by Steed703 and Doc Quantum
Los Angeles, Earth-One, July, 1986:
Buddy Baker was passing the time window-shopping at a store with his wife Ellen, having left the kids with neighbors for the day. Suddenly, she turned to him and said, “You know, sometimes I stop and think how crazy it is being married to you. In other marriages, the husband has to deal with corporate takeovers, payroll problems, infidelity… You, on the other hand, deal with gigantic robots, big-headed yellow aliens, time-travel… and that’s pretty much all in a day’s work.”
“Well, honey, it’s not really that much different from turning fries at a McDonald’s,” joked Buddy with a shrug. “It’s all relative, really. We all have our jobs to do.” She returned his comment by crinkling her nose in disbelief, then led him into a lingerie store that had caught her eye.
“Wouldn’t I look really cute in this?” said Ellen, showing Buddy a very nice piece of lingerie.
As Buddy started to think about the things that they could do with that, a teenage boy, with obviously nothing to do but run into a ladies’ underwear outlet, shouted, “Hey, turn on Channel Seven!”
“This is Janet Whitten, Channel Seven News. As I’m speaking, downtown Los Angeles is being attacked by what appears to be… a giant frog. As I speak, the creature has already damaged Los Angeles City Hall with… oh, this can’t be right. What? … Really? Apparently, this giant frog has damaged City Hall with its giant tongue!”
Buddy, in total amazement, replied, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“How long is this gonna take?” Ellen sighed. But before she could get an answer, he kissed her on the cheek and was out the door.
Buddy, shedding his outer clothing and pulling his half-cowl and goggles over his head as he soared through the sunny skies of Los Angeles with the flying ability of a bird, raced to the scene in the blue and orange costume of Animal Man.
But as he soared up over a building, he suddenly struck something solid that he hadn’t seen until it was too late.
A few moments later he came to, looking up at the huge creature that was towering over the city. “Okay, obvious question, but what the hell are you?” he said aloud, speaking to himself as he rose to his feet on the rooftop where he’d fallen.
“Its name is Frogzilla.”
Startled, Animal Man turned around, looked down, and saw, to his great astonishment, a talking turtle.
The turtle opened its beak and spoke again. “Tuh answer yer questions right quick, I’m what yew ran into five minutes ago while I was racin’ over th’ rooftops. I ain’t from your world, and darned if’n I know how to stop this thing!”
Buddy Baker felt his head for a moment, wondering if he’d had a concussion and was seeing things. The most jarring thing about this experience, strangely enough, was that the talking turtle had an accent from the deep south.
“Uh, hello…” he said finally, when he was quite sure that what he was looking at was no illusion. “I’m Animal Man, this is my city, and I’m not about to let some giant Warner Brothers character mess up where I live.”
“They call me Fastback,” said the turtle, his beak turning into a smile. “If’n you don’t mind me saying so, you got there a right funny name.”
Ow-Stinging, Gnu York, Earth-C:
“This is Rova Barkitt, reporting for KCAT News from Sting Sting Prison in Ow-Stinging, Gnu York, where it has been reported that the mutant amphibian monster code-named Frogzilla, has escaped from the C-47 compound. What makes this strange is, there’s no sign of a break-out, or a break-in, for that matter. And there is no trace of him anywhere on Earth. KCAT will get back to you when more information develops.”
Rova, usually a correspondent for KCAT’s entertainment show, Putting on the Dogs, was doing some extra work to pay for an expensive, one-of-a-kind designer dress for the upcoming movie industry’s Ostricha Awards.
The Bunker, Detroit, Earth-One:
Guy Gardner, one of Earth’s many Green Lanterns and the self-styled “One, True Green Lantern,” was eating a lunch from Big Belly Burger. All the other members of the Conglomerate were away right now, and he was sitting back with his feet on the meeting table, trying to enjoy a moment of relaxation to himself. If only the nagging little voices in his mind that constantly spurred him on and gave him a constant chip on his shoulder would give him a moment’s rest as easily.
Then the phone rang, and his train of thought along those lines was disrupted once more, as always. “Hello?” he said, answering the phone in a grouchy voice.
“Guy? Hey, this is Buddy. Are you sitting down?”
“Uh… yeah, Baker, what’s up?” Guy inquired, munching on some fries.
“Right now I’m in L.A., fighting beside a talking turtle against a giant frog,” Buddy replied, not really believing it himself. “That’s what’s up.”
Guy frowned. “Yeah, and I just crapped a pink elephant this morning,” he replied testily. “Screw you, Baker.” He slammed down the phone. “Wise guy.”
The phone rang again, and again, and again. It kept on ringing until the answering machine was activated.
“Guy, will you pick up the phone?” said Buddy. “I know you’re there! I’m completely serious, Guy! You know I’ve never gone in for practical jokes like Ted Kord always did.” Buddy sighed audibly. “All right, Guy. Have it your way. But if you change your mind, get your green butt over to L.A. as soon as possible. Just turn on the damn news, and you’ll know I’m telling the truth.”
As the answering machine beeped and clicked off, Guy grunted and finished his burger, grumbling all the while. Finally, more out of curiosity than anything, Guy used his power ring to turn on the TV and flip through the channels until he found a live news feed. Then his jaw dropped. This was either the most elaborate practical joke ever, or it was all true.
Guy Gardner decided he might as well look into it.
Ow-Stinging, Gnu York, Earth-C:
Rova Barkitt, relaxing a bit at her hotel room and starting to doze off, heard a voice in her head. “Rova,” the dreamy voice uttered. Rova, thinking she’d had too many Baskerville martinis, shrugged it off. “Yankee Poodle.”
