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TABLE OF CONTENTS RKYV # 12 {May 2008} RKYV ONLINE LOGO - David Marshall { current } - Roy G James { original } - Randy Pare { original online adaptation} Virtual Cover # 12 - art by Sam van der WoudenFeatured Artist Review - by Tariq Rafiq - layouts by David Marshall Editorial Column Poetry - Larissa Gula, Leyla Sabah, Patrick J. “Pass The Stuffing” - Randy Pare Nestor, Jr. Health Column - Christina Marchetti World View “A Canadian Living in the USA” - by Tom Rossini

Fan Fiction - “The Shadow of Shazam” - by R J Pare’ Non-Fiction - “Futurism in the Funnies” - by Roy G. James

Interior Artists Josh Bowe, Jonathan Biermann, Jeremy Vokey, Pop Culture Santiago London, Lee-Ann Marie Macdonald, “Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons” Roger Formidable, Sam van der Wouden, Mark - by Pauline Pare Laliberte, David Marshall

From The Shadows of the Mind Series - by Jonathan Biermann

Life is full of many things: curiosity, creativity, love, emotions, adventure, and challenges. Happy Anniversary, RKYV!!! Jet Tenley Happy First Anniversary RKYV...I have enjoyed checking out the magazine and reading the articles..I also think the magazine just keeps getting better and better each month...I can't wait to see "2nd Anniversary Issue" I have Congrats - by Roger Formidable also enjoyed being part of this magazine for the last 3 months..Keep up the great work Randy my friend... Tariq Rafiq Happy anniversary, RKYV! Thank you for being so incredibly welcoming to all of us, especially the new people looking for a place to share their creations. Keep writing and sharing - I look forward to seeing what others are creating. -Larissa Gula It’s been a fun Year One! - RJ Pare’ EIC RKYV ONLINE - signed on the back of a printout of Sam’s Cover Art.

Pass the Stuffing Letters from the Editor - by R. J. Pare’ The passage of time. We observe it. We feel the countless changes to both the physical world and our perceptions of thereof. These changes, if we are trying our best, are usually good. There will, however, always be some we regret. RKYV Online, in its first year, has gone through many such changes. Changes to format. Changes to content. Changes to quality. We have had columnists and contributors come and go. Some whose wit, charm and talent were always a welcome addition and whose presence in these pages are truly missed. Yet change is also a good thing. For without change we cannot grow and evolve. RKYV Online’s evolution has been a joy to be a part of. From the first couple of half hazard thrown together issues... To a monthly delivery of entertainment that, in my humble opinion, has reached a size and quality comparable to professional publications. I am therefore honoured to present to all of you the First Anniversary Issue of RKYV Online.

Untitled - by Santiago London

Health Murdoch’s Medical Missives - by Christina Marchetti Herbology The "old new" medicine, or... “Why you really shouldn't take what is growing in your back yard.� For centuries, man has been treating himself for ailments with whatever mother nature has provided, willow bark tea for fevers and pain, foxglove for heart ailments, peppermint, ginger or fennel for stomach upset, etc. Than along came the pharmaceutical companies, turned them into chemical concoctions and gave them all new names, a cost and a need for a prescription to get them. With in the last few years, there has been a resurgence of these home remedies, with people wanting to get away from the chemical stuff and back to the natural way of things. But what does that mean for you the consumer. A lot. Of utmost importance is safety, namely looking at drug and herbal interactions. If you are going to start on herbal medications, or for that matter any of the naturopathic remedies, make sure you talk to your doctor, pharmacist or herbologist first to make sure that there is no double dosing of medication. For that matter talk to all three of them and make sure you get the same response from all of them before starting on a regimen.

You really don't want to be starting on something like willow bark tea for pain control and joint swelling , only to find out it is a blood thinner as well (it is a form of ASA.) Especially if you are taking something like coumadin for heart problems or you suffer from haemophilia. Read your ingredients carefully and question ingredients you don't know. Some of these herbal remedies are made up of many different ingredients in minute amounts with fancy names that are written in latin, but if you are allergic to something... Well lets just say being written in latin does not make it any less dangerous for you. Be careful if you are pregnant. Just because it is all natural does not mean that it is good for baby too. Let your doctor know you have started an herbal regimen. They may throw your lab values off. Make sure you get your stuff from a licenced distributor, who knows what they are talking about. Ask to see their diploma. All good doctors and pharmacists have there diplomas and or licences posted where they can be seen. And last, but not least, ask lots and lots of questions about what you are about to take. ie. alternate names and dosages, side effects, signs of over dosing, expiry dates, does it turn colour when know good, half-lives ( how long it stays in the body for), how often do you need to take it etc. Remember education is the key to all safety. Herbal remedies might not be for everyone, but for those who do find relief in it, it is a blessing. Goodness knows, it has kept the human race on this earth for a long time. Yours in Service, Christina

Untitled - by Lee-Ann Marie Macdonald

World view A Canadian Living in the USA - by Tom Rossini What is Canada’s Official Sport - Lacrosse or Ice Hockey ? It should not come to surprise anyone that Ice Hockey is actually one of Canada’s officially recognized sports…. But, did you know that Canada actually has two official sports? What many Canadian’s do not realize is that Lacrosse was the unofficial sport of Canada back in the days before the Confederation in 1867. Since that time, the popularity of lacrosse has fallen drastically and the popularity of Ice Hockey has risen exponentially. If you ask any Canadian to name a professional sports team in either Hockey or Lacrosse you will more than likely hear names like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadians and not the Calgary Roughnecks or Toronto Rock. So the question remains how did Lacrosse and Ice Hockey become the official sports of Canada? Well it seems that back in 1964, a Bill was introduced to officially declare Ice Hockey as the official sport of Canada. Almost immediately after this, another Bill was introduced asking that Lacrosse be declared the official sport of Canada due to the fact that popularity made it so even though it was not legally declared. In 1967 during Canada’s Centennial, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed separate national summer and winter sports but this matter would not be resolved for almost another 3 decades (see how fast the government works). Bill C-212 was introduced in 1994 to officially make Ice Hockey Canada’s official sport but due to the pressure from Lacrosse supporters the Bill was amended to read “To recognize hockey as Canada's National Winter Sport and lacrosse as Canada's National Summer Sport". This Bill became a Law on May 12, 1994. The Next Debate: Where is Hockeytown? Definitely not in Montreal.

[ editor’s note: Tom is allowed this one, they did win the Cup this year. But come on... Hockeytown? With this year’s win Detroit now has 11 Cup victories. The beloved Montreal Canadiens have more than twice that with 24!! ]

- by J C Ritchie

Featured Artist Review By Tariq Rafiq Background Samantha MCM van der Wouden-Diedericks was born and bred in South Africa, where she grew up on a farm with a lot of freedom, without any outside influences except the big spaciousness of nature and the feeling of being part of the big circle of life, including the harshness and cruelty of it, and the insignificance of humanity. Nature being so immense and big and overwhelming and powerful, where only the strong survives, created within her an amazing ability to understand nature and its workings, which is still found in her interpretation of the living world, and the interconnection of everything, fitting together like big puzzles. After finishing school her first idea was to study Engineering, but after aptitude tests, locating her amazing ability to see 3 dimensionally, the most obvious choice was to study Art.... After studying Fine Arts she got a job as a Graphic Designer, then got involved with the Public Relations and communications side of the Department, which led to studying B.Comm, then she started Lecturing part time at the Art Faculty, which led to studying Ceramics and Sculpture. "Samantha is a diverse multi-disciplined artist working in lots of different mediums, researching the multicultural world, originally from the Rainbow Nation (South Africa), now residing in the Netherlands. The Cultural shock influenced her work on many different levels, which she takes further with her concepts, "Mindtrees", "Mind Scapes", and of course "The Tailchaser Society". Including the mundane mediocre society in which we reside ( where nobody can think for themselves ), which resulted in the last series "The Garden in my Head" .... (escapism)...and The Chaos Theory - how everything is linked to each other, being part of the big Circle of life, and lastly the Hybrid Theory ... how you have to change to adapt in another culture/country, how you basically have to rewrite yourself as a human being, to be able to survive, and still recognize yourself.

Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title: “Reach for the sky” Collection: “Mindtrees Collection” Date Created: 2004 Media: Acrylic on Canvas Size: 120 x 100 cm Beautiful use of colours. To quote an admirer of this piece “I really love this one... you use such realistic elements, and yet it seems so otherworldly”. She is right on with her impression of this piece… The colours are vivid, the elements are things we see every day in our daily lives, yet the painting is so bewitching…truly looks like a place outside of our world.. A happy and cheerful place that makes you feel happy… 1.How long have you been an artist? How did you get started? All my life... my earliest memories were of me sitting in church with the family; me passing the time by looking through my fingers at the world; counting... adding and subtracting; fitting squares and triangles into spaces; creating my own world of dimensions... living in my own little world. Went to study art and then had a near death experience (big car accident where 6 people died).... which makes for a more creative life... Facing death makes you think differently about life and your part in the big picture... the big circle of life. Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title: “Rooted” Collection: “Mindtrees Collection” Date Created: 2004 Media: Acrylic on Canvas Size: 120 x 70 cm

I love the colours and the painting has been done in a clever way.. The painting gives the viewer the feeling that you are looking at a world full of life and possibilities. Someone commented about this painting “A tree of life... pulsating… absorbing and alive. The lizards… the roots transmit an experience that is at once ethereal and fantastic and a ‘possibility’ the creator perhaps did not envisage [smile] in the present scheme of things.” I totally agree with the above comments… I couldn’t have said it better myself. 2.Did you go to school or university and get formal training or are you self taught? Degree In Fine Arts; Honours Degree in Fine Arts; Degree in Communications and English; Diploma in Ceramics and Graphic Design; Now studying Dutch. 3.Who in your life has been the biggest influence on your art? I grew up surrounded by mountains, nature and in a house full of talented people. My father is a virtuoso; he can play any musical instrument. He was always drawing and solving mechanical problems; teaching me about nature and its workings. My mother is an artist in her own right; working in wood and making beautiful carvings. I grew up with artistic stimulation but I’ve never been pushed into any direction and was free to make my own choices. From early on I learned to be true to myself and to believe in myself. Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title:“I see me..” Collection:“Self Portraits” Date Created: 2007 Media: Ink on paper Size: A 3 This one is totally different from Sam’s usual use of bright vivid colors…In this black and white piece that has been created with simple details, Sam once again has captured the subject.. This is also a nice piece.

4.What is your favorite media to work with? Etching, Lithographs, Screen-printing, Acrylics, Aquarelle, pastels, pencils, ink, Clay, wood, stone, metal, wire, steel, lead, glass sticks and stones etc....

5.Do you use any special tools and techniques to create your art? Hammer and chisel, paintbrushes, hands, pallet knifes, pliers, wire, string, fingers, etc. 6.What inspires you to paint and generate new ideas to create a piece? Nature and my own theories on how the world works.... and what makes people tick... 7.What style do you consider yourself to be? Modern Naive Expressionistic Conceptionalist Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Collection: “Self Portraits” Date Created: 2000 Media: Pastels and Pencil on paper Size: A 1 One more nice portrait from Sam… I like the use of white against the yellow and purple background… I also like the hints of blue thrown into the mix of colours. The shading is also done very well.

8. Would you like to tell us anything else about your paintings? I use a lot of primitive symbolism combined with my own eclectic ethnic interpretation... which in time became allegorical symbolism, part of my own language so to speak... my work has been evolving from the beginning of my life, growing as I grow.... saying what I’m experiencing in my life.... a mirror to my soul... 9.Which famous artists have influenced you? Why? I wouldn't say that they've influenced me, I have respect for their mind workings as its seems to work in similar patterns to mine which I call mathematical mindscapes, other dimensions.... Paul Klee, Hundertwässer, Kandinsky....

10. If you could meet any living or dead artist, who would it be? Picasso

Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title: “Soul’s Mirror” Collection: “Self Portrait” Date Created: 1990 Media: “Wood Cut” Printed on Rice Paper Size: A 2

I love this one very much. Nice use of colours… I really think the combo of green, yellow and purple work very well together… I have never done a woodcut but looking at this piece inspires me to try my hand woodcutting….Very well done Sam…

11.What is the one question that you would ask him/her? Would you like to dance? 12. Do you think today‘s weak economy are affecting artists? Definitely, the market is dead but that usually creates a passion for creation, the same as a war ...

Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Collection: “The Garden in my Head” Date Created: 2008 Media: Clay Sculpture Size: 50 cm in height Sam truly is a multi-disciplined artist. She works is so many different forms of media including Etching, Lithograph, Screen-printing, Acrylics, Oil, Pastels, Clay, Wood, Stone and Metal. “The Garden in my Head” is one of my favourite sculptures that she has created. The fine detailing of the piece is brilliant. With eyes shut the subject is thinking of something that is making him smile.

Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title: “Sunshine on my Shoulders” Collection: “The Nude” Date Created: 2007 Media: Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Canvas Size: 100 x 70 This painting has a very strong presence….I love the use of red colours in the background. The shading is also done very well. I have included the following quote that I made about the piece “Very strong ,very sexual. What’s not to like. Some one is going to have some great art work on there wall. I hope to see your work one day”. 13. In today's competitive world how to you set yourself apart from other artists? Today’s world of "so called" artists, mass producing lesser quality work; filling up the market and selling for less is killing the market for real artists... more quantity than quality. By believing in myself and not selling myself for less than I’m worth. 14.How do you market yourself? Going to as many galleries and getting the feel of the public that goes there and finding the right place for me and my art. Also a member of an Art Collective, part of a regional Art Platform, having groups exhibitions with the other members. Exhibit solo as often as possible and in as many countries as possible, selling to companies and private collectors. 15. When you get a creative block while working on a painting, how do you get yourself back into the mood to paint and how do you keep yourself motivated? By working through it, it’s the only way, to have the discipline to work every day, having a creative block is a luxury, an excuse for laziness, or not having anything to say, start drawing everything you see, working through the lapse of creative flow, you can't create a masterpiece without creating a thousand mediocre pieces in between... that’s the answer.... never stop creating, get yourself a sketchbook and dabble and doodle all your thoughts and ideas in there.. you can always use it again when you feel a lapse in creative juices coming up... 16. Do you create your art full time or part time?

I breath and eat Art, its an ongoing process that never stops, never takes a break, even in my sleep. [I am an] Art Lecturer, artist, printmaker, sculptor, ceramist, photographer, graphic designer Art give me life... its what defines me as a human being I am ART... 17.What other interests do you have besides art? Teaching Body Balance and Rowing group lessons at the Fitness School, Giving workshops and Team building for Companies, Horseback riding, tennis, nature, walks, hikes, sand, dunes, clouds, trees, mountains, wind, sailing, running, dancing, laughing, talking, thinking.... absorbing... looking.. feeling.... and most importantly seeing. 18.What would you tell a young artist starting out today? Go for it, don't let your own fears hold you back..... and while you're doing it enjoy the ride... its great..... because its not where you are going to, or end up, but it’s the ride getting there, that’s the most important part, the most thrilling of it all.... And do, what you are saying you're going to do.... hold on to your dreams... and always be true to yourself. 19.Do you have any big plans or shows coming up in 2008? Exhibition/happening/installation... 24, 25 May in the Benschop Sculpture Gardens Group Exhibition 4 July in Lekkerkerk, The Netherlands Art Manifestation with the Art Platform promoting local artists in the region... around August 2008 Solo Exhibition Gouda, The Netherlands, end of 2008 20.Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Still going strong... being alive

Artist: Sam Van Der Wouden Title: “Women United” Collection: Commission for Women of the World Date Created: 2007 Media: Acrylic on Canvas Size: 140 x 50 cm

This one is my favourite pieces from Sam’s album “Wildlife & African imagery”. I love the compassion and the colours that Sam has used in this painting. The colours are bright and happy. You can totally visualize yourself watching the women walking together on a beautiful sunny day in Africa…

Superman Tribute Painting - by Jonathan Biermann

Poetry By Leyla Sabah [ English / Turkish ] BALANCE IN MOONLIGHT


We feed a spider With known ( taught ? ) colours... It weaves curtain over curtain, into us With jewelry...

