On the island of Vumania, a heroic figured streaked out of the sky to land on the sandy shores. He admired the complex that housed Captain Comet and his Forgotten Heroes and smiled appreciatively.
Adam and Angela did a great job setting this place up, mused Starman, alias Will Payton. Funny, I’m as nervous about seeing them as I was when I faced Aquarius! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Super-Team Family: Starman and Superman: The Final Night.]
As Starman, Will had recently saved the world and had been praised by the luminaries of the JLA; however, all the public adulation could not erase the young man’s inner doubts. He faced a dilemma that was hardly unique to him. Months ago he had parted with Dolphin, a woman he had deeply loved, and regretted his actions. (*) They had been based on the idea that he had lost his humanity and thus was not worthy to be in a romantic relationship with the platinum blonde.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Beginning of the End, Chapter 3: Tales of the Mirrorverse.]
His powers had been altered and even boosted by the presence of the sentient Starseed and encounters with other stellar-powered entities. Now he was almost comfortable in his role as Starman. His mother and sister offered him assurances that the loving and secure background he had always enjoyed would always be there for him to draw upon in times of strife and crisis.
Earlier, Jayne Payton had sat across from her big brother in their home and had been blunt if not crass. “Will, you have to be a man about this thing,” she had declared. “Face Dolphin and tell her why you left. Tell her you were a typical male jerk — albeit a stellar-powered one — and ask her to take you back.”
Will’s mother Marie had smiled. “Jayne, Will can manage his own romance.”
Jayne had sighed. “Fine, fine! Let him go through life alone and living in some Star Cave with three cats and a often-menaced kid sidekick named Twinkle!“
Will grinned. “I did think about getting a Starmobile for those long commutes to the Fortress of Stellardom.”
Jayne rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Will, don’t back away from this. You could gain everything.”
Will swatted her on the arm and took her hand. “Thanks, kid,” he said. “I appreciate the concern. I’ll go talk to Angela. She may try to drown me or something, but I’ll try. If things don’t work out, I’ll start advertising for a sidekick. Unless you’d like the role… Twinkle, wasn’t it?”
Thus he found himself on Vumania and was greeted by the shiny form of Robotgirl, known as Joan Carter.
“Starman, I’ve been reading wonderful things about you,” she said. “We’re all very proud.” Her figure and face were feminine in design, and her tone was almost sultry. She had been making modifications to her artificial form in an effort to reclaim her lost humanity, and it was working.
“Thanks, Joan,” said Will. “You and the others have been doing great, too. I know you took down the last incarnation of the Forgotten Villains.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: The New Guardians.]
Robotgirl nodded. “Imagine so many bitter individuals desperate for revenge against the world at large.”
“People are strange,” said Starman. “That’s Criminology a la Jim Morrison.”
At that moment, Dolphin swam up and rose out of the waters. “Joan, I thought I saw a comet — the human kind,” she said. “Oh, Will!”
He turned to the pretty woman as she rose from the waters. She was as fit and lovely as ever. “Angela, I’m just visiting,” he began nervously. “Nice to see you. How have you been?”
She smiled and stammered, “Fine. A-and I’m not Angela, as it turns out. I’ve learned my real identity. We were wrong before. Mara is my given name. I even have a father now! It’s a long story.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home, Chapter 2: Lost Daughter of Atlantis.]
“I’ve got time,” said Will. “I’d love to hear more. Please, may we talk?”
She nodded. “Well, it all started with Angel O’Day. She learned her real sister was not me. She’s dead, or at least long-missing. Adam and I…”
That tale continued as they strolled. The combination of her beauty and enthusiasm and his memories of their time together combined to tug at Starman. Still, he hesitated to tell her how he felt.
“I’ve missed a lot,” he said as she concluded.
Captain Comet arrived and greeted Will warmly. “Welcome back,” he said as he extended his hand. “Have you come back to join us?”
Starman shook his hand and said, “Just a social call. It’s great you solved Dolphin’s origin.”
Comet nodded. “Come inside. Let me show the complex.”
As they walked inside, Dolphin drew back and said, “I’ve got some paperwork to do. Nice to see you, Will. Stay in touch.” She glanced back at him, and their eyes met. They exchanged a long look, and she rushed off.
“Will, when you were gone, Dolphin and I fell into a kind of rebound situation and nothing came of it,” Captain Comet said suddenly in a confidential tone. “We were just looking for companionship. I think she still cares for you. She never stopped.”
“Man of the future always knows what’s going on,” said Will ruefully. Forcing himself to smile in appreciation, he added, “Adam, thanks. I appreciate your support. Still, she’s moved on. She’s found her past. I’m just in the way.”
“You still care for her, too,” said Comet. “I know that. Why’d you leave? Your powers?”
There was a barely audible click nearby.
