“This bites!” Speedy shouted, kicking over a chair in the meeting room. “Running back to the satellite with our tails between our legs — licking our wounds while that frog-eyed fink holds the Earth hostage!”
“If you have a better suggestion, Cupid, let’s hear it,” Kid Flash countered.
“Better suggestion?” Speedy roared. “We’re the heroes! The good guys! We don’t stop fighting until we win or we’re dead! That’s my better suggestion!”
“I find myself agreeing with Roy,” Wonder Girl said, and Kid Flash gaped in shock. “We can’t just give up!”
“We’re not giving up,” Aqualad pointed out. “A direct attack failed; we were outgunned. We need to come up with another plan!”
“Yeah?” Speedy asked, and all eyes turned to Robin. “How about it, Redbreast? What’s the new plan?”
Silence hung for a moment, and then Robin sighed. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?!”
“But the Earth is counting on us! We–”
“Don’t you think I know that?!” Robin snapped. Then he relaxed. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I don’t know what to do. Aqualad is right — we are outgunned. Kanjar Ro brushed us back like flies. We can’t do it alone, like this. I’m sure, if we had time, we could come up with the answer — but we’re fast running out of time.”
“We need help,” Aqualad suggested. “But with every adult hero on Earth gone–”
“On Earth!” Wonder Girl cried. “What about Hawkman, the Martian Manhunter? Former JLAers who are off-world right now? We could summon them with their JLA communicators–”
“Thought of that,” Robin said. “Once they got here, they’d fall victim to Kanjar Ro’s weapon, just like the others. You heard him; he was genuinely surprised that it didn’t affect us, so he likely doesn’t know why the age factor protected us from his dimensional prison trap. But it would get any adult hero we called in.”
“Swell,” Speedy said sarcastically. “It’s a shame there are no kid heroes around who could kick his butt!”
Robin’s head suddenly snapped up in Speedy’s direction, and slowly, a broad grin split his masked face. “That’s it!” Robin raced across the room and grabbed Speedy’s shoulders. “You genius! That’s the answer!” Robin released the startled archer, then raced into the JLA communications room. Before his stunned teammates could follow, he sealed the door behind them.
“Apparently I’m a genius,” Speedy said. “Who knew?”
“I certainly didn’t,” Kid Flash offered.
“I don’t get it,” Aqualad said. “What did you say? What did Robin think of?”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Wonder Girl said confidently. “But I think we’ve all known Dick long enough to trust him. If he says he’s got the answer, he’s got it.”
Three heads nodded in assent.
Twenty minutes later, the door to the communications room slid open with a barely audible hiss. Robin walked out, an expectant look on his face. “That’s that,” he said. “All we can do now is wait.”
“Wonderful,” Speedy said. “Care to tell us what we’re waiting for?”
Robin held up a hand for silence and looked at the monitor screen. It showed Kanjar Ro atop his floating platform, waiting for word from the U.N. officials. Robin and the other Titans watched the screen for a tense, silent minute.
Then Robin grinned again. “For that,” he said.
A tiny speck appeared in the upper corner of the screen — a speck that soon became a swiftly rocketing blur, a blur of brilliant blue that crashed into Kanjar Ro’s energy-shield — and rocked it almost to the shattering point, upsetting the alien conqueror and knocking him off his feet.
“S-Superman?” Wonder Girl gasped.
“It can’t be!” Kid Flash cried. “Can it?”
“Fellow Titans,” Robin said, gesturing toward the transporter tube, “shall we join the fight?”
Kanjar Ro struggled to maintain his energy-screen as the blue-and-red-clad form continued to hammer against it. The young heroes saw this from above as they erupted from the JLA transporter tube atop the U.N. Building.
“He’s doing a lot more damage to that force-field than we did!” Kid Flash stated.
“But not quite cracking it,” Wonder Girl observed. “Shall we give him some help?”
“You’re playing my song, Wonder Doll!” Kid Flash cried enthusiastically. “I’ll join you for the chorus!” With that, the teen thunderbolt took off down the opposite side of the building from the conflict. Wonder Girl knew what he was doing; in the blink of an eye, he would run as far in the opposite direction as he could, to the very edge of Manhattan Island to build up momentum, then run all the way back at top speed and strike the energy screen with all the force his super-speed could muster. Smiling, Wonder Girl launched herself off the top of the building, plunging down at the energy-field fists first.
“Nice of them to forget those of us who can’t fly,” Aqualad said drily.
“Grab an arm, each of you,” Speedy said, drawing an arrow from his quiver. “This parachute-arrow takes up a lot of room in my quiver, but just now I’m not complaining!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Wonder Girl saw Kid Flash approaching, little more than a golden streak. They had timed it perfectly; they would strike the energy screen almost simultaneously. And Superman’s blows continued to hammer down.
Wonder Girl did a double-take. That wasn’t Superman.
But before she could ruminate further, she, Kid Flash, and the figure in blue struck the energy-screen within mere nanoseconds of each other, and the tortured field collapsed in a brilliant greenish-gold flash and a sound like a bug zapper electrocuting an oversized fly. The energy backlash knocked Kanjar Ro off his floating platform, and he fell fifteen feet to the street below.
