Superman of Earth-One stood there in silence, unsure of how to respond. He looked at his counterpart and marveled at their similarities and differences. Ma and Pa were still alive. Lex Luthor was a business genius rather than a madman. And Lois Lane — she was his wife. He could hardly believe that. All these years he had believed that his mission came first, that he couldn’t afford to bring Lois into his personal life. Both for his sake, so there was no distraction to his purpose, and for hers, so that no harm should come to her.
Superman thought of Kal-L, his counterpart on Earth-Two. He had married his Lois during a time when Kal only existed as Clark Kent, his memory of being Superman having been wiped out by the Wizard. With his memory restored, Kal made a decision: he would still be Superman part-time, but Lois would come first.
I never thought it possible, yet here’s living proof twice over that it can be done.
“Has it been easy? Has Lois adjusted to being Mrs. Superman?”
Electric Superman looked back at his doppelgänger. “She’s not Mrs. Superman. She’s still Lois Lane, but she’s my wife, not Superman’s. It’s Clark Kent that she married, not the costume.”
That’s when it struck Superman: this man before him, alike in so many ways, was different in perhaps the most important aspect of all. Unlike he, who identified himself as Kal-El of Krypton and first and foremost Superman, this man was Clark Kent first and foremost. That’s what made the difference.
“It’s amazing, really,” Superman said with a grin. “You have your parents, your wife; people who know the real you. Other than Batman, the only person who truly knew me was Kara.”
A look of confusion crossed Electric Superman’s face. “Kara? You mean Power Girl? She believed herself to be my cousin at one time, but those were just false memories given to her by her grandfather, Arion. We were never really that close.”
Now it was Superman’s turn to be confused. “Wait. Power Girl is–“
But before he could complete the thought, something powerful landed in front of the Men of Tomorrow, shaking the Daily Planet Building. The two Superman looked over to see an amazing sight.
“Me am happy to see you. And two Supermans am better than one!“
Los Angeles, California:
“And this is my old pal, Kilowog. He taught me everything I know.”
Kyle Rayner stood there in amazement as he stuck out his hand. “It’s… it’s an honor to meet you, sir.”
Kilowog looked deep into Kyle’s eyes, not sure what to make of that statement. “Nice ta meet ya, poozer. I didn’t do nothing that Jordan didn’t already have inside him. ‘Course, I had to undo all the bad trainin’ he got from Sinestro. One rogue Green Lantern was enough.”
Hal Jordan socked Kilowog in the arm with a smile. “Hey, let’s not give Kyle the wrong idea. Maybe in some bizarro universe where I was an alcoholic I was trained by Sinestro, but not in this lifetime!”
“I’m just messin’ with ya, poozer,” Kilowog said with something resembling a smile on his alien features. “I just met Hal for the first time a year ago, back when we formed the Green Lantern Corps of Sector 2814.”
John Stewart laughed as he walked into the room. “That’s funny, Kilowog. Like we’d ever have to worry about Hal going bad.”
Kyle’s face lit up as he saw the familiar countenance of his mentor and friend, albeit ten years younger. “John! Man, it’s good to see a friendly face! I–“
“Have we met?” asked John, still grinning but with now also wearing a puzzled look on his face.
“We have — I mean we will, and — oh, man, this time travel stuff makes my head hurt!” Kyle said, scratching the back of his skull.
Hal put his hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, kid.” He turned to John. “Kyle’s from the future, though he’s been pretty quiet as to the details of how he got his ring, but obviously he knows me and you, John.”
“Obviously,” John replied, “but is it a good idea for us to know any of this? I mean, what if we accidentally change the future?”
“John Stewart, that is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. The future isn’t written yet. We change it every day.”
The four men turned as a vision in red, green, and white entered the compound. She wrapped her arms around John.
“Kyle Rayner, meet my wife, Katma Tui,” said John. “Katma, this is the G.L. from the future I told you about: Kyle Rayner. Of course, Kyle’s probably already met you, too.”
