William Tockman’s life was one sick joke from start to finish.
It was a joke before William became a costumed criminal, forced to abandon a life of his own in order to take care of his invalid sister.
It was a joke when he was told by his doctor that he had only six months to live and – since no life insurance company would take him at that point -William decided to embark on a life of crime to secure the money his sister would need to live in comfort after he was gone.
But the biggest joke of all came after William Tockman was captured by Green Arrow and imprisoned… only to find out that his doctor had accidentally switched the results of his physical with another patient’s! And what is worse his sister, with no one else to care for her, had been put in a state-care facility and died from neglect.
Most people would probably get ready to file the biggest malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit in history. But William Tockman was not most men. He swore unending revenge upon Green Arrow AND the doctor who indirectly ruined his life, readying himself to rain hellfire and brimstone upon them… at least up until he was persuaded to become a superhero with a bunch of other ex-Injustice League members and join Justice League Antarctica.
That cost William Tockman whatever street-cred he had left with the villain set. Not because he had a stupid name and a gimmick that didn’t even make sense anymore. Not because he didn’t have any powers. Not because he had a lame costume. Not even because he was an even bigger joke as a hero than as a villain.
No, it was because he actually joined a Justice League – the one Rubicon no respectable villain can ever cross. You can allow yourself to be bought off. You can be press-ganged into service for a higher cause. You can afford to have quirks like not taking children hostage. You can play at being an anti-hero or “reformed” as much as you like. But the minute you put a JLA communicator on your belt – game over.
That was why Tockman – once he gave up heroics – was forced to form his own supervillian team with scrubs like Radiant, Sharpe, Acidia and Crackle. That was why he agreed to join the Suicide Squad – because nobody else would have him and even Captain Boomerang mocked him. And so it was that – on a mission for the Suicide Squad –William Tockman was unceremoniously shot and killed; an ignoble end to a sad and pathetic life.
Or so it would have been, had it not been for one quick twist of fate.
Suddenly, William Tockman found himself back in Star City. A voice told him that his death had been delayed and that he was once again living on borrowed time. The voice said he had been chosen because he was so unremarkable, had a grudge against Green Arrow and because he would not be noticed until it was too late.
William Tockman didn’t care at that point. He actually longed for death after years of mockery and jokes. So long as he finally got his revenge in the end, that was all that mattered. So he listened as the voice told him what to do... what would happen that night... and how for want of a nail and a few minutes delay, Green Arrow’s life and the lives of untold others would be ruined... for all time!
Cut to Now.
Oliver Queen wakes up in an alley. His hair is long and dirty. His beard is grown out completely. He is in the body of a very unhealthy man pushing sixty. He remembers going to sleep next to Dinah but that seems so long ago…and his memories don’t quite fit anymore. All he remembers is the shame. Deep shame and remorse.
Dinah Lance wakes up in the bedroom of a loft apartment over her floral shop… next to Hal Jordan. She remembers going to sleep next to Ollie… and yet has all of these feelings that she hates him more than anything. She asks Hal if they can find Ollie and Hal seems surprised… because the last he cared to check Ollie was rotting in a cell over what happened to Speedy.
Hal Jordan is very confused and concerned as to why his common-law wife is suddenly asking after his former best friend, her former boyfriend and the man whose crimes, once exposed, broke up the Justice League and got him kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps. Yet somehow, he can’t put a finger on why… something doesn’t seem right to him either. And it’s starting to make him feel afraid for the first time since he was a kid.
Roy Harper is dead. Died at the age of 15 of a heroin overdose.
Lian Harper never had a chance to exist.
Connor Hawke wakes up in a prison cell – his home since one fist-fight too many in a Zero Tolerance school district saw him charged with assault and put in a facility until he was 18. One fist-fight later and he was on probation. One fist-fight later and he was away for five years. He remembers fighting. A lot. But he also remembers a costume... and a father who doesn’t match his mother’s description of a jerk who got put away but still didn’t get what he deserved…
Mia Dearden wakes up next to her pimp Richard in another motel. She recoils in horror as she realizes where she is and who she is with, though he seems surprised since she was “so loving the night before”. She vaguely remembers a man in green who saved her… a man with a bow. A man who inspired her to fight back against the boyfriend who sold her out to anyone with one Benjamin an hour…. but that seems so much like a dream now.
Cissie King wakes up in the mansion she shares with her mother. Another busy day of personal appearances and orchestrated “fights” planned. Of course the money and fame is nice and oddly familiar. But somehow, she can’t shake the feeling that she shouldn’t be going along with everything her mom is telling her to do. That there was someone else whose example set a tone that seems to be missing in her life.
What did William Tockman do? Who put him up to it? And how will six virtual strangers who remember the pieces of a past that never was come together when a world descended into chaos begins to rip apart at the seams?