Johnny Thunder was angry. He was tired of being the Lawless League’s mascot. All he ever did was tag along or polish Atalanta’s boots. Now he said, “Say, you guys ought to help me gain control over the T-bolt again. That was how I brought you here.”
“If we did that, John,” said Darknight, “then you would be a threat to our supremacy, and we’d only have to end your life. As it is, we like you, and you serve us well as comedy relief. So be happy and shut up.”
Hypernion sneered, “Well said, old friend. Look, Johnny — if you’re bored, I’ll let you play with one of those actress types Speedfreak has locked up in the back.”
“How about you let me in that lab you keep locked up?” suggested Johnny.
“Not a chance,” said Hypernion. “That lab is too dangerous for the likes of you. It has the relics of my lost homeworld. Luckily for you, they came here with me when you worked your little spell.”
“The T-bolt don’t mess around,” said Thunder. “When he warps reality, then, buddy — he does a thorough job!”
“Yes, he did well,” said Darknight. “I mean, for all we know, we didn’t even exist until you uttered that wish in his dimension. Now we exist and have memories, friends, family, weapons, and even enemies that seem as real to us as if we had always been around. Maybe your T-bolt just plucked us from an alternate world this time.”
“Listen, Thunder,” warned Hypernion, “just be quiet, or I’ll put you where I put that creep Ultraman.”
Alexander Luthor jumped out of bed and startled the snoring Lois Luthor. “What in the world?” she asked.
“In the ‘world’ — exactly!” he shouted. “That alarm tells me that our Crime Syndicate allies are back in the world after more than a year away. I don’t know if it’s because they were mentally shielded before, or out of costume, or what, but while I could not detect them before after their battle at the White House, they’re now showing up on the scanner.”
Lena Luthor rushed in wearing a short, pink babydoll nightie. “Alex, I had a nightmare!” cried the beautiful blonde girl. “The Crime Syndicate are back! They fought that League, and something terrible happened. I don’t know exactly what. I just felt this dread.”
“Lena, do not be afraid,” said the metallic echo of Brainiac’s voice through the room’s monitor. “I also detected their return, and I think we may be at a turning point.”
They wondered if the artificial man could be right, and then Luthor suited up. “My bio-suit isn’t what it once was, but if there is a fight for the fate of my world, then I want to take part in it,” he vowed.
“I shall accompany you,” said Brainiac.
The women watched sadly as their loved ones headed off to battle for the world as they knew it.
Owlman dropped down on a rooftop in Arnoldtown, D.C. He had been there for several days, and knew the movements of his enemies well by then. “Soon I shall make you pay for all you’ve done,” he cackled.
“You are so intense,” said a voice from thin air.
He whirled with a bladed glove raised. “Who are you?”
The white Martian appeared before him. “My true name is unpronounceable in human tongue, but you may call me the Martian Murderer, for that is what I am. I come from Mars, and as you can see from my not having broken you in half, I am not the Martian allied with your foes within the White House.”
Owlman said, “So you’re telling me you come in peace?” He smirked at the thought.
“You could come in pieces if you mock me, smug one,” said the Martian.
“He’s on our side, pal,” said Johnny Quick as he, Superwoman, and the tiny Microbe climbed onto the roof.
“So the gang’s all here, except for Ultraman,” said Owlman. “I understand that they have him. They caught him a while back.”
“Where is Power Ring?” asked Superwoman.
“Here I am,” said the Emerald Revenger, suddenly flying into view.
“What happened to you?” said Quick. “The rest of us met up weeks ago!”
“My scanner could not detect you anywhere on Earth,” said Microbe.
“Well, short stuff, whoever you are, that’s ’cause I wasn’t on Earth,” he said. “You see, when those creeps caught us and blocked our memories, they did something really cute to me,” began Power Ring. “They feared me the most because of my overwhelming power. They couldn’t just allow me to run around free like you mugs. So they took my ring from me and put me in a cell.”
“I seriously doubt they feared you would do anything more than bore them with your ceaseless boasting,” said Superwoman with a smile.
“I suspect it was the ring they feared,” said Owlman. “They knew you could easily awaken us or yourself from their mind-blocking with the magic ring. I theorize that it may be the most powerful artifact we have ever seen.”
“So they took no chances with you,” said Johnny Quick. “They took away your ring and locked you up.”
“Right. Then they tried to separate me from the ring even more by having that cupcake in the green miniskirt imprison me within her ring,” he said.
“The Gladiatrix has not been seen in a long time,” said Owlman.
“True,” Power Ring said. “The chick is dead. And when she died, something crushed her ring. That only made it so I could leave her little land within the gem on my own via some kinda dimensional doorway.”
“I surmise that her willpower prevented you from getting free,” said Owlman, shaking his head. “When she died, you could easily summon green fire and fly off. Took you this long to find your way home.”
