Sunday, June 14, 2009

DC Challenge #8 (June, 1986)

Previous issue writer Paul Kupperberg intended for the mysterious numeric sequence that had been floating around since the first issue to be an ancient protective magical formula, as when Alanna inscribed it on Rann to route the demons. Also, he would have wanted to see Deadman possess Woozy Winks and perform acrobatics to save his life.

  • Batman finally, after eight issues, said plain exactly what the heck had been going on. "Earth and the planet Rann are under attack by mystical forces... demons inhabiting long-dead human beings, and creatures risen out of ancient mythology. At the same time, Earth is being invaded by aliens from some cosmic organization called the Greater Galaxies... I found three 8-figure numbers scrawled on a wall at a power plant... I ran these numbers through my computer here in the Batcave... and got a result that seemed to spell a formula to bring about the end of the world. The numbers, decoded, are electro-magnetic vibrational frequencies... [if] put into operation... the resulting wave-front could crack the Earth like an eggshell." The Dark Knight Detective knew demons were involved, and headed in his Batplane for their nearest concentration point, Metropolis. In the distance, a warp hole opened. "I'm too late... the Batman has already departed. Pity. I might have been of some assistance."

  • Back in 1943 Nazi-occupied France, Deadman possessed the unconscious Blackhawk in mid-flight to save Woozy Winks, though his inexperience as a pilot was clear. The other Blackhawks continued to fire on the alien spaceship while themselves being shot out of the sky. Deadman as Blackhawk crash landed, only to be met by Rittmeister Von Hammer, formerly known as the Enemy Ace.

  • "...Fade in on the New York Waterfront, circa 1986..." where Plastic Man had just learned The Joker had been recruited by Greater Galaxies to help plan their invasion of Earth. Though this wasn't technically his version of Earth in the Multiverse, Plas nonetheless intended to stop the Clown Prince of Crime's global treachery, though he ultimately was sent napping by a rigged lapel flower.

    The turbaned alien Kaz then arrived, still promising Joker kingship of Earth, but demanding "Project X must not be allowed to reach completion. Bork and his renegades must be stopped, at any cost."

    Kaz further elaborated, to the relief of the book's entire readership:
    "Project X involves the disruption of physical reality... the merging of this reality-plane with that of the netherworld. Bork and his fellow renegades of the Black Council have discovered a weakening of the cosmic fabric here in this locus... on the world you call Earth. A similar, parallel weakening is taking place on the planet Rann, of the star-system Alpha Centauri.

    Bork has developed a device known as the Probability Disruptor, which feeds on red sun radiation, relayed to this world from a base on Earth's satellite, Luna. The Disruptor is destroying the protective barrier between realities at this locus. The result is an increase in the manifestation of demons on Earth... manifestations that occur normally at this locus, at periodic intervals related to phases of the moon. Bork's disruptor, however, has increased the number of manifestations a thousandfold.

    Project X is upsetting the natural cosmic balance... a balance we of Molanto have worked long and hard to maintain. To save reality, Molanto, in conjunction with the Greater Galaxies organization, have invaded Earth. We have done this for the simple reason of expedience. Bork must be found. Project X must be halted. The fastest, simplest way to accomplish this is through the conquest of Earth."

    Earth's super-heroes were likely to interfere, so Kaz engaged the Joker to assist in distracting them. "Capturing all the heroes who'd been born off world, like Superman and J'onn J'onzz, among others-- and threatening to execute them as traitors to the Greater Galaxies-- that was my lovely idea. See, it's what we call a red herring. Now all the other heroes will be wondering what the alien heroes have to do with the alien invaders. It'll drive 'em nuts, giving us time to strike! Which brings me, oddly enough, to my final plan... I need three million tons of rubber cement, Kaz..." The Joker wanted to gum up the works in Washington. D.C., but Kaz was done with this insanity, and had the Joker locked away.

    As it turned out, Plastic Man was playing possum, having deduced the purpose of the gag flower. Plas turned himself into a skateboard, and had almost escaped the ship to inform the other heroes of his findings, when he was shot from behind by a trooper's laser and fell into the bay...

