by Starsky Hutch 76 and Vendikarr DeWuff
The Daily Star Building, Metropolis:
The doorway to a supply closet began to shimmer black, and then the young man stepped out. He walked down the hall to the office of the managing editor of the Daily Star and went to enter the room.
“Excuse me, you can’t go in there!” called Cat Grant, James Olsen’s secretary. “Mr. Olsen is on a very important call.”
“My business is very important and cannot wait,” he responded, then entered the office with the secretary hot on his heels.
Editor Jimmy Olsen looked up from his desk, quickly concluded his call, then asked, “What’s the meaning of this, Cat?”
“Your secretary is not at fault, sir. She did try to stop me. I have important business with you that cannot wait.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Olsen, I did try to–” began Cat.
“That’s OK, Cat. I’ll take things from here.” Cat exited the room and closed the door behind her. “You look familiar, young man. Do I know you?”
“We haven’t met, but you sort of know my mother.”
“Oh? Who’s that?”
“Lois Lane. Not the one you know, but from a parallel Earth. That world’s Lois Lane was my mother, and my father was–”
“Alexander Luthor!” interrupted Olsen. “Superman told me about your father and you. You are quite the hero of the Crisis. Are you busy? I would love to have one of my reporters come and talk to you.” He gazed down at his desk and called Cat Grant on his intercom. “Cat, get Parker in here with his camera, and grab one of those reporters standing around out there. A story just walked into my office.”
“Mr. Olsen, I really don’t have the time for an interview. I am trying to locate Lois Lane. Is she here?” said young Alexander Luthor Junior.
“Favors beget favors, Mr. Luthor. I give you what you need — what do I get?” replied Olsen.
Luthor sighed, then said, “Mr. Olsen, I can see how you rose to the top here. I will consent to an interview — without pictures — after I have concluded my business. You have my word.”
“Well, the word of a Luthor has never meant much around here, but you’re not like this world’s branch of that family. We have a deal.”
Just then, a knocking was heard at Olsen’s office door. “Never mind. We’ll do the interview later.” He turned to Luthor and asked, “What can I help you with, son?”
Flinching at the son comment, Luthor continued, “I need to reach Lois Lane. It’s a personal issue, really. Is she on assignment somewhere?”
“She retired, son. She and her husband retired to Clark’s old hometown with their adopted son.”
“So, the Earth-Prime Superboy is here as well. Excellent. I had feared I lost them all. Smallville, you say? Then I must be on my way.”
“Wait a minute, son. When can we schedule that interview?” asked Olsen.
“Once I have returned from Smallville. I can’t be more specific than that.”
Luthor turned and created a portal at Olsen’s office door, then walked through it, while Olsen screamed, “Wait!” He then screamed through the door, “Miss Grant, get in here.”
Cat Grant entered the room with a pad, glancing around and looking very surprised to see that her boss was the only man in the room. “Yes, sir?”
“Our young guest has gone to Smallville to meet with Lois Kent. There is a story brewing with him, and I want to know what it is. Who’s available to take a trip?”
Cat Grant took a deep breath and blurted out, “I am, sir. I know I’m just your secretary, but I just took that job to get a foot in the door. I really want to be a reporter, and I thought if I got on the staff, I could be in the right place if a big lead came up and show that I had the stuff to be a great reporter in the same vein as Lois Lane. Please give me this chance, sir,” she said, then took another breath to replace the ones she hadn’t taken.
Jimmy Olsen looked at her, and inside he smiled. What spunk. What nerve. Reminded him of someone he knew a long time ago. He said to her, “Miss Grant, what I want you to do is get back to your desk — and call the secretarial pool to send up a replacement. Then I want you on your way to Smallville.”
He watched her face move from sadness to a smile of joy, and she threw her arms around him in a big hug. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. You won’t be sorry. I promise.”
“Just get me the story. That’s thanks enough.”
“No problem, Chief. I’ll get it.”
Olsen called out at her, “And don’t call me Chief!” And he smiled.
For nearly a day, Mina Curry rode with the Gotham Girls’ Youth League, laughing, chatting, and making friends. Once she arrived in Gotham City, she got a ride from Sally and her mother to the street that the JSA Brownstone was on, then walked the rest of the way.
She ducked back into the alley and changed back into the outfit she had been wearing when she first arrived on the surface world. Looking down at the suit, she laughed to herself. It really did look like a bathing suit. Luckily, she hadn’t been wearing the boots and gloves at the time, or she wouldn’t have blended in as well as she did.
Once she was in costume, she walked up to the entrance and knocked on the door. She was surprised to see two boys her own age greet her. From their expressions, they were equally startled to see her.
A few moments later, Superboy slowly eased open the door to the meeting room. The JSAers assembled there appeared to be involved in a heavy discussion.