“Yeah, but they didn’t know I don’t need the ring,” he boasted. “I got the green flame within me now. Have for years. I found my way here just days ago.”
“What was it like inside that babe’s ring?” asked Quick.
“I’ll tell you later,” he said. “You won’t believe this, but in her ring world I became a hero — Pol Manning, they called me. I was a regular Buck Rogers type. The dolls were all over me.”
Owlman cut him short. “Yes, yes, your virility astonishes us all. Now let’s take back our world.”
“Is Ultraman alive?” asked Superwoman.
“If he is not, we will avenge him,” said a grim Owlman.
Darknight brooded as he sat alone in his dimly lit office. He had conquered this world with his allies, and yet he longed for something more. It seemed that no true contentment or peace of mind would be his until he had beaten the inner demons that had driven him since his parents were murdered so long ago.
“The pain does not lessen,” whispered a voice from the darkness. “You learn to enjoy it after a while, or you go mad.”
“Owlman!” cursed Darknight as he rose from his chair and scanned the room.
“Yes, and I’ve come for you,” hissed the caped criminal. “It’s time you paid for your abuse of my world.”
Darknight hurled a razor-edged projectile directly into the caped figure as he charged from the shadows. The blades sliced evenly through the cloak, which fell to the floor.
“What trick is this?” asked Darknight as he jumped over the desk to examine his foe’s remains.
“One that worked rather well,” sneered the cloakless Owlman as he stepped out from behind his enemy and slammed a blunt instrument against his skull.
Darknight fell flat, and Microbe grew from out of the borrowed Owlman mask and cape. “He sure fell for our little charade. And you claim he’s the smartest one?” laughed Ray Palmer.
Owlman merely smiled grimly.
The Crime Syndicate’s ally, the Martian Murderer, sat outside on the lawn and used his considerable mental prowess to cloak the thoughts of his new partners from the Martian Warlord within. He knew he risked much by choosing to befriend the team that was out of power at the moment, but from the mental impressions of them he received when he scanned Alexander Luthor’s mind, he had formed a profound respect for them.
Without the mental scans of the enemy Martian, the Lawless League would have no advanced warning of the movements and plans of the Syndicate, and this suited him just fine.
Hypernion worked in his laboratory as he recalled the lost glory of his Krypton. He examined lead boxes of minerals taken from the world outside, which in turn had originated on the Krypton of this universe. His own world had died due to natural disaster, but the Krypton of this mad universe of Earth-Three had been destroyed by Ultraman’s father.
“Your father destroyed his own world? What brutal fools you must be!” he said, and shook his head in dismay.
Ultraman heard and saw all his counterpart did, but he was helpless to do anything but watch in bottled-up rage. He was a ghostlike figure trapped in what the other Kryptonian called the Phantom Zone. A red projector on the lab table had placed him within this living death when he had fallen to the team after regaining his memory.
He knew his old team was in the building, and he hoped desperately to influence a mind even weaker than his in order to be free. Thus he whispered to Johnny Thunder and tried to play upon the man’s feelings of abuse and discontent, but the truth was that his own mind was not strong enough to even reach the other’s brain. His could almost hear his brilliant criminal scientist father Jur-LL berating him once more for having such feeble intelligence.
Alexander Luthor and Brainiac waited outside in the Mighty Mole, a blue-and-gold craft that flew and submerged and even dug through the earth if needed.
Brainiac’s delicate fingers were inside the craft’s display board as the artificial man picked up electronic data through a careful and audacious robbery of the Lawless League’s own high-tech computer banks. “Alexander, I have broken through the protective codes and know their every secret,” he said with a smile. “In that lab within awaits a means of our deliverance from their tyranny.”
Luthor nodded. “The low-level emanations I picked up suggested as much to me, too.”
“Too bad you’ll die before reaching the lab!” said the green brute known as the Martian Warlord.
Luthor acted with the brilliance that had made him the greatest hero this troubled world had ever known. He aimed his gloves at the alien and fire-gutted the monster, who howled with an agony that was entirely mental.
“The alien is in severe psychosomatic pain,” muttered Brainiac as a detached and clinical observation.
Luthor watched until the Warlord passed out.
“Amazing,” said Luthor. “My calculations based upon the study I did on our Martian as the ray brought him here led me to believe that the fear of fire was so strong in their genetic or race memory that even a good illusion could drive them away, or in this case create a paralytic reaction.” He shook his head.
“Now, my loyal friend, we take back our world,” Luthor vowed.
Johnny Quick and Power Ring used their respective abilities to slip inside the White House undetected. They gave each other a thumb’s-up gesture and separated to complete the missions assigned by Owlman.
Charles Darke shivered as he remembered his time in that weird Mirrorverse of the Rogue’s. Barry Allen, you are going to regret that if it takes me all of my life after this little case, he thought, and recalled Allen’s beautiful and unfortunately faithful wife Iris as well. It had been his goal to seduce her, but she had remained loyal to her husband, and the super-villain’s allure could not sway her from her happy middle-class life, so he had killed her.
