Showcase: The Secret Six: Wanted, Chapter 4: Second Chances

by Doc Quantum

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A dark-haired, lithe Sami girl walked out of the forest and into the snowy valley where this particular tribe had made camp.

A young man on a snowmobile rode up and stopped beside her, waving to her and smiling. “Hello!” he said in the Sami language.

“Hello,” the girl replied in the same language.

“I am Johannes Svonni. Who are you?”

“My name is Annika Mikaelsson,” she said, curtseying politely. “I have come for to see whether the tales of the man who lives comfortably in freezing weather with no furs is true or not.”

Johannes studied the girl for a while, and then replied, “Aye, it’s true, all right. But it’s not supposed to be known to outsiders.”

“I am not an outsider,” Annika said, smiling.

“Mmm. I suppose not,” said Johannes, noting her beauty. “Tell you what — I can bring you to see him personally, although if he doesn’t want to see you, I can’t do much about it.” He motioned for her to sit behind him.

Annika hopped onto the snowmobile and held onto him.

“Are you married?” Johannes shouted over the din of the speedy snowmobile after a couple of minutes.


“Neither am I,” he replied, and said nothing else until they reached their destination — a lonely log cabin built on a steppe.

Johannes jumped off of his snowmobile and walked up to the cabin, motioning for her to stay there. A few minutes later, he came back and called her over.

“He’ll see you,” he said to her, smiling.

She walked up to the cabin, and as she noticed Johannes following her there, she said, “Do… you mind if I see him for myself alone?”

Johannes looked hurt. It was obvious to her that he was barely out of his teens. He nodded silently.

“We can talk more later,” Annika said. Johannes smiled back at her and went back to his snowmobile.

Annika opened the cabin door and stepped inside. The interior somehow looked larger than she’d guessed from the outside.

There were tables full of chemical beakers and shelves filled with many books, and medical equipment lay around everywhere. There were a few electric and electronic devices she recognized, as well as a few she’d never seen before and could only guess at their purpose. She realized that there was probably a generator somewhere behind the cabin powering these devices.

The first thing she noticed was that the temperature inside the cabin was actually colder than outside. Annika kept her traditional Sami fur coat on and walked around the spacious cabin, looking at half-finished experiments and several books opened to certain passages.

The back door opened, and Annika turned to see a somewhat-muscular man with pale, almost blue, white skin who was completely naked, except for a thin pair of shorts. He also wore dark goggles to protect him from becoming snow-blind, and he appeared to be sweating, despite the extremely low temperature both outside and inside.

“Mister Freeze, I presume?” Annika said in perfect American English.

The man stopped in the open doorway and sighed heavily. He’d been expecting this.

Walking over to a closet, he grabbed a blue cloak and put it on. “You’ve caught me at a disadvantage, Miss,” he said. “You appear to know my nom-du-crime, and I do not know who you really are. You’re obviously not really a Sami girl, are you?”

Annika Mikaelsson removed her wig and her outer clothing and rubbed the makeup off her face. “I am called the Black Orchid, Mister Freeze, and I’ve come here to bring you back to prison.”

Mister Freeze sighed again and sat down on a wooden chair. “You people never stop hounding me, do you?” he said.

“That’s ironic,” said Black Orchid, smirking, “considering that two of the last few times you broke out of jail you attempted to freeze all of Gotham City and loot it in the process, which seems to be your preferred M.O.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Summer Nights, Winter Days,” World’s Finest Comics #275 (January, 1982) and “The Glacier Under Gotham,” Batman #375 (September, 1984).]

“I had my reasons at the time,” he said, laughing himself. “I wanted to make Gotham City my personal domain of ice. After all, it was in Gotham that I had the accident that changed my cellular structure, dooming me to endure the rest of my life in cold. (*) I thought it ironic if I could make that city — the city of the Batman — into my own personal city-state.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: Mister Freeze: Times Past, 1978: Virtue and Ice.]

“You’re completely mad.”

“On the contrary,” Freeze replied, pointing his finger up to make his point. “I merely had some… issues to work out. But I’m feeling much better now.” He grinned wickedly.

“Why are you here?” Black Orchid asked him. “Why surround yourself with the Sami?”

“Kindred spirits, I suppose,” Mr. Freeze said. “Although it’s not the Sami themselves who I feel most at home with, although they are a good source of company — a man could go mad from the loneliness otherwise — no, it is the reindeer that are most akin to me.”

Black Orchid laughed. “You’re not telling me that you’re an animal lover now, are you, Freeze?”

“‘Animal lover’?” he scoffed. “Far from it. As a scientist — a free-thinking scientist, of course — I merely find their physiognomy fascinating. Many years ago, I believed that their ability to not only withstand extremely cold temperatures, but to thrive in them, could be the key for me to discover the secret of my own physiognomy. I dismissed that theory long ago, but they still provide a source of comfort for me. The Sami gave me one for local travel purposes. He’s out back; I call him Blitzen. I’d originally thought of Rudolph, but that would’ve been so passé, don’t you think?”

“There are reindeer in Alaska and Canada as well, Freeze — it would’ve been closer for you.”

“Yes, there are, but my grandmother on my mother’s side happens to be from this part of Sweden. Alaska and Canada are too close to Gotham City for my purposes. Can’t have ol’ Bats decide to make a quick, easy trip up north on the basis of a rumor. If he was going to chase me down, I’d make it a bit harder for him.”

