In the present, Doctor Fate — a merged Kent and Inza Nelson — looked down on the images in the crystal and said, “Without this helm, I could never have parted Malignon from young Jim long enough for the man to remove Malignon’s only host by ending his life.”
Hawkman and Hawkgirl watched sadly. “I recall it all,” said Carter Hall. “Poor Jim Sr. never really got over it, though he lost himself in his work. He almost died from malaria back in 1969, but he managed to recover, though he was in poor health for the rest of his life. He and his second wife, an Egyptian, had a child in 1961, a daughter named Jimmi.”
His face darkened as he remembered the last time he had seen the supposed Dr. Jimmi Rock, who was revealed to have been the reincarnation of Anton Hastor himself. It was Hastor as Jimmi Rock who had corrupted their son Hector Hall, turning him into the soulless Silver Scarab. Thankfully, Doctor Fate had saved Hector, though the ordeal had been too much for him, and he had gone into seclusion ever since with Shiera’s cousin, Speed Saunders. Not even Hector’s fiancée Lyta Trevor had spoken with him since then. They could only hope that he would come around eventually, but until that happened they were forced to wait.
“Professor Rock died a year ago,” added Carter, “during the Crisis around the time when I was injured by Doctor Phosphorus. (*) I never even learned about it until months later, when that… that impostor claiming to be his daughter told us about it. After he — she… died, I was sure that was the last we’d see of Hath-Set, but he just keeps coming back.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “War Zone,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 (December, 1985).]
“So the case of Malignon was started by the comets that doomed Jim,” said Hawkgirl, “and the comets showed up as the Eye of Ra that we saw in the crystal when we searched for Wotan, Woden, and Hastor! What does that mean?”
“I fear we know the answer, for I sense mystical disturbances across our world and on the Moon,” said Doctor Fate. “The locales are those that house the scattered rubies that old foes tried to use to capture the comet’s power so long ago!”
“They must hope to do so themselves,” said Hawkman, “yet I would have believed old Hastor and Wotan, too, to both already be immortal, each in his own way.”
“I sense more lies behind this,” said Fate. “What we have seen tells but the surface of the peril we face. Assemble our allies!”
Fred and Osoro Cantrell rushed to Worla’s home in the heart of New Feithera, the city built by its surviving bird-man inhabitants after the original Feithera was destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. (*) They were a loving couple with a rare bond that kept them together in a society in which nearly all others viewed their inter-species relationship as being odd and inappropriate.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Feithera by Stormlight,” Infinity Inc. #23 (February, 1986).]
Osoro, a bird-woman who wore a customary veil over her face, said to her husband, “Fred, this man is all too powerful! He threatens our hidden home with impunity!”
Fred nodded. “We need Norda’s team, or better still, the Hawkman! He obviously could stop him better than us. Dozens of Feitherans have been murdered by his terrible devices!”
Blue fire blazed through the streets as they ran, darting to safety as electrical death rained down from above.
Worla ushered them inside. The old bird man was worried, with good reason. “I have bought our lives with the ruby!” he said regretfully. “He demanded it on threat of destroying everyone here! I could do no less and be true to my flock brethren.”
The smirking Anton Hastor lounged in the room. “True! My avian friend speaks with accuracy. In the event that he had failed to turn over this ruby, and other wonders of Feitheran science to me, I would have used my dynamo to fry every bird here. I harbor a hatred for all who resemble old Horus, and you, my quaint, feathered foes, fit that description. Now, as for Hawkman, I have plans for him that involve your community indirectly, since I plan to use this ruby to achieve something long in the planning.”
Fred stepped forward, then reeled to the floor in vertigo.
“Ah, yes, globlass!” said Hastor, laughing. “One has to love the modifications I made to it. It now serves as my personal protective field. One wrong step, and vertigo takes you down for good!”
The Feitherans comforted Fred as Hastor walked over to the ape who stood at his service. “Give this to your master, Wotan, and tell him that Anton Hastor just paid his debt,” he said, smiling.
