by Martin Maenza and Doc Quantum
Standing before a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council and a packed house of representatives from many nations and the news media, nineteen costumed heroes stood at attention and smiled, somewhat nervously. It had only been a few short hours since the world was nearly destroyed, but the JLA had managed to gather all those who had helped save it. Needless to say, they were all a bit stunned as they received their individual commendations.
The speaker was placing a medal around the neck of Icemaiden. “And lastly,” the man said, “to the young woman from Norway who managed to defuse the final bomb in time. Let us hear it for this group of global guardians!” The room erupted in applause.
Will MacIntyre stood in costume with the other heroes, smiling and happy. Here he was, alongside the other heroes who helped the Justice League of America defeat the threat against the planet, and he was being honored along with them. He could barely contain his enthusiasm, and he wondered if his friends and family back home were watching him right now.
The Gaucho leaned over to him and whispered, “You did good, kid.”
“Triumph,” Will replied. “That’s what I’ve decided to call myself.” For triumph he did against the villain.
There were several more photo opportunities during the press conference that followed, as many wanted their pictures taken with the heroes from around the globe. “Where’s the Justice League?” one of the reporters shouted out.
“Off saving the world again, no doubt,” the Legionary replied with a smile.
Someone tapped Triumph on the shoulder. It was the Musketeer. “Mon ami, if you don’t mind,” he said, motioning the Canadian over to a small group of the other international heroes.
“Yes?” Will asked.
“A number of us were talking,” the French hero said, “about how well we all came together in a pinch to help out.”
“Perhaps it would be beneficial for us to work together more often,” Thunderlord added, “especially in times when the Justice League is not available.”
“I can see how that would be beneficial,” Tuatara chimed in, a knowing smile beneath his full-face mask.
“Really?” Will said.
“Sure thing, kid,” the Gaucho said. “And we thought Canada’s newest hero might want to be a part of it.”
“Heck, yeah!” Will exclaimed.
“We could invite others to join us, too,” the Bushmaster suggested. “I know this lady in Brazil…”
The Gaucho caught his look and grinned. “You mean…?”
Together, both heroes from South America said, very enthusiastically, “The Green Fury!”
After the ceremony at the United Nations, the international heroes had all gathered at the Club of Heroes to continue their discussion in private when Superman and Batman arrived. They had returned only moments after the battle in Antarctica from an adventure in the thirtieth century with the Justice Society of America from Earth-Two and the Legion of Super-Heroes from that future era. (*) As soon as they learned what had happened in their absence, they paid a visit to the Club.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis in the 30th Century,” Justice League of America #147 (October, 1977) and “Crisis in Triplicate,” Justice League of America #148 (November, 1977).]
“Great moons of Krypton!” exclaimed Superman as he entered the meeting room, a proud smile on his face. “Supergirl told me all about how the Justice League and all you international heroes saved the world from Grax!”
“I knew all of you in the Club of Heroes were good,” said Batman, “but I had no idea how good you were!”
The various international heroes greeted the World’s Finest Team, who were co-founders of the Club of Heroes. Soon, all the events of the last several hours were told in detail.
“Grax had us beaten!” explained the Gaucho animatedly. “With Zan and Jayna struck down, we thought we had no chance. And then…” The Argentinean hero turned and looked around for someone standing shyly at the back of the crowd, and he began motioning him to step forward. “…Will MacIntyre, here — Canada’s great hero, Triumph — did what none of us were able to do. He struck at him with a bolt of lightning while Grax was all wet — and saved our lives!”
“I’m very pleased to meet you, Triumph,” said the Man of Steel, extending his hand to the young man. “You did a fine job.”
“Thank you, sir,” Triumph managed to say, despite finding his throat suddenly dry.
“Well, that clinches things,” said Superman, glancing at Batman. “The Club of Heroes has outgrown us!”
“And as far as I’m concerned,” said Batman, “you and all the other international heroes are ready to be a real team to rival the Justice League itself.”
“We agree, and we’ve been talking about just that,” said the Rising Sun. “But what would we call ourselves?”
“The Club of Heroes name is available,” the Squire said with a smile.
“Or even the Batmen of All Nations!” laughed the Legionary.
“No,” Will said, emboldened by the praise of his heroes. “I have a better idea! Something the speaker at the U.N. said before. How about the Global Guardians?”
The others all nodded their heads, agreeing on the name. And thus the team was born. In the days to come they would have a lot of work to do organizing their large, almost-unwieldy team together, even with the assistance and funding of the United Nations. A new headquarters would later be provided for them in Europe, but until then the Club of Heroes in Metropolis would act as Global Guardians Headquarters.
Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins, were offered a place in the new team, but while they were flattered by the offer, they declined to take it up. The Wonder Twins were needed on their homeworld of Exor, where they were the planet’s champions. They left, promising to visit again soon.
But the world was not yet safe from the machinations of Grax. Although all his bombs had been defused, and he had been captured, the four-armed, blue-skinned alien genius still possessed a dangerously intelligent twentieth-order brain. Because of that, he had mocked his rival Brainiac himself for having a mere twelfth-level brain. The fact remained, however, that Grax had never used his vast intelligence well. He had allowed his schemes of revenge to consume him, causing him to act irrationally.
Thus, despite his brief setback at the hands of what he considered to be a human child barely out of his adolescence, Grax was not without resources, and he would have his revenge. While the Justice League transported Grax to the prison planet of Kronis, the alien genius remotely activated his spacecraft elsewhere in the solar system to head to Earth, specifically to the Club of Heroes in Metropolis — soon to be ground zero in an explosion that would that very night wipe Metropolis and all its citizens not only from the map but from history itself. The overloaded time/space drive in his spacecraft would be devastating. Grax’s only regret was that he would not see the destruction of Metropolis and much of Earth for himself.
