It had been a week since Ilyssa Jordan’s first time out as Air Wave. During that entire time, old Larry Jordan had been training her in the use of the radio belt, at least when she wasn’t in school or doing her homework.
“It responds to thought, mostly,” said Larry, “though some of the abilities require outside fiddling with the belt.” He was dressed in his own original Air Wave costume, a green and gold union suit with a green cowl, the original radio belt, and built-in rollerskates in his boots.
“Grandpa, why can I fly, and you can’t?” asked Ilyssa, who was wearing her modified Air Wave costume.
“Your belt — a much later version — is more powerful than the original, which I’m wearing,” explained Larry. “The belts are powered by actual radio waves. I could almost float if I thought about it, given all the radio waves being tossed about everywhere.” Larry glided on his roller skates to try to keep up with Ilyssa. He hadn’t done this since the ’50s, when he’d last roller skated along power lines. It felt nostalgic, in a way.
They spent a few more hours training, but even after a week, Ilyssa had barely scratched the surface of what she had. Still, it would have to be enough.
The events of last week had garnered even greater observers than Fireball.
“I’m still confused,” said Ted Grant. “Why’re we here, again?” It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy Maine, it was more that he didn’t enjoy getting pulled out of bed in the early morning, even if it was by Superman.
“There’s a new Air Wave,” said Clark Kent. “And I would like to meet her. It always pays to be polite to a potential ally.”
“Air Wave, huh?” Ted asked, most of the drowsiness finally started to leave about now. “You mean the guy who roller-skated on power lines? The one who had a Walkman in the ’40s?
“The very same,” Clark replied, nodding.
“So, we’re here to make sure that the new Air Wave is legit?” asked Ted. “Don’t want ’em to go rogue on us, huh?”
“Something like that,” said Clark as the two continued walking down the streets of Portland. “Back in the ’70s, the original came out of retirement with a new costume and powers and asked me to help him fight some terrorists. When I left to make sure all the explosives were deactivated, something must have happened, for when I came back, Air Wave was busy bashing the head of the terrorist leader, a man named Conrad Carnegy, into the concrete floor.”
“Whoa. Did Air Wave give you any reason for why he was doing that?” Ted asked.
“Just that he ‘killed her,'” said Clark. “Who he was referring to, I guess I’ll never know.”
“What about Carnegy? What happened to him?” Ted asked, curious at what a grade-A scumbag like that was doing.
“Last I heard, he was in a medium-security hospital and drools into a cup when he smiles,” Clark said in a non-humorous tone.
“Back on the topic at hand, how are we gonna find Air Wave?” Ted asked, already trying to figure out ways to contact the new hero. “The original never told us who he was, even at All-Star Squadron meetings.”
“Don’t worry about it. Shouldn’t be too hard,” Clark replied.
If only they had known to look, the focus of their conversation was not even ten feet away, jogging down the street past them in sweats.
“Grandpa, were you ever this tired when you were Air Wave?” Ilyssa asked. She was really sore. Her arms, legs, and stomach burned. This was all because Larry had turned up the training a couple of notches for today.
“Usually more so,” Larry replied. “I had to do a lot more physical exertion then you have to.”
Ilyssa nodded, showing that she understood. “Grandpa?”
“You gonna teach me how to roller skate on power lines?”
“Maybe next time, Lys. Maybe next time.”
“You seem a little tense, Mr. Johns,” Superman said to the officer who guided him and Wildcat down a corridor to an interrogation room at the Portland police station.
“Well, who wouldn’t?” Johns said. “You’re you — both of you. My grandfather used to tell us stories about when he met the Justice Society — when he met you, Mr. Superman, the Man of Tomorrow!” He was a nervous-looking, lanky man whose uniform hung on him like he was made of sticks.
“It’ll pass. Deep breaths usually help,” Wildcat said. He was a little uneasy himself, being in the same building with all of these criminals and other undesirables, even with Superman along for the ride.
“Here we go. The interrogation room that you requested,” Johns said, opening the door. “Drakone should be there already. Buzz if you need anything at all.”
“We will,” Superman replied as he and Wildcat entered the room.
“Heh. They said I was getting visitors; had no idea that two bonafide mystery-men were going to see little ol’ me,” Drakone said, his smoking cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth.
“I’m sure it would’ve made a big difference if you knew,” Wildcat replied.
“Maybe. Maybe not. Now, why would two chartered members of the Justice Society of America wanna talk with me?” Drakone said with a grin. “The Ultra-Humanite sick? The Wizard workin’ on his taxes?”
“You and your gang were brought in by a young girl calling herself Air Wave,” said Superman. “We want to know if you can describe her.”
“Sure, sure,” said Drakone. “She had green eyes, long, straight black hair, was five under six, late teens, Oriental, and wore a red, gold, and blue costume.”
“Can you describe the costume itself?” Superman asked.
“Not off’a the top of my head, but it did have this silly looking belt,” Drakone replied. “Really, what are kids thinking these days?”
“Thanks for the help,” Wildcat said as he and Superman got up. Personally, Wildcat really didn’t like talking with guys like Drakone — punks that think they’re Jimmy Cagney. But it was what had to be done.
“Hey, wait! Could I have your autographs? For my kids, I mean,” Drakone asked before the two heroes reached the door. But Superman and Wildcat weren’t the only ones dealing with criminals.
