June 24, 1949
Living is the hardest part of
accepting your loss.
Martha "Matty" Wayne had never felt such pain in her
entire 27 years of life as she stared at the two coffins before her. The larger
of the two seemed titanic against its brethren, but she knew it was only a
trick of her anguished mind. Still, the other coffin seemed so small…
And then the tears began to flow
from her eyes once again, stopped only by the addition of another handkerchief
handed to her by loyal Alfred. The priest was continuing through his sermon,
but Matty was not paying attention. She kept staring at the little coffin, the
one that held her Bruce, the star of her life. Losing Thomas had been bad
enough, terrible in fact, for he was a unique man; but Bruce was actually a
piece of her, created in her womb. When he had died, then a little part of her
died as well.
Had it only been two days before
that her, Thomas and Bruce had gone to the movies downtown? She could still
feel his little hand in hers as they walked along the darkened streets, trying
to find a cab. Poor Alfred, he was beside himself with grief. His first night
off in weeks and this had to happen. She reached up and put her hand on his,
which was resting on her shoulder. She knew that some members of the gathering,
those who considered themselves the royalty of Gotham society, were probably
aghast that a servant was daring to touch the body of his employer
so…warmly, but Matty didn't care. Alfred was as much a member of the family as
Thomas or Bruce had been.
The sound of his name going
through her mind brought on another torrent of salty tears and she shook her
head. The boy had stepped in front of her, to protect her. Before she could
move, the woman holding the gun had fired, putting a bullet through the young
lad's heart. Thomas had roared, his handsome features twisted into a mask of
rage that actually had made Matty afraid, even as she tried to save her son's
life. Another shot and the back of Thomas's skull was splattered all over her
face. The woman with the gun had laughed and aimed at Matty, but the gun
The blonde-haired woman had run
off into the night, screaming and yelling, like a banshee of legend.
And that was how Matty's life had
ended, with the screaming and the blood and the rain and the pain and the death
and the stench….
Alfred gripped her shoulder,
indicating it was time to say good-bye. Matty attempted to compose herself,
trying to create an air of dignity, just as she had been taught. Originally
from New York State, where she was related to former president Roosevelt, she
had been 18 years old when she had fallen for the 32-year old Thomas Wayne, who
had recently left the army to start private practice. Two months later, the
young debutant and the charming doctor had married. A month later, she was
pregnant with Bruce.
The war started for the United
States and Thomas was called back to active service, leaving her alone with the
baby in the huge confines of Wayne Manor. Only a few days after he had shipped
out, Alfred Pennyworth had arrived. His father had served Thomas's father and,
after being wounded during the Blitz, Alfred had come to America, seeking
employment. To Matty, he was an angel of deliverance.
Had it not been for Alfred, she
would not have survived the war with her sanity. Bruce had been a bundle of
energy, crawling around, and then walking away. Her formal upbringing had not
prepared her for the world of teething and dirty diapers, but Alfred had proved
to be a competent teacher. More than that, he became a surrogate father for
her, dispensing advice or even "disciplining" her when she did something silly
Now, he was by her side again for
a final task, that of burying her husband and child. Her grief was almost
overwhelming and she felt herself shaking. It wasn't fair that she should lose
everything so quickly, so suddenly, all to some madwoman's gun! In that
instant, she felt a red hot fury build up in her and, without thinking, she
smacked a fist onto the little coffin.
By God, she
swore, this will never happen to anyone ever again!
The entire assembly became quiet,
as if the sound of fist hitting wood had somehow drained their voices from
their throats. Quizzical eyes stared at her, waiting for her next move and she
responded by turning white and fainting into the waiting arms of Alfred.
"Mr. Ted Grant and Mr. Alan Scott
to see you, Madam," Alfred said from the doorway. It had been a few hours since
the funeral, and many of the attendees were still milling about the grounds of
Wayne Manor, remembering the dead and speaking of the living. Matty had retired
to the sitting room in the Manor. In this room, she had taught her son to read
and she was examining the sofa she was sitting on with interest. There were
stains in the dark fabric that had resisted all efforts to remove them. She was
thankful they had been so resilient, because the boy had caused many over the
years and she found herself remembering the events surrounding each and every one.
"Shall I send them away?"
Matty stood up and smoothed out
her black dress. "No, please, Alfred; Ted is a very good friend."
