“I’m not broken. And I’m not alone.” -Victor Stone, Cyborg
Before you read this special one-shot inspired by Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I wanted to speak directly to our readers. I want to remind you that you matter so much more than you can even understand right now. As someone who has struggled with his identity, his self-worth, and mental illness for as long as he can remember… I wanted to remind you that you matter. What you do matters. The things you want to become, create, or be matter. Sometimes things feel hopeless and you can feel alone but please, I mean this from the bottom of my heart, you are not alone. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and do what you can to make the world around you better for everyone. You have more power to do so than you know. Take things at your own pace and be who you truly want to be. You’re not alone.
If you are struggling with depression or any other mental health issues, reach out to someone. Here are some resources for those of you who are in the US, if you need to find help wherever you may be… we will do what we can to help connect you with those.
I have made a donation of $50 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you are capable, please do the same.
Thank you for reading,
(Spoilers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League below)
(Words in italics signal actions)
The GC52 Logo appears on televisions, computers, and all other types of viewing devices at its normally scheduled time. Lead Anchor Dan McMahon sits at the center of the newsroom behind his desk. This week he’s wearing a short-sleeved pastel button-up with multicolored bat symbols printed over it, outlined by the large window behind him looking out over Metropolis. The Daily Planet globe is visible behind him as the setting sun sparkles off the crown jewel of the City of Tomorrow. The GC52 theme music begins to dim as the actual program begins.
Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all our wonderful viewers from the docks of Coast City to the furthest reaches of Oa, you are watching the multiverse’s best news show that brings you the news that you need to know! As always, I’m your host, Dan McMahon, doing my part to bring you up to the minute updates on the worlds you live in!
This week we have something special for you. We’ve connected with our GC52 counterparts over on Earth-ZS. I haven’t spoken to them before so this is very exciting. I wonder what their Dan is like, handsome no doubt. Anyway, without further ado, let’s take you over to the team, Da- wait, Ethan? Where’s Dan?
Ethan: Dead. Everyone’s dead.
The camera cuts from the home studio we’re all familiar with. In its place, and presented in a 4:3 aspect, is a burnt-out husk of a building. Ethan is sat behind the nearly destroyed lead anchor’s desk, beat up, with a scar running down one side of his face. Behind him, where the gleaming skyscape of Metropolis would be has instead been replaced by a gigantic plume of fire reaching into the sky, itself a dark orange color. Dust, sand, ashes maybe, are blowing everywhere.
Dan: What do you mean everyone’s dead? What happened?
Ethan: Well Darkseid took over the Earth. You died early on, leading one of the first resistance attacks. Alex, Violet, Bree, Jon, Rob, they all went not long after. Even Jerry, who I thought would live forever. I’m all that’s left, there’s practically no one alive. But, there’s a small band of heroes around, and they have a plan to stop this, change time even. It’s gonna work, I know it.
Dan: Well that sounds like a… lot. You maybe got something a bit less grim you can show us? What about Jake?
Ethan: Oh, he died long before all this reporting on the Battle of Metropolis, but sure, we’ve got an old episode lying around here. It’s a good one, from one of our brightest days. The day Superman returned. Here, let me play it for you.
After a brief burst of static, the camera cuts to the GC52 intro, the music playing triumphantly. Just as when we first joined the team over at Earth-ZS, everything is playing in 4:3. As the music begins to fade, and we see, alive, the Dan McMahon of this earth wearing an ashen grey suit coat with stubble across his face instead of our normal clean-cut lead anchor. The suit looks like it’s a bit tight because you can see his absolutely shredded body through the white shirt underneath. Everyone on this Earth actually looks like they are built out of pure muscle. His eyes are much more burdened than your normal host.
Dan: Good evening, Earth. I am here again to bring you the news you’re going to need to make it through your day. It’s been some time since we lost Superman. It feels like there has been a heavy blanket of sorrow draped over the planet. I am trying my best to come in here every week but it’s hard, I know I should focus on what he stood for to move into a brighter tomorrow but it’s not easy. Things have never really been the same since the first invasion and the destruction of Metropolis. I wasn’t fast enough to save Jake before the old GC52 building collapsed…
Audiences watch as the anchor presses his hands to his face as if to push back the burden of being for just a moment to bring people hope. A large graphic of the flag of the white Superman logo on the Tower Bridge appears to the left of Dan.
