It was an ordinary day in Angel Grove. The Lantern Rangers were enjoying a brief respite from their seemingly never ending battle with Rita Repulsa. They were sitting around in the Youth Center when a tall, handsome man who looked to be in his mid to late thirties, maybe early forties, came over with Ernie.
“Hey, guys,” Ernie said, “I’d like you to meet someone. Tommy, Kim, Jason, Billy, Trini, Zack, meet Bruce Wayne, an old friend of mine.” He gestured to each in turn, so Bruce kept up with who was who.
“The Bruce Wayne?” Zack said, “As in the owner of Wayne Industries? As in one of the richest men, if not the richest man, in the world?”
“That’s right,” Bruce said, “Nice to meet you all.” He extended his hand and shook each of theirs.
“You too, Mr. Wayne,” Tommy said, “It’s a real pleasure.”
“Care to join us, Mr. Wayne?” Jason asked politely.
“No thanks,” Bruce said, “I just came in to do a yearly check on the Youth Center, after having helped Ernie buy it and all.”
Kim looked over at the entrance and saw a young man standing there. “Hey,” she said, “Who’s that?” She motioned over to the young man.
“Oh, that’s Timothy Drake,” Bruce said, “My ward, in a manner of speaking. Hey, Tim.” He waved to the young man, who came over. Both Kim and Trini gave him the up and down unconsciously. Tommy shook his head.
“Hi, Bruce,” Tim said, “What’s up?” He notices the gang sitting at the table, especially Kim. “Hi, I’m Timothy Drake. People like to call me Tim.”
“Hi, Rob,” Tommy said, “I’m Tommy.” They shook hands. Tommy nodded to each of his friends in turn. “This is Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Billy, and Zack.”
“Well, I’ve got to be going,” Bruce said, “Have to go check out a building downtown for the business. You know how it is. It was nice meeting you all.”
“You too, Mr. Wayne.”
“And, please, call me Bruce,” Bruce said, “Being called Mr. Wayne makes me feel old.” They all laughed. “I’ll probably be by later, Ernie. You know me, can’t keep my nose out of the Center’s business.”
“I’ve got to be heading off, too,” Tim said, “Nice meeting you all.”
“You too, Rob.” Bruce and Tim left the Youth Center. Kim and Trini both sighed.
“He’s so cute,” Kim said wistfully. The guys shook their heads and set to sparring.
“Let me get this straight. If I help you destroy these ‘Lantern Rangers,’ you’ll take care of Batman?”
“That’s right, Joker,” Rita said, “While I normally would wash my hands of those such as you, you have quite a reputation. “This ‘Batman’ is nothing compared to my power. It would be like crushing an insect, but these Lantern Rangers need the special touch of one such as you to get rid off.” ‘Or so I hope,’ Rita thought.
“I’ll do it,” the Joker said, with his trademark grin. “The Lantern Rangers won’t stand a chance.”
“They’re at the Youth Center,” Rita said, “They’re in their civilian identities. I take it that the white make up isn’t permenant?” She handed him some pictures, to show what the Rangers looked like, out of uniform.
“Nope,” the Joker said, “Just something to intimidate my enemies.” To prove his point, he wiped the white off of his face.
“Good,” Rita said, “They’ll never know what hit them.” She teleported the Joker back down to Earth, near the Youth Center.
“This should be interesting,” the Joker said, entering the Youth Center. He watched over the teens
Tommy felt eyes upon him. He looked around, and there was a kind of goofy looking man sitting not too far away from the others. The man looked away when their eyes met. ‘Now,’ Tommy thought, ‘Why does he look familiar?’ The man smiled at Tommy, who froze.
“The Joker,” he said. Jason took his distraction as an advantage, and pinned him to the mat. “Jase, cut it out. Look at that man over there,” Tommy whispered. Jason did as Tommy said. “Get him to smile.” Jason flashed a smile at the man, who returned it.
“Yeah,” Jason said, “So?”
“Don’t you recognize him?” Tommy asked incredulously. “That’s the Joker.”
“You’re kidding,” Jason said. Then he realized something. “It is the Joker. Now that you mention it, that smile is familiar. The few photos I’ve seen make that smile as recognizable as my own in my mind.”
“Let’s get the others,” Tommy said, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Jason nodded, and the two rounded up the others.
