Justice League of America: Earth Once Removed, Prologue: The Usual

by HarveyKent

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“Gimme ‘nother one, Ray,” said a dark-haired man with a black goatee, stirring slightly from his position, slumped on the bar. Roy Pinto, bartender to the felonious clientele of the Bar Sinister, always knew when this particular customer had had too much; the master criminal called him Ray, rather than Roy.

“Time to cut you off, Doc,” Roy said. “You’d better get on home.”

Lifting his head, the bearded man slammed his fist down onto the bar. “I said gimme nutter!” he growled.

“Doc, it ain’t healthy, drinkin’ yourself to death like this,” Roy said placatingly.

“Ha!” the bearded man snorted. “S’OK, Ray. Drink ain’t gonna kill me! Th’ Jussiss League is gonna kill me. I’ve seen’t. Yeah. Saw it plainezz day…” His rage spent, the bearded man lay his head down on the sticky bar top and began to snore loudly. Roy clucked his tongue and turned away, preparing to call the bouncer.

“Evening, Roy,” a man with dark curly hair said, seating himself at the bar a few stools down from the snoring man. “Artie’s in his cups again, I see.”

“Seems like it, Mark,” Roy acknowledged. “Your usual?”

“You know it,” Mark said.

“One Hurricane coming up,” Roy said, mixing the drink. “You know, Mark, it’s too bad you hadn’t come around yet back when I was doing the super-villain thing. What a team we’d have made!”

“Never too late, Roy,” Mark said. “You’ve still got your powers, don’t you?”

“Sure, but I gave that up after having my head handed to me twice,” Roy said, thinking of his short-lived career as the Electric Man. (*) “By the way, I heard you got a good whupping by Flash and Green Lantern. What are you doing on this side of the Stoney Lonesome?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Menace of the Electric Man,” Adventure Comics #254 (November, 1958) and “When Gravity Went Wild,” Justice League of America #5 (June-July, 1961).]

“Yeah, they nabbed me,” said Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard. “But I had a miniature version of my wand stashed in the heel of my shoe and managed to escape with it. I’m holing up until I can come up with a new plan.”

“Pity,” Roy said, handing Mark his drink. “Your last plan sounded like a beauty.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think it could miss!” Mark said, raising the glass. “And it nearly didn’t! By disguising myself as Len, the heroes prepared themselves for a subzero attack, and I laid them out flat with my other weather-weapons! If those interfering make-believers hadn’t–“

What did you say?” came an insistent voice from Mark’s left. The bearded man was now awake and alert, his eyes very wide, staring at Mark intently.

“Geez, Artie, I thought you were sleeping!” Mark cried. “I was just tellin’ Roy here about my last caper–“

“Tell me,” Artie insisted. “Tell me, quick!

“Well, there was this Halloween party in Central City, a fundraiser for a new crime lab or somethin’,” Mark said. “I disguised myself as Len, see, and Flash and Green Lantern thought I was Len, so they figured all they had to deal with was Len’s cold-gun. So I caught ’em flat-footed with my lightning bolts and tornadoes.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: The Flash and Green Lantern: Party Fervor.]

“And it worked?” Artie asked, insistently.

Sure it worked!” Mark said. “But some of the other creeps at the party horned in, and I — Artie, where ya goin’?”

But the bearded man was racing out the door of the Bar Sinister, almost colliding with a small, wiry man coming in as he ran out.

“What’s Artie’s hurry?” the small man asked as he approached the bar.

“Beats me, Ed,” Roy said with a shrug. “Your usual, right? Shot of bourbon in a Dixie riddle cup?”

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