“All I’m saying is,” Doctor Mid-Nite said emphatically, “is how do we know there isn’t something more sinister than mechanics behind our inability to cross over between worlds? Do we know for certain that the Anti-Monitor is dead? This could be more of his doing!”
“Believe me,” Superman said. “He is gone. History. You can count on it.”
Superboy cleared his throat, and every eye turned toward him. He stepped into the room a little bit, and the door parted a little more as Batwing stepped in with him.
“What is it, son?” Superman said.
“We’re in the middle of a meeting, Batwing,” Red Robin said sternly.
“We’ve… uh… we’ve got company,” Jason said.
Mina put a hand on each of their shoulders and pushed her way through. “Hi, everybody!” she said with a cheerful wave.
The portal opened in the woods just outside of town, and Alexander Luthor Junior decided to walk into town. Seeing as he had never really experienced any kind of life, having been raised from infancy to adulthood by the Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths in a matter of days, he wanted to enjoy the air and sights.
Noting how slow-paced life was here compared to Metropolis, Alex found himself walking more slowly as well. He did, however, notice people staring at him. The clothes Bibbo had found for him were functional but made him stand out in a town such as this.
This became evident when a police cruiser pulled up alongside Alex.
“Hello. Where you headed?” called a lean officer with a receding hairline from the car. “Need a lift out of town?”
“No, thank you, Officer. I wasn’t leaving town,” replied Alex, shaking his head. If he had wanted to leave town, why would he have entered it?
“Come over to the vehicle, please,” called the officer. Alexander moved closer to the car, and the officer continued. “You’re not from around here, and from the looks of you, not from anywhere. We have laws in town about vagrants.”
Alexander had to stop and think a moment, refreshing himself with the term. Then he said, “I’m not a vagrant, sir. I am looking for Lois Kent. I understand she and her family moved here recently. I’m a relative of hers just in from Metropolis.”
The officer looked at him skeptically, and then said, “Well, Mrs. Kent should be over at the Gazette. Let’s take a ride over there. What did you say your name was, son?”
Flinching and wondering why older men liked calling younger men son, Alex said, “I didn’t give my name, sir, but it’s Alexander Lu — Lane.” Alex had decided to change the name at the last minute, seeing as his prior use of his surname had not been received well.
“Well, Mr. Lane, climb in. Oh, and by the way, I’m Jack Ross — Sheriff Jack Ross.”
They drove up two blocks and turned, and Alex saw the small office of a small town newspaper. The sheriff exited the car, then let Alex out of the back of the cruiser. They both walked into the office.
The small bell rang as the door opened, and they saw a young, red-headed girl at the counter, typing furiously into a computer. She looked up, a bit of youthful impatience in her voice, and said, “Can I help you?”
The sheriff smiled at her. “Yes, Jemi. Is Mrs. Kent in? We have a visitor for her.” He motioned his head toward Alexander.
“She’s in her office,” said Jemi Olsen. “Want me to get her, Sheriff?”
“If you could. I’ll holler if someone comes in.”
Both men stood and waited as the young girl walked back into the editor’s office, and a minute later, both women exited the room. Lois saw Alexander standing there and called out, “Alexander!”
“Aunt Lois,” Alexander called back, and went to take a step toward her, but was held back by the strong arm of Sheriff Ross.
“I take it you know this man, Mrs. Kent?”
“Yes, this my… nephew, Alexander.” She looked toward him, seeing him mouth the name Lane. “Alexander Lane,” she said.
She went and hugged him, and the sheriff turned to leave. “Glad to deliver him to you safely, Mrs. Kent. Son, you should do a little clothes shopping before you wander around town. Some people may get the wrong idea about you.”
Alexander nodded to him, while thinking, Like you did?
Lois then turned to the girl and said, “Jemi, I’m going to bring Alexander back to the house. Could you watch things ’til I get back?”
“No problem, Mrs. Kent. I’ve got it covered.”
As Lois led Alexander out of the building, he glanced back at the girl and frowned. She bore a striking resemblance to someone he’d recently met, but he couldn’t quite place it.
Mina Curry ran from the JSA Brownstone with tears in her eyes, passing a startled Jay Garrick, the Flash.
“Who was that?” the Flash asked Doctor Mid-Nite.
“Trouble,” Mid-Nite said. “Someone needs to go after her.”
“She got here OK,” Wildcat said. “Obviously Aquaman’s kid can take care of herself.”
“Ted!” Wonder Woman chided. “She’s only a child!”
“Did you guys have to be so rough on her?” Batwing said.
“This is the Justice Society of America!” Hourman said sternly. “Not just anyone can barge in here and demand membership. The founders of Infinity Inc. discovered the same thing.”
“I did, too,” Red Robin said. “I was practically middle-aged before you got around to offering me full membership.”
