THE MARVEL FAMILY
VS THE JOKER

Part 1: The Joker's Whiz-Bang

by Seth Gottlieb

The Joker had never been so bored in his life.

It had only been two days since the mass escape from Arkham. From the private boxcar from Utica, he, Harley and his boys managed to disembark near a small town. From there, he was able to secure some vehicles where they headed west.

"Two long days and nothing's happening" thought the Joker. Sure they robbed a couple of convenience stores along the way. Sure they caused panic and hysteria in their wake. But where was the excitement? Where was the challenge? As much as the Joker hated to admit it, he missed Gotham. At least in Gotham there was a promise of a new day, a new scheme, a new adventure.

But then again, there was also Batman.

It was then that the Joker remembered why he escaped in the first place. To get away from Batman. To become a big shot outside of Gotham.

Still he was bored.

He had contemplated going to another city, but the choice was surprisingly limited. Metropolis was out, not because of a certain Kryptonian crusader, but, well, let's say Luthor swore if he ever saw him again he would literally grind him to a pulp. Coast City was also out because, well, it was destroyed, and Keystone just didn't seem to cut it.

"Watsa matter puddin?" Asked Harley.

"Quiet! I'm thinking!" snapped the Joker.

"Sorry Mr. J." said Harley Sheepish, "Mind if I turn on the radio? The news is almost on. maybe there's more about you!"

"Sure" he could use some good news about now.

Harley switched the radio on and searched for a clear station. After a few minutes, she finally found one.

".illy Batson, for WHIZ radio news, brought to you by the good people at Fawcett Formal wear, for your next fancy affair. Today's top story, a three alarm fire struck a tenement area near Raboy avenue last night destroying three buildings and injuring five. Fire fighters at the scene credited the low level of injuries to the timely arrival of the Marvel family who arrived on the scene to assist in the evacuation of the tenants. In other news.

The announcer continued while the Joker contemplated. Fawcett. there was a city with possibilities. A wholesome city unblemished by the trials and tribulations of the East Coast. Sure they had their heroes, this Marvel family, but what about crime? No wanton acts of destruction, no corruption, no senseless violence. That place sounded ripe for the pickings. The Joker snapped off the radio, grinning evilly. He heard enough.

"What gives Mr. J?"

"Harley my girl, radio the gang. I found our next caper. we're going to Fawcett!"

TWO DAYS LATER

Billy had never been so bored in his life.

He was at a local coffee bar. He had just got out of school and was waiting for Mary to pick up Freddy from his physical therapy session. Next week was Mr. Bromfeld's birthday, and they all decided to shop for his gifts together.

It had only been two days since Cap's last appearance. Since then it was quiet in the city. For once, he seemed to have a normal life. But where was the excitement? Where was the challenge?

Then he remembered summer was coming up. No more school until September.

A few minutes later, the pair showed up. You ready Bill? Asked Fred.

"Sure, its another two hours until my next broadcast, so there's plenty of time to shop".

"I have to stop at an ATM first" said Mary

"OK, there's one nearby"

A few minutes later they were near a branch of the Fawcett City Bank.

"I'll just be a minute" said Mary.

"Sure, we're going to grab a bite over there" Billy pointed toward a nearby snack truck.

"You want to grab something first? My treat." he asked Freddy.

"Sure, I'm starving" said Fred.

Bill knocked on the truck. "Some service please?"

"Beat it kid!" said a voice from inside.

How rude, Billy thought. Why would they even be here in the first place if they weren't open?

Inside the snack truck the Joker and his henchmen were busy. It didn't take long for the Joker to set up in this city. He was able to secure an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town. After learning of a cash shipment at the bank across the street, he was able to plan this particular caper. He and his gang were currently trying to open the manhole and access the sewer line that led under the bank. The tricky part was to access the bank itself. Fortunately, he was able to use his regular equipment that he had delivered from a safe house of his back in Gotham. "Thank goodness for FEDEX" he thought.

"It's all set boss." Said a burly henchman. "We just have to disable the alarms so the cops won't show."

"Good! Don't forget to access the entrance doors. Make sure they're shut during our operation. I don't want any 'disturbances', GOT IT?" Said the Joker.

"Uh, sure boss." said the lackey nervously.

OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE OUR OTHER MACHINES AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS.

"Figures", thought Mary. Fortunately she had an account at this bank, and there wasn't much of a line.

As she entered the bank, she didn't notice that the doors closed directly behind her, and locked shut. While she filled out an account slip, she heard a rumble.

At that moment, in the center of the lobby the floor crumbled as if something was burrowing up from below. From that hole a vehicle with what appeared to be a giant drill bit rose from the ground. Amidst the confusion, a door opened on its side, and out came six people wearing clown masks sporting machine guns. Finally, two more figures, male and female, also dressed as clowns exited the vehicle. Only one of them wasn't wearing a mask.

"The Joker!" Mary thought.

