"This is stupid Diana," Kyle Rayner complained again. "I should have said no like Bats and Arthur, but no," he said as he created a construct of himself smacking his hand into his forehead.
"Now Lantern," Diana replied as she waited outside of the stage. "We have to keep up some type of public relations. We need to keep the people informed," She took a moment to run her hands over her dress suit.
"Yeah, but on Claudia Perez?" Wally West asked. "She's only the most hardnosed politic talk host in New York. She'll roast us!"
Wonder Woman patted Green Lantern and Flash on their backs. "Aww, I think you two big boys will be okay," she quipped. "Besides, this will be a good chance to strengthen the people's trust of us, which makes us that much stronger if Luthor has any thing up his sleeve," she reminded.
Onstage, the audience's applause died. "Thank you, thank you. As you know, I'm Claudia Perez, and this is World of Politics!" The crowd responded with more clapping. "My guests today are three members of the legendary Justice League of America. Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash!" The 3 Leaguers entered and waved before sitting down. "So," Claudia began. "Where are your other 4 members?"
"They all had previous commitments and could not be here, much to their dismay," Diana answered.
"Oh I see. I suppose it would be easier for the guilty ones to not be present," Claudia snapped back.
"Guilty? Of what?" Kyle demanded.
"Oh the list is long, must I really delve into it?" Claudia teased.
"Oh be my guest, 'delve' away I say," Kyle replied defensively.
"For starters," the hostess began as she paced the aisles in the crowd. "Recently, your Martian Manhunter caused millions in property damage while engaged in a battle with some sort of robot…"
"When we were briefed about the conflict Manhunter had with the Amazo robot, it was conclusive that the damage could not be avoided," Wonder Woman responded.
"And may I point out, that you, Green Lantern, were also responsible for damage you caused with a 'Kalibak' I think you called it…"
"Hey! I saved each and every one of your…" Kyle began before Flash clamped a hand to his mouth.
"As for you Flash," Claudia continued. "You've just returned from the future you say. While you were gone you left Jesse Quick as the Flash. Did I mentioned that during her tenure, one of history's largest genocides took place?"
It was Flash's turn to get angry now. "Look Claudia," he stated as he pointed a finger. "We came here to talk, not be attacked!"
"Speaking of attacks," she added. "Although unconfirmed, there is a rumor swirling around Washington that Aquaman punched the President when Luthor would not meet his demands!"
"Arthur did no such thing!" Diana responded jumping out of her seat. "If Luthor hadn't mistakenly attacked Atlantis…" It was Kyle that had to sit her back down.
"Always ready for a fight I see," Claudia commented. "And finally, there was a huge problem in your ranks a few months ago. Wasn't one of your members voted off the team, then allowed back on?"
The heroes were silent, their glances looking in various places.
"Answer the question Leaguers," Claudia prodded.
"It was the Batman," Wonder Woman answered. Flash and Lantern were in shock. "He had developed protocols for each of us, in case any of us ever went rogue. His protocols fell into the wrong hands and we were easily wiped out.
"And what about that made you vote him off the team?" Claudia asked as she moved closer.
"Because we felt betrayed, we felt we couldn't trust him at the time…" Diana responded.
"And we'll be right back after this commercial break!" Claudia smiled into the camera, cutting Wonder Woman off. The heroes were then ushered back off stage.
"Diana!" Kyle shouted. "What do you think your doing airing League business like that?"
Wonder Woman had already tossed her jacket over her shoulder and started for the exit. "The people have a right to know guys, it's all about trust for us these days.
Clark Kent was hard at work on a story at the Daily Planet when his wife approached him from behind.
"Bad news," Lois said. "Claudia chewed them up and spit them back out," She took a seat at her own desk. "She even had the crowd booing by the time they left the stage! And that's not all of it…"
"She singled him out didn't she?" Clark asked without looking up from his monitor.
"Yeah, but how did…" Lois answered with surprise.
"Let's just say," Clark added as he pulled his finished product out of the printer. "He's an easy target. I'm going to run this to Perry, then I'll find him," he finished as he walked the opposite direction.
A half an hour later, the Man of Steel stood within the bell tower of the Gotham Cathedral.
