Justice League of America
During 1987’s alien invasion, the people of Syracuse, New York, were killed by an alien bomb. This Christmas, Firestorm gets a little help from his friends in the JLA to pay his respects.
December 24th, 1987:
“It’s been wonderful, guys, but I really need to get back to Coast City. Carol’s invited over some friends for a little get-together this evening.” In the Justice League satellite, Green Lantern stepped toward the teleporter. “I’ll see you all at the wedding next week.”
“You betcha, Hal!” Green Arrow lifted his cap for a second. “Tell Carol hi for me.”
“I have to go, too. Kristin wants an old-fashioned Christmas celebration with Jasma.”
It was a little after seven o’clock Eastern time, and the JLA’s annual Christmas get-together was breaking up. As most of the members departed, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter conferred in the monitor room.
“Are you sure? Didn’t you take the Christmas Eve midnight shift last year?”
“Actually, around this time last year our daughter Nautica was born, and I took some time off with Mera and the baby. (*) Anyway, of course I’m sure, J’onn.” A broad smile crossed Aquaman’s face. “I heard Nubia mention that she arranged for the two of you to help out at one of the orphanages in New Orleans in the morning. Christmas has little meaning in Atlantis, so I don’t mind taking the late shift.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Aquaman: Bride’s Head Revisited.]
“It never before held any meaning for me, either, old friend, but now…” The smile on the alien’s face was plain to see. “Life has become much more interesting with Nubia in it.”
“Well, I’m going to head out now, but I’ll be back by ten sharp to relieve you, and you can have the rest of the night to spend with her. But for now, just enjoy the rest of the party! Christmas Eves are usually quiet, anyway.” Aquaman waved him out into the larger meeting room.
In one corner of the meeting room, Firestorm stood speaking with Batman. “I appreciate the invite, but I don’t know that I’d fit in all that well, and–“
“Don’t let it bother you. You’re both invited.” Batman took the younger hero’s hand in his. “And a Merry Christmas, Ronnie. And Happy Chanukah, Martin.”
Flustered for a few seconds, Firestorm finally responded. “Thank you, and he says to tell you thank you, too.”
After Batman left, Firestorm approached Zatanna. “Umm, look, Zee, I know it’s the holiday and all, but are you by any chance available tonight?”
“You mean…? Of course. No show tonight, and I don’t really have anybody to go home to.”
“Then let’s go.”
Cold winds whipped the skies over central New York. Below, an unnatural valley glistened under the moonlight. Throughout, the beginnings of roads and even a few buildings were evident. And around the edges, something more.
Firestorm pointed, and there was a brief flash below. “Got it.”
“Anne Zelznick. Anne with an E.”
“Spell the last name?”
Another flash. “Got it.” Down below, near the edge of the valley, the name Anne Zelznick appeared on a low stone wall. Around the valley in fifty-foot sections with large gaps in between, similar walls each bearing five hundred names stood.
Firestorm turned to look at the attractive woman in blue and white floating near him. “All of them?”
“Three-hundred, twenty-six-thousand, two-hundred-and-eighty-four. That’s all I can find traces of,” answered Zatanna.
“Then it’s done.” Firestorm gestured, there was a burst of sparkling light, and a bench appeared near the final section of the wall. He settled down onto it, as did the lady magician with him. “All of them dead because of me.”
“Ronald, that is not true, and you know it. You weren’t even near here when Syracuse was targeted.”
“I should have known the bomb coming down in Chicago was a dud, a distraction. I could have tagged the League teleporter and gotten here in time.”
Nonsense, Ronald. Everybody involved thought they were bombing Chicago. Nobody knew this was the real target, and nobody can outrace an energy beam. (*) The mental voice of Professor Martin Stein echoed in Firestorm’s head.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Invasion, Book 2, Chapter 1: Warworld.]
“Well, regardless, I thought it was only right they have not a tombstone, I guess, but something folks could remember them by as Syracuse rebuilds.”
“It was a good idea, Ronald. Will you let the rest of the League know about it now?”
“I suppose so. Look, thanks, Zee, for your help. Without your magic to draw the names of the dead from the afterlife, or spirits lingering here or whatever, I could never have done this. I know you have a busy schedule and all, so I really appreciate it.”
“As I said, Ronald, it was a good idea. I’m glad I could help.”
“Well, I guess I should head out and let Professor Stein get home to bed.” Firestorm looked over at Zatanna. “If you aren’t doing anything, I think I’ve got some hot chocolate mix and some Christmas cookies from my roommate’s mother back at the apartment.”
Zatanna laughed, a musical sound in the cold night air. “Believe it or not, that’s the best offer I’ve had for Christmas this year.”