All-Star: 1969: Aquarius Redux, Prologue: The Missing Earth

by Dan Swanson, partially adapted from Justice League of America #73 by Dennis O’Neil and Dick Dillin

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The Universe of Earth-Two, home of the Justice Society of America:

The first intelligences to evolve in the universe were not corporeal beings like ourselves, but the first generation of stars, often called Population I stars. The universe was smaller and very young when Population I stars were born, and the natural laws were still evolving. For a relatively short time (about a billion years) conditions were right for the formation of stars that could then evolve self-awareness and intelligence. But as the universe expanded, natural laws continued to evolve, and the conditions that allowed intelligent stars to develop no longer existed. Population I stars retained their intelligence, but in this universe at least no Population II star ever became self-aware.

Even compared to the number of stars in only our own galaxy, the total number of Population I stars was small to begin with, and the birth of these stars took place some fourteen billion years ago. The lifetime of most stars is less than fourteen billion years, and most — though not all — Population I stars have since died grand deaths as novas and supernovas. There are still some Population I stars scattered throughout the universe, but very few.

Even when the universe was much smaller, Population I stars were scattered many light years away from each other, so communication was initially difficult. But the power generated by even the smallest star is incredible, and these intelligences eventually found a way to use that energy to speed communications. They used their power to create a pocket dimension much smaller than the universe. Any of the living stars could project a mental image into this pocket dimension and communicate in real time with any of the other stars who were in that dimension at the same time.

As the universe aged, Population I stars formed a community using their pocket dimension as a common meeting place. As with many communities, standards of behavior and a governing body evolved, as did methods for punishing those who violated those standards. One such violator we will call Aquarius.

Thirteen billion years ago, the Council of Living Stars banished Aquarius for Crimes Most Heinous. His punishment was that virtually all of his power was stripped away from him; what was left of a once-mighty beacon of brilliance in the heavens was now a tenuous shimmering cloud-like being barely the size of a Terrestrial skyscraper. He was provided with barely enough energy to sustain his life, and he was forever shunned by his former peers. No longer a magnificent fountain of life-giving light, Aquarius was reduced to an infinitesimal mote of festering hatred. Though he was virtually powerless compared to his former peers, he was still mightier than the new kind of life forms that were beginning to evolve in the galaxy — organic life. Heedless of where the winds of space took him, he sowed chaos and devastation wherever he drifted, sterilizing planets where life had only recently taken a foothold, destroying planet-bound civilizations, and provoking wars among star-faring races.

Ironically, the Council of Living Stars had done Aquarius a favor. Stars have a limited lifetime; they eventually burn up all of their hydrogen and helium fuel and then explode. It is a glorious passing and contributes to the growth of new Population II stars, planets, and, ultimately, intelligent life. But it happens to all stars eventually. Except in his new form Aquarius seemed to be unchanged by the passing of time, even after billions of years. His enemies had seemingly made him immortal.

Over time, Aquarius gradually become aware of the Lords of Chaos and their place in the universe. He came to consider himself as one of their number, and they welcomed him as a powerful ally.

In the year 1969, as measured by one of the major Terrestrial calendars, a chaotic fluctuation of probability drew Aquarius to the planetary system of the star Sol. He was able to detect radio signals from the third planet, and this made him gleeful. He had a special trick he pulled on civilizations of the level required to produce radio waves. He loved to watch their terror as they discovered that a giant comet was about to strike their planet and discovered that there was nothing they could do about it, while he floated around the planet and contributed to the chaos by disrupting any efforts to escape or destroy the comet. He scanned the system until he found an appropriate body, and he imbued it with a small portion of his power. He then continued on to the Earth, where he planned to start tormenting whoever was making those fascinating radio signals.

One thing Aquarius hadn’t expected was that on Earth he would encounter beings powerful enough to interfere with his plans — the Justice Society of America and their counterparts from the parallel universe designated Earth-One, the Justice League of America.

The complete story of the encounter between Aquarius, the JSA, and the JLA has been told elsewhere, but the following is a synopsis of that story.


Ted Knight, also known as Starman of the JSA, was examining the heavens with a telescope in his private observatory that spring evening in 1969. His telescope was equipped with devices of his own invention, not yet available to the rest of the world, such as laser-referenced adaptive optics to compensate for atmospheric distortion, and variable wavelength filtering and frequency shifting video so Ted could observe infrared and ultraviolet images with his naked eye.

It was this unexpected combination revealed the approaching energy being to Ted. When he investigated in his costumed guise as Starman, a very short battle ensued, ending as Aquarius wrested away Starman’s mighty weapon, the awesome energy-channeling cosmic rod, leaving Ted to fall fifty feet down to Earth directly into his observatory through a skylight. By a strange coincidence, private investigator Larry Lance and his super-heroine wife, Dinah Drake Lance — the Black Canary — had decided to pay their friend a visit and were witnesses to Starman’s fall. Dinah contacted her teammates in the Justice Society of America.

Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, the Red Tornado, Superman, and Wonder Woman quickly answered the emergency signal from Black Canary, and were just as quickly defeated. Using the cosmic rod to amplify his powers, Aquarius then unleashed a powerful blast of energy that shifted the Earth and its Moon into a magical limbo. Doctor Fate managed to encase six of the JSA members and Larry Lance inside an ectoplasmic sphere that protected them from the destruction around them, and only the memories of the trapped heroes kept the Earth and Moon from simply vanishing completely, erased from existence.

Meanwhile, Doctor Fate had already dispatched the intelligent android called Red Tornado between universes to contact the Justice League of America on Earth-One for aid, although he dared not tell his comrades in order to prevent Aquarius from overhearing. Still, the JSAers had all noticed that Reddy had not been trapped along with the rest of them, and so they had some hope — hope that slowly faded as, day after day, the Justice League failed to appear. Doctor Fate’s magic prevented them from being destroyed while also sustaining their lives, but he grew weaker as the days passed changelessly and hope for a rescue leaked away.

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