Crime Syndicate of America: Earth-Three Remembered, Chapter 1: The Deadly Duo

by Libbylawrence

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Continued from Crime Syndicate of America: The Forgotten Earth

Johnny Thunder watched as Hypernion tore apart the Tower of London with his bare hands. Centuries of majesty crumbled to dust because one of the Lawless League wanted to make a point.

“People of England!” shouted Hypernion, his voice carrying across the entire United Kingdom. “In 1776, you declared your independence from America after your victory in the British Revolution. That era is over! You are now a part of the New American Empire as ruled by the Lawless League. Your Princess Sarah is to surrender herself to me in three hours. She will be the new mate of Hypernion, and like her people, she will submit to our iron rule.”

Johnny whispered to the Kryptonian, “I don’t get it, Hypernion. How didja get rid of the Crime Syndicate, again?”

The handsome Last Son of his alternate Krypton said, “I told you before, Johnny. We used Atalanta’s lasso and the Martian Warlord’s mental powers to rob them of all memories of both their identities and their very selves. Then we dressed them in ordinary clothes and released them around the nation. They still live, yet have no idea that they were once masters of this world. Think of the delightful irony. They live in pathetic secret identities, if they have discovered any name for themselves at all.” His laughter was thunderous, and Johnny tried hard not to flinch as the villain’s mirth boomed around him.


In Gotham City, the amnesiac Owlman had been taken in by the Boss Zucco gang and had developed a real friendship with the young, hero-worshiping Ricky Zucco. Five months had passed. Al Grey, as the middle-aged man was now known, was clean-shaven and well-dressed as he lived the life of a mobster’s bodyguard, looking dapper with his slick-back dark hair with graying temples. He had grown to like the boy as if he were his own son, and he realized that he would want to protect him even if he was not being paid to do so. Something about keeping children safe resounded in his mind, though he knew no more of his past than ever before.

Al and Ricky trained together as he showed the bright and agile boy how to fight, shoot, and use his senses to track and observe all that happened around him.

“Notice that woman’s ankles?” he said one night as he sat around the Zucco table at the posh night spot called Zucco’s. “They’re too large. She’s a man in a dress and wig.”

Ricky Zucco smiled. “Yeah, you’re right. Why would he dress up like that unless he’s after us?”

Al Grey nodded. “He’s most likely going to make a move on your dad. Don’t worry. I’ll stop our man in pantyhose.”

Patting Ricky on the shoulder, Al eased around the table to approach Boss Zucco’s office door. All the while, he watched the man in the evening gown via the wall mirror. He moved with such silence that Zucco did not hear him approach as he spoke with one of his top killers.

The fat man leaned back in his seat and said, “I don’t like the way Al is becoming such a hero to Richard. A kid should look up to his old man, not some nameless old bum. We gotta get rid of him. Just get him alone and slit his throat. Ricky will think he deserted him, and soon enough he’ll forget all about him.”

Al frowned and slipped inside quietly. He waited in the shadows as first Zucco’s gunman left the room, and then, as he predicted, the man in the dress slipped inside.

“Zucco, you’re gonna die for what you did to Big Jim Gordon’s son!” said the hitman.

Slipping up behind him, Al Grey closed his hands over the hitman’s throat. He fell to the floor in a faint.

Zucco smiled. “You saved me again, Al! I won’t forget that. You’ve made Richard your little shadow over the last few months — that I won’t forget, either.”

Al Grey approached with a predator’s grace and whispered, “Too bad I overheard your plans for me. Too bad I failed to stop that hitman before he shot you. Too bad I’ll raise Ricky myself, you slug!”

He picked up the hitman’s gun and — just as the gang leader looked like a deer caught in headlights — shot Zucco cleanly through the heart.

What Al hadn’t realized was that young Ricky Zucco had followed him to the door after he’d noticed the hitman slip inside. He had heard and seen everything, and his eyes filled with tears as he backed away. His mind raced, and one thought filled his brain. I’ll kill Al for killing Dad, but to do it I’ll need to be as good as he is. The only one who could make me that good a fighter and thinker is Al himself. I’ll pretend to believe in him and beg him to make me his partner, and as I learn with every minute, every day, every year, I’ll become equal to him, and when he trusts me years from now, I’ll kill him!


So it went. For motives unknown to the amnesiac Owlman, young Ricky Zucco became his ward and partner. He taught him ceaselessly until he had become a very capable fighter and thinker. But in the weeks that followed his assumption of the Zucco empire’s wealth and power, the man called Al Grey suddenly remembered everything.

His keen mind and subtle mental powers had allowed him to recover his identity and memories before his more powerful teammates in the Syndicate would. Thus, he knew himself to be Dr. Thomas Wayne, alias Owlman, and knew that he had lost a fortune and a family estate of his own years before.

