Justice Society of America: Ragnarok, Chapter 1: For America and Democracy

by Libbylawrence and Immortalwildcat

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Continued from DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 4: Twilight of the Gods

The world shimmered around the members of the fabled Justice Society of America and abruptly changed. It altered beyond the expectations of them all, even those who had traveled between the realms and dimensions of time and space. They stood quietly ashen and glanced at each other in concern. Before them spread a lush field, and something distinctly otherworldly marked the oddly hued sky above them.

“Ted, are you OK?” asked the Atom.

“Yeah!” replied Wildcat. “Did you see the same vision or dream that I did? Terry, Batman, all of us dying in Nazi Germany in 1945. It just shook me.”

The Atom nodded. He, too, had experienced that vivid scene of death and madness over forty years in a past that never was, yet somehow felt real.

Wonder Woman turned to Superman as they scanned the weird landscape. “Clark? Are you well?”

Superman replied, somewhat slowly, “That vision of all of us fighting Hitler in ’45 and dying hit me hard. As the first of our generation of super-heroes, I felt a real responsibility about stopping Hitler back then and saving millions of lives. That the Spear of Destiny prevented me from doing just that haunted me. But people didn’t know of it. They just wondered — mothers wondered — why can’t you stop this war before I lose my son, husband, or brother? This magical vision of a world where we did face Hitler at the bunker, only to fail, really hurts me.”

Wonder Woman patted the first and greatest of the mystery-men on his back and agreed. The Amazon vision of world harmony had been distorted by all that the Axis stood for, and she, too, had longed to end the suffering back then, only to be just as powerless against taking a more direct approach.

Doctor Mid-Nite took silent count of his comrades. All were present, although where they were was another question entirely. As a doctor, seeing his friends die painful, futile deaths in that weird experience had lingered on after it had faded. He hoped such a nightmare was merely a dream to end with the dawn. Wes should know, he mused, glancing over at the elderly Wesley Dodds in his Sandman outfit.

The Sandman, Hourman, Hawkman, and the Flash each also fought to suppress the inner demons their visions had invoked. “It was even worse than the death-dreams Brain Wave sent us back in ’42,” said Green Lantern. (*) The Flash agreed mutely and thought of his wife, Joan.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “For the Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light,” All-Star Squadron #20 (April, 1983).]

As for himself, Johnny Thunder was puzzled. “Where are we, guys? Did that awful dream happen? It couldn’t have, since I’m here. I am here, right?”

Hawkman took stock of the situation. “We aren’t done yet. That vision of death in a world not ours was a prelude — a Wagnerian prelude to some thunder and lightning symphony dreamed up by that madman in his bunker. We sure could use some magical help.”

Wes breathed hard. That vision was worse than any dream he had ever had before. It was more accurate than most nightmares, and it was strangely powerful.

The Atom and Wildcat circulated among the team. “We beat the Nazis then, and we’ll settle Adolf’s hash once again,” said Al Pratt, the Atom. “Don’t let those mojo dreams bother you!” Although I sure wish I had something to punch in the face, he thought, some concrete enemy like the Thinker or Ultra to bash.

Mysterious figures loomed on the verdant horizon. Superman spotted them first, although their huge size made them hard to miss for long. Soon, giant, monstrous shapes out of myth appeared above them.

“This is the field of Vigrith!” muttered the Sandman.

It’s Ragnarok! thought Diana. Hera, help us!

A massive serpent towered over the heroes, an acidic mist dripping from its gaping jaws. All it touched withered and turned a fatal shade of black. A hound with ravenous teeth bounded forward, too. And armored Vikings sailed up in some skeletal longboat, singing some ancient bardic tune of death and glory.

The Flash, taking no more than a moment to scout the area, was already back to his team. “This is it, folks. We’re under attack from Norse creatures. I could swear Gudra’s riders were coming, too. I’ve got that same odd feeling I had back in 1940.” The others all knew what he meant by that, since it was an invasion of England by the Nazis — accompanied by Gudra and her Valkyries — that had brought the JSA together in the first place. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Untold Origin of the Justice Society,” DC Special #29 (August-September, 1977).]

