by Libbylawrence, with Doc Quantum
Alexander Luthor stood in front of an electronic device and hit the switch. Instantly, his image was projected to the space in front of the prison bubble that held the Crime Syndicate. Ultraman jumped up, as did his peers.
“Luthor — come here to gloat, old man?” sneered Owlman.
“I’d teach him to gloat if I could just get my hands around his throat!” vowed Power Ring.
“Hold it,” said Superwoman. “He obviously wants something.”
Luthor spoke from below, and his holographic image broadcast his words. “Please hear me out. That world down there is in trouble. A group called the Lawless League has conquered America and currently stands to take over the whole planet. I cannot stop them by myself. If I release you from your prison, would you pledge to help me defeat them? Afterward, I give you my word that I will not try to return you to this bubble.”
Ultraman frowned. “You’re not stupid. You know we’ll just take the planet over again ourselves if given half a chance.”
“I know you’ll try, but your reign of crime was never as brutal as that of this League,” replied Luthor. “I also feel that — because they are counterparts to the Justice League who beat you all before — you would relish going up against them. For, you see, I believe they are warped doubles of those heroes, come from some other dimension.”
Owlman smirked. “I believe you always thought of us as warped doubles of the JLA, too, did you not? Well, I suppose it was inevitable for you to come crawling to us. Our power is the only hope you have to stop their rampage.”
“I would also like a chance to prove my prowess in battle once more,” said Superwoman. “It has been too long since I made the fields run red with blood.”
“Give me your word to help me defeat them,” said Luthor, “and afterward we may settle our only differences as you like. I repeat that I won’t try to put you back in this prison.”
Ultraman turned to Owlman, as did Johnny Quick, Power Ring, and Superwoman. The evil genius nodded and spoke for the group.
“I believe we have a bargain,” said Owlman, “a truce until the Lawless League is brought down at our hands, and then — we settle old scores.” The other members of the Crime Syndicate nodded in agreement.
The enemy of my enemy… Alexander Luthor mused. As Luthor pressed another control in his Fortress of Science, the prison bubble vanished, setting free the worst villains this world had ever seen until the coming of the Lawless League. May God have mercy on my soul!
Almost immediately, Ultraman charged for Luthor’s projected image and closed his fists on — nothing.
“What kinda stupid trick is this?” he yelled.
“The kind you obviously fell for,” smirked Owlman.
Johnny Quick chimed in, “It was just a picture, Kel. Nothing but a picture.”
As Power Ring brought them back to the rubble and chaos of a world at war, he said, “So do we really kill this League or join up with them?”
Owlman smiled. “Good question. I suggest we meet them first and then form an opinion.”
In the White House, the Lawless League relaxed after a long day of conquest and bloodshed. Each had his or her preferred method of unwinding.
Speedfreak’s hyper hormones were raging as always, and the blond youth enjoyed romantic action with kidnapped starlets like Michelle Piper and Debbie Lockhart. The women had no chance against the super-fast speedster. He was simply too quick for them to see clearly before it was too late.
Hypernion brooded over the fact that he came from a doomed world, while this paltry world with no true science or art worthy of the name was allowed to live in its mundane stagnation. Being the Last Son of his alien world weighed heavily upon his mind.
Atalanta spent all her time in combat, as the Amazon Princess relished beating every hulking male she could force into her arena. She had converted the west wing of the White House into a gladiatorial-style arena where she had defeated countless males in her nightly battles.
Darknight alone attended to duty, seeming to never rest. He merely studied the data taken from the computer banks he had altered. He studied the crime statistics with special zeal, as he had a hatred for crime that drove him ceaselessly. It was true that he and his peers were the worst kind of outlaws, but he still had no use for lesser crooks, and he dedicated a good amount of his time and resources to hunting down certain most wanted felons and slaying them.
Gladiatrix merely amused herself with shallow pleasures like clothes, jewels, and stolen loot from fine stores across the world.
The Crime Syndicate of America would soon come calling.
