The New Super Friends
Volume 1, Issue 1 (December, 2004)
Story by: Christopher W. Blaine )
DISCLAIMER: The New Super Friends is an original concept of Christopher W. Blaine that incorporates characters, situations and ideas published by DC Comics Inc. and are used without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. This original work is ©2004 by Christopher W. Blaine.
Author's Notes: The New Super Friends Series takes place approximately (1) year after the events of "DC/Marvel: Access Denied" and (2) years after "DC Comics Presents: Killing Roy Harper". Fans of the Wardens may remember an incomplete tale called "DC Special Series: Saving Donna Troy". That story, though unique and well-received, was never completed and all of the events detailed therein are not considered canon for this storyline. In other words, that story never happened…
In an attempt to recreate the universe, the Time-Guardian murdered an innocent man. From the ashes of that crime rose a group of heroes from ages that never were to ensure there was justice for all. Now, those heroes protect their new world, banded together as comrades and as a family. They are the Super Friends!
"The Return of Harley Quinn"
Deep in the bowels of Gotham City, in a warehouse that had not seen legitimate work taking place within its walls for almost a century, a young woman found herself speaking to her reflection in the mirror. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the nuttiest one of them all?" Harley Quinn asked herself.
There was no physical response, but in her mind the reflection changed from her own youthful, attractive features to the chalk-white visage of the Joker. "That would be me, Harl, old girl," the image said and Harley threw the mirror across the warehouse.
She wanted to cry, but she had cried so much that her tear ducts hurt. Instead she swung her legs around and hopped off of the crate marked "GUNS" that she had been sitting on. Her costume was long gone and she now found herself walking around her hideout in a pink bathrobe and two non-matching slippers. Even dressed so shabbily she radiated the hint of a dark, evil beauty that had more than once attracted young and old men to their doom.
It had been well over a year since her sweetheart, the Joker, had been killed. The rumor was that Batman and Robin had done it because the Joker had been aiding the Flash!i It was almost too much for her to believe! For months afterwards she had struggled with trying to figure out exactly what had happened to her "Mr. J" to turn him into, and the thought made her gag, a super-hero!
With the Joker gone over to the side of the heroes, and then the heroes becoming villains, and then those new heroes showing up, most of Harley's gang had given up crime to pursue even more lecherous career choices. Bobby No-Toes had started law school. Sam the Weasel opened an accounting firm. Jimmy Three Nads went and got himself elected to congress.
That left the Clown Princess of Crime all alone in a city not only without a Batman, but also with a police force that was a little over-anxious to wipe out the super-villain population. Harley, in reality former psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel, found it fascinating, in a morbid way, that it was the Batman's presence that kept cops from going over the line when dealing with costumed criminals. She had not seen any of her peers in three months, not since, it was rumored, that the cops had performed a St. Valentine's Day Massacre on Two-Face's gang.
Of course, things were starting to calm down now that the Huntress and Robin were back in town. Harley had first been made aware of the duo's return to the mean streets of Gotham when she had picked up a news program on the radio. After the heroes of the Justice League and the Justice Society had gotten themselves killed fighting the Legion of Doom, the Huntress had disappeared.
The Huntress, she was sure, was not the same woman she had fought in the past. For one thing, their costumes were different and Harley had made a career out of picking up the minutest details about a person. The new Huntress liked to show off her athletic body, which was fine with Harley, but she also moved too much like the Batman. The previous version of the crimefighter, one of Harley's old sparring partners, had kept her form covered in leather and moved like a madwoman sometimes.
For the past two years, the Huntress had been hanging out with the Wardens, who had become the Super Friends, out in California. It was assumed she would stay out there, but when the Super Friends built the Hall of Justice in Metropolis, the Huntress had come home with Robin to roost.
Already there was a change in the air. The cops were not being so heavy-handed and one of Harley's snitches had told her that the Dynamic Duo had laid out some "smack down justice" on a couple of the boys-in-blue who were roughing up a couple of hoods.
Not that any of this helped Harley. It was like trading one problem for another. She was a criminal with no crime to commit. She had lost her gang and her man. Her costume was gone, sold to pay for food. She could steal, she knew, but what was the point. She had no purpose, no direction for her criminal intentions.
The crates in the warehouse were empty; rival criminals had stolen everything as she sat there and did nothing. Even the Catwoman had come by and Harley had been genuinely surprised by the new, harsher attitude she had sported. Harley had tried to strike up a conversation, but Catwoman seemed to be looking for something, possibly her man (The Batman perhaps? Perhaps Kitty needed her ears scratched?). They were both alone and Harley had offered to console her in a way only a woman could.
