Debbie Ann Robinson smoothed down the bow in her hair and hurried downstairs to fix breakfast for her husband and their daughter, Debbie. She smiled as she heard her teenage daughter groan at the sound of the alarm clock signaling the start of the school day. “Deb! Don’t forget — cheerleading starts today!” she called as she hurried down to the kitchen. Jack smiled up at her as she bent down to kiss him. “Hmmm… You’re up early today,” she teased. “Usually have to drag you out of the shower kicking and screaming.”
Jack grinned. “Yes, I know, but today is special. It’s officially the one-year anniversary of your return. After that accident when we thought you were dead, we never knew if we’d smile again. But then you turned up with amnesia, and my pals at the FBI alerted me. Now you’ve been the perfect wife and mother you always were before you disappeared for a year.”
Debbie Ann nodded slowly. “Jack, I have never remembered our past. I still don’t. However, you identified me, and — being an FBI agent — your word was enough. I have been and am still very happy here with you and Debbie, but I sometimes fear that you might have been wrong.”
“Fingerprints don’t lie,” he insisted. “Your kiss doesn’t lie. I know my wife.”
Debbie Ann shook her head. “Silly old me. Always worrying.”
“That’s what makes you soccer mom supreme,” said the sprightly Debbie, Jr. as she skipped in to grab toast and head for the door.
“Young lady, that skirt is a bit short,” scolded her mother. “Change it now.”
“Mo-ommm…” whined Debbie, Jr. as she flounced back to her room to change.
“Easy, dear,” teased Jack. “You sound like some warrior princess leading troops into battle.” His wife sat on his lap and laughed, but that phrase also stirred something deep in her locked memories. “Anyway, I have a little present for you,” he said, holding out a wrapped box.
Debbie Ann smiled and ripped off the paper to lift open the lid. “What do you mean by this?” she said, a dangerous edge in her normally perky tone.
“Hon, it’s a solid gold bracelet,” he said. “Let me slip it on you.”
His wife’s eyes flared with a rage he’d never seen before as she shoved him, not merely back, but across the kitchen. “No one shall ever put bracelets of submission upon me again!” she shouted.
As he got back up, Jack Robinson saw his docile wife toss back her long black locks and rip off the ribbon.
“These clothes are only fit for some domesticated pet, not the Warrior Princess of Sanctuary Island!” she said in disgust as she tore off the clothes and marched past the startled man. “I assume my foes in the League altered my fingerprints and memories to make me your perfect little wife. Perhaps they killed her, or at least learned of her disappearance via the mental powers of their Martian. He certainly probed my mind enough before turning me free with no recollections of my old life. Well, Jack Robinson, I am not your Debbie Ann. I am Diana, princess of the Amazons, and I take my leave of you now.”
She rushed off in a long shirt that hung like a tunic upon her powerful frame. She would reclaim her golden lariat and costume when she trounced the League that had played with her thusly.
The man known as Johnny Quick had another name as well — Charles Drake. He had gained his super-speed powers through a helmet that had made him the Fastest Man Alive. Now he no longer needed the helmet to use his powers, since years of use had altered his own metabolism. However, with the memory loss induced by the Lawless League, Drake couldn’t even recall that he had such amazing powers.
He had drifted through small towns, desperate for a job. But he seemed to have no talents except for an instinctive desire to avoid the police. He finally made his way to Central City after bumming across the country. Here he encountered his destiny at speeds all too fast, even for him.
He had only been in town for a while when a handsome blond man approached him and offered to buy him a drink. Needing something to eat, he accepted the stranger’s hospitality. They entered a run-down cafe.
“What’s your name, pal?” asked the blond as he ordered a meal for them both.
“I’m… I’m Chuck,” he said after some hesitation.
“You don’t sound too sure,” said the man. “I’m Allen.”
“W-well, the truth is, I’m a bit out of sorts,” stammered Drake. “Need work. New in town.”
“I think I can help you,” said Allen. “Let me get us some food here, and we’ll talk. Then maybe I can find you a place to stay and a job. See, I know a lot of people around this burg.”
They laughed and talked well into the night, and at closing time they made their way home to Allen’s house, where he offered Chuck a guest room.
