by Martin Maenza
On a sound stage in the Galaxy Broadcasting building, a dark-haired television news reporter dressed in a blue suit with a white shirt and a red tie was just finishing up the six o’clock PM telecast. “We’ll see you back here at eleven with all the breaking stories,” Clark Kent said with a smile and a tip of his glasses.
The music played back behind him. Clark turned to one of the other reporters at the desk, and the two engaged in what appeared to be small talk. Their microphones, already cut off, did not pick up the sound.
The red light atop the two cameras went off.
“And that’s a wrap,” shouted Josh Coyle, the news director. “Good broadcast, everyone! Go take a dinner break.” The staff and crew started to head out. They didn’t have to be told twice.
Clark Kent stood up from his chair and headed off the set. As he walked, he nodded and said hello to those who passed by. Then, as he passed a bank of monitors, something caught his eye. He stopped and cut back, focusing on one of the television feeds.
Great Krypton — that skyline! Clark thought to himself. Those call letters! That feed’s coming from New York City! On the screen, a giant blob-like creature could be seen rampaging down the streets. Policemen, from behind the safety of barricades and their cars, were firing at the monster. The bullets seemed to have little effect.
Clark Kent made no haste as he rushed across the studio and headed for a nearby stairwell. The Big Apple is under attack by some big alien beast, he thought as he stepped inside the area. A quick glance up and down with his x-ray vision confirmed that everyone was clear of the area. New York is normally Wonder Woman’s stomping grounds, but I know for a fact that she’s spending some time visiting her mother on Paradise Island. That makes this a job for Superman!
At blinding speed, he tore away his civilian clothes to reveal the familiar yellow and red S-symbol upon the chest of his blue costume. At the same time, he flew down the stairs at super-speed, faster than any eye could see. When he burst out into the lobby in flight, it was as Superman.
A few people felt a bit of a breeze as he whizzed out the spinning door of the lobby and rocketed up into the sky over Metropolis. He would be in New York in no time at all.
“What are we gonna do, sarge?” one of the officers asked from behind an opened car door. He continued to fire shots at the large, gelatinous monster bearing down on them. The creature did not seem to be bothered in the least.
“Don’t know!” the larger man said, sweat on his brow. “Not like this is covered in the police manual!”
“Relax, fellas!” a friendly voice called from the sky. “I’ll take things from here!”
The two men felt a breeze rush past them. They looked up and, together in unison, shouted “Superman?!”
The Man of Steel extended his two fists out before him and rocketed toward the creature, which was nearly three stories tall. “A super-punch should put it out of action,” he said to himself. “I want to stun it enough to get things under control!”
But when his fists encountered the alien’s hide, Superman was shocked. “Ooof!” he gasped as he found himself suddenly tumbling backward in the air. He hit the pavement and bounced twice, a mailbox plowed over by his uncontrolled rebound.
“Hmmm, I underestimated it,” Superman said softly to himself. “That thing’s body is a bit more invulnerable than I would have first thought.” He stood up and brushed himself off. “I’ll have to try another approach. At least I know what it can handle, though!” Superman stood and shouted at the creature, “OK!”
It stopped its slither forward, and its body twisted slightly with a slishing-squishing sound. A single large eye on the face of the creature turned directly at the man who shouted to it.
“Good,” Superman said confidently. “Now that I have your attentio–”
Before he could finish his sentence, the creature’s eye pierced, and a beam of energy blasted from it. The energy discharge slammed into the Kryptonian hero, knocking him backward once more.
The onlookers let out a collective gasp of shock as the hero went down for a second time.
Superman shook his head. Wow! he thought to himself. That was some kick! Worse than the mule on old man Kelly’s farm growing up. He looked at the creature who was now no longer interested in destroying the city about them. The creature, with its one eye, seemed to be staring at the hero, sizing him up.
“Fine!” Superman said, his usual smile becoming more determined. “Let’s go another round!”
“Oh, come on, now!” a voice called from across the way. “Like they say around here, can’t have you hoggin’ all the fun!”
Superman turned about to see a figure moving quickly through the air. Even at the quick speed he moved, the Kryptonian could make out a familiar brown-haired male dressed in black pants, white boots, and a white tunic tied at the waist with a black belt. The tunic was yellow-trimmed at the bottom and at the end of the short sleeves, and had a flared yellow collar as well.
The figure moved at great speed and precision through the air; his right foot slammed hard into the alien blob’s backside.
“Karate Kid!” Superman exclaimed. He felt a bit of a warm, emotional feeling upon seeing his old friend and ally. “Be careful! It’s pretty powerful!”
The martial artist grinned as he realized the creature took the mighty blow. “Oh, come on, now, Kal,” Karate Kid said as he flattened his hands and brought down carefully planned offensive strikes on the blob. “I’ve taken on the Fatal Five all by my lonesome! Heck, I’ve even fought you and Mon-El to a standstill.”
The blob like creature blinked, training his eye on the newcomer intently.
“I think I can handle a little thing like–”
“Val, down!” Superman cried. He launched through the air, pushing his old friend aside just before another of the creature’s blasts could strike its target.
The Man of Steel looked at his old friend, whom he had pinned to the ground. “Sorry about that.”
