(This is part of an experiment in hypertext fiction. See Bridgeborough, New Jersey for more information).
Born in Bridgeborough, New Jersey in February of 1965, Justin Graves is secretly the alter-ego of Harlequin, servant of justice. He's also a stand up comic of no noticable success, and he's also a writer and editor of the Cohansey Chronicle.
In 1983, the young Justin had finally landed his first gig as a stand up comedian, and wanted to celebrate. Though his bank account was empty, he believed he'd be able to fill it with the money he was to make that weekend. He was walking the streets of Bridgeborough after leaving his successful audition, and chanced up on a mysterious curio shop in a nondescript BrownStone building that he'd never seen before. A near obsessive collector of masks, he went inside looking for something to add to his collection that he had hanging on a wall in his Cohansey apartment.
When he entered, the two employees of the store seemed to know him already and had been expecting him. They showed him to a display with a simple-looking black half-mask that Graves' knowledge of antiques told him was an antique from Europe's dark ages. He wrote a hot check to purchase it, and thanked them.
Upon taking it home, he set up a place for it on his wall with his other masks, and as is his custom before putting it on the wall, he placed the mask on his own face just to see how it felt. Suddenly with a swirl of color and energy, Justin was transformed. He ran to the bathroom mirror to take a look, and standing before him in the mirror was a man who looked nothing like him. Blonde hair poured off his head and down his back, with an unruly twirl hanging over his forehead. He couldn't see eyes behind the mask, seeing instead only large opaque white orbs. His skin was chalky white, and his chin protruded with exagerration (more exagerrated than Jay Leno although back in 1983 he wasn't famous yet). Justin's reflection in the mirror seemed to almost glow with energy. Instead of just the mask, he was wearing a full costume that looked like an elaborate royal jester from the middle ages. With a vest of diamond motley patchwork of green and red, purple tights, and green gloves and ankle boots that had jingly bells floating from the tips, the black mask seemed almost ordinary in comparison.
Then Justin thought he sensed trouble happening outside, and went out to investigate. Thus began the first of his many endless adventures. By the time he was done, he had missed his engagement with the stand up comedy club, and wouldn't get another gig for some years. He quickly surmised that having this mask would be both a blessing and a curse, and decided to try to return it since he couldn't afford it anyway. He returned to the place where the BrownStone curio shop had been, but what he saw was an old condemned lot. He never found the curio shop again.
Soon after that he discovered that a drug named Rhaspody was on the streets and was killing people. In fact it killed a woman who he had only recently managed to get into bed. She started taking the stuff right in front of him and then jumped his bones, dying in his bed. Enraged and filled with emotional confusion, he put on the Harlequin mask and answered the summons of Winston Brooks. He joined the superheroes who came to be known as Jumping Jack Limited and thwarted the makers of the terrible drug. He went on a few more adventures with JJL, but soon realized he wasn't cut out for being a team player.
He met and fell in love with a lass named Jessica, and had an ongoing romance with her for several years. Operating like Lois Lane to his Clark Kent, Justin struggled to keep the truth of his alter-ego from her, but eventually she found out. She insisted then that he choose this dangerous life of crimefighting or her. It was a bad time for her to do that because he had just uncovered yet another situation where lives would be lost if he didn't intervene. He asked her to let him do this one last adventure and he'd have his answer upon his return, but after he thwarted the evil, she wasn't there when he came back.
Frustrated and also upset that he had let other aspects of his normal life fall to ruin due to constantly flying around in tights beating up on bad guys, Justin fell into a sort of decline. He turned to alcoholism and both his normal life and his superhero life seemed in jeopardy. He came to the attention of Doctor Brandon Witcher when Justin became a menace both to himself and the populous of Bridgeborough. With Witcher's help, Justin managed to get counseling and defeat his addiction to drinking, and has been right as rain ever since.
Though not a team player, in his Harlequin persona he has managed to work alongside most of the other costumed vigilantes that have graced Bridgeborough's soil. And since his drunk binge, he's managed as Justin Graves to get and keep a job on the Cohansey Chronicle, first as a reporter and then as an assistant editor. Things finally seem to be looking up.