The ape grunted and vanished in smoke and brimstone.
Power Girl smiled as she grunted beneath a massive device that looked like a giant child’s Tinker Toy set. She shoved against heavy rollers and said, “See? I actually have to work out to keep this figure. You are not the only one with a home gym, though mine is free from those little bat-stickers Bruce slapped on everything he owned.”
Red Robin watched in admiration as Kara Zor-L strutted her stuff with Superman’s Kryptonian gym set in his Secret Citadel hidden in the mountains. “You know, this really brings back memories,” he said with a grin. “When I was a kid, Bruce and I spent a lot of time here with Clark. His Citadel almost has as many cool toys as the Batcave.”
Kara toweled off and said, “Almost? Nothing ever tops anything bat-related to you, does it? Not that I blame you. Bruce Wayne was a remarkable man.”
Dick held her close and said, “He was. So is your cousin, for that matter. Clark was always there for me after Bruce died. Funny, though, this is the first time I’ve been back here to his Secret Citadel since long before Bruce died.”
Kara sat on his lap and said, “As often as we hang around your place, it’s nice for this woman to get to play hostess for a change. You know, this really was my home for a long time. When I first landed here, Clark considered bringing me up at the apartment he shared with Lois as their ‘Cousin Kara’ or something, but I had lived a life via the Symbioship’s fake virtual world and did not want to be anyone’s kid relation after holding a job as an adult in that artifical world of dreams. So he set me up with a wing of my own here in the Citadel. See for yourself.” She led him over to a private area that was new to him.
“He did great work! I see he carved out half the mountain to make this place for you! What, no wet nylons hanging off an antigravity bar?” he teased.
She shoved him and said, “Very funny. I suppose you expected to find pink pillows and a canopy bed, like that of the Earth-One Supergirl’s old home?”
Dick shook his head. “No, nothing so girly for the Woman of Steel! Although I do see a stuffed animal. Is this a Kryptonian beast?”
She snatched it away and said, “Yes. OK, so I have a soft side, too. Make a federal case out of it!” He drew her close, they kissed, and then a green light bathed the room. “G.L.! Your romantic timing is lousy for a guy with newborn triplets!” she snapped.
Wotan appeared and said, “I am not G.L., and it is not my romantic timing that is in question, eh?”
Power Girl slammed into the green-faced wizard and gasped as she cradled Red Robin’s stunned form in her arms.
“Misdirection, Miss!” sneered Wotan, holding a red gem in his hand. “Be sure to give my undying hatred to your cousin, won’t you? So sorry to drop by and run, but I’m expecting a guest to this dimension, and you know how it is when company’s coming! So much to do!”
His laughter echoed as Power Girl caressed the fallen Red Robin. “That rat! He used an illusion to make me think he was where you were standing! I could have killed you!” she said, weeping.
Red Robin wiped away her tears and slowly but painfully stood up. “Easy, Kara. I’m sore, but living. Now we’d better find out what he took from Clark!”
Princess Diana of Paradise Island and Georgetown was really showing her pregnancy, now that she was in an advanced stage. Wonder Woman had conceded to the change a few months ago by wearing a thigh-split skirt in place of her normal shorts, and now slipped on flat, laced sandals in place of her heeled boots.
Mala, her blonde best friend from youth, sat nearby there on Sanctuary Island. “You truly do have that glow! May Hera bless your child!”
Diana knew Mala had spent plenty of time with the children raised on Transformation Island’s neighboring Sanctuary Island in between her duties as mistress of the prison reform program. Male and female war refugees and prisoner’s kids like Gerta von Gunther had been brought there for decades to the joy of the childless Amazons, and Mala loved children. Diana had even named her own daughter Hippolyta Mala Trevor after the demure blonde.
“I thank you,” she replied. “Needless to say, Steve and I pray for a healthy child, although I am intrigued by the Oracles that claim we shall give birth to a son.”
