Ultimate Crisis

Crisis on Splitting Earths
by Chip Caroon and Bob Young

The Watcher
The Monitor
Mr. Fantastic
Captain America
Jean Grey
Martian Manhunter
Captain Britain
The Spectre

I am the Watcher. Since time immemorial, my race has beheld the many wonders of the universe. We vowed never to interfere, but we learned a terrible truth about our universe. It was not a unique occurrence. It was part of a larger multiverse.

I am the Monitor. My brothers and I have been charged with guarding the sanctity of the multiverse. We were only supposed to be guardians, although occasionally, we have been forced to get involved directly with the matters of our charges. However, we have learned that even our view of the space/time continuum was far too narrow.

Our multiverses are just part of a larger megaverse. There is no limit on infinity. But, there is danger.

"But what does this have to do with me?" Access asked. "I mean, I pretty much knew your gigs before you went all big-voice-standing-outside-of-time on me."

"You are an accident," the Monitor said, point blankly. "Our multiverses got too close together once time and you were created as a gateway."

"But you failed in your duties," the Watcher added.

"Wait a minute," Access replied, holding his hands up. "It's kind of hard to prevent cosmic armageddon. We came up with the best solution we could."

"And it worked for a time," the Watcher said. "At the cost of your life. There was no one left to watch over this new universe, to make sure it would stay together."

"But how did I come back to life?"

"In a way, you never really died," the Monitor answered. "The Axel Asher of this merged reality was never killed. However, the shockwaves of the merging prevented you from living your life. Which is how you arrived in that hospital, unaware of the world, and unable to protect it."

"So, when Galactus came to feed, that caused the disturbance that started ripping reality apart?"

"Precisely," both beings replied in unison.

"But why Earth? Why wasn't anything affected on the other planets that Galactus fed off of?"

"Earth is the central divergent point of all reality," the Monitor said. "That is where the nexus resides."

"You keep saying that me and my world are a mistake. But you also sound like the merging was supposed to happen."

"We cannot say whether or not the merging should have happened or not," the Watcher replied. "But it was done. It is a part of the megaverse."

"Both universes that gave birth to the merged reality have gone through transformations, where their own multiverses were realigned," the Monitor added.

"So, you're saying that the problem is not with a merged reality, but with only having one?" Access asked.

"I suppose that sums it up nicely," the Monitor replied. "The only way to save your world now is to split it up."

"But won't that defeat the purpose of the original merging?"

"No, young one," the Watcher answered. "Because it will not be split up in the original configurations."

"One single universe was never designed to hold so many heroes or villains," the Monitor said. "That allows for too much power to run around unchecked, and far too much responsibility for whomever is deemed the guardian."

"Where does that leave me?" Access wondered.

"Your place will be determined once the dust settles," the Monitor replied. "It is far too early to know your fate."

"And what happens to the heroes? Do they get save the day, or are we responsible for hitting the big reboot button?"

"They have already lost once on this day," the Watcher said. "It was only through the machinations of Dr. Doom and the timely return of Superman that turned the tide."

"You're saying Dr. Doom sent Superman back in time to save the world?"

The Watcher nodded. "We believe is was that violent use of chronal energy was what woke you up."

"So, what happened?" Access repeated.

"Look," the Watcher said, as both he and the Monitor gestured behind them, where Access was able have a glance of some sort of vision. He was not sure if it was a portal or a spell, or what, but he did not care.

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

Watcher, I think we have covered this part quite well.

True, but this part is vital to understanding what comes next.

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

This is after Superman made the trip back in time? (Oh, wow, I have a big voice now.)

Correct, the first time, Galactus succeeded in feeding.

So, this alternate Earth that Richards is viewing . . .

Is simply the same world he is on, only a few minutes into the future.

But two versions of the same being cannot occupy the same space!

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.

Reed quickly figured out where the second Galactus had come from, but hesitated on developing a course of action.

That hesitation proved deadly, as one Galactus reached out and touched the other Galactus. And as Reed predicted . . . there was chaos!