Karate Kid grinned. “You’ve gotten pushy in your old age, my friend. What brings you to New York?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Superman said as he stood. Though he also quickly realized that this must have been the time when Karate Kid spent a good bit of time back in the twentieth century, trying to prove himself worthy of the hand of the love of his life, Princess Projectra. (*) He was surprised their paths hadn’t crossed before now. “But our catching up can wait. Right now, we have to stop that thing.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “My World Begins in Yesterday,” Karate Kid #1 (March-April, 1976).]
“Four hands and a couple of feet are better than two,” Karate Kid said as he stood. “I suppose you have a plan.”
Superman smiled. “Think you can keep it busy for a few minutes?”
“Does Brainy lack a sense of humor?” the brown-haired hero quipped.
Superman nodded. “Sounds good! I’ll be back in a bit!” And with that, he rocketed off to a nearby plant.
It’s good to see Val again, the Man of Steel thought to himself as he landed near a large pile of granular material. When a few of the JLA and JSA members were pulled into the thirtieth century just last week, it was good to see so many of my old Legionnaire friends. (*) As he thought of this, he went to work at super-speed, using his hands, strength, and heat-vision to fashion the granular material into something more practical. It’s a shame I don’t get to their time as often as I used to. Too many responsibilities these days, I guess.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis in the 30th Century,” Justice League of America #147 (October, 1977) and “Crisis in Triplicate,” Justice League of America #148 (November, 1977).]
In no time, he was finished fashioning a sphere large enough to contain the blob-like creature. “Now, to get this alien some place more suited for him.” Superman flew back in time to see the large creature defeated. Karate Kid was leaning against a wall, looking a bit winded.
“Seems like you had things under control,” the Man of Steel complimented.
“Of course,” Karate Kid said, straightening himself and appearing a bit confident. “Did you expect any less?”
“No,” Superman shook his head as he opened the top of the sphere. He then tipped it on his side and started to move the stunned blob into it. “I knew you could handle it.”
“What will you do with this pitiful thing?” Karate Kid asked. “Hurl it into the nearby sun?”
Superman was surprised by Val’s callous words. “No! Not at all!” he said. “This sphere should be sufficient to allow me to transport it into space and find a world suitable for it to live without hurting anyone.” Once the creature was inside, he sealed the lid in place and hoisted it into the air with both hands. “You going to be here when I get back?”
“Of course,” Karate Kid said. “You said you wanted to talk — to catch up.”
“Yes,” Superman nodded. “I did. I’ll be back.” And with that, he rocketed toward the atmosphere with the captive alien.
Karate Kid leaned up against the wall, his arms crossed. I’ll be waiting, Superman! he thought as a wicked grin crossed his face.
Superman returned to same spot in less than an hour, and in his hand were two jumbo hot dogs he had picked up at a nearby street vendor’s cart. Karate Kid was still waiting patiently in the same position.
“Hey,” the Man of Steel said as he offered up one of the food items, “I got you one with everything on it. Thought we could have a little bite to eat while we talked.”
Karate Kid accepted the hot dog, stared at the item in the bun covered with chili, mustard, ketchup, and onions and said, “Whatever.” He sniffed the food cautiously while the Man of Steel made short work of his.
“I saw Projectra and some of the others recently,” Superman said. “They all looked good.”
“I suppose,” Karate Kid said. He started to move slowly closer.
“Have you seen them recently?” Superman asked, trying to recall what he knew about Val Armorr’s time in this century.
“I do not want to talk about others,” Karate Kid said, tossing the hot dog aside. “I want to discuss you.”
“Me?” Superman asked. “Why?”
Karate Kid’s response was a quick-spinning side-kick that caught the unsuspecting hero in the side.
Superman doubled over in pain at his friend’s very precise attack. “Val!” he exclaimed. “What’s got into you?”
“Just thinking clearly,” Karate Kid sneered as he brought his fist down hard on the base of the Kryptonian’s skull. He then clasped his two hands about Superman’s body, pinning the arms to the man’s side, and held firmly. “Keeping my goal within my sights.”
“I don’t know what’s gotten… into you, Kid!” Superman said as he flexed his mighty muscles. He exerted enough pressure to break the young man’s grasp. “But I don’t like it at all!”
Karate Kid flipped with precision back to his feet and assumed a combat position once more.
I don’t get this, Superman thought to himself. Something’s gotten into Val! Even though he’s attacking me, he is still a friend. I have to be careful not to hurt him.
“I do not care what you do not like!” said Karate Kid as he charged forward. “I know what I want, and I will not rest until I get it!”
Superman stepped to the side to dodge the attack that seemingly missed its mark. This is too easy, he thought. Why?
Karate Kid grabbed the end of Superman’s cape and darted back around, wrapping it tightly about the Man of Steel’s torso, once again pinning his arms. The stretchable material from his home planet of Krypton held him fast.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull,” Superman said as he struggled with the makeshift straitjacket. “When I get out of here–”
“You’ll do nothing!” Karate Kid said as he placed his right hand at the base of Superman’s skull. “This one has amazing fighting skills in his arsenal, including this!” Pinching with his hand in just the right way, the captive Kryptonian groaned and briefly fell to the ground. “One nerve pinch to fell the mighty Superman!”
Karate Kid leaned over the fallen figure on the ground. “Now, for the transfer!” He rolled the body over so it was face down on the ground. He turned, leaning the back of his own neck to the back of Superman’s.