“Jay, are you sure you want to do this?” Joan Garrick stood behind her husband, rubbing his shoulders as he sat drinking coffee at their kitchen table. “I know you’ve been excited to be back in the hero business this past decade, and heaven knows we need the JSA. But why can’t you continuing doing it the way you’ve always done it?”
Jay Garrick reached up to take his wife’s hand and kissed it lightly. “Joan, I’m out of practice. After we disbanded the JSA, I tried hard not to use my speed. For twelve years, I was plain old Jay Garrick, cornfed son of the Midwest, building first a reputation as an top-notch chemist, then building Keystone Chemical. Now, since I met Barry back in ’61, I’ve regained the urge to run again. But I don’t think I have the speed I had before I retired, and I haven’t even attempted to be as busy I was in the ’40s. To be at my top form I need to focus, and that means I can’t be trying to hide my features by constantly vibrating.”
“But is it safe? I know you upgraded the security on the house and the labs, but is that enough with some of your old enemies?” She leaned forward, draping herself over one of his shoulders, and wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m sure of it. I have it all planned. A press conference, a public announcement… it will be all over the news tonight. By tomorrow, the war in Vietnam will be in the headlines again, and the hoopla will be over for us. The other way, to wait for some observant person to notice, will just get a bunch of rumors started, and it will take months before people leave us alone. Trust me?”
“Always, sweetheart. Always.”
Seven hours later, Dexter Miles, mayor of Keystone City, stood at a podium in front of City Hall.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I usually stand here to bring you news of city business, to announce the good and the bad news following our council meetings. Today, however, I am only here to introduce our city’s most famous citizen. You will recall that it was he, along with his otherworldly counterpart, who rescued our fair city from a nefarious trap sprung by a few members of the infamous Injustice Society of the World some years ago, and he’s been our constant protector ever since then. (*) He has told me that he has an announcement to make to Keystone and to the world at large. So, without any further ado, I give you… the Flash!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Flash of Two Worlds,” The Flash #123 (September, 1961).]
Nobody saw him take the stage. The mayor stepped aside, and while one second there was empty space, the next there was the familiar figure in his red shirt with the distinctive lightning bolt, his bright blue pants and winged boots, and the instantly recognizable winged metal helmet.
The gathered crowd erupted in cheers and applause for their city’s hero. Scattered throughout the crowd were signs proclaiming their love and support for the speedster. One woman at the front called out, “Please don’t tell us you’re going away again!”
The Flash raised his hands and waited for the noise to subside. When he spoke, it was in the lazy drawl that Jay Garrick had possessed since birth, and not the short, clipped tones he had usually used as the Flash.
“Ladies and gentlemen, friends and fellow citizens, I have made a decision recently, a decision that I must share with you. No, ma’am, I won’t be going away again. That was the result of a joint decision that I made with the rest of the Justice Society, to protect our members. It will not be repeated.”
The crowd cheered again, making him stop and wait until he could speak again.
“I have decided that I have no need to keep secrets from the people I have sworn to protect. Therefore, I will no longer hide my face from you.” As he spoke, Jay relaxed. For the first time, the face of the Flash was clearly seen. “Ladies and gentlemen, many of you already know me through the work my company and I have done here. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jay Garrick.”
It took all of five seconds for the crowd to absorb what he had said. Then a voice rang out, loud and clear.
“Three cheers for Jay Garrick! Hip! Hip!–”
The last cheer echoed throughout the city, down the streets. The crowd surged forward, and Jay zipped down from the platform to mingle with them — with his friends and his people.
“Please, Doctor. Please tell me you are kidding.” The voice was pleading, begging.
“I’m afraid it’s true. The tests don’t lie.” The doctor led her to a seat, easing her into it as he signaled to his nurse to get some water for the distraught patient.
“Oh, dear God, I can’t believe this. How could this be happening to me?”
“It is certainly unforeseen, but obviously, it’s not impossible. There’s nothing to be done now but accept it, and start making the proper arrangements.”
“But… how will I break the news to my husband?”
“That shouldn’t be too hard. I can be with you, if you prefer. I know that helps sometimes. Still, don’t underestimate him. Everybody knows that your husband — more than most men — should be able to accept the unusual.”
“That’s true, Doctor. Still, how do I tell Jay that his fifty-three-year-old wife is pregnant?”
In Gotham City, in the brownstone headquarters of the Justice Society of America, all was still. Automatic defense systems ensured that nobody would tamper with the home of America’s greatest team of super-heroes in their absence.
