by Doc Quantum, partially adapted from All-Star Comics #48 by John Broome and Arthur Peddy
Green Lantern and Doctor Mid-Nite flew over the hinterland plain and into the mist-enshrouded valley by the power of Alan Scott’s ring, following the fiery arrows that disappeared as they passed them. Beyond the mist, the two found themselves in the midst of lush foliage and swampland.
“Sure hope we don’t run into Solomon Grundy here,” joked Green Lantern.
“What was that?” Doctor Mid-Nite said as he heard the distant cry. “It sounds like someone’s in trouble!”
The two broke through the jungle into a clearing, where they saw a giant kangaroo, which they later learned was a prehistoric animal properly termed Macropidae Gigantis, which was thought to have been extinct for a million years.
Green Lantern was shocked at the sight of three explorers snugly fit into the pouch of the giant kangaroo, frantically calling for help against all hope. “Why, it’s Edmund — trapped by that hopping hoodlum!” he exclaimed.
“We’ll have to stop it without harming those men,” said Doctor Mid-Nite.
Assuming a boxing stance, the kangaroo aimed a blow at its new prey. Green Lantern, who had been approaching the beast, ducked and kept from being killed with one blow.
“Watch it, G.L.!” called Mid-Nite. “Kangaroos are natural boxers!”
A sudden burst of energy from Green Lantern’s power ring equipped its owner for the fray. The giant kangaroo made a confused cry as two huge, glowing green boxing gloves formed on Green Lantern’s hands.
“Now I’ve got a pair of fists the size of yours, pal,” he said, swinging and knocking a hard left into the kangaroo’s head, “so that makes this contest more equal!”
For several moments, the two antagonists warded off each other’s blows. Then, as the kangaroo suddenly let go with a wild roundhouse, Green Lantern countered with a sharp uppercut, stunning it.
Quickly abandoning its boxing tactics, the now-angry kangaroo leaped toward the emerald crusader and seized his arms, crying out a defiant growl.
“Now it’s turned into a wrestling match!” said Green Lantern as he struggled hand-to-paw with the beast. “But if I blast it with my ring, I may hurt the scientists…”
At that moment, Doctor Mid-Nite prepared a counter move, as he pulled back the flexible trunk of a tree, readying it as one would a slingshot. “A coconut tree bearing only one nut! That’s all I need–” he said, letting go of the trunk, “–to work this trick!”
The tree snapped back to hit the kangaroo on the head with the rock-solid coconut, stunning it.
“Great going, Doctor Mid-Nite!” shouted Green Lantern.
As the stunned kangaroo staggered about, Edmund Blake reached out at a tree that they were passing, shouting to his two companions, “Dunnel — Bailey — quick! Grab this tree limb!”
“Got it!” shouted Dr. Bailey.
But Dr. Dunnel was left behind in the pouch. Edmund saw this and yelled out, “Jump, Dr. Dunnel! It’s your only chance! The kangaroo is running off!”
“OK,” said a nerve-wracked Dunnel, “here goes!” The man leaped for his life, and was heroically caught by Edmund Blake.
“Whew!” said a relieved Edmund. “Made it!”
“Look at the kangaroo hop away!” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “Well, let it go… Would have been nice to get some photographs of it for National Geographic, though.”
“Nice to see you again, Edmund,” said Green Lantern with a grin. “I hope next time it won’t be under such harrowing circumstances, though.”
“Want a ride back to camp?” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “I’m sure Green Lantern wouldn’t mind giving all of us a ride with his ring.”
Edmund struggled to catch his breath after this latest adventure, but smiled and shook the heroes’ hands, as did the other explorers. “Wouldn’t dream of turning down such an offer, fellows.”
Later, back at camp after a quick flight back via the power ring, the five men laughed about the close call they’d had.
“Thanks to Green Lantern and Doctor Mid-Nite trailing us, we’re still alive, Dr. Dunnel!” said a relieved Edmund Blake.
“Yes, Edmund,” said Dunnel. “But when you make your report of that amazing valley, don’t leave out that I also owe my life to you!” He and Dr. Bailey then went off to the food tent to replenish their energy.
“So where are you two off to now, then?” said Edmund, smiling at the two JSAers he hadn’t seen since he was much younger.
“We just finished off the last show of our reunion tour,” said Green Lantern. “So we’ll be heading home in a few days or so. I thought it would be nice to check out some of Australia’s beaches in the meantime, though.”
“I can picture you at the beaches, G.L.,” said Edmund. “But somehow I just can’t picture Doctor Mid-Nite, here, as much of beach-lover.”
Doctor Mid-Nite laughed and said, “You’d be surprised at what capabilities lay inside a person. After all, none of us expected that you’d try your hand out at the mystery-man game yourself, yet you led your own hero team during your college years in the ’50s.”
“Well, my days as the second Mister Alpha are behind me, really. I had just enough of costumed crime-fighting and the like to figure out that it just wasn’t for me. I’ll leave that sort of thing up to you JSA boys from now on.” Edmund Blake laughed as he reminisced about his days leading Team Justice. (*) “I’ll be heading home myself in about a month. National Geographic will be very interested in our findings, and I’m going to try to talk them into financing another expedition after we’re done here. I’m sure we’ll need it. I also hope to spend Christmas with my fiancée, a beautiful lady named Joan Nevins, and my family. Remember my sister Helen? She’s pregnant with her third child now.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Team Justice: Times Past, 1959: Justice in the Making.]