Dan: But all hope can’t be lost, right? There was the incident in Midway City where a group of former villains stopped something catastrophic. I know that it’s only a rumor that it even happened but Amanda Waller has something going on behind those walls of Belle Reve. There were also reports out of Philadelphia of a hero similar to Superman with a large lightning bolt on his chest but nothing verified. There are more people out there like him… I just know it. Let’s turn it over to our lifestyle reporter with a special story from Themyscira.
The report cuts over to a female reporter in a neon yellow vest and a cheery disposition stands in stark contrast to a natural landscape with what seems to be a large town made of many different types of stone and marble buildings.
Bree: Goooood Afternoon Earth! It’s your favorite lifestyle reporter, coming at you live with a GC52 exclusive! You’ll never guess where we are today Dan, so I’ll fill everyone in! I’m standing on an island that has yet to allow press coverage until today, Themyscira! The islands’ inhabitants claim to be a community of warrior women, who like to call themselves Amazons and live completely off the grid. Rumor has it, this island is also the birthplace and childhood home of the one and only Wonder Woman! We’ll be living amongst the locals today to learn all we can about life on Themyscira! The preferred method of travel here is Horseback! How charming! A guide is currently on her way to bring me into the city-
A loud, thunderous boom echoes from across the small island.
Bree: Oh, perhaps that’s a cultural instrument to signify the arrival of visitors?
The explosive boom was followed by the sounds of distant yells and chants, and…weapons clashing.
Bree: …a…sporting event that involves combat? My guide seems to be behind schedule, so I will begin walking into the city and showcase the natural beaut-
The reporter is interrupted by the sound of more explosions, not quite as loud as the first but sequential and layered this time. Her expression indicates she’s deeply confused and at a complete loss for words. The reporter finally turns her back to the camera to get a look at the commotion. On the complete opposite side of the island, a lone, coliseum-style building seems to explode from within before crumbling into the ocean below.
Bree: I can see what looks like some figures on foot and horseback running from the area of what had been a large, stone, fortress and– what the hell?!
A figure that must have been at least 12 feet tall, and shines like metal seems to fly up from below the cliff that had collapsed into the ocean with the fortress. The entity walks on two legs but is not human and difficult to describe. It is carrying what looks like a massive, metal… axe?! AND SWINGING IT AT THE AMAZONS?!
Bree: Well, I really can’t tell you what’s going on Dan but it does not look good. Please bring the helicopter back around-
The conflict is now moving across the island, and the Amazon’s seem to be passing some kind of…cube down a configuration of mounted warriors. Perhaps a very serious game of keep away. Many are meeting violent ends as the strange figure hacks and crushes those in his way. The thundering of hooves becomes closer and closer.
Bree, Now yelling: Dan I heard that huge… thing yell something about a… Mother Box? And Atlanteans? Do Amazon’s have medical insurance because-
The reporter continues talking but the sounds of a nearby helicopter drown her out completely. The battle is not more than 20 feet behind them, and Bree looks behind her one final time before the feed abruptly cuts to black.
The face that greets the camera is familiar but noticeably more tired. And in…a submarine?
Bree: I’m following up on the story that started in Themyscira, and it’s brought me under the sea and to the lost world of… Atlantis. Yes, THAT Atlantis. God do I wish this was my usual fluff piece, but leaving it didn’t feel right either. GC52 watchers, there’s so much we don’t know. The box that the Amazons fought to the death to protect… there are more. Two, I think. The Queen of the Amazons told me the next one was in Atlantis, but that’s all she would tell me. I followed some rumors about a man that spends more time in the ocean than on land and…here I am. Following him to where I assume the other box thing is. Our submarine is bright yellow and says press on the side, like my vest, which seems to be enough to be more or less ignored. For now, while I maintain a safe distance. Anyways, I arrived on the scene to MORE conflict. As you can see-
The broadcast switches from inside the cabin to outside the submarine. A complicated scene plays out on the ocean floor.
Bree: The box must be housed in that dome-like structure, and the monster that terrorized Themyscira must already be here. The Amazons called him Steppenwolf, and he seems to be continuing his campaign of terror. I’m not sure if the deep-sea camera can capture it, but what appears to be lazers are shooting out from inside that structure. Massive air pockets have appeared and disappeared, like the water is being intentionally manipulated by an unseen force. I am almost an entire football field away but I can still feel the odd rumble of some kind of forceful impact. I am assuming the Ocean Man is engaging with this Steppenwolf, and I really have no idea how it will turn out. I do wish someone could take me by the hand right now, this is incredibly stressful and not at all what I signed up for. I MEAN- *clears throat, mutters something about professionalism*– Sorry, GC52 viewers, back to the story.