He made his way to where Hypernion worked in the lab and attacked the mighty warrior. Hypernion frowned and slammed both fists together so that shock waves buffeted the speedster.
“I’ll slow you down by ripping off your legs!” he threatened.
“First you’ll need to catch me, and in case you haven’t noticed, that isn’t happening!” sneered Quick as he vibrated through the walls.
Hypernion took no time for finesse. He merely crashed through the walls one after another. This led him far from the others in his team, which was Owlman’s goal all along.
Alexander Luthor and Brainiac entered and marveled at the destruction around them. “Looks like the Syndicate is holding their own nicely,” said Luthor as he and Brainiac worked quickly.
“Yes,” said the robotic man. “Here are the schematics of the lab as I retrieved them from the computer. We need to use container 34.”
Luthor located the drawer and opened it. “Ah, just what this doctor ordered.”
At that moment, Power Ring flew into view. “Need any help, Johnny? The Martian isn’t around,” he called. As he caught sight of Luthor, he muttered, “You!”
“We’re fighting the same battle this time!” stated the scientist.
Power Ring hesitated and then reluctantly said, “Okay, buddy, then let’s kick some Kryptonian tail!”
Luthor pondered the oddity of the situation as he allied himself with the man who had killed his parents unknowingly and without care. Talk about an uneasy alliance! he thought.
As Johnny Quick slowed down at a precise spot, Hypernion slammed through the wall just as the speedster vibrated away. The powerful alien could not slow down in time, and he slammed directly into Atalanta, who was wrestling with Superwoman in the next room.
Atalanta had been reclining in her private rooms after slaying several men taken in combat earlier. She was rudely interrupted when the size-changing Microbe suddenly entered her ear and slammed into her ear canal. She fell dazed as her balance was lost, and she assumed it to be due to some disease or illness. Little did the Warrior Princess guess that the cause of the loss of equilibrium was the tiny intruder.
Her room was entered by the gloating Superwoman, who calmly took back her own magic lariat and grabbed Atalanta’s lasso. “Now, little sister, we’ll see who is truly the Princess of the Amazons,” she smirked as she closed in on the still-struggling Amazon Princess.
Atalanta’s pain ended as her tiny foe exited her ear after Superwoman had tackled her and was beating her fiercely. Microbe’s next action was to head for the room of Speedfreak, where he would soften him up for his other foes.
Superwoman ripped several locks of hair from her trapped foe’s head as she pinned her arms with both knees. Her legs were already tightly bound with her stolen lasso. “Do not fight back,” ordered Superwoman as she touched one end of the rope. Thus it went. Her foe lay prone and helpless as she was bound by the magic lariat, while a gleeful Superwoman assaulted her.
Finally, she carried her stunned foe out into the hallway and dropped her down just as Quick decoyed Hypernion into crashing into his partner.
The Kryptonian roared in anger as he saw the damage done to his female ally. “You’ll all pay!” he screamed.
“No — you will,” said Luthor as he walked calmly in and tossed down a golden rock, taken from the lead box marked 34 from Hypernion’s laboratory.
The glowing gold kryptonite robbed Hypernion of his superhuman powers, and he screamed in fury. “What have you done, old man?” he cried.
“I just made you human,” said Luthor, “and now I’ll teach you about pain.”
“No, that’s our job,” said Owlman as he kicked the handsome Hypernion in the head. A series of skillful jabs from the master fighter left the now-powerless Hypernion stunned.
Speedfreak’s battered form was carried out on a huge green platform generated by Power Ring. “Guess that loss-of-balance trick Microbe caused really slowed down this punk,” he said.
Superwoman and Johnny Quick surrounded Luthor. “I suppose you know, now that we have defeated the League, it’s your turn,” said Superwoman.
“No. I calculate that it is in fact your time to be imprisoned,” said a metallic voice through the wall speakers.
Brainiac had learned about the use of every item in Hypernion’s lab and had thus quickly realized that the Phantom Zone projector would be an ideal prison for the foes. He had already sent all the fallen ones, like the Martian Warlord, into that limbo. Now the artificial man blasted the Crime Syndicate and their beaten foes in the League into the weird dimension.
Luthor smiled as they vanished. “I kept my word. I didn’t sent them back to the bubble.”
Brainiac nodded. “Quite true.”
In the Phantom Zone, the ghostly villains raged in helpless fury as they joined Ultraman. “How could you let him trick you?” he shouted at them.
“You fell first!” said Owlman.
“He ambushed me as well,” said the Martian Murderer.
“Never fear,” said Microbe. “Owlman can get us out. Let him think.”
The Syndicator called Owlman indeed brooded for a long, long time.