A colorful figure in a red and blue costume and cape flew erratically over the city of Metropolis. He aimed his flight, which grew increasingly unstable, toward the building housing the city’s famous newspaper, the Daily Star.
In the editor’s office, the balding James B. Olsen struggled with proof sheets and deadlines. “Wish Clark was around to give me some advice about the headline,” he mused.
At that moment, the costumed man fell through Olsen’s open window and collapsed on the faded rug. “Gosh, Superman!” cried Olsen. “No, you’re not Superman! You just share his color scheme and means of travel.”
The man on the floor was worn and injured, having clearly traveled on his last resources of stamina and sheer will. His suit was torn in places, and his face was bruised, though handsome. His black hair was now largely gray. “I need Superman!” he begged before falling back in Jimmy’s arms. “Tell him… they’re coming…” he gasped, then passed out.
Jimmy rested his head gently on the floor and rushed to make a call to Kansas. In seconds, the Man of Steel was in his pal’s office. His handsome features were close to those of the man on the couch.
“Jim, I wish this could have been a purely social call,” said Earth-Two’s greatest hero. “He’s in a bad way. I think his only hope is Amazon science. His only words were that mysterious warning?”
“Yes. Wish I could have helped him more. Do you know him?” asked Jimmy.
“Yes, you might call him another ‘strange visitor from outer space,’ of sorts. I first met him over thirty years ago during his first visit. His name is Halk Kar and he comes from a world called Thoron. He’s powerful — not as powerful as I am, but powerful nonetheless, so whatever scares him has to be very bad!”
Jimmy gulped nervously.
Superman settled his precious cargo down on a bed on Transformation Island, center of healing for the Amazon nation.
“Welcome, Man of Steel,” said the stately Queen Hippolyta, who had been warned of his visit ahead of time. She was a beautiful immortal brunette who still looked as young as she did the day she first stepped foot on Paradise Island thousands of years ago. “My daughter holds you in very high esteem.”
Superman smiled. “Many thanks, Your Highness! Princess Diana is loved and respected by all American mystery-men and women! I thank you for accepting my friend, Halk Kar, as a patient.”
“Woman and men in need are welcome on Transformation Island,” she said. “Paula will soon see to his needs. She is quite brilliant.”
A radiant blonde woman approached and examined the alien hero. Superman knew her from a few encounters — some of which had been unfriendly — back when the Baroness Paula von Gunther had been a top Nazi agent. But she had proven her reformation dozens of times since those dark days. “Superman, this Halk Kar is almost as durable as you are. Is he, too, from Krypton?” she asked.
“No, Paula. He is from Thoron, a world not all that different from my ancestral home,” explained Superman. “He has no weakness to kryptonite, however.”
“I think he will recover, in time. But what could have done injury to such a powerful being as this?” asked Paula.
“I don’t know. He said, ‘they are coming,’ so I fear we’ll soon find out!” said a determined Man of Steel.
“The purple healing ray shall restore Halk Kar in time,” said Hippolyta. “Then, perhaps, we may learn of his mission.”
“Actually, Majesty, through use of the Magic Sphere, we may learn his past immediately,” inisisted Paula.
“Quite correct, my child,” said Hippolyta. “Bring forth his raiment.”
Superman took Halk Kar’s blue cape and watched Paula place it inside a slot in a white device with a rounded screen. Of course — the Amazon verson of TV, mused Clark Kent as he watched. The combination of ancient splendor and other-worldy magic still made this Kansas farm-boy marvel.
A picture filled the screen. It showed the planet of Thoron in total ruin. Flames raced across the torn and charred landscape. Bodies littered the world. Buildings lay in broken decay. As the scene shifted, two things occurred: Halk Kar soared over the destruction of his home, wailing in anger and impotent frustration. He fled reluctantly as energy lashed out at him from below. He screamed and raced into space. As he disappeared, so did the image of his world, although a final flash of crimson suggested to Superman’s keen judgment that Thoron, like Krypton, had met a fiery and sudden death. Superman clenched his fists in anger and sorrow. “This must not happen again!” he vowed.
Paula and Queen Hippolyta frowned in agreement. “I must summon my daughter to aid you,” said the queen.
“No, Majesty!” said Superman. “I must summon the entire Justice Society of America!”
Just as the JSA assembled at Superman’s request, an alien presence made itself felt around the world. Strange, pulsating energy-spears rained down from the sky. They did absolutely no material damage to any buildings or people who came in contact with them, nor did they seem to possess mass. They merely descended and vanished upon contact with the Earth.
In China, the unaging champion called Kuei gazed in dismay as the devices plunged down the fertile banks of a river district. He reached out his massive green hands but could not touch the oddly elusive spears of glowing light.
