by Doc Quantum and Libbylawrence
“I can’t believe this!” Donna Troy shouted as she threw the remote control at the television. She had just witnessed the unexpected public debut of Nubia as the new Wonder Woman at a press conference held by the Justice League of America, disrupting Donna’s plans entirely. (*) To say the least, she was a little upset.
“You all right?”
Donna acted as if she hadn’t heard Roy Harper say anything. “That — that witch! She stole Diana’s name! I was the only person worthy to inherit my sister’s mantle, not that inexperienced pretender! What gives her the right?”
“Donna–” Roy started.
“Well, if that harlot thinks she’s getting away with this, she’s got another think com–”
Donna Troy stopped in her tracks and stared back at Roy. She stopped herself from saying something, and instead simply sat down on the lobby couch. Her head in her hands, she mumbled, “Roy, what the hell has happened to this world? Why did Diana have to die? Or Tula, Don, the Flash, or Supergirl, for that matter?”
Roy put his arms around her in an embrace. Wally had already warned him of her current emotional state, so he was prepared to be there for one of his long-time friends. “Wally and Garth — and even Hank — are probably thinking the same thing right now, y’know.”
“Wally. Frankly, I’m not surprised that he’s joined the JLA. He deserves it; but to be on the same team as that — that-that–”
“Heh — yeah,” Donna laughed. “God, I must look so silly to you, right now.”
“Not at all, Donna-girl, not at all,” Roy replied, giving her a playful punch on the arm. “But it will be an inconvenience for us if Wally’s gone. King Faraday requested a full team to help him out with his situation, didn’t he? And speaking of which, you still haven’t let us in on what this mysterious mission is all about, anyways.”
“It’s almost time for the meeting. I’ve kept the others waiting long enough. I should really tell you at the same time as them.” At that, Donna and Roy walked into the meeting room.
The meeting room looked empty without the usual Teen Titans lineup. However, some other old faces had shown up, along with a welcome newcomer.
Garth, also known as Aqualad, looked at Donna and smiled a friendly but sad smile and said nothing. His loss in the Crisis was his only love, Tula, also known as Aquagirl. At the far end of the table, Hank Hall, the ex-Teen Titan known as Hawk, stood in an angry, defiant pose. His brother Don, formerly his partner Dove, had also been killed in the Crisis, leaving him in a dangerously unstable state of mind. An eager but bewildered face shone out from behind Robin’s mask. Donna still couldn’t get used to that costume being worn by anyone but Dick. This youngster’s name was Jason Todd, and he was Batman’s new partner.
“Thank you all for coming,” Donna said as she took her place at the meeting room table — the place where Dick would be sitting if he were still here, and still leader. Now Donna was the leader, and she knew she had to summon enough strength to provide the leadership this incarnation of the Titans needed. Emotional displays such as she’d let Roy see would no longer be acceptable. She needed to be strong, not only for herself, but for Garth and even Hank.
“So are we off to bash some Commies’ heads in, or what?” said Hawk.
Donna knew this was going to take some patience.
Forcing herself to smile, she prepared to explain the current mission to the gathered heroes. She had little doubt that she could rely on Garth, Roy, and Wally — assuming the speedster could finish his JLA duties in time to join them. Hawk was certainly capable — capable of anything. He was naturally full of grief and anger at the loss of his brother, and wasn’t handling things well. There had to have been things left unsaid between the odd couple of siblings that could now never be spoken. While Garth’s sorrow was etched on his face, he would soldier on with his usual placid manner; Hawk, however, could explode at any moment. This meant he would need watching. As for Jason Todd, the new Robin, Donna could only judge him based on two certainties: first, if he wore that costume, then he had been chosen and trained by Batman, and second, that meant that, inexperience or not, he was very, very good.
“Actually, Hank, we’re trying to save lives, not inflict damage,” she continued. “King Faraday has asked us to extradite a super-villain to the island nation of Puerto Verde to stand trial for crimes he committed there.”
“For crying out loud! Nurse-maidin’ some punk isn’t what the Hawk wants from a case,” grunted Hawk.
“Hold it, pal. Let her finish,” said the smooth-talking Roy Harper. “If Faraday’s calling us in, it must be big, because he’s no lightweight himself. You may just get the action you’re craving after all.”
