So I checked out the museum, still as Ollie Queen. Barry had been right about the Seurrat exhibit; it was amazing. I spent a few hours wandering through the old building, noting the security guards and cameras. I left around dinner time, found a Wendy’s, and returned just as it was growing dusk. I wanted to alert as few people as possible to Green Arrow’s presence in Central City. I entered the museum in costume through the rear entrance and found my way to the curator’s office without incident. I spoke to the curator and his chief of security and explained our plan.
The security guy was reluctant at first to go along — thought the presence of a super-hero, and an out-of-town super-hero at that, was a slight on his boys’ abilities — but the curator, faced with an imminent threat from not one but two super-villains, was eager to take all the help he could get. I was told that The Rainbow Bridge was being stored in the basement vault tonight, and tomorrow morning before opening time would be transferred to the special exhibit prepared for it. Conveniently enough, there was a large stone sarcophagus in the basement outside the vault door. A perfect hiding place. So when the museum closed its doors, the sarcophagus was richer by the addition of one ex-JLAer.
I wasn’t expecting any action until at least nine, probably a little later. Like Barry suggested, the bad guys would probably wait until the presentation ceremony was in full swing, giving them the best window of opportunity.
Sure enough, at around quarter after nine, I heard a small scuffle coming from upstairs, followed by the unmistakable hiss of a miniature gas-jet, like the kind gas-producing arrowheads use. This was followed by the muffled thumps of three human figures hitting the floor. Yup, my old buddy Raines was making another try. Ordinarily I’d be inclined to mop the floor with him all by myself, but Barry owed him a few lumps from the night before, and besides, it had been a while since I’d been bad-guy bashing with any of my old buddies from the League, and I was feeling nostalgic. So I punched the button on the signal device Barry had loaned me. I figured he’d be there in about point eight seconds.
Before he showed up, the basement door burst open, and I heard booted footsteps coming down the stairs. Raines had come, if you’ll pardon a pun. I got ready to pop out of the sarcophagus, figuring to give Barry another couple of microseconds to show up.
What got there before Barry, though, was a blast of bright, colorful light from the basement window.
“What the–?! What are you doing here?” the Rainbow Raider demanded as he sailed through the shattered window on a solid-light rainbow.
“I’m waiting for the crosstown bus, what do you think?” Rainbow Archer snapped back. “I’m here to steal the painting, goggles! And I was here first!”
I watched this exchange from within the sarcophagus, the lid raised just enough to let me see. Things were starting to get interesting.
“You hacked-out has-been,” Raider snarled, “this is my town! Take a hike!’
“Your town?” Archer repeated. “Oh, I like that! After you tried to steal the painting in Star City! You’ve got a lot of gall to talk about treading on someone else’s turf!”
“Un-freakin’-real,” I whispered, trying to restrain my amusement at watching the two walking rainbows arguing over squatter’s rights to their intended ill-gotten gains.
“Isn’t it, though?” Barry whispered back to me. I started a bit, then smiled when I saw him standing just outside the sarcophagus.
“For the last time, weird-beard,” Raider growled, “get lost before I really lose my temper!”
“Oh, I’m scared!” Archer mocked, hand straying to the quiver hanging at his hip. “Run away, little boy; go tell your mother she wants you.”
“Boys, boys!” Barry’s voice called across the basement. “Can’t we all get along?”
“Yeah, how can we expect the nations of the world to play nice with each other, when two third-rate costumed crooks can’t even do it?” I added.
Raider and Archer whirled around to see the Flash and I standing there, ready for action. They glanced at each other, then back at us.
“Goggles,” Archer said, “I’m in favor of a truce until we deal with these guys!”
“I’m with you, weird-beard!” Raider said, his hands clenching to activate his goggle controls.
“Déjà vu all over again, huh, Raider?” I asked, firing a mirror-arrow at him. I knew it wouldn’t affect him, but it would shield me from his beams. Or so I thought.
