Oliver Queen stood before the minister, his friend Carter Hall beside him, his other groomsmen standing off to one side. He felt nervous, anxious, and impatient for the ceremony to begin.
Then he heard the music. He looked, and a smile began on his face as a warm glow filled him from the core of his soul. Dinah Lance, the woman he loved, was walking down the aisle toward him, resplendent in her white wedding gown. He had never seen a sight so beautiful.
Dinah favored him with a warm smile as she took her place at his side. The minister smiled as he watched them; he could see the true love on their faces.
“Friends,” he began, “we are gathered here today to unite this couple…”
“You have our demands, turkey!” the man in the brown leather jacket screamed from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. “You’ve got twenty minutes!”
The leader of the terrorist gang looked behind him at the cringing, whimpering tourists huddled against the rear wall of the deck. His two accomplices held machine guns trained on them.
“You think they’ll give in?” one gunman asked his leader.
“Of course!” the leader spat. “This is the numero uno tourist trap in America, isn’t it? They don’t want people scared to come here! They’ll fork over!”
“And if they don’t?” the second gunman asked.
The leader’s cold, emotionless eyes swept over the terrified hostages. “They will. Even if we have to toss down a body or two.” A young mother wailed in fear, clutching her five-year-old son tightly to her.
Down on the street, the police commissioner of the city conferred with his lieutenants behind a barricade of police cars.
“I think they mean it, sir,” one uniformed officer said. “People like this are crazy. They’ll do everything they say, whether it gets them what they want or not.”
“I know,” the commissioner said. “But we have to do something! Maybe we can call in the Justice–“
Suddenly, there was a flash of light behind the men’s backs. They whirled and saw the three terrorists sitting on the street, back to back to back, arms linked together with steel chains. Expressions of shock and awe were etched on their faces.
“–League,” the commissioner finished weakly.
“–pronounce you man and wife,” the minister finished. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Ollie Queen kissed his new wife warmly and passionately. Dinah Queen responded in kind.
“And it gives me great honor to present to you,” Carter said into the microphone in the huge ballroom of the country club, “making their first appearance anywhere, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver and Dinah Queen!”
The applause was thunderous as Ollie and Dinah stepped out into view. The newlywed couple looked out across the sea of smiling faces, all sharing in the joy of their happiest day. With many smiles and waves to them, the Queens made their way to the bridal table, joining Carter and Shiera Hall, Roy Harper, Hal Jordan, and their companions.
“Congratulations, you two!” Carter said, wringing his old friend’s hand.
“All my hopes, Dinah,” Carol Ferris said, giving the bride a kiss on the cheek.
“I feel so proud,” Roy said with a smile. “My boy is growing up.”
“Watch it, Junior,” Ollie said, good-naturedly. “Hey, and who’s this?” he asked, indicating Roy’s companion.
“Ollie, this is Kim Jungbaer,” Roy said, introducing the pretty dark- haired girl.
“How do you do,” Kim said, shaking Ollie’s offered hand. “Roy has told me so much about you!”
“Don’t believe a word of it,” Ollie said. “Roy, where’ve you been hiding such a charming young lady?” Kim giggled at the flattery.
“Kim’s an old friend from the reservation,” Roy explained. (*) “She was in town scouting colleges, and I invited her.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Arsenal and Owlwoman: With Some Reservations.]
“Well, don’t let this one get away, Roy,” Ollie joked. “I like her!”
“Ollie!” Roy complained, embarrassed. Kim just laughed.
“Welcome to the Old Married Ladies’ Club, Dinah,” Shiera said warmly.
“Thanks, Shay,” Dinah said.
“Deserter,” Carol said, but with a smile, lifting her wine glass to her lips.
The grounds outside Belle Reve Prison were constantly under electronic scrutiny, ever vigilant for any intruders who might try to free the prisoners within. Today, however, their devices failed them.
“Perfect,” Doctor Light said to himself, checking the monitor screen on his wrist-computer. “My lightwave-bending circuitry in my cloak is making me completely invisible to the naked eye and any other such nosy-parkers around this prison! Nobody can know I’m here!” The goateed villain hefted the blue metallic pistol with the odd, egg-shaped barrel clutched in his white-gloved fist. “One blast from my sub-light sublimator, and the walls of this prison will dissolve into mist, freeing every felon fettered within! They will form the nucleus of my army, the army I will march against the Justice League of America, and destroy them once and for all! I–“
In a flash of light, Doctor Light’s empty costume and sublimator weapon fell harmlessly to the ground.