“What’s up, Tommy?” Zack asked.
“Look, but don’t stare, at that guy over there,” Jason said. They all did so. The man smiled at them.
“Oh my goodness,” Kim said, “That’s the Joker. I thought he only dealt with stuff in Gotham City.”
“If Joker’s here,” Tommy said, “Then Batman can’t be too far away. Joker’s too dangerous to leave alone like that. Let’s get to the Command Center. I have a bad feeling that whatever the Joker’s doing here ties in with Rita.” The team goes into a dark alcove and use their rings to teleport to the Command Center.
The Joker came over to the alcove a few minutes later, to find it empty. “Rita won’t like this,” he said, “But who am I to care what she does or doesn’t like?” He started laughing a little maniacally.
At the Command Center, the Rangers tell Zordon about the Joker’s appearing at the Youth Center. “This is most distressing,” Zordon said, “If Rita did bring him here, like Tommy says, she knows that you can’t morph to fight the Joker. He probably also knows who you are.”
“With Joker here, Batman must be too,” Tommy said, “We’ll just have to wait until they show up, if they do. I’ve got just the idea to see if they’re here already.” He started to explain the idea to the others.
Unknown to the Rangers, Batman and Robin are already on the job. “I can’t believe that we can’t find him,” Robin said, “The Joker isn’t that slippery, is he?”
“He is,” Batman said, “Well, we’ll just have to keep an eye out for...”
“What is it, Bruce?” Robin asked. When he got no answer, he followed Batman’s line of sight. What he saw there was pretty amazing. “A batsignal in Angel Grove? Impossible.”
“Must be the work of those ‘Lantern Rangers,’” Batman said, “Let’s go check it out.” The two fade into the shadows.
“I hope they hurry,” Zack said, “I think my ring’s about out of juice. I’ll need to go back and recharge soon.” They were morphed and in the middle of the city. Zack was using his ring to flash the batsignal.
“I’m here.” The Rangers spun around, to find Batman and Robin. “What do you want?”
“The Joker’s here,” Tommy said, “We saw him at the Angel Grove Youth Center.”
“Thanks for the information,” Batman said, “Now, I’ll have to ask you to leave that maniac to us. We’re experienced in handling him.
“We’ve never gone up against him, but we could help,” Tommy said.
“The only way you could help is to stay out of the way,” Batman said.
“Whatever,” Kim said, “We’re a part of this, like it or not. Joker does seem to almost be stalking us, after all.”
“Don’t get involved,” Batman said, a little more forcefully. With that, he walked away.
“Ooh,” Kim said angrily, “That man...”
“Don’t let him get to you.” They jumped when they realized that Robin was still standing a few feet away. “He’s more of a loner. I’m lucky he allows me to be his partner.”
“Thanks, man,” Tommy said, “You know, you look very familiar.”
“I must have one of those faces,” Robin said, “’Bye.” With that, he disappeared.
“Man,” Tommy said, “Well, if you can hear me Batman, we’re not giving up. If he comes after us, any one of us, we’ll take him down, with or without your help.” With that, they teleported back to the Command Center.
“Kids,” was all Batman said before leaving.
A few days later, the Rangers were hanging out at the Youth Center. Tommy was practicing on the heavy bag. Jason was teaching Billy some moves. Zack was near Kim, since no one was supposed to be on the balance beam without someone nearby, just in case, and Tommy and the others were a little busy. Trini was watching Billy and Jason, especially the former of the two.
A man walked up to Tommy. “Excuse me,” he said, “I was hoping to get some practice in before class tonight. I was wondering if you’d mind sparring some with me?”
“Sure,” Tommy said. They step out onto some unused mats and warm up. They go into fighting stances.
A few minutes later, Tommy’s lying on the ground.
“You fight dirty,” Tommy said, his voice at a slightly higher pitch than usual.
“And I came this close to killing you,” the man said, “Let me introduce myself. Jack Napier, otherwise known as...”
“The Joker,” Tommy said, jumping to his feet.
“Don’t bother morphing,” the Joker said, “Too many people around, anyway, isn’t there?”
“Step away from the boy, Joker.” Joker spun at the voice, and found Batman and Robin standing nearby.
“Tommy,” Kim said, running over to him. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah...” Tommy cleared his throat to make his voice sound normal again. “Yeah, I’m all right, Kim.”