Steppenwolf emerges from the structure, swimming…or floating, owards the surface. The position of his arms indicates he’s holding something but cameras are not close enough to see exactly what.
Bree: He seems to have gotten the box and I don’t know what that means. I could not find anyone that would tell me. I truly do not think it’s remotely good. I- I’m not sure where to go from here. Prepare to hunker down and wait for this to hopefully blow-
A heavy clang can be heard from the mic inside the cabin right before the exterior camera goes black. The broadcast switches to the interior camera for a few moments. The crew is in disarray, an alarm is sounding and a figure that is indistinguishable besides a flash of a black wing appears in the window. Another metallic clang is heard before both the camera and mic go out.
Dan: Bree? Bree?! Um… I’m sure she’ll be okay folks and once we hear from her we’ll let you know. We now take you over to Rob, who’s hopefully investigating the dissapeaances at STAR Labs.
The camera cuts to an odd reporter— he’s wearing a mask where one should, but also, has several tightly wrapped around his head at 90 degrees to that one, from chin to the top of his head— and the picture gives the impression that if they were removed, his head might explode. He is standing outside the security gate at STAR Labs. The impressive complex looms in the background. Scientists come and go to the right of him. He is sweating profusely.
Rob: And so it’s 10 AM at Star Labs in the bright city of Metropolis, and it’s been two hours since I was supposed to be given credentials to enter the facility. I don’t know what those credentials would look like; maybe a key card, or maybe a microchip implanted in my bloodstream, tracking me forever, or maybe credentials wouldn’t be a thing granted to my own person to carry, maybe I would be giving the system something of myself— a scan of my eye, my fingerprint, a biosignature, and then the system would recognize me, know me, and know to allow me entry. Or maybe it’s just a lab coat. Pretty much everyone that’s gone in or out that I’ve seen has a lab coat. It’s a weird signifier, the labcoat; we all know it means “SCIENCE,” but once upon a time the white coat, the white jacket, the white tie, all these were signifiers of the aristocracy, and the aristocracy at their finest events. Have we replaced one elite with another? Both go to the Ivies, that much I do know.
Off-camera, someone prompts him that he is reporting on the kidnapping at STAR Labs.
Rob: Right. So anyway I never got that far, never got into the station where they assign credentials, because when I approached the security gate and noted I was press, that I had an appointment, the guard said, “Hey, I know you,” and gave that kind of smile that does not reach the eyes, the Professional Smile which has been so carefully described and dissected by a greater person than I, the smile that never fails to fill the object of the gesture with dread and despair, and then he said, “you’re not press,” and while I insisted that yes, I was, and pointed profusely to my GC52 name badge, itself a credential already, he responded “no, you’re not a journalist. You’re that weird essayist that they send to, like, a Baskin Robbins to eat ice cream and then complain about how ice cream fills you with dread and despair. And then you start talking about signs, words, nonsense. You’re the nonsense guy.” And I assured him that yes, I was that guy, and he had indeed correctly recalled my last special assignment, that this whole thing was a kind of reporting. So he called his boss, who called his boss, who called my boss, and the long and short of it is that GC52 failed to convince security to let me inside, for fear of my reporting forever associating the STAR Labs brand with, well, dread and despair.
STAR Labs is, of course, the scientific outfit which has been prized with studying the Superman Ship, and all the alien technology that fell to our Earth and claimed so many lives just a few years ago. They’re the lab of lazer guns, of melted steel beams, of chaos engines, of change machines, and technologies that might as well to us be magic.
Did you know that polling has discovered that while the average person felt hope, optimism, and a renewed sense of conviction in the immediate aftermath of the First Invasion, thanks to not only the unity that arises after any tragedy but also thanks to the efforts and example of the handsome and wholesome being known to us as Superman, the average person today feels depression, anxiety, and hopelessness on a scale never before seen on human record? We live in a world of aliens and monsters and death rays and, if grainy footage from Gotham several months back is to be believed, at least one large and terrifying death god. We live in a world where Lex Luther’s opinion, given from a prison cell, matters more than your individual vote when it comes to how any country runs things. We live in a world where, again, if grainy footage from Gotham several months back is to be believed, the one thing which prevented the world from descending into an age of darkness was one Harleen Quinzel, a delightful woman for sure, but one who also is guilty of a lot of murders. A lot.
