Captain Comet strolled down a New York City street alongside a beautiful blonde woman in a leather jacket and short pleated skirt. She was his cousin, Zinda Blake.
She knew what was bothering him, even though he had put on a brave front. He felt responsible for the fact that the people of his old hometown Midwest City had been used by synthetic beings called Plasmen merely to hurt him. He had rescued them, and they had in fact benefited greatly from some effects of the Plasmen plot. (*) Still, he took his abilities seriously. If he could use them more effectively, then perhaps he could keep more people from harm.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home.]
He had the abilities of a man of the future, yet his heart was firmly in the past. He retained old-fashioned values and a sense of moral obligation. Zinda understood that, since as the high-flying Lady Blackhawk, sometime member of the famed Blackhawks, she had stood for American values, too.
“Adam, even Superman can’t be everywhere at once,” she said. “Batman saves lives in Gotham City even while others fall victim to crime in… Detroit! A man can only do so much. Stop blaming yourself.”
Nodding, Adam pulled his cousin nearer. “I know. Thanks, Zinda. Still, I can’t let the possibilities alone. I keep on wondering what would have happened if I had never left Earth all those years ago. Could things have changed for the better?”
Captain Comet referred to the fact that, after his short career as Earth’s first true super-hero in the early 1950s, he had decided to leave the planet in his rocket ship the Cometeer for two reasons. The first was to figure out a way to stop the constant menaces from space that had begun to plague Earth ever since he became Captain Comet; if he could stop them at their source, somehow, the world wouldn’t even need a super-powered champion. The second was simply to explore, to discover what was out there in space. Although he hadn’t meant to be gone for long, he didn’t return to Earth until 1981. By that time, the world had changed drastically in many ways.
Zinda shook her blonde curls. “Time travel can’t change the past. It just creates a new present separate from the one you started with. That’s what I’ve read — the Hyatt book.”
“Pretty smart as always,” said Adam. “I believe Alpheus Hyatt is right. I’ve read the private papers in his collection, too, thanks to the Atom. Still, think it over. What if I had never gone to space? Could I have not just stopped the Plasmen, but have done so much more?”
“It’s obvious that you’ve been using that simulator Superman gave you back at base too much,” said Zinda. “Those what-if things are entertainment, but you can’t put too much stock in them. Sure, I’ve done it, too. What if my old team had not aged while I was trapped in Midwest City? But they did, and they’re fine.”
“I’ll stop in that shop a moment,” said Adam, nodding down the street. “You don’t have to wait on me.”
Zinda grinned. “OK. I’ll do some shopping of my own.”
He entered a small, cozy, cluttered shop and sat down at a table, immediately noticing that the room held many odd items and hinted at stranger things still out of sight.
But the collection of rarities could not equal the glamor of the woman who owned the shop. She had long, black hair, exotically made-up and luminous eyes, and a revealing purple gown with high heels.
“I am Madame Xanadu,” she said. “I sense you have a need I may help you satisfy.”
“Something led me here,” he said, smiling. “Call it a hunch. Y’know, Superman once told me about you.”
“And I sense you are a rare man, one of compassion, valor, and intellect,” she said as she touched his hand. “You are rarely in need of help. That you would seek my aid intrigues me.” Leaning forward, she added, “Perhaps the cards can guide you.”
He shook his head. “No, thanks. I realize even as we speak that what I need is to work out some things on my own. Nice to meet you, though.” He exited and scanned the street.
She sighed and crossed her legs. “I hope you find what you need, Adam Blake,” she said.
As Adam turned, he noticed that the cars and signs and clothing of passersby were all old-fashioned.
“Great Scott!” he said as a realization hit home. “I’ve gone back in time!”
The Metropolis Juvenile Detention Center held young men whose lives had taken turns for the worse for various reasons. They had committed crimes and needed serious correction before their adult lives became dark paths to prison and loss. One such young man ignored the other inmates as they relaxed in the yard. He was youthful but bald. He studied a thick book, seeming lost in his own thoughts.
A loud explosion suddenly blasted the wall to dust as a robotic vehicle entered, and a voice spoke. “Come with me for brighter possibilities, Lex Luthor,” said the voice from the speaker. “Your intellect is wasted here.”
Luthor hesitated, then climbed in even as the guards hurried closer and the craft closed and flew over the facility. “This craft recommends you well,” he said to whomever was operating it. “What is your name?”
“All in good time, my lad,” replied his mysterious benefactor from a remote location. “All in good time.”