Ultimate Crisis

War Zone
by Bob Young and Chip Caroon

The Spectre
Wonder Woman
Captain America
Mr. Fantastic
Captain Marvel
Green Lantern
Silver Surfer
Dr. Doom
Black Adam

"I sense your distress, Lyla," the Spectre said. "You do not wish this Earth destroyed, and neither do I. We must stop it somehow."

"The master cannot be defied!" the Silver Surfer said. "He must feed!"

"Did you give up so easily when Zenn-La was imperiled, Norrin Radd?" the Spectre asked. "Would you expect Harbinger to? Or the heroes of this planet?"

"Maybe he's right, Norrin," Harbinger said. "Maybe there is a way to save Earth, just as you saved Zenn-La."

"I do not see how."

"Don't you?" the Spectre asked. "I see a pure soul, somewhere under that cold exterior. You do not enjoy seeing worlds die. You do not enjoy contributing to their doom. You care for Harbinger, and somewhere deep inside, you would be glad to see her world spared."

The Surfer paused for a minute. "Even if you are correct, there is no way."

"There is always a way, Norrin Radd," the Spectre said. "Just as you saved Zenn-La, a way can be found to save the Earth."


Atop Big Ben, Galactus stood impassively, looking up at his ship. A hatch was opening beneath it. Stage two of the end of the world was beginning.

Wonder Woman, backed up by Thor and Icon, set down on top of Big Ben, near Galactus' feet. She stepped forward.

"My name is Diana," she said, loudly. "I am an ambassador of the Amazon race, but at the moment, I speak for all the people of the Earth. I wish to parlay with you. Can we negotiate?"

Galactus didn't acknowledge her. Something was emerging from his ship and it demanded the devourer's full attention.

"Please, let us discuss this," Diana cried. "There must be another way to meet your needs without destroying this world."

Galactus still refused to acknowledge her.

"We do not want to fight you," Wonder Woman said. "But we will if you persist in your plan to destroy our planet. Can't we communicate like civilized beings?"

From out of Galactus's ship came a large device. It was a complex piece of machinery, larger than a metropolitan city block. It was swiftly lowered downward, held by cables and robotic arms. It descended menacingly, guided by the mental commands of the giant space god.

"I implore you," Wonder Woman said. "Let us avoid violence."

The device lowered down, until it was level with Galactus. It hummed loudly to life, giving off a bluish glow. Little red lights flashed on-and-off. There was a complicated control panel on the side of it. Galactus reached out and began to manipulate the controls.

"I must warn you, Galactus," Wonder Woman said. "We are capable of defending ourselves. I give you one last chance to negotiate or we will be forced to fight you!"

"Speak!" Thor shouted. "The god of thunder demands it!"

Galactus finally glanced downward. Perhaps it was the presence of a god that convinced him the Earth people were worth his notice. His voice echoed explosively.

"The will be no negotiations. There is nothing to discuss. Galactus hungers and Galactus will feed. There is nothing further to speak of."

"There are six billion humans on this world," Wonder Woman said. "To say nothing of all the other indigenous species that populate Earth. How can you condemn them all to death so casually?"

Galactus was not moved. "You are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Galactus must survive. You are expendable. If your own existence depended upon stamping out an anthill, you would do so without remorse or hesitation. I do what I must. I am Galactus. I am beyond good and evil."

"Please, see reason," Diana implored. "There must be a way to accommodate–"

Galactus had lost interest in debating with this lower life form. "Enough! This discussion is terminated! Galactus does what Galactus must. None may judge me and none may defy me. I am a law unto myself. I must survive. And to survive, I must feed. Your inconsequential world will sustain me. So it will be. Galactus has spoken!"

"So be it!" Thor yelled, raising his hammer. "If battle is our only recourse, shall not shrink from it! We defy thee!"

"Wait!" Wonder Woman yelled.

But it was too late. Thor threw his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, and it rammed with tremendous impact into Galactus' side. The giant space being jerked a tiny bit, ever-so-slightly stunned by the power of Thor's attack. But he quickly shrugged off the effects of the assault.

Thor caught his hammer. "By Odin! He doth shrug off my mightiest blow. What sort of being is this Galactus?"

"I am all-powerful! And I do not suffer insolence!"

Incredible beams of energy blasted out of Galactus' eyes, striking Thor. Even the mighty thunder god was unprepared for the power of the force beams. He cried out in pain and was sent plummeting off of Big Ben. Down he fell, smoke coming from his singed body. He crashed to the street with a sickening thud. He lay there, unconscious.

"Thor!" Icon yelled, launching himself up at Galactus, furious.

Galactus casually swatted Icon away. Icon was sent hurtling away, crashing through several buildings before coming to a stop, a mile away. He, too, was unconscious.

"Do you now see the futility of resistance? Do not anger me further. You cannot stop me! I suggest you spend your last remaining minutes in prayer to whatever, primitive pagan idols your backwards race still worships. Do not disturb me again!"