“Pretty woman! Is that your wife?” asked Chuck as he picked up a photo.
“She was… she’s dead now,” muttered a now-grim Allen.
“How’d she die?” asked Charles Drake.
“You killed her, you lousy thug!” shouted Allen, suddenly turning on him. “You murdered my Iris when you were in your Johnny Quick identity, and now I’m going to kill you for it.” He then fired a small gun that he had produced from nowhere.
As fast as Drake was, he had not expected this sudden bizarre attack, and his body literally froze as ice hardened around him.
“You don’t remember any of it, do you?” said Allen, his once-pleasant features becoming angry and hateful. “I’ll refresh your memory, killer, before I end your life. First, my name is Barry Allen. I was your boss at the police lab before you stole my invention and gained the speed that should have been mine. I realized you had no idea who I was when I saw you stumble around town, though my mirrors have been scanning your every move since you first returned to Earth from your force-bubble prison. I enjoyed seeing that League scum trash you, but I prayed only I could really kill you.
“After you stole my helmet and began your career as Quick, Iris tracked you down via her journalistic ties, and you killed her! I’ve spent years using my science skills to invent weapons meant to catch or kill you — ice guns, heat rays, mirror traps, tops of lethal design, even trick boomerangs! You killed and got away, but I’m going to reverse that! I’m your opposite number — the player on the other side, as Ellery Queen called it — and as your personal Rogue, I’ll make you pay!”
Charles Drake’s memories of his life as Johnny Quick returned with a rush, but he was helpless in the ice as his enemy prepared to end his life.
In a panic, Johnny Quick began to vibrate his body until the ice shattered. He raced forward, only to crash full tilt into a mirror.
“Clever. You’re not where I thought,” sneered Johnny as he searched for the Rogue. “And yeah, boss-man Barry, you did invent the helmet I stole, but did you ever have the guts to use it? I’d say you didn’t!”
The speedster dodged a heat ray that almost left his coat smoldering, but he was able to move in time to escape the lethal fire.
A boomerang soared by him, and sonic fire shattered his eardrums as he fell forward and received a kick to the stomach from the suddenly appearing Rogue.
“Not so smart-mouthed now. I’ll wring your neck!” cried Barry Allen as he attacked the man who had robbed his life of everything he cherished. “You were a bad cop — you betrayed us all! You robbed from me, and you killed my wife!” roared Allen as the room seemed to spin in front of the wounded Johnny Quick’s eyes.
“Vertigo–” he gasped, “–from that top!” He spun around desperately, even as his legs buckled beneath his reeling senses. The oxygen he absorbed drew away from Allen, who ran for cover but fell as Quick’s whirlwind sent furniture flying through the room.
“I win!” he said smiling as a hundred punches a minute landed on Rogue’s face. “You see, Bar, I was and am the stronger man! You do-gooders can’t even be bad correctly!”
Then the sound of breaking glass sent him falling — falling into some weird, other-dimensional Mirrorverse.
“I just won!” laughed the mad Rogue.
Johnny Quick could not stop his fall, nor could he vibrate free, since he now seemed to be alone in an enormous, endless void that reminded him of Limbo. He couldn’t know how long he had been falling, since time had no meaning in this realm. He only knew that this was one race he had lost. As he tumbled endlessly, his mind closed down, and he knew no more.
And then he blinked his eyes and awoke in a laboratory.
He saw the calendar and realized that nearly a year had passed while he was lost in that other realm. He had not needed food, water, or rest, and no time had passed in his perception, yet the Rogue’s Mirrorverse had imprisoned the Syndicate speedster for a long, long time.
“How’d I get out of that place?” he muttered as hunger assailed him. “Where am I?”
“It’s called Ivy Town University,” spoke a voice. “My name is Ray Palmer, and seeing as I rescued your sorry tail from the microverse dimension called Mirror Land, maybe you’d better start calling me by my new professional name — Microbe.”
Johnny Quick turned to see a six-inch-tall man in black and red.
“Oh, and by the way,” continued Microbe, “I aim to join your Crime Syndicate, too. You owe me big time.”