And there is of course The Batman if he really does exist, but-
The person off-camera once again prompts him to talk about what happened at STAR Labs.
Rob: BUT— and the Batman is relevant, as you’ll shortly see— but at STAR Labs last night, multiple staff members were kidnapped by a being that looks quite a lot like The Batman.
He holds up to the camera an image of a monstrous figure with wings. It is labeled “suspect.” It looks very little like The Batman.
Rob: I found this digging around in the dumpster after they wouldn’t let me in. I think they threw this one away and tried again because it’s, like, a really bad drawing.
He holds it up to the camera again; it’s really bad. It’s bad enough that if you were in charge of things, you’d probably throw out that picture and bring in another.
Rob: So we live in a world where clown murderers are our last hope. We live in a world of super-crime and gods and demons and magic and terrorism and spaceships and myth and science and capitalism and horror. And we live in that world without a Superman. Whatever happened here at Star Labs— whether it was a Gotham legend breaking bad, or a demon emerging from hell, or an abduction from the stars— the MPD aren’t going to solve it. They’re, like most cops, worthless. I’m not going to solve it. My job entails things like delivering 5000 words on what the Annual Atlantis Is Real Truther convention can tell us about the human condition. You aren’t going to solve it. Maybe a Superman could solve it. But he’s gone now.
I’m told he used to tell people when the cameras were off, and the Imposing Christ Figure Schtick was down, and he was just a normal guy, just a normal guy like you and me, that happened to be able to fly, and happened to, above all else, want to do nothing but help people, I’m told when he had saved someone, and they were waiting for paramedics, or he’d helped an older woman home, and she invited him in for tea, or when he just took a moment to chat with people excited to see him— I’m told that he used to tell people “anyone can be a Superman.”
And I want to believe that. I want to believe I, and you, and everyone can be Superman. But I can’t even get into STAR Labs right now to do the report I was assigned.
I wish we’d had a little more time with Superman. Maybe he could have shown us the way.
When the feed cuts back to the main studio, the camera is broadcasting out of the GC52 Corporate gym. Dan is now wearing all black with a large set of heavy chains draped over his neck and shoulders as he swings a large sledgehammer down onto a massive truck tire. Sweat drips from his face as he looks at the camera between thunderous swings.
Dan: Something is happening, there are weird reports coming in from all over Earth of strange happenings. We take you now to our reporter Jon, live on the scene for one of these happenings.
The report cuts over to Jon on the streets of Central City with a smile on his face.
Jon: Dan I’m standing here in Central City in front of this local pet shop, where a near-fatal car crash occurred right outside. Eyewitnesses say that the accident party, Iris West, was thankfully unharmed. West reports that she saw… let me check my notes… ”Some dude I saw in a pet store saved me and then ran back in with no shoes on. Oh, and there was lightning around him.”
Dan, it’s implied that she might have seen the mysterious running man around Central City. I personally have decided to call him “Speedy McSpeederton” or “Dominic Toretto” Because he goes Fast, Dan. And I guess also Furious?
Anyway, I can confirm that the only thing that did suffer injuries are the truck driver’s brain cells. The driver reportedly caused the crash by reaching for his Big Belly Burger that he dropped on the floor while keeping his foot on the gas pedal. The driver clearly didn’t follow the 30-second rule, so really, what was the point of getting it at all? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Finally, Dan, we end our story with a positive note. A brave young man who refused to be named saved all the beautiful, precious puppies in the pet shop. This is a relief because if anything happened to those puppies, I would just fucking snap. We’re talking Zod level shit here.
So… yeah, I’m hungry. I’m gonna go get a Big Belly Burger. For GC52, I’m Jon Scott, back to you Dan.
As the feed cuts back to the main studio, the camera crew is chasing behind Dan as he puts on a large coat as he is running from the building.
Dan: Cut to fucking Ethan, something is happening.
The camera cuts to Ethan standing in front of the Superman memorial. While it was partially destroyed during the Doomsday incident a few months back, there has been more carnage wrought. But Ethan isn’t despondent at this, instead, he’s smiling, there’s dried tears on his face and he looks like he could start going again at any moment.
