Ultimate Crisis

Legends of a Dead Earth
by Bob Young, Chip Caroon, Toby Kernan, and Black Condor

Dr. Doom
Jean Grey
Victor Cranston
Martian Manhunter
Captain America
Captain Britain
Green Lantern
Silver Surfer

Superman streaked through the stars like a comet. He was in a hurry to get back to Earth. There was something wrong and they needed his help.

Superman had left Earth some time ago, once again pursuing his enemy General Zod. Zod was a fellow Kryptonian, but an merciless one. He served the mysterious being called Brainiac who Superman wanted to know more about.

Days after leaving, he began hearing strange, undecipherable voices in his head that he recognized from his association with Jean as telepathic contact. He could only assume that they were coming from her. And then the last message came. It sounded like a mental scream. A scream of terror and death! It was so unlike Jean to panic. Whatever was happening, it was very serious. And although the message was vague and hard to understand, Superman thought he could make out the words 'End of the world!'

Despite the importance of his search and his need to know what this Brainiac character was up to, he now found himself tearing through solar systems, desperately trying to reach his former home before . . .

. . . Before what? He didn't know. But he had a terrifying sense of dread!

Superman didn't know how many days went by as he rushed to the rescue. In the weightless void of space, he could fly at unbelievable speeds. He wished he could go even faster. Jean needed him. Earth needed him!

After a seemingly endless journey, his incredible vision spotted the planet Earth in the distance. He was relieved. Almost there . . .

Finally, Superman arrived at Earth. What he saw horrified him before he even began to descent into the atmosphere. Instead of a living looking blue and green sphere, he was greeted by a dark and gray looking blob. The beautiful Earth, his one-time home, population 6 billion was dead.

Superman had returned to a scorched Earth. The wrecked ruin of a once proud and potentially great civilization froze his heart in his chest. There was nothing moving, not even the wind. There was no sign of life at all.

Superman flew around the world, checking city after city. None were left standing. The remains of the indigenous population were reduced to emaciated husks. Their lifeless faces were frozen in expressions of terror.

Everyone was dead. Everything was ruined.

Earth was destroyed.

The devastating loss and horror of it all overwhelmed Superman. A moral being, one who loved life and felt a strong bond with humanity, he was crushed by what he was seeing. It was worse than he could have imagined.

Superman instinctively returned to his former home at the X-Mansion. Where Jean lived. He needed to see for himself. He knew she must be dead, but he had to know for sure.

He got to the mansion, or what was left of it. His X-ray vision told him that no one was there, alive or otherwise. He told himself that he shouldn't have expected them to be. If the world were in danger, Jean and the X-Men would have been right in the thick of things, not hanging around the mansion.

Superman sat in the wreckage of the estate, his head buried in his hands. This is a nightmare! Why is everyone gone? Even Jean! I should never have left, not when they needed me . . . His thoughts descended into a string of curses both Terran and Kryptonian.

But then something incredible happened. His amazing hearing picked up a message. Some sort of SOS was being transmitted. Someone was still alive . . .

Superman could see radio waves with his super-vision, and he traced the message back to its origins. He flew with all the speed he was capable of.

Moments later, he was over the remains of London. Somewhere in this city, someone was transmitting a message. He traced the message to its source.

Near the foot of the remains of Big Ben, lay a familiar armored form. Although they had never met before, Superman recognized the notorious villain who lay dying.

"Dr. Doom," he whispered.

Doom's armor was battered and scorched in a different way then everything else around him. It seemed to be ruined in a way more akin to direct battle damage then of the apocalyptic destruction around him.

Superman leaned over Doom, whose face - half covered by the remains of his mask - was a deformed mask of evil intelligence. His eyes, which were at first staring glazed and uncomprehending toward the blackened sky, suddenly became alert. He focused on the face of Superman.

"So," Doom said weakly, "I'm not completely alone. And you . . . you seem far less the worse for recent events than I."

"Take it easy, Doom," Superman said. "Can you tell me what happened?"

Doom pointed. "Perhaps he can explain it best."

Superman looked around and saw a large figure. He was humanoid, with a large, bald head. He wore robes. The being stared at Superman with a forlorn and very alien expression.

"Who are you?" Superman asked.

Doom forced another sentence out. "He calls himself the Watcher."

