The happy voices of a small but excited group of young men and women filled a hotel meeting room in the city of Metropolis. The room was festively decorated with posters, photos, and green checker-patterned banners. Most of the members wore bow ties or hair bows of that same color scheme. A large table at the front of the room was covered with an odd array of colorful and strange items ranging from the apparently mundane to the obviously bizarre.
Cheers rang out from the eager crowd as a young man with red hair and freckles entered the room and waved to the group. He climbed a few steps to take a position of authority behind the main table. “It sure is nice to welcome all of you to our annual Jimmy Olsen Fan Club meeting. I see some new faces out there, and I’m really glad you all think so much of me. I’m flattered by your kind attention!” said Jimmy Olsen himself.
He continued. “Let me begin our meeting by giving you all a brief tour of a few items I’ve gathered from my career over the years. I’ll do a kind of show-and-tell for a few of them, then we’ll open the floor for any questions you might have.”
Jimmy stood next to a dressmaker dummy and gestured in that direction like a game show model showing a prize. “I’ll make like a male Vanna White and show you an outfit I wore during the brief time I disguised myself as Leslie Lowe, girl reporter!” he said with a grin. (*) “Be prepared, all you future sleuths and reporters out there! Being able to walk in high heels can be just as important in getting a scoop or catching a crook as being able to fly a plane or use a computer!” Laughter greeted his quips.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter,” Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #67 (March, 1963).]
He held up a record. “This was my band’s one and only hit: the Krypton Crawl! I gave the money it raised to charity, but it sure was fun being mobbed by my female fans like a real rock star!” He then held up a slender object. “This quill came from my own body from the time I was turned into a human porcupine! I sure didn’t get any hugs or kisses during that case!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Swinging Superman,” Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #88 (October, 1965) and “The Human Porcupine,” Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #65 (December, 1962).]
He touched a small rocky object and stopped speaking. A powerful voice seemed to echo within his own head. “Tomorrow, when Superman and Batman meet for their charity fundraiser for the Metropolis Police Force, they will unwittingly kill each other, or perhaps only one will die. Letting the other live with the awareness that he caused his friend’s demise will be fitting punishment. Thanks to the vigilance of my partner, if anyone tries to warn them, other people will die due to the devices he has planted in secret locations. Any monitored warning will cue him to set off the bombs. Having the deaths of innocent people on their heads will also serve as a well-earned chastisement for the World’s Finest pair or any of their allies!”
Jimmy frowned. He had been ready to tell his fan club about a meteor that had given him a super-advanced brain for a short while. The remaining fragment of the meteor had supposedly lost its powers long ago, but Jimmy could not deny that contact with the space rock had allowed him to overhear the thoughts of a powerful and sinister mentalist.
“Folks, I’m going to have to cut this meeting short. I’ll make it up to all of you at a later date. Duty calls, and this looks like a job for Mr. Action!” he said grimly.
Later that day, a worried Jimmy Olsen paced as he waited at an isolated spot. He was within an old observatory on a mountaintop equally distant from Metropolis and Gotham City that had been abandoned years ago after frequent landslides had made the road leading to it impassable by most vehicles. The Daily Planet Flying Newsroom helicopter owned by his newspaper had been the only method by which he could access the huge building. Thankfully, the remote-controlled mechanism that opened the dome to allow entry by air was still in good operation, but within everything had a sheen of dust and grime gathered over the years. That combined with the lack of any electric power in the building made it seem lonelier and more remote than ever.
No longer clad in his typical green sport jacket and bowtie, Jimmy now wore a bright red and gold costume. He had assembled a variety of the odd devices he had picked up during his exciting career as one of the Daily Planet’s top reporters and as Superman’s Pal.
“I’m sure glad to see you,” he said eagerly as a handsome, dark-clad young man entered the chamber with a sure and silent grace. “It’s been too long since we last talked. I guess it was after that business with the shrunken Daily Planet.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: The Planet Seekers.]
Nightwing extended one gloved hand to his old chum. “Right. I’m only sorry that we had to meet for a situation like the one you described in your call. Still, it’s appropriate, since you and I may be the only two people capable of pulling this off!” He smiled and added, “It’s even kind of ironic that we form a new Nightwing/Flamebird team due to my name change from Robin!”
