And now for a brief detour. When I came to write Starfire’s entry for The Graduates series of posts I realised that a lot of her recent history led back to 52. Last summer I ran a series of posts under the banner “52 in 52” charting the return of the Multiverse in 52. The idea of 52 was that it chronicled a missing year of stories in a weekly, year-long series written by the cream of DC’s talent – Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. However, the Multiverse was just one of the plot lines in 52. The one I’m interested in today is one I’m calling the “The Lost.” These are the adventures of Animal Man, Adam Strange, and Starfire as they try to make their way back to Earth.
Infinite Crisis Recap.
Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime were survivors from the first Multiverse (from back before it was compressed down into a single Universe with a single Earth). They moved entire star systems to create the cosmic alignment they needed to engineer the return of their Multiverse. This caused chaos among the interstellar empires and spawned a war between Rann and Thanagar. Many other races were pulled into the Rann-Thanagar conflict, but it was dwarfed by the growing spatial anomaly created by Luthor’s manipulations of reality. Superheroes from the planet Earth and the Green Lantern Corps managed to stop his insane plans. Unknown to anybody at the time a new Multiverse of 52 Universes had been created, the revelation and the mystery of which would play out over the following 52 weeks.
Adam Strange (the human defender of Rann) tried to save the Earth heroes from Luthor’s collapsing space rift by teleporting them away using Zeta-Beam technology. There was an accident, a refraction of the Zeta-Beam with the spatial and temporal distortions, that scattered the heroes through space and time. Most arrived back on Earth with strange injuries (Hawkgirl was turned into a giant), but Supergirl was catapulted a thousand years into the future. Starfire (Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran or Kory for short), Animal Man (Buddy Baker of Earth) and Adam Strange were less fortunate.
Pursued by Devilance the Puruser
Kory, Adam, and Buddy managed to get to a small Thanagarian ship, little more than a life boat, but they were in unknown space and their craft was damaged. They set down on a beautiful alien world to allow Adam Strange to make repairs – a compromise made even harder as Strange had lost his eyes in the accident. Kory enjoyed the beauty of her temporary home, but she recognised the world from ancient myths. On this world the passage of time was determined by the position of the sun in the sky – as the sun set time slowed down until it stopped entirely during the planet’s night (52 Week 5, 6 June 2006). Despite their plight neither Kory nor Buddy were too concerned as their minds had been befuddled by local fruit which, unknown to them, was narcotic.
The trio were captured easily by Devilance the Pursuer, the evil New God of the Pursuit. They had seen into the anomaly and had witnessed things that mortals were not meant to see. During the same event the Red Tornado had recorded a map of the Multiverse and was being stalked for it by Mister Mind. Kory, Buddy, and Adam didn’t remember the same amount of detail, but Devilance did not want their knowledge escaping. He believed that knowledge of the Multiverse belonged to the gods alone. Devilance was not the only being who knew what they had seen and he revealed to them that every bounty hunter in the Universe was after them (52 Weeks 7-9, 21 June – 6 July 2006). It was Devilance who unwittingly supplied the heroes with the power to escape the alien prison paradise. They managed to escape from his cages and stole his signature weapon, his Lance. With it they were able to power their Thanagarian craft and blast free of the planet before time stopped there all together (52 Week 16, 23 Aug 2006).
Adam Strange’s plan had been to jump several parsecs out into space and then contract the nearest inhabited planet – of which there should have been many – but they found the Universe around them had been wiped clean of life. The planets had been reduced to rubble and they found themselves navigating through a particularly dense asteroid field. After weeks cramped up in the little ship the normally easy-going Starfire and Adam Strange were beginning to get on each others nerves. They still had Devilance’s Lance and the New God of the Pursuit eventually caught up with them. Surprisingly, Devilance disappeared at the last moment to be replaced by the bounty hunter called Lobo (who had killed Devilance whilst the humans weren’t looking). Starfire went out into space to negotiate with Lobo and he surprisingly agreed to lead them out of the space wilderness (52 Week 17, 30 Aug 2006).
Archbishop Lobo and the Emerald Head of Ekron
Lobo, the superhuman Czarnian bounty-hunter, had a reputation as the “Main Man” – the deadliest and most powerful bounty hunter in known space. He’d always had a fondness for space dolphins (“fishies” as he called them), but now as Archbishop Lobo he had found religion in the service of the First Celestial Church of the Triple Fish-God. Lobo had been on a pilgrimage in the wasteland of Sector 3500 – the area of space Kory, Buddy, and Adam had just escaped from – for the Triple-Fish God and was returning to the Three Golden Planets when he encountered the Earth heroes. Lobo took them back to a refugee camp populated by aliens from a hundred world – the last survivors of Sector 3500 who were bartering away their races’ last treasures just to survive (52 Week 19, 13 Sept 2006).
Lobo’s pilgrimage with several space dolphin attendants had been to retrieve the Emerald Eye of Ekron from the Emerald Head of Ekron. He kept that secret until he was killed by a swarm of carrion eaters that attacked the refugee camp. Starfire used the Eye to destroy the parasites before Lobo could regenerate his body from a drop of his own blood. He was livid that she had used the Emerald Eye as it would serve as a beacon to the Emerald Head. It was searching for the thief that had stolen its Eye and would home in on them. Lobo hitched their ship to his space bike and they fled before the Emerald Head arrived (52 Week 20, 20 Sept 2006).
The Head eventually caught up with them and they began a desperate flight to avoid its attacks. It was Starfire who recognised that the markings on the Head belonging to the Green Lantern Corps. A lot later Adam Strange learnt from Green Lantern John Stewart that the Emerald Head had been a prototype weapon from the early days of the Green Lantern Corps and had been missing for centuries.
The Emerald Head was piloted by the Green Lantern of Vengar, a planet from Sector 3500. He had been driven insane by the sight of the worlds he protected being reduced to rubble. Archbishop Lobo was bound by a vow of non-violence so he need Starfire, Animal Man, and Adam Strange to fight off the insane Lantern’s attack. Despite Adam Strange’s anger with Lobo for getting them into this mess, Starfire recognised that he, they, and the Lantern of Vengar may be the only people able to stop the Stygian Passover (the force that had wiped Sector 3500 clean of life) from reaching Earth (52 Week 28, 15 Nov 2006).
Next – The Lady Styx of the Stygian Passover