Doctor Mid-Nite and Green Lantern looked at each other, the same thing on their minds. Everyone but they were getting married and having kids, even this former “little tyke,” Edmund Blake, who they couldn’t help but to still think of as being twelve years old.
“I’m sure some of the other JSAers would be glad to see you again, too,” said Green Lantern.
“Yes, the Flash asked me to let him know how you’re doing when we told the others we’d be dropping by to see you while we’re here,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “And I know Mister Terrific has always followed your career with great interest.”
“He’s been one of my most solid backers,” said Edmund. “He even sponsored a scholarship for me while I was going to college. I couldn’t gave gotten this far without him. I’ll definitely be looking up both him and the Flash when I get back home.”
In Sydney the next day, Alan Scott and Dr. Charles McNider came back to their hotel rooms after spending most of the day at the New South Wales beaches that adjoined the New Tasmanian Sea. They’d had a relaxing time there, although they were looking forward to getting back home in a few days.
“Much as I hate to say it, Doc,” started Alan Scott as he stepped into his friend’s hotel room, “those stacks of drudging paperwork on my desk back at GBC will look awfully appealing, after the tumultuousness of the last couple of months. As much as Edmund figured that the super-hero life wasn’t for him, I think I’ve figured out I never want to be a full-time celebrity.”
Charles McNider didn’t answer him, but merely continued to view the black-and-white television set in his hotel room, expressionless.
“Doc?” asked Alan. “Charles? What is it?”
Alan Scott came around in view of the television set, and watched a news report. The reporter was visibly shaken, although Alan still didn’t know what it was all about just yet.
“Alan…” said Charles McNider with a broken voice, belying his stoic expression, “…Alan, it’s the President. He’s been shot.”
The room seemed to whirl all around Alan Scott, prompting him to lean against the wall. His mind was racing.
“Surely… surely there’s some mistake. Who would… who would shoot Jack Kennedy? Was it an accident?”
“No mistake, Alan, and it appears to have been intentional,” replied the doctor. “He was pronounced DOA.”
“I can’t believe it,” Alan Scott breathed, but as he continued to watch the news reports for himself on the television, he knew it had to be true.
One question that would be asked for years and decades later would be: Where were you when JFK was killed? And almost anyone who lived during that time could tell you without thinking twice about it. The same would hold for the Green Lantern and Doctor Mid-Nite. And they would always regret not returning home for the day after Thanksgiving, 1963, as they had originally planned. Perhaps, just perhaps, they could have done something.
“I’m telling you, Alan, you can’t bear the burden of the world on your shoulders.” Jay Garrick spoke earnestly and, true to his character, with a great deal of concern for the well-being of his friend, Alan Scott.
“What good are we, Jay?” said Alan. “What good is the JSA when, despite our existence, good men like Kennedy are killed by a single crazed gunmen, and none of us, despite all our power, are around to stop it?”
“You and Clark should talk, Alan,” said Jay. “He’s going through a heck of a time right now. He and the President were close friends — well, as close as anyone of their stature and positions could be.”
“It was Al and Wes who saved his life back in 1941, you know.”
“Oh, Alan, don’t bring this back up again.”
“You know it’s true, Jay. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and now Johnson. They were all on the list! (*) Mark my words, the next few presidents will be from the remaining names. Even Nixon will someday be president, despite his failing to win the presidency in the last election. And… and little Harold Jordan would have been the last of their number to be president… if he hadn’t been killed… if I had been able to save him… (*) I should have been there to save Kennedy, though.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984) and Green Lantern: Times Past, 1963: Redemption.]
“The one thing I’m going to look back on my life and remember the most is the times I wasn’t there to save someone. First Jordan, and now Kennedy, not to mention all the so-called ‘little lives’ who we’ve failed to save. I truly wonder, sometimes, are we making a difference in this world at all, or would it have been the same if we’d never existed?”
Jay Garrick smiled at his friend after a moment of consideration and said, “Alan, you’re the only guy I know who tortures himself unnecessarily for matters he has no control over. Take a break. That’s my advice. Get away from the JSA, the hero life, for a while. Maybe put your energy back into your business, or even get a hobby. It might do you some good. Sometimes, when you focus too much on the bigger picture, all the intricate details of life will pass you by.”
“Thanks, pal,” Alan murmured. “And Merry Christmas, buddy.”
“Merry Christmas to you, too, chum,” said Jay. “Now, I think we’d better be getting back to the meeting room so we can get home to our families for Christmas dinner. Joan’s cooking up a huge turkey dinner. Wanna come by?”
“No, thanks, Jay. I promised Doiby I wouldn’t leave him alone this Christmas. Last year he drank a bit too much and was forced to walk home, leaving Goitrude on the street. The next day he was horrified to learn that there was a dent on her. He made me solemnly swear to drive her home if he wasn’t able to, the next Christmas. Personally, I think he just wants some company. He should’ve gotten married a long, long time ago, but he’s been holding out for his ‘princeress,’ whenever he meets her.”
“Here’s hoping he meets her soon,” said Jay as the two walked back into the meeting room of the JSA Brownstone.
To Be Continued in Through a Glass, Darkly, Book 2