“A young Perseus!” said a smiling Mala.
“Well, perhaps a Steve Jr.,” replied Diana with a hug.
They turned as a hairy brute landed on the isle.
“Aphrodite’s girdle! What is that beast?” cried Mala.
“I fear it is a magical monster, from how easily and intelligently it reacts to us,” said Diana. “Stand behind me!”
The ape grinned and charged Wonder Woman, who stood firm for seconds and then spun to send the monster hurling into the waters.
Mala’s scream brought Diana about face to see the blonde being carried off by three such monstrous apes. One lay bloody from Mala’s own defense.
Wonder Woman leaped across the sky to drop down in front of them. She hurled her tiara and watched it slice one ape’s thick paw.
He dropped Mala, who rolled to trip a second ape. Diana kicked the third three swift times, and it dropped. The third was smashed to earth by Lyta Trevor, Diana’s pregnant daughter who was also visiting the island with her mother.
“Mother, what are these creatures?” said the Infinity Inc. member known as Fury, panting for air after having run there as quickly as possible in her condition. “They appeared from thin air and robbed the treasure house of a red gem!”
Diana frowned. “The rubies of life! That means these apes are indeed as magical as I feared. They vanish into smoke, having done their job of keeping me busy! I must call the JSA!”
Soon, the merged being called Doctor Fate addressed the gathered Justice Society of America. Many members were not present due to various conflicts. He saw the Hawks, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Huntress, Power Girl, Superman, Red Robin, the Sandman, and Wildcat.
“What happened to Princess Diana?” asked Fate.
“She gave her report on the apes and the missing ruby, then she and her daughter went to see Doc Mid-Nite,” said the Sandman. “They’re both due in a couple of months, and in their condition they’re not in shape for fighting. And Rex is in California visiting his son, Rick.”
“I’m worried that Johnny Thunder’s in trouble,” said Superman. “No one’s heard from him since he left on his honeymoon. (*) Doc came back from his own a while ago, and they shared a wedding. (*) Maybe when things settle down, I should go look for him.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Johnny Thunder: Hectic Honeymoon and Doctor Mid-Nite: Nite Fall, Epilogue: Wedded Bliss.]
“Starman? What of him?” asked Doctor Fate.
“No one has been able to find any trace of him since he disappeared last year,” said Red Robin. (*) “And the Spectre has also been absent for a while.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman: Stars and Sliders.]
“Al’s takin’ care of some personal business, too,” said Wildcat.
“The situation is grave, indeed!” said Green Lantern. “I just returned from the Moon, and the ruby I placed there in 1948 is gone, too. I assume Wotan and the rest want to copy that ceremony we stopped back in 1948 when Shade and Blue Lama pulled their stunt with a fake Sargon!”
Power Girl slammed her fist into her other hand. “I’m more than a little sick of this idle chatter. Let’s do something! All this power, and all you do is gab like old ladies at a sewing circle!”
Red Robin looked at her, as did the Huntress.
“Easy, Kara,” said Superman. “It was my home, of sorts, as well as yours that was violated. We’ll get him.”
“When? When he shows up to collect his SSI check?” she muttered.
Hawkgirl frowned as she smoothed down her auburn curls. “The fact that Hastor is back again somehow worries me more than the rubies or Wotan and his new heir. Hastor… killed me once, and he nearly killed Hector! I can’t forget that awful face and laugh of his!”
Hawkman held her close and said, “The news we just picked up on that scanner shows just what he’s been up to. A new Eye of Ra is overhead! In fact, it is closing in on us fast!” shouted the winged wonder.
They rushed to the roof to see a huge red eye overhead. It blazed with a magical red glow, gazing balefully down like a vengeful child looking down on his toys.
“Great guns! That thing looks like a job for Superman!” cried the Man of Steel seconds after Power Girl flew upward at top speed.
