Batman


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Gotham's Most Wanted

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Justice League of America
 
In humanity's darkest hours, they are the guardians and protectors of earth: Superman, the Man of Tomorrow-- Batman, The Dark Knight-- Wonder Woman, The Amazing Amazon – Green Lantern, The Emerald Gladiator-- Flash, The Fastest Man Alive-- J'Onn J'Onzz, the mysterious Manhunter from Mars-- Steel, The Armored Centurion – and Firehawk, the Blazing Fury. Together they are the World's Greatest Superheroes!

Justice League of America

"The Party" - Halloween Special 2013

Written By Gregg Whitmore

 


Metropolis, October 21st, 10:37 p.m…..

Clark Kent arrived home earlier than expected. He’d finished his story for the Daily Planet that afternoon, stopped 2 robberies – one in California, another in England – before flying to Pakistan to help some victims of a recent earthquake. On his way home, he’d stopped at one of Lois’ favorite Parisian bakeries for some freshly baked French bread and a bottle of her favorite wine, Côté Tariquet from Côtes de Gascogne, vintage 1996. “Lois, I’m home!” he said as he unlocked the door. He inhaled slightly—baked salmon, a favorite of his. “Something smells good.”

“Hi, Smallville,” Lois teased from the kitchen. “Dinner’s almost ready. Did you get the wine and the bread?”

He walked into the kitchen, holding the two items in his hand. “Oh, ye of little faith….”

Lois grinned and faked a swoon. “My hero!” Then with all seriousness, she pulled him close to her and kissed him passionately. He returned the kiss gently, taking care not to harm her at all, an act he had perfected over the years. Her brown eyes shined as she pulled away, staring deeply into Clark’s sparkling blue ones. She took the wine and bread from his hands. “Make yourself comfortable, handsome. Dinner will be ready in a minute or two.”

Clark smiled and plopped down on the couch, slipping off his shoes. On a nearby coffee table was a small pile of unopened letters. “Anything interesting in the mail?” he asked.

“Haven’t had a chance to look too close,” Lois replied from the kitchen. Clark flipped through the stack. A few bills, a credit card offer, some ads, nothing unusual, except the last letter. It was oversized and was hand-written. Clark’s reporter’s instincts immediately took over. The envelope’s paper was a higher quality than the normal letters they received. The handwriting looked almost like calligraphy and was written with a stylized pen and India ink, he guessed. There was nothing else on the outside of the envelope, except a postmark from Washington D.C. No fingerprints, either. Clark then sniffed the air slightly. The letter bore no discriminating scents. Finally, he stared at the envelope and a faint glow lightened his eyes. Inside the envelope was a letter, no doubt made on the same paper as the envelope. But he couldn’t detect any threats, even checking down to a microscopic level. “Any ideas about this one?”

“Is that the big one?” Lois called back from the kitchen. “It reminds me of an invitation.”

“Good guess.” Clark slid a fingernail under the envelope’s top, carefully opening it. The letter inside was closed with a golden paper seal. He carefully removed the seal. The invitation bore the official letterhead of the Wayne Foundation.

“You and a guest are cordially invited to a Halloween party at the Wayne Foundation Penthouse in Gotham City on October 31st. A costume is required—please come dressed as your favorite fictional character from books, television or movies. The doors open at 5:30 with free hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Dancing will begin at 6:00 followed by dinner at 6:30. A silent auction will also be held throughout the night to benefit the Justice Institute Charities. Please feel free to bring a donation of anything of value for the charity. Please RSVP at 212-886-4430 by October 26th.”

Clark put the invitation on the coffee table. “You were right, it is an invitation--- to a Halloween costume party being held by the Wayne Foundation. We’re supposed to dress as fictional characters. Interested?”

Lois brought the baked salmon, salad, fresh asparagus, sliced French bread, and the bottle of wine to the table. “Hmmm, a costume party. And judging by the invite, I’d guess it’s only going out to a very specific list of people, no doubt friends of yours.” She poured the wine and lit two candles. “I think it would be a great date night for us. Besides, I haven’t seen some your pals in a while.” She walked over to him and pulled him off the couch. “Dinner’s ready.”

He grinned back at her. “You don’t have to ask me twice. So, who should we go as?”

“I have a few…” she smiled. “But dinner first…”


The Wayne Foundation Penthouse, Gotham City, October 31st, 5:30 pm….

