by Doc Quantum
True to her word, Mya soon found exactly what Jolax was looking for. Unlike the much-older Jolax, who loved technology but didn’t understand it, the younger Mya had grown up surrounded by devices of all kinds and was unafraid of making a few adjustments to technology whenever there was a need for it.
For years Mya had operated the super-space cameras for Jolax, and had often tinkered around with them as well, picking up transmissions from dimensions similar to Superman’s universe but with enough differences for variety’s sake. She’d often suggested that Jolax expand his Superman franchise by creating new shows centered around heroes from these connected parallel universes, such as a charming show about an elderly version of the Justice League called the Justice Society, but Jolax had been adamant that presenting the idea of multiple Earths would risk confusing his optiviewers and could end up diluting the franchise. Mya didn’t agree, but then she wasn’t the boss. Still, she had managed to sneak in a few episodes here and there that featured characters from these other universes. Eventually, she hoped, there might be a public clamor for such shows. The sponsor’s interest in a new show featuring Superboy, whether the original or a new version, was evidence of that.
It continually frustrated Jolax and Mya how short the lifespans were of these Earth creatures, who marked their lifetimes in a matter of decades instead of centuries or millennia. They seemed helpless to do anything about their fate, possessing neither the technology nor the innate physical abilities to prevent their ultimate and inevitable end.
Perhaps that was why opti-shows featuring Earth and its protectors were so popular. Unlike Jolax, Earthers had to deal with matters of life and death nearly every day. It was frustrating to optiviewers how quickly their favorite characters grew old and died, and such a state of affairs could have made Earth too unpopular, if not for the super-heroes that added such color to their lives. As Jolax put it, these super-heroes added gravitas and panache to the otherwise drab and ordinary lives of Earthers. The balance between the hopeless and the hopeful, the grays and the colors, the powerless and the powerful, made super-hero shows Must-See OpTiVi.
Having a sip of extenda-tea, Mya cracked her knuckles and got down to work, sitting herself down in front of one of the newer super-space cameras primarily used for secondary shots. As promised, Jolax had left it for her use, too desperate to ask her any questions about what she intended to do with it. The first thing she did was to disable the security lock in the vibrational frequency setting before she started browsing alternate timelines and moving on to parallel universes.
She began with Superman’s world, of course, but adjusted the frequencies just enough to see alternate timelines of that universe, worlds in which Superman married Lois Lane, or Lana Lang, or both, and had super-powered children with them. She discarded those ideas as too conventional and obvious; besides, she knew based on the extant fan-fiction that most optiviewers still hoped for a Superman/Lori Lemaris union, as unlikely as that would ever be. Of course, those same optiviewers also tended to forget that he was called Superman at all, and to this day still referred to their favorite super-hero as Superboy, despite all evidence to the contrary.
With a sigh, Mya decided to try looking in on other universes instead, especially since alternate timelines had a tendency to collapse in on themselves far too frequently. They just didn’t have the same kind of staying power as a primary timeline for a specified universe.
Spinning the dial, she went wide afield, only to utter a quiet curse as she found she was picking up nothing but static. Jolax would have torn his hair out of his scalp if he knew that she’d lost the frequency for Superman’s Earth, but Mya wasn’t worried. She’d seen this kind of thing before, though it puzzled her. Over the years she’d noticed that the amount of vibrational frequencies available to the super-space camera had grown smaller and smaller, as trusted frequencies she’d tuned in on in the past had inexplicably vanished, replaced only by white, featureless static. It didn’t bother her too much, since it had never affected Superman’s Earth, but it was certainly disturbing. She wondered if she would ever know what caused the loss of those frequencies. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Summoning,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (April, 1985).]
Taking another sip of her extenda-tea, Mya dropped it from her thoughts as she dialed slowly back, closer to the prime frequency, until pictures started to come through again. The first few she breezed through looked far too violent — nothing but death, violence, and cataclysm in many of them, so she skimmed a bit faster before she slowed down a bit.
She sighed again as she started searching in vain for universes containing any Earths, let alone Earths that had super-heroes in them, before deciding to start from scratch. With a tap of her right earlobe, she accessed her personal files from the Optinet, searching for a particular folder containing vital access information.
Within a few seconds she had the original coordinates for Superman’s Earth programmed into the camera, and turned the chrono-dial forward several years. Sure enough, she found some evidence for a second generation of the most popular Justice League members, but this was hardly a solution to her problems. As Jolax had insisted, this Junior Justice League needed to each be roughly the same age, and wearing costumes just like the originals.
Mya stood up and started to pace around. She needed to try a new tactic. None of the conventional searches were going to give her the answer in a single evening, and she certainly didn’t want to stay up all night if she didn’t have to. Jolax was just lucky she was so loyal to the company.
She started to think about certain trans-dimensional interactions that she’d noticed in a few opti-shows over the years. One of the most recent ones involved Superman being pulled into a dimension populated by cartoonish animals who spoke like humans without the aid of cybernetic enhancements, and who ended up getting their own group of super-heroes thanks to interference from that old villain from Justice League’s first season, Starro the Conqueror. (*) Although Jolax had nixed that episode from airing in Superman’s regular series, Mya’s curiosity was piqued over that particular Earth, which didn’t seem to have the same properties as any other universe she knew of.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “This Bunny Unbound,” The New Teen Titans #16 (February, 1982) and “The Pluto Syndrome,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #1 (March, 1982).]