Owlman told Ricky everything, except for the fact that he had murdered his father, Boss Zucco. Some part of him was troubled that he had learned to care for the boy, which he considered an indication that he had lost touch with himself. Still, he would not go back on his word now. He would raise Ricky Zucco as his own son and make him worthy of the mantle of the Owl.

Using the Zucco wealth, he bought the old manor house outside Gotham that had been the Wayne family home before the scandal the doctor had gone through had stripped him of his wealth. He equipped a cavern beneath it with all he would need to reclaim his role as Owlman and then reunite his partners and ultimately kill the Lawless Legion.

“I call this the Aerie,” he said. “It shall be our base from which we shall eventually conquer this world. And I have a surprise for you, lad. This black costume will make you my partner. I shall name you Raven.”

Excited, Ricky Zucco eagerly donned the black costume. “I like it. Owlman and Raven.”

The boy had mixed emotions. It was true that he had vowed to one day kill his mentor to avenge his father’s murder, but he also had a respect and admiration for Dr. Wayne that he could neither explain nor forget.

Little did either of the two know that Owlman’s latent mental powers were not as dormant as he had assumed. They had, in fact, reached out to the boy’s mind and slowly influenced him until his loyalty to Wayne had become almost as strong as his passion to kill the man who killed his father. Thus, Raven was a very confused young man.

Nightly, Owlman and Raven worked together and haunted the shadows as they warred on Big Jim Gordon’s rival gang for control of Gotham. The Deadly Duo became an urban legend, and slowly Owlman’s keen mind developed a plan to find and restore his partners in the Crime Syndicate, but there was no hurry. As long as the Lawless League concerned themselves with the world as a whole and left Gotham City to him, he had no problem and no reason to rush out of a life he relished.


The Lawless League’s domination of the whole world continued to expand until Alexander Luthor could stand it no longer. He had waited in his hidden Fortress of Science and planned and plotted with Brainiac, alias John Smith, until they had developed a few new weapons that might enable them to bring down the terrorists who had mastered their world.

“Prognosis: Grim,” calculated Brainiac. “A likely failure if we attack them now. We need more time and better alternatives.”

Lena Luthor hugged the artificial man she had come to love. “Oh, John, don’t risk yourself too soon. Even Alexander can only do so much against such brutes. I lost my parents to one like them, and I could not bear to lose you, too.”

John smiled. He had Lena’s love, even though he had been made and not born. He was as human as he could ever have desired. “My love, I cannot stand by and let my friend risk his life all alone. I have my own inborn gifts, and our technology may yet be enough for us to win the day.”

Lois Luthor grunted. “Hmmm… I agree with Lena. You two may be smarter than them, but they are killers. You mustn’t think that they won’t go for your lives at first sight.”

Alexander nodded. “True, my dear. But how can you respect me if I don’t fight them? How can you look at your husband without feeling scorn if I merely sit here and hide? I became a hero reluctantly, but I won’t relinquish the job when my world needs me now more than ever. I’ve been working here for nearly a year now. They have conquered the whole world. I must try to defeat them and take back our world.”

Lois hugged him and prayed that his brilliant mind could overcome their ruthless power.

Brainiac spoke up. “Alex, I have studied our photos of this League over the last few months, and I notice that there are actually six of them. See how this photo shows a Hypernion in Greece, while this one captured his image over California at the exact same time? They have a shapeshifting ally who poses as one or another of them as needed. Notice the same type of thing happened with two Amazon Princesses on the fourteenth, one in the White House and one in Maine.”

“Great Scott! I assume they aren’t clones,” offered Luthor.

“No,” said the green man. “My sensors detect a distinction between their genetic makeup. One in both shots is genetically identical. I theorize that such a being would develop on Mars.”

“A man from Mars?” said Luthor. “Strange. We know that the others appear to identically match the power signatures of the Earth-One’s Justice League. It is as if the Leaguers are some alternate Earth’s versions of the JLA. If the Earth-One Superman had not shared his Earth’s data files with me back then, we’d be totally lost.”

“If their world has a Mars with life forms such as that one upon it, why couldn’t we also have life on our Mars?” suggested Brainiac.

“And if so, why couldn’t we enlist their help?” concluded an eager Luthor.

“We lack space travel technology, with your bio-suit now almost powerless, but perhaps we could bring the Martian to us,” suggested Brainiac.

“That’s it. We will teleport our own Martian here, or die trying,” vowed a determined Alexander Luthor.