"The Watcher, is it?" Superman asked. "What so you have to do with this? Are you responsible for . . . "

"No, he is not the villain of the story," Doom croaked. "His culpability is limited to . . . to standing by and . . . and watching the world die."

Superman stared accusingly at the Watcher. "Could you have done something to prevent this?"

The Watcher only stared in silence.

"He doesn't seem . . . to want to speak . . . Today," Doom said.

"Apparently not," Superman said. "But I need to know what happened here."

Doom was getting weaker. "I . . . can tell you that. Take me to my lab . . . in Latveria. I do not have . . . much time."

"All right," Superman said. "Hang in there."

Superman scooped up Doom and carried him took to the air, heading to Latveria. The Watcher stood unmoving, watching them go.

Soon . . .

Superman arrived at Doom's castle in the country of Latveria. He was surprised to see that it was far less damaged than the rest of the world. "I notice your castle has held up rather well, Doom."

"Before this disaster, I had gained . . . certain formidable powers," Doom said. "I was able to encase my castle in a . . . protective shield."

Superman brought Doom inside the still well preserved castle. "Now what?" he asked, placing Doom in a chair.

Doom pointed. "Activate that machine. It's a satellite surveillance system called Brother Eye. I created it to monitor the events of the world, particularly those . . . those matters concerning the superhero community. I've had them all . . . well bugged. They had . . . no idea that I have been . . . been privy to their every move. The system is currently programmed to . . . play back events in a chronological order that will . . . make sense to the viewer. It should give you . . . a complete listing of the events . . . leading up to the coming of Galactus!"

"Galactus?" Superman asked, confused. "Who or what is Galactus?"

"Watch the video logs," Doom said. "They will . . . explain everything!"

Brother Eye: File One. The arrival of the Silver Surfer

Jean Grey jerked upright in bed, breathing heavy. She'd just had a dream. Another in a series of horrible dreams about a terrible alien mind coming closer and closer. It was cold, merciless and all-powerful. It terrified her.

She wondered at the reason behind these strange visions. Were they a portent of something imminent? Of some coming danger? She needed to figure this out. Climbing out of bed, she dressed quickly and sought out someone to talk to. She wished Clark were still here. His presence always made her feel better. She wondered where he was.

Deep within the confines of a prison in the boiling jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mentallo awoke. It wasn't the inmate in the cell next to him, or the guard banging on the cell bars that woke him up this time, it was a vision. A vision of doom. Mentallo tried to clear his head in the thick morning air. Even though Los Vengadores had helped get him locked away in this prison cell, maybe, in the coming apocalypse he saw in his vision, there would be the opportunity to get free.

Victor Cranston was up late, surfing the internet. He felt a tingling on the back of his head. He brushed it with his hand, thinking it might be some fuzz or something. The tingling remained, turning into a buzz.

He put his elbows on his desk and leaned his head into his hands. The buzzing now became a pounding. Victor gritted his teeth as the pain increased. Suddenly, his head felt like it exploded, and images started floating through his head.

Great celestial beings . . . flashes of purple and silver . . . a man wielding fire . . .

Victor collapsed to the floor before he could make sense of anything else.

Seconds later, his grandfather, Lamont, came rushing into the room, turning the light on. He knelt down beside Victor and held him. Victor's eyes fluttered open.

"What happened?" Lamont asked.

"Visions. Something's coming," Victor replied weakly.

"You have been out here for days, old man," declared Forge. "Something I should know about?"

It wasn't unusual for Naze, even in his advanced years, to make the trek from the home he shared with his former student, and lifelong friend Forge, to Sacred Prayer Rock. It was unusual however, for him to come out and stay for such a prolonged period out in the desert. As far as Forge knew, the only thing he had consumed in the past two days was the small bottle of water he had taken with him when he had first left.

Naze stopped his low, almost whispering chant, and twisted his head to look Forge in the eyes.

"It comes our way, Silvercloud," declared a solemn Naze, using Forge's Christian last name.

"What is that old man?" asked Forge, curious.

"The sky giant," declared Naze. "Long ago, Nayenezgani, the slayer of alien gods, vanished the giants who tried to slay the mankind. Once gone, he foretold of a time when the most powerful of all giants, the last of their kind, would come back from far up in the sky and exact his revenge upon man.

"I have had many visions these past two days. Nayenezgani was correct. The giant is on his way here from the stars. We are all in terrible danger . . . "

The Hall of Justice . . . Headquarters of the Justice League of Avengers.