Bir orumcek besleriz Asilsiz korkular, Ogretilmis bakislarla. Orer durur perde Mu-cevher ile ararmiza.

If only the dim Moon could rise Into the balanced space Quivering The spider will turn Into a joyful Moon - bird.

Untitled - by Josh Bowe

Dogabilse los Ay, Denge aral2i—g2ina Donusur orumcek Tir tir titreyerek Neseli Ay-kusuna.

Where I Live - By Patrick J. Nestor, Jr.

The wind blows but I cannot feel it You may have been screaming but I cannot hear it I turn you off, off then on Turn me on, turn me on Down inside the bowels where the dirt moves, alive alive... is it alive? What is alive? I could tell you, but I cannot Alas, I cannot Where do I live? Is that a Joke? I would laugh, but I cannot Will not Want not

Meat - Sketch - by Mark Laliberte

I yearn, I strive, I grasp at mounds of flesh beyond my reach That flesh is warm and inviting Yet I am not welcome anymore, more More or less, less is more Turn me on

The glass is broken the shards are red with what? With you? Am I with you now? I am not, yet I am I am... falling... somewhere deep

Untitled - by Josh Bowe

Where do I live? I can't remember, is that strange? I hear a knocking on the door. I want to open it but I'm afraid. Afraid of who is there. I don't want to see the man, grinning, grinning that terrible grin. Are you knocking? Do you know where I live? Can you tell me? I know, but I do not know. It's like a dream. Or a nightmare. Or one of those little stories you hear about that everyone knows. No one knows me here. Turn me on. Where do I live? It's wet here, but there is no rain. I hear it's fall, but it never comes. Somewhere deep, and dark, and full of life. There's lots of life here.

Roy Piper - Frank Zombie Where I live. And love and want and feel I cannot turn Turn me on Turn me on Where I live there is a lightness or is it heavy? I really can't recall. I tried to call you you didn't answer but maybe it's not your fault Is there a line here? There? Somewhere? Where I live There's darkness now. Every night. Ever. Evermore.

Villainess - by Mark Laliberte

I hate flowers. They mock me. They try and touch me and I won't let them. Who do they think they are? This is not their place. It's mine Where I live Turn me on Turn me on Walk with me? Walk me home? It's not far It's close closer than anyone wants to admit Very very Six simple steps and we're there. Come visit stay a while Turn me on turn me on deadman Hellboy Tribute Painting - by Jonathan Biermann

Optimus Prime - by Jeremy Vokey

Grandma's Dragons (In Her Memory) - by Larissa Gula Her graying china collects dust As the painted scales Of red and blue dragon hides Glide along the handles That we as a family Dare not touch They are never to be used Again, thus leaving the imprint Of her drying, aged lips

In peace at last.

Untitled - by Josh Bowe

Non - Fiction Futurism in the Funnies - by Roy G. James

Figure 10 - Secret Society of Super-Villains #2, National Periodical Publications, Inc., 1976 - “No Man Shall I Call Master”

Cloning !

Comic writers have recently used the process of cloning to “revive” a superhero who may have been destroyed in an earlier story. However, the ever present problem of the “identity crisis” raises its ugly head.

Cybernetics !

The television heroes “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Bionic Woman” have increased awareness of cybernetics. Life-like synthetic body parts are now a reality with artificial arms, legs, valves for heart, body tissues etc. These can be operated by the electrical impulse from the brain.

Figure 11 - Detective Comics # 443, National Periodical Publications, Inc., 1974 “Gotterdammerung”

Fan Fiction The Shadow of Shazam - by R.J. Pare, art by David Marshall, based on the DC Comics characters {all rights reserved}

The Shadow Of Shazam Book Three

“Where Do Heroes Stand?” What has gone before… Standing before the world media with cameras flashing the president walked up to the podium. In his address he praised the memory of the Justice Society and apologized that any administration would ever have driven such brave men and women from service. The president, finishing up a second term and therefore not needing to stump for votes, kept his introduction short. This reporter agrees with that decision at least. The next words from the President of the United States of America will be remembered for years to come. “Ladies and gentleman I give you… The Justice League of America!” CLICK. THUMP. With that the wall mounted flat screen in Bruce Wayne’s bedroom was turned off and the remote tossed, with obvious irritation, to the floor. For weeks the talking heads have been replaying the footage. The glorious heroes welcomed, by that dim-witted President, with open arms. The protectors of the USA and if the UN approval goes through {which it will, Bruce muses}; the protectors of the entire free world. Bruce’s right hand grips the bed sheets in a clenched fist! This new Society {or League, as they prefer} will have already achieved something its predecessor did not. Something that Bruce’s mentor and former guardian could not: Global recognition and validation of authority. His Uncle CC, the original Captain Marvel, would be proud of this. He would be even prouder, Bruce grimaces, if his erstwhile nephew were a part of the accomplishment.

“Mm…” the ravishing beauty beside him stirs. Talia’s delicate, manicured, nails run through the hairs on his chest. She settles her lithe form against him and returns to slumber. Bruce is certain he would have done something regrettable by now, if not for the pleasant distraction she provides. These fools, the Kryptonian especially, really know how to get under his skin. But Talia, oh Talia… this sultry minx has kept his spirits from getting low… with her unique wiles. During the day he has been able to patrol the skies for everyone to see… and admire. At night, a just reward, her soft and yielding arms. It is fitting, Bruce realizes, after all he is not a monk. They have police, they cannot expect him to shepherd them day and night… though with the rash of night time burglaries sweeping the city… his city… he supposes he may be forced to clean up this mess as well. To be honest, it isn’t a truly unpleasant task. A part of him relishes these opportunities to punish the scum who hide in the dark. They are not unlike the miserable cur that killed his parents. He recalls, with satisfaction, an encounter a few nights earlier… after Talia had drifted off to sleep.

A few nights before… “Aa-eee! Help, someone please help!” a woman’s voice screams in the night. “Which way Ma’am?” a deep voice seems to drift down to her from above. She tries to clear her head… rotten purse snatcher! He has her all confused… she looks to her left and then to her right but there is nothing. She turns around to see there is no one behind her either. “Up here Miss…” the voice chuckles. It gets them every time, the hovering; it’s always good for a laugh. “Oh, oh my, yes… yes, of course… Captain Marvel” she stumbles her way through an explanation… she was just on her way home… she wasn’t looking for trouble… blah, blah, blah….. He really had no time for this. “Which way!” he interrupts with authority in his voice. The effect is immediate as the woman points to the alley. Without another word Marvel flies off in pursuit. “Well!” The woman exclaims, “He didn’t have to be so rude!” Above the alley, Marvel flies, his eyes sweeping the corners and doorways. He searches fast. It would not be impossible, nor the first time, some low-life evaded him… he isn’t some CSI investigator after all… they always catch the bad guys… but that was fiction and while he may not have all that fantastic training and gadgets {most of which, he has heard are entirely fictional, real cops have to struggle to solve cases} he does have something over all of them , an almost limitless amount of god-like power… throw in a cape and tights and ladies and gentlemen… you’ve got yourselves a gen-you-ine hero! So what if his peers did not all agree. Bah, other than the alien, who among them truly counted as peers?