With a short bow, he turned and
exited from the room. Matty waited patiently and used another handkerchief to
dry her swelled eyes. Years ago, as a teenage girl, she had developed a huge
crush on Ted Grant, a few years her senior, who had been hired to train one of
her cousins in boxing. Ted was a former champion, who career had been cut short
by a gambling scandal. To know that he was here, that he had cared enough to
show up, meant very much to her. They had developed a warm friendship years
ago, before he disappeared during the war years.
Ted entered the room and Matty had
to catch her breath. It was as if he hadn't aged and the sight of him caused
her to briefly remember happier times than the present. He was dressed in a
dark blue suit that did little to hide the athlete's shoulders and biceps. The
man next to him looked around nervously, as if he was afraid he was being watched.
She knew his name was Scott and that the name should mean something to her, but
given the circumstances, she couldn't bring herself to concentrate. Ted walked
over and gave her a hug. "I'm so sorry, Matty…"
They broke apart and she felt
herself about ready to cry again. "Thank you, Ted." She turned her attention to
Alan, who took her hand and bowed slightly. "Thank you both for coming."
"I'd like to offer my condolences
as well, Mrs. Wayne," Alan said. He looked as if he had more to say, but he
mentally bit his tongue.
"Thank you, Mr. Scott."
"'Matty, I know this doesn't seem
like the right time, but have they found the attacker?" Ted asked in a hushed
She shook her head. "No. They've
assigned an Inspector Gordon to the case and he seems to be a capable man, but
there are so very few clues. I didn't really see her face, only saw her hair
and that awful laughing…"
Alan was looking down at his feet.
"It's a terrible thing…a terrible thing…"
Matty sighed. "We should have
known better, what with the increase in crime since the Green Lantern and Black
Alan looked up. "Do you think that
really had something to do with it, Mrs. Wayne?" There was a serious look on
his face and Ted reached out and put a hand on Alan's shoulder.
"No, Mr. Scott, I don't…not
really. Unlike most people, I appreciated everything they did for this city.
The shame comes from the criminals that still didn't learn, that continued to…"
She began to swoon again, and Ted reached out for her. When he caught her, she
had already passed out. Effortlessly, he picked her up and carried her over to
"What the hell was that about,
Alan?" Ted asked, the anger rising in his voice.
"What do you think it's about? I
could have prevented this if I'd get off my high-horse for a second!"
"Bullshit!" Ted said, grabbing a
magazine to fan air around Matty. "The decision had to be made, regardless of
the consequences. We knew what would happen if we complied with the
government…the lives of our loved ones wouldn't be worth spit! I can't believe
that Jay put Joan in that kind of danger or Johnny and Libby…"
"We could have protected you other
guys," Alan offered.
"For how long? How long until
either you or the Spectre or Dr. Fate killed someone defending us non-powered heroes?
Luthor was out for blood, man, don't you see that? He would have used our
secrets against us or somehow prevented us from being able to wear our
Matty started to wake up and the
two men ended their private conversation and turned their attention back to
her. She sat up. "I'm so sorry, I'm just so upset…"
Ted smiled and patted her hand.
"You don't have to apologize to me; we're old friends remember?"
She smiled and gave him a peck on
the cheek. Then she turned to Alan. "Mr. Scott, I don't mean to intrude, but
did you know my husband?"
Alan put his hands in his pocket.
"No, but his death as well as your son's deeply affected me. I hope you don't
mind that I came. Ted and I are old friends as well and when I saw him here, we
sort of hooked up."
Matty looked Alan over. He had the
air of an intellectual, but he wore a suit that indicated money. She had
noticed his hands were calloused when they had greeted, which meant he actually
worked for a living. A scientist perhaps. He was handsome and appeared to be in
reasonable shape, though nothing like Ted. Where on Earth the ex-boxer had
found this scientist, much less became his friend, was beyond her. "I see;
well, again, thank you for coming. Do you have children, Mr. Scott/'
Alan looked as if he couldn't come
up with the correct words, though a simple "yes" or "no" would have done. "My
private life is, well, complicated."
Matty smiled and nodded her head
slowly, wondering if that was how she would respond from now on when asked the
Gotham City, United States of America
September 3, 1950
"You're fucking crazy!"
Matty's eyes went wide at the
swearing directed her way by Ted Grant. "Is that how you talk to women? No
wonder you can't get married."