Doctor Fate hesitated as the strange glow registered on his/her mystic senses. “By Osiris! They fuel the Eye with the stolen rubies of life!” intoned the mystic.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl flew rapidly after the Kryptonians. “That looks different from the last Eye of Ra in some way, but we know Hastor used the last one, and this is like the vision we saw in Fate’s crystal that all tied back to the rubies, the comet, and Malignon!” said Carter Hall as he gripped his mace more tightly.
The Eye of Ra blazed fire that sent Power Girl crashing directly into Superman as he met her falling form. “Kara, honey, are you hurt?” he asked as he carried her stunned form to the roof.
“Just my pride!” she said ruefully. “That thing is pure magic!”
“Of course it is! It is powered by the rubies from ’48!” said the Flash as he shoved passersby to safety from the blazing Eye above.
The Huntress, Red Robin, and the Sandman followed her example and kept the crowds back, including Andrew Vinson.
“Get back, pal!” said Red Robin. “That Eye is not the CBS one, and you’ll get worse than bad ratings if you get within its range!”
“Power Girl, it’s Andrew! What’s going on?” cried the bearded man as Red Robin frowned in irritation. Nearby, Green Lantern conferred with Doctor Fate.
The Hawks never reached the Eye, for they vanished in a red nimbus of light that colored their bodies like a lurid x-ray.
“Great Scott! What did that thing do to them?” asked the Sandman.
“It must have teleported them within or away from here,” said Superman. “Hastor hates them more than all of us!”
Doctor Fate and Green Lantern used their magicks to shepherd the others back to the roof at once. “We must replan our attack!” said Fate. “We face a peril worse than any before in recent memory!”
“Why, you licked that bloodshot Eye of Ra before, didn’t ya?” said Wildcat.
“We erred due to knowing of Hastor’s involvement,” cried Doctor Fate. “That red eye above us, so full of magic power and hatred, is not the Eye of Ra! It is someone else associated with those gemstones from old. We see before us the third eye of mad Kulak himself as he enters our realm!”
The baleful red eye altered slowly as a giant, blue-hued man shimmered into the air from some other realm. He became human-sized and stood with Wotan and his grinning heir, Woden.
“I have returned, and I shall make this world a charnel house!” he vowed.
Doctor Fate turned to his allies. “Kulak also had a tie to the rubies via the Ring of Life he once stole from the Spectre. He retained a link to it. They used them to bring him here — free at last from his heedless journey through worlds! Now I fear their plan, for Kulak loves naught more than death itself!”
“That grinning jackal is your son?” said Green Lantern as he looked at Woden.
Doctor Fate spoke in Inza Nelson’s tones. “I gave birth to one girl, and they used their old magical link to us to gain entry and new forms for this life! I cannot consider him my child… and yet I feel a woman’s yearning for her firstborn!”
Woden laughed. “That was the idea! I am a child of united Order and Chaos magic, and thus I use both!”
Wotan, Kulak, and Woden began to join hands to work some arcane spell. As they chanted, a humanoid form took shape. No regular features remained in place as the being shifted genders, ages, and races at blinding speed.
“Great Scott! I saw Joan in that thing!” gasped the Flash.
Superman frowned. “You know, I thought I saw Perry White, a former Daily Star reporter!”
Power Girl shuddered. “I saw… Mother!”
“It is all and more, for it embodies the life force or will to live of all on Earth, co-mingled through dark Kulak’s spell with those who have departed from eons ago,” muttered Doctor Fate in what appeared to be a rare moment of shock.
“How can it be?” gasped Red Robin. “You mean they have embodied or personified all earthly life and have linked it to those long dead? For what purpose?”
“I fear that shall become too clear,” said Doctor Fate.
“They plan to destroy it, and in one stroke rid Earth of all life while filling Kulak’s unliving legions with innumerable pawns at his command!” he continued.
“Not if the JSA has anything to say about it!” vowed the Flash determinedly.