By that evening, the various international heroes in the new Global Guardians team had all returned to their homes, but Will MacIntyre had been invited to stay at the Club of Heroes for a few days with the blessing of both the Club’s members and John Mayhew, the well-known millionaire philanthropist who had built the Club of Heroes nearly a decade earlier. The wealthy, middle-aged man had suffered several health setbacks recently, but he was able to congratulate the young man by video-phone from his home on the outskirts of Metropolis.
“I’m very pleased to see how my little club has inspired a new team,” said Mayhew, his voice somewhat weak. Will could tell, even from this video conference, that the older man now resting in bed did not have many years of life left to him. “It seems so long ago that I challenged Superman and Batman to perform the greatest feats over a few days to choose who would be chairman of the Club of Heroes. I remember, back in the dark days of World War II, when it seemed that the world would never be united as it has been, first under the United Nations itself and now with the Global Guardians. And look how far we’ve come.”
“Well, I know we’re all grateful for your help, sir,” said Triumph.
“I want you to know, and I’ve already mentioned this to Superman,” continued Mayhew, “that when I die, I plan to donate all my wealth to the Club of Heroes, and thus also to the Global Guardians.”
“Thank you so much, sir,” said Will, trying not to point out that the old man had begun repeating himself. It seemed that, besides his other ailments, he was also suffering from dementia. “We really couldn’t have done it without you. I–”
At that moment, the lights went out, and John Mayhew disappeared from the video screen. Will frowned and rose from his seat. Looking around, he could tell that there was no power anywhere in the building. “What the heck is going on?” he muttered to himself.
Stumbling around in the dark, Triumph caused his hand to spark with electricity to light his way. He was on the top floor already, so he made his way to the rooftop to get a better view. “That’s weird,” he said, looking around at the vibrantly lit-up Metropolis at night. “There’s power everywhere else, so why…?”
Will MacIntyre was unable to finish that thought as he spotted an object in the night sky hurtling quickly toward him. It looked like Metropolis was about to be struck by an alien spacecraft, and Superman was nowhere in sight to stop it. But Will was a hero. He had helped capture Grax, hadn’t he? And he was a member of what he was sure would become the world’s greatest team of super-heroes someday. There was only one thing he could do. He would try to stop it himself.
Taking to the air, Triumph soared up to meet the falling spacecraft, and he acted. His powers, although ostensibly electrical, actually drew from electromagnetic energy. Even at a distance Will could tell that the spacecraft was surrounded by a powerful electromagnetic field that was quickly building up to what he was sure would be an explosion powerful enough to take out the entire city, if not the entire Eastern Seaboard. Without another thought, Will did something that he had only attempted on a small scale before — he began to draw the spacecraft’s electromagnetic energy into himself.
Only milliseconds passed, but it felt like hours to Will as the energy in the field began overloading his body with more power than he thought he could handle. He struggled to stay focused, knowing that the fate of the world might rest in his hands just as they had on so many heroes that day. Everyone else had left, and even Superman was nowhere to be found. It was up to Triumph to save the world. He had gotten his wish, sure, but he was wondering what price he would have to pay because of that.
In mere seconds, Triumph had amassed incredible, indescribable power, turning the spacecraft from one last world-shattering bomb into a hulk of alien metals. It was his one shot, his last chance to be the hero he had always wanted to be.
Will MacIntyre had targeted the spacecraft and gave it everything he had to safely destroy it before it could strike the city. It was his moment of triumph. And then both he and the spacecraft disappeared from existence.
“Will? Will?!” cried John Mayhew, frowning as the screen went out. “Where are you, my boy?”
“He’s gone, John,” said a deep voice, slightly accented with an obscure dialect of a language long dead.
“Who?” said Mayhew, turning around to find the source of the voice. He saw the familiar, bearded face of the African standing at his bedside, dressed in a regal dark suit and looking no older than he had the day they first met four decades ago. “Oh, it’s you. What do you mean he’s gone? Who’s gone?”
“Will MacIntyre,” said the African. “Triumph. He has vanished from time and space on the eve of the founding of my Global Guardians, just as I foretold.”
“Yes, I know about the Global Guardians,” Mayhew said with a frustrated tone. “But who is this Will you keep mentioning? I’ve never heard of him.”
“And now neither has the rest of the world, thanks to a remotely detonated time/space drive in Grax’s ship,” said the African sadly. “It’s thrown Triumph out of phase with the time stream, and no one on Earth except I remember that he even exists. The role he played in the founding of the Global Guardians has been forgotten. And not even I know if the boy will ever return to our time continuum. Another of my long life’s many regrets, I’m afraid.”
“What in the world are you muttering about now, Doctor?” asked Mayhew.
“Never mind. It’s of no consequence,” said the African, forcing himself to smile kindly. “The reason I came… well, I’ve come to say goodbye, John. You’ve been a good man… my greatest agent of good in the world. But your work is done. The heroes of the world have united under a common banner, and the Global Guardians has been born. I must prepare to meet them soon, as a stranger rather than the patron I’ve always been in secret, but that time has not come not just yet.”
Smiling weakly, John Mayhew sighed and said, “Well, I’m pleased to see how far my little club has come. It seems so long ago now when I challenged Superman and Batman to perform their greatest feats to choose who would be… chairman…”
“I know, John,” said Doctor Mist as he watched the old man slowly sink into his final sleep. “I know.”