The loss of identity suffered by Ultraman came to a head around ten months after his defeat at the hands of the Lawless League. He had wandered dazed into the town of Smallville, Maryland, where an elderly farming couple had taken him in and allowed him to do hired hand work in exchange for food. He was obviously strong and never seemed to tire. The couple’s family name was Kent, and he came to enjoy their kindness and hospitality.

“Cal is my name. That’s the only thing I can recall,” he had explained. “That and a need to be active and in action.”

Martha Kent said, “My Jonathan was like that as a young man, always on the go at our old store or on this farm.”

Jonathan Kent led Cal out to the front porch one starry night after the drifter had been staying with them for about three months. “Cal, I reckon you have a better purpose for yourself than just helping out on this farm. Is there any way I can help you reach that goal?”

Cal smiled. He had responded with a real appreciation to the paternal man’s interest. “If only my own father had been so open and encouraging. Not that I can recall his name — just a face, an attitude, and an alien world.”

They gazed up at the stars, and he said, “Sir, I guess I could find my destiny in the big city, a place where things happen fast.”

“Well, I would try Gotham City — or Metropolis,” said Kent. “They say anything is possible in big hubs of activity like that.”

Cal agreed, and with a reluctance born of a real affection for this elderly family who had offered his troubled soul a place of rest, he soon left for Metropolis.

He wasn’t there long before he wandered into the heart of the city with no particular expectations. He made his way through the streets and saw what seemed impossibly far away — a woman in peril from a speeding car. He moved, compelled by some whim he could not understand, and shoved the pretty redhead to safety. The movement had been all a blur, but he stayed to help her to her feet.

“You saved me! How can I thank you?” she asked. He looked at the woman, who was wearing a pink skirt and white top, with her red hair blowing alluringly in the breeze. “I guess I was daydreaming and walked right in front of that car. My dad always says, ‘Lana, you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on tightly enough.'”

Cal shook hands with Lana Lang, WGBS-TV newswoman. She offered to buy him lunch, and they stopped by her office, where fate stepped in when her boss, Morgan Edge, spotted Cal.

“Lana, who is this hunk? He would look great on camera,” said Edge. “Can you read?” he asked him. “Try him for a screen test, Hal. He would bring in the females. Hmm… Perhaps with glasses for a more cerebral look.”

“Of course I can read,” said Cal. “Never thought about the news game. I do need work.”

Thus was born WGBS-TV newsreader Clark Kent, a name borrowed from the Kents. He added glasses to his slicked-back hair, and a star was born. Things were going well for the former Ultraman during his amnesia.

Clark Kent’s new career soon earned him a nice salary and a romance with Lana Lang. He often wondered about the past he could not recall except in dim flashes. A father’s disappointment in his lack of high intelligence and a desire to prove himself and avenge any slights to his ego were etched within his character so firmly that he never quite shook them, even in this altered state. He continued to grow close to Lana, and she smoothed many of his rough edges until they became a popular news team.

The stories he read about the Lawless League’s gradual climb to world domination and the mysterious absence of Alexander Luthor tugged at something within his fractured psyche. He still questioned his loss of memory. And then, one day in October, 1986, he found what he had lost.

He and Lana had been hiking around the park trails outside of the city — something the elegantly dressed Miss Lang did not do with any relish — when he unearthed a glowing green rock.

“Luv, that is one weird meteorite you’ve found,” cooed Lana. “It would make a lovely necklace in the right setting.”

Clark felt odd as he neared the stone from space. It gave him a fever that passed into a sudden rush of energy, and all at once his memory returned.

“Great Krypton!” he roared. “How dare those fools rob me of myself! I’ll make them pay!”

Lana cried out, “Clark, what’s wrong?”

He looked once at her and remembered their romance, then he turned and flew off, bent on violent revenge. He did not stop until he slammed directly into the White House as alarms echoed and the woman called Green Gladiatrix challenged him.

“You again?” she said as he deflected her energy blast and melted the roof above her flying form.

The wood and plaster rained down on her without any harm befalling her until a yellow sliver fell inside her bubble. Ultraman noticed and took advantage of it. He ripped up a yellow beam and rammed it directly through the woman’s midsection. She died instantly, and he crushed her ring to powder.

Then an invisible fist slammed into him, and he fell beneath the blasts of Hypernion. “You murdering savage! You killed Gladiatrix!” shouted Hypernion as he and the invisible Martian Warlord beat down their foe.

Ultraman rose again and shoved them down with brute force. “You haven’t seen the extent of my power.”

Atalanta’s rope then snagged him, and she ordered him to sleep. The magic robbed him of his awareness, and he fell at her feet.

“Men. I wonder what you’d do without me,” she smirked as she placed her hands on her hips.

“The better question is — what do we do with him?” asked Darknight.

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