"You wanted to see me?" the Batman asked as he stepped out of the shadows behind Superman.
"The television appearance," he started as he began to pace. "It didn't go well at all. And Miss Claudia has taken steps to make you public enemy number one my friend,"
"The protocols," Batman deduced as he glanced across the Gotham skyline. "Still don't trust me do you?"
Superman idly watched the busy streets below. "There's a meeting tonight, we'll discuss our options then," he replied, ignoring Batman's question. "But I think it's best that you…" he stopped mid-sentence when Batman suddenly leaped off of the Cathedral.
Batman had secured a line and was swinging towards a small child that had tumbled out of a nearby building. The child screamed in terror, but his cries stopped once he fell safely into the hero's arms. Batman came full swing and brought the child back to the roof, where Superman joined them.
"Oh wow!" the child shouted when he saw his famous savior. "Batman! I knew it, I knew it! Mommy always said you wasn't real, but know you are and you're my favoritest one!" the child yelled with joy as he hugged Batman's leg firmly.
Batman couldn't help but smile as he knelt down. "I'm just happy you're in one piece. Can you find your apartment from up here?" he asked. The boy nodded. "Okay, just make sure you don't fall out any other windows for me," The boy nodded again and rushed for the stairwell.
"Seems you have a way with kids Mr. Wayne," Superman joked as Batman stood up.
"Yeah, the little buggers. At least they know they can trust me," he replied coldly.
Superman could say nothing.
Later that night at the Watchtower, the Justice League have formed around their meeting table, discussing important business.
"These are dangerous times we live in people," Wonder Woman continued. The world is no longer the 'forgive and forget' type. Their mentality now is 'cross me once, you won't get a second chance'. As it was painfully evident this morning, society wants reliability. Even though we've provided a type of this through the years, even we have fallen under the microscope. We must move carefully," she added.
"What she means is," Aquaman interrupted. "Luthor has everyone eating out of his hand and it's only a matter of time before he's able to turn the people against us," he scowled.
"Arthur, we still have no proof of Luthor having done anything wrong in office…" Diana began.
"If you believe that, there's a bridge in Brooklyn with your name all over it Princess," Kyle cut in.
"…And as I was saying," Wonder Woman went on. "We must maintain a sort of balance with the public's trust. Yes, this morning was a blatant attempt to tarnish our image, but with the right planning, we should be able to stay on the middle ground, and thus out of danger," she finished.
"What she means is," Aquaman said. "If we don't stay on their good side, Luthor can use that to make us the biggest fugitive superhero team this side of a Marvel comic book,"
"Oh you read that too?" Flash asked.
"Yeah, great series in my…" Arthur stopped mid-sentence after a harsh look from Diana.
"My only question is," Batman said as he stood from the table. "How can we keep the public's trust, if we don't even trust each other?" He stormed out of the room.
"Geez, doesn't that guy ever get one happy day?" Kyle whispered to Wally.
The six were interrupted by the emergency beacon. As they entered the control room, their monitors had flashed to life with an alien image.
"Martian Manhunter?!" Is the Manhunter within your ranks?" a Martian asked as Superman arrived at the monitor.
"I am here old friend," J'Onn replied as he rushed in front of the Man of Steel. "What is the problem?"
"I'm afraid one of our prisoners has escaped to Earth. He is Servo, and he is very dangerous and must be apprehended at once. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated Manhunter,"
"The Justice League and myself will help you in anyway possible," J'Onn responded as the monitor died. "Arthur, you and I shall take the western regions of the United States," Sensing the Martian's urgency, Aquaman nodded and followed.
"Clark, I think you and I should take the northern region, this is very important to J'Onn it seems," Wonder Woman suggested. Superman nodded.
"It looks like you and me has the South Speedy," Kyle said to Wally.
Wally punched him in his arm, shocking Green Lantern. "Don't call me Speedy," he joked. The two playfully punched at each other until Superman gave them a disapproving look.
"And I will take the eastern area, my equipment will help me in my search," Batman said as he emerged from the back. "It is, after all, important to J'Onn,"
Soon, the Martian Manhunter was carrying Aquaman in his arms after a thorough check of Las Vegas.
"J'Onn, didn't your little friend say this guy was on earth? Why are we checking the states?" Arthur asked.
