Ultimate Crisis

Contests of Champions
by Bob Young and Chip Caroon

Jean Grey
Captain Britain
Doug Ramsey
Mr. Fantastic
Captain Marvel
Invisible Woman
Human Torch
Captain America
Dr. Doom
Black Adam
Silver Surfer

Dr. Doom, now possessed of enormous cosmic power, used his new universal awareness to view events around the world. He saw the heralds making their preparations and saw the heroes organizing their response, such as the current effort of the X-Men against Firelord.

Should I involve myself in such matters? he wondered. After all, I do not wish to rule a world filled of nothing but death.

After some consideration, he chose to wait and to see how events played themselves out.

The X-Men and Hawkman stared at the crater that had just formed in front of them.

"Your friends?" Iceman asked Hawkman.

Hawkman shook his head in disbelief. "Negative. They have other, more efficient methods of travel."

"Fool!" Firelord bellowed, unleashing a flame burst at the newest foe.

The visored man quickly flicked something on his visor, unleashing a power blast of crimson energy from his eyes which quickly combated the flame and forced it backward.

Firelord was furious. No one on Earth should have had the power to go hand to hand with the power cosmic. But there were legends of such beings elsewhere, and if they were now here, then this battle, along with the device, was now lost. But there was an alternative. If he got to a dimensional rift, he could retrieve a spare device that is hiding in a dimensional pocket in hyperspace. And then he could start again, hopefully without interference. Or at least, not such a strong interference.

"You've earned my wrath, Earthmen," Firelord said. "I will deal with you at another time!"

Abruptly, Firelord took to the air. Everyone was confused.

"Um, did the new guy win our fight?" Iceman asked.

Jean rushed over to the newest arrival. "Are you okay?" she asked.

He leaned over, and grabbed ahold of Jean's shoulder for support. "I . . . have traveled far. I just need time."

"Got a name, stranger?" Wolverine asked.

"I . . . Scott. My name is Scott Summers."

Captain Britain, having recruited his Excalibur partners, arrived in India, at a mountain Buddhist temple.

Along with the Brit hero were Colossus, Nightcrawler, Apparition, Wisdom, Meggan, Rahne, and Doug Ramsey. The telepaths had pinpointed the alien in this area. The Excalibur members checked out Reed Richard's device. It led them onto the grounds of the old, unused temple.

There, they saw Terrax adjusting the settings on a truck-sized device. He sensed their presence. "So, you've come at last. I've been expecting you."

"Don't be so happy," Captain Britain said. "We're bad news to you!"

"Shall I?" Colossus asked.


Colossus assumed his armored form and charged forward, Terrax chuckled and swung his battle ax.

"Look out!" Nightcrawler yelled.

Colossus stopped short. The blade just grazed him, marring his metal arm. Terrax lashed out, striking the mutant hero, knocking him down. He raised his ax for the kill.

But Nightcrawler appeared in a puff of smoke and grabbed hold of his metallic partner. The two of them suddenly vanished. Terrax was not impressed.

While he was looking down, Captain Britain quickly struck him, but the results were minimal. Terrax grabbed Britain's ankle and was about to hack the British hero's leg off. Apparition appeared. Terrax aimed at her instead, but his ax passed through him ethereal form. Britain managed to yank himself free and get some distance.

"I have a rule about fighting," Terrax said. "No survivors!"

A fifth group of heroes had borrowed a special jet from Stark Industries to search for the missing two aliens, Harbinger and the Silver Surfer. The jet was equipped with a device to sense the aliens' cosmic power. The group included the mighty Hercules, Hawkeye the archer, Troia, Artemis the Amazon warrior, Storm the weather controlling mutant, armored Russian super hero Rocket Red, planet hopping Adam Strange, and the red-clad Daredevil.

Hercules and Artemis were itching for a good fight. Hawkeye was as reckless as ever. Rocket Red, Adam Strange, and Daredevil were nervous but cool. Troia spoke silently to Storm, who was still not fully recovered from her earlier encounter with Lobo.

"I'm half hoping we don't find them," Troia said. "Despite the presence of Hercules and Artemis, I'm not sure we have the power to defeat the Silver Surfer, let alone two heralds. We don't know much about this Harbinger's power. I'm feeling uneasy."

"You are not unwise in feeling that way," Storm said. "I share your concern. I've faced one of them in combat and it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. Finding these aliens may be a death sentence!"

Back at the Hall of Justice

Captain America and the JLA had left for England to prepare a special welcome for this "master" upon his arrival. The Justice League of Avengers was going to hold the line against the space god or die trying.

The only ones left at the hall were President Scott and Dr. Richards. Sentinel decided that he should get back to the White House. They'd be expecting him in the Situation Room.

As he put his suit jacket on, he looked at Reed Richards. The brilliant scientist was staring out into space, lost in thought.

"I'm surprised you didn't go out to fight with the rest of the Fantastic Four," Alan Scott said. "They can use all the help they can get, if things turn out as tense as we expect."

Reed barely seemed to hear him. "We all fight in our own way," Reed said, gazing blankly, his mind racing.

