At roughly the same time, Zatanna shivered and said, “I can feel some magical force behind all this. The costumed crooks were just pawns. I can detect the source of the menace.”
Son of Vulcan nodded. “As do I. By drawing upon the knowledge of Minerva, I see a land of magic and deadly danger. Someone there wants the nuclear weapon to rend the walls between our worlds.”
Hawkman turned to Doctor Mid-Nite. “Doc, does this sound like a place we’ve heard of before?”
Doctor Mid-Nite nodded. “From years ago, this threat comes from Darkworld, or Fairyland as we called it when we faced the Slicer and Lorelei.”
The heroes on this world reached the same type of answer. The JLA Satellite’s equipment had traced the path of the teleportational energy.
“OK, Hawkman’s technology tells us the nukes were taken through scientific teleportation to a certain spot,” said the JLA’s Atom. “This spot is known to some of you from an early case. It is a portal to another realm — a realm we called Magic World.”
The JSA’s Atom said, “Sounds like the Fairyland we once learned about.”
The assembled heroes of the JSA, the JLA, and the Sentinels of Justice gathered again at the JLA Satellite. After quickly sharing their experiences with one another, they formed a plan of action.
Doctor Fate said, “Our three worlds, and perhaps an entire multitude of Earths, share access to realms of magic. This realm is the source of our present peril. What we once labeled Fairyland is a sinister part of the Fifth Dimension ruled by the evil Lorelei. You Leaguers once dealt with the Troll King of Magic Land. Finally, Nightshade has painful personal knowledge of the Land of the Nightshades, which is ruled by an evil demonic being called the Incubus.”
The Incubus claimed my brother, mused Nightshade, and I’ve trained all my life in hopes of someday returning to save him. She said aloud to the others, “My own powers are derived from that realm.”
Captain Atom wore a look of concern for her on his face but remained on topic. “So you suggest the nuclear weapons stolen by my old foe, the Ghost, were actually taken at the request of these mystical beings? I can’t see the Ghost as a mere puppet, but he has never set out to destroy the world merely to conquer it.”
Wonder Woman said, “I wonder if these weapons might be used to open the doorways between the realms.”
Ray Palmer, the Atom, said, “I fear you are correct. Theoretically speaking, if all three weapons exploded at the precise same spot on each Earth, they could tear open the walls between the normal world and these realms of dark magic.”
Son of Vulcan said, “If magic ruled all, then Mars would indeed be pleased. Many of his warlike pawns reek of sorcery.”
Green Arrow said, “Again, I say we split up and trash the mooks.”
Black Canary nodded. “Brashly put, but correct in principal.”
Blue Beetle asked, “Am I right in guessing some of us should attack the Ghost himself? It was his technology that took the weapons to begin with.”
Captain Atom said, “I’d wager that, as one who has passed so freely from the material to the ethereal, he could have come into contact with the thoughts of these beings — the Troll King, the Incubus, and Lorelei.”
The Huntress said, “So… based on what I read in the JSA files, our scientific equipment will be of no use to us in proximity to these portals.”
Al Pratt, the Atom, said, “Exactly. Nothing non-magical in nature can work in Fairyland.”
Superman said, “I’m vulnerable to magic, as is Kara. ”
Green Lantern said, “My ring also is a super-scientific one, unlike that of our friend Green Lantern of the JSA.”
“I need nothing more than my fists to do the job,” said the Question. “This fancy mask won’t make a difference to a bunch of spooks.”
“Then let’s split up and try to contain the realms,” said Superman, “even as their magic has begun to spill out into our worlds.”
“Some of us can attack the land of Sunuria, where the Ghost has his headquarters,” said Captain Atom.
Even though their on-again, off-again relationship had cooled in recent years, Captain Atom still considered Nightshade one of his closest friends and a valued partner. He hated to leave her to face the magical realm threat without him, but he knew that part of any close friendship was trusting in the other person’s abilities. He also knew he could do more good against the Ghost than he could in a realm in which his powers would not work.
Superman flew alongside the most powerful defender of Earth-Four, also wishing he could do something more direct, but the magical realms could affect him greatly. Thus he also had to do his part, such as it was. This acceptance of his role, coupled with a desire to do even more, was part of what made him a hero.