Galactus turned back to his machine and continued working. Wonder Woman contemplated attacking, but reconsidered. It would do no good. Galactus was obviously beyond her power to harm. She thought for a minute. Her eyes fixed on the device.

"That machine!" she said. "That's the key!"

Wonder Woman returned to the ground, where Captain America and the other JLA members wee huddled around Thor, who was just coming to.

"It was a gallant try, Diana," Cap said. "You did your best. We'll have to come up with a strategy to deal with him now."

"But how?" Wasp asked. "You see how powerful he is. What can we do?"

"We'll fight until the end," Cap said.

"To the bitter end?" Batman commented.

Captain America put on a brave smile. "I see nothing so bitter about that. We'll find a way to win, or make a glorious end."

"I have an idea," Wonder Woman said. "His machine is the key!"

The Hall of Justice

Mr. Fantastic was working in the JLA's headquarters. He made use of their excellent equipment. He needed to finish his complicated device quickly. With his expandable limbs, he was able to do the work of many men on his own. He labored frantically, desperate to finish in time.

Jarvis, the JLA's butler, came in. "Can I get you anything, Dr. Richards?"

"Please don't distract me, Jarvis," Reed said. "I have to finish the multiverse portal and get it to London in the next few minutes or the planet is doomed!"

Transverse City:

"You paged?" Leslie Tiu-Yun-Chen asked when Ariana Helsington opened the door of her apartment.

"Yes, Leslie, come in," Ariana replied, stepping aside and letting Leslie walk in. "I've been receiving some very interesting reports from various contacts around the globe. I even have some of Silas' old allies contacting me."

"It must be bad if that sleezeball's friends are crying for help," Leslie replied. "Any idea what it is?"

"All I can gather is that we're facing something of end of the world proportions."

"And it's not starting in Transverse?" Leslie asked, surprised. "That's a first."

"From what I can gather, most of the activity is centering in London as we speak."

"You mean, that's where the heroes are."

"Precisely. I can arrange for airfare within the hour."

"No need," Leslie replied. "I can use a teleportation spell to get there instantly. As soon as we get the team together."

Ariana shook her head. "We don't have time. I need you to go over and report back what you find. Then we can form a strategy."

"As you wish."


Captain America had the JLA rallied. They were set to attack. Cap tried to inspire his troops with a speech. "This may be our toughest battle, but I have faith in all of you. Our objective is the destruction of that machine. Galactus may be too powerful, but I'm betting his machine is vulnerable. It seems to be key to his plan. Its destruction may undo he intends, or at the very least, delay him until Dr. Richards comes with whatever project he's working on. Fight well, men. The stakes have never been higher! All right, let's move!"

The JLA converged on Galactus and his machine. The giant space being looked down, annoyed. Were these pathetic primitives going to annoy him further? He was hungry and he wanted to feed.

But before the JLA could reach him, a flare of cosmic energy exploded in the air, causing the JLA members to pause, cautiously. Galactus hadn't done anything, so where had that come from? Had one of the heralds returned?

A metal clad figure appeared, hovering defiantly, blocking the JLA from reaching Galactus' machine. The newcomer was not unknown to the heroes.

"Doom!" Cap yelled.

"That's Lord Doom the mighty, to you, Captain," Doom said. "As you can see, I have upgraded to a new power level. I am no longer just a genius. I am a cosmically powered one! And if you wish to destroy Galactus' machine, you must get passed me!"

"Why, Doom? Why help Galactus? He'll destroy Latveria, too."

"You think on such a small scale, Captain," Doom said. "Your mind is one dimensional. But Doom sees the big picture and has grander dreams than being the king of one tiny country."

"And you think Galactus will help you somehow? I thought you were smart! Wake up, Doom! You're deluding yourself!"

"I need not explain myself to a clod like you!" Doom yelled.

While they argued, Galactus became agitated. This 'Doom' was powerful. Galactus sensed power that derived from one of his heralds. Some instinct told him that things had just gotten complicated and that there might be delays in his feeding. That was unacceptable.

Galactus sent out a mental summons to his heralds. Come to me, my loyal servants. Your Master requires you!

From around the globe, the heralds heard and responded to their Master's summons.

Firelord, having been driven away from his battle with the X-Men, obeyed the call. "I come, great Master!"

Lobo, who had spent some time trapped in an energy cage created by Quasar had broken out and was looking for a rematch, when the call came. "Ahhh, of all the fraggin' bad timing! I wanted to squish that Quasar clown! Guess it'll have to wait! Okay, boss. Here comes Lobo!"

Terrax was still in the middle of a knock-down-drag-out fight with Black Bolt. The Inhuman was momentarily knocked off his feet by Terrax's last attack. Terrax meant to move in for the kill, but then he got the call. "Curse it! I am summoned! You are reprieved silent one! But we shall meet again, soon. The Master calls and I come!"

As for Black Adam, he was still fighting with his counterpart, Captain Marvel, but there was a pause in the fight.