There was a humming sound, and a device in the basement glowed with pulsing light. The light increased in intensity, until there was a bright flash.
“We’re back, gang. Looks like the right place, anyways.” The first one out of the transmatter cube was Wildcat, followed by the Atom. “Al, you understand these dials and doohickies. Did everything work right?”
“Sure did, Ted. Guys, it looks like we have a winner, here.” From the cramped confines of the transmatter emerged the Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and Hourman. “This is great. We won’t have to rely on Doctor Fate, Flash or G.L. for a lift to Earth-One anymore. Uhh, no offense, guys.”
“None taken, Atom.” Under his mask, Green Lantern smiled. “There are times when this will be very handy. Let’s just not make a habit of hopping back and forth between universes, OK, people?”
“Dang, and I was thinking I’d take a crack at the Earth-One heavyweight title.” Wildcat smacked a fist into his palm. “Those guys I saw on the newscast didn’t look as tough as some of the boys I’ve been training.”
“Well, you don’t seem to have a counterpart there, Ted, so if you go over, you have no history to back you up. You’ll have to be careful.” Hawkman, who had the most similarities with his Earth-One counterpart out of this present company, had learned that it was both a blessing and a curse to be instantly recognized on both worlds.
“Hey, Flash! You have an urgent message here from your wife,” Hourman called from the console where the answering machine sat. “She wants you home right away.”
“That’s my cue, guys. Regular time next week?” Before anybody could answer, he was gone.
Minutes later, a breeze blew up Joan Garrick’s skirt in her backyard. “Honey, I’m ho-ome!” The breeze took solid form as her husband, clad in twill slacks and sport shirt, slowed to a stop. “Got your message. What’s up?”
Joan turned from her husband and walked among the flowers of their garden. “Jay, I was at the doctor’s today. He noticed some abnormalities, and ran some tests.”
“Abnormalities? Joan, what’s wrong? I can zip you over to Charlie McNider for a full battery of tests. If we have to, we can check anywhere on Earth or off–”
“Jay, slow down. You know I can’t follow you when you start talking as fast as you think. Besides, I don’t think Doc McNider could help. He’s never made a speciality of obstetrics, has he?”
“No, I don’t think so, but it doesn’t matter. He’ll know somebody who–” Jay stopped in mid-sentence. “Did you say obstetrics?” Joan nodded, her face widening in a grin. “You mean…?”
“Yes, Jay. We’re having a baby.” Joan threw her arms around her husband. “Crazy as it sounds, dear, we’re having a baby!”
“Waaa-hooo-ooo!” Jay’s shout of delight was heard throughout Keystone City, as he took off and ran through the town three times before skidding to a stop in front of Joan again. He lifted her up in the air and whirled her around. “Joanie, baby, this makes me feel like a kid again!”
“It should, Jay. It’s not every day that a fifty-three-year-old couple has a baby. The doctor is very concerned about that — so much so that he seriously tried to suggest that I not go through with it.” Jay stopped and set his wife back on the ground.
“What did you tell him?” Jay prayed that he knew the answer, but he had to hear it from her lips.
“I told him to take that idea, to fold it up until it’s nothing but corners, and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.” Joan took Jay’s hands in hers, and brought them up to her lips. “Jay, honey, I could never do that. I’m going to have this baby. We’re going to raise this child, and he, or she, is going to be our legacy. Long after we’re gone, the Garrick family will be around.”
“Oh, baby, what did I ever do to deserve you?” Jay held his wife against him.
“Well, let’s see. Saved the world a couple hundred times. Saved me a few thousand times. Rescued eight hundred kittens from trees…”
The kiss silenced her before she could continue.
“Now, remember: if there’s anything — anything at all — just press that button.”
“I know, Jay. I know.” Joan eased herself into her favorite chair. “We’ve been over this every time you’ve left for the last month.”
“I’m sorry, Joan. I just want to be sure that you won’t hesitate to use the signaler.” Jay was in costume, preparing to leave for a meeting of the Justice Society. “I’m only a few minutes away, at the most.”
“Just go. I’ll be fine.”
“Gentlemen, let’s get started. I don’t want to keep you here any longer than necessary today. After all, some of us have urgent matters waiting at home.” Hawkman banged the gavel once to bring the JSA meeting to order.
“That’s right, and it’s a shame more of us can’t have matters like that.” The Atom reached over and clapped the Flash on the shoulder. “Mary and I have started trying again.”
“That’s not such a good idea, Al.” Doc Mid-Nite’s concern was real. “After all, Joan was exposed to Karkull’s chronal energy along with Jay and yourself. Mary wasn’t.”