“The dynamic duo,” Joker said, “Here in Angel Grove. That’s rich. Where’s Batgirl? Or the other Robin? Oh, that’s right. I paralyzed the former, and just plain old killed the latter.”
“We need to morph,” Tommy whispered almost inaudibly into Kim’s ear. She nodded and they started towards their usual alcove.
“I don’t know what you’re here for, Napier,” Batman said, “But, rest assured, you won’t do what you did came for. Not with us here.” All of a sudden, Tommy and Kim teleported in, morphed. “I told you to stay out of this.”
“And I told you that we’re going to help you, like it or not,” Tommy said.
“I’m not a kid,” Tommy said, “I’m seventeen years old.”
“And if you mess with Joker, you won’t see eighteen,” Batman said, “Now, step back, so that we can take... Where’d he go?” Joker was nowhere to be found. Batman faced Tommy. “If he kills anyone here, its on your head, Green Ranger. Remember that.”
Tommy was visibly shaken by the truth in Batman’s words. If they hadn’t been there to distract Joker... Kim put a hand on his shoulder. He shook it off and teleported somewhere.
Kim faced Batman. “Go to hell,” she screamed angrily and teleported out. The dynamic duo left a minute or two later.
Kim had her ring follow Tommy’s teleportational trail. She was surprised when she ended up at the duck pond in Angel Grove park. Luckily, no one was around. Tommy was sitting by the water, skipping rocks, demorphed. She demorphed and sat down beside him.
“He’s wrong,” Kim said, “You didn’t...”
“I distracted him from taking Joker into custody,” Tommy said, “He was right. Any deaths that maniac causes here is on my head.”
“I don’t believe that, and neither should you,” Kim said, “You’re a good man, and you didn’t mean to distract Batman. He’s just being a butt head.”
“It doesn’t matter how he was acting,” Tommy said, “Don’t you understand? I, accidentally or on purpose, let the Joker get away.” Kim knew the signs. He was starting to close himself off.
“Don’t do this to yourself,” Kim said, “Don’t beat yourself up like this. You’re doing the best you can. So you made one mistake. I didn’t fall in love with you because you were absolutely flawless.” She gasped when she realized what she had said.
“You what?” Tommy said.
“Never mind,” Kim said, turning away embarrassingly.
“Forget I said anything, all right?” Kim asked pleadingly. All of a sudden, Tommy dipped his head in closer and gave her a passionate kiss, which she enthusiastically returned.
“I’m in love with you, too,” Tommy said when they came up for air. They went back to making out.
“I’m gone,” Joker said, “Just one of those Lantern Rangers was almost too much for me. Forget about our deal. If they’re all that tough, I’ll take my chances with Batman and Robin. But as a parting gift...” He held out a box to Rita.
“Aw, you shouldn’t have,” Rita said.
“Now, if you’d be kind enough to teleport me back to Gotham,” Joker said. Rita raised her staff and did as the Joker wished. She opened up the box.
They say that, in space, no one can hear you scream. Well, the same thing with explosions.
“What do you have against the Green Ranger?” Tim asked Bruce when they got back to their make shift Batcave.
“I don’t,” Bruce said, “Tommy’s a good kid, and...”
“Tommy? No, not him. The Green Lantern Ranger.”
“Tommy is the Green Lantern Ranger,” Bruce said, “Didn’t you recognize his voice today, or the other night. That Kim’s the Pink one. I’d say that Zack, Billy, Jason and Trini are, too.”
“You’re right,” Tim said, “Now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Now, what do you have against Tommy?”
“Like I said, nothing,” Bruce said, “I just look at him, at the fire that burns inside of him, and it’s like...”
“It’s like looking in a mirror?”
“Yeah, when I was about that age,” Bruce said, “He reminds me a lot of myself when I was seventeen or eighteen. He’s just about as good a martial artist as I was then, too.”
“And quite the ladies man, just like you, I bet,” Tim said playfully.
“Actually, that’s what the most familiar about him,” Bruce said, “Handsome, though shy, good with martial arts. Well, anyway, it’s about time to be heading to the airport. We want to get back in time for the JLA meeting, after all.”
“Right,” Tim said. They left their packed their stuff and were back in Gotham City in a few hours.