In the weeks that followed, the Futurian was a growing presence in the super-hero community. It seemed he was everywhere. In California, he helped Green Lantern put out an oil refinery fire. Off the coast of Los Angeles, he assisted Aquaman in rescuing a party boat full of wealthy film stars from Black Manta’s raiders, although the villain himself escaped. In Central City, he and the Flash captured Captain Cold in the act of robbing the diamond exchange. He had several solo adventures as well, battling the Royal Flush Gang in Las Vegas, rescuing flood victims in Alabama, and capturing the Shadow-Thief in New York. He was all over the news; as the newest super-hero on the scene, he was a hot news item. Every newspaper and TV station scrambled for an exclusive interview with him.
It was Tawny Young who got it.
“Naturally I want to keep my identity — and how I acquired my futuristic weaponry — secret,” Futurian said into the camera. “I just want everyone to know that they can count on the Futurian whenever the need arises. It’s my goal to be a full-time presence in the ongoing struggle against crime and injustice, and I want all the bad guys to know it.”
“You’ve been working with a lot of older, established heroes since your debut,” Tawny said. “Tell me, do you have plans for joining the Justice League?”
“I’ve admired and respected the heroes of the Justice League ever since they first got together,” Futurian said. “And working with some of them has been an honor for me. As for joining, well, they haven’t asked me.”
In the communications center of the JLA Satellite, Green Arrow replayed the broadcast for his assembled audience, which included Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Green Lantern, and Steel.
“Well, gang?” he asked. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” Batman said, rubbing his chin. “I don’t deny the good work this Futurian has done these past couple of months. But he’s still pretty much a rookie, isn’t he?”
“Come on, Bats,” Green Arrow said. “The Atom hadn’t been at it much longer when he was voted in. Firestorm, neither.”
“Point taken, Ollie,” Superman said. “I’ll also take your point, before you make it, that while we don’t know much about this Futurian, the same could be said of several of our members. Still, I’m not sure he has what it takes to be a Leaguer.”
“Oh, here we go,” Green Arrow said in exasperation. “That’s exactly the kind of attitude that led to my leaving this group for a while. (*) You get on your high horse and talk about who’s got what it takes to join the League and shut Black Lightning out, then cram Firestorm down our throats whether we like it or not.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Stellar Crimes of the Star-Tsar,” Justice League of America #181 (August, 1980), “Testing of a Hero,” Justice League of America #173 (December, 1979), and “The Siren Song of the Satin Satan,” Justice League of America #179 (June, 1980).]
“Ollie, that’s uncalled for,” Aquaman said. “Ronnie has earned his place on the League as much as you or I have.”
“I know, I know,” Green Arrow said. “I even like the kid. What I don’t like is this country-club attitude we sometimes get whenever it comes time to elect a new member.”
“Well, Ollie, Arthur, Hal,” Zatanna said, “you’ve all worked with this Futurian. Ollie, we know what you think of him; what about the rest of you?”
“Well, he’s impressive,” Green Lantern said. “That armored suit of his can do almost anything! Reminds me of that guy in the comic-books. What’s his name? Steel Man, or something?”
“He is an efficient fighter, all right,” Aquaman said. “Works well in a team situation, too. I’ve found that sometimes, when working with younger heroes, they’re either so infatuated that they’re too star-struck to be useful, or they resent an older hero’s presence, thinking we’re trying to boss them around. I saw evidence of neither when I worked with the Futurian.”
“I hope you weren’t thinking of me with either of those examples, Aquaman,” Steel joked.
“Well, heck, I think the least we can do is give the guy a shot,” Elongated Man offered. “Test-drive him, so to speak.”
“What? I hope you don’t want us to dress up like villains again, like we did with Black Lightning,” Green Arrow said. “That was downright embarrassing.”
“No, nothing like that, Ollie,” Superman said. “I think we can offer him a trial membership in the League. Privy to none of our secrets, as we are to none of his, until we get to know each other better. Is that acceptable?”
“Better than nothing,” Green Arrow said, shrugging.
“Hey, Future Boy,” Green Arrow said as the armored man flew down to the observation deck of the Star Tower. “Glad you could make it.”
“How could I turn down an invitation from the Justice League of America?” Futurian asked, shaking hands with Green Arrow.
“Well, I wasn’t sure you’d read the notice in the Daily Star. Not exactly the Daily Planet, is it?”
“Not quite, no. But I’m a fan of Ollie Queen’s column. How’d you get him to place it? He a friend of yours?”
“We bumped into each other a few times, back when he was rich. But enough about that. I bet you’re wondering what the JLA wants with you.”
Futurian smiled. “Would I be arrogant to assume it’s an offer of membership?”
“It’s kind of like that,” Green Arrow said. “Some of the guys who haven’t met you can’t yet make up their mind about you. The best I could do was a trial membership for now. Once they get to know you, I’m sure you’ll be in like Flynn.”
“The best you could do?” Futurian asked. “Did you propose me for membership?”
“I did,” Green Arrow admitted. “You impressed me back there in the park. And it isn’t easy to impress me. Just ask Hawkman.”
“Green Arrow, I — I don’t know what to say,” Futurian said. “Well, I guess thank you is a good start.”
