“Hold still, will you?” Katar Hol, or Carter Hall as he was known on Earth, asked for the third time.
“I would, if you weren’t trying to strangle me!” Oliver Queen snarled back. “Payback for all those arguments you lost!”
“Typical of you to consider that I lost them, when I simply chose not to trade infantile insults with you any longer,” Carter calmly replied.
“Spock, Bones, that’s enough!” Hal Jordan joked. “Come on, you guys — get it together! This is Ollie’s wedding!”
“Why do you think they’re bickering, Hal?” Roy Harper asked. “Ollie’s trying to forget how nervous he is!”
“And I had almost succeeded, until just then,” Ollie said. “Thanks, Junior.”
“Any time, old man.”
Oliver Queen, his best man, and three groomsmen were in a small chamber just off the hall where the ceremony would be held, awaiting the moment when they would assemble before the audience.
“I’m surprised you can’t tie your own tie, Ollie,” Ralph Dibny commented. “All those years in a boardroom!”
“That was a long time ago,” Ollie said. “And I used a clip-on whenever I could get away with it.”
“I’ll bet that had as much to do with the collapse of your business as John DeLeon did,” Carter joked.
“OK, someone mark a circle on the calendar!” Ollie said. “Katar made a funny! What’s that, three over the last year?”
“Four, counting agreeing to be your best man,” Carter said with a final tug at the tie. “There. You’re presentable, anyway.”
“Whew! At last — sheesh!” Ollie said with a start as he turned to Ralph. “Sorry, Ralph, but that face you’re wearing is hard to get used to!”
“Sorry, Ollie, but what would you rather I do?” Ralph asked. “Go out there and stand with you, looking like Ralph Dibny, the world-famous Elongated Man? I had to re-mold my face for the occasion.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Ollie said. “Look, guys… thanks again. I really appreciate this. I know I haven’t always been the easiest guy in the world to get along with–”
“Ollie, don’t get maudlin now,” Hal advised, giving his old friend a brotherly punch on the arm. “Save it for the toasts, all right?”
“Yeah, sure.” Ollie took a deep breath, then let it out. “I sure hope everything goes OK today.”
“What could go wrong?” Roy asked. “You don’t think Dinah’s having second thoughts…”
“Oh, geez, no!” Ollie said. “It’s just that, well, we’ve got a lot of enemies, don’t we? I guess I read too many comic books as a kid, but super-hero weddings always got crashed by the villains!”
“I used to read those comics, too,” Ralph said. “And those weddings were super-heroes who had no secret identities, like me. I don’t think anything like that is going to happen today.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re probably right,” Ollie said. “Thanks, Ralph.”
Unknown to any, the conversation of the groom’s party was being watched by an unseen pair of eyes. And behind that pair of eyes, a brain worked silently, formulating special plans for this day.
“How do I look?” Dinah Lance asked, turning in front of the full-length mirror in her wedding gown. Even though she had been married before, she chose white for her wedding dress to signify her new life on Earth-One.
“Beautiful,” Zatanna, her maid of honor, said sincerely. “Absolutely stunning. Ollie is one lucky man, Dinah.”
“And he knows it, too,” Shiera Hall agreed. “He talks a lot of bluff, but Ollie knows how lucky he is.”
“Must we wear these infernal things?” Nubia asked, plucking at the billowy sleeve of her powder blue bridesmaid’s dress. “I feel ridiculous.”
“You look wonderful, Nubia,” Sue Dibny assured her. “And it’s great of you to endure the dress for one day, for a friend.”
A smile softened the warrior’s face. “For a friend, yes. I want to thank you again, Dinah. When I first joined the League, I felt out of place — a stranger in a group of old friends. You helped me through that, and I thank you.”
“I felt the same way, once,” Dinah said, “when I moved here from Earth-Two.” Dinah glanced out the window and sighed.
