by Martin Maenza
A red and blue figure streaked across the Atlantic Ocean in a diagonal course, heading for the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America. I definitely need a shower after helping those flood victims in Africa, Superman thought to himself. Hopefully the new dam I built will keep that from happening again anytime soon.
He glanced up at the position of the sun in the sky. Hmmm, I should have some time, too, before I join the Planet staff for the picnic, the Man of Steel thought. Perry insisted that Clark Kent be invited to this year’s festivities, even though I’m now working as a reporter at WGBS. It’s nice to know that I’ll always be considered part of the family, even if I’m not working for them full-time.
Suddenly, Superman squinted his eyes. What’s that? His telescopic vision kicked in as he looked up to the sky. Hmmm, a meteor dropping through the atmosphere. He cut his arc slightly upward as he watched it descend.
The rock started to burn around the edges as it passed through the upper atmosphere. Typically, meteors would pass through the atmosphere and burn up upon entry, requiring little intervention from outside parties. That resulted in shooting stars for people below to wish upon, if they were lucky enough to witness it.
This one, however, was different than most.
“Uh-oh,” Superman said as he streaked up to intercept it. “That one’s rather large, and it’s heading for a populated area, to boot. I’d better take care of this.”
Superman put his two fists out before him and collided with the meteor, smashing right through the center of the space rock. With a loud crack, the meteor split into two smaller parts. The hero then spun around quickly. His eyes began to glow as he moved, sending a fiery burst of energy at one of the chunks. The heat-vision at its higher intensity quickly vaporized the chunk.
“One down, one to go,” Superman said. He streaked after the remaining large portion. “Let’s see if I can have some fun here.” He moved into position beneath the streaking rock, paused, and then swung back his foot. The scarlet boot whipped around and connected to the rock. The mighty kick shattered it instead of knocking it back into space.
“Hmmm,” he said to himself. “I guess it’s not so easy to play space soccer now that I’m all grown up. Ah well.” Superman turned and flew back down. Soon, the sprawling city of Metropolis was approaching. “Definitely need that shower now.”
Two days later, in a modest home in the small suburban community of Midvale, a small family of three sat about the table after completing the evening meal. Only a few slices of roast were left untouched on the platter, and there was hardly a serving each of mashed potatoes and peas left in each of the bowls.
“Edna, that was some meal,” the man said to his wife.
“Thank you, Fred,” the woman replied. “Though I best get to cleaning up. These dishes won’t clean themselves.” She was about to rise from her seat.
“Mom, sit and relax,” the young woman said. “Allow me.” She rose from the table and began to move at super-speed. In a moment, all the dishes, silverware, platters, and such had vanished from the table.
Moving quickly, the young woman had everything in the kitchen sink, hot water running and soap bubbles rising. In what would have easily taken any other person ten minutes to clean up, she managed to do it in less than two. And she could have done it even quicker if she had wanted to.
Soon, she was back at the table, drying her hands on a red-and-white-checkered dish towel. “All done,” she said with a smile.
“Linda, you didn’t need to do that,” Edna Danvers said. “I wouldn’t have minded.”
“I know, Mom,” her adoptive daughter replied. “I just figured it was just as easy for me to get it done.”
“Speaking of getting things done,” Fred Danvers said between sips of his coffee, “how are things going with you at your new job, young lady?”
“Things at KSFTV are good, Daddy,” Linda Danvers said. “San Francisco is such a lovely place, though I do miss you guys a lot. (*) Especially Mom’s home cooking.”
[(*) Editor’s note: Linda moved to San Francisco and joined the KSFTV news crew in “Suspicion,” Adventure Comics #406 (May, 1971).]
“You can take the leftovers home with you if you want,” Edna offered. “I’ll get them ready for you.”
Linda blushed slightly. “I was hoping you’d say that. I kind of already wrapped them up.” Her parents laughed, and the three continued to chat for a while longer over coffee.
Eventually, the evening progressed, and it was time for Linda to depart. Before she did, though, she changed into her blue and red costume, leaving her civilian clothes for her mother to return to the closet upstairs. “I’m sorry to eat and fly, guys,” Supergirl said with her leftovers in hand.
“Not a problem, dear,” Fred said with a smile.
“Do be careful flying home,” Edna cautioned as she hugged the girl.
“I will, Mom. I promise.” Then, with a little wave, the heroine slipped out the back door and took to the skies at a blurring speed. She hadn’t gotten too far away, though, when she noticed a light in the sky.
A shooting star! she thought to herself. Then there was a second one and then a third, but the third seemed to grow brighter and not burn out like the others. I’d better see what that is!
The Girl of Steel rocketed through the air after the falling object. As she came closer, her enhanced vision confirmed it was a rather large meteor. I’d better handle this!
As she approached it, meeting its descent speed, she realized she would need to be creative. Only one free hand, Supergirl thought, noting the leftovers she held. Her mom’s cooking was too valuable to discard needlessly. Not a problem.
She swept under the object and placed her free hand on the bottom edge of the rock. Then, with the right amount of pressure, she started to influence its course, altering its angle. Combined with her flight, her strength was able to alter the course of it enough. With a strong shove, Supergirl was able to direct it into a small nearby lake.
