Haldane the Sorcerer had never seen Alexei Luthor so worked up before. This project was driving him like none before had ever done. He worked feverishly over the device that combined the Magic Sphere, the Rock of Eternity fragment, and the engine from Rip Hunter’s time machine. He truly seemed to believe that his destiny depended upon the outcome.
He had not even raised a fuss when Dr. Doome returned from Earth-One with the engine but without the group of enslaved heroes he had taken with him to get the engine.
“I had to trade the use of the heroes for the engine,” Doome had explained. “An Earth-One time tyrant insisted. So what if we lost Wonder Woman and some others to him? He’ll still keep them out of our hair.” Already a couple of the heroes had begun to return from Earth-One, their mission over, and they were all under Haldane’s control upon returning. But the rest were still missing.
Luthor nodded and smiled as his device pulsed. “I just did it! I created a separation in the time-stream! From now on, time will continue as normally until the year before my future death, at which point it will loop and endlessly continue without ever reaching that fatal moment! I have saved my future!”
Doome was a time master himself, and he asked the obvious question, “You mean that time will end the year before your death? What good is that?”
“You miss my point,” said Luthor. “It shall not end. Nor shall it repeat itself. It will merely loop and bypass that fatal moment, as if it never occurred.”
“The implications are staggering!” said Doome.
The Psycho-Pirate played with Firebrand II, who had already reappeared here in the present after her trip with the others to Earth-One to confront the Justice League of America. Roger Hayden made her pout in childish frustration while his leaders debated time theory.
“So is this loop dependent upon the continual functioning of this device?” Doome asked.
“Yes,” said Luthor. “But I shall launch it into that null-time field of yours, where it shall never be harmed.”
At that moment, Green Lantern and his army of three timelines’ worth of heroes crashed into the lab. “It’s over, Luthor!” declared Green Lantern defiantly. “In other words, your time is up!”
Luthor saw it all, but his eyes centered on one being: the young Superman of the year 2000 timeline. “You! You yet live to haunt me! I’ll see you die if I lose all else!”
Superman said, “Luthor, I’ll beat you once again as I have a hundred times in the past!”
In the null-field, the Superman of 1943 saw his possible future counterpart, and new hope blazed within his heart.
The Psycho-Pirate grinned madly. “Now I’ll have me some real fun!” Haldane’s eyes flared with effort.
Doome said, “Shall I banish the prisoners into null-time forever?”
“No, witless dog!” cried Luthor. “We can use them as our army for now. Haldane still has them under his power!”
The enslaved heroes charged as one. The super-fast Johnny Quick ran beside the robotic Flexo the Rubber Man, whose surprising speed had been his own downfall in their battle at Bob Crane’s lab. Robotman himself ran on powerful legs next to the more human-looking android Dynamic Man.
The heroes met the charge. The Flash of the 2000 timeline, still somehow young and dashing, ran along with Joannie Garrick of the 1975 timeline, and next to her moved the older Flash from the third timeline of 1986. “Wow! It’s really far out to see Daddy when he was young and so funny!” said Joannie.
The elongating arms of Flexo reached for the perky little blonde’s throat, but two Jay Garricks blocked them and spun him around at top speed, to the sound of wrenching gears and servomotors. “Don’t worry, honey, we’ve got this creep,” said the older one.
Joannie smiled at these men who were her father in all but fact. She touched the racing Johnny Quick, lending him some of her super-speed. This caused him to suddenly shoot past her vibrating form and crash into the waiting fists of the Hourman of 2000. His enhanced metabolism and Quick’s surging momentum allowed him to knock Johnny cold. “Sorry to do that, pal,” said a still-youthful Rex Tyler.
Flexo fell in a twisted pile as Robotman jumped forward into the smashing fists of the Captain Triumph of the JSA from another time. Lance Gallant’s superhuman power was more than equal to the metal man’s raw strength. As they battled by exchanging blows, one seemed tireless due to an inhuman body, while the other drew endurance from a ghostly unseen twin. “We can outlast you! From our timeframe, you’re obsolete, anyway!” he joked.
Robotman’s grin did not fade as his enemy suddenly grabbed his body and tossed him toward the enslaved Superman of 1943. The Man of Steel’s super-dense body was unhurt by the metal man, who bounced off to lay in a stunned pile. “You’re not facing a wind-up toy now!” said the mesmerized Clark Kent as he rolled up his sleeves.
The twin Superman from the 2000 timeline flew forward to intercept him. “I think we’d better take this outside,” he said with boyish bravado.
Luthor scowled and fired a photon cannon at them both. But two blondes darted forward to receive the full brunt of the blast. One was Supergirl and the other Power Girl. They fell together before rising again to shatter the weapon with their flashing fists. “Nice job!” said Mary Kent of 1975 admiringly.
“You’re not so bad either, Super-Barbie!” said a smirking Power Girl of 1986.
The blackout bomb of Doctor Mid-Nite left a corner of the huge laboratory in darkness, but the advantage he held soon faded as a woman appeared from midair and kicked him in the jaw. “Sorry, Doc,” said the sexy brunette named Sandra Wright. “But in case you haven’t heard of me, my name is Stealth, and my parents gifted me with the powers of flight, invisibility, and the ability to see in total darkness.”
He rolled to his feet and tackled her, and the fight raged onward until Miss Terrific drew near and flattened McNider with a skilled judo move. Lysette Sloane smiled. “Martial arts mastery is one of my hobbies.”
Meanwhile, the sensational Miss Masque faced the agile Huntress of the 1986 timeline, who circled her warily. Miss Masque tossed her rope up and swung in to deliver a high-heeled kick to Helena Wayne’s jaw. However, the purple-clothed daughter of the Batman recovered in time to grab the red minidress-wearing blonde’s ankle and yank her to the cold floor. A swift kick to the nose left Miss Masque stunned. Little did Helena Wayne know that she just avenged her father’s earlier defeat at the hands of the pretty mystery-woman.
The other Helena Wayne, as Robin, faced her namesake. The Boy Wonder of 1943 was fast and daring. He was, perhaps, Helena’s superior at acrobatic combat, but he was not better than the Robin of 2000. His older double knew what his moves were before he finished them, based on shared techniques of a lifetime. He spun his twin around, and the female Robin connected with a tossed batrope that bound the boy tightly.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl flew out to wage war upon their doubles from the year 2000. The winged wonders were evenly matched, except for the fact that the enslaved pair fought with less passion. As the Hawkman of 2000 wrestled with his counterpart, he mused, This is even weirder than fighting the Hawkman of Earth-One or seeing Hath-Set come back again.
Johnny Thunder of 2000 yelled, “Cei-U!” and his Thunderbolt appeared to obey his every command. “Say, can you free all of them now?”
The Thunderbolt attempted this, only to be briefly scattered into fragments by the magical feedback. He re-formed in a few moments but looked weakened. “Not strong enough, Master J,” he apologized ruefully.
Liberty Belle decked the lovely Dreamgirl before she could throw her pixie dust, putting the blonde beauty to sleep. And so, some heroes did fall to their enslaved peers.
Luthor knew Superman was busy, and he cared nothing for the rest, so he worked to keep his machine safe, even as Atom Smasher of 1986 loomed above it. “Leave me be! You annoy me!” sneered Luthor as he fired a wrist device that shrank Albert Rothstein to six inches tall for the remainder of the fight.