Downsizing by C.W. Blaine

Downsizing

By C.W. Blaine (darth_yoshi@yahoo.com)

DISCLAIMER: All characters contained within this story are Copyright © 2001 by DC Comics Inc., a Time-Warner company. The characters are used here without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only. This particular story would be referred to in common writer terminology as "fan fiction". The use of the characters is a violation of the copyright possessed by DC Comics Inc. and simply because they allow this story to remain posted should not be assumed as an endorsement by DC Comics Inc. or Time-Warner. This original story is Copyright © 2001 by C.W. Blaine. It may be archived. The author does request that you inform him of when you do archive it.

SUPER-HERO STOCKS SLUMP IN BEAR MARKET

By King Kirby, Financial Editor

New York (AP) – The sluggish U.S. economy is finally taking its toll on the super-hero community. Yesterday, the stock of the Justice League of America (NYSE: JLA) lost another 2-3/4 points, ending the day at a new two year low of 15 1/16 per share. The United Nations sponsored team began selling shares of JLA, Inc. two and a half years ago to provide adequate capital for the development of crime-fighting tools. JLA, Inc., is involved with the licensing of team member related materials including action figures, trading cards and the entire series of comic books produced by New York based DC Comics Inc.

"We are, of course, concerned about the recent slowdown in the economy, " JLA chairman Superman was quoted as saying at a recent press conference. "We want our major investors to feel confident in our venture and so we are taking a look at our basic operations and seeing what cost-saving measures we can employ." The Man of Steel would not elaborate on what actions the JLA may take, but speculation from other super-hero licensing corporations has gone from one end of the corporate spectrum to the other.

Booster Gold, the first super-hero to actually license his image, stated, "I can't see any other way besides major cutbacks." However, Arsenal, representing Titans Toys (NYSE: TiTy) had other ideas. "All they need to do is come out with some better lines of products. The money is there, its just people are holding onto it to see of they can get a better deal some time down the road." Titans Toys has recently dominated the super-hero toy market with its recent joint venture with Barbie™. The recent released "Starfire Barbie" has met with some controversy even as it sells out throughout the country. The doll, designed by Arsenal, is the first Barbie™ to come with "erect nipples". "Hey, there is nothing wrong with nipples! Your mother has nipples!" was the response from Arsenal.

However, Lucious Fox, CEO of Wayne Enterprises, which has invested heavily into JLA, Inc., went on the record as stating that unless the JLA cut back on the overhead and improved their product lines, even he would be hard-pressed not to pull out. "We all love the JLA, but this is business. People are tired of same products with different colors each quarter. It's time to breathe some new life into the League."

*****    *****    *****

"Kyle," Superman extended his hand to the young Green Lantern," so good of you to join us."

Kyle Rayner, the man behind the green mask, stepped into the meeting room in the JLA, deep within the Watchtower, the teams' headquarters on the moon. The current active membership was present: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Plastic Man and Martian Manhunter. He noted that his chair, with the Green Lantern emblem on the back, was positioned at the end of the table, by itself. Slowly, he took his seat as Superman walked to his own place at the other end.

"Wassup?" he asked, nervous.

"Kyle," Wonder Woman began, batting her eyes. "I guess we shouldn't beat around the bush here."

"You know that our stock has recently taken a beating?" Aquaman asked.

Green Lantern nodded. "Yeah, I've been thinking about that…what we can do to cut back on costs and everything. Like for instance, do we really need to maintain a batplane hanger here on the moon? It isn't like you could actually fly the thing here."

Batman was silent and turned slowly to Superman. The Kryptonian smiled. "That's a very good suggestion, Kyle, but that's not really going to make our investors happy."

"Yeah, but I thought this team was about doing the right thing…what is it you are always telling the other heroes…that we're a family and family is the most important thing? Maybe we should just shut down the whole business and get back to the…"

Laughter cut him off as the assembled heroes considered his words. "I have most of Atlantis's retirement funding wrapped up in the U.S. stock market," Aquaman said, wiping a tear from his eye. "I know, I'll go back and tell my people I'm getting back to my moral self!"

The laughter continued until Superman called for order. "We are a family, Kyle, and we want you to know that we will always consider you a part of it…"

The Flash began to snicker and Plastic Man elbowed him as Superman gave them both a serious look. "What is this?" Kyle asked, standing up.

"Kyle, sit down, please," Superman said, even as Batman pressed a small button under the meeting table. "Unfortunately, our investors are demanding that we 'shake things up a bit'. So, we have evaluated everyone's job…"

"What? I'm useless?" Kyle was now raising his voice.

"We don't feel that you have growth potential with us," Wonder Woman said. "We're stifling you, keeping you from reaching your career path climax."

"'Career path climax'? What the hell is that? Sounds like a dental plan for a porn star! You can't fire me…"

"Actually," Batman said, a smug expression on his face, "we can. It only takes a majority vote of the membership and, well, you don't have the votes."

Kyle was screaming by now. "I'm a founding member!"

"This is strictly business, Kyle," Superman said as the doors opened behind Green Lantern. The hero quickly turned to see reserve members Black Canary and Captain Marvel waiting to escort him out.

Kyle considered making a bigger scene, but finally decided it wasn't worth it. As he turned, Captain Marvel grabbed his arm and Kyle pushed him back. Green Lantern exited the meeting room, his head hanging low.

*****    *****    *****

MAJOR CHANGES ANNOUNCED AT JLA, INC.

CNBC

New York (AP) – Only days after a major reshuffling of the upper management of the company, JLA, Inc., has come out with an economic proposal that has investors scrambling to pick up the stock. Superman, chairman of the team, announced the plan at a meeting with all of the major stockholders. Though his exact comments are unknown, one stockholder, Maxwell Lord III, did take time to speak to reporters. "We are very excited about what the JLA has come up with as far as a way to cutback expenses and increase profits over the next fiscal year."

The internet has been alive with rumors concerning what projects the team will undertake to generate new revenues. Last Thursday, the team roster was changed for the first time in over a year. Founding member Green Lantern was let go. Citing failing sales in the hero's group, Superman stated, "We will miss Green Lantern…our decision to ask him to leave the team was very difficult, requiring hours of debate between the rest of the membership. We wish him well in his future ventures."

Green Lantern action figure sales were the lowest this past Christmas for the entire JLA line, with the variant "silicon action Wonder Woman" outselling all other figures on eBay. Sales from T-shirts and other apparel were down 63% from one year ago. Experts cite "Green Lantern Boredom" as the reason for poor sales results. "We're used to seeing a new Green Lantern pop up every other years or so," one youth was quoted at a recent toy convention. "This guy is boring…we want a girl figure now!"

As if in response to the overwhelming cry of their economic base (12 – 35 year old males), the team membership was altered by the addition of several female members: Huntress, Black Canary, Moon Maiden and a mysterious heroine referred to as "Juggs". The day after the announced change in the roster, the JLA stock (NYSE: JLA) jumped twenty points to close at 40 1/8 per share.

However, the economic changes in the JLA have not met with approving nods from everyone. Oliver Queen, the former head of the Queen Fund, stated,"Man, I can't believe you fat-cats would stoop to using sex appeal as a crime fighting tool! Women are being used as objects in order to increase corporate profits!" Mr. Queen was later that day slapped with a paternity suit by a woman who claimed to have bore Mr. Queen a son. This is the fifth suit in the past year since Mr. Queen has returned from obscurity.