Within the prison, two guards sat at a table, playing cards.
“Got any threes?” One asked.
“Go fi — sheesh!” The other exclaimed as a brilliant flash of light erupted in their midst. A very confused-looking Arthur Light stood there, clad only his boxer shorts — colored black with yellow light bulbs (unfortunately for Doctor Light, the Prankster had been his Secret Santa at last year’s super-villain Christmas party).
“Er… w-would you believe I got separated from the t-tour?” Light stammered in fear.
“No tours here,” one guard informed him, reaching for the rifle leaning against the wall next to his chair.
“What, this isn’t the National Mint?” Light asked. “Silly me. Well, I’ll just be going, then; sorry to have — Hey! Not so rough there! Ow! Oww! Watch the arm!“
The six-piece band hired for the reception played dance music with an old-fashioned flavor. Ollie and Dinah held each other as they twirled around the floor, savoring the moment.
“I wish it could always be like this,” Dinah whispered.
“Me, too,” Ollie said. “No costumed bad guys, no muggers, nothing; just us.”
“Well, we’ll just have to take our happiness in little bites,” Dinah said.
“Like everyone else,” Ollie agreed. “Take it as it comes.”
“I must say, I wasn’t expecting such… exotic company at this wedding,” Daily Star reporter Sharon Greenglass said admiringly as she danced with the handsome black man with the intriguing Dominican accent.
“Why exotic?” Jean St. Jean asked with a wide smile, showing dazzling white teeth.
“Well, an artist from New Orleans!” Sharon gushed. “And such a handsome one, too…”
“I am flattered, Miss Greenglass…”
“Oh, Sharon, please!”
“Sharon. But I am no artist; merely an agent for those who possess such talent.”
“I am the artist,” came a cold, steely voice from behind. “I am also Jean’s date.”
Sharon stopped dancing and turned to face renowned New Orleans artist N’bila Milayi, late of Africa, who stared at her in silent challenge.
“Oh! Oh, g-goodness,” Sharon stammered. “I didn’t — that is, I — p-please, excuse — oh, heavens!”
“Jean?” Nubia asked, holding out her hands. Smiling tolerantly, J’onn J’onzz took her in his arms and began gliding across the dance floor with her. Sharon, who had covered tenement-block fires and mob assassinations for the Star, stood watching them, feeling oddly like someone who had just narrowly dodged a runaway freight train.
In a small, dimly lit room in a rundown hotel on the south side of Metropolis, four men met around a rickety card table, three on one side, one on the other. A small cardboard box, with the name of a popular footwear company printed on the side, lay on the table between them.
“This had better be what you say it is,” Bruno Mannheim grumbled. “I don’t like comin’ down here for nothin’.”
“It is, it is!” the seedy little man in the soiled raincoat promised. “Would I lie to you?”
“Maybe,” Mannheim said. “You look like you might be that dumb.”
“I ain’t!” the little man protested. “Honest; that’s the genuine article!”
“Gold kryptonite?” Mannheim asked. “You have it tested?”
“Tested?” the little man asked. “How can I do that? A guy like me, I can just walk into STAR Labs, maybe say, ‘Here, tell me if this glowing hunk of rock is gold kryptonite’?”
“OK, OK,” Mannheim said, waving a hand dismissively. The two huge bodyguards flanking him did not change facial expression. “How’d a weasel like you come across it, anyway?”
“What do you care?” the little man asked. “That hunk of rock can take away Superman’s powers forever! What’s it to you where I found it?”
“Just curious,” Mannheim said. “If it is the stuff, why don’t you use it yourself?”
“I got no special beef with Superman,” the little man said. “Besides, how could I even get close enough to him? I’m better off selling it to someone who wants him out of the way and can use it better than I can.”
“And you want a hundred thou.”
“That’s pretty cheap for gettin’ rid of Superman!“
“True,” Mannheim said, nodding, “if it does that. I’m gonna take a look at it, see what’s what here.”
“Sure, sure, go ahead!” the little man said. As Mannheim reached for the cardboard box lid, a flash of light burst through the room.
