A few days later, a solemn assembly stood by a grave on the desolate shores of Vumania Island, the former headquarters of the Forgotten Heroes. While several Justice Leaguers had attended the earlier funeral, now there were only a few mourners remaining.
A pretty woman with platinum blonde hair looked at the grave and then glanced over at Captain Comet, who seemed to be praying.
“I don’t have any grudge against him,” he said, looking up. “He did a lot of good, and he certainly changed from the ruthless agent he was intended to be. I suppose you could call him my greatest success story, as far as reforming a villain is concerned! Not that I ever really did that. That was all him.”
“Adam, I suppose technically I knew him better than I know you,” said Dolphin, “since he was the Captain Comet I spent all that time with, but since his actions and his reactions were basically taken from what your mind imprinted upon his, I think I can say I know you pretty well, too! Everything he did came from you. Is that any comfort at all?”
Comet shrugged. “Yes, though I can’t say that I would have done all of the things people tell me he did. I know that he earned this resting place on the island where you all had your team. We may never know his real name, but I suppose that makes him a truly forgotten hero!”
“What are you going to do now?” she asked.
Captain Comet smiled. “I’m going back into space! That’s where I’ve always felt the most at home. I need to visit Willow and her son. They don’t know me, but they need to know what happened to the man they loved. Then I’m exploring space and helping people in need, like I’ve always done!”
Dolphin leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I’m going to miss you,” she said as her gaze drifted slightly from the man to the grave.
J’onn J’onzz and his brother T’omm J’onzz were sitting across from one another on the Martian ship T’omm had brought to Earth.
“You know, this whole thing started because I wanted to be just like you!” began T’omm. “I know I followed you around all the time when we were growing up. That’s how I came to see you at a Red Brotherhood meeting. I followed you and learned all about the group. I never told you about it, because I thought it was your secret to keep!”
J’onn smiled ruefully and said, “Keeping secrets was wrong. I recognize that mistake! There’s a certain irony in the fact that most of this whole plot would never have been revealed to us if the Marshal hadn’t brought it all out into the open. He did more good with that one spiteful act than he’d ever done before! I did more harm by keeping quiet than I ever imagined was possible!”
“You did the best you could,” said T’omm. “You always have! You inspired me to go undercover and infiltrate the group, even if you didn’t realize you’d done so. It happened when you returned to Mars II after our people had settled there following Commander Blanx’s destructive use of the Blue Flame!”
“I remember that after helping you, our parents, and little Zook get settled, all I seemed to experience was one betrayal after another,” said J’onn. “Bel Juz turned against me and our entire race. She had pretended to love me, but she’d always been after power. My mentor and best friend R’es Eda had led me to the Brotherhood, but he also tried to manipulate our people into making an assault on a peaceful city on New Mars. Even my reunion with JLA friends like the Hawks was tainted with suspicion because R’es had managed to frame my Earth friends for a crime. (*) Superman and I came to blows because he would not initially listen to my warning about Mongul and one of his schemes for power. (*) I even found myself under post-hypnotic influence dating back to one of my first cases with the JLA. (*) I found love with J’en, but then she sided with the Marshal when he invaded Earth! (*) I realized I could not trust anyone except for my family!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Mission: Catch a Killer,” Adventure Comics #449 (January-February, 1977), “Return to Destiny,” Adventure Comics #450 (March-April, 1977), “The Suspects,” Adventure Comics #451 (May-June, 1977), “Today Mars, Tomorrow the Universe,” World’s Finest Comics #245 (June-July, 1977), “The Key That Unlocked Chaos,” DC Comics Presents #27 (November, 1980), “A League Divided,” Justice League of America #200 (March, 1982), and “War of the Worlds 1984,” Justice League of America #228 (July, 1984).]
“I remember,” said T’omm. “I decided to do something about that. I assumed various roles like that of the yellow-hued criminal B’rett. I did it to find out, once and for all, exactly who could be trusted among our small group of survivors. I had to allow you and our folks to think I was just rambling across the galaxy.”
“And yet you were risking your life for us all!” said J’onn. “You’re a real hero!”
“I learned about the schemes of the Brotherhood, and I rose within their ranks,” said T’omm. “I managed to turn a few members to my side, and they remained loyal to me. I’ve spent years undercover, and I’m tired of all the lies as well!”
“You told Zook I would be coming to New Mars, didn’t you?” asked J’onn. “He seemed to know about you and some secret!”
T’omm laughed. “He became my partner in some ways. He was thrilled to help! Of course, not even Zook knew the entire story!”
J’onn led his brother to the viewport and looked out at the stars. “T’omm, how did you stop those united minds?” he asked. “I saw blue light around your body!”
“I have mysterious powers,” explained T’omm J’onzz. “I don’t understand them completely myself. When Blanx allowed the Blue Flame to engulf Mars, I was there! I tried to stop him, but I only fell into the flame itself! I felt no pain. I just staggered out of its inferno, seemingly unharmed. It spoke to me in my mind. It said I was worthy to be its champion! I thought I was delirious!”
“And yet you had no powers when I fought Blanx,” said J’onn.
T’omm nodded. “They only flared up months later. I almost decided to call myself the Blue Flame, but that name has such horrific associations for our people that I merely kept my powers a secret! You are the only person who knows about them!”
“You are a hero yourself!” said J’onn. “We all owe you a great debt!”
T’omm shook his head. “I was just following your lead. I’m always going to be looking up to you. There’s only one Martian Manhunter!”
Nubia emerged from the next chamber and said, “I hope I’m not interrupting, but we are nearing New Mars.”
“I’d better guide us in,” said T’omm. “I want to alert the folks that we’re coming!”
As he walked out of the room, Nubia moved into J’onn’s embrace. “You are pensive,” she said. “I know you feel blame for some of the things the Red Brotherhood did, but you are no more to blame than I am for the evil deeds of Mars himself!”
“It is more than that,” said J’onn. “I feel as though I am finally free of a burden. I feel free to celebrate the fact that my people are on their way to returning to the peace known to us before the rise of men like the Marshal or Commander Blanx! I also feel more strongly than ever before a sense of family, since I have seen what kind of man my little brother has become!”
“You have a family of which to be proud!” said Nubia.
J’onn J’onzz gracefully dropped to one knee and took her hand. “I want you to become my family!” he said. “I want you to be my wife. You are already my lover and friend. I would have that bond be etched in the stars above for all eternity. Nubia, princess of Paradise Island, would you honor me with your hand in marriage?”
Nubia’s eyes widened with surprise and pleasure as she lifted him to his feet and whispered, “Yes! I do love you, J’onn J’onzz!”
They kissed as the sleek ship drew closer to New Mars. It would be a time of revelations and celebrations, and of reunions and unions. It was happiness well-earned by two champions and the people who loved them. It was a happy ending to the darker aspects of the Martian Chronicles, and a new beginning for a tale of lovers.