“It’ll do for now,” Green Arrow said, smiling. “Just try not to screw up, OK? You’ll make me look bad.”
The two men shared a laugh over that.
Later that night, in the basement of a bankrupt hotel somewhere in the Midwest, a group of men and women met in secret and darkness.
“It’s the waiting that gets me,” the Scavenger complained. “How much longer do we have to wait?”
“Until he shows up,” Captain Boomerang snorted. “He’s the most important part of our plan — never forget that.”
“Of my plan,” Doctor Light corrected. “Never forget that, Harkness.”
“OK, OK, don’t get your neon in a knot,” Boomerang said. “We all acknowledge that you’re the bloke who had this bright — pardon the pun — idea, and got us all together to do it. In the end, though, what’s it matter?”
“Harkness is right,” Poison Ivy said. “When it’s all over, it doesn’t make a bit of difference whose idea it was. As long as it works.”
Doctor Light was about to reply, when the sound of shattering glass cut him off. All heads turned sharply to see the Futurian landing in the center of the room.
“All right, I’ve found your secret lair,” he declared. “Your game is up, Secret Society! Surrender now!”
Silence hung in the air for a moment. Then Doctor Light started to laugh. Everyone in the room joined in the laughter, including the Futurian.
“Manning, you’re a scream!” Poison Ivy laughed. Captain Boomerang and the Scavenger thumped the Futurian on the back. The other villains present shared in the hilarity until Doctor Light returned the meeting to order.
“So none of the heroes suspect anything?” Light asked the Futurian.
“None,” the armored man answered. “As far as they know, I’m just the newest super-hero on the scene!”
“Well, all the good deeds you’ve been doing have certainly been convincing,” Light said.
“It was nice of Clinton, Snart, and Sands to let themselves get captured,” Futurian said. “Lends to the illusion.”
“They lost the coin-tosses,” Light shrugged. “They know we’ll break them out, once we’ve eliminated the Justice League.”
“Yeah, but I’ll bet Manta and the Royal Flushers’ll be peeved when they learn what happened!” Boomerang snorted.
“They won’t mind,” Futurian said. “It’s all for a good cause.”
“Or an evil one,” Poison Ivy purred.
The villains shared a laugh at that. “How about the hypno-light treatment I gave you to alter your speech pattern?” Light asked. “Any backsliding?”
“Hell, no!” Futurian said. “I couldn’t talk the way I used to, if I wanted to!”
“So how’d the meeting with Green Arrow go?” Clock King asked.
“Perfect!” Futurian said. “He was so taken in, he’s proposed me for JLA membership!”
“So you’re in?” Poison Ivy asked. “That quickly?”
“Not quite,” Futurian explained. “It’s a trial membership at first, until they make their minds up about me. I won’t learn any of their identities or have unsupervised access to their headquarters — yet.”
“We can wait,” Light said. “A few more staged fights, a couple more disasters averted, and they’ll trust you enough to share all their secrets! And then we strike!”
“I’m just worried about Superman recognizing me,” Futurian said. “He’s the one I used to fight regularly, you know!”
“Don’t worry,” Light said. “He has no reason to suspect, since we’ve reworked your alien weapons from their old design into their new, futuristic look. And if he happens to peek under your helmet with his x-ray vision, Dr. Thorne did the plastic surgery to perfection.”
“Yeah, Manning,” Boomerang added. “Crikey, if I didn’t know it myself, I’d never guess you used to be the Terra-Man!”
“Welcome to the Justice League, Futurian,” Superman said with a smile. The Futurian returned the smile and looked around the room. They were almost all there: Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkman, Zatanna, Wonder Woman, the Elongated Man, Black Canary, and, of course, Green Arrow, with whom he had beamed up to the satellite. Everything was going according to Doctor Light’s plan.
“I’m honored to be accepted into your group,” Futurian said, speaking his rehearsed lines perfectly. “I only hope I can prove myself worthy of full membership.”
“I’m sure you will, Futurian,” the Flash said. “Sorry about the trial membership thing. I know it makes us seem overly cautious. But in our line of work, you can’t be too careful, you know?”
“Flash is right,” Green Lantern said. “Remember how the Red Tornado first joined the group? Infiltrating us for T.O. Morrow!”
“Yeah, but he went on to prove himself a bastion of the League,” Green Arrow pointed out. “And we’ve got to reason to think anything like that is going to happen now.”
“No one said we did, Ol — Green Arrow,” Aquaman said, catching himself before he gave away Green Arrow’s identity. “We were just saying–”
“That’s all right, Aquaman, I understand,” Futurian said. “And I also understand the caution. After all, six months ago, no one ever heard of the Futurian. I’ve got a lot of proving to do, to make Justice League standards. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes.”
“Well said,” Superman nodded. “All right, then, I suppose the first thing to do is for you to go on patrol with some of our members, so we can observe you in action.”
“Some of us have already done that,” Green Arrow pointed out.
“Thank you for volunteering, G.A.,” Superman said. “The Futurian can patrol with you tonight.”
Green Arrow shrugged. “Fine by me. OK if I turn in my progress report now, and save time?”
“All right, all right. Sheesh, it’s obvious our yellow sun doesn’t give you a super-sense of humor. Come on, Fute, let’s go make the world safe for democracy.”