Ethan: Folks, I don’t quite know how to say this but, and I swear this is not a joke, the Man of Steel has returned. Yes, you heard right, Superman has risen from the grave. We still don’t know exactly what happened but I can try and extrapolate some idea from what we saw go down here less than an hour ago.
It all started after an alarm was sounded at STAR Labs just a few hundred meters from this very location. As a precaution, the lab was evacuated and then a few minutes later a figure flew out from the crashed Kryptonian ship. Now obviously, this raised a lot of alarms. Is this one of Zod’s soldiers, left behind after their defeat? Is it something connected to the disappearances at STAR Labs?
Well, those questions were answered pretty quickly as the individual flew to the exact spot I’m standing on. The Superman memorial, originally erected to honor those lost during Zod’s attack, then converted to remember the Man of Steel after his tragic death. Well, once they landed it was obvious, this person was Superman. Resurrected somehow.
He starts walking around the memorial, pointing out the new destruction that’s happened there.
Ethan: Moments after he landed there, a group of powered individuals approached. One of them was the Wonder Woman who’s been seen helping out around the world in the months since Superman was lost. This group was trying to help the Man of Steel but something about this resurrection process had addled his brain. He saw them as a threat.
After swiftly taking out these possible heroes, another of who seemed to be the Central City Flash, Superman started attacking The Batman, nearly overpowering him. Then all of a sudden, an unknown woman appeared. She got through to Superman where no one else had, bringing him back to humanity. Next, we saw, he’d taken off flying with this woman in tow. And that’s the last we’ve seen of him for now. Though I’m sure it won’t be long until he’s back saving the day again.
As a smile comes across his face the tears start flowing again, tears of joy.
Ethan: Back to you Dan.
The report doesn’t cut back to Dan but rather a few filler pieces. Pieces about the death of a famous masked gangster in Gotham at the hands of a group called the Birds of Prey, a retrospective piece about Maxwell Lord, and a few others before the final report of the night begins.
The viewpoint of the camera is a bit shaky as the lens focuses on Dan who is sitting on the edge of an open helicopter door as he rains down lead hellfire from the GC52 helicopter’s mounted minigun. The skies all around them are filled with flying monsters known as Parademons. Dan shouts as he picks them off as they fly around the epic clash below.
Dan: Told you bad things were coming, we are on the scene as a group of heroes we are referring to as the “Justice League” are fighting the invaders before they can merge some mysterious boxes of alien tech that will bring hell here to Earth. The mysterious Aquaman and Wonder Woman have been holding their own against him but it seems as if Superman himself is here to settle this once and for all to show them that. The planet’s newest and best hero Cyborg is stopping whatever scheme was in place with those Motherboxes…
A bright light starts to approach the helicopter as blaring alarms warn them that they’re going down. Everything begins to spin as the helicopter is on the path to destruction along with the rest of reality but only for a moment as everything begins to change… things start to move in the opposite direction as if time is reversing around them. It seems as if the world is saved as Dan turns back to the camera and smiles.
Dan: Everything changes here tonight dear viewers. Superman is back and the Justice League has stopped whatever this was. There are more nightmares to come… but some bells can not be unrung. But heroes will always be there to stand against them. Be strong in all your convictions…
The feed cuts to black. The viewers return to the present day on Earth ZS. As the lights dim on the GC52 studio, there’s another burst of static and the camera cuts back to Ethan in this apocalyptic Knightmare.
Ethan: So yeah, there you have it. It wasn’t all bad here before. We had some great times. It’s been really good seeing you again Dan, I’m not gonna lie. Who knows, if the Bat’s plan works, I’ll hopefully see you again.
Dan: I hope you do, buddy. Anyway, we wish you the best of luck, from our Earth to yours.
As Dan starts to give his classic sign-off the camera remains on Ethan over on the other Earth. There’s a single tear running down his cheek. He’s about to get up and leave when all of a sudden a gigantic sonic boom is heard, and felt, as the camera shakes. A look of fear comes across his face. Through the broken window behind Ethan, the fire outlines a black-clad figure flying outside the building, Superman, but something’s wrong. Ethan runs towards the camera as Superman’s eyes start glowing an ominous red. The camera fizzles out, and we’re left only with static.