In Britain, the visiting Swedish hero known as Wingman — the latest successor to the title — soared skyward as the odd spears rained downward. He pondered his own helplessness. Saving Charles and Fergie from terrorists and tabloid stalkers is one thing, but these alien things are beyond me!
In California, at the Stellar Studios headquarters of Infinity Inc., the Patriot brooded over the way the spears defied even his partners with their mixture of Amazon science, power-pulse magical energy, Feitheran technology, and good old American know-how.
In Keystone City, the Flash, alias Jay Garrick, came to a brilliant conclusion. “The vibrations that keep them out of sync are chronal in nature! These devices are some kind of time probe. They are looking through our world’s history for something… but what?” he pondered in Keystone City as his beautiful wife Joan gazed on.
“Jay, are they like the chronal energy we received from Ian Karkull?” asked the blonde.
“No, honey,” said the fastest man alive. “They aren’t radiating any energy or drawing it inside. It’s more like they are probing or seeking something that already exists. They’re not emitting or absorbing chronal energy.”
In Opal City, the second hero appropriately named Starman was about to make first contact with the new alien invaders. David Knight knew the skies and the stars intimately, and he detected a new arrival more by what was lost than by what was suddenly added to the stellar display.
“Something is blocking the stars in one large sector of space, yet it is not detectable by the naked eye or my telescopes,” he mused. “Maybe my cosmic rod can give me a ringside seat.” He would get closer than he ever wanted.
Before Starman could reach the hidden area of space, a humanoid figure appeared and flew down to meet him. David was still new at the Starman role, even as a substitute for his missing father. He raised the cosmic rod in a gesture that was half-greeting and half-warning.
The figure was now visible as female and wore a gold and white costume, rather like the ones he and his heroic allies wore.
“I am Sta–” he began before she gestured, and waves of sound shattered his energy sphere, causing him to lose all concentration. He plunged to earth, dazed and in pain. The impact had been as much of a physical nature as it had been auditory.
His last thoughts before passing out were of his father and his sense of failure in living up to the legacy. His fall was cushioned by the upward-rushing Power Girl as she streaked through the sky. “Nice of you to drop in!” she bantered, handing him down to Red Robin and Hourman below.
“Kara, wait!” began Red Robin, but by this time the mighty blonde had zoomed into the air where the blonde who attacked Starman had originated.
She was nowhere to be seen; however, a man in black and gold hovered in midair as if awaiting a challenge. “Look, pal,” Kara said defiantly, “what happened to the ‘we come in peace’ banter you’re supposed to start with?”
He casually slapped her down to earth with a disdainful look. His gesture was followed by a blast of searing heat from his cold eyes that left her costume tattered and her skin burned. She rose up immediately, only he was upon her at top speed. He hit her twice and tossed her limp body across the street. He then flew off without any sign that he had a purpose beyond humbling her.
“Hourman, is she badly hurt?” asked Red Robin.
“She is roughed up and has a minor burn, but she’ll be OK,” said a worried Rex Tyler as he carried Power Girl away from the curious gawkers. “It’s odd he could burn her Kryptonian skin like that!”
Red Robin’s expression was one of deep concern and studied thought as they left the scene.
Out West, the Vigilante faced another alien invader, who touched a cactus and sprouted spikey thorns across his costumed body. He left the agile cowboy stunned and cut after his skillful bullets merely bounced off the spongy body of his attacker.
Similar scenes were played out with the same victorious results for the very different-looking and variously empowered aliens around the world. Then Halk Kar awoke.
“I’ve identified the energy spears as a type of chronal probe retrieving data from their surroundings as they were in the past as well as in the present,” said the Flash on Transformation Isle.
Superman nodded grimly. “Then that explains why no one or nothing was actually harmed by them. They were just gathering some type of data. For what purpose?”
“Their only actions have been in response to any approach by others,” noted Green Lantern. “Otherwise, they just hover as if waiting for something.”
“Listening for something!” moaned Halk Kar from his bed.
“What? Tell us who did this to you, Halk,” said Superman, already over at the alien’s bedside.
“I do not know their name,” he said wearily. “I translated it as the Seekers or those who quest when they came to Thoron. They destroyed my world and all our people for no more reason than the fact that he had been there before!”
“He? Who do you mean?” asked Green Lantern.
Wonder Woman frowned. “He’s passed out again. Who can he be referring to, Clark?”
“I have never visited Thoron, nor to my knowledge has any other Earth hero,” said Superman. “Obviously, someone has visited both Halk’s world and this one at some time, and it’s in response to this entity that the aliens have arrived.”
“So they are literally seeking some traveller who landed here once?” asked Green Lantern. “Is that your theory?”
Superman shrugged. “It’s all I’ve got.”
Then word reached them about Power Girl’s injury. “Great Scott!” cried Superman. “Thank goodness she was not badly injured. I’m going to pay a little call on these visitors right now!” And before his friends could respond, Superman was gone.