“Mr. Arrow, please tell the court in your own words what transpired on the night of February 18th.”
Green Arrow smiled to himself as he sat in the witness box. He liked this new district attorney; Richard Raleigh was his name, and he was young and idealistic, with a common-sense approach to justice.
“On the night in question, I was making my regular patrol of the city,” Green Arrow said. “I came to the warehouse owned by Carson Furriers, and found the door had been forced open. I investigated and found a man in a colorful, black and yellow costume looting the place. I asked him to surrender; he refused and attacked me with a device that threw miniature lightning bolts at me.”
“Was this costumed man someone you had encountered before?” Raleigh asked.
“No, I’d never seen him before,” Arrow answered. “You know how it is; seems ten new super-villains pop up every year.”
“Indeed. Did this super-villain identify himself to you?”
“He called himself the Lightning Bug. Not the most dramatic name I’ve ever heard, but then I’ve fought Clock King and the Pinball Wizard.”
“What occurred then, Mr. Arrow? You can skip the details and just give us the highlights.”
“The highlights are that this Lightning Bug and I fought for a while, then I overpowered him.”
“And how did you accomplish that?”
“There was a sprinkler system in the warehouse, in case of fire. I shot a firework-arrow at a sprinkler-head; this set off the sprinklers. The water short-circuited the Lightning Bug’s electrical weapon. The furs, of course, were protected from the sprinklers.”
“And then I called the police to pick up the Bug. I stayed with him until they arrived. Officers Moody and Tuldune, right over there.” Green Arrow pointed to two uniformed policemen sitting on the state’s side of the court.
“Thank you, Mr. Arrow. Nothing further.” Raleigh sat down at the state’s table. The defense attorney rose to cross-examine the archer. Green Arrow scowled inwardly, though he kept a straight face. Jimmy Cockburn was a criminal attorney in every sense of the word. He was famous for twisting the law, for finding the loophole, for confusing the jury, for every slimy trick that gave lawyers a bad name.
“Mr. Arrow, do you see the Lightning Bug in this courtroom?” he asked.
“Sure, he’s sitting right over there. He’s your client.”
“Was the Lightning Bug wearing a mask when you fought him?”
“Sure. Big ugly thing, with bulbous eyes like an insect. I wondered how he could see.”
“Then how do you know this is the man you fought?”
“The police unmasked him when they arrived.”
“Are you willing to unmask now?”
This startled Green Arrow. “Huh? Why should I?”
“Because otherwise, how do we know you are, in fact, the man who captured the Lightning Bug? How do we know your testimony is worth anything?”
“Objection, Your Honor!” Raleigh exclaimed. “Counsel is obviously unaware of the legal precedent set in Snart versus Central City, and its resultant legislation regarding masked crime-fighters testifying in court.”
“I am well aware of that bit of jurisprudence, Mr. Raleigh,” Cockburn said smoothly. “But still, I contest that this man on the stands before us is not Green Arrow at all!”
Cockburn paused to let that sink in. He then continued with a dramatic flourish. “It is my contention that Green Arrow is, in fact, this man!” Cockburn whirled to the doors of the courtroom. They burst open, and everyone gaped at the man who stood there, especially Green Arrow. For the man walking into the courtroom was Green Arrow’s physical twin.
Hushed whispers ran through the courtroom. The judge banged his gavel and called for order. The newcomer in the green costume pointed at the archer on the witness stand.
“That man is an impostor!” he cried. “I am Green Arrow!”
“You’re nuts!” Green Arrow declared. “I don’t know what your game is, but I’m the real Green Arrow!”
“Why don’t you prove it?” Cockburn sneered. Ordinarily, Green Arrow would not have risen to the bait, but his pride was stung. In a single fluid motion he grasped his bow, drew a blunt-headed arrow, notched it to the bowstring, drew, and fired. In just as rapid a movement, the new Green Arrow drew an arrow and fired; it was a regular hunting-tip, and it speared the blunt arrowhead in mid-flight. The two arrows fell to the courtroom floor, joined. Green Arrow gaped in amazement.
“Order!” the judge called, pounding his gavel. “One more outburst like that, and I’ll clear this courtroom! I warn you, both of you, this court is no place for grandstanding or gimmicks!”
“I apologize to the court, Your Honor,” Cockburn said smoothly. “I’m afraid this has been staged for the benefit of the court. May I present Bart Clinton.” Cockburn pointed to the false Green Arrow, who was smiling broadly as he removed his mask and false beard. Green Arrow did a double-take. “Mr. Clinton is a professional archer. He represented the United States in the 1984 Olympic Games, where he captured the gold medal.”
“Your Honor, I must object!” Raleigh declared. “Mr. Cockburn is wasting the court’s time with these childish games! What’s he going to do next — bring in a party clown?”
“If it would prove my point, I would,” Cockburn said smoothly. “My point being, we have no idea who the man on the stands is. The Snart law is fine when it applies to true superheroes, such as the Flash and Superman. There is no question of their identity. But Green Arrow is just a masked archer. Anyone with sufficient archery skill can impersonate Green Arrow; I just proved that with my admittedly theatrical example. I submit that this man’s testimony is completely invalid, as definite proof of his identity has not been established.”
“Your Honor, this is outrageous!” Raleigh complained. “This is an obvious attempt on the part of the defense to draw one of his famous loopholes!”
“Well, it’s working, Mr. Raleigh,” the judge said sternly. “I don’t like it any better than you do, but Mr. Cockburn has a point. I’m afraid I must adjourn court until ten A.M. tomorrow. At that time, if you are unable to provide sufficient proof that your witness is, in fact, Green Arrow, I will have no choice but to throw out his testimony. So ordered.” The judge punctuated his remark with a bang of his gavel.
Green Arrow was so frustrated, so enraged, he could barely contain himself as he left the courtroom. “Green Arrow!” he heard someone call. He whirled on his heel and saw Clinton, still in costume minus the mask, beard, and hat, waiting for him.
“I hope there are no hard feelings about this,” Clinton said. “I’ve been a fan of yours since I was a kid; you’re what made me want to take up archery.” The archer extended a gloved hand. Green Arrow hesitated a second, then shook it.
“Ah, forget it, kid,” he said. “I watched you in the Olympics; you’re good. You’re damned good.”
“Wow! Thanks, Mr. Arrow, that means a lot coming from you,” Clinton beamed.
“I gotta ask, though. If you’re such a fan of mine, why’d you do this?”
Clinton shrugged. “Money. Archers don’t get a lot of endorsement contracts, and Cockburn waved a bundle I couldn’t refuse. I mean, I’m getting married this year, starting a family. You know how it is.”
“Yeah, kid, I know how it is.”