by Libbylawrence, with Doc Quantum
Arda Starr, Drake Gordon, and Rokky Jones listened as J.J. Kord strolled over to a massive desk and pressed a control. Five colorful holographic displays popped into view around the office. The first one depicted a handsome man in a costume of gold and blue.
“Booster Gold!” said Rokky. “He was a great moopsball champ a hundred years ago, and a great hero over a thousand years ago. He’s always been a hero of mine. We studied him in school.”
Arda nodded eagerly. “As we did on Venus. We also studied a bit about Nightshade.” She pointed to the second holograph, which showed a lovely woman in a dark minidress, boots, and mask.
“Well, sure,” said Rokky. “I mean, her people are responsible for the races on two separate worlds. The shadow warriors of Solanum inherited a version of her power over shadows, and the magical natives of the Realm settled Valna, the Enchanted Planet, when magic began to fade from their dimension.”
“The Champion!” said Drake, excitedly pointing at a holograph of a handsome man with black hair and a gray and blue costume with a cape. “He was a favorite of mine when I was little. My sister Della even had a crush on him after seeing his image in a file.”
“I see you’re all well-versed in the ancient heroes of Earth,” said Kord. “I’m glad about that, since I want to talk to you about becoming their present-day successors in spirit if not in blood. I am a descendant of one of the finest of their number. He is the fourth displayed figure — the Blue Beetle!”
“I thought the Beetle was a woman,” said Drake.
Arda corrected him by saying, “There were several Blue Beetles, actually, including a woman who was the daughter of the second Blue Beetle, as well some of the female descendants of the various Beetles who took up the role, but the original was a man named Daniel Garret. (*) J.J., here, is presumably descended from Theodore Kord, the third Blue Beetle.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: The Calm Before the Storm, Chapter 3: Blue Beetle.]
“Exactly!” said Kord. “And there were many more, some more famous than the others: Captain Atom, Tomorrow Woman, Redstar, the Natural, E-Man, Sentinel, Shape, Liberty Belle, the Flame, Red Rocket, and the Prankster, to name but a few.” He pointed at the fifth holographic image and said, “Impulse, here, has a direct successor in our era. You all must know that super-speedster lived in our time for a few years before returning to his proper era.”
Arda looked up at the black hero in the red and white costume and smiled. “Michael Karr,” she said. “That was his real name.”
J.J. Kord smiled at her and said, “And let’s not forget your own noble ancestor, Miss Starr.”
The Silver Lass of Venus looked surprised for a moment. “My ancestor? Adam Starr? But he wasn’t an action-hero.”
“No, not in the classic sense of the word,” said Kord. “But Adam Starr was a legend in his own time. Had he been born just two hundred years earlier, I firmly believe he would have been counted amongst the action-heroes of the twentieth century.”
“Pardon my ignorance,” said Rokky, “but who was Adam Starr?”
“Adam Starr was a pirate-hunter,” said Arda. “By the twenty-second century, the solar system was overrun with pirates, including several from Ophiuchus.”
Rokky wore a pained look on his face. “Don’t remind me. We Ophiuchusians have spent centuries trying to regain our reputations after being involved in space piracy so long ago. I’ve spent much of my moopsball career trying to fight the prejudice against Ophiuchusians and the stereotype that we’re all a bunch of space pirates. I’d also like to think that we’ve evolved, but the truth is, Ophiuchus just gave up space piracy because the Space Rangers made it too costly to continue. One of my own ancestors was a Space Ranger from Earth, in fact.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (TV series).]
“Long before the Space Rangers became known for peacekeeping in the outer colonies,” said Kord, “they were called the United Nations Space Patrol and were little more than an exploratory wing of Earth’s government, having a few skirmishes here and there while protecting space lanes, but really doing little to work proactively against lawlessness in space. It took one man to change all that. Since the solar system was still so vulnerable, space piracy was at an all-time high in the twenty-second century, and a young pilot named Adam Starr began a lone crusade against it.