  • The Batplane flew over Metropolis, which by this point looked, as Batman put it, "like something out of Fantasia's 'Night On Bald Mountain!' Demons everywhere... as if a doorway had opened between our world and Hell!" The pandemonium led to the destruction of the Batplane, but the Caped Crusader still managed to reach the Galaxy Broadcasting Building, now aware thanks to the infernal beings he had been inadvertently helping this "Kaz" person.

    The Dark Knight was met by Dr. Terrence Thirteen, Ghostbreaker and Floyd Perkins, the kid who started this all in the first issue. Perkins had told Dr. 13 about finding a floor in the building that shouldn't exist, and bumping into an undead Humphrey Bogart. Dr. 13 in turn told Batman about his and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's running into the alien invasion, and through a space-warp into the Plane of Holes, where they met Darwin Jones and Bobo the Detective Chimp, among others. Dr. 13's memory was fuzzy after that, recalling that he had been returned to Earth by Albert Einstein, but decided to pick up the investigation again. Doctor 13 had brought a radiation detector with him, and when Batman had a look at the frequencies emitted from the GBS antennae, he recognized them from the earlier inscriptions! Dr. 13 had backtracked his detector's readings to their source, the moon...

  • Space Cabby and his passenger had made their way to Earth's moon with a message from Alanna and Sardath of Rann. The cab was struck by an energy blast, and skipped roughly across the lunar surface. Mongul then lifted the downed space cab over his head and demanded, "You will explain who sent you, human, and how you discovered the rebuilt relay station. Answer quickly... or you risk the wrath of Mongul, Master of Worlds!"

    The narrator noted that without air to carry sound, it's understandable Mongul wouldn't hear a Boom Tube opening behind him...

  • In 1943, Deadman/Blackhawk learned Enemy Ace had left Germany in 1933 after the Reichstag fire, and secretly resettled in Germany. Deadman possessed Enemy Ace to convince him all the alien lunacy was true, and the pair flew off together in Ace's World War I fighter against the space ship...

  • Back in modern Metropolis, the Outsiders had been called to the Galaxy Building by Batman, but they stopped short to address the demons running rampant throughout the city in Superman's absence.

  • Mongul on the moon shouted, "Lies, lies! You say you come from Rann with a message for Earth-- do you take Mongul for a fool?" From behind, Metron argued, "Only a fool would disbelieve an obvious truth, Mongul. Ergo, you are a fool." The merciless former monarch asked, "Who are you?" His reply came in two forms; physically being knocked over the side of a ledge, and verbally: "I am Lightray of the New Gods, Mongul. Hello... good-bye!" A third member of the New Genesian party, Orion, caught the falling space cab with the aid of his astro-harness. Metron noted that his calculations had led the heroes to this relay station, which functioned similarly to a boom tube and allowed New Gods passage through the disrupted Plane of Holes. The group had arrived too late, however, as Earth was doomed to be shaken apart by the already broadcast destruction frequency.

  • On Earth, Kaz cursed Bork as his base began to erupt in explosions, Batman predicted the end of the world, and a whole building began to fall on the Outsiders...

  • Left unmentioned: The fates of the rapidly dehydrating Aquaman and Zatanna.Mr. Mxyzptlk and his search for Superman. Adam Strange and Jimmy Olsen in the Nazi-conquered New York. The future involvement (if any) of Hawkwoman, Captain Marvel, Rip Hunter, Time Master, Dr. Kemeny, the Silent Knight, Green Arrow, Uncle Sam, Perry White, Robin the Boy Wonder, Captain Comet, Anti-Matter Man and Dr. Fate.

  • "If This Is Love, Why Do My Teeth Hurt" was by Gerry Conway, Rick Hoberg, Dick Giordano and Arnie Starr. This was the tidiest, most descriptive issue to date, and even managed to work its gonzo title into the narrative (lovers kissing as the world begins to vibrate violently.)

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