Ultimate Crisis

Time and Time Again
by Chip Caroon and Bob Young

Captain America
Mr. Fantastic
Silver Surfer
Jean Grey
The Watcher
Black Adam
Dr. Doom

Galactus was nearly ready to activate his machine – one that would suck the life out of the world!


Captain America felt a sense of deja vu wash over him as he climbed the tower, watching the JLA in the middle of a stalemate with the heralds. He was alone to stop Galactus. The deja vu caused a sense of dread, followed by a sense of relief. It was an odd feeling, but Cap ignored it and moved on.

Nearby, Batman watched Cap go. He knew what the star-spangled hero was up to. The dark knight admired Cap's boundless courage. No wonder he was a living legend.

Batman had been tending to rescue operations. He knew Galactus and his heralds were out of his league in a face-to-face confrontation. He watched, looking for weakness. If he spotted any, he would formulate a plan and recruit his teammates to carry it out. In the meantime, he silently wished Cap luck and continued rescuing people in the area caught in the crossfire.

On top of Big Ben, Cap stepped out into the presence of the infinitely powerful alien being. He repressed a shutter and did what he had to do.

"Galactus! As long as one member of the Justice League of Avengers is standing, you haven't won! We will not give up and we have never been beaten. Your heralds can't stop us. So why don't you negotiate as Wonder Woman asked you to!"

Galactus looked down at Cap. "Your foolish audacity is beyond belief, human. I would find it amusing were it not so vexing. Your courage is laudable but you are deluded in your belief that the will of Galactus can be thwarted by the likes of you. Go away, little flea. It is time for Galactus to feed!"

"You've never seen human courage and determination before, have you?" Cap asked. "Well, learn what makes us great!"

Cap threw his shield, and it rebounded harmlessly off Galactus. Galactus sneered down, annoyed. This human was courageous but disrespectful. With a mere effort of will, Galactus mentally summoned one of the service droids from out of the device. It leaped with gravity defying alacrity and landed on top of Big Ben, at Galactus' feet.

It attacked Captain America. The star-spangled hero put up his shield to defend himself. But before the droid could attack, Cap felt himself flying.

"What the–?!" he wondered aloud as he saw the red and blue blur surrounding him.

"I'm Superman, Captain. And I'm here to save the world. But I need you to be safe."

"Son, I've been fighting battles like this my whole life."

"Not quite like this," Superman said, placing Captain America on the ground.

Meanwhile, up above, Galactus began activating his machine. Long tentacles stretched out of the machine and reached down to the ground. They drilled into the ground and down into the Earth's core. Galactus was satisfied. His machine began to hum more. In just a few more seconds, it would be ready for its task . . . to suck the Earth dry!

Galactus sensed something. He looked up and saw Harbinger and the Silver Surfer arriving. "Where have you two been? I summoned you some time ago? Why did you not come?"

"Murderer!" the Silver Surfer yelled. "Monster! Slayer of worlds! Executioner of billions! You are an abomination!"

"What is this?" Galactus asked, confused by this atypical behavior. "Have you gone mad? I am your master."

"You are my personal devil!" the Silver Surfer yelled. "You tempted me into becoming as evil as you are! But that is past, and I now defy you!"

Harbinger was by his side. "We stand united against you. You must not destroy the Earth!"

"This is beyond belief!" Galactus bellowed. "The slave gives orders to the master! How dare you? I give you the opportunity to beg my forgiveness or I will make you suffer horribly for it!"

"You are a universal aberration!" the Surfer yelled. "I will stand against you, until my last breath!"

The Silver Surfer unleashed his cosmic power against his former master. The city was bathed in the glow of his massive energies. Meanwhile, Harbinger multiplied herself, prepared to back the Surfer up, should he need it. She knew he was the more powerful and allowed him to take the initiative. But she was determined to do her part to save her world.

Below, Reed Richards stepped out of his portal and set up his equipment in a hurry. He needed to find a world to banish Galactus to. He hoped that the Silver Surfer could give him a few minutes more.

Alas, it was not to be!