A lump got caught in Kyle’s throat. He thought this would be a wonderful thing, to meet all these legendary Green Lanterns. Yet seeing Katma Tui now, knowing she would be killed by Star Sapphire in only a few months, chilled Kyle to the bone.
“Of — of course. Yeah, we’re all good friends in the future. Of course.”
Kilowog leaned into Hal. “There sumthin’ you ain’t tellin’, Hal. This kid acts all freaked out around everyone ‘cept John. What’s the story?”
“I wish I knew. He really is a Green Lantern — that much I know for sure, but he treated me the same way. He kept calling me Parallax for some reason. Before we came here, I showed him around Coast City, and he seemed a little weirded out by that, too.”
“Huh. Well, ya said that he was from some kinda parallel world. Mebbe there’s no Coast City where he comes from.”
A strange look crossed Hal’s face. “No Coast City, huh? I don’t know if I’d care for a world like that. It just wouldn’t seem right.”
The two Green Lanterns headed skyward, leaving the Green Lantern Citadel behind.
“So what did you think, Kyle? Did it meet your expectations?” Hal asked as they flew.
“Yeah, I guess it did. Salaak was kind of weird, but Ch’p sounded really cool. It’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to meet him.”
“I’m sorry you also didn’t get a chance to meet Guy. He’s pretty much off on his own these days, and, well…”
“Don’t worry, Hal. I’ve spent enough time around Guy to know what he’s like. Us old G.L.s get together once a month at his bar, Warriors.”
“Really? That’s good to hear. So who is it? Me, John, you, and Guy? I imagine the others took off for their homes again at some point, and I’m sure Katma isn’t much into a bunch of guys sitting around, drinking beer and telling tall tales.”
“Umm, well, something like that. Listen, do you mind if we stop off at Stellar Studios? I’d like to see what my girlfriend looks like in this era.”
Hal looked at Kyle strangely. “Stellar Studios? Never heard of it.”
“You know — that’s the headquarters of Infinity Inc.”
Hal stopped flying, intrigued by Kyle’s reference. “And, uh, who’s your girlfriend, exactly?”
“Well, I kind of have two at the moment — Donna Troy, Troia from the Titans, and Jennie-Lynn Hayden, alias Jade of Infinity.”
Hal’s face broke into a grin. “One girlfriend on each Earth? I’m impressed, but I think your brain’s still a little confused. This is Earth-One. Jade and the Infinitors are on Earth-Two, with the JSA.”
Now it was Kyle’s turn to be confused. “Earth-Two? Whoa. No, where I come from, the GLC, Infinity, the JLA, and the JSA are all on the same Earth. Alan Scott is one of the G.L.s I meet at Warriors every month.”
“The same Earth? That sounds like what happened briefly after the Crisis. The five surviving Earths were merged for a twenty-four-hour period, and–“
Hal suddenly screamed out in pain as a golden boxing glove landed in the middle of his back, knocking him for a loop.
“Surviving? No, Jordan, there will be no survival for you or your little trainee.”
Kyle and Hal turned to see the red-faced visage of their enemy.
Grabbing her sword by both ends, Nubia thrust it up just in time to block the amazonium blade of Hippolyte. The amazing Amazon went down on one knee, her muscles straining to hold back the assault of the Amazon queen.
Hippolyte, however, would not be denied. She quickly disengaged and brought her sword back to strike at Nubia, but once again Nubia expertly blocked the thrust. This time, Hippolya exerted all her tremendous strength and bore down on her sword. Sweat trickled from her brow as Nubia sought to deny Hippolyte her victory. The Amazon princess’s other knee began to buckle. In a moment, Hippolyte would be victorious. That was not acceptable.
Summoning the last of her strength, Nubia pushed Hippolyte back just enough to allow her to get her right leg free. In one fluid motion, Nubia swept at Hippolyte’s legs and sent the Amazon queen sprawling.