This is where we left the timestream . . .

More or less . . .

The world was in chaos. Ever since the two alternate versions of Galactus had touched, an anomaly was created. Temporal and dimensional walls had broken down and everything was falling apart.

Even the two versions of Galactus had vanished into the ether. If the top of the universal food chain could just vanish, what would happen to the rest of the world?

The other four Heralds of Galactus didn't know what to do now. Without their master to serve, they were at liberty to do whatever they wanted.

Firelord had no taste for this and so went off into space. Black Adam decided to continue his battle with Captain Marvel. As for Lobo and Terrax, they both loved anarchy and destruction. They decided to stay on Earth and add to the chaos.

Reed Richards felt so frustrated at the situation. True, he had managed to save the world, but he had also inadvertently caused all this. He had to think of a way to make it right. But in the meantime, all he could do was damage control.

"Is this where the split occurs?" Access asked.

"The simplest answer is yes," the Monitor replied. "There is still work to be done before we can hit the "reset button" as you call it."

"The key to the heroes' salvation, though, comes from the Spectre," the Watcher added. "The former Doc Savage will give our heroes the clue that will result in the end."

"Where do they find him?" Access asked.

"A pocket reality has been created in the spot where Galactus died," the Watcher answered. "A group of heroes found a very weak Spectre there."

Here we have seven heroes who have traveled to this strange dimension. Captain America, Captain Britain, Jean Grey, Batman, Cyclops, Martian Manhunter, and Leslie Tiu-Yun-Chen of the Midnight Sons. They have just stepped through a portal.

There was a moment of dizzying surreal otherworldliness, and then it seemed they were back in reality again. They were back in London, but a fully repaired London. And unnaturally quiet.

"It felt like some sort of transporter beam," J'Onn said. "Or a massive shift in consciousness to a non corporeal state."

"Or maybe neither," Captain America said. "Let's look around and see what's what."

"Look!" Jean said, pointing up.

The sky began to take on strange images. Scenes played themselves out.

"It looks like a movie," Cyclops said.

"That's no ordinary movie," Leslie replied. "It looks like the book of Revelation."

"You tread on dangerous territory, child."

Leslie ignored the voice of her dead grandfather, as she was so used to doing.

"They might be clues of some kind, "Batman said. "Maybe someone is sending us a message."

"Hopefully we have an ally here somewhere," Cap said. "Let's keep going."

As they walked, they kept running into familiar sights. Jean pointed to a place she knew well. "That's the X-Men's mansion. But it can't be. We're in London."

Captain America pointed. "And there's the Hall of Justice. How can they all be in the same place?"

Captain Britain noticed the Empire State building standing next to Big Ben. "I don't think this is London. I think this is . . . everywhere!"

"He may be right," Batman said. "This mini world that was created between portals might be closing. There are buildings here from all over the world. This pocket dimension is collapsing in on itself."

"Then we don't have much time," Cap said. "Let's hurry and find out what - if anything - we can do here."

Cap marched with unnatural confidence. If he was at all frightened or confused, he gave no outward sign at all. Even Batman was impressed by him. There was only one Captain America.

Jean Grey pointed. "I'm sensing something over there. A powerful mind."

"Let's check it out," Cap said.

They saw a faint glow coming from an area that looked like a churchyard. St. Paul's, St. Patrick's, Notre Dame, and just about every other church, combing into one. A blurring merging of the greatest religious citadels on Earth.

The group hesitated, stunned, when they came upon the gigantic form of the Spectre, who was lying on the churchyard ground. He seemed weak, unable to stand. This was not the omnipotent, all powerful Spectre they were used to. Something had happened to him.

"It's him!" Leslie exclaimed, in awe. "It's really him! The Spectre!"

Captain America was more used to the Spectre that the others. He had known both the Spectre and his host - Clark Savage - since World War Two. He approached the giant mystic being.

"Spectre," Captain America said. "Clark. It's me, Captain America. Can you hear me?"

