A Green Lantern/Starman Team-Up
by Matt Morrison
art by Kurt Belcher, colors by Matt Morrison
Part One: Light Conversation
[Author's Note: This first part of the story takes place after the events of Green Lantern #81 and between the events Starman #27 and #29. It is shortly after the funeral of Hal Jordan, sometime in early February. The flashback takes place DURING Hal Jordan's funeral]
"Old Man Winter never does seem to come to Opal", Ted Knight said as he scribbled quadratic equations on a blackboard. Once a member of the Justice Society, Ted Knight had retired from his superheroic identity roughly a year ago. In times long past he had built a device, the Cosmic Rod, to harness this energy and used it to fight crime as Starman. Now he devoted his time to exploring the stars at his observatory and finding new ways to harness the cosmic energy he had discovered. A suggestion made by Jack, who was currently sitting at a table near the blackboard.
Ted momentarily paused to look at his son. A young man nearing 30, Jack had taken up the title of Starman almost immediately after his father. Originally Ted had given his title to his eldest son David, who was killed nearly a week later during a crimewave started by his old archenemy, The Mist. Jack took up the role of Starman, killing the Mist's son, who was also David's assassin. His thoughts turning to his David's death, Ted suddenly thought of the trial where Jack was cleared of murder charges and just as quickly turned to how he and Jack were almost exact opposites.
He remembered how he had shown up for court in his best brown suit with a matching tie and shirt and Jack came in wearing a blue zoot-suit with a purple shirt and a green and yellow tie of wild design. The memory of the two of them standing together as the judge read the sentence, Ted thought, showed the conflict between their two personalities better than anything else. Realizing he was letting his thoughts drift, all the while his hand still moving, chalk scratching against slate, he returned his thoughts back to the present as Jack spoke.
"Yeah. 65 degrees on the average winter day. You've got to love that." Jack said, taking a sip from his cup of coffee.
"Me in particular or just "you" being people in general."? Ted asked, thinking his son might be making a joke about his age. Although he was in good shape for a man in his 70's, Ted was still very sensitive about his age and resented the implication that he was becoming "old". He had in fact, while always having appreciated Opal's balmy climate, begun to appreciate it all the more ever since his joints began starting to revolt against his mind. Still, he'd never admit that to Jack.
"People in General, Dad. I just mean, who likes cold weather?" Jack said, quickly trying to cover. He knew he had just unintentionally upset his father but ever since meeting Pete he had become more concerned about his father's health. Jack had spent his Christmas Eve helping Pete recover a locket, containing the only picture left of his wife and son, that was stolen from him. Meeting Pete, who was about the same age as Ted, made Jack realize how lucky he was to have his father still alive and slightly afraid of loosing him. The end result was his Jack's asking, at least once per visit, about Ted's health something which annoyed Ted to no end.
"You did once. When you still a boy." Ted said as his chalk suddenly broke. Wordlessly, Ted picked up a new piece and continued his scribbling.
"You mean during that one snowstorm when I was a kid? Dad, that doesn't count. You always love it when you're a kid and it snows." Jack said, his memory racing back. He has been about 10 years old and for the first time in his lifetime, snow had come to Opal. He could remember having spent practically the entire winter outside making snow forts and having snowball wars with David. It hadn't snowed in Opal since that winter. Not until this year when a blizzard hit Opal a few days before Christmas.
"Still, you did like snow once." Ted said. Jack sighed in agreement, hoping to avoid an argument. Between the adventure with Pete and the funeral he had just gotten back from, Jack was too tired to argue over something so silly. He decided to change the subject. "So, have you talked to any of the old group lately?"
Ted paused in mid calculation. "Hmm well Wes called the other day. He told me all about the adventure you had when you were in New York. It's the best I've heard him sound in years." Ted said as he put the chalk down, moving to take a seat with his son.
"Yeah. I was just about to tell you about that. He said that being with me made him feel more alive than he has in forever. He said he hoped to see you again."