It didn’t matter. Footfalls could be heard around a corner. Bruce flies with the Speed of Mercury; arriving in time to see the thug climbing a fire escape. “This should be good,” Bruce mutters to himself.

He was breathing hard but soon he would be able to rest. Sheesh, maybe he should quit smoking, wouldn’t want to get so slow the cops nab ya. “Ha, humph….” He stifles his laughter. Like the Gotham cops would waste their breath chasing a purse snatcher. There were much bigger fish to fry in this town. Besides with that lunatic in the costume flying around, it ain’t like the cops are even motivated much these days. But Joey, now his momma didn’t raise a fool. He was a drug addict yes… a thief yes… but no fool! Joey’s got an edge. Down at the wharf, in the slimiest watering hole you can find, information can be had if you’re smart enough to listen. The barkeep lets him sweep up, if he’s not stoned, when he shows up. Just enough to work off his tab. The real value ain’t the cheap hooch it’s the loose lips. And Joey ain’t talking the whores… it’s the wise-guys who figure they can mouth off since no cops are around. Well, Joey ain’t no cop, but he listens. It seems, this fella, the big bad HERO… it seems he don’t go out much at night. Sure maybe once in awhile…but he gets his goodnight’s rest most of the time. Well that suits Joey just fine. The cops may have to work more on the night shift but they will be concerned with big shots… like these chatty wise-guys. A man who is content to just take a small piece… a dame’s purse… a newsstand cashbox… a quick smash and grab… well a man like that can work to his heart’s content. Steal enough to get by… but not enough to make him a priority… that is the way for Joey to go. Still, he’s gotta be able to run. “Resolution # 49,” Joey wheezes “Starting tomorrow, no more smokes!! Huh... huhh” he breathes hard “I mean it this time!” “Well I certainly hope so!!” a voice scares Joey half way out of his skin. He had reached the top of the building. Now, he just had to reach his favourite un-locked rooftop and he was all the way inside… and down to the main floor diner. It was a quiet place, where he could get a cuppa and count up the night’s haul. Joey didn’t think he was gonna be enjoying the mud they call coffee anytime soon. Not with the big fella floating in front of him. “Damn!” “You watch that mouth of yours punk!” Marvel sneers and grabs Joey by his shirt, dangling his feet over the edge of the building. “Do you know who I am?” Bruce growls.

“Ya, ya … okay man… don’t drop me!!!” Joey pleads “I’m Captain Marvel!” The police reports would indicate that the woman’s purse was returned and the assailant was incarcerated after his stay at St. Xavier’s emergency room. He apparently fell from the fire escape he was climbing on while attempting escape.

A deserted warehouse, on outskirts of Gotham “Master,” the acolyte in the hooded robe addresses him. “Your daughter is here.” Ra’s al Ghul is deep in meditation. He sits, lotus-like, seeking the focus that exists at the centre of his being. The Demon’s Head, as he is known, finds respite from the sometimes chaotic demands of ruling the League of Assassins in his daily meditations. It is decidedly un-wise to disturb them. The acolyte trembles before him and Ra’s inclines his head… “She may enter.” The servant hurries from al Ghul’s chamber, thankful to be spared the Master’s wrath. As he exits the room, Talia enters. She does not spare the servant a glance as she passes him… he is not worth her time. Her father, on the other hand… She drops to one knee before the dais “I have come… to report what I have discovered!” she says with eyes lowered to the ground. Then, with an act of will that would be deemed fatally insubordinate in any of his acolytes, she raises her head and looks her father in the eyes. “This Wayne may have access to power… but he is a vain and reckless fool. We have nothing to fear from him.” “I was not aware that we feared him in the first place.” Ra’s replies with one eye arched. His daughter chafes when made to follow orders… but she will follow them, it is not her time yet, to lead and it may never be. Ra’s considers his possession of the Lazarus’ Pits and their secrets and grins with satisfaction. “Then,” she begins… cautiously “I await your next task.” “You have your task,” Ra’s allows for no equivocation “return to it, until you are summoned.” “I see nothing else that I can learn from this – this cretin!” she is getting frustrated, forgetting herself “I can be of much greater use to you…”

“You will be of use to me, exactly where and how I command you to be!” al Ghul interrupts. She must not be allowed to imagine that she may resist him in any fashion. “For now, it is back with Mr. Wayne; it is your voice in his ear influencing him during his days; your body lying next to him, distracting him, at night!” “I am not your whore!!!” she snaps. It happens in one whiplash second. SMASH!! Ra’s al Ghul rose up from his dais with a blinding fast strike from the back of his hand, sending his daughter sprawling to the floor. He stands over her, looming, larger than life. Talia understood instantly that this was not her father. This was the Demon’s Head, the most dangerous assassin, leader of assassins, in the world. This was, in point of fact, her… Master! “I humbly offer apology,” she answers, hurried “I spoke to you with disrespect father. I am sorry, it will not happen again! I will return to my assignment.” She lifts herself up off the floor and walks out of Ra’s chamber, conscious of the fact that her father could strike her exposed back at any moment. She begins to breathe once she has rounded the corner, outside of the building. Ra’s admires her bravery in recovering so quickly. Exposing her back! Hah! She most definitely is a child of his blood. Most of his sycophants would weep or beg in such a situation… they certainly would urinate over themselves before offering their backs to the Master Assassin. His pleasure is short lived however. Ra’s can sense motion in the room. Something is moving and breathing. He smiles. “Per Degaton,” he declares with casual ease “if you have something to say to me… kindly do so.” Ra’s walks back to his dais, and sits himself down – this time – reclining on the cushions. “You know, we are in America now,” Per responds, appearing in the middle of the room “perhaps the two of you could go on Dr. Phil and sort out your father-daughter relationship. Ha hah ha…” “If there is anything important I should have said.” Ra’s suffers this buffoon patiently… how the fates could allow this worm such power, he cannot fathom. “Yes, yes...” Per replied, raising his hand, stifling of his mirth. “To business, then, we shall attend. I am here to inform you… it is time!” “Time?” al Ghul asks… a dubious tone in his voice. “Yes! Damn you… no more planning. No more intrigue! The time to strike is now!” Per is pacing back and forth, his emotions as far from centered as could be. “Everything is in order… we have the erstwhile Captain… occupied. Therefore, I agree”

“Ya, well I don’t care what you say the…” Per begins to argue “you agree?” “Yes, and close your mouth before a bug lands in it.” Ra’s enjoys seeing the confusion in Degaton’s face. “The time to strike IS now. My assassins will help you, so long as you procure the ‘special’ weapons.” “Great! I have already paid a visit to a Legion armoury several centuries hence. Our troops will be unstoppable!” Per is filled with braggadocio at the prospect of victory. “Then I suggest, returning to equip my acolytes as quickly as possible.” Ra’s crosses his legs and closes his eyes. The meditation will help him find the flaws, if there are any, in the plan. There are many things that Per Degaton would enjoy saying to this arrogant man. He would enjoy telling him what he thinks of his attitude; his prostitute of a daughter; his complete lack of gratitude for everything that Per has done… There are so many quips, gibes and comebacks he would like to throw at Ra’s al Ghul… he just can’t think of any at the moment. Seething with frustration, Per Degaton vanishes.

“... of violence in the West Bank… an oil tanker disaster in the Gulf of Tonka… rebel fighters in the African nation of… innocents slaughtered… fires sweeping the forests of California…” The news reports were full of an almost non-stop litany of regional warfare and environmental disasters. The JLA making use of its newly sanctioned status as a UN peacekeeping force has been kept busy for weeks responding to a near constant state of crisis around the globe!