The Spectre nodded slightly. "Captain," he said weakly. "I've been expecting you. The collision of . . . the two universes has hit me rather hard. I am doing . . . my best to stabilize the dimensional energies, but it is taking the remainder of my strength. I am . . . too weak, too tired to do . . . what must be done."

"What is it?" Cap asked. "What must be done?"

"Those signs and portents that appeared in the air," Batman said. "They were clues, weren't they? The book of Revelation."

The Spectre nodded. "The end times. The apocalypse. The seventh seal has been opened. Doom has arrived."

"What can we do?" the Martian Manhunter asked.

"Revelation twenty two," the Spectre said. "Verses one and two."

Leslie stepped forward and started reciting. "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the midst of the street, on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations."

The Spectre continued with the beginning of the third verse. "And there . . . shall be . . . no more . . . curse . . . " With that, he closed his eyes and said nothing else.

"Spectre!" Cap said, "Tell us what we're supposed to do?"

"He can't hear you," the Manhunter said. "He's in a trance."

"He probably needs to focus all his energies," Jean said. "The Professor used to do that when he needed full concentration."

"So what do we do next?" Captain Britain asked.

"We need to figure out the clues," Batman said. "Revelation."

Cyclops looked around. "The place seems to be getting smaller and smaller every second. Maybe we should think about getting out of here."

Cap nodded. "I agree. We've learned all we can here. Let's talk back in our own world."

"The apocalypse?" Access exclaimed. "We're witnessing the apocalypse?"

"Not as religion has it be told," the Watcher said. "But these are end times."

"Many warriors and champions have learned that there is such a thing as a plural form of the word 'apocalypse'," the Monitor added. "Our heroes have now gathered on Dowling Street in London, in the office of the Prime Minister."

"The ones in the pocket reality?" Access asked.

"Yes, plus Reed Richards," the Watcher replied.

"I know that this has been a recurring theme ever since the first sign of the heralds, but this time, time really is running out," Reed was saying.

"What do you mean?" Cap asked.

"The way you described the shrinking space in the void," Reed began. "Dimensional compression in an enclosed area. It will continue to fold in on itself until it collapses into singularity. The two worlds will be connected by a black hole."

"And both shall be drawn inexorably into the inescapable void," J'Onn said "Both worlds will be crushed in the wake of its incalculable gravity."

"Precisely," Reed said. "And from the rate that the void was shrinking, it could only be a matter of hours before the worst occurs."

"I can't accept that!" Cap said. "I will not yield to tyrants!"

Batman stood in the corner, pondering the prophetic words the Leslie had spoken on the Spectre's behalf.

"A pure river of life . . . " he muttered.

"Clear as crystal," Leslie added. "Coming from the throne of God. What could it -- ?"

"Crystal?" Reed interrupted. "I took the opportunity for a brief examination of the device Galactus lowered from his ship. I squeezed myself inside. I found that most of the mechanisms were powered by some type of crystalline object. Strangely, they didn't large enough to contain such power and they weren't warm. I assume that they were receiving power from somewhere else. There must be another power source, transmitting to them. Possibly from Galactus' ship."

"Invisible energy," the Martian Manhunter said. "Clear as crystal. Bringing to the crystals to life."

"The energy beam is the river of life!" Captain Britain said.

"And Galactus' ship is the throne of God!" Batman said. "The Spectre is trying to tell us that Galactus' own devices are the key to saving both worlds."

"A tree of life on both sides of the river," Leslie said. "Life preserved on both sides of the void. And then, no more curses. The crisis will end!"

"But how do we use them?" Reed wondered. "Randomly examining Galactus' devices could take years, let alone hours. We need something more specific."

"What was that part about fruit and trees?" Cyclops asked.

"The tree bore twelve fruits," Leslie replied. "Each one bearing its fruit every month. Twelve months in a year."

"Obviously the number twelve is significant," Reed said. "I just wish I knew why."

"The herald's devices," Cap suggested. "Six heralds and six devices. Doubled by the Alternate universe. That's twelve devices."