Power Girl flew nearby. She knew this younger Superman was her cousin’s parallel universe counterpart, and for the most part she liked him. He seemed less rigid than her cousin and was more likely to treat her or any woman as an equal and not as a person in need of defense. She also wanted to end things with this Ghost, since she had little use for magic.
Green Lantern and the Atoms of Earth-One and Earth-Two all came next, the latter two standing upon an emerald platform designed by his will-fueled power ring.
“From the point of view of guys who have faced cosmic gods and alien warships,” said Firestorm, “how bad can a guy who can phase in and out or teleport stuff be?”
“Firestorm, imagine suddenly finding yourself teleported within a solid object,” said the JLA’s Atom. “Painful, deadly, swift, and certain.”
Firestorm nodded. “I see your drift.”
Al Pratt, the Atom, grinned. “Don’t scare the kid. He’s got heart.”
Ray Palmer, the Atom, nodded. “Let’s hope he can keep that intact, too.”
Green Lantern said, “My ring says this is the place — Earth-Four’s Sunuria. I even detect the same telltale energy pattern from when the nuclear weapons were stolen.”
Peacemaker glanced over at Doctor Mid-Nite. “Are you really a physician? Do you find it hard to reconcile healing with beating up crooks?”
Doctor Mid-Nite shook his head. “I never do this for any thrill. I seek to heal society as a whole by removing one cancer at a time. If that takes the form of therapy or counseling for those in need, then that’s good. It if requires the immediate physical defeat of someone who is posing a danger to himself or to others, then I’ll deal with it as best I can. My oath is to preserve lives, and that governs me both in and out of this mask. If it didn’t, then I’d just be substituting one kind of darkness for another.”
Peacemaker nodded thoughtfully. “I respect that. If you can believe me, then let me tell you that what I do — weapons-maker, weapons-user — is done to bring peace to those safe innocents you would heal. I often wrestle with the issue of how a man of war can be a man of peace and vice-versa.”
Power Girl said, “Listen, you do what it takes to stop the bad guys, and you don’t worry about whether they came from broken homes while doing it. After you’ve shut them down, then you can offer them therapy or try to help them fit back into society, or you could simply shoot them into space.”
Superman smiled at the girl’s brashness, which was so unlike his own dear cousin’s caring manner. “Look below!” he said at that moment. “I see an army of thugs and a figure who must be the white-suited Ghost himself. Strange, but the entire army is composed of Amazon-like women.”
“Wildcat will kick himself for missing out on this one,” said Al Pratt, grinning.
Zatanna thought of her father. “I wish you were here, Daddy. In your travels, no doubt you encountered realms like this Magic Land.”
She frowned then as she noticed an odd tear across the sky. “The nuclear weapons may shatter the barriers between realms, but it’s clear that there is already a hole of sorts. Perhaps the three rulers, acting in unison through the Ghost, managed to open it.” Twisted goblins dropped down from the hole, and darker figures followed them.
Zatanna turned to her allies, the Huntress, Green Arrow, and the Question. “Can you three drive them back into the hole? If you buy me time, maybe I can close it once more.”
Green Arrow nodded. “I can send them back to Notre Dame, if you want.”
The Question said, “I’ll do my part.”
“As will I,” said the Huntress.
Green Arrow turned to the faceless crime-fighter from Earth-Four. “Listen, pal, about what I said to you back in the headquarters. I speak before I think at times. Don’t assume that all of us here are jerks.”
The Question grinned behind his mask. “Don’t worry. I know you’re the only jerk.”
The Huntress knew the two men were true heroes. She contrasted Green Arrow’s brashness and frustrated social awareness with the Question’s relentless integrity and disgust at a corrupt system. She knew each cared deeply about others and expressed their concerns differently. Her late father Batman had embraced society as a whole, even while working ceaselessly in two roles to protect and improve it. All types could be heroes.
The small group resolutely faced the charging monsters. The emerald archer knew his trick arrows would not work in proximity to the hole, so he used ordinary blunt-headed shafts and struck creature after creature with the expertly aimed weapons. The Question simply leaped into the fray, using expert street-fighting skills to pummel the creatures back. The Huntress struck out at the creatures as they lumbered toward the heroes out of the hole. Zatanna muttered to herself, speaking backward spells to heal the rift as her friends fought to drive the creatures back to Magic Land.
The Troll King lurked within the realm and ordered his minions forward in savage fury. “Go! Go!” he cried. “Take this Earth for me, and I’ll give you wealth beyond your wildest dreams!”