by GernotCarl, JSAGL and HarveyKent
Sitting in Alexei Luthor’s abandoned hideout, watching events unfold atop the Daily Star Building, the Ultra-Humanite laughed gleefully. “I knew that red-colored isotope of kryptonite I experimented with would finally give me the desired results! Now I can have Superman wipe out those alien invaders altogether, and when he and the JSA lose the planet’s respect and love, none of them will be able to stop me from conquering the Earth!”
Meanwhile, in Karen Starr’s office, a voice rang out.
“Karen! Come quick! You won’t believe this!” At Karen’s entrance, her co-worker continued, “We finally deciphered most of the code! It seems to be a warning of danger to Doctor Mid-Nite and the JSA — something about a ‘red death’? Does that make any sense to you, Karen?” Her co-worker turned to face her, but he was too late. Karen had already left the building, heading to JSA Headquarters as Power Girl to warn her friends.
Atop the Daily Star Building, Superman continued shouting his warning to the people of Metropolis. “You gnats have plagued me long enough!” he shouted at his captive JSAers. “Now, it’s my turn!”
“I have heard enough of this insanity from you, Kal-L!” shouted Doctor Fate. “Now, by mine magicks, let your mind be free!” With that, the Man of Tomorrow’s eyes lost their dull glaze, and Superman collapsed on the roof, unconscious. Doctor Fate and the others, having freed themselves, rushed to his side, only to fall themselves, their skin turning bright red.
“Great Scott!” shouted Starman as unconsciousness overcame him. “The red death!”
Speeding up from the UCC building, Power Girl arrived at the Daily Star in time to see her cousin and the rest of the captive JSAers collapse.
“What the–?!” Power Girl exclaimed as a pink glow engulfed the JSA, and they vanished, leaving a very angry Power Girl in their wake. As she landed atop the building, she began looking over the rooftop with her keen eyes. Hearing a footstep from behind the stairwell, she instantly sped around, prepared for battle, only to find Hourman and the Huntress.
“Whoa, P.G.! It’s just us!” said the Huntress.
Power Girl looked into their eyes but could see no sign of mind-control. “Why are you two back here? What happened to the rest of the group?”
“Huntress thought it was best if the two of us stayed behind, while Doc Fate tried to free Superman from whatever thrall he was under,” explained Hourman. “Turned out to be a good idea.”
“Maybe, but with Fate gone, how do we find them?” Power Girl asked.
The Huntress pulled a device from her utility belt, which was glowing and beeping. “I attached a homing device to Doctor Fate. With this, we should be able to find them.”
With that, Power Girl took off with Hourman and the Huntress in tow.
As Bruce Wayne and Charles McNider rushed into the outer room, they noticed that it was getting incredibly dark outside. They rushed to the nurses desk to where the nurse had screamed.
“What’s happening?” asked Dr. McNider.
The nurse tried to compose herself. “I saw a sudden flash of light, and then the power went out. That’s when I saw that!” She pointed to the window overlooking the city.
“My God!” Wayne replied.
“What is it, Bruce?”
Elsewhere, Ted Knight stirred. He found himself in some sort of room with no apparent windows or doors. He was also without his cosmic rod. As he looked around — and where was that light coming from, anyway? — he saw four others in the room with him: Hawkman, minus his wings; Green Lantern, minus his ring; Doctor Fate, minus his helmet and amulet; and the Atom.
I’ve got to wake the others, he thought, but if they’ve been overcome by the red death, I may be stuck here.
Blast! thought Starman as he attempted to rouse his fellows from their slumber. What was it that Doc told me about that red death?
One by one the JSAers awoke under Starman’s urging, but since they were weaponless, they were far from full fighting strength. Just as the heroes started making plans, a wall slid away, revealing the Ultra-Humanite, Chancellor Duvolo of Neptune, and twenty of his finest Neptunian soldiers.
“Well, Humanite?” roared Duvolo. “I don’t see the one known to me as Doctor Mid-Nite among these colorfully clad humans!”