"What do those devices do exactly?" Cyclops asked.

"I would guess that they are energy absorbers," Reed said. "Draining all the energy in the area and transmitting it to Galactus' device, so he could feed."

"So, if we can figure out how we can use -- " Cap began.

"Wait!" Reed said, loudly. "I have it! For those devices to work on every planet, every species, every plant or animal, every mechanism, they must be capable of absorbing any type of energy known to the universe. That would mean that they could also absorb dimensional energy. And gravity! If so, they could be set to reverse, and to repel those energies. We could create a sort of . . . dam! A dam against the black hole. It's only a temporary stopgap, but it will buy us some time. A few days, perhaps!"

So, a plan is hatched.

And the heroes got to work.

Although, it was up to Richards to do most of the work. He had to set up cross-dimensional communications to contact the heroes stranded in the future universe.

Iron Man reversed the polarity of the neutron flow in Galactus' devices. Both sides worked on creating a global nexus point, a focus for the power of the device, and then aimed it at the vortex.

On both sides, the dimensional/gravitational dams hummed to life, producing massive power. Power enough to keep a black hole in check. At least for a while.

They succeeded none too soon. The pocket world collapsed in on itself only minutes after they were done with their project. A black hole appeared and if it had not been for Galactus' devices, both worlds would have been drawn in and destroyed. As it was, the threat was only put off by a matter of days or hours.

"Well done, Reed," Cap said. "You bought us some time. And that may be all we need to save the world."

"We'll need a lot more than time," Reed said. "We'll need a brilliant idea."

"Have you got any left?" Cap asked, hopefully.

"I wish I did," Reed answered. "I'll still working on it. I still think Galactus' own mechanisms might be the key."

Superman returned from his errands of rescue, and rejoined the group of assembled super beings. He looked around, and saw . . . her!

"Jean," he whispered.

She had seen him descending and walked to where he was. "Clark, I was hoping to see you again, but I didn't think it would be like this."

"Are you all right?" he asked, with that earnestness she so loved.

"Better for seeing you," she said. "I'm glad you're here."

Superman embraced his red haired former lover. He'd missed her.

"I need to get up to that ship," Reed said. "I think our answer must lie there."

Superman's incredible hearing picked up the comment. "Excuse me, Jean." He reluctantly left her and rushed to Reed's side.

"I heard what you said, Professor," Superman said. "Can I give you a lift? You may need some help if you meet resistance."

"Thank you, Superman," Reed said. "We'll do this together. You and I."

They approached Galactus' ship. The smartest man in the world and the most powerful hero on Earth. They were surprised that they met no resistance. No force fields or missiles or any such defense.

"This is too easy," Superman said.

"Perhaps the disappearance of Galactus has caused his ship to go into shut down mode," Reed suggested. "There does seem to be a strange symbiotic connection between them. At any rate, let's try that airlock. It seems as good an entry point as any."

Superman forced the airlock open. No alarms. No defenses were activated. Superman had a bad feeling. Reed was cautious as he walked through the ship, but he left their defense up to Superman. Reed was focused on finding something in this ship that would help them destroy a black hole.

"We'll need something of immense power," Reed said. "Something unheard of in our science."

As they turned a corner, a robot stood in their path. Superman snapped into a defensive, but the robot did not move.

"It doesn't seem to be active," Reed said. He examined it more closely. "Yes, like everything else here, it seems to have gone into an inactive energy saving cycle. Apparently nothing here functions without direct commands from Galactus."

"I'm not complaining," Superman said. "Let's just get this over with. The sooner we're out of this place, the happier I'll be."

"You and I both, my friend," Reed said.

Superman tried to use his x-ray vision, but foreign materials in the walls of Galactus' ship blocked his view. He could have searched with his super speed, but quite frankly, he didn't know what he was looking for. Reed was better qualified to figure out what they needed.

They entered a chamber, wherein they found a dozen transparent booths, that seemed like glass but weren't. Inside the booths floated hunks of glowing rocks, approximately the size of a basketball.