"Well he said he and Dian were getting ready to take a trip and that he might stop by Opal for a few days."
Jack smiled. "Yeah? That would be great. Hope it's not too soon though I'm expecting company already."
Ted raised an eyebrow as he sipped from his mug. "Guests? I thought you'd be busy devoting all your time to finding a new shop and doing business."
"Really? I never would have expected you to want to have anything at all to do with him." Ted said simply. "I don't know much about him except what Alan told me, but he would seem to be ". Ted paused, trying to think of the right work as Jack nodded and finished the sentence.
".. seem to be everything I hate about the whole costume thing? Yeah, that's what I thought when I first met him .."
Jack touched down a dozen yards from the emerald cathedral. Switching off the cosmic rod, Jack glanced around. There weren't too many people here yet, but the ones that were had already begin flowing into the various clichés. Not too far off, he saw Blue Beetle talking to Steel. And Superboy was over talking to a few of the girls with Legion insignias on their belts. Walking into the crowd, Jack sighed, silently wondering how his father had talked him into coming here in the first place. He told his father he wouldn't really feel comfortable at a superhero funeral and then his father gave him a look. The same look Jack got in high school when he refused to go to the prom, saying that "proms are just some contest the jocks and cheerleaders and popular pretty people have to see who can spend the most money".
He finally gave in to his father's insistence that it would be good to put in the appearance. He also thought it would do Jack good to talk to some other superheroes. Well, Jack conceded the point of the appearance but as for socializing with the other superheroes, well . Jack thought he would almost sooner have his entire collection of classic Beatles LPs scratched.
Idling scratching himself under the collar, Jack examined his "dress" costume. He had flow the whole way from Opal to Coast City in a pair of grey slacks, dress shoes and a nice shirt and tie. He'd wanted to wear his blue zoot suit with the green and yellow star tie, but his dad told him that might not be appropriate for a funeral. Jack backed down on the suit, but he insisted on wearing one of his ties.. the dark blue one with the orange star patterns. So he'd be recognized, he also wore his jacket with the tin sheriff's badge and his goggles. Dusting some dirt off his slacks, Jack made a mental note to fly in his regular clothes and then change the next time he flew in to a formal event.
Jack wandered the crowd for a few minutes, nothing that most of his dad's fears of inappropriateness were ill-founded. Nearly everybody here was wearing a costume or uniform of some form or fashion. He reflected upon this as he looked at Power Girl and Huntress and their respective eye-catching costumes, chatting in a corner when a voice behind him snapped him from his reverie.
"I wouldn't stare. Aside from being rude, Power Girl would probably rip your arms off" the voice said. Jack turned towards the light tenor voice, his eyebrows raising involuntarily in surprise. Behind him stood a young man somewhere in his early-twenties. His eyes were hidden by an armored green mask and he wore a uniform of mostly black spandex, with some white along the chest. In the middle of the white, at about the right lapel, there was a complicated green/black pattern that was vaguely lantern shaped. Jack nodded at the figure, recognizing him as Green Lantern.
"And dare one ask what Huntress would do?" Jack asked.
"Shoot you someplace uncomfortable. At least that's what she said to me when I tried to introduce myself." Lantern said, grinning with an exaggerated nervousness. "It's almost like she knew what I was thinking."
Jack smirked. "Gee, I wonder how. Could it have something to do with the fact that you're wearing a tight spandex jumpsuit? Kind of makes any impure thoughts kind of obvious."
GL nodded. "I know, but since I only wear this when there's trouble I'm usually too distracted to notice a nice set of curves for any problems to come up uh, no pun intended."
"Yeah. Gotta be careful they might kick you out of the Power Rangers if that happened."
Green Lantern frowned slightly. "Was that a crack about the costume?"