“I think it’s time to take you back to America, Freeze.”

“Please… don’t,” he replied, actually sounding earnest in his plea.

Black Orchid studied his face skeptically.

“I have no plans to continue on in a criminal life any longer, Miss Orchid. I know that in a typical scenario, you and I are supposed to be battling each other as a super-hero and a super-villain ought to do, but must we follow that tiresome cliché? My only goal, now, is to reverse the accident that changed me into what you see before you. I merely wish to become a normal man again.”

“Oh, please. You made the choice to become a criminal. You chose to be Mister Zero long before you were Mister Freeze.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Ice Crimes of Mister Zero,” Batman #121 (February, 1959).]

“True enough, I did so choose at the time. But can a man not see the folly of his ways a little further down the road? ‘All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.'”

“John Locke?”

“You know your quotes,” said Mister Freeze, impressed. “All I ask is that I be given another chance — to start over with a new life. All this equipment you see before you is part of that. I know I’m on the verge of a breakthrough, and if you take me away to see justice, it may be many years again before I’ll ever be this close again.”

“You’ve been changed back to normal before,” said Orchid. “I’ve read your file.”

“Yes, and after that happened, I abandoned my criminal career!” Freeze exclaimed.

“But weren’t you serving your prison sentence during the whole time you’d been cured?” she pointed out. “And afterwards you went back to crime.”

“Only after my body reverted back to the way I am now. (*) And the steam treatment won’t work a second time. It would only kill me. Have you any idea how hard it is to live on the fringes of society? Unable to live a normal life? Do you really want me to remain this way?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Mr. Freeze’s Chilling Deathtrap,” Detective Comics #373 (March, 1968).]

“This may be hard for you to believe, Freeze, but I do understand what it’s like to live on the fringes of society. And… I am going to give you a second chance. Even though this is really more like a third or fourth chance for you. Don’t make me regret it.”

Mister Freeze smiled and rose from his chair. “You have my undying gratitude, Miss Orchid,” he said sincerely.

“Don’t con me, Freeze,” said Black Orchid, pointing in his face. “I’ll know when you step out of line. And you will, too, because I’ll be right there.”

“You have my word,” he replied.

The Black Orchid turned around and walked out of the cabin through the back door, wondering how much the word of a career criminal like Mister Freeze really meant.

She looked down sadly as she flew away in the high wind and saw Johannes Svonni grooming Blitzen, unaware that his fair Sami girl was gone forever.


Onyx completed three hours of meditations and opened her eyes.

She found herself still in the same place she had been in when she’d begun: on board the S.S. Nautilus, in the cabin that Captain Mark Compass had provided for her.

The middle-aged Captain Compass had been, in years past, a troubleshooter and investigator for the Penny Steamship Line, of which the S.S. Nautilus was part, and although he was now living in semi-retirement on this particular boat, he was still called upon by his former employers from time to time for his skills as a consultant on certain discretionary matters.

A knock at the door startled Onyx out of her reverie.

“Miss Onyx?”

The mysterious martial arts expert looked up as the kindly face of Svea Marie Compass looked down at her from the half-open doorway. “I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

“No, not at all,” Onyx said, smiling.

“Mark and I would like you to join us for dinner in the captain’s mess. Our cook made a vegetarian meal just for you.”

“Thank you very much,” replied the young woman. “I will be there shortly.”


Later, as the group finished their dinners, several shouts could be heard only a few moments before an explosion rocked the side of the ship.

“Blast!” shouted Captain Compass. “I was hoping we’d be prepared for something like this, but they’ve struck again without any warning whatsoever!”

“What is your decision, Captain?” Onyx said quickly.

Captain Mark Compass stood there and scratched his graying temples, while frowning and looking at the young woman up and down. “I don’t like the idea, not one bit. But nevertheless I think you may be right about it.”

Onyx smiled and slipped out of the room like a ghost.

“Do you really think she’ll be all right, Mark?” Svea asked her husband, holding him close as the resounding noise of cannon-fire and cries struck through the ship.

“I don’t know, Svea. To look at her, you’d think she was just a young girl. But Batman has assured me of her skill. I — I just don’t know. All we can do now is pray for the best.”

“Avast, ye swabs!” a startling figure shouted as he swung onto the deck of the S.S. Nautilus with twenty strong men alongside him. “Ye’re done fer now!”

The leader of this band of modern-day pirates was definitely dressed the part. He wore swashbuckler’s shoes and garb, and he had a black goatee and a black eyepatch over one eye. He was the former restauranteur Karl Courtney and present foe of the Batman who called himself Captain Stingaree, and he was having the time of his life.

The crew of the Nautilus was quickly subdued within several minutes and, due to the quick actions of Captain Compass, none had died, and few sustained any serious injuries.

“Ye be a smart one, Compass!” laughed Stingaree as he leaped off the now-useless husk of the Nautilus back onto his own corsair. His men had looted the boat of all its precious cargo and had destroyed the engine entirely. Captain Stingaree wasn’t afraid of killing his foes if necessary, but he was as good as his word when he told them that nobody needed to die if they did not resist.

With a final laugh at the smoking ruin of a ship, now dead in the water and only able to float, Captain Stingaree sped his corsair at an impossible speed away, before seeming to disappear entirely in the dim twilight.

“How did he do it?” Compass muttered to himself as he watched the boat disappear from view, and he silently said a prayer for his young friend.

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