"I wonder what these are," Reed commented.

Superman studied them with his x-ray vision. He was surprised. "If I didn't know better, I'd say they were bits of dwarf star. I've seen quite a few in my space travels and I'd swear these are the same molecular structure."

"Highly unlikely," Reed said. "The gravity would be -- "

"Wait a minute!" Superman said. "Something is not right about these pieces of dwarf star. They look to be even denser than usual."

"That would make the gravity incredible," Reed said. "I don't think . . . "

Reed touched a console. Without knowing it, he had found the translation matrix. He felt a wave of dizziness. As he balanced himself, he saw the foreign words on the wall. The words suddenly made sense to him. Something was translating them.

Compression Chamber: Dwarf Stars.

"Compression?" Reed said, thinking about what Superman had said about the molecular structure being denser than usual. Reeds eyes popped open in amazement. "No! It can't be! That's madness!"

"What is?" Superman asked. "What do you know that I don't?"

"I don't know if it's possible, and yet, the evidence is right here!" Reed said.

"What evidence?" Superman asked. "What's going on? Spill it, Doc."

Reed seemed taken aback. "I know it seems beyond belief, but I think these really are dwarf stars. Not fragments, but compressed dwarf stars, shrunken with their mass intact."

"That can't be," Superman said. "Can it? The gravity would be crushing. I don't think even I could survive that."

Reed looked at the booths, amazed. "Unless they are all counter-balanced in such a precisely calculated way that they neutralize each others pull while in close proximity. That would be the most astonishing feat of engineering ever known! Beyond the ken of our science!"

"How much power could something like this produce?" Superman asked.

"Incalculable," Reed said. "It would be greater than the power of a sun. Or of a . . . "

"A dwarf star?" Superman suggested.

Reed nodded. "Precisely."

"Then I guess we've found our weapon!" Superman said.

Reed considered the possibility. "If we brought Galactus' ship into the black hole, the massive increase in gravity would most likely upset the delicate balance that keeps the dwarf stars in check. Their own immense gravity would break out, and be greater than the black hole itself."

"And then what would happen?" Superman asked.

Reed looked almost meek. "Superman . . . I don't have the slightest idea. This is beyond me."

"Any guesses?"

Reed shook his head. "I hate to guess, especially when it's this important."

"We're running out of time," Superman said. "Your gravity dams could break at any time. We need to do something daring and we need to do it quick. We don't know how much time we have left. So tell me, in your scientific opinion - even if it's just a guess - what is the most likely consequence of unleashing these dwarf stars within the black hole."

Reed hesitated. "Best guess? One of two things. Either the power of the dwarf stars will plug up the black hole like a cave in blocking the mouth of a cave, thereby protecting Earth from any harmful effects of the black hole's gravity, but separating the two Earths permanently."

"And the other likely circumstance?"

"The black hole will turn into a white hole," Reed said. "Everything it has ever absorbed - time, space, matter, gravity - will all be released, rewriting reality around us. The result of such an event is beyond predicting. There are too many variables."

"I see," Superman said. "It's a big gamble. Either way, life as we know it is over."

"I might add that neither of those possibilities may come to pass," Reed said. "There are worse scenarios. Some of which end with both Earths being destroyed."

Suddenly, the ship shuttered, as if it were experiencing turbulence.

"What the . . . ?" Superman said.

Reed got a call on his communication wristband. "Reed, this is Cap! Emergency!"

"Richards here," Reed said. "What's happening?"

"The dams are giving way!" Cap said. "Gravity is increasing. SHIELD scientists and Jay Garrick both estimate that we only have minute before the pressure becomes lethal. Within an hour, we'll be sucked into the black hole. If you've found anything, use it now!"

"We have working theory," Reed said. "But it's risky. We don't -- "

"The hell with the risk!" Cap said. "The world is about to be sucked into a black hole and no one else has a clue what to do about it! Whatever your idea is, we've got nothing to lose! I have permission from every single government on Earth to authorize whatever action I deem necessary. So I'm telling you now - whatever your plan is . . . do it!!"