The elevator opened with a quiet sigh as a man and woman stepped out of the elevator, her arm draped through his. He was dressed as a masked cowboy, complete with a white hat, a black, domino mask, light blue shirt and pants, and jet-black, leather cowboy boots. A holster and belt hung loosely around his waist. Bullets lined the side of his belt and a Colt .45 hung in the holster, ready to be drawn at a moment’s notice.

The woman was deeply tanned, with waist-length jet black hair and deep hazel eyes. She wore a light brown leather dress. The top was asymmetrical, covering her left shoulder but not her right. A turquoise necklace hung around her neck and leather moccasins covered her feet. She suppressed a giggle as the two walked towards the main ballroom. “Think anyone will recognize us?” she asked.

Blue eyes sparkled behind the black eye mask. “Bruce will-- both our costumes and our true selves. He’s no fun when it comes to these kinds of things.”

“I can’t wait to see who else showed up. Maybe Diana, J’Onn, Dinah, Carter or Ray…”

“Let’s find out.”

As they entered the doorway to the main ballroom, the cowboy handed their invitation to a gaunt, slightly balding man dressed as a character from Shakespeare. The dark vest and trousers complemented a white ruffled shirt, complete with Elizabethan collar. The woman recognized both the man and his character immediately. “You look great—Hamlet, isn’t it?”

The gentleman’s gentleman smiled and bowed deeply. “Yes, milady. And please refrain from addressing anyone by their real names-- only character names tonight. ” He turned and announced to the crowd below: “Presenting the Lone Ranger and Pocahontas.

The two slowly descended the stairs and saw several other couples mingling below. At the base of the stairs, they were greeted by a masked, caped man dressed completely in black. A sword dangled from his side. The thin moustache, the Spanish black gaucho hat and the black cape he wore trimmed with a delicate silver pattern that gave his identity away immediately. “Welcome you two – excellent costumes. Glad you could make it.” Zorro smiled as extended his right hand to the Ranger. The two old friends shook hands.

“Any chance to mingle without the world in danger is always a good one,” the Ranger grinned.

“It’s our pleasure, Senor Zorro,” Pocahontas replied. She leaned over and gave the masked man a peck on the cheek. “You sure know how to throw quite a party.”

“Al—sorry – Hamlet was a big help. This is all his doing -- I’m just the financier.”

“But not your idea?” the Ranger asked.

“Not at all,” another woman smiled as she joined the group. “I get the credit for that.” The woman stood eye to eye with the Ranger and was slightly taller than Zorro. She was elegant and statuesque, with long blue-black hair tumbling loosely past her shoulders. She was dressed in a pale green traditional Celtic dress. A headdress shaped like a Celtic knot pulled her hair back from her face and forehead. The long sleeves of her dress ended in a point across the back of her hands, with a thin piece of string looping around her middle finger. A long broadsword hung loosely from her side, the scabbard that covered it attached to a belt. She barely acknowledged the weight of the heavy weapon. The two women embraced like old friends. “The Disney Pocahontas?” the taller woman asked after the two parted.

“Well, I like her independence and truth be told, I’m a huge Disney fan. And, as much as I love the Ranger here, there was no way I was coming as Tonto. So I compromised – a Native American character that appealed to me,” Pocahontas replied grinning. “But I get the feeling I should know you – well the character you’re dressed as, anyway. But I need a hint.”

“Her sword is Excalibur,” the Lone Ranger nodded, looking at the name etched in her sword through the scabbard. “I’m guessing she’s the Lady of the Lake.”

“Excellent guess,” the Lady replied, laughing. “For a cowboy, you’re a great detective.”

The Ranger glanced at Pocahontas, then at Zorro, and shrugged. “I had two good teachers.”

“So why the Lone Ranger?” The Lady asked.

The Ranger tipped his white hat. “When I was a boy, I discovered his adventures via a radio station that replayed his old radio program. Soon after, I found a cable channel that replayed his old syndicated television series. As much as anything else in my life, I appreciated his honesty, courageousness and high moral code. In many ways, they reflected my own beliefs.” He eyed Zorro. “And yours?”

Zorro stiffened for a second. “He was my boyhood hero as well. The last movie I ever saw” – he paused “-- with my parents was Zorro.” He then quickly shifted the attention to the tall brunette. “So why the Lady of the Lake?”

