by Doc Quantum, based on Super Friends #7 by E. Nelson Bridwell
Will MacIntyre, a tall, strong-looking young man of eighteen, strolled through the streets of Metropolis with a backpack, occasionally stumbling on the street curb as he walked. He could not keep his eyes from staring up at the WGBS building and the surrounding majestic skyscrapers. This was his first time in Metropolis. This was his first time anywhere. “Wow.”
He had graduated from high school in Vancouver, British Columbia, a few months ago and had decided to go backpacking south of the border for a few months before finally looking into going to university as his mother had wanted him to. He started out in Washington state and ended up in Metropolis, USA, the home of Superman — his hero.
The Man of Steel had been Will’s hero ever since Superman was Superboy and Will was just a toddler. Will had several scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings of Superman’s adventures, most of them written by Clark Kent, Lois Lane, or Jimmy Olsen of the Daily Planet. True, Clark Kent was now a television anchorman instead of a newspaper reporter, but Will was still determined to meet these three journalists and through them perhaps even meet Superman himself.
In itself that was not an unusual thing. Many people from all walks of life, young and old, had come to Metropolis for similar goals. Some had even tracked down Clark Kent or Superman’s other friends to do so. Will MacIntyre, however, was somewhat unique. He was determined to become a super-hero himself — Canada’s second one after Hyperman debuted over a decade earlier — and he had the super-powers to do so.
Will steadied himself as he walked ever closer to the WGBS building, still staring up in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the legendary hero. This made trying to keep from walking out into traffic by accident rather difficult. He could easily protect himself from being hurt, of course, but a real super-hero would not endanger the lives of others so foolishly, Will knew.
As he neared the skyscraper within which many of his dreams were hinged, Will began to think of what he would say when he finally met Superman. The first step, of course, would be to have Mr. Kent write up the story of his debut, and everything else would fall into line after that. After all, he was in Metropolis — the big city of big cities. This was the place where all his ambitions would come to fruition.
Half an hour later, Will MacIntyre walked out of the WGBS building with a hangdog expression on his face. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen had both been too busy to see him, and Clark Kent was nowhere to be found. It even seemed to him that producer-fellow he spoke to looked like he was about to have a nervous breakdown due to Mr. Kent’s disappearance (and all those ulcer pills he swallowed didn’t seem to help him). Oh, well, Will thought to himself, I guess I’ll have to wait another day before my big debut.
And just as he imagined his hero Superman doing in his secret identity — whoever he was — Will snuck into a nearby alley to keep any bystanders from noticing his appearance. Then he flew out into the sky and out over the bay toward Gotham City. He figured that while he was already here he might as well try to meet Commissioner Gordon, and through him his second favorite hero, Batman.
At the Club of Heroes in Metropolis, built by wealthy philanthropist John Mayhew as an exclusive club for the heroes of the world to gather to relax and share stories from their individual casebooks, five out of the eight founding members sat in the dining room and engaged in discussion with each other. The other three founding members, Superman, Batman and Robin, had rarely visited the club since it had been built eight years ago. (*) However, the remaining founders — the Knight, the Squire, the Musketeer, the Legionary, and the Gaucho — had become close friends since then. The fact that they had been inspired to heroics by Batman, gaining for them the name of the Batmen of All Nations, was another common factor uniting them. And while they had gained very few new members over that period of time, mostly thanks to the Justice League of America and other hero teams making their club fairly redundant, the five had made good use of their club in their individual crime-fighting careers.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Club of Heroes,” World’s Finest Comics #89 (July-August, 1957).]
Time had not been kind to any of them, however, and they were mostly all in semi-retirement or working on other projects. In a world where criminals with super-powers and futuristic weapons were running rampant, of what use could the non-powered Batmen of All Nations be? They could each tell that their time in the spotlight was over; the new breed of super-powered international heroes that had cropped up over the last few years had only confirmed this to them.
As the Musketeer and the Legionary had a heated discussion on whether or not the countries of Europe should join together in a political and economic union, and the Gaucho entertained the Squire and his father the Knight with his homespun brand of Argentinean humor, an alarm rang out in the office of their chairman — Superman — effectively ending their conversations.
The Knight — alias Percival Sheldrake, the Earl of Wordenshire — threw open the chairman’s office and glanced at the readings on a monitor device left there by Superman for emergencies. “Good Lord!” exclaimed the hero from the United Kingdom of Great Britain as he realized what he saw. “It appears that an extraterrestrial spaceship is careening through the atmosphere towards the hills outside of Gotham City!”
“But the super-heroes of Earth are all busy,” said the Musketeer of France. “Superman and Batman are away with the Justice League…”
“Wonder Woman is on Paradise Island…” continued the Legionary of Italy.
The Gaucho of Argentina added, “Aquaman is rescuing shipwrecked sailors…”
“And Robin and the Teen Titans are off on a case, too!” finished the Squire, alias Cyril Sheldrake; this young man was the son of Percy Sheldrake, and he was the crime-fighting partner of the Knight.