Catwoman had punched her in the nose.
It had been the most fun Harley could remember having since the Joker had died, choking and vomiting in her own blood.
Getting up, she sauntered over to her radio and ran a hand quickly through a box of moldy doughnuts. She had to do something, she realized; she was in a deep state of depression and very soon she would just starve to death, which wasn't such a bad thought when one considered that the alternative was eating mildew-encrusted pastries.
There was a knock at the door and Harley raised an eyebrow. She was out of costume, she told herself, and not prepared to receive visitors formally! She grabbed a powered doughnut and rubbed it on her face, trying to give herself the pale jester look she normally sported in costume.
The door opened and a man entered, a good-looking man at that. He was dressed in a suit that was not very expensive, but it wasn't from the thrift store either. He approached her and she stopped applying powder with the doughnut and tried to assume a confident pose. She went to lean on an empty crate, keeping her eyes on the approaching hunk of man-meat (it had been some time since she had been able to exercise her feminine charms). Her elbow missed the box and she fell onto the floor with a resounding thud as he stopped just a few feet away from her.
"Oh, God, close your robe," the man said, holding his nose. "It smells like you haven't bathed in a year."
Harley cursed and slowly hauled herself back up, closing her robe. "And? Bathing isn't important when you have pizzazz!" she said, wiggling her eyebrows.
The man was on the verge of tears. "I can't believe I used to have a thing for you," he said as he reached into his suit. Harley thought he might pull a gun, but the way he was crying, there was no way he could aim. She was surprised to see that it was an envelope. "Here, Stinky," he said.
Harley reached out for it and grabbed the letter. She quickly opened it and skimmed the message. She nodded and smiled as she finished and then returned her attention to the man. "It says here you are at my disposal, with cash! Beautiful cash!"
"As long as it doesn't involve anything else," the man replied. "Unless it's hosing you down."
"I like it when they talk nast-ay!"
The WGBS Building in downtown Metropolis was one of the most famous landmarks in the modern world. Considered to be one of the icons of the city, it was one of those symbols that when seen, instantly reminded people of where it was from.
Metropolis was first settled in 1634 and had since become the largest and most popular city of Delaware. Six million people called the city home and a large percentage of them each night tuned into WGBS News to learn what was going on in the rest of the world.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the news always started with the latest story dealing with the Darling of Metropolis, Superman. The Kryptonian had come to call Metropolis his home over a decade before and had instantly become either loved or hated by each and every inhabitant of the 125 square-mile urban sprawl. Those who were honest of heart and soul had seen Superman as a beacon of goodness in a world that always seemed to sinking to new depths of darkness. To those who followed the path of evil, the Man of Steel had meant nothing but trouble.
All of that was in the past now. Superman was dead, killed in a conspiracy that not only robbed this world of most of its heroes, but had reached out through several timelines and dimensions to bring nothing but sorrow and pain. Yet, even as it seemed the sun was going to set on Metropolis, a new light emerged from the ever-encroaching blanket of despair.
She had come from a Krypton very different from Superman's and because of it, she was more powerful than he could have ever hoped to become. Many in Metropolis originally knew her as Shyla, a founding member of the Legion of Doom. To the world at large, Shyla had disappeared and they did not connect the new Super-Woman to the villain. Not that it meant anything; technically, Shyla had never actually committed a crime, except possibly the sin of poor judgment. Convinced that she had no other choice, Shyla had accepted an offer from the Time-Guardian to become his lover. But she had come to realize that her decisions, as well as her lifestyle choices, were getting her nowhere. She had felt empty inside, unfulfilled and lifeless.
She had finally attempted suicide but had been saved by the Green Lantern Hal Jordan. He had convinced her to take the reigns of heroism that had been left unattended when Superman had been killed. Super-Woman not only became a real hero and member of the Wardens, but she had also won the trust of the citizens of Metropolis, who were desperate for something to believe in.
But Super-Woman needed a life outside the costume and by adopting the identity of Linda Danvers, she had gotten one.
"And in other news," Lana Lang said into the camera, "Dawnstar of the Super Friends announced an open membership drive for the new team. Reports indicate that the leader of the team that replaced the Wardens has decided that the threat posed by the Legion of Doom is too great for the current team roster to deal with and maintain vigilance over the rest of the world as agreed upon in their United Nations charter." She stopped speaking as the small television screen next to the teleprompter switched to a taped report by a correspondent. She had a brief minute in order to relax before she was back on-camera.