“That was an oversight on our part,” Hourman said. “This is not. I’d be willing to bet my entire fortune against yours that Aquaman and Mera have no idea where she is right now.”
“He does now,” Superman said, walking into the room. “And he’s none too happy. It appears she stowed away on her older brother’s transport to the surface when he left for L.A. to join the Infinitors.”
“Great Hera!” Wonder Woman cried. “That little girl made it all the way from L.A. to Gotham?”
“Little girl on the verge of becoming a young woman,” Jay Garrick said. “Obviously, she’s trying to assert her independence.”
“I know how that is,” Hourman said. “I went through the same thing with Rick. To a certain extent, it feels like I still am much of the time.”
“Well, we can’t leave her runnin’ around out there,” Wildcat said. “Someone needs to go after her.”
“I can locate her in a jiffy,” Jay said, looking as if he were about to dash out.
“She doesn’t need a bunch of grown-ups coming down on her right now,” Red Robin said, holding his hand up to stop him. “She’ll get plenty of that when she gets back to Atlantis.” He turned to Batwing and Superboy and said, “Right now, Mina could probably use the company of a couple of people her own age.”
Batwing and Superboy both gulped in unison. “Us?!”
“Alex, I am so glad you’re OK. We were so worried about you. What happened to you back then? The last thing I remember was you bringing me and the boys out of the antimatter universe, then sometime later we somehow ended up back on Earth days later — which was our Earth, not the unified Earth Clark told me about — and you were nowhere to be found.”
“I don’t remember much about that time myself, but after I delivered you and the Supermen here, I was hit by a wave of antimatter energy I believe was caused by the Anti-Monitor’s death. I closed the doorway but ended up in a different place called Suicide Slum in New York City. I met a man there who cared for me ’til I was rested enough to leave, which was this afternoon.”
Talking as she drove, Lois continued, “So you came here to find us? You could have gone to the JSA Headquarters. There’s always someone there.”
“Lois, I came to find you.”
Lois glanced at him, a puzzled look on her face. “Me?”
“Yes. After I had been matured by the Monitor, I researched my beginnings on Earth-Three. I saw that I was the son of that world’s Luthor and his wife, Lois Lane. In a way, you are the only family I have here. When my parents tried to save me by sending me to Earth-One, they intended I have a normal life, I suppose. But instead I was found by the Monitor. (*) My life was taken from me, and I was prepared for one task — taking his place leading the war against his counterpart.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Summoning,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (April, 1985).]
“Now, Alex, there’s more for you in life.”
“Lois, no. I was matured to lead a battle, with no regard for me. It’s as if my existence wasn’t supposed to continue after the Crisis. But it did, and I find myself alone. I have no past. I have no memories of youth. I am just here.”
“You make the Monitor sound so evil. He helped us.”
“He used us in his battle against the Anti-Monitor. My examination of his records showed he helped both heroes and villains. He armed villains and heroes alike. He was no noble benefactor. He let the end justify the means. Unfortunately, I am his son as much as that of my biological parents.”
“What does that mean?”
“While recuperating, I have been reading of a resurgence of superhuman activity. This energy is coming from somewhere. I believe it might be due to residual energy from the Crisis. The displaced energy that would have created heroes and villains in other universes needs to go somewhere. And I think it has ended up here, and possibly on the other surviving Earths as well. Someone has to monitor all of this superhuman activity.”
“And you have decided it must be you?” asked Lois.
“I am uniquely qualified, Lois. I was created to replace the Monitor.”
“So what can we do to help you?”
“Lois, you are my mother, or you could have been. I would like to stay with you and your family. You are all the family I have. I need someplace to live and prepare.”
The car pulled onto a dirt road that led to the farmhouse. Lois turned before reaching the farmhouse, stopping at a newly refurbished structure.
“This was the bunkhouse. It was used when Clark’s father John Eben Kent ran the farm. His farm hands stayed here.”
“It looks almost new,” stated Alex.
“Clark has been tutoring Clark Junior on the use of his powers. One of his tasks was using them to repair this building.” She took Alexander’s hand in hers and said, “Alex, I feel a bond with you, and I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because you are a part of me biologically. I don’t know.”
“I feel it too, Lois.”
“You need a place to stay, and you need family. Well, Clark and I are your family. We wouldn’t be here without you. You take this building and stay here as long as you want. It’s yours.”
“I appreciate that, Lois, but shouldn’t you check with Clark first?”
“No, I don’t see him having a problem with it at all.”
She opened the door and exited the car, as did Alex. They went to the bunkhouse, and Alexander entered. “Lois, I am going to need to rest. I have used my portal power a little too much today, and I guess I’m not up to full strength yet.”
Lois gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Then get your rest. I will call you when the boys are home.”