Ted ran a hand through his light
brown hair and Matty noticed that he was starting to go gray at the temples.
Undoubtedly, she was the cause of that. She took in a deep breath and looked
over to Alfred, who stood in the corner, appearing oblivious. He nodded
slightly and she continued. "Look, I know you're Wildcat, the JSA member…"
Ted pointed at her. "You don't
know shit, lady, got that? Anything you think you know, you need to forget."
She pleaded with him. "Ted, I need
you to train me."
He looked as if he was going to explode,
literally, as his head turned blood red. She had invited her friend over to
request his help in her new mission…a mission of justice, to bring peace back
to this city and to her soul. In the year since the death of her husband and
son, Matty had pondered what it was she was to do to find closure. Inspector
Gordon, despite a valiant effort, was never able to identify, much less
capture, the woman that had destroyed Matty's life.
At first, she had found solace in
the bottle, turning to drink as the women in her family often did. Alfred,
loyal as ever, had quickly put a stop to that, and so she had tried volunteer
work. As the months went on, and she did more and more work at the Gotham
Mission, she began to see the dark side of humanity. She saw people with
absolutely nothing being victimized by criminals and she witnessed depraved
acts of inhumanity in the streets of the once proud city. There had been
rumors, more like prayers, that the heroes would return, because they were the
only one strong enough to stand up to the criminals.
There was a force working behind
the scenes in Gotham, a malevolent force guiding the efforts of the criminal
underworld and the police were utterly helpless. Corruption ran rampant through
the department, and many times, Inspector Gordon had confided in her he felt
like quitting. He needed a more effective weapon besides a good heart if he was
going to try and change the city.
But Matty knew that you didn't
change Gotham City, it changed you.
It had only been a week before, as
she lunched with Kathy Kane, a good friend, that she had brought up the subject
of the missing super-heroes. Betty had laughed and made a comment about how
Matty should be the authority on super-heroes. When she only seemed puzzled,
Kathy leaned over and whispered into her ear. Kathy was a good friend, a true
friend, but she was also a woman of scandalous morals and it was she that
informed Matty that an ex-lover, a mutual friend, was secretly the Wildcat, a
former member of the Justice Society of America.
At first, Matty had been furious
that Ted had hidden the knowledge from her. He would have known where Green
Lantern was and he could have prevented…
Then reality set in. As brave and
noble as the heroes had been, Matty knew they couldn't be everywhere. In fact,
they had faced the same problems that poor Inspector Gordon was facing:
corruption and a lack of resources. Still, the idea got her thinking. Maybe if
Green Lantern got some more help, he could overcome the corruption in the
government. Thankfully, it appeared that communists and not super-heroes were
now the targets of the over-patriotic congress. Even poor Alan was being
subpoenaed before congress.
She then realized how it was that
Ted and Alan had become friends; Alan was no doubt a member of the Justice
Society as well, but Matty couldn't figure out whom at first. The Flash was
already well-known, and Hawkman was far more…muscular, was that an appropriate
word?…than Alan. Perhaps Dr. Fate or Hourman, though Alan did not seem mystical
or powerful. In fact, the two of them had begun dating a few weeks before. He
was a simple man, though incredibly intelligent. He had admitted to two failed
marriages in only a few years, while building an entertainment empire. He owned
radio stations, movie studios and television stations, which had made him a
target of congress, since many of his employees were admitted or suspected
Alan did not care about politics,
quoting the Constitution and the freedom of speech. He was gentle, kind and
compassionate and Matty felt safe around him. Even Alfred had approved, which
was the final test for Mr. Scott. Alan was simply a good man who radiated
power, almost like he was surrounded by one of those force fields the Green
Lantern had around him…
It was too ironic to think about,
that she had always wondered what had happened to Green Lantern and only to
discover that she was dating him. She had immediately confronted him about it
and she could see the pain in his eyes as he explained the Justice Society's
vote not to comply. The fear was that some rogue element in the government
would use the information to force super-heroes to do unlawful things. While
the more powerful members were not afraid, other members like Wildcat, the Atom
and Johnny Thunder could easily, with the proper amount of force, be used as
weapons. "Better surrender than defeat," he had finally said.
He had cried that night,
apologizing for not being there for Thomas and Bruce, but stating that he
couldn't have done anything.
He had destroyed his power ring
and power lantern, sent them flying into the sun to ensure they could never be
used for evil.