Alexander Luthor worked without rest to perfect his Brainiac robot. He knew that the Crime Syndicate would be forced into battle with the Lawless League, because no two groups with such similar goals could long survive together without conflict. However, when they were finished, he would have to stop the winner to make his world safe once more. He had vowed not to send them back to that bubble, and he wouldn’t do so, since he had always found it and its predecessor somewhat inhumane. Still, he wouldn’t let them run wild, either. That was where his robot would come into play.
The green-skinned android looked like a man except for his weird skin coloration and the web of electronic wiring across his bald skull.
“Imagine it, Lois!” said Luthor, beaming. “Brainiac, here, will be an artificial intellect with the capacity to learn and improve himself — a self-repairing android with illusions of grandeur, so to speak. He will think at a level far beyond any known computer. He will anticipate probabilities and form strategies appropriately. In short, he will be the perfect robotic aide to help me deal with the Syndicate and all the problems I must deal with regularly, such as recharging my bio-suit.”
Lois kissed him and said, “Alex, I think you’re wonderful. What happens next?”
“Well, dear, I imagine they will meet, and the fight will begin,” he said, looking worried. “I hope it goes as expected.”
“How could it go right?” said Lena. “How could a killer like Power Ring ever do the right thing? He killed our folks. He murdered them like a child swatting a fly! Alex, you’ve unleashed more monsters on a world beset by them already!”
Alexander started to stop the pretty blonde as she ran to her room in the Fortress, but Brainiac then hummed softly as his eyes gained an almost-human glow. Luthor turned from his sister to gaze upon his new “son.”
“I am twelfth-level computer intellect and diagnostic system — designated Brainiac,” the android said. “How may I assist you?”
Alex cheered as Lois watched his creation come to life.
In the White House, a blond man paced nervously. “Say you! Say you!” he cried over and over. “Drat — nothin’! This backwater world won’t let me summon the old T-bolt magic, either. That simp, the Johnny Thunder of Earth-Two, still has control over the Thunderbolt. It ain’t no use.”
He wore a green and gold uniform and was, in fact, the Earth-One native named Johnny Thunder. Like his counterpart on Earth-Two, he had been raised in Badhnisia and could control a magical being called the Thunderbolt. However, only one could be the rightful master at a given time, and this crooked Johnny was out of luck. He had been allowed to stay at the White House as a kind of mascot to the Lawless League, but they held him in contempt. He had no influence upon them, and that galled him, for he had in fact created them.
I still can’t believe it, he thought, brooding over the past events that had brought him here. I had no problem workin’ the ol’ magic when I had that other loser Thunder gagged in that T-bolt dimension a year or so ago. But then some o’ those electrical life-forms helped ‘im shake off the gag so’s he could say the magic words and take over the magic Thunderbolt again! Then he beat me, and th’ heroes dragged me back to prison on Earth-One. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Doppelgänger Gambit,” Justice League of America #220 (November, 1983).]
It wasn’t ’til months later when those red skies appeared that I thought I might get another chance at the T-bolt. I broke outta prison with some other guys durin’ the Crisis, and then got real lucky. I happened ta be around ta see a bunch’a heroes tryin’ ta stop this crazy-lookin’ electrical storm from doin’ too much damage, but that wasn’t all I saw. I also spotted my do-gooder double from Earth-Two commandin’ the Thunderbolt! The other Johnny was just standin’ under a water tower and just gettin’ soaked like a sap while tryin’ to make the T-bolt stop that red-colored tornado! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Worlds in Limbo,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 (August, 1985).]
Without anyone noticin’, I managed ta sneak up on my double, then clubbed ‘im from behind so’s I could take control o’ the T-bolt while he was still outta commission. Then I took my one shot and shouted, “Say, you know, if there was another Lawless League around, I could be in a place where the bad guys rule and finally be free o’ them do-gooders from Earth One an’ Two.”
Well, sure enough, after I said that, the T-bolt just smiled down at me and said, “Your wish is my command, Johnny!” I should’a known he was up ta somethin’, though, ’cause instead o’ changin’ my own Earth into one where the bad guys always win, he just sent me here instead.