"He's a criminal. Even though he is Martian, his intents are still the same as a human, thus I believe he is in the U.S.," Manhunter replied.
"Oh. Then why are you so intent on finding this Servo?"
Manhunter said nothing for a few moments before answering. "We Martians, no matter what has ever transpired between us, we stand together,"
"That's more than I can say for our race," the Sea King muttered. "Any word from the others?"
"They've all reported no signs," J'Onn answered. Suddenly, he increased speed and turned direction from Los Angeles back east.
"Now what are we doing?" Arthur asked puzzled.
"Batman finally answered me. He's found him in New York City,"
New York City, where a certain 3-foot Martian was discovering his surroundings in fashion. A few overturned cars here, a small bush fire, not to mention a few screaming New Yorkers.
Batman stood atop the New York Stock Exchange, plotting his next move, when his 6 teammates arrived behind him.
That's the Martian fugitive?" Green Lantern asked nearly laughing. "How scary,"
"Do not underestimate him Lantern, he has all of my powers," J'Onn informed him. "The only reason he can't shapeshift is when on Earth, some of a Martian's powers are cancelled out. I suggest we take him down now, before anyone is seriously hurt," Manhunter finished as he flew down in front of Servo. "Give yourself up!" he demanded.
Servo broke into a grin and said nothing. Not waiting for an answer, J'Onn charged Servo, only to overshoot his target and head into a plate glass window. Servo burst into giggles.
"You think that's funny squirt?" Green Lantern asked as he approached. "Let's see how you like this!" He constructed a cage and ensnared Servo. "See," he said looking at the others. "Piece of cake,"
Suddenly the cage rose off of Servo and caught Lantern, decreasing in size until he couldn't move. Again Servo giggled and added a little dance to go with it.
A batarang flew from behind the cage, striking the Martian. Batman launched into view and attacked the alien with a force that would've left anyone else down. Servo counterattacked by matching the Bat blow for blow, causing him to roll away. "Give it up Servo," Batman grunted.
In response, Servo lashed out telepathically, re-igniting Batman's torture of seeing Jason Todd's death.* The Batman crumpled to the ground.
"Enough of this!" Aquaman shouted. He picked up a nearby car and swung at Servo, bringing panic to the Martian's face…until he turned intangible. The car passed right through him and connected with Superman, who was planning his own attack. The Man of Steel went flying and a shocked Aquaman could not move away before Servo caught him in his jaw, sending him into a recovering J'Onn.
Servo began to giggle and dance again when a red blur surrounded him. Entertained by the blur, Servo stood still and watched in awe.
"Now Wonder Woman!" Flash shouted. "While he's distracted!"
Diana nodded and charged in with her lasso in hand. She was a few feet away from Servo, when he noticed her. Infuriated the Martian began to glow a bright yellow. "Flash, stop, he's going to…" Diana warned, but too late. Servo unleashed a blast of energy that sent the heroes out of the picture.
Once again, Servo giggled and did his dance. "Justice League, bah!" he finally spoke. "Look at you, and you call yourself heroes," He went back to dancing as the JLA tried to regroup. Superman had recovered and was ready to attack again, when Servo was smashed into, sending him into a brick wall nearby and rendering him unconscious.
"What the…" Superman asked as he saw the other Leaguers still down.
"Oh hi Superman," Impulse said stopping ten feet away from where he had made impact. "I didn't mean to run into your little friend there, but I'm looking for coffee creamer. Know where I can get some?"
Stunned, Superman could say nothing as the rest of the JLA had recovered now that Servo was down. And just as they had all gathered together, the cameras started flashing. A woman was in front of them seconds later, pointing a microphone in Batman's face.
"Is this another failure by the JLA," Claudia asked. "Or did Batman betray you again?"
"Come on," Superman said as he put his hand on Batman's shoulder. "Let's get Servo and go,"
"Flash what do you have to say about this latest debacle?" Claudia insisted.
Hours later, after the scene had died down, New York City was as quiet as it could get in the middle of the night.
That's when the explosion happened.
NEXT ISSUE: The media is targeting the JLA, and everyone is on edge. Who's behind the explosions and why does President Luthor suddenly want to see the Leaguers?