Jack almost snorted. "Gee, you think?" he replied in a mockingly high tone. Green Lantern just looked at him and started to walk off. Jack sighed and quickly grabbed Green Lantern's shoulder. "Sorry I didn't mean anything by it just trying to be funny "
GL nodded. "Yeah. Okay. It's cool. Although I think it's kind of funny that YOU'RE giving me fashion advice. I mean, what's this?" he said motioning at Jack's costume. "Standard uniform for the Salvation Army? What thrift store did you get your costume from?"
Jack gaped widely as Green Lantern grinned back at him. "You want to go one more round matching wits, or should we just say we're even and call a truce?" A green braced hand came forward offering a handshake.
Jack nodded, excepting the hand. "Truce". He said. "By the way, thanks for the warning about Huntress. But why are you so concerned?" Jack said.
"Well, since I'm kind of the host I figure It's kind of my duty to make sure that nobody gets killed. It's too damn soon to do another one of these."
Jack nodded as he looked up at the glowing green building behind him. It looked to be equal parts gothic cathedral and fairy tail castle. "Nice construction."
GL smiled a bit at the complement "Thanks. You want to come inside for a few minutes and get away from the crowd?"
"Yeah. I've never been much for mingling anyway " Jack said as he strapped his rod to his back followed Green Lantern into the building.
The interior of the building was as exquisite as the exterior. A main aisle stretched down the center of the building to a raised platform where a podium stood. The ceiling was a high and arched, a large curve reaching towards the heavens.
"This is really nice looking." Jack said.
"Well, truth be told though, I can't take all the credit for this. It's all my design but John Stewart helped me a bit with some ideas."
"John Stewart? The guy who used to be a Green Lantern?"
"That's him. He should be here pretty soon. I asked him for some help since he's an architect. I was never able to get into the subject even when I had to take the class when I was trying to get a degree."
Jack nodded. "So you're an artist, then?"
"Yeah.. how did you ?"
"Only job I can think of where you need to take architecture classes but not become an architect."
"You don't really NEED to take them, but it's a big help if you ever do technical drawing."
"Yeah. I've never liked technically drawing. I always preferred painting stuff that was alive."
Green Lantern nodded and looked at Jack quizzingly. "So you're an artist too, huh?"
"Well kind of. I've wanted to be one ever since I was a kid, but I've sort of lost the passion and given up, you know?"
GL shrugged. "Yes and no. I've had a couple of dry spots but I could never give it up. I just painting too much."
Jack sighed and nodded. "Yeah. I kind of worded that poorly I still like to think I'm an artist but I just haven't been inspired to do anything in a while."
Green Lantern nodded, "I hope it comes back someday." By the way, my name is Kyle. Kyle Rayner." Jack nodded as Kyle stuck his hand out and they shook hands again.
"Nice to meet you, Kyle. I'm Jack Knight."
"Nice name. You want to see something, Jack? I think you might appreciate it "
Kyle lead Jack through an arched doorway on the side of the room and into a smaller hallway. "I made this kind of for myself but I thought it was appropriate." he said as Jack stepped into the room.
The room was a small art gallery, the few pieces contained inside each being in someway devoted to Hal Jordan. Upon the wall hung paintings of Hal posed in costume, Hal in battle and even a portrait of Hal without the mask. As Jack looked at them, he realized that they were each done in different manners, effecting the styles of different artists. The painting of Hal fighting some guy with red skin and pointed ears, Jack noted, looked like that old Romantic picture of St. George and the Dragon.
"This is nice." Jack said. "You're good "
Kyle sighed. "Thanks hearing that from you well, you know how most other artists can be about other people's work. They tend to be more critical, and to me hearing a fellow artist say that I'm doing good work means even more than Superman saying he likes it."
"Yeah. He's starting the ceremony off, in fact."
"So he liked this too, huh?"
"I guess so. He's already asked if he can have this one " Kyle said motioning to a simple portrait of Hal Jordan, done in a Norman Rockwell style.
"Redecorating the Fortress of Solitude?"
"I didn't ask. Besides, how many artists can say that Superman asked him if you could give him one of your paintings."