When she first learned and that she was actually the daughter of the original Black Canary with her mother’s memories, Dinah had made efforts to repress some of those memories, particularly the uncomfortable memories of her mother’s relationship with her father, Larry Lance. (*) But after she and Oliver became engaged, she had begun to confront her memories and came to a realization that, even though she might be in her daughter’s physical body, she was still Dinah Drake of Earth-Two, and she retained her memories and possibly even her soul, if such a thing existed. The realization had helped her feel whole for the first time in years.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Where Death Fears to Tread,” Justice League of America #74 (September, 1969) and “The Doppelganger Gambit,” Justice League of America #220 (November, 1983).]
“Homesick?” Shiera asked.
“Not that, not exactly,” Dinah said. “I just wish some of my old friends could be here today. Jay, Alan, Carter… Charlie and Al…”
“Johnny?” Zatanna offered.
“Johnny,” Dinah agreed. “He wasn’t there the first time I got married; he was still crushed that I had chosen someone else. (*) I think he’s well over that now. It’s just sad that all my old friends from the Justice Society couldn’t be here.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Canary is a Bird of Prey,” DC Special Series #10 (Secret Origins of Super-Heroes Special, 1978).]
“But all your new friends from the Justice League are,” Sue reminded her.
Dinah smiled at Sue. “Not friends,” Dinah corrected. “Family. I never had any brothers or sisters, but if I had, I don’t think I could feel any closer to them than I do to all of you.”
“Aw, cut it out, will you?” Shiera asked, fighting back a sniffle. “Don’t make my mascara run before we get out there!”
“Oh, that reminds me,” Zatanna said, looking at herself in the mirror and running her fingers through her long black hair. “I’d better do something to make sure nobody recognizes Zatanna, mistress of magic, in the bride’s party!” Zatanna held up her hair in her hands and concentrated. “eibbeD yrraH kool!” she chanted, and in an eyeblink her hair was much shorter, feather-cut, so light blonde as to be nearly white, with a streak of black down the middle. “There now. That should be safe.”
Sue stifled a giggle. “Debbie Harry?”
Zatanna shrugged. “It was the furthest thing I could think of from my own look.”
“Here you are, sir,” the cab driver said as his passengers got out at the Astra Country Club. “Sixteen seventy-five, please.”
“Thanks,” the tall man in the blue suit said, handing the driver a twenty-dollar bill.
“Change?” the driver asked.
“Keep it,” his passenger confirmed.
“Thank you, sir,” the driver said. “Enjoy your stay in Star City.” The cab drove off, leaving Clark Kent and Kristin Wells in front of the country club.
“I can’t say much for the air travel of this century,” Kristin said. “It was so… slow!”
“Compared to what we’re used to, yes,” Clark agreed. He would have preferred flying to Star City under his own power. But when he had asked his employer for time off to attend Oliver Queen’s wedding, his editor had recognized the name as a formerly wealthy real estate developer who went bankrupt amidst scandal, and insisted that Clark make a working holiday of it by covering the wedding for a journalistic story. This assignment had included air travel arrangements, which Clark and Kristin had silently endured while appearing thankful.
“We’re not late, thankfully,” Kristin said. “Come on, let’s get our seats.”
“In a minute; I want to check in with Hank first,” Clark said, drawing back his coat sleeve to expose the communication device on his wrist.
Thousands of miles above the Earth, Hank Heywood III, the young hero known as Steel, was on monitor duty in the JLA Satellite.
“Clark, hello,” Hank responded to Superman’s call. “Did you make it all right? Has the wedding started?”
“We made it fine, Hank, and the wedding hasn’t started yet,” Clark said. “Everything OK? No emergencies?”
“None so far,” Hank said. “I’ve got a full scan running and all communications channels open. No calls yet, and our sensors haven’t picked up anything. Quiet as a mouse, if you’ll excuse the cliché.”
“Good,” Clark said. “Listen, Hank, thanks again for covering the monitors today.”
“No problem,” Hank replied. “I’ve known Ollie and Dinah a much shorter amount of time. And Wally promised to save me a piece of cake. It’s all good.”
“Great,” Clark said, smiling. “Just don’t hesitate to contact us if the need arises! Clark out.”