"I guess you're working on something inside that busy brain of yours," President Scott said. "I'll leave you to it."

Reed nodded. President Scott walked to the door, where the Secret Service was waiting for him. But then he heard Reed shout.

"I've got it!" Richards yelled.

"Got what?" Alan asked.

"An idea," Reed said. "Or at least a theory. I'll need some equipment, though."

The President smiled. He hoped Reed was onto something good. "Whatever you need, professor, you'll have!"

"Thank you," Reed said. "This plan is a long shot, but it's all I can think of. If this doesn't work, I can't imagine what could possibly save the Earth from destruction!"

Quasar had been sent away from the other JLA members by Cap, to check on the progress of the other teams. He was glad to have something to do. Standing around waiting for Galactus was becoming unbearable.

As he flew, he sensed something. A powerful being, similar but less powerful that the Silver Surfer. It must be another herald! He changed course to intercept her.

Not far away, Harbinger was on her way to find the Silver Surfer, and dealing with her angst over the inevitable destruction of her planet. She never saw Quasar coming.

Quasar blocked her path. She reeled back, alarmed. "Stay back or I will be forced to battle you!"

"I don't want to fight you," Quasar said to the pretty blonde woman. "I hope we can talk about this. Why are you doing this? Why Earth? Why kill billions of people?"

Harbinger knew she should defend the honor of her master, but part of her agreed with Quasar. She did not want Earth destroyed. What could she say?

"There is no defying the Master," she said. "Galactus does as Galactus wills. He is above right or wrong. He hungers and he feeds."

"But to destroy whole planets?" Quasar said. "Doesn't he have a conscience?"

"No. He is beyond such things."

Quasar moved closer. "Please, can't we be reasonable about this?"

"I warned you to stay back!" she yelled.

To Quasar's amazement, Harbinger split into six multiples of herself. They surrounded Quasar. "You must withdraw or I will have to hurt you!" she told him.

"I can't do that," he said. "Listen to me. If you come with me to see . . . "

"I will not be apprehended by you!" she cried.

All of her various incarnations let loose with blots of energy. Quasar managed to shield himself but he was stunned. Harbinger took this opportunity to form herself into one and flee the vicinity. She had no desire to kill Quasar. She had no desire to destroy the Earth.

Where was the Surfer? She needed to talk to a friend. She continued to trace him.

The X-Men had boarded their jet and were flying back to New York, hoping to reach the JLA before they had taken off for London.

"That was too easy," Beast said, recalling the events of their recent battle.

"Easy?" Iceman said. "You call that easy?"

"He's right," Jean said. "It makes no sense for him to leave."

"What could he be planning?" the Beast wondered.

"I'm more curious about Cyclops here," Wolverine said. "What's he got to do with this mess?"

Scott looked up. "Nothing. I don't even remember how I got from there to here."

"And where is there?" Beast asked.

"Last I remember, Shi'Ar space," Cyclops replied.


"But don't you guys think his entrance was a little dramatic?" Iceman asked. "I mean, falling from the sky, like some heavenly force?"

"Bobby!" Jean snapped.


"Wait a minute," Beast pondered. "I am recalling something that our Morlock friends told me when we were guests in their tunnels. They were vague on details, but it was something about a mutant messiah that would come down from above and lead mutants to a better place."

"I'm no messiah," Cyclops said.

"I highly doubt you are. These Morlocks are highly prone to legend and myth. But, most myths do have basis in reality."

"Wonderful," Wolverine muttered.

Captain Marvel arrived at the cave in the Rock of Eternity, the long-time home of the mysterious wizard Shazam, who had given Captain Marvel his powers. Captain Marvel, having sensed a power unnervingly similar to his own, headed to the cave to ask his teacher about this matter.

To Captain Marvel's surprise, the Wizard was not there. The Captain was surprised. Shazam rarely ever left the cave. Where could he be? And without his advice, how could he find out about this other being who seemed so similar to him?

The Captain saw the Wizard's crystal orb. The Wizard sometimes used it to look into time and space. The Captain had seen it done enough times. It was all a matter of concentration. He picked up the little globe and focused his thoughts on the person he sought.

A picture formed in the globe. It was a dark haired man with a lightning emblem on his chest that reminded the Captain of his own. He had found his man!

Quasar had recovered from Harbinger's attack. He tried to find her but it was futile. She was somehow shielding herself. He decided to continue on his mission to check on the other teams.

Quasar arrived in Hollywood, and saw Young Justice fighting the crazed Lobo. Superboy. Marvel Boy, Marvel Girl, Wonder Girl, and the Ray were doing pretty well. Together, they were even more powerful than Lobo and they had him surrounded and outnumbered. True, his unbridled savagery was hard for the young heroes to adjust to, but they were starting to get a rhythm going. Still, Lobo was not intimidated at all. In fate, he seemed to be enjoying it all.

"Insane slime ball!" Quasar grumbled. "He has this coming!"

Quasar dived down and fires a massive burst of stellar cosmic energy at the herald. Lobo yelped in pain as he was knocked off his feet.

