Showcase: Strobe: Rings of Ire, Chapter 1: Sinister Power Rings

by Dan Swanson

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Alan Scott was in big trouble, but he didn’t know it yet. If Wotan’s spells worked out as planned, Scott would never actually realize his problems.

As the hero called Green Lantern, Alan was charging his ring. But on the third word of his oath, he realized that something wasn’t right. The flow of power into his ring was hurting him, and hurting him more each instant. He immediately tried to pull his hand away from the magic lantern, but some incredible force had his hand in its unbreakable grip. As more and more energy flowed from the lantern into his ring, the pain continued to increase. Alan tried to scream, but the same force that wouldn’t let him tear his hand away prevented him from screaming. Mercifully, the pain quickly reached an intolerable level, and Alan passed out. Only when the ring was fully charged did the mysterious force release him, and he slumped to the floor.

Observing this mystically from afar, Wotan allowed himself a good laugh. He had been almost stunned at the weakness of the defenses around Green Lantern’s magic lantern. He could have thwarted them easily even before he had become a Lord of Chaos. With his current power level, it wasn’t even child’s play. Of course, no magic power in this universe could have made any changes to the magic of the Starheart, but it was a trivial matter to replace the lantern with a duplicate, charged with power of Wotan’s making. Apparently, the local Lord of Order, Doctor Fate, had forgotten what had happened to that cursed Galactic Patrol so many centuries ago, to let his friend’s source of power remain so vulnerable. Well, he would never forget again.

Corona fell even more easily. Her power source had also been formed from the Starheart, using just a small, broken-off piece, and Corona was too new to her powers to have learned to defend her own magic lantern. History repeated itself, as Corona’s yellow power ring from the antimatter universe was charged with power provided by Wotan’s magic, and the conflict between Wotan’s evil power and Corona’s will battered her into unconsciousness.

In his faraway lair, Wotan smiled grimly. His pawns were now in place. The game could begin.


Jim Chisholm had a costume, and he had power. But he hadn’t thought of an appropriate heroic name yet. While he didn’t let this wreck his day, his thoughts did wander from work occasionally. How about Power Glove? No, that just sounds stupid! Who would name himself after his weapon, anyway? What about Super Jim? No, again — that’s already taken by that basketball player for the Newark Nets. Some volleyball term would be kind of neat. Six-Pack? Pancake? C’mon, Jim, be serious!

Luckily for Jim, he was self-employed as the work-from-home president and chief architect of his own architecture firm; he probably would have fired any employee who paid so little attention to his job. I never liked those names based on phoney military ranks like Captain Power or a phoney profession like Doctor Light… Although Captain Power isn’t half-bad! He mused about Captain Power for a while. I can always come back to it later. Who would have thought that the hardest part about becoming a super-hero would be picking a name? Within seconds, Jim would remember that thought ruefully.

Without warning, the walls of Jim’s house collapsed as two giant glowing hands slammed into opposite walls. One hand was green, while the other was yellow. Jim could see little else, and suddenly the roof was collapsing on him as well.

Jim’s reflexes, while not superhuman, had been honed from years of playing world-class volleyball, and more recently from a week of training with various members of the Justice Society of America. And he had been daydreaming about using his new power, so his reaction was about as fast as it is possible for a normal human. He took some slight damage from flying debris, but before he received any major injuries, he was able to form a force-shield around his body. Luckily, Green Lantern had drilled him so hard on this one.

As he watched his home being demolished, Jim grew very angry very quickly. The energy constructs that were destroying his home looked a lot like the work of Green Lantern and Corona. This had better not be a damn practical joke or more training. Jim had built the house himself, and some of the contents were irreplaceable, like his Olympic medal and some of his trophies — not to mention all of his business records. Suddenly, his anger burst out of him, and the remains of the house literally exploded as Jim flew straight up through the falling debris, rocketing into the sky as if propelled by the force of the titanic explosion.

Jim did not really expect to see Green Lantern and Corona — even as angry as he was, he couldn’t believe that his friends could have any part of this horrible attack. Even so, he was relieved to see two figures he didn’t recognize. A lean, brown-haired white man, dressed in green and black, with a white symbol on his chest that sort of looked like an atom, and a tall, thin, red-faced man with an overlarge head, dressed in what looked like a black and blue jester’s outfit. The man in green was wielding a green power ring, while the red man had a yellow power ring.

Jim was glad he lived well out in the country, where no neighbors could be harmed by this violence. Before his foes could react again, Jim grabbed each of them in giant, glowing white fists, and dragged both of them at high speed into space, where their battle would harm no one.

