Deep within the Fortress of Science created by her brother, Lena Luthor sat across from the green-hued artificial humanoid named Brainiac. He spoke in a cold, metallic echo, yet his eyes held a warmth that was almost human.
Lena, who wore a pink skirt and a white blouse with a pink bow in her long blonde hair, was a sensitive person who could receive mental flashes that foretold the future in a vague, dreamlike way. She now received a good feeling emanating from the creation of her brilliant brother.
“Why did you want me to teach you about being human?” she asked the android. “Alex is much smarter, and Lois has lived a more experienced life going back to her Daily Planet reporting days.”
“You are much prettier than either of them. I like you,” he said simply.
She smiled and said, “I think you may be more human than you imagine. First things first: You need a normal name, not just Brainiac. How about John?”
“John Smith,” he said. “I like that as a human name. It seems very average, and that is something one such as myself craves: to fit in, to belong.”
“Do you think Alex’s plan will work?” she asked. “Can the Crime Syndicate be trusted to defeat the Lawless League?”
“I calculate that they have the raw power to do so,” the android replied, “but they may be defeated by unknown factors — x-factors that defy even my probability determinants. However, I will promise to do my best to aid Alexander in finding a way to keep this world and you safe from them all.”
Lena kissed him on the cheek, and the artificial man felt oddly moved by her contact.
Perhaps this is what emotions are like, he mused inwardly. I feel a need to be with Lena and protect her. That in itself would seem to be beyond my capabilities. Speculation: My self-repair function may be improving me with regularity and thus enhancing my every ability until I become almost human.
Meanwhile, Alexander Luthor was trying to raise a signal from the Crime Syndicate of America. No one replied. He had secretly bathed them before first placing them within their prison bubble with an odorless, colorless spray that would show up on his scanners and thus allow him to keep track of them should they escape. Now he wondered if they had merely triumphed or had even died. Loss of life would perhaps interfere with his tracking, as some human pheromones were altered by loss of life.
Little did Luthor realize that, in a manner of speaking, the Crime Syndicate members had ceased to exist.
Days later, a strong, agile middle-aged man wearing a ragged, dirty gray coat made his way through an alleyway in Gotham City and searched through the trash bins there for food. He was dirty and looked dazed or drugged, yet no one challenged him in his wanderings.
Then one day he fell behind an Italian club where the city’s Mafia dons dined on expensive food and costly wines. He sat in the half-frozen mud and breathed in slowly.
“Who am I?” he said through clenched teeth, but no memory would come to him. “Who? Who? Think, man — how did you get this low?”
Listening as his keen ears heard a muffled cry, he quickly rounded the corner to see two men in dark suits with their guns drawn. They stood over a fallen figure and dragged a boy toward a waiting limo.
“Hey, you brainless excuses for Homo Erectus,” he found himself saying. “Release that child, or I’ll hurt you! Be slow about it, and I’ll hurt you worse!”
“Look,” sneered the heavy mobster, “some old bum wants to be a tough guy!”
“Hey, he’s a regular one-man army!” muttered his ally as the bum smashed his nose with a swift punch and kneed him below the belt with one smooth motion. He shoved the mobster in his partner’s path and kicked the gun out of his waving hand. A second sudden thrust knocked the heavy man cold.
The kid was about fourteen years old, and he smiled appreciatively at the homeless man. “Wow! That was amazin’! You took down two top enforcers without even breakin’ a sweat!”
“What goes on here?” shouted a large fat man in a costly suit who ran out to the boy with two gunmen trailing behind him.
“Ricky, what’s the meaning of this?” he asked as the limo sped off. “I see the Maroni gang’s top men spread out next to your guard. Did they try to grab you?”
“Yeah,” said Ricky. “But, Pop — this guy came out of nowhere and saved me.”
“I did my part, nothing more,” said the bum. “I could not let the child be harmed by those thugs. I don’t hurt children. That one rule I know, though I am at a loss about much else.”
The fat mob boss turned to his son and the bum. “You’re now under my protection, for I am greatly indebted to you. Come with Ricky and me, and we’ll feed and clean you up. What’s your name?”
The skillful fighting bum nodded with appreciation, but confessed with a shrug, “I… I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
“Well, you got lucky today, pal,” said the boy’s father. “You saved my boy, and that means you are in good with me. Boss Zucco takes care of his friends.”
The former Owlman smiled strangely, still unaware of his own identity.