Within fifteen seconds, Galactus had become furious and lost his patience with his former heralds. With a wave of his hand, he stripped both the Surfer and Harbinger of their cosmic powers. They fell to the ground, helpless.

Silver Surfer reached out to touch Harbinger's hand. They tenderly clasped hands as they waited for the end to come.

But it didn't come!

Suddenly, Superman came flying into the fray, with all the momentum and power he could muster. He was determined to change things! He would not let the world down this time!

He rammed into Galactus' face. He caused the space god to miss his intended victims. Galactus rubbed his face. Whoever had hit him, he was strong.

"Richards! Now! Do it now!" Superman yelled at the top of his lungs.

Superman attacked Galactus again, using his amazing speed to keep out of Galactus' line of fire. He continually hit-and-ran, stinging Galactus like an annoying insect.

Reed Richards used the distraction to finish what he was planning. His dimensional monitor finally found an uninhabited alternate Earth.

Unbeknownst to Reed, his monitor was picking up the barren alternate timeline that Superman had just come from - a world where Galactus had succeeded in devouring the Earth just moments before.

Activating his device - which was power by a combination of a nuclear core and a sample of the Starheart given to him by Alan Scott - Reed silently prayed it would work out.

As Galactus tried to swat the fast moving Superman, he was too distracted to notice the portal opening behind him.

Until it was too late. The portal was there and it was big enough to fit Galactus in. Superman took the hint. With his heat vision, he destroyed the top of the tower, causing Galactus to topple over.

Galactus levitated himself, but he no longer had firm footing. This gave Superman a chance. The man of steel rammed into Galactus and shoved him into the portal.

Galactus was halfway through the portal, trying to use his levitation powers to resist Superman's momentum. The Kryptonian hero pushed as hard as possible, hoping to force Galactus into the other dimension.

And then something uncanny happened. Something unimaginable!

Looking through the portal to the barren Earth, Galactus, Reed, and Superman all saw another Galactus!

In the alternate timeline, this Galactus had just finished devouring the planet.

"What about this jerk, master? Do we frag 'em?" the alternate Lobo was asking.

The alternate Galactus thought for a moment. "Yes, he too must die. He has dared steal the precious cosmic gift that it is Galactus' alone to dispense. I will not tolerate such disrespect. Destroy him!"

The alternate Doom pleaded with the heralds, but it did no good, and they converged on him savagely, each being far superior masters of the power cosmic.

Galactus watched from the portal and enjoyed the sensation of the new life energy.

Just then, the alternate Galactus spotted the Galactus from the portal. He didn't understand what he was seeing and came closer.

"Oh no!" Reed said. "They mustn't touch! The same object can't coexist with itself without creating an anomaly. And a being as cosmic as Galactus is too powerful. And too important in his universal scope! If the two of them should touch, they'd create an anomaly that could cause unpredictable temporal consequences!"

"What should I do?" Superman asked.

Reed hesitated. They couldn't allow Galactus to come back to our world, but they couldn't let hin touch the other either.

He waited too long. One Galactus reached out and touched the other Galactus. And as Reed predicted . . . there was chaos!

A hospital, somewhere in the world . . .

Axel Asher had been in a coma for what seemed like forever. None of the doctors or nurses could really remember when he was admitted, just that they had been checking on him everyday as long as they had been there. No family ever came to visit. If it was not for the paperwork hanging on his bed, no one would even remember his name.

Nearly every conscious person in the hospital was glued to the nearest television set, keeping tabs on the heroes' struggles in London. They wanted to know if there would still be a world to wake up in. If Axel had been a normal patient, his awakening would not have gone noticed by this highly distracted staff.

Instead, when Axel awoke, he did so with a huge flash of light that illuminated the entire hallway.

"Gaah!" he shouted, as he opened his eyes for what seemed like the first time, sitting up in bed.

Axel looked around at his surroundings. It only took seconds to register he was in a hospital. Only a few seconds more to rip off all of the needles and gadgets the nurses had placed on him. Then, in one dramatic motion, he stood up and his clothing suddenly changed from a simple hospital gown into a complex black, red, and blue costume.

