Lord Odin and the Spectre entered the great hall, which now resembled a meat locker more than it did a dining area. Walking over to Loki, Odin towered over him. “My blood-brother, the eternal embarrassment. You have soiled yourself. Have you not even a shred of honor? I apologize to you on my son’s behalf. It is not our lot to trivialize–” Odin paused as he turned to the Sandman, not expecting to see that face.
“Lord Morpheus! I — I — my son has brought shame ‘pon the realm of Asgard by abusing these mortals and insulting you, the Lord of Dreams. Please forgive me.”
The Sandman stuck his arm out and waved it toward the frozen members of the JSA. “He has not harmed me, Lord Odin, but what he has done must be undone.”
“As you wish, Lord Morpheus,” Odin said as he turned to the Spectre. “This is the wrath of Yahweh, whom mortal men call the Spectre. Spectre, if you please, your comrades have need of you.”
And just as suddenly as the room was frozen, it returned to normal. The JSAers blinked for a moment, not sure of what happened. Then they saw their formerly departed comrade.
“Spectre!” cried several JSAers in unison.
“Spectre? What in the name of Osiris just happened here?” Hawkman asked.
“You have succeeded, Carter Hall. The threat of Ragnarok is no more.”
A great moan came from the far wall where Thor was stirring. “Why is it so cold in here?”
Superman reached over to help Thor up. Once the thunder god was on his feet, Superman picked up Thor’s hammer and handed it to him. “I thought you might want this. Wouldn’t want it to fall in Loki’s hands.”
Thor’s eyes went wide as he accepted the hammer from the Man of Tomorrow. “How did you–!? Only those worthy — Father? Did you see?”
Odin smiled. “Yes, my son, these be mortals most extraordinary. Now to the matter of Loki. Lord Morpheus, since my son has offended thee, he is yours to punish as you see fit. What say ye?”
Putting Wes Dodds’ gas mask and fedora back on, Morpheus replied, “There is no land above the law, where tyrants rule with unshakable power. It is but a dream from which the evil wake, to face their terrifying hour.” With that, Loki vanished.
Sandman turned to Batman. “Bruce, what just happened here?”
“What needed to, old friend.”
Wildcat marched through the room, over to Odin and the Spectre. “OK, I’m about tired of all this mystic mumbo-jumbo. One of you guys needs ta tell me what the hell is goin’ on!”
“My apologies, Odin. Wildcat sometimes speaks before he thinks.”
“No matter, Spectre. They are all worthy of explanation. That is the only reason I do not kill him where he stands for such insolence.”
As Ted Grant took a few steps back, Odin continued. “The recent cosmic Crisis led me to wonder if, indeed, Ragnarok was upon us. Fortunately, such was not the case. I wondered, though, if we gods would be prepared should Ragnarok fall upon us.
“I created a false Ragnarok within the globe you shattered. While we halted the advance of Surtur, it cost us our lives. Needless to say, I was not pleased. I cast a spell to keep the scenario playing over and over again and put it on the table as a reminder of our need to prepare further for the end of days.
“It seems that Loki also cast a spell, using my Ragnarok to cause your world to end. Had you not entered the fight, your world would have surely perished. Clearly, my blood-brother underestimated your abilities. Please accept my most humble apologies for the actions of a most unruly cur.”
Wonder Woman stepped forward, bowing on bended knee before Odin. “My Lord Odin, your apologies are unnecessary. We do not hold you responsible.”
“Rise, my child. Your show of respect is most honorable, indeed. But as the ruler of Asgard, I am responsible for the actions of my subjects, most particularly my family. I therefore bestow upon each of thee a great gift — a boon. It will manifest for thee upon thine return to Earth in various and sundry ways. We shall not trouble thee again.”
The Spectre walked toward the Batman. “It is time, my friend. Your work here is done.” The Spectre was about to envelop Batman in his cape when the Huntress grabbed his arm.
“For a moment, Helena Wayne, but only a moment.”
Superman and Robin approached Batman as well. The Man of Steel put his hands on Batman’s shoulders. “I’ve missed you, old friend. Thank you for all you’ve done.”
“I’ve missed you, too, Kal. But don’t worry about me. Selina and I are very happy.” Superman walked away quickly, a single tear running down his face.
Once again, Batman hugged his children in a warm embrace. The Huntress looked at her father. “Daddy, please don’t leave us again.”
“Helena, I was only granted a short time to be with you. My time on Earth is done, but there’s a glorious adventure still awaiting you. Your mother and I are very proud of you,” Batman said as he kissed his daughter on the forehead. He turned to Robin. “Old chum, I don’t think I ever told you this, but I couldn’t love you more if you were my flesh and blood. I could have become an angry avenger of the night, but you saved me. And if you should ever decide to put my costume on and continue my fight, I would be very honored, my son.”
“Bruce Wayne, it is time.”
“Take care of each other, and remember — I love you, and I am always with you.”
With that, the Spectre wrapped his cape around the Batman, and he was gone. “Now, my friends, it is time for us to return to Earth. Your loved ones await.”
The assembled JSA vanished, leaving the great dining hall empty. On the table, Odin’s glass ball had mysteriously re-formed, Ragnarok once again running within it, but this time with no danger to Midgard. Inside the glass, Loki was being mauled by Surtur, his flesh torn and burned, and then he died — over and over and over, for all eternity.