The Gulf of Tonka “Eek click eek eek” Sunnee replied to Arthur, while thinking “There are sailors in the water, but they are surrounded and covered by the black poison oh-yul!!” “That’s oil… and Sunnee I’ve told you before, you don’t need to verbalize, I understand your thoughts!” Arthur playfully chides his dolphin companion. “We need to save them though, despite the danger… spread the word to your fellows while I see what can be done to stop the ship’s leak.” The King of the Seven Seas, the Ruler of Atlantis, Aquaman – the Justice League’s fish guy… Arthur had to stifle a laugh. He really didn’t know what he was doing being on that team. His responsibilities kept him from his wife Mera and Arthur Jr. enough as it was.

What business would he have presuming to lend the surface dwellers a hand – their world was an alien environment to him… and a harsh one at that. Still their world had a way of having a tremendous impact on his… and if this League membership was to serve a purpose at all Arthur would find a way for it to help his people. Take these polluting disasters for example. With the powers at the disposal of his new teammates clean up could be done a lot sooner and with far less damage to the habitat of the nearby coral reef – than if he was to tackle the problem alone. “Well,” thinks Arthur “best to investigate the ship and decide if this is job for – the JLA.” Arthur swims towards the damaged vessel using powerful strokes. Muscles that can propel him through typhoon currents slice through the relatively calm waters of the Gulf with ease. Such ease does not extend to his worried mind however. The side of the tanker, right at the waterline, was indeed ruptured. The damaged hull, thought to be from an engine explosion, was buckled – inward!! “Damn it,” Arthur snarls. “Something or rather someone must have attacked the ship.” “Yes, indeed” a voice gloats from behind him “what do you think?” Arthur turns to see Per Degaton, the old Justice Society villain, hovering before him several feet above the water. Another mad man… another psychotic surface dweller bent on world domination… ‘What is it’ Arthur wonders ‘something they eat? Like mad cow, perhaps? It seems they breed mad men up there.’ “What do you hope to gain, Degaton, by polluting these waters? Other than my wrath!!” Arthur seethes with indignation. “Well, now that you mention it,” the fiend grins “that is precisely what I was hoping for, here… catch!!” Per Degaton tosses a small metallic sphere at Aquaman. Thinking it to be a weapon, perhaps a grenade, Arthur attempts to dive below the surface of the water… when the shockwave hits him. He braces for pain, injury and hopes his JLA communicator is working. Perhaps this is an occasion when backup would be welcome. The odd thing is that no pains comes… instead Arthur seems to be enveloped in some unknown energy… there is a blinding flash of light and then all is dark as he loses consciousness. When Arthur awakes, he is parched. The sun is beating down on him mercilessly. He cannot remember feeling so very dry in such along time. He feels the sand on his face and decides working out where he is and what happened to Degaton can wait. It is best if he gets himself off of the beach and into the water. That will revitalize him and clear his head as he figures out his next course of action. Degaton must have thought the explosion killed him… and then his body drifted to this beach. ‘Well,’ thinks Aquaman ‘that is going to be a mistake he will regret! It takes more than that to kill the sovereign ruler of Atlantis!!’

Getting to his feet, Arthur looks around for the quickest way back to the water and his heart sinks. Staring out at his secluded, barren surroundings… all he can see for miles… in any direction is sand, sand and more sand! “Not the desert…” he moans and reaches for his JLA communicator. This is bad, he really could use the help of his teammates… maybe Clark or Diana could get here soon… he really can’t survive long in these conditions. No response. He examines the device to see if it is damaged. It seems to be functioning fine… and broadcasting to the satellite… so why isn’t he getting a response? With a soft thud, something lands near his feet in the sand. He searches the sky to see where it came from… but can see nothing. He examines the object. A small tube, not unlike what one would find in an old pneumatic message system. He opens the cylinder and discovers a hand written scroll inside. “Ah, by now you are putting on a brave face. You play the hero who will solve the problem and in turn save himself. Good luck with that. My dear Aquaman you really have no idea where or more importantly – when you are. I, Per Degaton -- destined ruler of the Earth, have begun my plan for destroying this new League of yours. I have no qualms about shedding some light on your predicament however. You are right in the middle of the Sahara Desert, hundreds of miles from safety and shelter. You may call upon your compatriots, for assistance, to your heart’s content. Truly, I don’t mind. The thing of it is... there won’t be anyone for you to call for a thousand years. Enjoy the Dark Ages!” “Damn you!” Aquaman shouts at the sky. With head down he starts to trudge across the sand. He feels his legs weaken with each and every step. The sun continues to burn his skin as precious moisture is lost though sweat. He stumbles several times while walking. Finally, bereft of strength, he falls and does not rise. “Mera,” his voice cracks. Arthur’s tongue, split and painful, can barely form words. “My darling…” he mumbles as he drifts towards unconsciousness “take care of Arthur Jr….” Darkness, mercifully, descends on Arthur Curry.

Somewhere in the forests of Southern California “Intergang is supposed to be making a huge sale of illegal arms… out here?” the Black Canary questions. She looks around at the natural beauty of Sequoia National Park “Why so far from their normal territory?”

J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, transforms before Dinah’s eyes. The green skinned alien shape shifter takes on the appearance of his alter ego, private eye John Jones- a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart’s ‘Sam Spade’ from ‘The Maltese Falcon’. “With Superman living in Metropolis and Captain Marvel in Gotham… is it any wonder the heat on the East Coast was too much for these bums?” Dinah smiles. She wonders if that is how J’onn actually sees humans. As caricatures… stereotypes that strut and pose at specific identities. “When I first arrived on your planet…” J’onn interrupts her thoughts, “yes, in simpler images or stereotypes if you will. These were all that I could understand of your ways.” J’onn looks back at Black Canary with a guilty smile. “I am sorry for eavesdropping, but your surface thoughts were quite open.” ‘That’s alright J’onn. I should practice guarding my thoughts around telepaths.” She gives him a playful wink and struts away in her fishnet stockings and high heels. J’onn, not for the first time, realizes how fortunate Oliver Queen is to be with such a woman. He allows himself a smile as his eyes wander down her shapely legs. “Eyes up sailor!” Dinah chides. Startled and embarrassed, J’onn would blush if his species had such a physiological reaction. Instead he apologizes. “Think nothing of it. The JLA is chock full of testosterone. Do you think I am not used to it? Besides… we’re even now.” she laughs. “Even?” “Yep, I got to read your mind. And I’m not even a telepath!” Dinah is clearly amused. “Now, let’s find these jokers and bust up their little operation.” “Give me a moment” the Martian says while shifting back into his better known green-skinned heroic image. “I will scout ahead.” With that, the Manhunter from Mars vanished. He became invisible and then flew up over the trees. It didn’t take him long to find the spot. His informant had been quite clear on the location’s coordinates. An area of forest hidden from aerial view by a thick old growth canopy of trees but pretty clear at ground level due to a shortage of sunlight that the canopy jealously thrived upon. Using his enhanced vision, he could spot a few bodies lying in the fallen leaves of the clearing. They were too late! ‘Obviously, the deal went south…’ J’onn thought in his Bogey voice. He’d better get Dinah.