“What was that?” Mannheim asked, startled. His bodyguards’ hands strayed to their coat pockets.
“I dunno,” the little man said nervously. “Ambulance goin’ by, maybe?”
“Awful quiet ambulance,” Mannheim commented. “If this is some trick, Willie…”
“No trick, no trick!” Willie insisted. “Look for yourself, Mr. Mannheim!”
Without another word, Mannheim slowly lifted the lid and peered inside the box. Then he flipped the lid away into a corner of the room and looked up at Willie. Willie glanced inside the now-open box, and all color drained from his face.
“This your idea of a joke, Willie?” Mannheim rumbled, his voice like distant thunder.
Inside the box, nestled in its bed of torn newspaper, was a chocolate Easter bunny.
“I-I-I-I dunno h-how that got there!” Willie protested. “It was — I mean it — th-the kryptonite!“
“Boys,” Mannheim said, “show Willie what we think of practical jokers.”
Willie whimpered in terror.
“Dispatch, this is Captain Farrell! Forget about the backup; the fire just went out! How do I know how? One minute the whole building was blazing, and the wind was ready to spread it across the block; the next, poof! Like a great big candle snuffer, or something!”
“Commissioner Gordon? This is Dr. Burton at Arkham Asylum! I have bad news; Two-Face has escaped! Yes, you’d better ca — Hold on a moment, Commissioner. What?! How? I see. Commissioner? Dr. Burton again. Never mind; he’s back in his cell! I don’t know how, and my staff doesn’t seem to, either! Well, you know what they say about a gift horse.”
“General Hershey? This is Major Stiers at Fort Meade. Well, sir, we seem to have captured a group of foreign nationals in possession of a nuclear device. What do I mean seem to? Well, to be honest, General Hershey, they just… appeared inside the stockade. No, sir, I have not been drinking. You can come see for yourself.”
“I want to thank every one of you folks for coming out to share our day,” Ollie said to the crowd as he and Dinah prepared to leave. “They say misery loves company. Well, happiness loves it even more, and I’m the happiest man alive right now.”
“Hear, hear,” agreed Ollie’s editor, George Taylor.
“I’m sure this big goof has a lot more he wants to say,” Dinah said, “but I’m getting him out of here so we can start our honeymoon! Thank you again, everyone!”
Applause thundered through the reception hall as the newly married couple left. The guests followed them out, cameras flashing like miniature lightning bolts, as they climbed into their rented limousine.
“They finally did it,” Clark whispered to Bruce. “I never thought I’d see the day.”
“You’re not the only one,” Bruce whispered back. “All the misery they’ve seen, they deserve whatever happiness they can find.”
“You know what surprises me?” Clark asked. “That everything stayed quiet throughout the whole ceremony and reception. Not a single distress call.”
“You’re surprised?” Bruce asked. “I kept checking my communicator to make sure it was working. Silver finally took it away from me.”
Clark chuckled. “I’ve had my super-hearing tuned in, too; not a peep. I’m not complaining, of course, but…”
“Never question the good luck,” Bruce advised. Clark nodded.
Roy Harper watched the limousine drive away, trailing crepe paper streamers of green and black. He felt warm inside, proud and happy. He couldn’t help but remember the days when he had felt jealous, left out, replaced in Ollie’s life by Dinah; and how that had driven him to drugs. (*) But those days were long behind him now, and he felt nothing but happiness for Ollie and Dinah. As a wedding present, he had promised to watch over Star City while they were gone.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Snowbirds Don’t Fly,” Green Lantern v2 #85 (August-September, 1971) and “They Say It’ll Kill Me, but They Won’t Say When,” Green Lantern v2 #86 (October-November, 1971).]
He glanced over at Kim, grinning happily and waving at the departing limousine. Perhaps that wasn’t all he would be watching for the next two weeks.
“Another one bites the dust,” Hal said, smiling. Ray Palmer, Carter Hall, Ralph Dibny, and Arthur Curry grinned knowingly.
“Seems like just yesterday we were all getting together for the first time,” Arthur said. “We were just kids, really, most of us still in our mid-twenties. We’ve seen a lot since then.”
“And lost a few good people,” Ralph added. The others nodded, all thinking of Barry and Diana.
“To absent friends,” Carter said, raising his champagne glass. The others joined in the toast.