Justice League of America: Genia Returns, Chapter 1: Savage Counterparts

by Libbylawrence

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Continued from World’s Finest: Superman and Batman: Of Mainframes and Timeframes

The name Mirror Man was up for grabs since the original criminal to use that nom du crime had stolen the name Mirror Master from the supposedly dead Sam Scudder. Thus, Alvin Crowder, small-time hood in search of a gimmick, proudly considered himself the newest incarnation. He brandished gleaming mirrors as he raced out of the Tiffany’s Jewelry Shop in Gotham City.

“Cool! The cop cars can’t chase me since I’m blinding the drivers,” said Mirror Man, grinning. “Oh, yeah! Blew the tire offa’ that one!”

“Enjoy it while you can, vermin!” said a deep voice from above.

Alvin gasped as the shadowy figure who spoke dropped down in front of him from above. “Batman! Oh, man! First time out, and I run into you? I give!” he said, dropping the mirrors in obvious and necessary submission.

The caped figure moved closer. “Breaking all those mirrors would normally earn you about forty-nine years of bad luck,” he growled. “Good thing I’m not going to allow you to live in such misery, punk!”

He moved like the night itself, and in seconds, Crowder was dead. His neck had broken in a single, swift gesture.

The cowled figure shook his head in disgust. “They never learn, and I no longer have the luxury of patiently teaching them.”

He swung off as silently and as surely as he had arrived.

***

By any name — Katar Hol, Carter Hall, or Hawkman — the winged wonder who soared high over Midway City was a true hero. As one who had been deeply pained by the disasters that had befallen his homeworld of Thanagar during periods of poor leadership, Hawkman felt even more protective of his adopted world of Earth than ever.

He had felt so strongly about the descent in values and sentiment on that alien world that had occurred when Thanagar had joined in an alien alliance to invade Earth, that he had at one point bitterly renounced his heritage.

“I’m Hawkman! Not Katar Hol! Not anymore!” he had said rashly. His normal stoic manner had made this reaction all the more troubling to his caring spouse Shayera.

Shayera Hol, a stunning, reddish-blonde beauty with experience as a police officer and partner to Katar in both marital and professional life, had eventually soothed his pain and brought him around to where he once again realized that he could embody the values he felt their people had lost. He had decided that valor and lofty ideas were the true birthrights of any Thanagarian, and that as Hawkman, hero and champion, he could best exemplify those concepts.

He had shaken off the darkness of the aborted Shadow War that had turned into a blatant invasion before Earth’s heroes had averted the crisis. He had high hopes for his planets, and he enjoyed the sensation of flying for itself on this warm day. He had left Shayera at the Midway City Mall, where she was indulging in the annual shoe sale. He smiled at the thought of how a woman who could use any number of weapons from the archaic to the high-tech, and who could pilot a starship, could still lose herself in the simple pleasures of trying on new outfits and shoes.

He spoke to the birds as they passed by. He had acquired this skill long before by using a device called the Electric Brain or the Absorbascon.

“Wheet! Wheet! Splendid afternoon!” he said.

“You are not of the flock! You attacked for sport!” said a bird.

The other bird replied, “It is not the same. This one looks like the other but is not!”

Hawkman frowned in consternation. “You speak of someone like me? Someone who hurt another for sport?”

Their answers were lost to the sound of sirens.

Hawkman flew down to greet Midway’s acting Police Commissioner, Stewart Frazier. The talented black man was grim this day.

“What’s wrong, Stewart? May Hawkwoman and I help?” asked the winged wonder.

Stewart nodded. “Yes. I was just getting ready to call you. Seems we had a local goon named Red Lazore found today. He had been dropped from the sky. Not off a building but from midair. He’s in critical. He insists you did it to him when you caught him stealing a car.”

Hawkman frowned even more. “That’s crazy. Errant nonsense. He’s either trying to frame me for some crazy reason, or another flying man did it. One of my… one of the Thanagarians called Kasta could have done it, even another former police officer.”

Stewart agreed. “I never even considered arresting you. I just wanted to talk it out.”

Hawkman nodded. “If there is a fake Hawkman about, then I’d better locate Hawkwoman fast. She could be of help to us both.”

***

At the Midway City Mall, Shiera Hall — as she was known in her human identity — was enjoying a rare shopping spree. She wore a white silk blouse and black miniskirt with spiked heels. She smiled as she passed friends from the community.

She loaded her bags over one shoulder and walked briskly toward the parking lot. This was a wonderful day, she thought, smiling. Being pampered with a facial, shopping, even being out of the museum for a change was a treat. I almost hope the renovations last another week!

The pretty woman stopped as she caught sight of a shadow overhead. Katar! I hope nothing’s wrong, she mused as she craned her neck and spotted a winged form.

She nodded as he made a slight gesture, and she hurried around the back of the store, where she quickly stripped down to her costume.

“Good thing I carried it with me in my gym bag,” she mused as she slipped on the boots.

Before she could pack her discarded Shiera Hall outfit, she was pulled skyward by powerful arms.