Nobody even noticed I was gone. I don’t think the heroes even knew I’d broken outta stir, let alone that I wasn’t on Earth-One anymore. They forgot about me, just like the first time I created a Lawless League, though I don’t remember nothin’ about that myself except what the T-bolt later told me. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Earth Without a Justice League,” Justice League of America #37 (August, 1965) and “Crisis on Earth-A,” Justice League of America #38 (September, 1965).]
But now all my magic is gone, and there’s no way of contactin’ the T-bolt to send me back! I’d had just one chance to make my wish, and now it’s a done deal. This Lawless League was created, and I was put here with ’em on Earth-Three, away from the heroes just like I wished. Only problem is, none of ’em listen to me, so what good did it do me in the end?
Good question, Johnny.
Darknight frowned beneath his ebony cowl. He knew the computer didn’t lie. Data was data. He checked his facts once more and then summoned his team into the Oval Office.
“Hey, Darknight, what’s the deal? Iwasjusthavingfunwithsomefineladies,” spouted the hyper Speedfreak.
Darknight held up one black-gloved hand, and Speedfreak stopped talking immediately.
“We have a problem,” whispered the cold-hearted man. “This world is not entirely free of super-powered beings after all. The Crime Syndicate I spoke of yesterday have broken free of their prison. They could be upon us any moment.”
Green Gladiatrix pouted. “But, D.N., you said we were the only ones with special powers.”
“He was wrong,” said Atalanta. “He’s only human… not that you can tell from out here.”
“I realized the Crime Syndicate existed, but I never thought they would break free,” said Darknight.
“We can handle them easily,” broke in Hypernion. “I suspect Luthor freed them. I’ve had no luck tracking his armor’s transporter signal, either. I made it to his observatory headquarters, but it was deserted. I did find family pictures, though — a wife, a kid, and a blonde beauty. We may have to hunt them down and teach the only hero this world has ever known the error of his ways.”
“That’s our job,” hissed Owlman as he stepped out of the office’s shadows.
The others, including the mysterious Darknight, were startled.
“Owlman,” said Hypernion. “I suppose you’ve come here from some dark lair to ask us to let you join the League?”
The agile, middle-aged man spoke in a low hiss, “Not so fast, my alien friend. I have come here to offer your team a chance to join the Crime Syndicate. We were here first, and we have the experience and power to run this world. Squatter’s rights, you know.” His hand dropped down to his belt as he spoke.
Darknight edged slowly around the corner of the desk. “Your team may only exist as our servants or as our victims,” said the black-caped man. “Get him!”
Owlman’s smoke pellet billowed out around him as he rolled backward and dodged the pouncing Darknight.
Speedfreak caught him by his cape and had started to pummel him, when Ultraman’s fist closed around the youth’s red-and-gold-gloved hands. “Keep your hands to yourself!” he commanded as he crushed down on the speedster. Green Gladiatrix fired a huge fist into him, and he fell beneath her blows.
Then Superwoman tackled her Amazon Princess counterpart, and the fight exploded through the building. “I’ll teach you to pose as an Amazon Princess!” said Superwoman as she slapped Atalanta through the desk. “I’m the only Amazon Princess on this world!”
Superwoman wrapped her golden lariat around Atalanta’s throat and began to choke the other Amazonian beauty. Atalanta coiled her legs up close to her chest, then extended them with a sudden force that slammed into Superwoman’s stomach and sent her rolling across the carpet.
“It will take more than the likes of you to best the daughter of Hippolyta!” said Atalanta, rubbing her throat.
Superwoman grimaced. “Again I say that I alone have the right to a title you boast so freely.”
Ultraman smirked as he held the fleet Speedfreak in his mighty grip. In spite of the blond man’s best efforts to vibrate free of the Kryptonian’s arms, the pressure slowly bore down upon him.
“I need some help here!” he gasped.
Hypernion drove a fist into Power Ring’s sharp chin and shoved by him to tackle Ultraman from behind. He wrapped one arm around his foe’s throat and pulled with his own considerable power. “What’s wrong?” said Hypernion. “Aren’t you used to facing someone capable of matching you, you bullying thug?”
