A young man with long brown hair sat on a bed and strummed a worn guitar as he sang to himself. “Goin’ down to Lonesome Town, where the broken hearts stay,” he sang. He continued for a few minutes and then put the guitar down and walked over to idly thumb through a stack of record albums.
Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer the sound of records to CDs, he thought. They say they will replace vinyl, but I’m not going to get rid of my albums anytime soon. I still regret the way I tossed out all my old comics when I went on the road years ago. Those stories really influenced me a lot when I was growing up. After all, I took the name Starman because of my powers, but also to honor the hero from those comics featuring the JSA. Now I wonder if I might meet the guy someday.
Will Payton glanced over at a photo of a pretty girl with platinum blonde hair and an innocent smile. Mara’s busy with her father Arion in Atlantis. Adam Cray is in college. Jayne is happily spending time with Lucas Carr and the little boy he met during their time in space. Mom’s working. I guess I have nothing better to do than to laze around here while Dr. Danvers is away on vacation.
Turning to gaze out the window, he smiled as the bright desert sun colored everything with a reddish hue. I’ve never spent any quality time with Arion. I guess I’m a bit nervous about it. Still, he is Mara’s father, and I love her, so sooner or later I’m going to have to visit with the guy. It seems odd for a man who has fought aliens and super-crooks to dread a simple meal, but something about the High Mage of Atlantis makes me feel like a wayward kid caught getting his ball out of a neighbor’s yard.
He continued thinking about the eventual dinner with his girlfriend’s father for a few more minutes, and then he heard a piercing sound that cut through the air like a sonic knife. Will leaned out the window and saw a small red dot shooting across the sky at an amazing speed. Great Scott! Some type of UFO! he thought. I’d better check this out as Starman. I’ll worry about my future father-in-law some other time.
He removed his clothing to reveal a black and red costume with a large star emblem on the chest. He altered his facial features with a momentary concentration until his eyes became opaque, and his features changed slightly. Starman took one final look around before he flew off into the sky at blazing speed. With no nearby neighbors around, I don’t have to worry about my secret identity, but I still like to play it safe by moving at top speed until I’m away from the house.
Starman easily matched the speed of the strange craft, and he observed it at a closer proximity as he drew alongside of it. Well, you don’t often see a bright red flying saucer outside of a Jetsons cartoon, he thought. I rather doubt this incident can be explained away as a case of Elroy out joyriding in his pop’s ship!
He dodged aside as a blue beam erupted from a port on the odd ship. The energy blast barely missed his flying form, but it did strike a car below. The sheer force of the beam smashed the vehicle to scrap metal. “OK, Elroy, you’re heading for juvie!” he said as he generated enough stellar energy to break into the spaceship.
“The hull is resealing itself. That’s a handy feature,” Starman said as he flew deeper into the craft. “The deck chairs are scaled for humanoid beings. I suppose I can rule out an encounter with a bug-eyed, eight-armed monster out of the sci-fi cinema.”
“Observation: you possess the typical xenophobic views of most Terran natives.”
Starman frowned as he tried to locate the speaker. The tone had been almost dulcet in nature, but he still felt that there was something oddly inhuman about the female who had spoken. “Actually, I just joke around a bit to help me deal with the weird things that happen to me since I became a super-hero,” he said.
Moving forward, Starman soon spotted a beautiful woman in a purple jumpsuit and thigh-length black boots. She had long blonde hair, a lovely face, and green skin. “Whoa! Are you J’onn J’onzz’s long-lost looker of a sister?” he quipped.
She smiled coldly and said, “Supposition: you enjoy the friendship of many such super-beings. You reference them freely but without true discernment.”
Starman landed and said, “You sound like a woman. You look like a centerfold. Still, you remind me of someone else. Your vocal tones are like music, but your speech patterns are like a computer! I’ve been around a few talking computers in my time!”
She laughed and said, “Revelation: I am a living computer designated Genia. I am formed in the image of my beloved Brainiac.”
Starman tensed up and moved back a step or two. “Brainiac! Your red spaceship is like the one he has used before! I recall seeing it on old news reports. The green skin made me think of Martians, but the connection to Superman’s old sparring partner makes sense, too.”
“Observation: it is in turn his connection to Superman that will spell your own demise.” She pressed a switch on a control panel, and a star-shaped device shot forward to impale Starman’s chest.
Starman gasped in horror as the weapon plunged into his chest. He fell backward and clawed at it, but he could not remove it. He gazed at it with wide eyes as he fell down, and energy surged out of his wound into the weird device. “You’re killing me!” he muttered as the scene began to fade from his dimming vision.
He shoved himself forward for a moment, but the lovely alien being placed one foot on his chest and pushed him down again. “Correct. Still, your death will result in the death of Superman, and that was ever my true goal. That was why I sought you out in the first place.”