…A short while later. “So what do you think?” Dinah asks while carefully examining the bodies. “These don’t look like Intergang… too scruffy. If I didn’t know better, they look like the homeless… like they just walked out of a soup kitchen.” Black Canary scans the scene. This just didn’t add up. What business would these folk have with trying to buy advanced fire-arms? “Do you suppose they tried to rip off Intergang and paid this price instead?” she wonders. J’onn bends over one of the victims. He carefully removes his shoes. The soles were layered with newspapers in order to patch the holes. He drops the shoes. “We must leave.” he informs Black Canary. “This was not a clandestine meeting, arranged to sell illegal fire-arms.” “Then what the hell was it?” she asks. At that moment, the thick canopy of leaves and branches above them bursts into flames. For dozens of yards in every direction, the sky seems like a ceiling of fire. “I would presume, at this point, that its design was to lure us here.” J’onn replies, his tone revealing a growing anxiety. The Manhunter from Mars was one of the most powerful beings on earth. On a good day he can rival Captain Marvel in strength - and perhaps even Superman – in terms of unique powers and abilities. This was not turning out to be a good day. Not many people were aware of this, but J’onn suffered from a debilitating fear of fire. His entire family; his entire race… died in flames. He has never truly recovered from this trauma. As he stared at the infernal roof over their heads, he began to lose himself in the past. His mind was reliving the trauma of his youth. Mother and father dead…all dead and burned… A piercing, ear shattering scream knocked him off his feet. The Canary Cry… He had seen it used on felons in the past. Experiencing it first hand, now that was another matter. “Sorry about that” Dinah shrugs “but we really need to get moving and you were zoned out!” “Zoned out?”

“Ya,” she smiles. “As in unresponsive. Besides, you’re a big tough Martian. Don’t tell me that my cry hurt you?” Dinah chuckles. “Well,” he says as he gets to his feet “at the very least it managed to get my attention.” “It is called… knocking some sense into you” Black Canary replies. “My thanks, then. Perhaps now we should see about getting away from those flames.” J’onn begins to head away from the scene of the murders… away from the flames. Dinah follows him for several steps. As soon as they are clear of this fire the big guy should be able to fly them to safety. Then they can figure out a way to go after these bums. “They are gonna regret this J’onn,” she states. Her ire is burning as hot as the flames. “Trying to kill members of the Justice League? They have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into!” “OH, I THINK I KNOW!” A booming voice echoes from above. Per Degaton, barely visible, seems to be hovering within the flames. “I don’t even need to be a time traveler to tell your futures!” He gloats. “Because heroes…” He almost spits the word. “YOU DON’T HAVE ANY!!!” Suddenly, a wall of flames erupted at ground level. Running to the left and right, it spreads quickly, surrounding them in a ring of fire several meters wide. They had fled one trap… only to land in another far worse. J’onn couldn’t’ stand it. The flames were reaching for him and there was nowhere to hide. The Martian fell to the ground, overcome with terror. “Damn,” Black Canary exclaimed. This was getting bad. She needed an exit strategy… pronto. Maybe, her canary cry, she wonders. At full strength, it sends out a powerful wave of sonic force. Perhaps, directed at one section of flames, it might be enough to ‘blow’ them out. “Hell,” she says aloud “it’s worth a shot!” She inhales deeply and faces the flames. Just then, the shooting begins. Those advanced firearms were here after all… to be used on the helpless Justice Leaguers. “Ollie…” It was the last thing Dinah Lance, the heroic crime-fighter know as the Black Canary, would ever say.

Stately Wayne Manor These past few days have taken a heavy toll on the Justice League. The Green Lantern has been absent dealing with a crisis in deep space. Aquaman is missing. And now, we have an update on the status of leaguers The Black Canary and Martian Manhunter. Sources close to this reporter confirm that officials from parks and game, in Southern California, have recovered the remains of several individuals in a forest fire. The fire was contained to one small clearing and has been successfully put out before it had a chance to spread. Amongst the dead are believed to be the aforementioned Justice League members. Stay tuned… “It’s not my problem Kal-el!” Bruce raises his voice. For the last several minutes this alien… this Kryptonian, as he describes himself… has been attempting to convince him to help stop the attacks on the League. After refusing him membership, they now come asking his aid. It amuses Bruce. “If these forces destroy the League what happens next?” Clark had hoped that coming to see him in civilian attire would allow for greater diplomacy. In retrospect, he would have to concede that as being overly optimistic. Still, how could this man be so selfish? Clark wonders. “Will you not put aside this childish grudge and stand by us in this time of great need! Lives are at stake… perhaps even the fate of the world!” “I’m the child? Oh, that’s rich alien. You’re really starting to piss me off!!” Bruce is fuming. “First you want nothing to do with me… now you expect me to bail you out when you’re in trouble! Fight you own battles!” Superman does his best to remain calm. He is tired. He is tired of trying to save everyone. He is tired of friends and teammates going missing or getting hurt when he isn’t there to protect them. But most of all, he is tired of being one step behind in trying to figure this… this plot against the league… out. “We don’t even know who to fight at this stage,” he sighs dejectedly. “So what do you even expect from me? I’m not a detective and I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you who is after you.” Bruce snaps at Clark. “But I’ll show you a few magic tricks ya won’t like if you don’t get out of my home, now!”

Clark leaves. There is no point in arguing with this man. Barry and Diana will have to be enough to face whatever threat is coming. He flies away to meet them.

In the shadows, Talia smiles at what she has overheard. She heads to the study and closes the door behind her. Crossing the oak floor she makes he way to the rich mahogany desk and takes a seat. Picking up the phone, she dials a prefix that will automatically scramble any trace of the call. “I need to speak to my father” she says into the receiver. For many weeks she has been this arrogant man-child’s bedmate. It is not an assignment Talia has enjoyed. True enough that the man is handsome enough on the surface. But he has no inner strength… No honour. Without such qualities the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul could never respect a man. She explains to her father that his plan is working. They will have the means to manipulate this man for years to come. Her father understands. The assignment has been distasteful for her… but the rewards for their empire are such that a sacrifice of this magnitude is warranted. She agrees. After seeing this fool bicker with his only possible allies, like a spoiled child, she agrees with her father’s… her leader’s wisdom. The Justice League will be no obstacle in the pursuit of their dreams. She does not hear the door slowly open or the footsteps that approach. She finishes her report and congratulates her father on his strategy. Soon the remaining Leaguers will be eliminated and Captain Marvel will be under their control! Talia hangs up the telephone and decides that perhaps tonight she will tell Bruce a few things about the future. Not everything, mind you. But, she thinks while resting her hand one her stomach, one very special thing. “You deceitful cow!” Bruce roars at her. He is standing in the middle of the study and she knows he must have been listening. “I don’t know what you think you’ve heard, Bruce, but I can explain!” Talia hopes that she can persuade him. In her condition a fight would be counter-productive. “Oh, I think I’ve heard enough,” Bruce snarls. “You’ve been whoring yourself in an effort to keep me out of the fight! You’re people might destroy those fools in the League but they won’t be celebrating when I am done with them.” He advances on Talia. “When I am done with you…” Bruce mutters as he clenches his fist. Talia lifts up her hands, for all the good it does her…

Fawcett City, home of CC Batson “GNN news… reporting from near the Washington monument… a battle wages. Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash are desperately trying to protect civilians from armed terrorists that keep appearing and disappearing throughout the grounds of the historic national treasures. The weapons they are using are like nothing this reporter has ever seen. Energy weapons that have already disintegrated the head off of Lincoln’s statue!! Stay tined to GNN for full coverage of… The Battle of Capitol Hill!!”

