LinkExchange FORWARD

Illustrated by Bob Riley

Second Chances
by Bob Riley
(adapted from "To Kill A Legend")

It opens up with very dream-like images in graytones and heavy blacks with one source of light from a old time street lamp. The sound of foot steps. A family walking together…a gun appears…a young boy's eyes widen…two gun shots…broken string pearls falling to the ground …the sound of lone footsteps running away… a boy kneeling by his fallen parents. All he can do is scream…

NO!…shouts Bruce Wayne as he lunges into a upright position in his bed, sweat on his brow, panting, and his heart racing . "Everything all right, sir?" asks Alfred as he appears in the doorway. In a low, grim tone Bruce responds, "It happened again. Why must it keep haunting me?" "The dream, sir?" "As clear as the day it happened. I saw my parents die again. Alfred, get my gear ready." "But Sir, you've only slept for 4 hours! You need…" In a demanding voice, Bruce snaps, "Get my gear ready!" "Yes, Master Bruce."

Alone Batman begins his nightly patrol of Gotham City, where he sees a gang of four men attacking an elderly lady for her purse. Batman quickly swoops down, taking out two of them as the other two run off into an alley. Chasing them, Batman watches as they disappear into a thick fog. Batman follows. As he reaches the other end of the alley, the fogs disperses and he suddenly finds himself in Crime Alley. But it can't be. Crime Alley is on the other side of town. Stunned, Batman realizes his prey is getting away…but suddenly, Batgirl and Robin swoop down to each take out a street thug. "Batgirl, Robin? What are you doing here? I thought I put you both on a plane to Metropolis this morning!" Barbara responds, "You did? Then why are we here?" "You are here because you must be here," a strange voice responds from the fog.
Batman & Phantom Stranger

"Phantom Stranger…" Batman turns to the tall dark images emerging from the fog "your presence never brings good news" " I am here to offer you a second chance. I can view all dimensions and walk between countless worlds. Forty years ago I witnessed on another world a young boy lose his parents…and vowed to avenge them. Then, 20 years later, I witnessed you make the same vow. Now, on another Earth, the cycle is about to repeat itself. Again, a young boy will lose his parents…unless you intervene. "Why are you offering me this?" asks Baman. "You're a brave man, Bruce Wayne, a bold man …but despite all the good you've done, you still feel you failed the ones you loved the most."

After a long thought, Batman says, "I'll go!" Perking up, Batgirl says, "So will I!" "Me too!" adds Robin. "NO! I must do this alone!" "We can't let you do that," Batgirl says, as she and Robin follow him into the fog.

The fog fades to show a Gotham City 20 years younger as they appear on the docks of Gotham. Batgirl asks, "Is this really another world?" She is interrupted by gunfire as cargo thieves fee from the police. Batman, Robin and Batgirl fight the thugs. They are completely scared of the Batman and are easy to defeat, but the police arrive and the heroes meet young, aggressive Lieutenant Gordon who tries to capture them. They escape and hide out at the Gotham Library, which is closed for the night. Batgirl reads the newspaper to find this world full of crime with no costumed heroes on it. Robin discovers that there is no heroic mythology like Robin Hood or Camelot to have inspired them. They also learn from the star charts that this universe dose not have the red star that Krypton orbits. If there's no Krypton, there's no Superman. Batman may be the only hero this world will have. Bruce is too consumed in his quest to save the Waynes to hear any of their comments.

The next day, they head for Wayne Manor. As the three of them spy in, they see a spoiled, bratty Bruce Wayne throwing around his toys. Thomas Wayne storms in to discipline the young Bruce, but Martha steps in to stop it, telling Thomas its only a phase Bruce is going through. "Dear Lord, it's as if they've come alive again ! As if I could reach out and touch them again …Father…Mother…I swear by all that's dear to me… I won't let you die again!" Robin whispers to Batgirl "This Bruce Wayne is a spoiled little brat!" Batgirl responds, " I wonder… if we stop his parents' murder, will he grow up to become the bored playboy Batman only pretends to be?"

That evening, as the Waynes head into town, the three masked heroes follow them. As they wait for the Waynes to exit the movie theater, they are discovered by Lieutenant Gordon on his way home. They scatter as Gordon chases Batman. Robin and Batgirl return to the theater to discover it has already let out and that the Waynes are walking into Park Row.

"Where's Batman?" shouts Robin as they chase after the Waynes Via the rooftops above. "Its up to us now! Do we respect Bruce's wishes and interfere?" says Batgirl. "…or do we follow our instincts and let destiny take its course and give this world it's Batman?" adds Robin.

Gordon has cornered Batman in a dead end alley and holds him at gunpoint. "I don't know who or what you are, but don't move. I assure you I'm quite a good shot." Batman pleads, " I can't explain it all, but I'm trying to stop the murder of two innocent people. Lieuten…Jim…in another world, another time… we're friends. If you can feel even a hint of that … TRUST ME! Let me go, please!" Gordon looks at him for a long moment and slowly lowers his gun.