Aqualad nodded. “Who is this villain? I take it he has some tie to the Titans.”
Robin spoke up eagerly, “Uh, would it be Arthur Light? I read in Batman’s files that he last battled him on that same island.”
Donna smiled. The boy was prepared and quick-minded, reminding her much of Dick. Wasn’t Jason also the child of circus performers? “Exactly,” she replied. “Doctor Light, who has battled both the JLA and us, is the prisoner we are to take back to Puerto Verde for trial. Faraday wants us to be sure he arrives safely.”
“That old wimp? What’s he gonna do, throw light bulbs at us?” sneered Hawk.
“It’s not Light himself that is the problem,” explained Donna. “Faraday fears that Light may have allies or enemies either attempting to free him or kill him.”
Roy grinned. “Say, I think I recall old Arty being tied to some militant group led by a terrorist called Kahman Abhood. He betrayed this guy. I guess Abhood’s pals are eager to avenge their leader.”
“True,” said Donna. “That was when Supergirl and Batman fought Light and his pawns, the Children of Light.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Death-Scream from the Sky,” The Brave and the Bold #147 (February, 1979).]
“Well, it’ll soon be lights out for them,” Hawk quipped.
As the heroes led the cuffed Doctor Light to their T-jet, Roy Harper scanned the area. He had been working for the government of late. This wasn’t exactly new to the archer, since he already had ties to the Drug Enforcement branch of the Justice Department, his personal way to combat a problem that he had experienced himself. His addiction was a thing of the past, but he could never forget the mental and physical torment it had inflicted both on himself and those who loved him.
In many ways he had seen more of life than the others, and was ready to act in case of danger. Still, nothing had really hardened him. He enjoyed most of what he did as Speedy, and felt that being with his old friends again was a kick.
“You know, I wanted to call myself Speedy,” joked Flash as they took off.
“Gah! Slow down enough so a guy can actually see you enter the vehicle before you start small talk, huh?” Roy replied as he greeted Wally West. “Sheesh! You took years off my life!”
“Sorry,” Wally said, smiling. He added with a whisper, “How’s Donna?”
“Sensational as always,” said Roy. “Still, inside I think she’s really mixed up. What with Wonder Woman dying and all, her most recent partners scattering from Tamaran to who knows where — it’s bound to take a toll, even on an Amazon.”
Flash nodded. “I’m glad we’re here for her. Times like these, we all need our friends.”
“I hear you have some new ones,” said Speedy. “You up and joined the Geriatric League.”
“Listen, they welcomed me,” the Flash said. “Hal and Ralph were a big help. I mean, they were close to Barry, too. They knew what I was — what I’ve been feeling. It’s not easy to fill the boots of a legend. It’s not easy to lose your hero.”
“Barry would have told you that he had faith in you,” said Roy. “Listen, Ollie told me that Barry couldn’t stop smiling when he talked about you. Hero, nephew, physics student — Barry thought the world of you. He wouldn’t have wanted you to doubt that only you could be the next Flash.” He grinned and added, “But–”
“Yeah?” asked Wally, waiting for the punch line.
“If you still want the name Speedy, it’s yours,” Roy said. “I’m thinking of changing mine to something more adult. Human Weapon Adored by Millions has a nice ring to it.”
“You do seem to be carrying your own private arsenal,” said Flash.
“Arsenal! I like that,” mused Roy quietly.
Up front, Hawk sat next to Doctor Light as they soared toward the island of Puerto Verde. “You know, for a guy who fought the JLA, you seem like a real spineless type to me,” he muttered.
Dr. Arthur Light sniffed in disdain. “I fought Superman. I battled Batman. Don’t give me any impudence, boy.”
“You also had your head handed to you by a six-inch man,” smirked Hawk.
In the back, Donna Troy leaned over to Robin and said, “Thanks for coming. I appreciate this, Dick.”
Jason Todd frowned and looked at her. “I’m Jason!”
“Sorry!” Donna replied immediately, but Jason just shrugged.
“Easy mistake, what with years of habit and the hair dye,” the boy said. “Thing is, Batman and I were talking about my look. We might add a hood or something, so I could keep my natural hair color. It’s hard to step into Dick’s old role.”
Donna nodded. “I know. I keep wondering where he is now. He has always been the bedrock of this group.”
Nearby, Aqualad sat silently and thought of Tula.