“Not this time, Robin Hood!” Raider laughed, as the scarlet beam from his goggles curved around my arrow to hit me straight in the face. “I made a little adjustment since our get-together!”
“Blazes!” I cried as the crimson light blasted me right in the eyes. I could feel the energy surging through my optic nerves right into my brain; felt my emotions begin to churn, stirred up by the Raider’s beam.
“G.A.!” Flash cried out in concern, seeing me hit. “Are you all right? Did the Raider’s beam–?”
“Gaah!” I yelled, throwing a punch at my old friend.
“Arrow!” Flash cried, avoiding my punch easily. The Rainbow Raider’s red beam had overwhelmed me with rage, and as my old buddy Barry was closest to me, he ended up on the receiving end of it. Of course, with his speed, he could duck my punches all night, but dealing with me, his attention was away from our real sparring partners, so he didn’t see the bolo-arrow until it had tangled up his legs in red, yellow, and blue wires. Caught off-guard and off-balance, he let me land a pretty good right cross on the point of his chin, and he went down.
“Now we can concentrate on what we came for,” the Archer said with a grin. But when he turned back to the Raider, he was met by a blast of pure black light. Drained of all his strength, as well as his color, the Archer collapsed to the basement floor, pure blank white from crown to sole.
“What do you mean ‘we,'” Rainbow Raider sneered, “white man?” With a final snort of contempt, the Raider turned to the closed vault door.
“Raaargh!” I snarled, leaping on him like a crazed quarterback making a tackle. The Raider hadn’t figured on this. I was still under the influence of his anger-beam, and with Barry and the Archer both out cold, he was the only one left to take my anger out on.
“Whoa!” Raider yelled as we both went down. I began throwing punches at him as he writhed under me. Luckily for him I wasn’t thinking right, not using my fighting skills; I was just swinging madly, and he was able to avoid most of them. He finally got in a shot at me with his goggle-rays — blue this time. The overwhelming rage quickly subsided, replaced this time by a deep, utter depression. I sank to the floor in a crumpled heap, unable to do anything, unwilling even to lift a finger. What was the point of it all? We would all die eventually. Why bother?
“Crazy bowman,” the Raider spat, climbing to his feet. “Now I’ll — wha?!” He gasped in shock as his goggles were snatched off his face at super-speed. Barry had recovered, and easily gotten out of the Archer’s bolos. In fact, he used them to tie the Raider up at super- speed.
“Neatly wrapped for the police,” Barry said. He then turned his attention to me; lifting my unresisting body onto his shoulder, he raced us out into the night.
My head began to clear almost immediately. “The fresh air will help, Ollie,” Barry said, standing over me. “It’d be better if it were cool out here, but I can’t control the weather.”
“You know… someone who can,” I said, struggling to crack wise. “C-call him, will ya?”
Barry chuckled. “Getting back to normal already, I see.”
“Gettin’ there,” I said. I looked up at my longtime friend’s smiling face. “Thanks, pal,” I said. “And sorry about the punch back there.”
“You’re forgiven,” Barry said. “But you’re buying, next lunch.”
“That’s Barry all over,” Ralph Dibny said, smiling.
“What a great story,” Black Canary said. “You guys were–”
“Hold it, hold it, guys!” Green Arrow said. “I’m not finished!”
“There’s more?” Firestorm asked. “But you caught the bad guys!”
“Not all of ’em,” Green Arrow said with a grin. “The next day…”
Mendel Hydecker sat in his private office in his palatial home, reading the newspaper account of our battle. His teeth ground against each other in anger. The intercom on his desk buzzed.
“Two gentlemen to see you, Mr. Hydecker,” his personal secretary said.
“I’m not seeing anyone,” Hydecker growled.
“But Mr. Hydecker,” the secretary insisted, “it’s the Flash and Green Arrow.”
Hydecker thought about telling us where to go, then realized that would be a mistake. “Show them in,” he said. A few minutes later, we were standing before his oversized mahogany desk.