There was a loud splash as the rock displaced the water.
“There,” she said to herself. “That should do it.” Using her vision powers again, Supergirl confirmed that the large space rock had settled securely on the bottom of the lake bed with no repercussions. “It appears to be harmless rock. No signs of radiation or the like. It should be fine right where it is.”
Satisfied, Supergirl took off for the West Coast, leftovers still in hand.
Across the stars, several dozen solar systems away from Earth, was the small planet of Rega VI. The surface of the world was barren, the red dusty soul apparently devoid of little life. The close proximity to its sun kept most travelers away from Rega VI, an effective deterrent to be sure.
Beneath the planet’s surface, however, was a hidden space-prison whose location was not widely known to many save the Green Lantern Corps and other galactic defenders. Here, in a facility run by a bright pink-skinned humanoid alien with wisps of white hair, were housed a number of dangerous intergalactic criminals.
The aforementioned alien was making a routine check of certain guests of the facility with his ever-present assistant, a short, yellow-furred alien that scurried about on four legs. “Things are looking well, Tuul,” the warden said.
“Indeed they are, Warden Hrdnox,” the assistant said. “Just one more on the list.” He checked the clipboard. “Yes, just one more.” He hurried over to a panel and punched in the code, opening the dark stone door to the cell.
“The force-field is in place?” Hrdnox asked.
“Yes, sir!” Tuul replied.
“Good, good,” Hrdnox said. He stared into the cell quarters via the transparent energy field. Unlike other prison cells, which included a way for the prisoners to bathe and relieve one’s self, this room was very sparsely furnished. Only a cot was on the far side of the wall. That was all this particular prison even needed.
Sitting there on the small cot was the cell’s occupant. He was a green-skinned figure dressed in a pink-colored uniform with white boots. Atop his hairless head was a ring of red electrodes. To look at him here, one would question his reputation as a ruthless, intergalactic criminal. But appearances did not fool Warden Hrdnox. He knew of the unspeakable, horrid acts this entity was capable of performing.
The figure just sat on the cot, unmoving and staring off into space. Only when the warden called out his name did he even look up.
The living computer turned its head and gave the warden a look. He then turned away.
“That’s right,” Hrdnox said “How does it feel to be trapped within an impenetrable force-field? A little ironic, don’t you agree?”
Tuul had put down his clipboard and was performing some readings with a small handheld device. An odd look crossed his face. “Uh, sir…”
“Well, you can just forget about escaping,” Hrdnox continued his taunting of the prisoner. “Many have tried, but none have succeeded. I run a tight operation here. It’s that sterling reputation that led to your being kept here after your last capture.”
Tuul began to tug at the man’s elbow. “Sir… sir…” he said. “I think you should look at this.”
Hrdnox scowled at his assistant. “What? Can’t it wait?”
Tuul shook his head feverishly. “I don’t think so, sir. Look!”
Hrdnox snatched the device and looked at the readings. His face turned pale, and his jaw dropped. “How — how can this be?”
“I don’t know,” Tuul said.
“How — how long?”
“I don’t know that, either.”
Hrdnox turned back to the cell where Brainiac remained silently sitting. He swallowed, still reluctant to accept the readings. He then pressed a code on the panel near the door, dropping the force-field.
Brainiac paid his actions no mind.
Hrdnox stepped into the room and walked right up to the seated criminal. He swallowed again, took his right hand, and went to strike the criminal.
His hand passed right through Brainiac.
“By the Great Crtswn!” Hrdnox exclaimed, taking a step back. “The readings were true. It is an energy-spawned duplicate!”
Tuul, still cowering near the doorway, asked, “What shall we do now?”
Hrdnox took a deep breath. “The only thing we can do. Get a message to Superman. We have to tell him that Brainiac has escaped from right under our noses.”
Sometime later, in orbit high above the Earth, the super-computer criminal watched the blue-green planet below on the view-screen. “My escape has finally been discovered,” Brainiac said in singular-toned voice. He seemed neither upset nor overtly concerned. “They seek to alert my enemy of it.”
“Can you divert their message?” a wicked voice asked from the shadows.
“No, it is too late for that.”
“Then we’ll be found out before we truly can begin!” the shadowy figure snapped.
“No,” Brainiac said again. “My ship remains perfectly cloaked. We shall remain undetected while we continue with our efforts.”
The eyes of the other man narrowed. “When I agreed to spring you from that prison, it was in exchange for your assistance! If this is all for naught…”
“I will keep my word.”
The shadowy figure hesitated for a moment. “Then when shall we destroy my accursed foe?”
“We can do so now, if you like,” Brainiac said. “After all, our tests so far have shown that we can bring great meteors of destruction raining down upon the world easily enough. With my vast intelligence and devices and your great power source, we can make it happen.”
The West Coast of the United States came into view as the Earth turned slowly beneath them.
“Fine!” snapped the figure in the shadows. “Then it is time!” A glow of yellow energy surged from a ring upon his right hand, and the glow lit up the crimson-skinned alien’s face. “It is time for the Green Lantern named Hal Jordan and all that he loves to be destroyed!”
“So it shall, Sinestro,” Brainiac said. “So it shall.”