“She is a formidable constant in the Arthurian legends: sometimes spirit, sometimes human, sometimes good, sometimes self-serving. She’s always portrayed as a strong woman that’s the lynchpin to the stories. I find each interpretation of her that I’ve read only adds to her mystery.”

Across the way, a tall, muscular black man with a scruffy beard and moustache walked towards the small group with a shorter, Caucasian brunette on his arm. The man was dressed in a red tunic with a black collar, black slacks and shoes. A small golden star emblem resembling a capital “A” adorned the upper left part of the tunic, sitting just over his heart. He wore a futuristic holster, complete with a small but powerful laser gun on his hip.

His companion was easily a foot shorter than him. Curly black hair drooped over her shoulders. She was dressed in a blue tunic that was connected to a short mini-dress. Like him, a small golden “A” star symbol was over her heart. Dark stockings and tall, black boots completed the outfit. A leather strap crossed her front, holding a futuristic analyzer next to her hip.

“You two are so cute,” Pocahontas squealed. “I love that you ‘match’ but are still individualistic.” She eyed the new brunette and laughed. “I didn’t know you were a sci-fi fan.”

“I’m not,” the brunette giggled. She thumbed over to her date. “He is! He talked me into it. He keeps calling me ‘Deanna Troi.’ I wanted to do Next Generation outfits, but he had his heart set on the original series’ uniforms.” She shrugged and smiled.

The man grinned. “I keep teasing her that she when she uses her powers it sounds like an alien language anyway. This just seemed like a natural.”

“Excellent outfits,” the Lone Ranger said, grasping the man’s hand. “I didn’t know you were a fan. Should we call you Sisko?”

The man smiled widely. “Just ‘Captain’ will do. And yeah, I’ve been a fan since forever. Never seen a series or a movie of the franchise I didn’t like. It also sparked my interest in science and engineering when I was very young.”

Pocahontas’ reporter’s instincts went into overdrive. “So, are you two an item?” she asked Deanna.

“We’ve dated a few times, but nothing serious…yet.” She shot her handsome escort a very flirty look.

“Opposites do attract,” The Lady of the Lake said, nodding in approval. She looked over at Zorro, who turned his head and neatly avoided her gentle smile. The six made their way to the dessert bar where another couple stood getting some punch. The man was thin with red hair but dressed in a perfectly fitting tuxedo. Under his rather long nose was a noticeably fake black moustache. His wife stood next to him. She had short black hair and an exquisite white evening gown, complete with an emerald necklace and small emerald ear rings. His goofiness was in sheer contrast to her natural, well-bred elegance.

“I’m afraid I don’t know who you’re supposed to be,” the Captain asked, shaking the redhead’s hand. “But it’s good to see you two again.”

The redhead bowed. “Nick and Nora Charles, from the ‘Thin Man’ book and movies. We’re a husband and wife detective team.”

“Typecasting?” Deanna Troi laughed.

“Let’s just say we have a lot in common with them.” Nora quipped. “Except that the real Nora never had to put up with a stretchable sleuth.” She playfully elbowed her husband.

Before Nick could respond, Hamlet announced another couple arriving. “Presenting James Bond and Elphaba.” A muscular, blond man with a goatee appeared at the top of the stairs dressed in a sharp white Armani suit, complete with a white shirt and bowtie, a silver wristwatch and cuff links. He also sported an eye patch covering his right eye. To his left was a woman with thick black hair. She wore a formfitting black dress. Her hands and face were a bright green. She wore a wide brimmed, pointed witch’s hat and carried a witch’s broom. A huge black cloak trailed behind her. Zorro and the Lady of the Lake excused themselves to greet the new arrivals.

“Hey gang, you’re all lookin’ good,” James said. “Evenin’, Zorro.”

Zorro laughed. “I suppose I don’t need to tell you that James Bond never sported an eye-patch or a goatee.”

“New interpretation,” James laughed. “All the cool spies have eye-patches. But ixnay with the chitchat-- I need a martini, shaken not stirred, of course.” Zorro then lead James to the open bar.

“So why Bond?” Zorro asked.

James grinned. “Well, aside from his government flunky status, he’s well-dressed, loves gambling, gets to drink when he wants, has an awesome rogue’s gallery that’s always involved in some world-shattering operation, is given all the cool gadgets that he doesn’t have to pay for, and always gets the girl – or in his case, girls. I see all of that as a win/win.”

“Good to see you again—“ the Lady said as she embraced Elphaba – “but The Wicked Witch of the West? She doesn’t seem very heroic.”