“Gentlemen,” he said to us in civil tones. “To what do I owe this honor?”
“Gee, Mr. Hydecker,” I said, feigning ignorance, “don’t you want to thank us for saving your painting?”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Hydecker muttered. “I’m grateful, of course. I wasn’t aware you Justice League types go around soliciting thanks for your good deeds.”
“We don’t,” Barry assured him. “That’s not why we’re here.”
“Oh?” Hydecker asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” I said. “My fleet-footed friend and I here discussed the situation. You, a guy who normally doesn’t let his art collection out of his sight, suddenly decides to send one of your most valuable paintings on tour.”
“A painting with a rainbow theme,” Barry continued. “And the first two cities on the tour are homes to two notorious super-villains who specialize in art theft, and use color as their themes.”
“What are you implying?” Hydecker demanded, becoming agitated.
“I’m not implying anything, Mr. Hydecker,” Barry said firmly. “I’m stating it loud and clear. I talked to the curator of the Central City Museum. The next museums on your painting’s tour are to be the Flugelheim in Gotham City, the Midway City Art Gallery, Canalside Gallery in New Venice, and the Coast City Museum of Art. All cities that a super-hero calls home, and therefore cities with a high concentration of super-villains.”
“And I did some digging into your financial status,” I informed him. I’d had some help from the Daily Star’s financial editor on that, but no point in telling him that. “You’re not as solvent as you once were, Mendel. I can call you Mendel, can’t I? You were a silent but heavily invested partner in the Riverview condominium project last year, a project that went bankrupt when Indian relics were discovered on the building site and the Historical Society forced building to stop. All the millions you sank into that project, down the tubes.”
“So you insured your painting for three times what you’d get selling it legitimately,” Barry continued, “and sent it out on a tour of high super-crime cities, hoping it would get stolen.”
“Or damaged in a fight,” I added.
“Hey, good angle,” Barry said, turning to me. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
Hydecker appeared about to blow his stack, but he quickly summoned his board room skills and calmed down. “Again, my thanks for saving my painting,” he said. “And now, I’ll have to ask you gentlemen to leave.”
“Do you deny our accusations?” Barry demanded, pointing a finger at Hydecker. “You endangered public and private property, not to mention the lives of guards and museum patrons, in a scheme to recoup your losses!”
“That’s business, Mr. Flash,” Hydecker said, smiling. “Anyway, all I did was schedule a tour of my painting. I did nothing wrong; even if you could prove my intentions, you’ll never charge me with anything.”
“He’s right there, Flash,” I said, putting a green-gloved hand on his shoulder. “Come on; let’s go.”
“Have a nice trip home,” Hydecker called after us, tauntingly.
When we reached the gates of his mansion, Barry turned to me. “Did you get it all?” he asked.
“Every word,” I said, drawing the miniature tape-recorder from the bottom of my quiver. “When we play this tape for the museum curators, I’m sure his little traveling exhibit will be canceled. I’ll bet his insurance company will be interested to hear it, too.”
“Beautiful,” Barry said with a smile. “I hope I didn’t play my outraged part too over the top.”
“Nah, it was great,” I assured him. “Believable. Barry, I have to say, it’s been a blast fighting crime with you again.”
“You, too, Ollie,” Barry said, shaking my hand. “Don’t be such a stranger, OK?”
“You got it,” I said, to a rapidly disappearing scarlet blur.
“I love it,” Green Lantern said. “I absolutely love it! That’s a great ending to a great story!”
“Indeed it was,” J’onn J’onzz said. “The scheming profiteer got his just reward after all.”
“Leave it to Ollie to suspect the rich man of being duplicitous,” Hawkman offered.
“Well, he was, wasn’t he?” Green Arrow countered. “Come on, who’s next? How about you, Ray? Tell the ‘expanding world’ story again; I love that one!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Challenge of the Expanding World,” The Brave and the Bold #53 (April-May, 1964).]