“Starr had no authority, and he asked for no permission. Motivated by justice, he just began fighting pirates one by one, attacking them at their bases and stopping their trade. Soon, because of his actions, he became a renowned hero. Remember this, kids: Adam Starr did not wait for anyone’s permission to begin fighting pirates. He instead used everything he had to fight them in every way he could, despite the danger. Now that’s the mark of a true hero. We can all learn from Arda’s ancestor.”
“If he was so successful as a lone wolf, why did he start the Solar Legion?” asked Drake.
“Because, where one man can stand firm against tyranny and injustice, a dozen men — and women — can be unstoppable against it,” said Kord. “Adam Starr recognized this, which was why he humbled himself enough to request the resources to form a special detachment of the Space Rangers, specifically formed to stamp out piracy in the entire system. He called it the Solar Legion because, slowly but surely, other brave men and women throughout the solar system joined him in his crusade against space pirates. Soon, he was liberating entire worlds from tyrants who had grown fat on piracy.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Solar Legion, Crash Comics Adventures #1 (May, 1940), first of an early, short-lived series by Jack Kirby.]
“He freed Venus from a pirate called Arthak,” added Arda. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Solar Legion, Crash Comics Adventures #2 (June, 1940).]
“Yes,” continued Kord, “and he fought a space pirate called Black Michael, who was the most infamous man in his day. And over a century later, when the Solar Legion finally disbanded, its mission done, the Space Rangers had by then taken up Adam Starr’s work and made combatting space piracy one of its primary goals. Most of you know the rest. The fledgling Space Patrol eventually split into two dedicated forces: the Space Rangers who protect the outer colonies, and the Space Officers who protect the solar system and are now called the Space Patrol Department. And now that the pirates were mostly gone, the newfound peace in our star system allowed for the creation of the United Worlds of the Solar System, our first effort to consolidate interplanetary law and government. Although the United Worlds didn’t last for more than a few centuries because of territorial disputes and infighting, it laid the foundation for the new interstellar government that I’m trying to bring about. None of that might have happened if it hadn’t been for Adam Starr.”
“I can understand why you admire him, Mr. Kord,” said Rokky, “but why do we need to know about him?”
“Because I, like Adam Starr did nearly nine hundred years ago, had a vision. And while I’ve had some success at making that vision come alive, I recognize that if one old man with a vision can make progress, just think what a dozen or more young men and women standing at his side can do.” J.J. Kord smiled and added, “Listen, kids, you worked as a team and saved my hide. What you embody — hope, unity, and a future built on mutual benefit and shared resources — is what I want my proposed new union, the Commonwealth of Federated Planets, to stand for. I’m asking you to become heroes for our time, even a present-day Solar Legion of action-heroes, in time, if others join you.”
“A Solar Legion… of action-heroes?” asked Rokky, amazed at the possibilities.
“Yes. People inevitably ignore or misrepresent abstract concepts all the time. But they always respond favorably to heroes who possess a vision and have a concrete plan to make it work. Just look at what Adam Starr was able to accomplish by making himself a hero with hardly any resources. Now I’m prepared to sponsor you and equip you with everything you need so you can use your amazing talents for justice.” J.J. Kord paused and looked at all three before adding, “Will you leave your respective careers and become the heroes our worlds need?”
Arda’s eyes gleamed as she eagerly said, “Yes! I would like that very much. I am not fulfilled as a cadet.” She caught Drake’s racing thoughts and frowned. He was sincerely happy about the chance to do something noble. Maybe he isn’t just the brash kid I thought he was on the shuttle, she considered. He may just have hidden depths.
“Count me in!” said Drake. “I’m your man.”
Rokky nodded in agreement. “I still need to find a way to support my folks, but this is a wonderful chance to do something with meaning and purpose.”
“Your folks are on my payroll as of last week,” said Kord, winking. “And don’t you worry about money. I’ll take care of that.”
Rokky smiled broadly. “Then I’ll do it!”
“By Jove!” said J.J. Kord. “We’ll turn this universe around yet, starting with our own star system. The Solar Legion it is!”
Rokky grinned as he glanced at the others, and then he said, “Long live the Legion!” Arda and Drake echoed his cry, and a new hope for the universe was born.