“Patience, my alien friend,” said a grinning Dolores Winters. “He’ll be here shortly on an attempted rescue mission which we shall make sure fails!”
“Not so fast, Humanite!” shouted Kent Nelson. “You forgot that, even without my helmet, I possess great power!” So saying, Doctor Fate launched himself into the villains, toppling them over, followed by the JSA.
“I can sense my ring in this next room!” called the Green Lantern. “The rest of our belongings must be here, too!” With that, Kent crashed through the steel door, and, sure enough, the JSA were soon at full fighting strength once more. Within seconds, Duvolo and his men were disarmed and helpless prisoners.
“Betrayed by that Earth female, and now deserted by her!” muttered Duvolo.
“Time enough for you guys later,” said Starman, looking to Doctor Fate. “Hey, Fate, wasn’t Superman captured with you, too?”
“Indeed, he was,” stated Fate. “He must be prisoner elsewhere within these walls.”
“And don’t forget Johnny, men,” Hawkman reminded them. “Green Lantern, you stay here and guard these prisoners. Even if they have hidden weapons we missed, your ring should be able to handle them. The rest of us will split up and hunt down our missing teammates!”
Meanwhile, in Gotham City, Power Girl, the Huntress, and the Hourman reunited with Dr. Charles McNider and Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne.
“I’m afraid there’s not much we can do against those spaceships by ourselves,” said the worried McNider, after having changed into his Doctor Mid-Nite costume. “The most we can do is help quell panic in the streets.”
“Doc?” asked Hourman. “Aren’t these the aliens you gave the cure to measles to?”
“Great Scott! You’re right, Rex! Their most powerful weapon will only make most of mankind sick, but with today’s medical advances, they’re mostly harmless! All we have to do is have our speedsters help distribute the vaccines worldwide, and these aliens will practically be powerless to harm us.”
So saying, Doctor Mid-Nite contacted the Flash and their old ally, Johnny Quick. Within minutes, the two speedsters were racing around the world with the vaccines.
Meanwhile, in an isolated chamber of the Ultra-Humanite’s fortress, a bound and gagged Johnny Thunder watched in horror as a chained Superman was slowly dying of kryptonite poisoning due to the kryptonite rock at his feet. As the Man of Tomorrow slowly turned green, Johnny unsuccessfully tried calling for the Thunderbolt through his gag, which muffled his cry. “May-oo! May-oo!”
Alan Scott watched his friends depart on their mission. He wished he were going along, but he realized someone had to keep these aliens under guard, and, with his mighty power ring, he was best suited to the job.
“Kill him!” Duvolo shouted, pointing at Green Lantern. His elite Neptunian murder squad moved under his command, swarming toward the cloaked hero.
Green Lantern moved with reflexes sharpened over a half-century of fighting. He quickly imprisoned the Neptunians in a green energy-bubble — which they walked right through without breaking their stride.
Oh, no! Scott thought, instantly realizing what had happened. These plant-men! Their bodies must contain enough wood fiber to make my ring useless against them! It’s Solomon Grundy all over again! Scott clenched his fists and prepared himself for a fight.
But just as the Green Lantern was about to come to blows with the Neptunians, he thought better of it. Admonishing himself for briefly panicking, he used his ring to slice up the steel floors of the room his enemies were in, trapping them in a great iron ball from which there was no escape.
“Now you youngsters stay put!” he admonished. “I may not be able to help my friends at this moment, but I’ll be hanged before I let you give ’em any more trouble!”
Meanwhile, as the search for Johnny Thunder and Superman continued by the other JSAers, Starman’s cosmic rod started pulsating.
Hey, there’s kryptonite nearby! he thought. I’m glad I thought of sensitizing my rod to its weird radiations so as to help Superman years ago. Looks like here’s where it pays off!
Melting through the steel wall like butter, Starman found Johnny and Superman.
“Say, you gotta get Superman outta here, Starman!” Johnny shouted, having finally worked his gag off. “He’s in a bad way, I think!”