J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter, paced around the monitor room of the JLA. He was troubled. He'd been having visions lately. Strange portents of a coming doom. He wasn't exactly seeing the future. It was more like sensing the approach of something horrible and powerful. He had to admit to himself that he was getting a bit nervous about all this. Something was coming!

Mantis entered the room. "May this one join you?" she asked.

J'Onn was pulled from his reveries. "Oh, Mantis. Please come in."

Gracefully, she moved into the room like a dancer. "This one does not wish to burden you, but she needs you advice."

"I'll help if I can," he said.

"This one is having strange dreams," she said. "Prophesies of a coming danger. She believes that there is an immense alien threat coming. She fears the worst."

J'Onn listened grimly, nodding as if he'd heard all this before. "Mantis, you are not alone. I have been having similar visions. And it's not limited to the two of us. I've been using my telepathic powers to monitor telepaths all over the world. They're all having similar visions, and they are all terrified."

"What do you think it could be?"

"I don't have the slightest clue, Mantis," he said. "But whatever it is, I have a horrible feeling that the entire planet is in deadly danger!"


Captain America and Thor arrived, joining an international group of heroes, including Rocket Red, Captain Britain, and some of the Global Guardians. They'd been called by the British government to investigate a mysterious newcomer.

The strange being was large and bald. He stood in the center of Piccadilly Square, looking up at the sky. Occasionally he would glance around at the indigenous population, and an expression of sadness would cross his face. Then he would continue scanning the skies. He did not acknowledge any attempts at communication.

"He's not uttered a word," Captain Britain said. "He just stands there. A psychic mate of mine tried to read his mind, but he's too blasted alien. Considering all the buzz we're hearing of late regarding telepaths having a nutter about some alien beastie coming to destroy the world, we had to take him seriously, didn't we."

"I agree completely," Captain America said. "We can't take any chances."

Thor stepped forward, looking alarmed. "I fear this bodes no good."

"Do you know who this is?"

"I fear so, Captain," the thunder god said. "Tis the ancient and enigmatic being known only as the Watcher. He doth appear only when a matter most dire is at hand. Death inevitably follows in his wake. Yon alien is the harbinger of doom!"

"That goes along with the psychic predictions of coming destruction," Captain America said. "I guess they were right. Bad news is on the way, and we need to prepare for it!"

Over the next twenty-four hours, word spread quickly, as did panic. The news media of the world filmed the Watcher. Word got out to the general public of the massive telepath panic concerning impending doom. The superheroes of the world gathered, under the leadership pf Captain America, to discuss plans to deal with whatever it was that was coming. They didn't know what they were dealing with and that, more than anything else, made them nervous. How do you prepare for something totally unknown? All they knew was that it was powerful and dangerous. Not much to go on. Captain America tried to act confident, hoping to inspire his peers, but underneath, he had a feeling of dread worse than he'd ever felt. This was going to be bad!

Green Lantern had an audacious plan. He didn't know if it would work, since he had never tested his Power Ring to this degree before, but it was worth a try.

On his finger, he wore the most powerful weapon known to the universe. This ring manifested his will power. As long as he had no fear and his will was strong enough, he could - in theory - create anything, no matter how large, with his Power Ring.

It was time to prove that theory. He flew up into the stratosphere, hoping that his crazy plan would work. Once out of the planet's atmosphere, he held out his ring and concentrated.

Green Lantern created the largest optical illusion ever. He conjured up the image of a massive Asteroid field surrounding the planet. He made the Earth essentially invisible to anyone or anything approaching it.

"Cloaked!" he said, triumphantly. "I've cloaked the entire planet! I am the man!"

He returned to the planet, unaware that Dr. Doom's Brother Eye satellite was recording the entire thing.

Exactly 24 hours after the Watcher arrived . . .

Sentinel was in the air, flying through the clouds, hoping to do something personally to help save the world. To relive those days when he did this on a regular basis. Back when he was in the JSA, and later in the Avengers League, he made a habit of saving the Earth.

But ever since Alan Scott had been elected President of the United States, he had not had much use for his Starheart energy ring. True, he occasionally switched to his Sentinel identity to help out the JLA, as he did when his son Nuklo ran amok, but for the most part, he was just a politician now.