She was the lead anchor for the station, having risen to that position after the deaths/disappearances of both Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Lana had found out that Clark had been Superman and she still found it hard to believe that she had grown up with Clark, even romanced both him and his alter ego of Superboy, and still had never guessed the truth.
"Day dreaming?" Linda Danvers, the long-legged blonde next to the blue screen for the weather map, said. She was a woman seemingly built by God to pile beauty upon and Lana envied her. She was tall and in perfect shape, but Lana was quite fetching herself. What she envied most was the confidence that Linda radiated despite the fact that most of the men in the building considered her nothing more than eye-candy.
Of course, Lana knew that Linda was secretly Super-Woman, just as Linda knew that Lana had once been the teenaged heroine Insect Queen.
"Just thinking about old friends," she replied. Her co-anchor coughed and Lana turned to see that it was about time to talk to the people once again. Her smile could have been used to light up the room as she switched to the persona that so many in Metropolis had come to know.
Most of the people of Metropolis saw her as the reigning Queen of Nice, especially with so many familiar faces now gone. None of them realized that how truly alone she was in this world that was now so strange compared to the one she had known only two years before.
"In other super-hero news, the eco-hero Chesire rounded up several men in Portland, Oregon, that were responsible for several hundred acres of protected woodland being cut down illegally. Local state police investigators were shocked and surprised to find the criminals tied up and greatly bruised, sitting on top of several cruisers." Again the light went off on the camera as the videotaped news story played for the people at home.
Linda called over to her. "Want to go do something tonight?"
Lana considered the proposition; there was always the chance that being seen with Linda would attract some of the better men of the city, but somehow she doubted it. Besides, she wasn't really interested in finding a significant other at the moment. She supposed that the truth about Clark was just having a greater effect on her than she had first admitted.
For years she had not just worked with him, but had also confided in him and yet, he had always maintained his secret away from her and Lois. Poor Lois! Lana might have been infatuated with Clark, but Lois had been deeply in love with Superman. She reasoned it was fortunate that Lois had never discovered how incredibly cruel her true love had been.
Yes, she told herself, Clark had been unkind in keeping his secret. It was as if he had never really trusted Lana, or Lois or even Jimmy. "I think I'm going to go home and fall into a good romance novel," she answered. "Rain check?" she asked, wanting to let the other woman know that it was nothing personal.
Linda shrugged. "Sure, I'll find something to do."
It was time for Lana's co-anchor to start his report when the door to the studio burst open in a loud crack. Both Lana and Linda were up and staring at the door while the co-anchor gave a cry. Bedlam reigned for several moments as people scrambled from the debris and smoke. Cameras were turning every which way as their operators jockeyed for a good position to record the action.
A security guard for the station that had been on the other side of the studio, flirting with a producer's assistant, drew his weapon and crossed the room in seconds, taking a position in front of everyone. His pistol was aimed at the door while he called into the radio on his shoulder. "This is Jones, we've got a bomb or something up here in the news studio!"
Lana looked over to Linda who had lowered her glasses to use her X-ray vision. The puzzled look on her face was replaced by shock as a giant bowling pin flew in and cracked her in the forehead. Linda went down but Lana knew she was unhurt; she had to play the role of a normal human in order to pull of the entire secret identity shtick.
A voice whispered in Lana's ear, the result of Linda's super-ventriloquism. "It's some woman in a jester's costume."
"Harley Quinn," Lana said in a soft voice. Linda's super-hearing would pick it up no problem. As if on cue, the Queen of Criminal Comedy back flipped into the room and landed on the guard's chest with a thud. He went down and his gun went off, hitting one of the overhead lights. Harley stood there in the sparks looking like a deranged demon. "Howdy boys and girls! It's Harley time!"
A man whom Lana did not recognize stepped into the studio, using various martial arts moves to push back those who were trying to escape. As soon as he was inside the room, he turned and pulled out a spray can. Holding it at the ruined doorway, he sprayed a green mist that hardened and became an impenetrable wall of unknown material.
People scattered and some screamed as the man stepped into the control room and became a one-man wave of destruction, shoving people around and finally brandishing a menacing looking pistol. Harley, for her part, pounded a few heads and then walked up to one of the cameramen. "Keep that thing on me or you'll be using it to look for colon polyps!" she said and the operator nodded excitedly.
Harley turned around to everyone and saw that Lana was still standing. "Didn't I kill you, or was it the weather whore?" She shrugged. "Doesn't matter, I can kill all of you later."