“Hawkman!” she said. “Honestly, you made me drop designer heels down there in the alley!” The man she loved kissed her with a sudden violent passion, and she frowned and sputtered, “You’re not Katar!” Elbowing free, she flew backward in an agile arc.

“I am Katar! I am,” he said fiercely. “And you are my mate!”

His features, though pained and stern, were exactly those of the husband she adored, yet his kiss had revealed a difference. He looked the part, but this double was not Hawkman.

“Keep back, mister!” she said. “I don’t know what Space Trek 1999 episode you flew out of, but I know my man, and you’re not the real deal!”

They circled warily, and then he attacked.

“I lost you when the trash of our world attacked you in the museum during the Shadow War,” he said. “I can’t lose you twice!

She kicked him in the nose and dodged his lunge. He must be the Katar of some alternate timeline, mused Shayera as she spun around to punch him again. He must come from one in which I died instead of Mavis Trent. In our timeline, Mavis died dressed in my costume. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Shadow War of Hawkman,” Shadow War of Hawkman #1 (May, 1985) and “My Worlds Opposed,” Shadow War of Hawkman #3 (July, 1985).]

“You broke my nose!” he gasped.

“Why else do you think I wear three-inch heels!” she joked as she lured in closer.

His grief has driven him mad; I’ll pity him after I stop him! she vowed.

Hawkwoman flew higher and summoned birds. “Wheet! Block his vision!” she said. They obeyed, and as he struggled to get clear of the swirling birds, Hawkwoman dropped down out of the sun to slam into him with both legs.

She twisted his helmet by the wings, and as he lost his vision, she used his wings to steer him wildly into the side of a building. She then arched her back and dragged him down to the roof. “Whew! He’s dead weight, even with the gravity controls,” she sighed.

Hawkman arrived at that moment. He pulled her into his arms, and they kissed.

“Now, you’re the real Katar!” she said, smiling sadly.

“True. This fraud was not Kasta the Thrill-Killer, like I had originally guessed,” muttered Katar Hol. “He’s me — the me from somewhere else!”

Shayera wiped her long curls out of her eyes and nodded. “The poor man is insane with loss — for good reason. I mean, who wouldn’t be if they lost a babe like me?” she said, smiling.

“But think of what he saves on Victoria’s Secret bills!” joked Hawkman. “Seriously, I do feel for him. I’d die without you. Now, how do we help him? He almost killed a local thug.”

He turned to lift the stunned double and gasped. “He slipped away! That hawk helmet and wings in the shadows of the chimney made us think he had not moved. He must have climbed away down the fire escape.” He flew upward and added, “No sign of him from above, either!”

“Great! He’s loose, and his every action could cause us serious trouble,” she said. “Stewart will be glad to know we’ve got a handle on this maniac.”

I fear I have his motives figured out all too well. He wants you, thought a now-grim Hawkman.

***

Dan Reed was one of the leading newspeople being honored at a gala held at the luxurious Gifford Towers. He smiled and spoke with a sincere humility as he accepted his award. “I thank you all,” he said. “My colleagues and my viewers — together we make a difference.”

An elaborately coiffed Lana Lang wore a strapless black gown and heels. She whispered to Clark Kent as Reed walked down the steps from the stage to the dining area.

“Figures, doesn’t it, luv?” she said. “His piece on urban renewal really tugged the old heartstrings. My bit on the Middle East just didn’t play back in Smallville!”

Clark smiled and said, “Lana! I’m shocked at your cynicism, or your façade of cynicism. Beneath that dazzling gown, you’re still the same sweet girl I grew up with — it just takes more effort to find her!”

A crash rocked the hall as a figure in red, blue, and black smashed through the roof and began pounding Dan Reed mercilessly.

“Great Scott! Lana, I’m getting you to safety!” cried Clark as he yanked the shapely redhead out of the room.

“Heaven sakes, Clark! Leave me alone. You’ll break my arm!” she sputtered as he pushed her out into the hallway. He vanished in the crowd as she fumed.

In truth, he used his super-speed to make an unseen change to Superman, and he flew back to place himself between Reed and his attacker.

“Spawn of Krypton!” yelled the red-caped figure in an alien tongue. “You’ll bring no misery to this world. I swear it!” He had colored shades across his eyes, and his chest was emblazoned with a blackened S symbol.

“Leave him alone! You want a fight, try me!” said Superman as he caught the man’s flashing fists.

The man whirled to reveal features nearly identical to Superman’s own, though contorted by pain, rage, and loss. “You! After I kill this clone, I’ll be back for you!” he roared as he ignited the roof. “No one will be safe until all Kryptonians are eliminated. That’s what I do. I am the Eradicator!”

Superman released him as he smothered the flames and caught several falling beams. He was another double for me. He spoke in Kryptonian, too. He even knew about poor Reed, here, he thought as he bent over the badly injured man who had originally been a clone of himself.

Another me with a grudge against all things or beings from Krypton, he thought. This looks like a real job for Superman! Coming on the heels of the case with Brainiac and the alternate-timeline doubles of Bruce and myself, this looks all-too suspicious!

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