"Give? He's not paying for it?"
"Well, he offered, but . Well, how could you have the nerve to ask Superman to pay for anything? Besides, he's in the same boat I am as far as the costume goes no pockets."
Jack nodded, sighing a wistfully. "My store." he said.
"My store. I should have said that earlier after you said 'What thrift store did you get your costume from?' I should have said 'My store'."
Kyle nodded as he began to lead Jack out of the gallery and back towards the cathedral entrance. "Right I heard you ran a collectibles place."
"Yeah well, I did. The old place was blown up. I'm still trying to find a new location but I've got some new stock in a warehouse."
"What kinds of stock?"
"Pretty much anything you could name." Jack replied. "Old furniture, clothes, books."
"Depends on what you're looking for some stuff I have. Others I can get "
"I was looking for some old Saturday Evening Posts covers I'm kind of getting into Rockwell, Leyendecker and some of the other artists from then and I was hoping to find some of their original works. I mean, they're so cool." Kyle said as they both walked down the outer steps of the cathedral.
Jack nodded as he took his cosmic rod out and held it. "Yeah, I could find you Rockwell and Leyendecker covers, but there's books full of it. You want cool, check out Beckhoff in Colliers or Robert Fawcett."
Kyle nodded "I know. I love all that stuff."
"I could sell you a load of clippings if you want them."
"Yeah. That would be great. Hey, maybe I should visit your city if you have a lot."
"Sure. Swing by sometime." Jack said, marveling at how quickly he was agreeing to let this guy come visit. "Just leave the costume and the craziness that goes with it at home."
Kyle smiled and nodded. "You got it, Jack. Later."
" but we really hit it off once we got to talking about art and stuff." Jack finished.
"Indeed." Ted said as he finished his cup. "Well, I won't keep you if you need to get going "
"Actually, I told him to meet me out here closer to the route he was taking "
"What route would that be?"
"You know.. he didn't even tell me how he was going to get here "
"Jack was right. This place IS a whole lot of nothing." Kyle muttered to himself as he touched down somewhere on the outskirts of Turk County. He stood in a large cornfield with nothing in view but more golden grains and the large city of Opal off in the distance. As Kyle let his costume melt away, he couldn't help but look at the city outline and think of an old movie he hadn't seen since he was a kid. They used to show it on a yearly basis and seeing it every year would be a high point for him. He vaguely recalled hearing that the network had stopped the annual tradition because of low ratings and sighed as he thought of that part of his lost youth.
His costume gone, Kyle looked at the nearby road and focused. Green light poured from the ring, darkening a bit and becoming solid. What he was trying to do now was a little more complicated than what he normally did with the ring, but it was possible. He could make objects that looked real. They still came out green white and black, but they didn't glow. It just took a little more focus. Within a minute, the shape solidified into that of a Cadillac convertible. 'Pea green wasn't my first choice." Kyle thought "But at least I got the tires to come out black this time." he thought as he got behind the wheel of the car. Looking up, he willed a pair of fuzzy green dice into existence on the rear view mirror. With that final touch, Kyle drove his new car down the road toward Opal City, a light song running through his head as he began to sing "Oh, we're off to see the Wizard .the wonderful ."
Jack walked down the steps of the observatory upon seeing the bright green car. "Nice car." he said. "I thought I said to leave the costume stuff at home."
"Sorry." Kyle grins. "You know how much a flight from New York to Opal City is? A little bit more than my food budget will allow, thanks. Besides, if it weren't for the fact you know who I am, you couldn't tell this was fake, could you?"
"No. I'd just think you had really bad taste or that this was the only car Crazy Eddie had left that didn't have engine trouble."
"Smartass." Kyle grinned.
"Damn right. Beats being a dumbass any day of the week."
"Yeah. So where are we going first? You had lunch yet?"
"No let's go to the Marina Diner."
"Hmm.. doesn't that sound wholesome?"
"All the truckers eat there "
All characters are DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Matt Morrison.