“How was your patrol?” Larry asked as Ilyssa came downstairs.
“The same as yesterday and the day before that — boring,” Ilyssa commented. “After the first week, people seemed to wise up.”
“It has a tendency to happen. But just you wait ’til you get yourself a rogues gallery. Then you’d wish you had nice and peaceful nights.”
“And what are the chances of that happening here in Portland?” Ilyssa asked.
“Better than you might think,” Larry replied.
And he was right, as the first rogue for the new Air Wave was about to make himself known.
“This city shall be the most perfect canvas, indeed,” Fireball said aloud.
“Well, that’s a first — you agreeing with me, Father. I’m touched,” Fireball said, placing his right hand over his heart.
“Somehow, I knew it wouldn’t last,” Fireball then said with a sigh.
“Of course, I know. Everybody knows that. If the heroes didn’t try to stop me, they wouldn’t be heroes,” he said.
“Yes, let them try. They’ll all burn. That I promise, and that I swear on a burning star,” said Fireball as he made his way through the forests outside of Portland.
“Miss Jordan, I know that Britain’s Great Criminal Trials may not be the most exciting subject, but please pay attention,” shouted a middle-aged teacher, waking up the sleeping, part-time super-heroine. “I’m just trying to do my job.”
“Sorry, sir. Won’t happen again,” Ilyssa said, sitting upright.
“Yes, well, back on topic, then. The case dealing with Roderick Burgess, the so-called Daemon King of England, was centered around how Burgess’ organization, the Order of Ancient Mysteries, came to be the sole heir when…” The teacher’s voice became hollow and distant as Ilyssa fell back to sleep. Next time she awoke was when the lunch bell rang.
“Lys, you’re really pushin’ Mr. Stiener’s buttons,” Bobbi Fairbanks said to Ilyssa over lunch. “Well, more than usual.”
“I haven’t been getting much sleep lately,” Ilyssa replied.
“You mean that your dozing was for real?” said Bobbi. “No way. Uh-oh, here comes trouble — Alex and Tyler are arguing again.” Their table was approached by Alex and Tyler Rainey, a brother-sister debate team that argued about anything and everything dealing with American and Japanese comics.
“How can you not like The Spirit? Best detective since Sherlock!” Alex said to her brother who was, in her opinion, dimwitted.
“Will Eisner couldn’t draw a straight line to save his life,” her brother replied. “‘Sides, Okappiki Yakan could kick the Spirit’s butt any day of the week!”
“That’s what’s so great about Eisner’s art — it has dimension!” Alex retorted.
“What are you arguing about this time?” Bobbi asked.
“Will Eisner’s The Spirit versus Nagato Tacchi’s Okappiki Yakan,” Tyler said.
“You know who’s the better two-fisted, crime-busting detective,” Alex added.
“That should be easy — Okappiki Yakan,” Tyler said.
“No, the Spirit!” Alex shouted rather loudly.
“Before this escalates into anything you’ll both regret, listen to my voice of reason,” Ilyssa said, not in the mood to even care about not caring to listen to the argument. “One, you’re comparing two different creations. Two, the Spirit and Okappiki Yakan will never meet. And finally, the only people in Portland who have read Okappiki Yakan is the Anime Fan Club, to sing its praises, and the Comic-Book Fan Club to bring it down.” This stopped the twins from arguing, and they shook hands on the subject, showing that their parents were in for a long night.
“You make a really good point,” said Tyler. “Oh, and I had something that I wanted to show you all.” He pulled out a piece of paper. On it was a well-done, very manga-like drawing of Air Wave. This almost shocked Ilyssa awake.
“It’s that new super-hero teenager that we’ve been hearing about in the news,” said Tyler. “Ain’t it cool?”
“Uh, yeah. But why would you draw a picture of… what’s her name?” Ilyssa asked.
“Air Wave — are you kidding? Everything about her is cool!” exclaimed Tyler. “Also, she’s local, which improves my chances of landing a date with her a hundredfold!”
“One-hundred times zero is still zero, Ty,” Bobbi said, getting nods from both Ilyssa and Alex.
“Hey! I resent that,” Tyler said, just as the bell rang.
“Looks like we’ll have to discuss this next week,” said Bobbi. “See you then?”
“Hai,” Tyler said as he and Alex started to walk away from the table.
“Why’d you go and do that?” asked Alex. “Now I have to watch my Spy Smasher movie.”
“Sometimes, I really worry about those two,” Bobbi said as she and Ilyssa headed to their next class.
After school, Bobbi and Ilyssa walked home.
“You’re really out of it today, aren’t you?” Bobbi asked. Usually she had to play catch-up with Ilyssa, who was normally a fast walker, but for the past few days, she had to wait up for Ilyssa, now always dragging behind.
“Just some really long nights,” Ilyssa replied.
“Really? With who? Anyone I know?” Bobbi asked.
Ilyssa gave her a look of disgust. “Get your mind out of the gutter! You know I didn’t mean it that way!” she said.
“Sure you did,” Bobbi said to further irritate her friend, as the two approached her house.
“See you tomorrow, Bobbi,” Ilyssa said.
“Yup. Seeya, Lys,” Bobbi called out. After a few more minutes of walking, Ilyssa arrived at her own house.
All in all, the day had been frighteningly normal.