“You’ve made some serious mistakes throughout all of this nephew,” CC admonishes Bruce over the phone. “Sure, they may not have wanted ya on there team, but that was their mistake, letting these no-goods get away with attacking the good guys… and maybe have a shot at taking over… everything? That would be your mistake and you know it!!” “Uncle…” Bruce tries to come up with an excuse. Ever since Talia limped out the door he’d been thinking. Was his arrogance going to lead to destruction? He didn’t even interrogate Talia about the whereabouts of her organization. He was kind of ashamed that he beat her… he was even more disgusted with himself for being deceived in the first place. His Uncle never seemed to make these mistakes when he was Captain Marvel. “Uncle nothing nephew… we’ll sort out this mess together, but later on. Right now you need to fight the good fight. You remember what that was, don’t cha?” “Yes, I do.” Bruce answers flatly. “Good, now can the attitude and stop the bad guys.” CC continues. “Truly,” he sighs “that’s all there is to it. We’re not gods; we should be grateful for our abilities and humbly remember that deep down we are no better than anyone else… just different.” Bruce suspects his Uncle is right. He’s been an ass and an incompetent one at that. This is the reason pride is a deadly sin, he realizes. Well one step at a time. Perhaps with the help of his Uncle and the old wizard he can learn a better way. But, right now he’d best catch up with Superman and the League. “You’re right Uncle, I’m sorry… I’m so sorry I’ve been letting you down. It ends here. It ends now. I am gonna go help them, right now.” Bruce hangs up the phone. CC can imagine his nephew voice calling down the lightning. The boy is gonna need help. CC decides on a course of action he had sworn he was done with. Despite this, despite his promise to the wizard; he has to try. A hero doesn’t sit still when the world needs them.

“If you can hear me, I am truly sorry if I have failed you. I know I promised to not call upon your gifts, now that I have relinquished them.” CC takes a breath. “The world is in danger, I beg of you; if it is in your power, please grant me the ability to help, just long enough to avert this crisis. Please answer my call.” “Shazam!” The thunder is heard for miles.

Over the skies of Maryland Captain Marvel flies. Now that he has time to consider the situation, he worries. Whatever the identity of the forces trying to destroy the League, one thing about them is known… they are formidable. So far, they have had multiple successful attacks. They must be resourceful and highly organized. That they are powerful is obvious, but power alone is not what is leading them. The League, he has to admit, despite his feelings about them personally, is quite powerful in its own right. Planning has to be the key, Bruce thinks to himself. When this is all over, provided it survives, the League will need to appoint a strategist… someone with the knowledge and resources to plan for multiple contingencies. He’ll have to give this serious thought once the fighting is done. “Planning on keeping all the fun to yourself, nephew?” The original Captain Marvel says, suddenly joining Bruce in the sky. “How…” Bruce begins “of course, the old wizard…” “He owed me one.” CC explains “and this should last long enough for us to deal with these thugs.” Bruce grins. “Gee whiz, Uncle…” Bruce teases in his best mock-earnest voice “what took ya so long?” It feels good to loosen up a bit… Bruce almost laughs. “Just see if you can keep up nephew!”

“GNN News Update… Reporting live from ‘The battle for Capitol Hill’. This reporter has seen war zones across the globe; never did I suspect that I would be reporting from one in our nation’s capitol! The battle seemed hopeless as the depleted ranks of the Justice League struggled to save lives while unnamed terrorists using futuristic weaponry seemed able to attack civilians at will. Many of the attacks were coordinated to ambush Leaguers rushing to the rescue. This situation, indeed, looked hopeless. When, suddenly, there appeared not one but two Captain Marvels. The elder statesman, retired for sometime now, and his younger and controversial protégé. Just imagine, those of you at home, The Duke leading Rambo into battle!! Only this isn’t some fan-boys piece of ‘what if’ speculation. This is the genuine article and this reporter was present to witness these legends step forward to save us all. With the arrival of these two powerhouses, one by one, the terrorists became overwhelmed, disarmed and subdued. Truly we are all blessed to live in such a ‘Golden Age’ when such beings walk amongst mortal men! Now back to our studios and…”

“So what do we do,” Bruce asks aloud “with our new prisoners?” “They are not our prisoners, to do anything with.” Superman calmly replies. The small group of super-humans looks from one to the other, gauging Bruce’s reaction. “The authorities will decide there fate, under the law.” “The law hasn’t been written yet to deal with these types of supra-normal atrocities. They aren’t equipped to handle such criminals… but we are!” Bruce’s ire is clear. “What would you have us do?” Clark reacts to Bruce stubborn refusal to accept authority “become judge, jury and executioner?” “Don’t be melodramatic, alien, the fact is… normal authorities are ill equipped to even consider incarcerating criminals that can teleport and travel through time… they would make a mockery of prison security!” Bruce stares hard at Superman, daring him to disagree. “Nephew, there is a line that we cannot cross” CC intervenes. “Once we do, we are no better than those villains we strive to protect the world from.” Princess Diana, Wonder Woman, steps forward. “Besides, Captain Marvel, we have destroyed their weapons and equipment. Surely this will allow the authorities to handle them, adequately.” “Perhaps you’re right,” Bruce looks over the fallen terrorists “for now.”

“Of course they are nephew,” CC claps Bruce on the back “and now I can feel they old wizard wanting this borrowed power back.” He steps to the side and raises his voice. “Thank you for allowing me to help them; I am eternally grateful to you… Shazam!” The elderly CC Batson stands before the next generation of guardians and looks on them with pride. These brave and noble souls should be able to help guide Bruce into the new millennium. “If and when the situation changes,” Superman stands next to Bruce “we can face that threat together.” He holds his hand out to Bruce in an offer of truce and perhaps the first step on the road to… well if not friendship at least mutual respect. Bruce stares at the hand a moment and then begins to grin as he extends his own hand. The time is ripe for new beginnings. Perhaps there still is time to make his Uncle proud; to honour his parent’s memory. “Ah, how sweet,” a voice sneers from behind them “but you’ve won nothing!” they are turning and looking for the sound of the voice. Per Degaton is floating in the air, vanishing and reappearing every split second.

CC recognizes the fiend. “It’s another old relic like me,” he laughs “this old time traveling Nazi has been whooped by the Society numerous times. If I had known he was behind it all,” CC chuckles “I think you youngsters can handle this fella.” CC is almost in tears from laughing “he calls himself Per Degaton, if that matters to ya.” Per Degaton vanishes again. “This one has a tendency to flee when his plans go awry?” Wonder Woman asks. “Ya, that’s his M.O.” CC replies “But I’ll say this, he was never this resourceful back in the old days. He must be learning a few new tricks. With his technology, you kids will have to keep a watchful eye on that one. I would surely love to help ya, but ya know I am retired.” “Yes, retired, permanently!” Degaton reappears behind CC with his gun leveled at the old man’s head, pulling the trigger as he speaks. The energy weapon discharges from almost point blank range against the back of CC Batson’s head. Mercifully, he felt no pain as his head disintegrates. The maniacal glee in Per Degaton’s face has almost everyone frozen in horror. Almost everyone… Without a word, without a sound, Captain Marvel uses the Speed of Mercury to get Per Degaton in his grasp. In blind fury, he hurls the villain against the Washington Monument with the Strength of Hercules. Cracks appear radiating outward from the impact, scarring the marble exterior that has stood for over a century. The distinct sound of plastics and electronics smashing can be heard. There will be no escape for Per Degaton this time. “We’ve got him Captain,” Superman begins and steps forward a hand on Bruce’s shoulder “You can leave him to us and…” “No!” Captain Marvel yells loud enough to be heard for miles. Grief wells up in him. He could not save his parents… but now, even with the power of gods, he could not save his beloved Uncle CC. What is the purpose of such power if we cannot save the ones we love? For Bruce there is an answer… it is vengeance. He grabs Superman by the arm and then surprises him by twisting and throwing him into the other heroes. Like bowling pins they are knocked asunder. In a flash, he is back on Per and forcing him to his feet, against the monument. “You evil… you…, there is only one way to deal with your kind!” Bruce shouts at Degaton, still woozy from the impact. “You are a monster and,” Bruce stares into Degaton’s eyes with cold determination “monsters need to be slain!” With that the Power of Zeus flows through Bruce’s arms as he pummels Per Degaton against the obelisk. Chunks of marble now fly off as shrapnel from the massive blows. The underlying granite exposed and crumbles under the furious onslaught.

