Superman Blue studied the bizarre creature before him. He had met a similar creature earlier in his career when it had sacrificed itself to save lives as well as to restore Lucy Lane’s sight. Lex Luthor had created it in a laboratory, a sort of bizarre version of the Man of Steel.
Next to him, Superman sighed as he realized that once again, Bizarro had returned from the dead. It wasn’t so much that Bizarro was a threat to anyone, he was just so annoying. That reverse speech could drive an insane man insane.
Electricity crackling around him, Superman Blue was ready for anything the creature might dish out, but Superman put his hand out and motioned for his counterpart to stand down.
He stepped forward and spoke to Bizarro. “Goodbye, Bizarro. Why did you leave here?”
Bizarro’s face contorted into a crooked frown. “Me am here to hurt you, Superman. Handsome man say hurt Superman, so me leave him to do that.”
“I see,” Superman said, barely able to contain his laughter. “Did this handsome man have a name, Bizarro?”
Bizarro looked confused. “Yes. Him name am Bizarro. My name amn’t Bizarro.”
“No. What was handsome man’s name?”
“Me remember. Bizarro just forget that him am to come to Metropolis and hurt Superman, so me must not do that now.”
Bizarro stepped awkwardly toward Superman. Blue powered up again, but Superman shook his head no. Bizarro opened his arms and grabbed Superman in a big hug and then kissed him on the cheek.
“There. Me have hurt Superman badly. Now me can leave home.”
Bizarro pointed his arms skyward and shouted, “Down, down, and back!”
He quickly vanished from sight. Superman used his telescopic vision and saw his imperfect duplicate head off into deep space.
Superman Blue started laughing. “That has got to be the strangest confrontation with a super-villain I have ever seen!”
“Why? Does every meeting with a foe have to be a knock-down, drag-out fight?”
Just then, the doors to the stairs opened, and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen emerged.
“Superman? Was that Bizarro I just saw flying away from the Planet?” Lois looked over at Superman Blue. “Who’s your friend?”
“Um, Lois, this is, um, Strange Visitor. He’s from another planet.”
“Right, and let me guess: he’s got powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men? Give me a break, Superman,” Lois said, rolling her eyes. “I’ve seen that TV show they made about you hundreds of times. I always hated that little pillbox hat the actress who played me in the show wore. I’d never wear anything so stupid-looking.”
“Um, Lois — Bizarro?” Jimmy said, holding his camera. He snapped a quick shot of Strange Visitor.
Superman Blue extended his hand. “Miss Lane, that is my name, I’m afraid. I come from the planet Maltus. We started receiving transmissions from your planet about ten years ago. I patterned myself after Superman, but as my powers are energy-based, I decided that calling myself Superman wouldn’t be appropriate, so I used that line from the TV show and came up with Strange Visitor. I finally decided to see for myself if there really was a Superman. I’m glad I did.”
“I see. Would you mind doing an interview for the Planet? Since it looks like there’s no story here with Bizarro, you might make an even better one.”
Superman put his hand on Strange Visitor’s shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “Unfortunately, Lois, Strange Visitor has to get back to his home planet, but the next time he comes, I promise you’ll get first crack at his story, OK?”
Strange Visitor took Lois’ hand and kissed it. “Nice to meet you, Miss Lane.” He stood back and transformed into a lightning bolt, then disappeared into the evening sky.
“Well, how do you like that? So, I imagine you’ll be taking off now, too, Superman?”
“Why do you say that, Lois?”
“If you want to stay, that would be great. You can come down to the Planet with me and Jimmy and watch the GBS Six O’Clock News with us. Our old friend Clark is filling in this week as guest anchorman while Lana’s co-anchor is unavailable,” Lois said, taking Superman’s arm. “Oh, but you can’t do that, can you, Clark?”
“Lois, I don’t have anything going on right now. No villains, no JLA emergency. I’d love to join you and Jimmy and watch Lana and Clark on the news. I wish you’d get over this idea that Clark and I are the same person.”