“You really think that’s the answer, Doc?” Jay took off his helmet and scratched his head. “You figure that Ian Karkull is the reason why Joan and I are able to have kids this late? And why we still feel like we’re in our thirties, instead of our fifties?”
“It’s the only thing that makes sense. Unfortunately, the only other JSA spouse that was there is Lois Kent. And I don’t think she and Superman will be having any kids.”
“Boy, I hope not! If that kid were to ever kick…” Al Pratt, alias the Atom, winced in imagined pain.
“All right, guys. That’s enough.” Hawkman tapped the gavel on the large round table again. “Now, let’s get down to bus–” He was cut off by the sound of multiple alarms blaring.
“That’s the city hall alarm!” noted Green Lantern. He rushed to the monitor room, only to find the Flash already surveying the various alerts. “What have we got, besides the city alarm?”
“Everything. Looks like a squad of terrorists hitting there. We have three separate bank break-ins around the city, and a hostage situation at the stadium. We’re going to have to split up to handle them all.”
“Don’t we always, pal?” The tall blond master of the power ring grinned. “The stadium is the farthest from here. What say we take that one?”
“If Carter approves.”
“Of course I do. You two always work best together.” Hawkman’s spread wings filled the doorway of the communications center. “Fate and I can take City Hall, Wildcat, Atom, and Doc Mid-Nite can take the United Bank — that’s just down the street. Robin and Mister Terrific, you can head down to the First National Bank, and that leaves Starman and Hourman for Gotham Savings. Let’s go, people! And keep an eye out for whoever’s coordinating this!”
The assembled heroes split up into their assigned teams, and were already discussing strategies as they emerged from the building. They burst through the door, only to find themselves confronted by a phalanx of familiar foes. At their forefront was the former Keystone City district attorney known as the Thinker.
“Do you see, lady and gentlemen? By tapping their communications system, luring them out was an incredibly simple matter.”
In the street before the JSA Brownstone, eleven members of the Justice Society found themselves confronted by the Injustice Society of the World. Led as always by the Wizard, the current incarnation included the Thinker, the Fiddler, the Gambler, the Icicle, the Prankster, the Mist, the Brain Wave, and the married couple of the Huntress and the Sportsmaster.
“Now to make sure they won’t be running back inside on us.” The Icicle lifted his trademark ice-gun and fired over the heads of the assembled heroes. Instantly, a three-foot-thick wall of ice formed across the front of the JSA’s headquarters. It spread out on the ground under their feet, so that they found themselves sliding uncontrollably as soon as they moved to attack.
“Gentlemen, and Huntress, shall we?” the Wizard said, pointing his wand and sending a seemingly harmless stream of flowers at the team’s resident mage. Doctor Fate raised his hands to cast a spell of shielding, but was engulfed in a cloud of sweet-smelling petals. The fragrance permeated his helmet, dizzying him. The Wizard followed up with a lightning bolt that sent the Earth-bound Lord of Order flying.
“Flash, watch your footing!” Green Lantern willed his ring to form a platform under his teammates, boosting them all into the battle. Spying this, the Sportsmaster let fly with a barrage of wooden Indian clubs, all aimed at the head of the green gladiator. His ring helpless against wood, Green Lantern attempted to deflect them with his free hand, but to no avail; one got past and struck his head, rendering him unconscious.
Unceremoniously dropped to the ground once the platform vanished, the remaining heroes charged the crowd of villains. Wildcat and the Atom formed a human battering ram, slugging their way into the Injustice Society. “Come on, Wildcat, let’s show them that it doesn’t pay to play games with us!”
“For once, Atom, I don’t think anybody’s gonna tell ya to wait.” With a howl of fury, the heavyweight champion laid about him with powerful lefts and rights that left the Gambler and the Prankster sprawled on the ground before they could even start an attack.
“Go high, Hawk and Starman, and Terrific and I will go low. Flash, get behind them for a surprise attack, but be careful.” Hourman, having slipped a Miraclo pill from his belt before the team left the building, was feeling its effects. He and the ever-agile Mister Terrific tucked and rolled like a pair of human bowling balls, hoping to catch their opponents off-balance.
The JSA’s leader and the master of the cosmic rod rose up, only to find themselves caught in a wire-fibered net tossed by the Huntress.
“Nice acrobatics, gents, but no good if you forget where we are.” The bald villain known as the Brain Wave wrinkled his oversized brow in concentration, and the Injustice Society vanished from view.