Jethro held Kate’s head in his hands, focused only on making her last moments as peaceful and painless as he could.
He blocked out the sight of everyone else’s bodies, and the sounds of the laugh of the lunatic who murdered them. The gods, it seemed, had seen fit to give Jethro a last goodbye to only the second woman whom he had fallen head over heels for, and loved with all his heart, and whom felt the same for him. The gods had seen fit to give him another once-in-a-lifetime love, after they took away his first.
The gods seemed to have absentmindedly forgotten to keep them from dying. Unlike Shannon, and their daughter Kelly, at least Jethro would get to see Kate off to the great unknown.
She told him, weakly, she loved him and that he needed to be strong, to move forward and…
…all he remembered was her final breath. And his screams of anguish.
And, later, he saw himself lifted off the dirt by some of the red-skinned aliens who, years before, had taken him and put him on a path he couldn’t possibly have dreamed of.
Years later, the monitor sat on his stool and looked out the window at the universe. His universe.
Not too long ago on his world, a scientist had proved that the center of the universe was not his world and, by implication, his species.
The earth was nowhere close to the true center of the monitor's own universe, but to him, it was, is, and will be everything.
When he was handpicked to be the 'monitor' by a panel of his peers, the old Marine was forced to rethink everything he knew about reality. He saw men and women who appeared human, but were very different people. They all shared the same red pigmentation and weird uniform; otherwise they all had very little in common, other than they were the monitors of their own universes.
At first there were 51 others. Some disappeared and were replaced with no warning. There were crises upon crises, and handling it while keeping his universe secure taxed even the Marine's resources. For a few years, he tried to handle everything himself and it worked.
Then came Flashpoint. To save his universe, he had to put at risk the few heroes protecting his earth - and let loose the greatest villain it had ever known.
His universe - his world - survived.
Its heroes - his proteges - did not. Neither did his archnemesis, Ari, whom met his demise at the hands of a much greater foe:
This...entity was going through the universes and had ravaged dozens of earths, subjugating - or killing - their inhabitants and champions.
One self-professed champion was recruited with the promise to leave his world be, and tasked by Darkseid with finding his own counterparts to help pave the way for Anti-Life. This man - Ari Luthor, the self-professed son of the infamous Lex Luthor - was in fact no champion, and in fact was his world's counterpart of Ari.
The monitor therefore would have to assemble a task force to fight these new threats.
He could expect no help from his peers, whom concentrated on their own realms. However, because many of them were lax, he could reach into other universes and ask for help from other heroes.
The other monitors who tended to reach outside of their own realities tended to look for analogues of the most powerful and well-known heroes: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, to name a few.
This monitor would also look for analogues for the great heroes, but he'd look first for the people he mentored, knew and trusted. There were literally countless worlds to investigate, and surprisingly, his 'team' had as many powered counterparts as unpowered.
They ranged the gamut, from Jim Palmer, the Doctor Fate of Earth-623, to Tony DiNozzo, the quarterback turned hero on Earth-216. Some were bizarre - Abigail, the personification of death and the associate of Morpheus on Earth-1989. Others were heroic, albeit apart from the mainstream - such as McGee, the living personification of the Internet and a member of the Doom Patrol of Earth-1006. Some embraced heroism after unpleasant pasts - like Ziva of the Blackhawks from Earth-898.
Most of the counterparts of the monitor's heroes, however, lived as civilians, and the vast majority worked in law enforcement or as agents - and none had the training for the task the monitor was facing.
There were more Zivas who were powered or well-trained than any of the others, but together they didn't have the range of abilities needed to face down Darkseid's seconds. Most of them were Blackhawks or proteges of their worlds' Bruce Waynes or Dick Graysons, a few were Green Lanterns and one was gifted with the power of Shazam.
The next group of his peoples' analogues were the Tonys, whom ranged from human targets to Commander Steels to Agent Libertys. One was the Booster Gold of Earth-216, another the protege of the Green Arrow.
Together they might be able to take down the threat, but the monitor concluded using them now would amount to throwing away a valuable resource. He needed Supermen, Batmen, Wonder Women, Green Lanterns - he needed an entire Justice League, and using the Tonys and Zivas together at this point in time would result in mass bloodshed and take them off the board in a potential future engagement with Darkseid.
The Palmer analogues, interestingly, were more powerful as a group than the Zivas and Tonys combined, but lacked the fortitude needed to take on a Luthor, much less a Darkseid. Using them would also waste a valuable resource.
There were plenty of his own analogues around, but no time to seed them as varied heroes and train them in their abilities.
One of his peoples' analogues had what he was looking for - a variety of powers, skills and training, and the necessary attitude and heart to face the threat head on.
Fortunately, he had the clone of his own Kate to help him in his recruitment. Although he himself couldn't leave his lair, she, as his Harbinger, could go to any universe and bring them to where they needed to be. Being one of them, she could most easily persuade the others to join, and had the power to compel them to accompany her if they refused.
So, the monitor told his Harbinger, the clone whom he had regarded as his daughter, what the plan was. They organized and prepared. Then he sent her off, wishing her godspeed.
As Harbinger journeyed to her first destination - Earth-116, to find one of the Batman proteges - the monitor went to the basement of his lair. He spent some time working on his boat, then stopped to rest, drinking his coffee and looking at two photos of his loved ones.
His deceased wife and daughter. And, in the second photo, his deceased team members.
The monitor allowed himself to enjoy their memories for a brief moment, then refocused on his task at hand. A task which began with the arrival of the Batwoman, and a Superwoman who both was not and was Kate, and continued with the next of many journeys: Earth-222 to find a Green Lantern, then Earth-226 to find a Wonder Woman, Earth-419 for a Mary Marvel, Earths-185 and 319 for members of the Legion of Super Heroes, and so on...
...until the Monitor of Earth-223 had his Justice League of Kates.