In fact, she realized after some investigation on her own time that the anthropomorphic-animal universe of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew had more in common with the Magic-Land dimension from an early episode of Justice League of Earth in that it was a sidereal dimension mimicking an ordinary universe but operating under entirely different rules. (*) Magic-Land, for example, was governed entirely by magic, while Captain Carrot’s world seemed to be ruled by the laws of comedy, even if she didn’t find many of the situations all that amusing.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers,” Justice League of America #2 (December, 1960-January, 1961).]
Mya briefly considered the idea that the Zoo Crew themselves might be passed off as super-powered children with a bit of assistance on her end before she realized it was too unwieldy. Optiviewers might have been fooled by such a tactic in the golden age of OpTiVi, but not today.
Another potential episode of Justice League that Jolax had nixed due to its confusing nature had taken place not too long ago, but had featured another inter-dimensional anomaly that had caught Mya’s eye. A rather pathetic-looking super-hero team that she’d never seen before had appeared during that conflict and had disappeared just as quickly. (*) After looking into them and their strange costumes, Mya could find nothing at all about this Inferior Five or their history in Superman’s Earth, and a quick look at nearby universes gave her no answers, either.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “There Shall Come a Gathering,” Showcase #100 (May, 1978).]
It wasn’t until she’d discovered the existence of the sidereal dimension of Captain Carrot that she realized the Inferior Five — who also seemed to operate under supposedly humorous rules of existence — might possibly hail from another of these sidereal dimensions. Such a world might conceivably contain such a ridiculous concept as a Junior Justice League already in place, and if it did she could go home and rest peacefully that night.
Unlocking another security protocol, Mya accessed the physics setting on the frequency dials and began scrolling through the various fantastical dimensions connected to that particular universe. Her younger self might have blanched at the sight of various afterlives and fantasy worlds playing out before her eyes, but after years of editing out scenes of gore and excessive violence from her opti-shows, she’d become fairly jaded against such things. Shape-shifting demons and monsters of immense proportions committing lewd and violent acts against helpless populations trapped as wraiths in the dimension humans called Hell hardly fazed her at all anymore.
The only thing that really bothered her was how hard it was to sort through these sidereal dimensions in the first place; many of them had nonsensical designations that changed from moment to moment. The super-space camera was able to lock onto nearly any frequency and move with the action, but some dimensions were so ephemeral that it was hardly possible to do that at all. Luckily, she’d already had a great deal of experience in filming scenes from the Phantom Zone and had ironed out most of the kinks.
Still, she was convinced that there wasn’t an infinite number of sidereal dimensions, and so there must be an even smaller number of such dimensions that attempted to mimic Earth’s universe, right down to a semblance of time and space and even containing their own rather inconsistent versions of the laws of physics. Based on that idea, she searched first for Captain Carrot’s dimension and managed to find it after several minutes. It didn’t take too much time after that to break out into the other so-called fictional dimensions in which events similar to stories and dreams occurred. She didn’t want another animal-based dimension, but a human one.
She found several worthy candidates, but settled on one that appeared to have its own version of a Justice League. She looked around for a while until she confirmed that there was no Junior Justice League in sight before she considered the idea that she might have to just de-age that Justice League and call it a day. But she considered herself a professional and didn’t want to do such a sloppy job as that, so she continued looking, and eventually ended up finding exactly what she was looking for.
“Bingo,” she said to herself, and started recording. With the chrono-dial set at 2X speed, she was finished the pilot by the time she finished her third cup of extendi-tea.
“Jumping moons, this is brilliant!” cried Jolax as he skimmed through the footage. “It’s everything I asked for, and more! How did you get this footage, Mya?”
“Trade secret,” she replied drolly. “So, do you think it’ll satisfy our sponsors?”
“I should hope so!” Jolax said, completely relieved that he wouldn’t have to spend the next couple of centuries as a brain in a jar, his corporeal self having been served as food to wulgargs — the standard punishment for a breach of contract for the kind of money he owed. “Ah, but some of this Earth mythology is a bit hard to grasp. All this bit about Christmas and that ridiculous overweight old man in the red suit — what was his name? San Tak Loz?”
“It’s pronounced Santa Claus, I believe,” said Mya. “And what’s to understand? Most Earth customs are equally as strange. I know how uncomfortable you are with magic, Jolax, but I can assure you the children will love it. And the sponsors will, too.”
“You’re right,” he agreed. “You’re right about that. I just hope we can sell the sponsors on making this a one-off special instead of a pilot for an ongoing opti-show. That should give us time to figure out if there’s anything we can do to make those kids into super-heroes again. And hey, maybe the sponsors will be so impressed with The New Teen Titans that they’ll forget that we ever promised them Junior Justice League.”
“Uh, I wouldn’t call it that if I were you, Jolax,” Mya reminded him. “Not unless you want to hire someone to dub in a new name every single time someone utters it.”
“Oh, right, right,” said Jolax. “That was just a working title, anyway. Given how much they still adore Superboy of Earth, the sponsors are going to love this title even more. It’s more marketable, after all.”
“So it’s a go?” asked Mya. “You’re sure the sponsors will sign off on it?”
“I believe so,” replied Jolax. “Yes, it may go on a bit too long, and might be a bit confusing to those viewers less familiar with Earth culture, but Galaxo Movie Studios Presents the Super Juniors Earth Holiday Special stands to win us a lot of viewers we lost when Superboy left his hometown and moved to the big city!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Isle of Forgotten Toys,” The Best of DC #58 (1984), also known as Super Jrs. Holiday Special.]
And, as they say, now you know the rest of the story.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight… Thank Goodness!