“Uh-huh. Well, we’ve got ten minutes before air-time, so I figure in about five, some sort of emergency will crop up, and–”
The door to the stairwell burst open again, with Clark Kent running out and a GBS cameraman in tow.
“Am I too late? Did Bizarro and that electrical hero leave already?”
Lois’ jaw dropped. “Clark?! But I–” She turned to Superman. “But you–”
Superman extended his hand toward Clark. “Good to see you again, Clark. Sorry, but Strange Visitor and Bizarro both had to leave. I’d be happy to give you a Daily Planet exclusive on them, though, if you’d like.”
“What?” Lois screamed at the top of her lungs. “Why does Clark get the exclusive?”
Clark stepped toward Lois and used one of his fingers to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Now, Lois, you know I’ll happily share anything I have with you. I think Superman was just–”
“Shut up, Clark,” Lois said, grabbing Jimmy and heading back toward the stairs. “I’ve suddenly got a headache.”
Superman turned to Clark and winked.
Two days later, 22,300 miles above the Earth:
The transporter hummed to life, and the person within it coalesced into the form of Ray Palmer, the theoretical physicist formerly known as the Atom. The four future JLAers were there, as were the Martian Manhunter, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Atom, and Firestorm.
“It’s time,” Ray said as he stepped out of the tube. “We’ve finished repairing the time pool, and we feel we can safely send you home.”
J’onn J’onzz put his arm around Ray’s shoulder and led him back to the teleporter. “Thank you, Ray. I’ll send them along in a moment. I believe they need a moment to say goodbye.”
“I understand, J’onn. Did you have any luck determining who it was that attacked the JLA?”
“I have my suspicions, but all four of them vanished without a trace. I’m not sure if they were duplicates or doppelgängers or even androids.”
“Androids?” Ray said. “That sounds like something Professor Ivo might be involved in.”
“That thought had occurred to me, and Ivo is at large, but we’ve had no luck tracking him down. This needn’t concern you, Ray. You’re a civilian now.”
“I know, J’onn, and I intend to stay that way, but I am always here if you need me.”
Elsewhere in the satellite:
“Kal, it was nice getting to see my old self again.”
“My pleasure, Clark. Thanks for the help with Lois. Since you are me, I’m sure this will put her off-balance for a good while.”
Superman Blue laughed. “Kal, take my advice and stop hiding from Lois. Marry her. It’ll be the best decision you ever made.”
Superman looked at his counterpart ruefully, and then that famous smile crossed his lips. “I shall consider it. May Rao watch over your journey home.”
J’onn J’onzz joined Adam Cray, the Atom, and Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, in the monitor room. The young Atom was still poring over the casebooks. Ralph was busy watching the new stations.
“How are you progressing, Atom?”
Adam Cray looked up from the computer screen. “Good, J’onn. I’m up to the Crisis on Apokolips. (*) I noticed that the artist you guys hired to illustrate the cases changed to some guy named Perez. What happened to the other guy?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis on New Genesis, or Where Have All the New Gods Gone?” Justice League of America #183 (October, 1980), “Crisis Between Two Earths, or Apokolips Now,” Justice League of America #184 (November, 1980), and “Crisis on Apokolips, or Darkseid Rising,” Justice League of America #185 (December, 1980).]
J’onn sighed. “That other guy, as you call him, was Dick Dillin. Shortly after he started on that case, he died of a heart attack. His wife sent his final pages on to us. I had met the man only briefly before I returned to Mars, but Superman said he was an extraordinary person, as well as a great artist. No one else has stayed with us as long. He is definitely missed.”
“So, J’onn, what’s the scoop with these guys? Are they from our future, or another Earth, or what?” Ralph said, stretching his head between Adam and J’onn.
“Naturally, they were reluctant to tell us much about their future. The other Superman made his JLAers swear to not reveal anything. What we have determined, though, is that their future may very well be that of the merged Earth that existed briefly before the five Earths split apart again at the end of the Crisis.”
“Really? Wow. So their past really is our present?” Ralph asked.
J’onn sat down. “Yes and no. Their Superman was much less powerful than ours when he was not electric. His Krypton was cold and sterile. On their world, the JSA, the JLA, the Freedom Fighters, and even the Marvel Family exist on the same Earth.”