Hourman’s thoughts were of family — Rick and Wendi. I want that old rush of adventure — I need it still, but I don’t want to go out like this without smoothing things out with my son.

Green Lantern called up, “It’s your call, Hawk!”

Hawkman grimly said, “I’d say this Valhallan vignette is what the Spear conjured up from Hitler’s mad brain. The Spectre said it was up to us to set things right, so let’s do it. For America and Democracy!” he shouted.

The cry returned to him from below as the world’s greatest heroes charged into one more fatal duel with destiny.

Superman leaped upward to strike the writhing Midgard Serpent directly in the scaly chest. His incredible muscles gripped the razor-like scales and held firm. “I can really feel these things. Magic must fuel this fiend.” He yanked, and scales tore and crumbled to the earth. The serpent’s poisonous breath hit the Man of Steel like some gaseous kryptonite. He coughed, gasped, and fell back.

The huge, green fist that punched into the hound known as Garm came from a determined Green Lantern. He concentrated and drove the energy projection into the wild beast with increased fury. Garm barked his fury as Green Lantern leashed him with an energy-construct that held the hound in place.

Hawkman dived toward a longboat like an Egyptian warrior of old. His mace smashed into the front and sent it into a fierce dragon prowling in the dark waters. Hourman charged a group of Vikings and easily sent their spears clattering to the dirt. He struck out and sent them sprawling. The Atom lashed out at a misshapen creature that made him think of trolls from fairy stories. His atomic punch knocked the creature across the field of battle.

The Sandman, feeling more energized than he had in years, fired his gas-gun at a icy giant who loomed above him. I hope frost giants breathe, he thought. The powerful narcotic worked its proven magic, and the icy beast fell, sending chips of frigid ice flying. The Viking wrestling Wildcat spun to the ground as one of Ted Grant’s legendary fists crashed into his eye above a ragged beard.

Wonder Woman fell under a huge, winged-dragon’s scaly mass as it surged for the Amazon princess. She buckled under, then her heels dug in the ground, and with an impressive heave, she lifted upward. The dragon flailed helplessly as Wonder Woman hoisted it above her head and sent it crashing into the river.

As the Flash eased a choking Superman to the ground with an updraft he created effortlessly, the Serpent blew his bile toward the heroes, only to have a pink-colored bolt jet between them and shift the magic acid away from them by inches. “Say, you showed ’em!” shouted Johnny Thunder as he clung to his Thunderbolt.

Superman recovered miraculously to rise and fight once more. “Glad to see that never-ending battle of yours can really go on forever,” quipped a concerned Flash.

Doctor Mid-Nite smiled as he saw Wonder Woman sink a longboat single-handedly. He tossed his blackout bomb at the swimming crew and plunged into the darkness to meet them on shore. Each Viking struggled to land, only to meet swift justice at Mid-Nite’s rapid fists. He overmatched their mighty arms with his exquisite skill.

The Atom leaped over a troll into the arms of a burning fire-demon. He screamed as the flaming monster embraced him. Moments later, a gale-force wind from Superman smothered his flames and dispelled the elemental. “Al’s hurt!” yelled the Man of Steel.

Mid-Nite raced over as Hourman finished a group of swearing Norsemen. The Flash raced around the next dragon that appeared and slowly robbed it of oxygen. It collapsed, leaving the speedster free to pull Wildcat out of the path of a enormous club wielded by another giant. “Thanks, Jay!” called Wildcat.

Wonder Woman thought to herself, Aphrodite’s girdle! This is exactly like the doom of the world tales of Hitler’s Nordic ancestors. She tossed her golden lasso around a hellhound and sent it rolling off the edge of a cliff.

The Sandman and Doctor Mid-Nite bent over the Atom. “His burns are pretty intense, but like Clark, I think he’s regenerating rapidly.”

“Excuse the expression, but huh?” said Wes.

Mid-Nite explained, “In Norse myth, the Ragnarok was an endless battle between evil and good with the combatants returning after repeated deaths to fight forever.”