Her Majesty, however, would have none of it. Before she could hit the ground, Hippolyte rolled into a somersault and jumped backward, catching Nubia by surprise. She quickly knocked Nubia’s sword out of her hand and, grabbing her other arm, forced the Amazon princess to the ground. With the side of her blade at Nubia’s throat, Hippolyte said in an out-of-breath voice, “Had enough?”
Nubia was breathing heavily as well. A smile crossed her face. “Well met, my queen. Well met.”
Hippolyte stood up and wiped her brow, stashing her sword in its sheath. “Nubia, you fight as well as any Amazon warrior I have ever met — and almost as well as my daughter, Diana.”
Nubia bowed in respect to her queen and to the sister who had bested her. “Truly you are worthy of your crown. My Hippolyta was never as fierce a warrior. I daresay you might give Hercules himself pause.”
The two sisters clasped hands as Amazons do.
“So tell me, Nubia,” Hippolyte said with a sly smile, “what does an Amazon such as you do when you are not wearing your armor?”
“This woman is fascinating.”
Hippolyte looked at the television, her attention riveted to the screen. Absently, she stirred the spoon in her ice cream.
“It is amazing. She is as wise as the Oracle at Delphi. She has saved marriages, healed the injured, and brought happiness to millions.”
“I should like to meet this woman. What did you say her name was?”
Nubia ate some of her own ice cream — Oreo Cookie flavor, something J’onn J’onzz had turned her on to — and replied, “She is known only as Oprah.”
And so the afternoon went. The two Amazons, both essentially fish out of water, enjoyed each other’s company and discovered what Man’s World had to offer. Hippolyte discovered that, whoever Ben and Jerry were, their ice cream was fit for the gods themselves.
“Nubia, I just — I wanted to thank you for today. I never got to spend time like this with Diana when she was alive, and–“
Before she could complete the thought, the window shattered into a million pieces. Both Hippolyte and Nubia covered their ears against the high-pitched shriek. A woman landed in the room, her wings spread wide. The shrieking ceased. Nubia readied her lasso as Hippolyte drew her sword.
“How dare you invade my home! Who are you?”
The visitor smiled. “I am the Silver Swan.”
“Kid, you are in for a real treat.”
Dinah Lance rolled her eyes and shook her head. She put her hand on Connor Hawke’s arm next to her at the table. “I hope you have an exceptionally strong stomach.”
“Yes. I have heard tales of Oliver’s chili. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a cast-iron stomach. Living in an ashram will do that to you,” Connor said as he watched Oliver Queen stirring the pot at the stove.
And I wonder who you inherited that tolerance from, Dinah thought to herself as she looked back and forth between the two men. It makes me wonder, though. If Connor is Ollie’s son on the world he comes from, could there be a little Connor running around here on this world? Oliver once lived a millionaire playboy’s life, and I always suspected that he was a bit of a ladies’ man before I met him, but this is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with living proof of it.
Dinah was brought out of her reverie by Ollie standing over Connor with that look on his face.
“What did you say?”
Connor laughed. “I said Dat’l Do It. It’s a sauce made from the dat’l pepper in Florida. It’s one of the secret ingredients in your chili.”
Pointing the ladel at Connor, Ollie responded, “OK, kid, spill it. Who told you my top-secret chili recipe?”
“My… well, Dinah did, actually, or she will in the future — I mean, in my future.”
Ollie looked at Connor suspiciously. “Hmmm. All right, that gets you off the hook for now,” he said as he returned to his pot.
Dinah leaned over and whispered to Connor, “Did I really?”
“No. Actually, my mother Moonday did.”
Ollie suddenly dropped the ladle on the floor. “Oh, God…”
He quickly picked up the ladle and dropped it in the sink. “Uh, nothing, pretty bird, just burned my hand is all.”
As he grabbed a large serving utensil off the wall, Ollie thought to himself, Moonday Hawke — dear God in heaven, I’m just glad Dinah hasn’t figured out who the kid is.