"All right," Reed said. "Heaven help us all!"

"It looks like we take the gamble," Superman added.

Reed nodded. "No more time for caution or theory. Let's do it!"

Superman shook his head. "Not us."

With amazing speed, he struck Reed, knocking him unconscious. He quickly flew the unconscious scientist back to Earth, where he got a glimpse of the growing panic. He had to act fast.

With all his strength, he pushed Galactus' ship toward the black hole. Closer and closer.

"Goodbye, everyone," he thought. "Goodbye Jean."

He pushed the ship into the black hole. Everyone watched in shock as the massive vessel entered the black hole.

The ship vanished from sight. As Reed predicted, the gravitational upheaval caused the dwarf star to burst from their bonds, unleashing unprecedented amounts of gravity. The power disrupted the black hole in astonishing ways.

That would be your "reset button."

So, that's it? Superman pushes a big ship into a hole? What happens next?

Time is rewritten. Not completely written over, but repaired.

So, everything that happened in this world still happened?

For the most part. Here, we have the birth of the newest multiverse. The heroes from this world have been separated onto several Earths.

They still remember most of what has happened to them, but some parts of it might be hazy, like a dream.

Some find themselves reborn, and remember none of their past life. It is as if certain wrongs of this world have been corrected.

Metropolis, USA

"But what he says is nothing new," Clark Kent said, taking another sip of coffee. "I've been hearing that in the back of my head for almost a decade now."

"Uh huh." Lana Lang was cautious in her response, and it helped that she had just bitten off another generous portion of her strawberry muffin.

"But I just don't know anymore, Lana," Clark continued. "I've been wandering for years, trying to find my place in this world, and I just can't. I'm no superman, I'm just a Kansas farmboy."

"So, what do you want me to say?" Lana asked, swallowing the muffin. "Do you want me to tell you to ignore your gifts and come back to Smallville, or to stick it out in Metropolis and see what happens?"

"It was so easy in Smallville. Helping people. But here, it's such a big place. Trying to keep it subtle . . . it's not working."

"Clark, I'm not going to lie to you. You don't belong in Smallville anymore."

"But – "

Lana raised a hand to silence Clark. "Let me finish. None of us belong in Smallville anymore. You, me, Pete, Chloe. It was nice while we were there, but there's nothing there for us to move on to. Unless you really want to be a farmer your whole life."

Clark sighed, staring past Lana, but still taking note of her red hair. It brought back memories of high school -- their first date, the first kiss, the night he shared his secret, the day both realized that they could never work out. "Maybe I do," he whispered.

Lana shook her head. "No you don't. And nothing against your dad, but even he knew that you wouldn't grow up to take over the Kent Farm. He was the first to see your potential."

"It's not hard to see potential in a super powered alien," Clark rebutted.

"I'm not talking about that, silly. You're brilliant, Clark. You needed to move away from Smallville and get out in the world, establish your own identity. Your little world tour after college was probably the best thing you could have done."

"I can't shake the feeling that this isn't where I'm supposed to be."

"Then why haven't you left?"

That was Superman, as a rookie. But, not hanging with the X-Men.

You are correct. Clark Kent has been reborn.

But what of the X-Men?

For them, life will continue on mostly as it did before, for the most part.

But with Superman in his new life --

They will remember a good friend having been there, but left. Just remember, for every hero that gets a new life, there are others for whom life continues on as it did before, with few changes.

New York City, night

Spider-Man landed a block away from the wreckage of Oscorp and covertly switched back to Peter Parker. He wasn't sure who had called him, and if they knew they were talking to Spider-Man as well.

As he walked closer to the charred ruins formerly known as Oscorp, Peter remembered the last time he had been there. It was there that he had begun his quest for the truth about his parents. It did not take Peter long to determine that whatever led to their disappearance was also connected to Norman Osborn, and his latest drug experiment, Oz.