But today was a special day. Everyone was talking about the coming threat. The UN had called an emergency session. Everyone was afraid. He couldn't just sit in his office and get updates from his advisors. He was a man of action and it was time to act!

Sentinel sensed someone else flying in the ionosphere. He flew to meet them. He was surprised to see Green Lantern and Quasar patrolling the skies.

"Hello there, men," Sentinel said. "Keeping the front line safe?"

"Hello there, sir," Green Lantern said to his idol. "Good to see you back in action."

"Anything amiss here?" Sentinel asked.

"Nada," Quasar said. "Not a creature is stirring."

"Good," Sentinel replied. "Let's hope it stays that way. I think . . . "

"Wait!" Green Lantern said, alarmed. "Something just breached my cloaking field!"

They all sensed it at the same time. Something was coming. Something powerful was approaching. And it was coming fast!

Green Lantern sent a message to his teammates in the JLA. "Hey there, ladies and gentlemen! Red alert! Incoming! Incoming!"

{Acknowledged,} Martian Manhunter replied telepathically. {You and Quasar do your best to hold the line! I'll bring help!}

"Roger that," the Lantern said, typically without fear, and joined Quasar and Sentinel in intercepting the approaching threat.

High above the Atlantic Ocean, amidst the clouds, the three heroes blocked the path of the uninvited visitor. They watched, tense, as it came closer, growing larger in their view.

It was humanoid and seemed to be made of silver. And the object it rode on seemed to be a surfboard.

The Silver Surfer had arrived!

To be continued!

Evolution of an Epic

Ultimate Crisis originally started as an idea for a massive DCM crossover several years ago. Actually, we had talked about doing a Galactus crossover pretty much as soon as we finished up Crisis on Merging Earths. At one point, we had even started developing the crossover as a vehicle for introducing Green Lantern. Ritchie Filippi had introduced a few Green Lanterns in various books, and had plans for them, but never got around to implement those plans. So, we decided to use that as our hook. (Interestingly, Ritchie did write a prelude issue for a Green Lantern series, which was later planned as the beginning of the first chapter of the crossover. Part of that issue was retrofitted into issue 3 of this series.)

But then, things changed, and we wanted a Green Lantern, and so he was introduced in JLA. We then started developing the Galactus crossover as the usual big two month big fight. The story would start in JLA, then run through a bunch of series for one month, where each issue would feature a hero or team running up against the heralds, then it would all come together in the next issue of JLA, and from there it would continue throughout various other books in month two, all leading up to the massive climax (including the sacrifice of one of our main characters). But as real life got in the way, delays set in, and writers disappeared. Many series were left languishing, never given proper finales.

When DCM joined the Continuum Worlds, not much was done for the first few months as the editors decided what to do. I decided that I was done with the site, too much fun was being taken out of it due to all of the editorial stuff, and most of my writers had seemed to have moved on. It was down to me and Bob Young. So, the Galactus idea was brought back as a way to end the universe. We developed it into a maxi-series called Ultimate Crisis. I believe the name for the event was actually suggested by Paul Hahn, as a parallel to both Crisis on Merging Earths and the then-soon-to-be-released Infinite Crisis and also to indicate the final Crisis event at DCM. (Little did we know that DC was planning on turning their Crisis franchise into a trilogy.) Along the way, we had tons of ideas that got thrown around of plot threads to wrap up.

But those plot threads sort of got us interested in following up on those again. Meanwhile, the Continuum Worlds did not just want to see us end our universe just as we had joined their site. Dylan came up with a solution that would give writers more freedom (especially since there were only two of us for the most part), and take away some of the editorial constraint. So now, Ultimate Crisis became a transition event. The ending was modified so life could go on. The name stuck because we had nothing better to go with.

Bob Young crafted the basic plot and did the bulk of the scripting in this series. I went into his draft and polished it up and added a few elements, incorporating more characters and a few of the plot points had been brought up previously that had not been worked into Bob's script. That is largely why there are several characters that do not featured prominately in the main plot and only have scenes pretty much to themselves.

We tried to get as many DCM writers to return for this event as possible, but we only were able to get a few scenes from a few writers. In issue #3, we used excerpts of two unpublished issues to allow two other former DCM writers to contribute. As for crediting, the writer listed first on an issue did the bulk of the work on that particular issue.

We hope you enjoy this series, and all of the other DCM series that will be starting or returning after this series is done.

-Chip Caroon