Jimmy, in his Kandorian Flamebird costume, nodded. “Right! As you can see, our old meeting place, the Eyrie, was a real mess. (*) Still, it’s secure enough to hold a few gadgets that I hope we can use to save our friends.”
[(*) Editor’s note: Jimmy Olsen and Robin first established the Eyrie in “The Olsen-Robin Team Versus the Superman-Batman Team,” World’s Finest Comics #141 (May, 1964) and used it only a couple of times.]
Nightwing eyed a few of the devices and nodded approvingly. “That thought you detected with the meteor was all too clear. If Superman and Batman meet tomorrow, then they will die. If we try to tip them off to the peril, then others will suffer. They would hate that more than their own deaths. We need to keep them apart at any cost, while also figuring out where their unseen enemy is hiding.”
“There’s no way our pals would hurt each other,” said Jimmy. “How could they be tricked into doing that — mind-control?”
Nightwing frowned as he touched his hand to his head. “No, they would not deliberately do so unless it was by some indirect means such as through some type of germ or disease carried by one to the other. We’d better alter our plans accordingly,” he said, speaking quickly to his old friend. He had been shaped from boyhood by Batman and Superman to be the man and hero he had become. His very name of Nightwing was a tribute to both heroes. He would not allow anyone to harm them.
That evening, as Bruce Wayne read over a few corporate reports from his extensive holdings in the Wayne Foundation, the handsome detective was interrupted by a ghostly figure that materialized within the study of stately Wayne Manor.
The figure was humanoid, male, clad all in silver, and had long blond hair, a beard, and red eyes. He stood silently for a moment, then flickered briefly before speaking. “Bruce Wayne, I know your secret! I know you are Gotham City’s ebony-shrouded champion, the Batman! Come to Gotham Pier 4, or I shall reveal this secret to all!” he said before vanishing.
Bruce jumped to his feet, frowning as the figure faded from view. He removed his dark navy robe and said to himself, “A curious phantasm that wears make-up and has a signal interrupted by electrical surges from the generator below the manor. Obviously, unlike Marley’s ghost, my visitor has more of media than mortality about him.” He hurried to the hidden door leading down to the Batcave and pondered his odd apparition.
Back in the Eyrie, Jimmy Olsen shed his disguise and cut off the holographic projector Nightwing had brought from Titans Tower. “Sure hope that image of me disguised as some supernatural creep will lure Batman to the pier, so I can do what I have to do!” he said. “Better hide my Flamebird costume with a robe or something, so he’s fooled. I need all the advantages I can get, especially since I loaned Nightwing my flight belt. I’ll make use of my Legion flight ring for now.”
Batman reached the city in his Batmobile and quickly made his way to the desired pier. That message came from a hologram, he thought. I know that from the tiny blip of interference in the signal. Even though it was just a broadcast, I could see that the figure was wearing contacts and make-up, although it was skillfully applied. I hope I can lay this fake ghost to rest quickly, so I can meet Superman for our charity benefit for the police of Metropolis. Those brave men deserve all the help we can give them.
He turned to see a hooded figure in a purple robe. “You received my warning? Good. Now prepare to die!” cried the mysterious figure.
Batman noticed the man moved with the speed of an athlete. He waited for Batman to pounce before flying out of his path and firing a strange ray from within the confines of his robe. The energy beam hit Batman, but he felt no ill effect, instead rolling aside and tossing a batarang to disarm the flying man.
His aim was as precise as ever, and his foe dropped a yellow ray gun. Kandorian design, Batman mused as he swung himself skyward and kicked out at the hooded man. The villain yelped in pain and struck out at the Caped Crusader with a martial arts move that missed his foe. It also failed to surprise him.
Batman gripped the man and wrestled him back to the pavement below. “That was Klurkor — a form of martial arts from the lost civilization of the planet Krypton,” said Batman. “Only a small number of people would know about it or have access to Kandorian devices from before the shrunken city was restored on Rokyn. What game are you playing, Flamebird?” he asked as he glimpsed the familiar red and gold costume beneath the robe.
Jimmy Olsen sighed. “I can’t explain. You have to understand that I would tell you if I could!”
Batman frowned as he relaxed his hold on the young man.
Then a new figure stepped out of the shadows and faced them.
“You?” gasped Batman.