“Whoa. So they had a World War Two Superman and the blue one?”
“No. There was only one Superman and one Batman. The heroes whose duplicates were virtually identical existed in only one incarnation. There are, however, two Flashes, Jay and Wally. Alan Scott was still the original G.L., but apparently there was a Wonder Woman during World War Two as well. Hippolyte was unsure of exactly who she was. There is a Supergirl and a Power Girl, but strangely neither are related to Superman. Of all the heroes, only the history of the Green Lanterns seem to be much the same.”
“J’onn, you’re making my head hurt. Sounds very convoluted.”
“I agree, Ralph. I am glad that’s not a universe we have to live in.”
Hippolyte clasped arms with Nubia. The two Amazons exchanged smile and wistful looks.
“Thank you, Nubia, for everything. I only wish I had been able to have the type of relationship with Diana that you and I have developed in a few short days.”
“Thank you, Hippolyte. I only wish that I could get to know my mother the way I have known you. It has been an honor.”
“I only wish there was something that I could have done to save Diana,” said Hippolyte. “I would gladly sacrifice my life to save hers, but I will never have the chance to do that.”
The two women hugged, and Hippolyte headed to the teleporter. As Nubia activated the controls, she heard Hippolyte say, “Goodbye, daughter.”
“Oliver, Dinah, thank you for everything,” said Connor Hawke. “You don’t know how much I appreciate it.”
Dinah Lance gave Connor a big hug. “It was nice to meet you, Connor. You take care of yourself.”
Connor looked at Oliver Queen. “Oliver, I–”
“C’mere, kid.” Ollie took Connor in a big bear hug; when they pulled away, Connor was wiping tears from his eyes.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s come over me,” Connor said, desperately trying to stop the flow.
“Connor, I couldn’t be more proud of you, son,” Ollie said, holding the younger man once more.
Connor whispered quietly under his crying, “I love you, Dad.”
Dinah had to turn away, crying not only because of the maternal feelings she had developed for the young archer, but also with a little bit of dread over what this all might mean.
“I — I love you, too, son.”
Connor wiped his tears away and smiled a joyful smile at Ollie and Dinah. “I never had the chance to say that to you before.”
At that, Connor headed to the teleporter and vanished once he was inside, leaving a very confused Green Arrow and Black Canary behind.
Ollie brushed Dinah’s hair out of her eyes. “You figured it out before I did, didn’t you?”
Dinah looked at the floor and then back at her lover. “Yes. Just like I also know what you’re going to say next.”
“I have to find her, pretty bird. I have to know.”
“And what if there is a Connor here on our world? What happens then? To him? To Moonday? To us?”
Ollie held Dinah tightly. “I wish I knew the answer to that.”
Kyle Rayner entered Professor Alpheus V. Hyatt’s laboratory. His Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow were standing there waiting for him. Behind the controls, Professor Hyatt was performing some last minute calibrations. Ira Quimby, the ex-super-villain known by his initials I.Q., was busy checking the connections to make sure that nothing would go wrong this time.
“What took you so long, Kyle?” Superman asked as the young ring-slinger approached the time pool.
“Oh, nothing. Hal was trying to pump me for a little more information about Parallax.”
A look of concern crossed Connor’s face. “You didn’t tell him, did you?”
“I didn’t say a word to Hal. I swear,” Kyle said, looking deadly serious.
“I should hope not,” Superman said. “The consequences of revealing the future could irrevocably alter the timeline and make things worse.”
Kyle just nodded.
“Folks, it’s time,” Ray Palmer said as the four JLAers took their place before the time pool. Professor Hyatt, I.Q., and Ray stood behind a newly made shield, looking through the transparent area in the middle. The four JLAers then vanished, hopefully returning to their correct time and place.
I.Q. took his goggles off. “The board’s green. Looks like we were successful. Was it just my imagination, or did Green Lantern say something just as he entered the pool?”
Ray put his goggles on the counter. “I thought I heard something as well. It sounded like he said ‘or better.’”
“What an odd thing to say…”