She stood at attention, still wearing her brand-new dress. “Who’s in here?”
An apparition of purple haze then appeared before her. In the smoke, a pair of feline eyes appeared. Then a flash of violet lights formed a figure, a feline who was very familiar, but nevertheless spooky-looking in this context. “Hi, Rova! It’s me, Felina Furr!”
“What in the world are you doing?” asked Rova, frowning. “I thought you were some kind of ghost or something!”
“Of course not,” said Alley-Kat-Abra. “I’m just a bit busy right now looking into a strange situation. It’s too complicated to go into right now, but I had to go through the spirit channels to reach you this way. All other lines of communication have been blocked off.” Before Rova could say anything else, Felina shook her head and added, “No time for questions. You’re needed to help prevent an event of epic proportions that may eventually destroy reality as we know it.
“Time is really of the essence, so I’ll explain. There is a form of mysticism called ‘unitropy,’ or ‘universe-jumping.’ Few mystics have ever been able to tap into this power. But a very powerful being has, and has opened unitropy rifts in certain time-streams. Timmy Joe has accidentally fallen through one of the rifts, as has Frogzilla, to some other reality. And that is where you must travel. You must find this ‘Los Angeles.'”
“Y’mean Los Antelopes?” asked Rova.
“No — Los Angeles. It’s that world’s version of Los Antelopes.”
“But what in the heck is an ‘Angeles’?”
“Don’t question it,” said Abra. “There are a lot of strange things about this world you’ll be visiting.”
“Okay…” Rova replied, a little shaken by the news.
With a wave of her hand, a harness of white light took form in the apparition of Abra’s palm, and then Alley-Kat-Abra relayed a final message. “Rova, I can’t take you through one of the rifts, but I can guide you to the area where Fastback disappeared after Frogzilla.” Abra frowned as if remembering, and added, “Oh, and yes, I do remember I still owe you a pair of shoes. Where do you want to go shopping when this universe-shattering, world-altering event ends?”
“Um… let me get back to you on that,” Rova creaked. “For now I should get going, hmm, dahling?”
As the apparition of Alley-Kat-Abra raised her arms, a purple haze engulfed Rova Barkitt, who went spinning around, and in a moment she ended up in a desert outside of Felix, Califurnia, where she landed right on her nose.
“You know, you really have to work on your landings,” Rova replied, rubbing her nose. “Why can’t you just take me directly to this universe that Fastback is stationed in?”
“Because I can’t expend any more power through the spirit realm like this from so far away. But don’t worry. When the time is right, I will return to be by your side and the rest of the Zoo Crew.” Abra finally left, with only the image of two shining eyes. “Goodbye for now, my friend.”
“Okay, it’s gotta be around here somewhere,” Rova said, looking around. After a few moments, she found a shimmering hole in midair that seemed to lead to someplace else. “This has got to be it. That, or I’m on the set of Steergate. Here I go. You’d better be here, Timmy, or I’m gonna give you such a pinch!”
As she stepped through the portal, lights of various colors swirled around her, and moments later she ended up someplace else. She was on a high rooftop in a forbidding-looking city at sunset. “Why do I have the feeling that I’m not in this ‘Los Angeles’?”
“‘Cause you’re in Gotham City,” said someone from behind her.
When Rova turned around, both she and the figure who had spoken were startled at each other’s appearance.
“Whoa!” said Robin the Boy Wonder, stepping back. A moment before he had seen this small figure appear on the rooftop. He had investigated immediately, thinking it was a child or a midget with a strange white Afro and wearing a miniature-sized dress, but he wouldn’t in a million years have expected to see what was now standing before him.
“Well… that would explain… uh, probably nothing, right now,” said Rova. Noticing the amazed look Robin had on his face, she added, “I have a feeling you’ve never seen a talking poodle before.” As he continued to stare at a place below eye level, she pointed to her mask and said, “My eyes are up here, kid.”
“Oh, sorry, sorry,” said Robin awkwardly. “No. No, I haven’t seen anyone quite like you before. Who… who are you?”
“They call me Yankee Poodle, and I’m just dandy,” said Rova, reaching out to shake his hand. “Or at least that’s what I’m called in my work clothes. From what I somewhat know about this universe, most humans don’t dress like you.”
Slowly, Robin bent down a bit and shook her hand, still amazed that she was real. “I-I’m Robin, the Boy Wonder.”
“Don’t you mean Boyd, the Robin Wonder?” said Rova with a wink.
“Huh?” said Robin, not getting the reference.
“Never mind, kid. Inside joke,” said Rova. “Now, can you tell me how to get to this ‘Los Angeles’?”
“Um… sure,” said Robin. “Los Angeles is in California, nearly five thousand miles from here, and… just where are you from, anyway? What are you doing here?”
“I can’t explain that right now, cutie, but I’ve got a feeling I might see you again sometime,” said Rova. “Well, babe, I gotta get going. Could you point which way out of Gotham on the way to Los Angeles?”
“Well, you would take west,” said Robin, pointing, “thataway.”
Rova, with her powers of animal magnetism, formed a striped bridge in the air and headed west. “So long, kid!”
“So long,” said Robin, returning the wave. As she traveled into the setting sun, Jason Todd realized what had just happened, but wasn’t sure what to think. “I’ve just spoken with a talking poodle… and… she had boobs.”
A moment later, the Boy Wonder opened up the radio communicator on his belt and contacted his boss. “Hey, it’s Robin. We deal with a lot of strange stuff, right? Well, hear me out, but I just finished having a conversation with a talking poodle that I think was flirting with me, and… No, I haven’t been taking drugs — really!”