"It's all wrong!" he exclaimed.

Just then, the first batch of nurses came rushing into the room. "You're awake!" one of them shouted.

Axel looked down at his hands, then at the nurses gathered at the door. "But I . . . I died. I remember dying. How did I get here?"

"Um . . . " The nurses all looked at each other. None of them had any satisfactory answer. "You've been here for years, Mr. Asher," one of them finally said. "Longer than I've been here."

Axel shook his head. "No . . . I am Access." He looked up and walked over to the nurse that spoke. "Quick, name some of the heroes in this world."

"Heroes?" she asked.

"Yes, superheroes, those that save the world."

"You mean like Captain America and the JLA?"

Access's eyes grew wide. "Captain America and the JLA? Together?"

"Um, sure. He's been their leader since they reformed about a year ago. Well, back then they were still the Avengers League."

"They did merge," Access muttered. "That's how this happened."

Just then, everyone in the room, in the hospital, even everyone in the world felt something. No one could ever properly describe what it was. It felt like the building shook, but on an atomic level. But it wasn't just that, because they could feel it in every single atom in their own bodies.

Access turned his head quickly to the television in his room. It had been left on by the last nurse to check his vitals. Within seconds, he had grasped the basic concept of what was going on.

"Galactus," he said, turning and running toward the window. In one acrobatic motion, he leapt through the window, completely shattering it, and started flying toward London. He may not have known where he was, or which way to go, but he could sense the great power gathered and simply followed that.

Damn fools have brought about the end of the world, he thought. Again.

In London, the earth started shaking.

A small jet landed unnoticed amid the ruckus. It belonged to the X-Men. Out of the small craft stepped the X-Men's resident telepath Jean Grey, and her new ally Cyclops.

"Here's where the action's at!" Beast yelled from the cockpit.

"So we noticed," Wolverine said, finishing another beer and tossing the can aside.

Cyclops looked around. "Well, there's more than enough for us to do here."

"Maybe not," Iceman said, placing his hand on Cyclops' shoulder and pointing skyward. "It looks like things are about to end real quick, and we're on the losing side."

Beast walked out of the jet with a beer can in each hand. He gave one to Wolverine.

"Yup, looks like an ‘oh $#!+' moment to me too," Wolverine said in reply.

"Two Galactuses?" Jean asked. "How did that happen?"

"I don't know," Iceman replied, "but I'm suddenly remembering TimeCop all of a sudden."

Above, the two Galactus beings touched, and the energy wave shook the entire city, perhaps the entire continent. The X-Men all fell down.

"Dammit!" Wolverine exclaimed, jumping up and extending his claws. "That was my last beer!"

Access flew into London above all the chaos. He arrived just as the two Galactus beings touched. He was getting ready to pick up speed, when two beings appeared in his way.

"Watcher!" he exclaimed, looking at the bald one with white and blue robes. He then turned his attention to the pink skinned one. "And . . . Monitor?"

"Yes," the Monitor said. "I am a Monitor. And things are not right here."

"A Monitor? But you died in the first Crisis!"

"Death is but a relative thing for the guardians of all space and time."

I don't have time for his games. Access turned to the Watcher. "I thought you guys weren't supposed to interfere!"

"We are not," the Watcher replied.

"You're keeping me from helping."

"You cannot help, young one," the Monitor said. "This is not your battle."

"Then why was I awoken?"

"There are greater things for you, and this is but the catalyst," the Watcher answered. "To see the new beginning, you must see the ending."

"I thought that happened at the last Crisis."

Both the Watcher and Monitor shook their heads. "That was just a temporary measure to ensure survival," the Watcher replied. "The merging of two worlds into one. But they were never meant to be one."

"This earth threatens the sanctity of the fifty-two," the Monitor added.

"52?" Access asked, thoroughly confused.

"That part is not important, young one," the Monitor answered. "Come with us. We shall explain it all to you.

"In time."

Next issue: The mind blowing double-size finale as DCM's final fate is finally revealed! Is this really the end, or just a new beginning? It's the moment you've been waiting for, and the ending you never expected!