Johnny Quick glanced at the six-inch Microbe and smirked. “You want to join the Crime Syndicate? Maybe you did save me from La-La Land, but face it, pal, you got some growing to do to fit in with us!”
Microbe suddenly grew to six feet tall. Grabbing Quick by the shirt, he said, “Listen, you moronic ape! I am a gifted scientist, I can shrink down to any size and retain my human-sized strength and mass if I choose, and — of most importance to you at this particular moment — at will, I can reduce myself to microscopic size, enter your body through your pores, and grow six feet within your body!”
Quick frowned. “Now that is just sick! I like it — you got my vote! It’s about time we added a new member, anyway.”
Microbe smiled. “I hoped you’d see it my way.”
In Gotham City, Owlman and Raven finished their nightly raid on the Big Jim Gordon mob.
“Man, you should’a seen Gordon’s face when you tossed his right hand man O’Hara through that glass window,” said Raven, smiling.
Owlman grinned and ruffled the boy’s hair. “I rather enjoyed that bit of roughhousing, if I do say so myself. Listen, lad, I think we have Gotham City’s criminal world well under our thumbs, and I’m very proud of your development. So I need to take a trip solo and rejoin my old gang for old business. I want you to stay here and keep working out as I’ve shown you. Don’t tackle Gordon’s mob on your own. I promise to be back soon.”
“Be careful,” said Raven. “I bet you’re going to bring down the Lawless League. Why can’t I join you?”
Owlman grinned. “I want you here, and I must do this with my old team. Then I’ll be back, and we’ll bring down Gordon for good.”
Raven thought to himself, You’d better come back. I need you to teach me enough so that I can kill you someday to avenge my dad.
“Don’t worry, kid, you won’t be lonely,” said Owlman. “Our loyal French maid, Helena, will be here to cook, clean, and take care of the manor as always.”
Helena Pennyworth was a French maid only in terms of her uniform. She was Owlman’s lover and loyal servant since he came into the Zucco money. Her late father Alfred had once served Dr. Thomas Wayne before his ruin.
Superwoman now wore her old uniform, or at least a good copy thereof. She had taken enough time to dress for the upcoming battle. She looked great, but her expression was one of surprise. She turned to see a grinning Johnny Quick standing with a six-inch-tall man on his shoulder.
“How long have you been there?” she shouted. “You watched me change, didn’t you?”
“Glad to see me, aren’t you?” said Quick. “This is my little buddy, Microbe. He’s a whiz kid who tracked you down with some gizmo. He says he wants in on the Crime Syndicate.”
Alexander Luthor and his robotic aide, Brainiac, worked to perfect their teleportation ray, and one dark night they succeeded. They weren’t in the Fortress of Science. Instead, they stood in a thick forest outside an eastern city. They had chosen not to endanger Lena Luthor or Lois Luthor in case something went wrong.
As Lois and Lena slept deep within the Fortress, the ray flashed through the sky to return with a huge, chalk-white humanoid.
“You did it!” said Alexander. “It’s a Martian. Genetic scan indicates the same species as that of the Warlord, although a slightly different race.”
The Martian scowled. “What have you wrought? Why did you bring me here? I thank you for your aid. That prison was slowly killing me.”
“Prison?” said Brainiac.
“Yes. On my world, I was a radical, a rebel, a criminal, a murderer. You freed me, and I appreciate your help. That’s why I won’t kill you, although my mindscan shows me that you and I would be natural foes. You serve mercy and law, and I live for battle and chaos. I sense allies that I would belong with on this world, though — the Crime Syndicate. You wonder where they are? I can locate them and with them rid you of this League I sense you fear so much. Then we shall rule this world together.”
He moved like a cat and shattered the device that brought him to Earth into pieces. “Won’t be needing that. Just as I absorbed your language and memories from my scan, I also realized your intent to send me back to jail.” He then flew off, leaving the pair alone.
“Prognosis: His power might be enough to allow the Crime Syndicate to triumph over the Lawless League. That is a lesser evil, is it not?” offered Brainiac.
Alexander Luthor nodded. “I pray it is. For more than a year now, we’ve wondered what became of them. If the Martian says they live, then perhaps, as I once thought, the Crime Syndicate will be our world’s best hope.”