“O’Hare, this is TWA 8187,” the pilot said into the microphone, fighting to keep the urgency out of his voice. Despite the white-knuckled grip he maintained on the controls, the plane wobbled heavily as it soared through the sky. “I’ve lost two of my engines. Repeat, I have lost two of my engines.”
“TWA 8187, this is O’Hare,” the traffic controller’s voice responded. “I copy your situation. Can you set her down anywhere?”
“Nowhere to land!” the pilot cried out. “Visibility too poor to try a water landing. I’m losing her, O’Hare! I don’t know how long I can keep her aloft!”
The traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport silently prayed for the doomed flight, knowing nothing could be done.
“O’Hare, this is TWA 8187!” the pilot’s voice came through again. “I have my engines back! Repeat, engines back online! All is normal!”
“TWA 8187, this is O’Hare. I thought the engines were gone!”
“They were!” the pilot affirmed. “We had tried everything, but nothing worked. But they just came back online all of a sudden! It — it’s a miracle!”
“Roger that,” the controller responded, saying a silent thanks. “What is your ETA to O’Hare?”
“Thirty-seven minutes, give or take.”
“Roger. You will be clear for landing on Runway Eight; repeat, Runway Eight…”
A satisfied smile crossed a face that neither pilot nor air traffic controller could see.
“Do you think it will begin soon?” Arthur Curry asked the man to his right in a whisper.
“Very soon,” confirmed J’onn J’onzz, in his guise of Jean St. Jean. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman Family: In Memoriam: Bruce Wayne, Chapter 1: The Remembered and the Forgotten.]
“Good,” Arthur responded, and fidgeted slightly in his seat. He and his wife, Mera, had doused their faces in the bathroom sinks just before taking their seats and had small bottles of water secreted in their pockets in case the ceremony ran long. They were thankful that neither Ollie nor Dinah were overly religious and not given to the longer ceremonies required of some faiths.
As he waited for the ceremony to start, Wally West was reminded of his uncle Barry’s wedding and sighed a little. (*) He hoped Barry would be proud of the man he had become. If everything he heard from Barry’s colleagues were true, he most likely would.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “One Bridegroom Too Many,” The Flash #165 (November, 1966).]
In a hidden laboratory somewhere in Gotham City, a bald man in a white lab coat stood bent over a computer console, making final calculations and adjustments. The air in the room was bitterly cold, frost clinging to every surface that was not warmed by its own inner power source like the computers. And yet the bald man’s breath did not show.
“Perfect,” Mister Freeze hissed to himself. “The calculations are perfect. With the coordinates you have supplied me, my plans will be executed unerringly.” Freeze turned to a uniformed figure seated in a metal chair against the wall. “My thanks again, General. I know you were reluctant at first to give me the coordinates and security codes for the military’s new communications satellite… but you finally saw reason, didn’t you?”
The dead figure in the general’s uniform, eyes wide open with terror and skin tinged a deathly blue from cold, did not respond. Below the two stars on the uniform epaulets, the figure was encased in thick, unyielding ice.
“Yes, a new age is dawning,” Mister Freeze said, making more adjustments to his controls. “The age of ice! With the information you so graciously supplied, General, I will be able to use your precious new satellite to project my freezing beam down from space wherever I want it — a beam wide enough and powerful enough that a single blast will turn an entire thriving city into a frozen wasteland!” The insane scientist allowed himself a moment to laugh. “I have been forced to live away from society ever since my accident made me a freak who must live in bitter cold. But now, society will be forced to live away from me! All the mighty cities of mankind will become polar wastes, fit only for a frozen man to live in! All the weak, warm-blooded fools will be forced to seek existence elsewhere! Perhaps I will leave the deserts untouched… yes, the thought of those preening imbeciles scrabbling out a living in the burning sands of the Mojave delights me. Oh, and Batman… yes, Batman too… eh?”
The evil Freeze saw something out of the corner of his eye. Wary of intrusion into his domain, he swung his head around to face the threat.
And he screamed.