Elphaba’s eyes playfully lit up. “You haven’t seen the musical ‘Wicked’ yet, have you?” The Lady shook her head. “Ok then next Saturday it’ll be a girls’ night out—you, me and anyone else we can convince to go with us-- then you’ll understand. But trust me, Elphaba’s nothing like character from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie.”

“So are you and Oli – uhmm – James back together again?” the Lady asked.

Elphaba smiled a weary smile. “Well, this week, we are…” The ladies shared a private laugh. As the two women made their way to the hors’ d’oeuvres table, five young musicians began to climb the small stage set up for them. “Who’s the band?” Elphaba asked.

“Hamlet found them,” the Lady replied. “They play a wide variety of music… rock, pop, techno, alternative, folk, TV and theater music. They’re very well-rounded.” The two women watched as the oddly-dressed teenagers took their places. Both women thought the group was merely getting into the spirit of the night with their bizarre costumes. The lead guitarist wore a werewolf outfit and was called Fang by his band mates. The drummer was a massive misshapen human named Gross-Out. A reptilian human named Slither was tuning his bass guitar. Their lead singer looked like a vampire and went by the name Scream Queen. Finally, their keyboardist sat down at the piano dressed as a feminine version of the Phantom of the Opera, complete with a half-face mask. The band referred to her simply as Erika.

As the band tuned up, a young man and woman, both in their early 20s, joined the crowd near the punch and hors d’oeuvres tables. The Lone Ranger and Pocahontas turned to greet them. Neither wore a mask, which was in contrast to their normal League costumes. The man with the jet black hair was dressed in a brown tweed suit with a pinstriped shirt underneath. He also wore a red bow tie, a red fez, and suspenders. He carried something called a ‘sonic screwdriver’ that glowed with an eerie green light and an odd sound when he activated it. His companion was dressed in a green body suit with long golden gloves, a wide golden sash around her waist and thigh high golden boots. A golden bird adorned a black triangular portion of her chest. Her natural red hair complemented the outfit.

“Glad you two could make it,” the Ranger said, recognizing the two immediately as the youngest members of the League. He shook the young man’s hand. “It’s always good to get together outside of another alien invasion of earth. But forgive me-- I don’t know who you’re dressed as.”

The younger man grinned. “No problem, we’re fairly obscure. They call me ‘the Doctor.’ I’m a time-travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey. He’s from a recent sci-fi revival of an old British TV series.”

The Lone Ranger nodded. “Not a planet I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.”

The Doctor arched an eyebrow. “Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist.”

“I know,” the Ranger teased.

“And you?” Pocahontas asked the woman with the Doctor.

“I’m a heroine called ‘Phoenix.’ I used to read her comic book adventures as a kid and fell in love her character, powers and this costume. Plus she’s a redhead! We gingers have to stick together.”

Pocahontas nodded. “Your costumes are very well put together. So, are you two dating?” The Lone Ranger shot her a disapproving look but she ignored him.

Phoenix shook her head. “No, we’re just here as friends. As you two well know, being in the League can play havoc with your social life.”

“What social life?” The Doctor quipped.

Before either the Lone Ranger or Pocahontas could answer, Hamlet again appeared at the top of the stairs. “Presenting Sherlock Holmes and Holly Golightly.

All eyes looked up at the new additions. The man was tall and pale, with a shock of dark hair and piercing blue-grey eyes. A heavy blue trench coat all but covered his clothes, which included a white shirt, navy blue trouser and black shoes. He was a dead ringer for the actor that played the detective in the current television series. The woman with him was Asian, but was dressed as the character from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” She wore a black evening dress which almost went to her ankles. A slit in the middle of the dress from the bottom hem to her knees allowed her to walk. A diamond tiara, diamond earrings and a wide diamond necklace accessorized the elegant dress. Long black evening gloves and two-inch black pumps completed the outfit. She also carried a small clutch purse and a long cigarette holder. The couple continued to draw stares from the crowd as they descended as no one could quite place them.

“Good evening Sherlock and Holly,” Zorro said as the couple came closer. Zorro immediately recognized Holly and was surprised by her appearance, as she hadn’t been given an invitation. That meant that Sherlock was the invitee and Holly was his guest. Based on the number of invitations sent and the fact the ‘Sherlock’s’ costume and look was too spot on, Zorro guessed who Sherlock really was.