"It's true, Captain," Black Adam said. "We were created by the same wizard. I was the first to get the gift of the six gods. I served Price Khufu in ancient Egypt. When he died, I decided to take my rightful place as the ruler of the empire. But that unimaginative, distrustful wizard didn't believe I had the right to attain my destiny. He used his power to banish me to the far corners of the universe. Galactus found me and gave me a purpose. Now, I'm home!"

"And you're going to help Galactus destroy your homeworld?" Captain Marvel asked.

"This is no longer my home," Black Adam said. "I was betrayed by the people of the Earth, and now I pay them back. For my centuries of suffering, the Earth will die!"

"I will stop you!"


They were about to lock up again, when Black Adam got the summons from Galactus. Black Adam was disappointed. "It seems that fortune smiles upon you, Captain. You will live a few minutes longer. The Master calls me. I must go."

Black Adam streaked off, hurrying to his lord and master.

"You're not getting away that easy!" Captain Marvel said, and followed, with the speed of Mercury.

Where ever Black Adam was going, Captain Marvel would be right behind him.

The American Midwest:

"I know you," the Spectre said. "I know your soul, Norrin Radd. You were not born to be a destroyer. You must defy your hated fate."

The Silver Surfer shuttered. The Spectre had struck a nerve. "You do not know me! I cannot defy Galactus."

Harbinger heard the summons. "Listen! It's him!"

"Yes, the Master is calling," the Surfer said. "We must go to him!"

"You must refuse him!" the Spectre said. "The only hope that Earth has is if you defy your master, as your soul cries out for you to do!"

"He's right," Harbinger said. "We can't do this! We can't let Earth die! It's my home!"

"Lyla," the Surfer began.

The Spectre approached. "My predecessor was an ally of yours. I am a friend as well. Let me touch you, my friend."

"Why?" the Surfer asked, suspiciously.

"To save your soul!" the Spectre said.

The Silver Surfer allowed the Spectre to touch him. With one finger, the Spectre lightly touched the Surfer's forehead.

And then, everything changed! The Surfer spasmed, overwhelmed by memories and emotions. He saw a hundred worlds die. Billions of deaths. And all his fault! The Silver Surfer was overwhelmed by emotion. He dropped to his knees, crying.

"Norrin?" Harbinger said, touching his shoulder.

"I have cured his soul," the Spectre said.


"Galactus had altered his spiritual energy," the Spectre said. "He, in essence, altered Norrin Radd's soul. He knew that such a moral man would not be able to do what Galactus needed him to do if he retained his ethic and conscience. Galactus altered him so that he could be the perfect herald. He has acted all these years with a fractured conscience. But now, he is himself again. He knows what he's done."

The Surfer cried. "All those lives! All those death's on my conscience! How can I ever atone?"

Harbinger hugged him. "It wasn't your fault, Norrin."

"You can still act to redeem yourself," the Spectre said. "You must save the Earth!"

The Surfer stood up, filled with a sudden determination. "I will! I swear it!"


Dr. Doom was still blocking the path of the JLA.

"You shall not pass!"

Green Lantern moved next to Cap. "Let me have him, Cap. I held my own with the Silver Surfer. Whatever power Doom suddenly has, he can't be too experienced with it yet. I can take him. I know it!"

Cap nodded. "He's yours."

Green Lantern approached Doom. "Okay, doc. You want to play in the cosmic league? Let's see what you've got!"

"Fool!" Doom yelled. "I will crush you under my foot!"

"Big talk," GL said. "I'm not impressed."

Doom cried out in frustrated anger and unleashed a cosmic volley against Green Lantern. But GL was ready for it, having battled the Silver Surfer. He blocked the blast with a shield and counter attacked. Doom was surprised that anyone could withstand his new power. He angrily locked up in battle with Green Lantern.

Captain America appreciated Green Lantern's distraction. "All right, team. Let's get that machine!"

Just as the JLA was about to attack the Machine, three more obstacles appeared.

Lobo, Terrax, and Firelord arrived.

"Destroy the Earthlings!" Galactus commanded.

"Yes Master," Firelord said. "We hear and obey!"

"Time to frag some human butts!" Lobo said.

Thor was still weak, when Firelord blasted him with flaming energy. Thor fell, senseless. Cap was concerned. Thor was down and Icon hadn't recovered yet. Their crew compliment was down.

Lobo saw Wonder Woman. "Hey, cutie! I'll let you live if you strip right now. Or maybe I'll just ravage you."

"You want this body?" she asked. "Here I am. Come and take it!"

"This'll be fun!" Lobo said.

He dived at Wonder Woman, and suddenly felt a powerful fist in his face. Lobo was knocked two hundred yards away.

"Pig!" Wonder Woman said, as she pursued, eager to continue the battle.

Black Adam arrived. "I'm here Master. I--"

Before he could finish his sentence, Captain Marvel slammed into him, knocking him to the ground. "You and me aren't done yet, Blackie!"

Black Adam sneered up at Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, Firelord and Terrax fought the other JLA members.

Cap looked up. Galactus was almost ready. Soon, the world would end. Cap had no other choice but to go after Galactus alone. Or die trying!

To be continued!