Ultraman shoved Speedfreak into the darting Gladiatrix and elbowed Hypernion in the face. He whirled to drive a second and then a third punch into the other Kryptonian before saying, “I may be a bullying thug, but I’m a bullying thug who’s beating you senseless!”
Johnny Quick raced around the dazed Speedfreak and delivered a rapid series of jabs to his chin. “You punk! It takes more than a fancy name to run my race!” he said defiantly.
Power Ring had been wrestling with Green Gladiatrix until her concentration was broken by the impact with Speedfreak. She hesitated and quickly found herself bound from neck to heel by a crushing green cocoon. “Doll, you make a right pretty package all wrapped up like that. Maybe later I can unwrap you,” he laughed.
“I am a master of every known form of martial arts,” declared Darknight, tossing three sharp projectiles at Owlman’s head but cursing as his foe ducked beneath them and lashed out with a stunning side-kick. “I trained myself from childhood to become the very best the world has ever seen, and I’m still in my prime. You’re just an old man! You stand no chance against me!”
Owlman sliced his ribs with a taloned glove and said, “I have news for you. You haven’t seen the likes of me!” Although a short time ago he would have relied almost completely upon his ability to mentally dominate the minds of others, Owlman had more recently worked to bring his body to the peak of perfection and had focused on physical combat alone. In truth, despite his age few could hope to match his skill in the martial arts. The reason for this was that his mental abilities had noticeably begun to fade even before the Big Sleep, and he could not allow himself to be seen as weak. Prior to arriving here he had also replaced his old owl helmet with one that had a built-in mask to hide his features, since he could no longer trust his unique form of mesmerism to hide his identity from others.
The combat spilled out into the hallway as Ultraman tossed Hypernion through a solid oak door. “Glad I don’t have to pay for that,” he smirked. He followed his enemy in flight down the long corridor where powerful men had often made history, but none had ever been quite as powerful as these two Kryptonians.
Back in the Oval Office, Atalanta deflected a tossed chair and smiled at Superwoman. “I see I touch a raw nerve whenever I boast of my proud Amazon heritage,” she said with a purr to her voice. “Could you be less the daughter of Hippolyta than the black sheep of her litter?”
“Touch this!” roared Superwoman as she jumped across the entire room to land with both boots in the other woman’s face.
Ultraman flew back inside the Oval Office from the hallway and surveyed the battle.
Power Ring was sitting on top of the imprisoned Green Gladiatrix and kissing her passionately, while Johnny Quick smirked from the sides. Speedfreak lay stunned.
The two Amazons had almost ended their combat, since Atalanta’s efforts to rise to her feet were ended with a swift kick to the face by Superwoman’s high-heeled golden boot. She pulled Atalanta upward by her long black hair and said, “Now tell me who is a true daughter of Hippolyta.”
Ultraman saw Darknight cornered and badly cut as he resisted Owlman with his last breath. Walking up to his allies, with astonishing speed and ruthless skill Ultraman slammed his fists into the heads of Power Ring and Johnny Quick, then froze Superwoman to the floor with frigid breath. He smiled as she gasped in outrage.
“Have you lost your senses?” she demanded.
Hypernion then dropped down from above and clipped her into unconsciousness while dragging in a battered Ultraman.
Fighting fiercely, Owlman suddenly shouted, “You’re not Ultraman!”
The blue-costumed form of the supposed Ultraman shimmered to change to a hulking green figure. “But I do come from another planet, if that counts — Mars!” said the figure known as the Martian Warlord.
Owlman quickly fell to his knees as Darknight pressed against his throat with precise skill.
Hypernion smiled at his allies in the Lawless League. “I guess we forgot to tell them that, unlike their little social club, there are more than five of us.” The others laughed appreciatively.
“Do we kill them?” asked Speedfreak.
“No. I have a much more interesting idea,” said a grinning Atalanta as she kicked Superwoman’s stunned body.