“Almost too good of a disguise,” he said, extending his hand to the fictional detective. “You had me fooled there for a second.”

“Elementary, my dear Zorro,” Sherlock replied dryly-- the words were spoken as if he was attempting a joke. His voice was deep and almost other-worldly and he made no attempt to disguise it. “Many thanks for the invitation.”

“You’ve been one of us for a long time. How could we not include you?” The Lady of the Lake said, joining Zorro. She immediately recognized Sherlock’s voice and gave the tall detective a strong hug. He didn’t flinch and hugged her in return. She broke off the embrace and smiled at his companion. “Do I know you? You look familiar…”

Zorro laughed. “I know her-- she’s ex-teammate of mine.” He extended a hand to Holly. “Good to see you again. I didn’t know that you and Jo—excuse me – Sherlock knew each other.”

Holly bowed. “We met a few months ago and found we had a number of things in common.”

Sherlock agreed. “We’ve seen each other a few time since, some work-related and a few you might call dates. She is teaching me all about the human condition.”

Holly blushed. “It is nothing.” But her genuine smile revealed more than her words did about her new feelings towards this mysterious stranger.

“So, why these costume choices?” The Lady of Lake asked, intrigued.

“Sherlock is an introvert, as am I. But his observations of humans leads him to his own unique understanding of humanity, also very much like myself.”

“And Holly is an elegant, seemingly well-bred extrovert – things I could never aspire to be. So tonight, I get to be something I’m not.”

Sherlock gazed at Holly and took her hand. “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

Holly blushed again, but held on tight to Sherlock’s hand. She was unused to public displays of affection, but found the more it happened with him, the more she enjoyed it.

Suddenly the band erupted with sound. Their opening number was ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. That single song defined the band’s musical selections for the rest of the night.

“Shall we dance?” Sherlock asked Holly as they watched the Lady pulling Zorro to the dance floor.

“Always,” she replied shyly.

The seven couples quickly found their way to the dance floor. Pocahontas, Phoenix, The Doctor, Nick, Nora, Elphaba and James then showed the others how to do the Time Warp dance. The lessons went as well as one could expect, and a good time was soon had by all. The first set of the band’s music included “Werewolves of London”, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, “Ghostbusters”, and the ballad “All I Ask of You” from the musical “Phantom of the Opera.” Although Holly seemed uncomfortable dancing at first, Sherlock soon eased her mind and showed her some elegant dance moves telepathically. The two then slipped comfortably into each other’s arms, almost oblivious to the others.

30 minutes later, the seven couples sat down for dinner. There were eight empty chairs at the table. “Who’re the no-shows?” James asked Zorro.

“Invitations went out to Wally, Ray, Arthur and Mera as well as Carter and Shiera, but none of them RSVP’ed. They may have been busy or had other plans.”

Small talk ensued as the fourteen ate. It gave them a chance to catch up with each other’s lives, swap tales, tell jokes and generally have fun… something that was uniquely rare in their line of work. After dinner, the fourteen went back to dancing and making merry. The silent auction was also a huge success. It would be one of those memories they would cherish for a long, long time.

And, best of all, no emergency beeper or cry for help interrupted the festivities. It was as if – for this one night anyway – all was alright with the world.

*** END***

(Author’s notes: This tale unfortunately takes place outside of our established continuity. Some of the relationships hinted at in the story and one other that got cut due to space limitations -- namely Ray Palmer dating the recently divorced Karen Beecher, who is currently stuck at her tiny size – would play havoc with everyone’s storylines and ideas. I have to admit the idea of two scientists who have similar powers discovering each other and developing a relationship really appeals to me, especially given Ray’s troubled history. The Steel/Zatanna thing came to me as I writing this as did the Martian Manhunter/ Katana relationship, the latter of which I really liked the more I thought of it, especially given their histories. The inclusion of Scare Tactics, with a revived Slither and a new keyboardist for the band also seemed like a natural for this story. The other no-shows were also supposed to be included, but were dropped for brevity’s sake-- I had costume ideas picked out for them as well. I had also started writing a scene were the JLA was called to action during the party and showed up in their Halloween costumes, much to the confusion of whoever they were stopping. But ultimately I decided that a short story with no external conflicts was enough. Also the idea that our real fictional universe was mirrored in the FDC might even be a bit too much for our continuity guardians. What this story also represents is my ideal League membership. In my world, the League would be huge – similar to the JLU cartoon – and members would show up as needed. gbw)


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