Suddenly, out of the shadows comes a lone gunman demanding Martha's necklace. "Forget destiny," says Batgirl, "we can't just let two innocent people die! I just hope we're not too late!" Before Batgirl and Robin can react, a tall dark shadow of a bat falls over the gunman. He looks up in complete fear as a giant bat-like creature lunges at him!
Look out, Joe Chill!

"NO!" screams Batman. As he grabs the mugger's arm, gunshots fire into the air. The gunman flees as Batman chases him. "Not this time! You're not going to win this time!" Batman chases him into a dark alley and tackles him. Batgirl and Robin soon join him. Gordon, hearing shots, runs to the Waynes to protect them. Robin, looking at the gunman, says, "He looks familiar…" but his train of thought is interrupted by the strange echoing voice. "Your task here has ended! You must go now. You are strangers here…as much a stranger as I." As the thick fogs rolls in, Batgirl asks the Phantom Stranger, "Will we ever know what'll happen -- to young Bruce, his life?" "Perhaps. But for now, all you need to know is that you saved two lives and forever altered a third." And, for the first time in a long time, a tear falls from Batman's eyes. The fog engulfs them as they disappear.

The fog rolls at it shows us images of Thomas and Martha Wayne looking at their son as he climbing trees and reading books on Sherlock Homes, science and criminal investigation. (Phantom Stranger's voice for epilogue) "For as long as he lives Bruce Wayne will remember that night…and the bat-winged creature that swooped down from the sky, saving the lives of himself and his family. That night, Bruce Wayne learned what death was…and that it could be averted, at least temporarily. Years from now, he will make a decision…choose a direction for his life… And when he does, it will not de a decision of grief, or guilt, or vengeance…but of awe and mystery and gratitude" As young Bruce walks away his shadow is that of a bat-man.

Phantom Stranger - Christopher Walken

Superman and Captain Marvel

The Power of Shazam!
Story by Josh Mayfield

Thaddeus Bodog Sivana has been unappreciated his entire life, always feeling that his great scientific achievements have gone unnoticed, no one taking him seriously due to his appearance. He works at Lexcorp's scientific division as a janitor, hoping to make a breakthrough discovery in his spare time, to make it big in Metropolis. One night he is cleaning and stumbles across some of Luthor's files on Superman. Discovering Lex's ongoing war with the Man of Steel, he schemes to get rid of Superman once and for all, therefore impressing his boss and finally hitting the big time…

Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet, a young boy appears in the offices of the Daily Planet looking for Lois Lane and Clark Kent. The boy, Billy Batson, explains to Lois and Clark that he and his sister were separated when his parents were killed on an expedition in Egypt. He also explains that he's homeless due to his Uncle Ebenezer stealing his inheritance and kicking him out. He looks to Lois and Clark to write a story about his plight, so his uncle may be exposed as a charlatan and in hopes of finding his sister…
Lex & Sivana

Back at LexLabs, Sivana shows blueprints to Luthor for an elaborate machine, powered by kryptonite, designed to kill Supes. Luthor shrugs him off as an insane man and almost fires him, but decides to use him as a pawn instead, seeing some merit in Sivana's work. He sets Sivana to work on his machine, with a few modifications from Lex himself.

Lois and Clark, with Billy tagging along, are off to witness Lex's unveiling of the Lexo-Siv 3500, a sophisticated artificial intelligence supposedly designed to communicate with sea life (note: I couldn't think of anything better, so if you can, more power to you). Lex openly invites Superman to have a private moonlight demonstration later that night. Clark, instantly smelling a trap, decides to go anyway in hope of saving innocents in case there is mayhem…

Superman arrives that night, greeted by Luthor (smiling) and Sivana (cackling wildly), Superman confidently stands, knowing he is about to be greeted by something or other. At the same time that the lethal Kryptonite radiation is released, Billy Batson is walking the streets and notices the exchange of laughter and moans of agony. Wanting to help, Billy screams out "Shazam!" A bolt of lightning strikes where Billy was standing and in his place stands an adult garbed in red with a lightning bolt on his chest. This new hero flies up to the building to see what's going on. He flies Superman away to safety while smashing the machine to atoms. Luthor, having ducked away, emerges anew and blames the whole fiasco on Sivana. After he's dropped Sivana off at SCU headquarters, Captain Marvel returns to Superman to check him out. Supes, slowly recovering, asks his savior his name. Captain Marvel tells him, and Superman says, "Thanks, Billy." Explaining that he heard Billy's cry and deduced his hero persona, he also promises to help in the search for his sister.


In prison, Sivana plots on how to destroy Captain Marvel, who he believes has
destroyed his hopes of being a world renowned scientist… calling him a
"Big Red Cheese"
Fade to the Planet… Clark tells Billy that a lead has been uncovered in the search for his sister, and it leads to a place called Fawcett City. Billy vows to go there and continue his search.

Sivana -- Frank Gorshin
Captain Marvel -- Billy Zane

Who would YOU like to see appear in DCU: The Animated Series? E-mail us your ideas. The best one to be sent in by Wednesday, October 21st will appear in the next issue of Fanzing!

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1998 Bob Riley & Josh Mayfield; editing by Michael Hutchison.
All artwork is © 1998 by Bob Riley.