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The Green Lantern of Earth, Kyle Rayner.
Princess Koriand’r, the tamaranian known as Starfire.
M’gann M’orzz, also known as Miss Martian.
Jaime Reyes, the wearer of a mechanized suit and bearer of the name Blue Beetle.
The demon, Etrigan.
Kara Zor-L, Power Girl.
And the villainous mastermind known as the Riddler, searching for a second chance.
Together, they have gone to the desolate planet of Mars with one purpose in mind – to stop Bizarro from destroying Earth along with his new friends, the white martians.
Together, they are the Justice Society of America.
“Peej…? I hate to sound disagreeable, I really do. But what is the Riddler doing in the Justice Society?” Kyle gave Kara a concerned look – she was the leader of this team, and had been for a while now. She was strong, smart, trusting, and the other members of the JSA loved her. Or, in the case of some, were in love with her. But letting Edward Nigma on the team was nothing short of insane.
“I know what this looks like, I promise,” Power Girl smiled softly, that cheeky grin that made it so difficult to disagree with her. “But I recently had a long talk with Eddie here. He’s seen things… he’s made decisions. He’s changed his mind.”
“To not be a villain?” Kyle attempted, still frowning. “He’s been one of Batman’s prevalent foes for years. Hell, two years ago he nearly dismantled the Green Lantern Corps by manipulating one of the Guardians to commit suicide.”
“In my defense,” Riddler spoke up, taking a single step forward and sinking his mechanical boot into the soft red earth of Mars. “He had problems already.”
“Look, I—“ Power Girl began, spreading her arms helplessly. She knew that this decision would be a hard one for the team to stomach, even if she was confident that Riddler would be an asset to the team. However, she was interrupted by a clawed hand on her shoulder.
“I’m proud of you,” Etrigan said with a grin, squeezing the kryptonian’s shoulder gently. “It’s about time one of these teams of heroes found a leader that can make hard decisions, and take risks for the sake of the cause.”
“You… you think he should stay?” Kyle said incredulously.
“Absolutely. I have read on this man, back when Jason and Bruce were… companions, of a sort. He is intelligent and ruthless—“ Edward bowed gracefully at this comment, a smirk on his lips, “—and he will do what has to be done. Our team lacks a… what would you call it… a ‘Batman archetype’, a brain behind all of our brawn. I understand some of us are intelligent in our own way. But a mastermind will be helpful against our foe.” Etrigan smiled and turned, circling the power-suited Riddler with a predatory gaze, as if he was weighing the man. “Did you truly make a Guardian of the Universe end his own life?”
“Perhaps. Though I do try not to brag.”
“…Excellent. Maybe you will do the same for this Bizarro fellow. Lucifer knows, with the team we’ve scraped together, that’s the only way we’ll defeat him.”
“He’s coming, you know…” a new voice entered the conversation. M’gann’s. “We’ve dropped the shields and he’ll see us. He can see us anywhere on this planet.”
Starfire tilted her head, confused for only a moment before realizing. “Bizarro. You are right. He will come and find us an—“
“Have you come to help Bizarro? Because Bizarro… am very happy if you are.”
Before they had even realized it, their foe was standing before them in all of his dark glory. His strong-jawed, chalk-colored face was twisted into an expression of hatred, his dull crimson eyes gazing out at each one of them through Mars’s dark atmosphere.
M’gann cleared her throat. “He, uh, he thinks we’ve come to hurt him… and he’s upset.”
“Yes!” Bizarro roared suddenly. He seemed to strain his mind for a moment, gritting his teeth and gazing at the others. “If you do… not leave… Bizarro… I… will… destroy, you all.”
Jaime’s eyes widened suddenly as he crept over to stand behind Power Girl, only taking a cursory glance at her backside before turning his wide, lensed eyes to Bizarro’s gloomy visage. “He is learning,” he whispered.
“It was only a matter of time,” Riddler said, casually stepping forward and holding his arms out in a non-threatening posture. “If we can learn his method of speech, it only seems natural that, even with his imperfect mind, he would eventually realize the nature of ours.” The green-suited man turned to the powerfully-built, violet-caped, white-fleshed creature and offered an insincere smile. “Dearest enemy Bizarro, we have not come to help you. We wish you the greatest sadness and hope that none of your plans work out the way that you… do not want them to.”
Bizarro narrowed his eyes and lashed one hand out, swatting Riddler away effortlessly, shattering the front plates of his armor. A serious hit would have destroyed the oxygen tubules that flooded the power suit… Edward knew that, and was grateful that his life remained intact. However, when he managed to open his eyes, pain coursing throughout his entirely-human chest, he saw Superman’s twisted clone standing above him.
“Your hollow words mean… nothing, to Bizarro.”
“Why must I love coffee so intensely?” Victor whispered silently to himself, swishing the little plastic straw through his cup to stir the sugar and cream in. “Every time I drink it, I feel that it must be poor for my health. Perhaps my heart. Yet, every time the opportunity arises, I still find myself drinking it… overcome by temptation, or perhaps the desire for temptation. The curious need to give in to man’s great weakness, oblige the darkness inside of myself, for philosophy’s sake.”
He took a deep breath and raised the cup to his lips, taking a sip of the pale brown brew and releasing a sigh, almost a whimper, of satisfaction. “Is giving in to this temptation worth it all? Is it worth it to anyone?”
A simple cup of coffee made him think this way. Victor Sage questioned everything, he couldn’t help himself. Every single factor of life and the universe, whether extraordinary or mundane, made him ask.
“Excuse me, sir? Do you need something?” The diner waitress inquired as she stepped past the auburn-haired man, barely picking up a few traces of his inquisitive rambling. “More coffee?”