Outside the two boys heard the underground rumbling. A passerby assumed aloud that it was an underground subway car. "Not likely" thought Bill. " There's no subway tunnel in this area."

"Where's Mary?" asked Fred, "She's not at the ATM."

"She must have gone in the bank, I'll check."

Billy then went to the front entrance only to find that it was locked. "Strange, it isn't even 3 yet." thought Bill.

It was then that he saw the commotion inside the building.

"Holy moley", thought Bill, "the bank's being robbed!"

"By the Joker!"

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T OPEN THE SAFE?" screamed the Joker.

"Um, it's a time lock Mr. Joker, sir," said a timid clerk, ".it won't open until morning, and we don't have access."

The clerk never finished. He immediately dropped dead due to a spray of Joker venom courtesy of the Joker's lapel flower.

"CURSES!" He screamed. "All those millions! All locked up!"

"It don't matter boss, we can still get a couple thou from the cashier drawers."

"Thousands? Can't you think big? How can you think of thousands when we can have MILLIONS?! Oh my." At that the Joker tugged uselessly on the door in the vain hope to get it open.

Meanwhile, during the confusion, Mary managed to hide herself in a nearby cubicle. Normally, she wouldn't risk transforming in a public area, but after witnessing the poor clerk, she realized she had no choice. Nervously, she started to say her magic word. "SHA--" CLONK! As Mary crumpled unconsciously to the ground, Harley, carrying a huge wooden mallet, pulled her out.

"Hey Mr. J! I found another one!"

"SHAZAM!"

"CAPTAIN MARVEL!"

From a nearby alley, the world's mightiest mortal, and the world's mightiest boy emerged from twin bolts of lightning and sped out at blinding speed, crashing through the bank entrance. The plan was simple. Subdue the robbers and rescue the hostages.

Despite a hail of bullets from the Joker's henchmen, the heroic pair managed to subdue and disarm them. All the while, the Joker himself was still trying to pry open the safe door, seemingly oblivious to the pair's presence. After the last henchman was taken care of, the two Marvels stood behind him, trying to grab his attention.

"Ahem!" said Captain Marvel.

The Joker quickly looked behind and noticed the pair, arms crossed, looking impatient.

"Well, you look like a nice strong gentleman, maybe you can help me get this open!"

"You're kidding, right?" Said Cap in mock disbelief.

"Oh I never kid around, especially when I have an ACE up my sleeve. Right Harley?"

"Right as rain Mr. J!" said Harley, tugging a terrified Mary from a rope from behind a cubicle. Both heroes were shocked when they saw her wearing what appeared to be a gas mask with a small hose connected at the mouth. At the other end of the hose 'Harley' held what appeared to be an aerosol can with a switch. Mary struggled uselessly as she tried unsuccessfully to say her magic word under the mask.

"Either you help me get this open, or I'll give this girl a nice big permanent grin. What's it going to be red boy?"

Marvel hesitated. Then, after seeing Mary's face pleading with him behind the mask, he realized he had no choice. He couldn't stop the Joker while he held his sister hostage. This psychotic clown had successfully humbled the world's mightiest mortal. "Stand back" he said meekly as he and CM3 reluctantly pried open the safe door in a matter of seconds.

During the next few minutes, the pair of heroes watched, helplessly, as the Joker and his revived henchmen raided the safe. All the while keeping them at bay with their hostage. A few minutes later, sirens were heard in the distance.

"Well, that's our cue, ta ta for now!!" cackled the Joker as he entered the vehicle with Harley, Mary, and his henchmen. As soon as the door shut, there was another rumble underneath, as the vehicle lifted into the air like a rocket, crashing through the dome glass above.

Both heroes followed the rocket cautiously in hopes of figuring where the rocket would land. Partway through the flight however, the vehicle buckled, and started to plummet. Before it went completely out of control, the pair were able to grab onto it, and maneuver it safely in a nearby vacant lot, where some police vehicles were arriving.

Immediately, Captain Marvel ripped open a hatch, only to avoid being hit by an oversize boxing glove at the end of an extendo-arm from behind the door. The rocket itself was empty. While Captain Marvel, CM3 and the surrounding cops tried to figure out what happened, a seemingly innocent snack truck passed nearby.

Inside the van, the Joker, watching the befuddled crowd, was beside himself with laughter.

"HA HA HA! This is so rich! What an imbezzle! What an ultra-maroon!"

"You're a genius Mr. J!" quipped Harley.

"Boss?" said a henchman," I just got word from the boys back at the warehouse. Those other boxes you sent for arrived!"

"Splendid! Oh I can't wait! I'm going to hit this town so hard they won't even know what hit them!"

In the back of the van, Mary, still a hostage, listened nervously as the Joker continued to brag. After leaving the rocket from the base, the Joker had launched the rocket, and scurried her through the sewer, up a manhole, and into this van. Where were they taking her? What was he up to?

And what would they do to her?

To be continued.

 
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