“Now that’s teamwork!” Kid Flash said with a smile, turning his head to the figure whom he believed to be Superman. “Am I glad you showed up, Su — Superboy?!”
“Hi,” the teen of steel said with a grin.
As Kid Flash gaped in surprise, Kanjar Ro half-raised himself and lifted his energy scepter. But before he could activate it, the weapon was snatched from his hand by a green arrow with a pincer-attachment for a head.
“You’ve been a bad boy, Kangar Roo,” Speedy quipped. “We have to take your toys away!”
“Hey, gill-head,” Robin said, “let’s try out that ‘special fastball’ we’ve been working on!”
“Ready when you are,” Aqualad said, grinning. Kanjar Ro had already scrambled to his feet, his fingers moving to his belt.
Robin did a backflip and landed with his feet firmly planted on Aqualad’s outstretched hands. The prince of the sea used all the strength of muscles that had developed under thousands of pounds of water pressure, and hurled his old friend like a shot-put. Robin used his acrobatic skill, flipped in the air in mid-flight, and landed feet-first in Kanjar Ro’s chest. The villain went sprawling, and Robin landed expertly on his feet.
“Nice move,” Speedy said to Aqualad. “You guys ought to trademark it.”
Kanjar Ro was not quite unconscious, even after that, but he had not the strength to avoid a golden lasso suddenly looping about his shoulders. He felt his will drain away.
“Now, tell me, Kanjar Ro,” Wonder Girl commanded. “How do we return the heroes you captured? How do we free them?”
“My… my wrist-control,” Kanjar Ro stammered, trying in vain to fight the effects of the lasso. “The controls for the extra-dimensional prison are there. With it… y-you can free them! Blast!”
“But don’t do it just yet… Wonder Girl, was it?” Superboy said. “Let me get back to my own time first; no telling what will happen if Superman and I suddenly co-existed in the same time!”
“Thanks for the help, Superboy,” Robin said, shaking his hand. “It was good to see you again.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superboy Meets Robin the Boy Wonder,” Adventure Comics #253 (October, 1958).]
“And you,” Superboy said. “All of you, it was a pleasure meeting you.”
“Uh, likewise, I’m sure,” Speedy said, still a little nonplussed. As long as he could remember, he had looked up to Superman, and even after meeting him in person several times, he still couldn’t get quite used to seeing a version of Superman that was younger than himself.
“Thank you again, Superboy,” Wonder Girl said.
“We’ll be seeing you,” Kid Flash promised. “Well, when you grow up, I mean.”
Superboy grinned. “I’ll be looking forward to it.” With that, he rocketed away into the sky.
“Bizarre,” Speedy commented, “even by our standards.”
A little while later, the adult heroes had been freed, and Kanjar Ro returned to the prison planet from which he had escaped. The Justice League of America and the Teen Titans were gathered on the JLA Satellite.
“Thanks again for having our backs, youngsters,” the Flash said. “It’s always comforting to know we can count on you in a crisis!”
“We had the best teachers,” Kid Flash replied.
“Okay, Robin, spill the beans,” Speedy said. “How in the world did you get a message to Superboy in the past?”
“I’m wondering about that myself,” Superman said with a wry smile.
“Huh?” said the Elongated Man. “I don’t get it! Aren’t you Superboy? I mean, weren’t you? Don’t you remember?”
“I don’t remember a thing about it,” Superman said. “I used to use a hypnosis machine on myself, to make myself forget any vital knowledge about the future I may have learned in my time travels. I guess I used it this time.”
“Well,” Robin said, “the fact is, I didn’t get a message to Superboy in the past, but in the future.”
“Come again?” Green Arrow said, raising an eyebrow.
“Of course!” Aqualad said. “When Superman was Superboy, he often traveled to the far future, to join a group of young heroes there! The League of Super-Heroes, I think!”
“Legion,” Batman and the Flash said simultaneously.
“Wait,” Speedy said, the clouds starting to part. “You mean–?”
Giving no response in words, Robin walked to the still-closed door of the communications center. The other heroes followed him. The door slid silently open, and Robin entered. The other heroes saw a metal cylinder, roughly the size of a fire extinguisher, resting on a tabletop. Inscribed on the cylinder were the words: TO BE OPENED BY THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE YEAR 2975. Beneath it were strange characters that some of the heroes present recognized as the same message in Interlac.
“Well, I’ll be,” Green Lantern said, smiling.
“I recorded a message for help and sealed it in this time capsule,” Robin said.
“And a thousand years from now,” Kid Flash said, “Superboy will receive it in the future, and come back to the present and help us stop Kanjar Ro!”
“I think I know just the place to stash this capsule,” Superman said, “to be assured that it will be found at the proper time.”
“Excellent strategy, Robin,” Batman said, a touch of pride in his voice. “Most excellent.”
“Wally said it best, Batman,” Robin said. “I had the best teacher.”