by JSAGL and Vendikarr DeWuff
“Come any closer, and I’ll jump! I swear, I’ll jump!”
High atop the Daily Star Building, Morgan Edge straddled the ledge on the twenty-fifth floor. All his life he had wanted power and glory, to be number one. He thought that with Clark Kent’s retirement, he would finally get his shot at controlling the Daily Star. But no, that damnable Jimmy Olsen got his job — his job. But he’d show them. No one made a fool out of Morgan Edge — no one.
Below, the street teemed with police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, and the news media. UBS, GBC, and all the major new organizations were there. And best of all, there was no Superman to be found. At least in death, Morgan reasoned, he would make the front page.
At the window a few feet away, Jimmy Olsen tried desperately to get Morgan to come back in, but to no avail. He tried calling Clark, but Lois said he was busy with the JSA.
Suddenly, Morgan Edge did the unthinkable. He jumped.
But as he did, something flew in at incredible speed from far up in the clouds and caught Morgan Edge, just before he hit the ground.
Voices rose up from the crowd, “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a plane! It’s a bird! No, not a bird! Hawkman!”
Gently, the winged wonder landed on the ground with an unconscious Morgan Edge in his arms. He quickly handed the man over to the EMTs as reporters surrounded him.
“Hawkman! Hawkman! That was a spectacular rescue, but last we heard, you were out of commission for good!”
The Hawkman smiled. It was good to be back. “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve had a lot to deal with in the past few months, most notably recovering from the wounds I suffered at the hands of Doctor Phosphorus, but the Hawkman is back to stay. In fact, I was on my way to JSA Headquarters when I spotted your little problem here.”
“Hawkman! Vic Sage, Action News. Is there any truth to the rumor–?”
Without warning, Hawkman’s JSA signal device went off. Great Osiris! Hawkman thought to himself. It’s a Priority One alert!
Unfurling his wings, Hawkman took to the skies, leaving a few ruffled reporters in his wake.
The scene repeated itself all over the globe, but curiously, the signal happened for each JSAer at a different time. The Patriot had received it first, despite being the farthest away from JSA Headquarters. In Gotham City, Red Robin, Power Girl, and the Huntress were interrupted by it. In New York City, the Sandman — despite being enfeebled by the ravages of age — even donned his gas mask once more to answer the call. And the newly merged Doctor Fate did likewise in his/her tower in Salem, Massachusetts.
The heroes quickly arrived at JSA Headquarters, where the entire membership of the Justice Society of America assembled, except for the long-missing Starman.
Wonder Woman, clearly upset at having to let her daughter Lyta Trevor take Steve Trevor home, asked the question, “Who among us would summon the entire membership with a Priority One call? And by Hera, it had better be for a damn good reason.”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” replied Hawkman. “I certainly wouldn’t have assembled all of you just to announce my return to the JSA.”
“Hey guys, look outside!” the Atom said, pointing to the sky. Over the JSA Brownstone, a great rip had formed in the heavens, glowing as red as hellfire.
“What is it, Al?” Doctor Mid-Nite asked.
A voice came out of nowhere, saying, “It is the end of all things.”
“The Spectre!” cried the assembled membership in unison.
They moved toward the Spectre, but he was unlike any Spectre they had ever seen. His cloak was in tatters, his body bruised and bloody. How could the Spectre be injured?
Doctor Fate, the last one to see the Spectre back in October, was the first to reach him now, catching him as he fell into Fate’s arms. “Dear God, Jim, who did this to you?”
The Spectre looked at Fate and reached his hand toward Fate’s helmet. “No… time. You must understand.” At the touch of a fingertip, a flood of imagery entered Kent and Inza Nelson’s mind, and they instantly understood all as the Spectre collapsed on the ground.
Doctor Mid-Nite rushed over to the fallen form of Jim Corrigan, while the Flash and Green Lantern picked Doctor Fate up.
Superman and Wonder Woman joined Mid-Nite’s side. “Charles, is he…?”
Doctor Mid-Nite gently covered the Spectre with his cape. “I know this will sound stupid, but the Spectre is dead.”
Johnny Thunder spoke up from across the room. “Umm, wasn’t he already…?”
Wildcat slugged Johnny in the arm, “Not now, pinhead.”
Suddenly, Doctor Fate bolted away from the Flash and Green Lantern. “Come closer, my friends, that we might make the Spectre’s sacrifice a valiant one.”
As the assembled membership drew near, Doctor Fate related the tale told to him/her by the Spectre in their mental link.
“The year is 1945,” said Fate. “I can see the assembled Justice Society attending the funeral of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was one of the few times before the end of the war that the entire membership was present — the Atom, Batman, ourselves, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, Mister Terrific, the Sandman, the Spectre, Superman, Wildcat, and Wonder Woman.”
“I remember that, Fate,” said Green Lantern. “We all went over to Carter’s after the funeral. Nothing else happened that day.”