Each ring-wielder was totally enwrapped in one of Jim’s energy constructs. Jim wasn’t squeezing them hard enough to injure, but he damn well didn’t plan to let them go. He seemed to have got the drop on both of them, but did he have the power to hold them?

It seemed not. Each ring-wielder exerted his will, put up a glowing force-bubble around himself, and then willed that bubble to grow. Jim concentrated harder and harder as he felt his grips weakening. He might have been able to hold one enemy securely, but the combined will and power of both other men were too much for him. Almost simultaneously, both glowing white hands burst into shreds, and his enemies were free.

Jim wasn’t all that worried just because he was facing two foes. As a master of Aikido, he knew how to handle two opponents at once, using his advantage of coordination to overcome their advantage in power. Unless the two had trained together until they knew each other’s combat actions instinctively, when one acted, there would always be just the smallest delay in the other’s actions, while each made sure the other was doing what was expected. What Jim was unsure about was if he could make use of this advantage when his opponents each had a power ring.

The blue-and-black-clad opponent quickly formed a gigantic yellow hammer and swung it toward Jim’s head. At the same time, his green opponent formed a heavy machine gun and shot a string of green bullets toward Jim. These actions quickly told Jim that his opponents were not trained to fight as a team. Jim decided to make use of his opponent’s power, and allowed the hammer blow to strike his force-shield, driving him earthward again. Jim saw that he was now over the Pacific Ocean, and he used his power to accelerate his dive. Just before he splashed down into the ocean, he saw both opponents diving after him.

As soon as he splashed into the ocean, Jim used his power to make himself invisible. He then moved slowly away from his splashdown point, remaining underwater. Neither opponent seemed interested in entering the water himself, although Jim could see energy constructs that looked like sonar, giant nets, and even a giant green shark searching for him. Having temporarily evaded his foes, Jim realized that he needed to know more about them.

During his training with the JSA, Jim had willed his glove to download a lot of information from the JSA computers. Included in this information were files on many super-villains. Jim started his glove’s artificial intelligence on a background search to see what it could find about these two.

Apparently, the JSA data was well-organized. Almost instantly, Jim was informed that the opponent in green was apparently an Earth-Three villain called Power Ring, who usually worked with the Crime Syndicate of America from that world, and the red-skinned one was apparently Sinestro, a renegade Green Lantern Corps member from the Earth-One universe. Both had ring weapons that were at least the equal of the glove in power. The JSA data concluded by noting that the weaknesses, if any, of Power Ring’s mystical green ring were unknown, and that Sinestro’s yellow ring had no known weaknesses, either, except that it used recycled Green Lantern ring energy.

Well, they don’t know what my weakness is, either! Jim thought. I hope they don’t find out what it is before I do! This is going to be tough enough as it is, with two against one. I need to keep them off-guard and continually do the unexpected.

As Jim reviewed the JSA files on Power Ring and Sinestro, he came up with a bunch of questions. Three questions, each more mysterious than the other. How did these two other-Earth villains get to Earth-Two? Why are they working together? And why are they attacking me?

No one has been able to move between universes since the Crisis. Doctor Fate thinks that, with time and study, he and the Spectre might discover a way to cross over, but it would require tremendous power. Certainly Power Ring and Sinestro don’t possesses that kind of power.

Power Ring seems to be nothing more than a super-powered thug who uses his ring to terrorize innocents, mostly non-powered people. Outside of his working with the Crime Syndicate of his world, he has never been interested in real teamwork, and never will be. All he is interested in is instant gratification, and he has always used his ring to satisfy his desires.

Sinestro had years of experience in the Green Lantern Corps before becoming a would-be dictator. There is no organization more anti-team that the GLC, and to a dictator, teamwork is for lesser beings. There is no way these two would ever work together willingly, and in fact, when they are fighting together, these two will be less dangerous than either one alone.

On the other hand, Sinestro’s years of experience against super-powered opponents makes him by far the more dangerous opponent. I’ll concentrate on him first.

But why attack me? I’ve never used my new power in public. As far as I know, the only other people that know about me are Iredok Jur Diah and the JSA — and Iredok sure isn’t talking. But they must be after the globe and glove. Ordinary Jim Chisholm sure doesn’t have any super-powered enemies!

Jim realized that he wouldn’t have much more time to think about these mysteries. He knew he had enough information to figure it out, and he hoped that his subconscious could come up with the answers, because his attention was going to be needed to subdue Power Ring and Sinestro. Since they hadn’t found him yet, he decided that a little advance planning and preparation might help him out in that area, too.

He gave his glove a couple of commands and smiled grimly. From what he knew of his opponents, he was confident that he would be able to defeat them, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a few surprises in place. The energy constructs he had just created were as nearly undetectable as it was possible to make them, and he planned to provide some major distractions of his own very shortly.

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