? Me working as a cop.”

“Hilarious,” said Chase. “You’d better stay out of the way; near the right of the stage is good. I’ll stand by the left. Keep alert.”

“You know, we’re not the only security here. Lord didn’t take any chances. He has Quimby from California here organizing security.”

“Yeah, I saw Quimby earlier. But I doubt Lord clued him in. Just keep your eyes open.”

“They already are. I found you, didn’t I?” he said and smiled as he walked to the right of the stage.

“This is just not my day,” muttered Chase to herself.

***

After Chase had walked away, Wildcat had hopped back on his bike and found a pay phone nearby. He dialed up the JSA Headquarters.

“Rex? You pulled duty today? Sorry to hear that. You gonna watch?

Wildcat listened, then said, “Rex, I need you to do me a favor. I need the number of Syl’s girlfriend in L.A. I need the help of a detective, and it can’t be a mask.” He listened for a moment and said, “Never mind. I need to look into someone’s past. I’ve run into someone who needs my help, whether she wants it or not.”

Continued in Wildcat: The Chase

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