“But it did, Green Lantern, it did. As you recall, it was in the final days of the war. Hitler knew that he was days away from defeat. In a last desperate measure, he used the Spear of Destiny to somehow tie into the Spectre’s powers and bring about Ragnarok, the end of all things.
“The sky opened up in Washington, D.C., hellfire pouring from above, much as the sky is outside now. The JSA fought valiantly that day, but in the end, the power that Hitler brought to bear was too much. The entire membership died that day, and the hellfire consumed the Earth, ensuring Hitler’s final victory. Only the Spectre, on the verge of his own death, escaped and came here to the future to warn us.”
Superman looked at Fate incredulously. “Are you insane, Fate? We didn’t die that day! That story you related never happened.”
“But it did, Man of Steel, it did. Even now, you can see the red skies outside, much like the Crisis, engulfing our world to fulfill Hitler’s victory — unless we go back in time and stop it.”
Superman looked at the assembled heroes: the Atom, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, the Huntress, Johnny Thunder, Power Girl, Red Robin, the Patriot, even the Sandman, bless his soul, Wildcat, Wonder Woman, and himself. He was proud to call them friends.
“All right, Fate. For the sake of the world, one more time, but only we JSAers. Several of the children are about. They stay here.”
And with that, the JSA vanished under Fate’s power to save the world once more and fulfill their destiny.
Alex DeWitt, the new super-heroine called Corona, looked on as the membership of the JSA vanished. She felt a little irked at being lumped in with the children, but she could understand. She was an untrained variable and best left behind.
She and Green Lantern had been headed to his home when the call came, and he had her join him in his return to the JSA Brownstone. She was awed and speechless when the members began to arrive. She was standing among legends.
Wildcat had been able to tell that she was nervous and had given her a reassuring wink. She liked Wildcat. She definitely felt comfortable with him.
“Why didn’t they take us?” shouted Superboy. “We could certainly help.”
“What a rip-off,” grumbled Batwing. “Robin’s been training me like crazy, and then leaves me behind when something big comes up.”
Listening to the others grumbling, Alex attempted to be voice of reason. “Didn’t you hear Fate? They’ve gone back to fight Hitler again from ending the world. Do you really think you have the experience for that? I know I don’t.” She paused, then continued, “Whatever happened eliminated the Spectre! Do you think you can battle something that can destroy God’s own angel of vengeance? Where they’re going, they may not return. We have to be ready, here and now. Some of them might not be back.”
She looked at the young heroes gathered and saw fear in their eyes. It hit her then that they’d never thought it through to the end, that someone could actually die doing this job. Ah, the immortality of youth, she thought.
“Let’s focus. This is time travel, right? They could come back any moment now — or be gone for hours, days, weeks…”
“She’s right,” said Superboy. “Let’s get back to our training.” He then turned to Alex. “You want to join us, uhh… who are you?”
“Name’s Corona. And sure. I have to wait for Green Lantern to get back, anyway.”
Batwing said, “Corona?”
“No, I didn’t name myself after a beer,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Geez, maybe I better pick a new name.”
“Umm, no, Miss Corona, I think your name is great,” said Damage, looking at Corona with puppy-dog eyes.
“Thanks. Now, let’s get something done ’til the JSA gets back.” She added to herself, If they get back.
She played the tape over and over again, half-believing it couldn’t be true. Each time, though, it was the same. Superman gave the word, Doctor Fate raised his arms, and the entire team vanished. How could it be?
Ma Hunkel, bless her soul, had taken the Junior JSA kids out for the rest of the day, hoping to get their minds off the disappearance of their mentors. (*) It was hard to believe that at age eighty-one, Ma was beginning her super-hero career again, but she couldn’t think of anyone better suited to handle a bunch of unruly children than good old Ma.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Junior JSA: Who’s Minding the Store?]
She entered the trophy room and was overcome by a wave of melancholy. She picked up a photo from its stand. It was covered with a light layer of dust, which she quickly wiped off. Were we ever really this young? She wiped away the tears from her eyes as she took in the faded photo, taken at the JSA’s first official meeting. There was Al Pratt, looking like he could take on the world; Rex Tyler, looking like he hadn’t a care in the world; Jay Garrick just all smiles, even if it was hard to make out the way his face blurred; Carter Hall, looking like the leader he would become, so regal and upright; Alan Scott, so quiet and dignified, even in that garish outfit; Wes Dodds and Kent Nelson, so mysterious behind their masks; and the Spectre, looking almost human.
She put the picture back in its place. Looking around the room, she saw so many other photos: Mister Terrific and Wildcat during their brief membership in the 1940s; Dinah Drake looking so proud to join the JSA, with Johnny Thunder looking so dejected in the background; the JSA and the Justice League from Earth-One after their first historic meeting.
Slowly, she made her way past the trophy and display cases. There was the Atom’s original costume. God, I remember the boys used to tease Al unmercifully, telling him the JSA’s official battle cry was, “Atom, wait!” The thought brought a brief smile to her lips. There were Carter’s many Hawk helmets and Wes’ gold and purple uniform. What was Dian thinking?! There was the original Psycho-Pirate’s hat, the Key’s mask, one of the Sportsmaster’s deadly weapons, and the remains of Vulcan’s helmet. There were so many memories all around her; would there be no more?