"Hi guys," Quasar said. "Mind if I join the party?"

"All aboard," Marvel Girl said.

"Over here," Nightwing called. "Help us wreck this thing."

Quasar nodded and unleashed his power. The device was sturdy and hard to damage but Quasar did the job.

"Fraggin' zorg!" Lobo hissed, and leaped at Quasar.

However, Marvel Boy knocked him off course and he hit the ground hard. Lobo muttered and then laughed. It was enjoying the challenge. He hopped on his cycle and took to the air. "You wanna play catch-me-if-you-can, flyboy? Fine! I'll bite."

As he chased Marvel Boy, the Ray used his power to damage the bike. Lobo's vehicle started to crash. Lobo bailed out, laughing with glee.

"Ray, help me out here!" Quasar said.

With the Ray's help, Quasar rapped Lobo in a powerful force field. Lobo grunted and pounded on the field, but he couldn't get good footing or leverage, so the shield held . . . for the moment. But Lobo wouldn't give up!

"So now that we have him what do we do with him?" Black Cat asked.

The Himalayas.

In the Great Refuge, home of the Inhumans, Dubbilex - advisor and official telepath for the king - requested an audience. The horned, demonic looking ESPER bowed graciously as he was admitted into the King and Queen's presence.

Black Bolt, noble king of the Inhumans, clad in black attire and ceremonial mask (including a tuning fork looking emblem on his forehead) sat regally and gestured for Dubbilex to approach. Next to Black Bolt sat his beautiful, red tressed queen Medusa.

"I am sorry to trouble you with this, sire," Dubbilex said.

"Yours is a most respected voice among the Inhumans," Medusa said. "We always have time for you And if you say a matter is important, we believe you. Speak and tell us of your concerns."

"Thank you, your highness," Dubbilex said. "As I informed you earlier, I have been having visions of an approaching evil. A great power for destruction. I fear that this power will soon arrive. Already, smaller harbingers of this evil have landed on our world. And one of them is in nearby India."

"The super-beings of the human world can deal with this matter, Dubbilex," Medusa said. "Do not trouble yourself."

"I fear that the combine powers of these new creatures may be a match for the human heroes," Dubbilex said. "And when their Master arrives, they may be too distracted to deal with a force too terrible to contemplate."

Black Bolt sat upright. He looked concerned. Dubbilex read the worried thoughts in his mind.

"Yes, your highness," Dubbilex said. "I fear that this approaching alien power may be capable to destroying the entire planet. Our home, Attilan, may not survive."

Medusa began to get nervous. She leaned closer to her husband. "Perhaps, my love, it would be wise to investigate this."

Black Bolt nodded. It was time for the king of Attilan to get involved.


Black Adam grinned with a warrior's pride as Aquaman fell. He had already defeated the Human Torch and Invisible Woman. Now, only the Thing and the Sub-Mariner were left to oppose him.

"You two have courage," Black Adam said to them, "but very little intelligence. Is it not obvious by now that you are far outclassed in terms of power and skill?"

"The Prince of Atlantis shall never yield!" Namor yelled. "I fight as long as the heart within my chest still beats!"

"You tell 'em, buster!" the Thing shouted. "Ya ain't won nuthin' yet, Blackie! I got a lot of clobberin' left to do!"

"Fools," Black Adam said. "Still, if you wish to die as warriors, so be it."

Black Adam resumed his attack. He locked up with the Sub-Mariner who was hovering in the air. The battled out of the Thing's reach. The Thing wanted to throw something at Black Adam but Namor was in the way. The combat moved higher and higher.

Until Namor dropped to earth like a meteor. He crashed to the ground, unconscious. The laughing Black Adam descended to Earth.

"You're alone, rock man," Black Adam said. "Are you still determined to die?"

The Thing did his best to hide his fear. "You betcha, big shot! The Thing don't wimp out, especially not from some alien errand boy. Come and get me, jerk!"

Before Black Adam could react, he sensed something coming. He looked up and saw someone approaching at speeds equal his own. He tried to defend himself but it was too late. He was struck and struck hard.

Captain Marvel had arrived in Hawaii. Black Adam went sailing over a mountain to another part of the island.

The Thing waved to Marvel. "Good to see ya, Cappy."

"Hello there, Thing," Captain Marvel said. "Leave this guy to me. He's mine!"

Captain Marvel chased Black Adam over the mountain. The Thing felt left out. "Showboat!"

The JLA arrived in England. All the evidence, including the presence of the Watcher, indicated that this is where Galactus would land. And he'd be landing very, very soon!

All satellite monitors, as well the people with psychic power, said that something was close. SHIELD had detected a large object passing the moon. They described it as immense -- miles long.

When Captain America heard this, he knew the time for training was over. Maybe their strategies would work, maybe not. Maybe the extra training helped, maybe not. They'd find out very soon. The moment of truth was here!

"Be ready for anything!" Captain America ordered.

They watched the skies, waiting nervously. And then they saw it! The biggest ship they had ever seen. The enormous shadow of doom.

Galactus had arrived . . .

To be continued!