Lana looked over to Linda, who was lying on the floor, scanning the area. Lana knew that if Harley or her partner moved towards actually hurting someone seriously, then secret identity or not, Super-Woman was going to save the day. "Hey, you like girls or somethin'?" Harley asked. "Yeah, she's cute to look at, but there's nothing upstairs if you know what I mean." Harley jumped over to the news desk and landed on top of it. The co-anchor had already fainted and Harley kicked him out of his chair. "Look at me!" she said, thrusting her chest out. "I do so love a woman with a little fire down below," she said, patting Lana's red locks.
"You make me sick," Lana said, her face indicating her disgust. "What do you want?"
Harley paused for a moment and listened to the protests of her captive audience. "God, a little quiet would be nice and maybe an herbal enema." She plopped onto the desk and without even looking, reached out and shoved Lana off of her feet. Harley's enhanced strength allowed her to do so without problem.
"What I want is simple, cause I'm a girl with simple needs," Harley said into the camera. "I'd like to have my Puddin' back, but he went and turned traitor on me. I'd like to burn down a few orphanages, but the price of gasoline is shooting through the roof. I'd like world peace, just so I could start a war and ruin everyone's day." She then stopped and tapped her finger against her chin as she contemplated her next answer. "But I suppose what I really want to do is provide quality family programming."
Lana shook her head and saw that she had broken a heel. Cursing silently, she pulled off the shoe and its twin before standing up. "Hey, hey! Look everyone! It's our old pal Lana the lesbian!" Harley leaned in towards the camera and put her hand up to shield her voice. In a voice barely above a whisper she spoke to the audience. "I think she likes the weather girl. What a slut!"
"Harley!" the man called and he indicated that they had little time to waste by tapping his watch.
She rolled her eyes and sat back, reaching back to shove Lana again. Once more the newswoman fell to the floor behind the news desk. "Oh, okay. Men!" she announced as she rolled off of the desktop to land in Lana's vacant chair. Lana made to protest when Harley gave her a smack upside the face. The blow stunned Lana, but she managed to shake her head enough that Linda knew not to jeopardize her identity.
"Ladies and germs," Harley announced, "tonight you will be treated to a night of entertainment that will leave you speechless! You see, you are all about to experience Harley-Vision!" Nobody said anything and Harley squinted her eyes. "Clap, damn you!"
The captive audience looked around at each other and then one by one, they began to smack their hands together. Harley nodded and sat back, reveling in the spotlight. It had been too long since she had basked in it and she had to admit, it felt good. It really was too bad that her Puddin' had died; he would have enjoyed this and would have thought this caper was the icing on the cake.
Far away from the WGBS studios and the horror about to be perpetuated there, in the relative calm of the New Mexico badlands, a man was dying. He was once a muscular man, but muscle was now replaced with memory. His once proud brow was shriveled and sunburned and he was starting to realize that even his willpower, as great as it was, could no longer keep him alive.
He had been hiding for two years, gripped with terror, something he had not felt very often in his life and certainly not to the degree that he was experiencing it now. It had unraveled him, had driven him over the edge of sanity as he huddled inside a cave, waiting for them to find him. They never had, the heroes and the villains had bypassed him and all he had for company for 24 months had been the ghosts of former friends.
Voices called to him in the night, telling him to surrender to the inevitable, but he had stubbornly refused. Though his body slowly wasted away as he ate nothing but the occasional bug, snake or spider, his mind remained ever alert, aware that if he ever relinquished his control over the green field, he would die. It was his power ring that kept him alive, not the meager food he consumed.
John Stewart had not been the first Green Lantern, but right now he was the last. If there still was a Corps, they had not bothered to come to Earth to check on him and he doubted they ever would. After Hal Jordan had killed Guy Gardner and then went after Alan Scott, they had probably written the Earth off as a complete waste.
"So tired," he moaned, his vocal cords stinging as he tried to force air through them. He had stopped speaking to conserve energy three months before.
Inside his powerful mind he sighed, knowing what his duty was. They had not found him, but they had killed him all the same. His fear had rotted him from the inside out and now he had to pass on his ring. It was his part of the oath he had taken when he had accepted his posting as an alternate Green Lantern.
"Find…me a replace…ment," he choked out. He did not have to speak the words, but the sane part of him found comfort in them. "No fear but also…innocent, no am…bition."
A green comet of light ejected from the ring, exited the cave and shot into the air. In much the same way, Abin Sur had selected Hal Jordan to replace him many years before. John wondered if he had actually done it and then the fear set in that he hadn't given the right command. Fear was always eating away at him.
It was a horrible existence for a man who was once fearless.
i Refer to Chapter 6 of "Killing Roy Harper" to find out exactly what transpired between the Joker and the Flash!