Far below the Thanagarian spacecraft that housed the Hawks and their allies, a man tossed and turned in fitful slumber as the same odd dream flashed through his mind.
He saw himself standing on a rooftop, and yet he was not himself — he was much more. He was strong and fast and almost inhumanly skilled at every task he undertook. He moved through the urban night with a grace and confidence that filled him with a sense of power and exultation. He didn’t merely own the nocturnal cityscape, he dominated it.
As moonlight bathed his caped and cowled form, he leaped into the air and — like a black ribbon outlined against the sky above — sliced across the distances between buildings via a narrow rope that he used to swing wildly into space. He landed silently and crouched on a ledge high above the teaming streets far below.
He was powerful. He was capable. He was the Batman.
Sitting up abruptly, he stared into his darkened room with wild eyes as his heart raced while he fought to regain self-control. “I remember!” he whispered.
Across the river in the city of Metropolis, a rugged blond man with a crewcut poured eagerly through a couple of library books as the light from his one lamp illuminated his seedy boarding-house room and flickered off a rather garish poster that showed stars and a strangely familiar, if long-destroyed planet along with its moons.
“Su-El was the celebrated astronomer, while his father Val-El was the explorer,” he recited as if by rote.
He looked back at the book and sighed. “Rao! How they will pay for stealing my very heritage from me!” he said.
The next day, within the ever-busy city room of the Daily Planet, a pretty and perky girl reporter named Meg Tempest crouched down, looking up with expectation and anticipation etched on her delicate features. The auburn-haired girl was listening eagerly as an older woman with darker hair commented on her story.
“You can add a sense of immediacy to your story by leading off with the main dilemma facing the subjects,” said Lois Lane. “You could stress how serious the problem is and what the very worst consequences of the situation might be. Don’t distort the facts, mind you. Just draw the reader in and support your argument with facts and sources which you’ve checked and double checked.” The award-winning journalist wore a black dress with dark hosiery and heels.
Her somewhat younger colleague wore a pink blouse with a rounded collar and a large bow near the neckline. Her matching short skirt was pleated and pink as well. Meg inhaled sharply and said, “So I could use a line about how beauty pageants have become scholarship pageants out of pressure from feminist groups! I could say something like, ‘where has all the beauty gone?'”
Lois raised one eyebrow in surprise and then added, “Uh, right. You could do that. Make it personal to you.”
“Thanks, Lois! You’re terrific!” Meg smiled winningly and leaned over to hug her as she flounced off toward her own desk to do a swift rewrite.
Lois smiled with amusement and turned to reach for a mug of coffee. Taking a sip from her mug, she resumed her own work. The lovely woman had been a successful reporter, author, and television personality for years, and she had literally traveled to other worlds, times, and dimensions. She had helped countless people through her own investigative work, and she had donated time as a nurse to give back to the community in still another way. She had been courted by celebrities, criminals, aliens, and superhuman beings. She had witnessed supernatural occurrences, alien invasions, and had been the object of very personal transformations of gender, race, size, age, and species. And she had been and continued to be a loving daughter and sister and friend.
However, for all that she had accomplished and experienced, to the general public, her very name seemed nothing more than an abbreviation if not accompanied by the phrase, Superman’s Girl Friend. So deeply ingrained in the mind of Joe Public was her role as the Man of Steel’s love interest, that Lois herself had come to realize that she would always have to do and be more than ordinary in order to be seen as merely her own individual. Since she and Superman had parted, he had moved on to a new romance, and she had won the highest honor one in her field could achieve. Her initial story on the alien invasion and its many consequences had led first to numerous journalism awards and then to a best-selling book recounting the entire affair.
Lois felt fulfilled in every area except for her love life, but she had dedicated herself so completely to her work that she had managed to cover that particular hole in her life. Still, while she knew she would always love Superman, even as a dear friend, she had long come to accept their parting as a necessary and positive step in her own growth and development.
Now she frowned as she read over a report about the murder of a reformed super-villain named the Gravitronic Man, and she made a note or two on a pad near her computer. This looks like a pattern is starting to form, she thought.
Suddenly she dropped her mug, and as coffee splashed all over her desk and her dress, she stood up and walked out of the building without speaking or acknowledging those who greeted her as they passed. Her eyes were almost devoid of light, and she walked as if she was deeply entranced or in a dream.
Reaching an alley two blocks behind the Planet, she stopped as a weird figure ushered her into a vehicle.
“Welcome, Miss Lane,” he said with a leer. “I’ve been expecting you.”
The Purple Pile-Driver was smiling. A definite grin could be seen on the part of his face that could be seen beneath his stylized purple helmet. He had robbed a bank outside of Empire City, and his unique purple-hued force-field had not only enabled him to smash through the vault and stun the few guards on duty, but it had given the experienced super-criminal his first taste of potential victory.
“No Superman, no Green Lantern, no Aquaman!” he said. “This may be the sweetest job I’ve ever pulled!” He started to whistle with pleasure as he strolled away from the bank. “Why should a guy like me hurry? There’s not a single super do-gooder in this place!”
“I knew you were stupid, but I never imagined you’d lack the most remedial of math skills! Count again, you jerk!” said a shrouded figure in shades of magenta and pink that stepped into the path of the Purple Pile-Driver and blocked his previously lighthearted progress.
The newcomer’s mask covered his entire face and was divided into concentric circles of alternating pink and magenta shades. His cape was high-collared and voluminous, and his body-suit was equally colorful with bands of pink cutting across fields of magenta.
“Who are you? I thought I knew all of the big-name super-heroes!” said the Pile-Driver as he lowered his head and prepared to generate a concussive field of purple energy.
The energy blast erupted at the mocking newcomer, who laughed in scorn and raised his gloved hands as if in a gesture of placation.
The Purple Pile-Driver yelled as the very soil beneath his boots swelled up to trip him so that his helmet ray-beam struck the ground below him and knocked him skyward, until gravity caused him to crash down into the stunning embrace of a huge fist shaped from the soil itself.
The man in the colorful costume stepped closer and gently knocked against the Pile-Driver’s broken helmet. “You simply can’t buy good craftsmanship in this era!” he said proudly in a theatrical tone of voice.
He waited until the Empire City Police arrived to take the battered villain into custody, then announced, “Officers, I am new to your time. I come from the future, where crime is nonexistent. I want to offer my techno-alchemy to you. What appears to be magic is, in fact, simple science in my far distant home time.”
“Who are you, pal?” asked one cop.
The caped figure replied, “Call me the Technomancer!” He gestured, and the ground shuddered to form a platform upon which he rode off into the sky.
“What kinda name is that?” said one cop.
The other shrugged. “And that’s one ugly costume, but at least he’s on our side.”