“I’ve got to get home to tape Baywatch!” joked Ted Grant as his buddy Al Pratt sat up, miraculously healed once more.

Green Lantern streaked back and narrowly avoided the snapping jaws of Garm, then sailed like a green rocket across the field. His energy lance slammed into Garm and sent the beast to a sudden death — for now.

Hawkman rubbed a gash in his arm. So soon after Phosphorus — I don’t need this. Shiera, I love you, he thought as he returned to scoop a stunned Doctor Mid-Nite out of harm’s way.

Johnny Thunder rubbed his head and frowned. “T-bolt, this fight’s goin’ on too long. We need help.”

“Master John, I need a more specific order, as you should know after only forty-plus years,” said the Thunderbolt, affection on its human features.

Johnny Thunder tried to think of how the T-bolt could help the JSA in their neverending battle. “Say you, T-bolt! Round up the Greek gods that the Amazons follow and bring them here. They should be able to help out!”

The Thunderbolt shook his head, even as Superman fell beneath a crushing blow from one of the ice giants. “That won’t work, Master. They are prevented from directly interfering with the work of the gods of another pantheon.”

Wonder Woman leaped onto the deck of the Viking ship, tore the mast from its supports, and swung it like a baseball bat. All of the Viking crewmen were swept overboard.

“Dang, she sure can fight!” said Johnny. “How about more Amazons? Could they turn the tide?”

The Thunderbolt winked out of sight, leaving Johnny open to attack by one of the Valkyries. He turned in time to see the spear poised above him, just before it was ripped away by Doctor Mid-Nite. Before Johnny could even react, the T-bolt was back. “No, the spell cast by Hitler seems to dictate that only those who battled against him can fight this battle.”

“Then who could we bring in to help us?” the oft-befuddled master of the Thunderbolt asked himself. Suddenly, it was as if a light bulb went off his head. Johnny’s eyes widened, and he raised his index finger as he said excitedly, “I’ve got it!”

Johnny Thunder pulled the T-bolt close and whispered to it as the battle raged around them. As they conferred, Superman rose from the crater into which he had been smashed only moments before and flew into the air to take on a battalion of Valkyries massing for the attack. He was joined by Power Girl, Doctor Fate, and Green Lantern.

“Fate! What do we have to do to defeat these things?” Green Lantern cried.

“There can be no defeat, old friend. The forces unleashed by Hitler and the Spear of Destiny are too powerful to be defeated entirely. We fight to maintain the status quo, to keep the abomination that is Ragnarok from spilling over into our world.”

Wha-at?!” cried an incredulous Power Girl. “You mean you pulled us in here, knowing we could never return?”

The figure of Doctor Fate shifted from male to female, a disconcerting sight even during the calmest of times. “Please forgive Kent, Kara,” said Inza Cramer, Fate’s other half. “There was no time to waste. A moment’s delay would have meant great disruptions throughout decades.”

Superman reached out for his cousin. “Let it be, Kara. If Fate had been able to tell us beforehand, we would still have been here.”

“You’re right, cousin,” Power Girl said with an edge in her voice; if he noticed her tone of voice, he didn’t acknowledge it. Kara Zor-L was shocked and angry at Kal-L for not telling her he’d been alive all this time since the Crisis. Out of necessity she would fight alongside him for now — after all, she was a professional — but as soon as this was over, she’d give him the same silent treatment he had given her. “Let’s make the best of it and clobber these witches!”

With that, the Valkyrie formation was torn asunder before the combined might of two Kryptonians, a human Lord of Order, and the magic of the Starheart.

Below them, Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Nite and Red Robin had formed a protective formation around Johnny Thunder. “I saw you talking with the T-bolt, Johnny. Where did you send him?” asked Mid-Nite.

“I don’t really know. I just had an idea of who might be able to help us, and he took off.”

“Who is it?” growled Red Robin, jabbing at a troll who had come too close.

Before Johnny could answer, another voice chimed in.

“Looks like you could use a hand here, old chum.”

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