Starman didn’t hear her words as he remained silent and still. Energy continued to pour out of his wound and into the sapping device that leeched his unique energies at an alarming rate of speed.
In his office at the Daily Planet, reporter Clark Kent tried to conceal his amusement as he heard a young woman’s lament. Reporter Meg Tempest shook her pretty head as she stalked out of Perry White’s office. “Mr. White just doesn’t get it!” she said as she swept by a freckled-faced redhead who stood nearby his own desk. “He thinks I’m fit for nothing except doing puff pieces on dog shows and TV stars!”
Jimmy Olsen rushed after her and grabbed her arm. She turned around and said, “He wants me to cover the Miss Gotham Pageant! I mean, just because I used to be a beauty queen is no reason to always give me that kind of story to do. He thinks I’m just a pretty face without any journalism talents!”
She stomped her foot in annoyance as Jimmy tried to soothe her ruffled feathers. “Calm down, Meg. Perry is just drawing on your strengths. I mean, he knows his business. He sees you as the perfect Planet reporter to cover the pageant, since you are about the only one who has actually been a winner before. After all, what would Clark know about being in a beauty pageant?”
“Actually, they call them scholarship competitions nowadays, Jim,” offered a bemused Clark.
Jimmy nodded and said, “You’re not helping here, Clark. Seriously, Meg, give Perry a break. Remember how much the chief liked your piece on Cannonball last year? (*) Don’t be discouraged. Lois and I have both covered our share of puff pieces. Some of them led to some rather exciting adventures, in fact.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: Cannonball: Hero for Hire.]
Clark nodded and said, “Meg, just make it the best story you can. Approach it from your own unique perspective.”
Meg sighed and said, “Thanks, fellas. I guess you do have a point.” She slipped on a pink blazer that matched her short pink skirt and headed toward the elevator in a more calm manner. “Bye-bye!” she said as the doors closed behind her.
Perry White emerged from his office and said, “Nicely handled, Olsen. You should be Meg’s keeper. Oh, and one more thing…”
Jimmy looked up anxiously. “Don’t call you Chief?” he asked.
“Right!” said Perry firmly as he returned to his office.
Clark smiled and continued typing away on his own story. “Jim, you seemed more than a little interested in Meg. Is there something going on between you two?” he asked.
Jimmy smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know, Clark. Since Lucy Lane seems too bad for me in some ways, and she’s always out of town, anyway, I’ve been developing a bit of a thing for Meg Tempest. I mean, she really is adorable!”
Clark started to reply to his young pal when he felt the building shake. That’s no earthquake; it looks like we’re under attack! he thought, scanning the skies with his telescopic vision. “We’d better evacuate the building!” Clark said, racing away, while Jimmy hesitated before following at his own pace.
Clark? He’s gone! Jimmy thought. Until a short while ago, I would have thought it was strange how fast Clark could move for a guy who became dizzy doing sit-ups. But now that I know his secret identity, all I can do is wish him well as Superman! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: Revelations.]
Having changed clothes at super-speed, Clark Kent was indeed gone and replaced by the mighty figure of Superman, who rocketed skyward to find the source of the violent quake. He soon saw an armored figure hovering in midair; the armor the figure wore was red and gold with a tinted dome-like helmet that rested across the being’s broad shoulders.
That thing’s armor is shielded enough that I can’t tell if it is a living being in armor or if it is a mechanical creation. Either way, I can’t let it bring down the Planet Building! “What’s your beef, fella?” demanded Superman. “If you wanted my attention, you’ve got it.” Superman drew closer to the strange being, only to reel backward as the creature struck him with a red glowing fist. The armored titan followed up that attack by hitting him again.
I actually felt that! thought the Man of Steel. I think our alien visitor is generating red sun energy. His every punch renders my powers useless. Like all Kryptonians, I have no super-powers while under red sun radiation.
Superman ducked under another swing from the armored foe and brought his own fists up to smash against the larger being’s chest. I guess that was the equivalent of being hit with the proverbial wet noodle. This thing’s aura reduces my strength and other powers greatly.
The alien whipped around and backhanded Superman across the sky. He crashed down into another building, barely managing to avoid landing on anyone inside.
I feel my power returning now that I’m out of immediate proximity to the alien, thought Superman as he stood up and flew away. He doesn’t speak, nor does he display any obvious emotions beyond an all-too-clear aggression. He also has no interest in anything or anyone except for me. He could have resumed his attack on the Planet by now if he had desired to do so. That means I’m his only target. If I can lead him away from the city before our fight harms some bystander, so much the better!
The alien followed Superman’s trail via some type of propulsion unit built within its armor.