“Which leaves us to see who — or what — is in that ship!” replied the Knight as the five heroes headed for the exits.
Meanwhile, Will MacIntyre was soaring over the skies of Gotham City, lost in thought. “Oh man, what am I doing?” he said to himself as he began to think twice about his plan. “From what I’ve read, Gotham City doesn’t approve of any vigilante crime-fighters other than the Batman himself or his allies. What if Commissioner Gordon wants to arrest me for… for violating U.S. airspace or something? Or worse yet, what if Batman doesn’t like me?”
A loud thundering sound roared just behind and above the young would-be super-hero just then. “What the–?!” Will cried out as a huge projectile whizzed at high speed above him. At first he had thought it was a jet, but he had never seen any jets that had looked like that before. “Holy crap! That’s a spaceship… a — a real, live spaceship!” Will quickly focused his electromagnetic power on the metallic craft and trailed it as it headed toward the hills outside Gotham City.
The five international heroes from the Club of Heroes arrived from Metropolis at the spot where the spaceship was nearing. “There it is, Knight! It’s about to land!” said the Squire.
“It looks like we’re the only ones here to meet it, too!” added the Musketeer.
“Ehhh… not quite!” said the Legionary, who pointed out what looked like a streaking ball of electricity in human form closely following the ship.
The small craft crashed in a solitary place in the woods, and after a long, quiet moment, the door was raised open, and two humanlike figures crawled out cautiously. They resembled each other closely, as if they were twins, looking very much like elves with black hair, dressed in purple acrobatic suits. The female and the male began to converse in their alien language as they kept a lookout for the inhabitants of this world.
Suddenly they saw a figure moving toward them, and as it stepped into view, the two extraterrestrials saw that it looked similar to them, except for the corona of energy surrounding its body and its strange clothing. It was Will MacIntyre, who had by now burned off his outer daily clothing and wore only the costume his mother had sewn for him. The costume was orange and black, with a purple cowl, cape, boots and gloves, and a lightning bolt on his chest. The young man stood still, staring in wonder at the aliens before him. First contact, Will thought to himself. Cool.
The male gestured at him and spoke, and the two decided that caution was the best course. After all, they had no idea what capabilities this Earth creature had. They touched their hands together, there was a flash of light, and immediately the two began to transform. The female changed into a strange-looking beast with a long, snakelike tongue and eyes attached to the head only by long tendrils. The male turned into what looked like a self-generating waterspout.
At that moment, the five members of the Club of Heroes arrived at the site of the crash in the Knight’s airship and saw these strange beings, as well as the costumed Will MacIntyre. “Sacre bleu!” exclaimed the Musketeer. “It is a monster — and some kind of a water-being!“
“They don’t look very friendly,” said the Knight.
“And look — who is that?” said the Legionary, who pointed at Will.
Will began to speak. “I’m–“
Then the men all saw the monster keel over and apparently become weak. At that, the male in the form of a waterspout turned himself toward her, and the two returned to their original, humanlike forms once again. The male held the female cradled in his arms.
“They are talking, but I cannot understand them!” said the Gaucho.
“Let’s see if they know English,” said the Squire.
“Hello!” said the Knight as the five walked cautiously toward the two. “Do you speak English?“
The two elf-like aliens looked at each other and seemed to pause for a moment before the male spoke with a strange accent. “Yes! Thank the heavens we can communicate — my sister and I learned one of your Earth languages before we came here, but we could not be sure that those we met would speak in this same language.” The male looked earnestly into the faces of the international heroes. “Listen… we have come to warn your world of great danger!“
“Yes,” continued the female, “we discovered on our planet of Exor the lair of a villain called Grax!“
“He’s one of Superman’s old enemies!” remarked the Legionary, recalling one of the many cases he had reviewed back at the clubhouse.
“We overheard him recording his plans,” the alien girl continued. “He said that he was going to destroy Superman’s adopted world in revenge, and that he had planted twelve special bombs — one on each of Earth’s six visible continents, one on an unseen continent, and one each on five inhabited islands!”
The Knight spoke for the others. “We’d better return to the Club of Heroes building and contact the Justice League!“
“Oui,” said the Musketeer, “this is a job for as many heroes as possible!“
“Excuse me,” said Will, who had been virtually ignored since the five heroes began communicating with the alien twins.
“What are you doing in that costume?” asked the Squire. “You’re not Lightning-Man!”
“We all know that Lightning-Man was really Superman under the effects of red kryptonite,” said the Legionary. “And you’re no Superman.”
“No, I’m not Superman,” Will began, hoping the nervous ache in his stomach wouldn’t get any worse. “I designed my costume after the one Superman wore when he became the chairman of your Club of Heroes. I read about it in the newspapers. It’s sort of an homage to my hero. I even thought I’d call myself Lightning-Man, at least until I find a better name to use.”
“Well, whoever you are, you could come in handy right about now,” said the Knight as he grinned and extended his hand to shake Will’s. “Come with us if you want to save the world.”
At that, Will’s eyes became as wide as saucers. His dream of being a hero was beginning to come true.