by Starsky Hutch 76
The next week was a virtual assault upon the media as the images of General Glory and the Conglomerate appeared on television, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, busses, and everywhere else their image could be plastered. Stores were flooded with Conglomerate toys, games, lunch boxes, and every other marketable item. The biggest seller, by far, was the good General himself.
As more long-haired, unshaven, trenchcoat-wearing and gun-toting heroes were popping up in recent years, the public found him a welcome change of pace. People across the country got a warm feeling whenever the returning hero of World War II would appear on TV, reminding kids to drink their milk and to always obey their parents.
“I don’t know if I can take it anymore,” Lobo said into the mirror of his dressing room. Maxwell Lord stood a few feet behind him.
“Of course you can!” Lord said encouragingly. “You’re doing a great job!”
“It’s gettin’ to me,” Lobo said. “Playin’ this General Glory guy. One of the mooks from craft services handed me a beer yesterday, and I thanked him! That ain’t never happened to me before!”
“You’re worrying over nothing,” Maxwell Lord said. “Everyone knows Glory never drank anything stronger than soda pop. And that was only on special occasions.”
“Five minutes to camera,” one of the grips said, poking his head into the dressing room.
“OK,” Lobo said, pulling on his mask. “But you bastiches better make sure you have my bucket ready after the cameras stop rolling this time, unless you want my lunch all over yer nice clean set.”
“Spoken like a true star,” Maxwell Lord said, clapping him on the back.
“I can’t believe how ungrateful some people are,” Green Arrow said, watching as many of the monitors lining the wall played commercials for Conglomerate products and tabloid news programs showed how everyone had Conglomerate Fever.
“It’s the newness,” said Hal Jordan, alias Green Lantern. “It’ll wear off in time.”
“In the meantime, the world’s forgetting about us and all we’ve done for them,” Green Arrow said.
“If you’re in this for the praise, then perhaps you’re in the wrong business,” Hawkman said.
“That’s not fair, and you know it,” Green Arrow said.
“You’re not just upset because you weren’t accepted in their group and missed out on getting to be in the Saturday morning cartoon, are you?” joked Wally West, the Flash.
“Hell, no,” Green Arrow said, pointing to one of the monitors. “Look at that low-budget garbage! Nothing’s moving but their mouths and the backgrounds!”
“Obviously, the name of the game here is speed,” said Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. “Get their name out fast and wide.”
“Well, they’re certainly succeeding at that,” Wally said. “I can’t run far enough to get away from seeing something with their name on it.”
“I, too, grow tired of seeing their faces,” Nubia said.
“This General Glory seems to be the catalyst,” J’onn said. “There’s a major movement behind him.”
“I thought he was just a made-up comic book character,” Wally said. “But they’re billing him as the real deal.”
“It’s his being on the team that’s getting them so much press,” Ralph said.
“The danger is if the Conglomerate fails to live up to the press, if they become the pre-eminent group they aspire to be,” said J’onn, the Martian Manhunter. “It is a dangerous game they are playing.”
“Perhaps we should knock some sense into them,” said Nubia, the new Wonder Woman. This drew laughs from around the table, though her expression said she hadn’t been joking.
“As much as we all might enjoy that,” J’onn said, “it would not be the best course of action at this time.”
“Very well,” Nubia sighed.
“Who is this General Glory cat really?” Green Arrow asked. “Some actor they hired to pretend to be the real General?”
“Impossible,” Hawkman said. “He’s actually gone into the field.” He pointed to a monitor that showed General Glory ripping a car door off the hinges to get at an escaping felon. “And it would appear he’s more powerful than the old stories led us to believe.”
“Not only that,” Batman said, stepping forward. The current leader of the Outsiders and reserve League member pointed to a monitor that showed General Glory in hand-to-hand combat. “Observe his fighting style. It doesn’t conform to any one fighting style, such as jujitsu, karate, or tae kwon do. He’s a street fighter. See how he hesitates for split seconds at a time during fights?”
He turned and observed the expressions of the JLA members. Obviously, they didn’t, so he continued, “He’s having to make a conscious effort to fight his own instincts and hold himself back from his preferred method of winning — which I’d bet is usually lethal. Whoever this Glory is, he’s no hero. He’s a self-trained killer.”
After much coaxing, Etienne the designer finally managed to convince Lobo to let Antoine the hairdresser “make him look so goooood.” After weeks of tucking his unruly shock of hair beneath a cowl, he was tired of fooling with it.
“I haf nevah seen hair so theek,” Antoine said. “I ahlmos feel a need to go geet the wire cleepers,” the hairdresser purred as he clipped away at Lobo’s wild mane.
“It runs in the family,” Lobo said, thoroughly relaxed from his scalp massage. “Hey, what’s that goop yer sticking on my face?” he said to the make-up artist as he applied cream around Lobo’s eyes and above his mouth. “It feels different than the usual stuff.”
“Oh, just a little bit of vanishing cream to take care of those black marks we have such a hard time covering up.”
“What?!” he exclaimed, jumping up. “You bastiches! You’ve fraggin’ maimed me!” He slammed his fist down on the make-up table, snapping it in two. The hairdresser and make-up man screamed and ran from the room.
Lobo stared in the mirror in horror. The reflection in the mirror, clad in the patriotic uniform of General Glory, was completely unrecognizable to him now — even without the cowl — from its short hair, to its blue-eyed contacts, to the lack of any facial markings of his native planet, Velorpia. “What’s happening to me?” he groaned.