Silently, she made her way into the main meeting room. The same table was there that Carter had brought back from England in 1945, a gift from Winston Churchill himself. The same fourteen chairs surrounded the table, though it hardly ever seemed liked they needed more than seven at any one time. She ran her fingers lightly over the backs of the chairs — Jay’s, Alan’s, Helena’s, Kara’s, and finally the chair at the front of the table — Carter’s. The gavel sat there as if waiting for Hawkman to return to bang it down one last time. She gently picked up the gavel, which had been used to call JSA meetings to order for almost fifty years.
“As the sole remaining member of the Justice Society, I hereby call this meeting to order.”
There was only silence, not that she really expected anyone to answer. Shiera Sanders Hall, still called Hawkgirl despite being in her sixties, sat down in her husband’s chair, folded her arms, and put her head down, sobbing quietly. Why didn’t they wait for her? Why?
“Please come back safely, my love.”
Jared Stevens, the Scarab, paced back and forth in the lounge of the JSA Brownstone. He never imagined he would be here. It was like the home of the gods. He always found the costumed set a bit silly and was always afraid Carter would get himself killed in this line of work. But now that he had a taste of it, he understood the ability to do right in the world, to help others, no matter what the possible cost to yourself. These people had done that since World War Two, and hadn’t stopped yet. It was the least he could do to help.
He reflected on what had brought him here today. He had arrived at New Feithera in Fate’s Tower to talk to Hawkman, only to find he had just missed him. Shiera, on the other hand, had been visiting with the Cantrells and hadn’t headed home yet. Carter had to be on time for the next meeting, and Shiera felt she could run a little late.
He visited with her, explaining recent developments to her and the hero known as Northwind. When Shiera was ready to head home, Jared flew back with her. Northwind decided to stay behind and continue training with his grandfather, Worla.
It was a leisurely flight until her JSA signal device went off, Priority One. They flew as fast as they could, but by the time they had arrived at the JSA Brownstone, the team was gone.
Shiera spoke with the strange lady wearing the pot on her head — the Red Tomato, or something — and then the lady took a bunch of costumed kids out for the day, leaving Jared with Shiera and another woman calling herself Corona.
It appeared that the JSA had gone on a dangerous mission, time-traveling to stop a plot by Hitler. This threat had destroyed the Spectre. How could the rest of the JSA fare against this? Add to that the darkening of the sky and the tear forming, and there was plenty of reason to worry.
The young woman, Corona, had told him she arrived there with Green Lantern. He was training her and had left her behind with the kids. Corona sat rather calmly for quite some time until she jumped out of her seat and walked out the door, headed for the room with the huge table, which he assumed was the meeting room.
Jared, hating the cooped-up feeling, followed her there.
Corona approached the meeting room and noticed the hero calling himself Scarab was following her. She saw Hawkgirl sitting at the head of the table, holding a gavel in her hand. Corona walked up to her.
“Excuse me, is there anything I… we can do?” she said, making it we when Scarab entered the room.
“Corona, was it? I’m just worried. How could I not be, seeing that tape?”
“I understand. I was here for the news. And it was hard to take then. And then they just vanished.”
Trying to compose herself, Shiera changed the subject. “I saw the tape of you putting the Atom in a jar. (*) Wildcat has it on a separate machine, labeled Must-See TV. You seem to have a handle on your ability.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Green Lantern: Emerald Renaissance, Chapter 3: Corona.]
“It’s the ring, ma’am. It does most of the work. All I have to do is think of something.”
“Not very different than Green Lantern’s ring, then. You came to the right place. We can help you. And I think you can help us.”
“I don’t understand,” replied Corona.
“Did you meet Scarab?” asked Hawkgirl.
“Just briefly,” answered Corona.
“He’d stopped a mercenary attack on an archaeological dig and saved Doctor Fate from a villain named Barter in the last couple of weeks. (*) He’s going to do great things in this business, as will you.”
Both young people blushed. Then they heard a call down the hall. Molly Maynne Scott entered the meeting room, followed by the Infinitors Jade and Obsidian. Molly walked up to Shiera, who stood from the table, and they hugged each other.
“I’m glad you’re here,” said Shiera. “I’ve made a decision. This mission the team went on may be a one-way trip. They have beaten the odds before, but we can’t take that chance.”
“What do you mean?” asked Molly.
“Well, in the ’40s, the JSA had reserve members. When a new member came on, old ones went on reserve. Mister Terrific and Wildcat were reserve members until the ’60s themselves.”
Shiera paused, then continued. “As the only regular member here, I am naming the five of you reserve members, along with Ma Hunkel, effective immediately.” She then looked at their stunned faces around the table. “In case something goes wrong, and the team doesn’t return, the JSA must continue. The world needs us.”
She looks around the table, then added, “The world needs all of us. Welcome to the JSA Reserves.”