“Your wish is my command, Master Johnny!” came the reply from behind. It was the Thunderbolt, finally free to do his master’s bidding. As the Thunderbolt flew Superman to JSA Headquarters, Doctor Mid-Nite, Doctor Fate, and the others arrived, alerted by Starman’s signal device.
“Doctor Fate!” called Hawkman. “Teleport the kryptonite to the ocean depths and hide it where no one can get it again!”
“Done and done, friend Hawk,” spoke Fate. With one magical incantation, the kryptonite disappeared.
“Now that Superman’s safe, I say we tear apart this building and destroy the Humanite’s weapons!” commanded Hawkman. “Johnny, go get G.L. He’s one level down, and we need to interrogate at least one prisoner.”
“Gotcha, boss!” Johnny said with a salute, then ran downstairs. As he returned with the Green Lantern and all of the prisoners, a shimmering wave overtook Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Starman, the Atom, Green Lantern, and Johnny Thunder himself, along with Duvolo and his men. Seconds later the heroes were all able to see again, but they were surrounded by more Neptunians.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! JSA, you are now the prisoners of Duvolo the First, aboard my flagship! Surrender at once, or suffer the consequences!” The sound of a thousand laser rifles being cocked left no doubt as to their situation.
“Hawkman,” asked the Atom. “Whatta we do now?”
The streets of the city were oddly quiet. High above, several Neptunian spacecraft hovered, each posed above a major structure.
Back at the Justice Society’s brownstone headquarters, the remaining members of the JSA — Doctor Mid-Nite, Hourman, the Huntress, Power Girl, and even Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne — were contemplating their next move.
“Dad, how’s it going?” the Huntress said as she approached her father in the monitor room. Since her mother’s death, her father had not donned the mantle of the Bat and had, in fact, torn up every costume he owned, leaving the JSA to focus on police business. He had been with the JSA more often than not of late, though, and she wondered what effect spending all this time with his allies from his costumed days was having on him.
Bruce Wayne looked at his daughter, his face not betraying his concern. “So far we’ve determined that the Neptunian ships are orbiting over every major city on Earth: Gotham, Metropolis, New York, L.A., London, Moscow, et cetera. I’ve contacted Liberty Belle, and she’s mobilized several former members of the All-Star Squadron. They’re standing watch in each city, preparing for the worst.”
Power Girl came into the room. “I just got off the phone with my co-workers at UCC. We received a warning earlier today from somewhere about the aliens. Now we’re receiving some sort of countdown.”
“Countdown?” Wayne asked.
“Yes, it’s at two hours, thirty-five minutes, and counting down.”
Doctor Mid-Nite and Hourman entered the room carrying vials of the cure for the red death. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem,” Mid-Nite said. “These are the vials of serum that I prepared.”
The Huntress looked at the vials. “Wait. I thought the Flash and Johnny were distributing these?”
“They were,” said Hourman. “But we checked Doc’s supplies, and, sure enough, we found a bunch of empty vials missing.”
A grave look crossed Bruce Wayne’s face. “Then, that means…”
But before the former Caped Crusader could finish, he was clocked by a fist moving at super-speed.
“What the hell…?” Hourman said as he and the others turn to see the Flash and Johnny Quick, their eyes glazed over, and an unconscious Bruce Wayne on the floor.
“Hell, my dear Hourman, is the least of your worries.”
With the speedsters standing guard, the four JSAers watched as Dolores Winters, alias the Ultra-Humanite, entered the room.
Power Girl seethed, about to assault the Ultra-Humanite. “If you think we’re going to just stand here and let you–”
“Oh, you’ll do more than just that, Power Girl. Besides the Flash and his swift-footed friend, I also have someone else here under my control. Perhaps you’ll recognize him. Bring him in, boys.”
The Humanite’s henchmen brought a man into the room: the president of the United States.
“Now, if you value his life and yours, you will surrender to me, or the Flash will simply vibrate his hand into dear Jimmy’s brain, and… well, you get the idea…”