Peter toured the remains. Plenty of debris had been cleared away since his last visit. He doubted he would be able to find any further clues.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Peter turned around, not prepared for who was addressing him.

"Harry? Um, well, I got a phone call."

Harry's expression went from confrontational to surprised. "Phone call? Hmm. Me too. But I can understand why someone would want me here. But not you."

"They said something about my parents."

"Haven't they been dead for years?"

"Or so I've been told."

"So, I wonder who called," Harry mused.

Almost immediately, he was answered by an eerie laugh, almost a cackle. It seemed to echo around the entire complex.

"What's that?" Harry asked.

"Oh, no," Peter said, recognizing the sound. "Not him."

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and first earth had passed away . . .

"What about this Crisis?" Access asked. "Will the heroes remember it?"

"Not as it happened," the Monitor answered. "But they will remember a large gathering of heroes to defeat Galactus."

"In the end, Reed Richards still saved the day," the Watcher said.

"Or Superman, depending on who is remembering it."

"Sounds confusing," Access said.

"It is not our place to judge that," the Watcher said. "For many of our heroes, this is but a minor footnote in their story."

"Many are far too concerned with other matters in their lives to really dwell on the Galactus crisis anyway," the Monitor added.

"True enough. But what of my place in these new worlds?" Access asked.

"It is your responsibility to regulate the boundaries between the dimensions," the Monitor replied. "Travel is allowed, but too much of it will weaken the boundaries. And we have seen far too many times what happens when that occurs."

"It usually results in one of us dying," Access said. "So, I guess we got some time to kill, until the multiverse finishes resetting itself?"

"I suppose we do," the Watcher answered.

"Well, then . . . " Access used his powers to create a doorway. He opened the door and gestured for the Watcher and Monitor to walk through. "Might I suggest a drink?"

The Watcher and Monitor looked at each other, and then walked through the doorway. Access followed behind them.

"Gentlemen, welcome to the Continuum Cafe."

The End.

Next: The DCM Earth has been split! Now, follow the adventures of Earth-1 at DCM Knights, with Spider-Man #39 and Adventures of Superman #1, and the adventures of Earth-2 at DCM Zone with Action Comics #1! Don't worry, we'll explain it when we get there! Meanwhile, the Midnight Sons continue their fight against evil at DCM Vertigo, and there are always plenty of great Golden Age stories at Timely Comics!

Ending an Epic

Granted, when this was planned as a multi-title crossover, it was going to be long. Since the first half of the event was just going to be heroes vs. heralds, those battles would take entire issues, instead of just a few scenes. However, when the saga was condensed down into one series, I had no idea it was going to balloon to 12 issues. (Okay, I admit, I wrote #7 completely from scratch in the course of a night as an interlude -- and an excuse to use "Final Night" as a title -- to showcase those characters that we do not see much in the final battle.)

Believe me, there were so many suggestions on how to end it, we could have easily made this a 20-issue series. I sort of brought up a lot of them, exploring the aftermath of Galactus's appearance on Earth. In the notes at the end of the first issue, I mentioned one of our ideas when this was still a crossover was to kill off a major character. That character would have been Wonder Woman. Later on, I thought, there always needs to be a Galactus, so what if she was recast in that role? (Galacta?) Also, some ideas involving the Celestials that originated with the Universe X saga at Marvel also ran amok in my head.

One ending that I thought we were going to go with for a while was to incorporate elements and characters from Infinite Crisis. Earth-2 Superman would show up, and Superboy-Prime's continuity shattering punches would have been introduced. But then, it was getting to the point that the story was getting complex enough. And we already had enough reality shattering plot points and characters.

In the end, we chose the best ending that could wrap things up the quickest and allow us to get back to our regular series. And now, you can go read those series. Some of which, we have snuck some previews into the story above.

As I was editing the series, I came up with the idea for all of the individual issue titles to come either from major DC or Marvel crossovers, or from issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths. This issue's title is a nod to both that maxi-series and DCM's own Crisis on Merging Earths back in 2000.

-Chip Caroon