Afterwards, he admitted, he had
realized what a great mistake he had made. In a moment of rash judgment, he had
truly changed the course of history. Matty asked him why he didn't become a
super-hero like the Wildcat, and he had said it wouldn't have been the same. He
needed his ring. "I'm Green Lantern…that's what I do."
"Train you? Train you for what?"
Ted asked, bringing her out of her memories. "Being a super-hero is not a game;
it's very dangerous and requires years of training. You don't have the time,
lady! Forget this shit and go shopping or something."
"Shopping? Is that what you think
I want to do with my life? I lost my husband and my son because the law failed
them!" she screamed back. She willed the tears back into her eyes; she would
"So, you want to take the law into
your own hands? That's not what it's about, Matty! That's why we quit, because
we couldn't follow the law!"
"The law is wrong! People are
suffering! What good are laws when children are dying? Tell me, Ted? Is your
secret identity worth the life of one child?"
She had won the argument and she
knew it. She heard his teeth grind and his knuckles turned white. He turned and
stomped out of the room. "Fuck!" After a few moments, he came back in the room.
"Alright, little girl; you think you have what it takes? You think you'll
change the world? We'll see…but you better understand one thing, missy: you
can't quit. I don't want to hear anything about being tired or that you're
cramping or any bullshit like that. You give me less than 200% of your effort,
I'll personally kick your ass!"
After he left the room, Matty
turned to Alfred, who was smiling. He didn't totally agree, in fact, he
strongly believed she was foolish, and he was assuming she would quit when the
going got tough. She smiled back at him, realizing just how wrong he was, but
so happy that she was finally getting a chance to do something for him…for
Thomas…for Bruce and all of the people she had ever loved.
GOTHAM KINGPIN IDENTIFIED!
Gotham City, July 7th, 1951 – Chief Inspector O'Mally,
the number 2 man at Gotham City Police Department, announced today that warrant
had been issued for so-called super-villain Harley Quinn today. Quinn, whose
real name is unknown, is believed to be the head of the Gotham City underworld
where crimes such as robbery, arson, prostitution, gambling and even murder are
commonplace. Based upon evidence gathered by the Detective Division of the
GCPD, District Attorney Harvey Dent presented his case before the grand jury.
Quinn, who is normally seen dressed in a red and
black jester's outfit, is specifically named in an indictment handed down by
the grand jury. According to the indictment, Quinn is charged with the murder
of former mob boss Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot. While suspected of other crimes,
only the first-degree murder charge was specified in court papers. Immediately
after the indictment was handed down, an arrest warrant was issued for the
person or persons using the Harley Quinn alias.
Quinn has been dubbed a super-villain by the local
press because of her demonstrated great strength and endurance, evidenced in
several physical confrontations with police. It is believed that with these
abilities, she was able to secure enough henchmen and followers to allow her to
challenge Cobblepot's reign over the Gotham underworld. Many who remember
Cobblepot in his heyday state that he was a gentlemen's gangster, much like Al
Capone in Chicago. The recent escalation of violence in certain areas of the
city has been attributed to Quinn's policy of ensuring no witnesses to any
Once captured, Quinn may also face federal charges
of failing to register her secret identity with congress. Under federal law,
"..any person (s) that knowingly and consistently demonstrate abilities beyond
the reasonable normal capabilities of the average citizen, and makes a
conscience effort to prevent knowledge of their true name and identity from
being revealed, must register with a duly authorized federal registrar…".
The Superhuman registration Act, now nearly three
years old, was passed in an effort to ensure that subversive persons did not
try to gain the public trust through false means. The bill, sponsored by
Senator Lex Luthor, has met with some renewed criticism in recent months,
especially by members of industry. Since the passing of the bill, the number of
active super-heroes in the United States has gone down to almost nothing. The
disbanding of the Justice Society of America essentially sounded the death
knell for super-heroes in this country. Some heroes have relocated to other
countries where such laws do not exist.
Former JSA chairman, Hawkman, along with All-Star
Squadron member Hawkgirl, both now operate freely in Egypt. The Shining Knight
(a British citizen) formed the Seven Soldiers of Victory in England and
includes former American heroes Amazing-Man and Robotman. Currently, only the
Flash, a former member of the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society, is
active in the United States. Other heroes, even though they complied with the
law, have retired, including Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick, who are expecting
their first child.
End Chapter 1