It only takes seconds. Stripped of his technology, Per is but a mortal man. Against the power of the gods what other result is possible? By the time that Superman has recovered enough to grab him, the deed is done. Nothing recognizable as the time traveling despot known as Per Degaton remains. All that is left is scraps of his Nazi style uniform, horrific smear across the face of the monument and a pool of blood at its base. “Damn you!” Superman is shaking him “your temper has gone too far. We cannot do this. You will not be allowed to do this ever again Bruce!” “How will you stop me alien?” Bruce begins to get angry again “don’t even think of taking me on. You’ll regret it.” The other are regaining their feet and looking at the two titans about to brawl. Such a conflict could destroy the capitol. They move to join Superman in stopping Captain Marvel. A war amongst super-humans is about to begin. “This one is no longer deemed worthy of our blessings.” Voices echo throughout, seemingly without origin. “We strip him of the mantle and will seek another. His fate is yours to determine. May you do this with wisdom.”

“S H A Z A M ! !”

With a bolt of lightning Captain Marvel is transformed back into Bruce Wayne. The television crews on hand witness the events as he is led off in handcuffs by the authorities.

Sometime later…

“… Chloe Sullivan reporting for GNN. The trial of the century is over. This reporter cannot argue with the verdict. Millionaire Bruce Wayne, once the superhero known as Captain Marvel, now just another defendant on trial for murder, waged an affirmative defense. Lawyers for the accused argued that after the many deaths the victim Per Degaton was responsible for… including civilians and members of the Justice League and the retired Justice Society, the latter occurring right before Bruce Wayne’s eyes just seconds before he attacked and killed Per Degaton… Bruce Wayne was justified in using lethal force in stopping this madman… not only for reasons of self defense but for reasons of imminent threat to others and the common good.

Members of the Justice League testified on behalf of the State. They argued that we cannot condone the use of lethal force… but to this reporter’s eyes and perhaps to the jury as well they appeared worn and tired of the whole affair. Bruce Wayne was acquitted of all charges and has returned to his family home. Lawyers for Wayne have asked that the media allow him some privacy to deal with the changes in his life and to grieve over the loss of a dear family friend. Critics wonder if this verdict has set a precedent that costumed vigilantes have carte-blanche over the consequences of their actions….”

Bruce walks on the grounds of his manor. He thinks of the twists and turns of his life. The courts have acquitted him but apparently the gods have not. He has spoken the word numerous times… to no effect. “Shazam” he says without hope… again nothing happens. Bruce is fine with that. He has come to realize that too much power can be too much of a temptation anyhow. Going over the case, meticulously, he is certain that with better strategies… with better training… the Justice League could be much better prepared for such crises in the future. Of course, for now, they aren’t taking his calls.

He needs to reinvent himself. He needs to find the best trainers in the world and learn from them how to fight, how to sleuth, how to strategize. He is ready to embark on an odyssey of self discovery. He is ready to find a new identity with which to fight the criminals. A bat flies through the night above his head. What was it, he wonders, that Uncle CC said? “Bats can be very scary… in fact I’d say they possess the ability to strike fear into the hearts of men.”

“That’s it” Bruce says aloud “fear is the key. Criminals, even the super-powered kind are a cowardly and superstitious lot. I will use this image to strike fear in their hearts and I will become a Bat-….” “Uggh!” Bruce looks down at his chest. A long knife is protruding from it. He slips to his knees. Ra’s Al Ghul steps around the dying man. He looks on with contempt at this fool. All the potential he squandered and the mistakes he must pay for. “My daughter Talia was carrying your child when you beat her.” He sees the eyes of Bruce widen with shock and dismay. “You could have been family. With your power and my organization we could have changed the world!” He shakes his head and steps back behind Bruce. “With no power and now, not even an heir… you are worthless to me.”

“I … I didn’t know she was pregnant.” Bruce lamely offers. It isn’t nearly enough to excuse his actions and he knows it. “Yes,” Ra’s says gripping the knife “well you are no detective.” With a deft twist he removes the knife from Bruce Wayne’s back and allows the man’s body to fall, face first, in the mud. Ra’s Al Ghul, leader of the League of Assassins walks away. “ GNN Update with Lana Lang… the homicide detectives in Gotham continue to be baffled as to the identity of controversial millionaire Bruce Wayne’s murderer. One source, close to the case has told this reporter that Wayne had his share of enemies from his time has a costumed hero… it could be anyone. Viewers will remember the trial… … The Justice League could not be reached for an interview, but released this statement: Bruce Wayne was a complicated man. He saved many lives during his tenure as Captain Marvel… but his personal demos led him down dangerous paths. Ultimately we try to remember the good a man has done and hope his mistakes can be a lesson for us all. We have the power to change the world… We must exercise the wisdom to do so wisely.”

Artists Challenge Jon: One of the main things that I have enjoyed the most in RKYV is the awesome and diverse styles of artwork. The creativeness and passion that has been put into the art is a pleasure to view as well as inspiring. So I thought that with such a diverse level of talent and styles that a monthly artists challenge would be nice. The premise is simple. A scenario or scene would be written out in as much or as little detail as one would see fit. It would then be the job of the artists to capture the essence of the words into a work of art. Let me know what you think of this idea and if you the artists feel you would be up to a monthly challenge to showcase your skills. R. J.: I think this is a great idea to kick off our Second year of operation!! How about, for now, we stick to a theme and the artists who wish to participate can draw / paint / photo... whatever their discipline... something that fits that theme. Now we need a good theme for this first month. Jon: Just an idea that might make for some interesting art. The old west encounters Sci-Fi. can be anything from a showdown at high noon between a gunslinger and a robot. to a tavern scene mixed with the two genre's to a alien playing poker with Doc Holiday. R. J.: Sounds good to me... I will announce!!

RKYV Online’s first THEME Month for submissions will be JUNE 2008. The theme to kick off our second year of operation is:

" Sci Fi meets the American Old West." So whatever your specific talents are, see if you can keep this THEME in mind and submit something this month in RKYV. Can be anything from an imaginary landscape... to a comic style page... to a photo collage / manip. Or even a poem or short story using this theme. Themes aren’t mandatory RKYV will continue to showcase the written and visual creativity of its contributors, this is just a [hopefully] fun suggestion. Have fun using the mediums you are most comfortable with... and let's see if we can make THEME challenges a monthly feature!!!

Pop Culture Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons - by Pauline Harren Pare

The month of May has brought us finales of our favourite television shows. Face it folks. They will not be coming back until September. I will attempt to create a survival guide to help you fill the void left by the absense of these weekly rituals.

1. Go sure to wear proper sunscreen if you are a dedicated couch potato. That big glowy thing is called"the sun". 2. Make friends besides the ones you watch tv with. They might be into something else like exercise or intellectual pursuits....shudder. OK... just skip this one. House - by Jonathan Biermann 3. Take up a hobby. Try to make this hobby non-tv related. Making a list of sarcastic comments from House for your own blog does not count (HMMM... .) Maybe I should just finish the afghan I started 19 squares down... 211 to go. 4. Make up silly survival guides 5. Finish the short story for RKYV the your spouse has been asking you to write for the last 8 months. (See Imaginatron in the RKYV discussion topics) 6. When all else fails... rent a whole season of a series you meant to catch on DVD... there are no commercials and you can watch the entire season in 2-3 days. How amazing is that!

Dr. Wilson: That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality. Dr. Gregory House: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain Dr. Gregory House: I teach you to lie, cheat, and steal, and as soon as my back's turned you wait in line? Dr. Gregory House: That's absurd. I love it. Dr. Gregory House: So what's your plan? You take the big dark one, I'll take the little girl, and the Aussie will run like a scared wombat if things get tough.�


Welcome to # 12. RKYV ONLINE is an Art & Lit E-zine published monthly via e-mail and/or various online download sites in PDF format. It is...

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