Vic smiled softly. “Yes ma’am,” he answered politely, draining the last of his mug before handing it to her. He asked these questions because he was The Question. If he didn’t ask, didn’t inquire, didn’t notice every small detail… he wouldn’t be one of the best detectives in the northern hemisphere.
“Back off, Biz!” came a loud shout as Power Girl rushed forward, slamming her fist into the white-skinned man’s chest. The blow served only to stagger him, but not harm him – that was all she needed for now. Even in that suit, co-designed by Edward Nigma and John Irons at Starrware Labs, Riddler wasn’t a powerhouse and never would be. His body was thin and slight, athletic but frail. Minimal damage to the suit would injure the man beneath it, and Bizarro was more than capable of causing minimal damage.
“You dare to harm Bizarro? You are… a fool.” The massive man skidded to a halt, digging his violet boots into the ground beneath him and growling deeply. “I… have come here to escape your Earth. You do not want me there, so I have come somewhere that I am accepted. Why do you chase me, even here?”
“Amazing,” Riddler whispered as Jaime whizzed to his side, his suit quickly flicking out a seemingly endless array of tools for the purpose of repairing Edward’s armor and flesh. “He is learning, he is communicating in normal English. I can see the strain on his face… he wants us to understand him.”
Bizarro glared quickly at Riddler, a brilliant blue stream of cold bursting from his eyes. Jaime barely managed to deflect the beams in time before Starfire rushed into the kryptonian, barreling him backward.
“You believe you can defeat Bizarro?!” he snarled, swatting the tamaranian away like a fly – she was barely caught in time before drilling into Mars with her own body, by a massive teddy bear created by Kyle. She giggled and leaned into it.
Power Girl was rushing back now, leading with a fist that made the thin air around it sizzle. Bizarro tilted one arm at the elbow, bringing his own palm up to snatch the oncoming blow.
Kara’s eyes widened.
“Weak… too weak for Bizarro,” he grumbled, and twisted his body at blinding speeds, fastballing Power Girl outwards, towards the nearby blackness of space. “All of you… are too weak.”
“You’ve fought your last, o savage clone… now your last breath shall be my own.” A deep, rumbling voice came from behind him now. Bizarro curled his top lip and arched a brow, and just before the demon, Etrigan, could loose his breath of Hellfire upon Superman’s dark mirror, Bizarro let out his own belch of flame. Both currents of open heat collided, smashing against each other like a battle between two dragons. Etrigan splayed his arms out, leaning forward and blasting forth the scarlet fires of hell while Bizarro continued to unleash his stream of flame breath. The crimson earth beneath them began to scorch and melt as both monsters locked each other in a non-contact, infernal grapple.
“It’s beautiful,” Kory remarked, her emerald eyes wide as she floated up from her landing spot.
“He can’t do it,” Kyle said, narrowing his eyes. “Where’s M’gann?”
“She was with the Beetle fellow, last I saw.” Starfire smiled helpfully and turned back to Etrigan and Bizarro, still in the clutch of that fiery grapple. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for just a moment, focusing and smiling before flinging a rapid volley of starbolts at their enemy.
Bizarro’s eyes turned from the demon one second too early. At speeds that Etrigan could not comprehend, much less match, he zipped backwards and to the side, dodging both starbolts and hellfire and speeding towards Starfire, one fist extended.
Starfire didn’t have time to even throw her hands up, but fortunately for her, Kara came zooming back from the dark orbit she had been sent to, ice crystals still flaking off of her as she tackled the chalk-skinned ‘villain’. Bizarro roared out and quickly switched their positions, slamming Power Girl to the ground and slamming unbelievably fast, absurdly strong punches into her face again and again. The first few hits did very little, small bruises – but as she tried to push him off, Bizarro’s blows became more and more unbearable, making her skull feel like it was bursting from the inside. Something about this beast of a kryptonian, something about the process that brought him into being – he was too strong and fast, even for her. Struggling to fight back, even to bring a knee into Bizarro’s ribs – but his blows landed too hard. She realized now what they League had said when they mentioned Bizarro being even more powerful than Superman.
“Let go!” Kyle shouted, and a stream of green light showered forth from his ring, forming into… what appeared to be… Godzilla. Bizarro snarled and arched his back, bringing back one massive hand to swat at the beast with incalculable power. It was shattered instantly, but it bought Kara time. Two crimson beams drove out from her eyes, blasting into Bizarro’s chest and sending him hurtling backwards.
As the savage clone brought himself back to his feet, the team circled around him. Power Girl, her face puffy and swollen with bruises; Green Lantern, still gripping his ring-hand and reeling from the strain of having his construct destroyed; Starfire, looking haggard and shaken; Etrigan, looking no worse for wear; Ridder, his armor more-or-less repaired; and Blue Beetle, his suit still fitting its accessories back together.
“We don’t want to fight you, Bizarro,” Kara said firmly, which earned her a glare from the demon – he still believed he had been winning. “Please, just let us talk. Let us be as ambassadors to you and the people of Mars. Diplomats.”
“Bizarro has heard these words before. I do not believe you.” He straightened his back and glared, cracking his neck as he stared down the other kryptonian.
“Where is M’gann?” Jaime spoke up, glancing around at the team present. It was always possible that she was using camouflage, but the suit would have picked that up.
“Maybe she has changed sides… maybe she realizes that Bizarro is the victim.” The huge, pale beast of a man crinkled his nose slightly, turning in a slow circle to gaze upon all of his enemies. “Maybe one day, you will too. This is last warning – leave Mars, and leave Bizarro alone. And Bizarro may not destroy you.”
With that, he was gone… just like that. He was so fast even Kara’s eyes could barely track his movements. He was a blue-and-purple blur across the wastes of Mars.
“M’gann… you have been gone for a long time. Such a long t-time. Yesss. It is good to see you return.”