“Yes,” said Will remorsefully. “I felt the changes in me made me unworthy for any woman, much less one as wonderful as Mara… seems strange saying that name.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “I ran, but I was wrong. I was a jerk, as my kid sister would say. I made a lame excuse, and I hurt Mara. Now it’s too late. I started to tell her I still love her, but she seemed so well-adjusted here. I thought it would be wrong to risk upsetting her newfound life.”
Dolphin entered the room, walked directly over to Will, and embraced him. “We need to talk,” she said. “I still love you, too. Let’s go somewhere.”
Utterly speechless, Will smiled and carried her off.
Captain Comet smiled as he watched them leave, then turned to see Lady Blackhawk.
“That was nice of you,” said Zinda Blake.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Dolphin heard Will’s reasons for leaving and that he still cared for her through the intercom,” said the blonde.
“Oh?” said Captain Comet, nodding. “Hmm. Must have left it on. Careless of me.”
Zinda hugged her cousin. “Or someone turned it on deliberately via telekinesis.”
Captain Comet nodded. “That’s possible.”
At that moment, Robotgirl brought in a newcomer. “Look who’s here!” she said.
The Golden Glider, alias Lisa Snart, posed dramatically at the door. “Hi, tiger,” she joked. “You just hit the jackpot.”
Captain Comet grinned. “I think I’ve read that line before somewhere.”
Lisa Snart fell into Captain Comet’s arms and suddenly kissed him.
“Lisa, nice to have you back. How have you been?” asked Adam Blake as Zinda watched in amusement.
“Who’s the majorette?” asked Lisa as she eyed the curvy Zinda.
Zinda stepped forward. “I’m Adam’s cousin. Retract the fangs.”
Lisa grinned. “Oh! Nice to see you. If you’ll excuse us, Adam and I have some catching up to do.”
She led the startled mutant out, and he said, “Lisa, Flash told me about your battle with Mazdan. (*) You remained honest, and I’m proud. You really have turned your life around. I wish I could have convinced you to stay after that incident with Kolossal Kate.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash: Speed Trap and Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Beginning of the End.]
Lisa took his hand. “Adam, I was hurt that the public could think I had turned bad again. And it especially hurt that my own brother tried to frame me. I needed time alone. You did nothing wrong.”
“Those of us who… care for you knew you weren’t guilty,” he said.
She smiled and said, “Do you care for me? I’d like to hear you say it. You weren’t that demonstrative before.”
Adam shrugged. “I’m from an earlier generation,” he said. “We were less open about things.”
Lisa laughed. “Ah, yes. You and Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper.”
He turned her around to face him. “Maybe I was stupid,” he said. “For all my advanced mind and mental gifts, I still had little experience with relationships. I mean, I was in space for so long. I have things to learn, too. Maybe we could start with a simple but powerful truth: I love you.”
She kissed him and smiled wickedly. “I think I can teach you all you need to know!”
Joan Carter paced as she eyed the Thanagarian transporter.
“I reckon, you got travel on your mind!” drawled the Vigilante as he entered.
Robotgirl nodded. “I do. Captain Comet located the Earth-One counterpart of someone I knew back on my Earth, and I am considering visiting him. I’m a bit apprehensive. This metal body didn’t take away my jitters.”
Greg Sanders grinned. “You know, that’s not somethin’ to be frettin’ over. It shows you’re every bit as human — as much a person — as you ever were. And I think that was what was eating at you. Joanie, just go see him. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”
“Thank you, Greg,” she said. “I will. His name is Bob Crane.”
Nadir the master of magic was a handsome man wearing a turban and a stylish black tuxedo who viewed life with a wry charm all his own, largely thanks to his unconventional life. He had accepted being tossed through time and space from the 1939 of a parallel world to the present and had even relished the new era in which he was placed. He had no desire to leave Earth-One and had no family to mourn. This time-lost prince of India had been an orphan, and while he had formed friendships back in the 1930s on Earth-Two, he also had travel widely and seldom settled down long enough to put down roots.
Rubbing a hand across his dark mustache, he smiled as he saw June Moone approach. The beautiful blonde wore her brief pink costume, and as the Enchantress she sought to use her latent magic gifts to make up for the wrongs she had committed over the years while under the control of a baleful wizard. Nadir had formed a romantic bond with her and viewed her as much more than a mere pupil. “June, I see you are costumed for action. Has Captain Comet summoned us?” he asked.
She smiled. “No, but I enjoy wearing it. It makes me feel special. So many years I lived as demure and unassuming little Junie Moone, and then I lost myself as the fiery and dangerous Enchantress. It’s nice to form a new identity that draws upon the best of both those roles. Thus the blonde hair from my June days and the pink outfit I wore after giving up the horrid green one.”
Nadir put his arm around her. “Female logic. The one thing magic is helpless against.”
She nudged him. “I’d say that’s a more powerful form of magic.”
He kissed her and said, “Magic of the very best kind.”