Now our detour ends, the second part of our look at the heroes who had been lost in space for year in 52. The Universe had been saved, but getting home from the job was a little bit more complicated that it should have been. Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man had been stranded in deep space and their only guide home was the homicidal bounty hunter turned homicidal religious fanatic Lobo. They discovered that they were in part of the Galaxy that had been wiped clean by an invading force called the Stygian Passover and the front line was moving ever closer to their homeworlds.
Lady Styx, Believe in Her
Whence came the Lady Styx is not known. The Guardians of the Universe recognised her armaments as Void technology and described her as approaching from “the eternal pit beyond the gates of space-time itself.” This is not dissimilar to the description given for the place where the Maggedon Warhead was chained. Wonder World once patrolled that border, but its destruction by Maggedon could have left the way open for Styx to approach. Her forces had already swept Sector 3500 clean of live in a process that had been called the Stygian Passover.
When the Stygian Passover reached the planet Vartu Captain Comet was waiting for it. He was a veteran superhero from the 1950s who had left Earth to adventure on other worlds. He had faced almost every conceivable foe, but even he was unable to stop the Stygian forces. Before he died he managed to send a final telepathic distress call.
I witnessed seven million minds fall apart when the unimaginable end arrived. I saw machines, the scale of which there no adequate words to describe, and armies…
Are you receiving me?
First of all, the Believer Cubes anchor themselves to a planet’s surface and shatter the ecosystem irreparably. Then the Glorifiers emerge in their billions. Walking dead men, chanting her creed, unstoppable. Where she passes, her armies grow, devouring all in their path as they spread the contagion, the living word of the Lady, the Lady Styx.
“Believe in her,” they say. “Believe in her.”
Are you receiving me?
The Green Lanterns Thormon Tox and Xax had been searching for the Lantern of Vengar when they heard Comet’s telepathic distress call. They came to Vartu, but found themselves abandoned when the Guardians ordered all Lanterns out of the occupied zones and cut power to any who remained. Tox, Xax, and Captain Comet each fell to Styx’s Glorifier army (52 Week 31, 6 Dec 2006).
Starfire (Kory), Adam Strange, Animal Man (Buddy Baker), Lobo and the Lantern of Vengar heard Comet’s distress call (52 Week 31, 6 Dec 2006). They resolved to stick together despite the Earth heroes still having a bounty on their heads and finally reached the edge of Sector 3500, the Vega System (52 Week 32, 13 Dec 2006). As they searched through the rubble of Vartu Adam Strange recognised Lobo’s plan and made him confess that he was taking them to Lady Styx for the bounty she had placed on their heads – his way of getting past her security (52 Week 36, 3 Jan 2007).
Styx refused to pay the bounty and decided to take Starfire, Animal Man, and Lobo as her new soldiers. She baited Lobo with insults and finally made him lose his cool by calling him a coward. However, Lobo and Strange had deliberately timed their assault to coincide with the migration of the Sun-Eaters (powerful cosmic fauna that graze on stars). The Lantern of Vengar sacrificed himself and the Emerald Head of Ekron to carry Lady Styx into the mall of a Sun Eater where she was destroyed (52 Week 36, 10 Jan 1007).
Parting of the Ways
After Lady Styx’s defeat the group of adventurers went their separate ways.
Animal Man Buddy Baker had been wounded in the battle with Lady Styx and died on the bridge of her command ship. Before he died he asked Starfire to return his jacket to his wife on Earth (52 Week 36, 10 Jan 2007). Adam Strange wouldn’t take the risk that his friend’s corpse would regenerate as one of Styx’s Glorifiers. So, after Lobo had preformed a blessing from the Triple Fish God, they left Buddy’s corpse on an asteroid in deep space (52 Week 37, 17 Jan 2007). The Yellow Aliens who had remade Animal Man once before took notice of his death and restored him to life. They enhanced his existing ties to the morphological field so that he could draw on abilities of interstellar lifeforms like the Sun Eaters. In an instant he gained the ability to fly unaided through space at translight speeds (52 Week 43, 28 Feb 2007).
Animal Man met the Yellow Aliens again when he used the Sun Eaters’ ability to access “Space B”. From Space B a traveller could access any place or time in the Universe, this was how the Sun Eaters migrated between galaxies. The Yellow Aliens showed Buddy an image from one month hence of a man, Buddy’s best friend Roger, apparently making a pass at his grieving wife (52 Week 47, 28 March 2007). Ellen had actually given Roger the brush off, but it was the point of reference Buddy needed to jump back to Earth from Space B. Ellen and his children were overjoyed to see Buddy again – even if he was sat on the front lawn glowing from the residual solar radiation he had channelled (52 Week 51, 25 April 2007).
Lobo Lobo left to return to his pilgrimage for the Triple Fish God while Adam Strange and Starfire turned towards Earth (52 Week 37, 17 Jan 2007). He returned to the Three Golden Planets with the Emerald Eye of Ekron. The Triple Fish God unwisely revealed that Lobo had been sent to retrieve the Eye as it was only thing in the Universe that could kill him. Lobo’s reaction to this news was to try it out for himself (52 Week 51, 25 April 2007).
Adam Strange and Starfire Despite Styx’s defeat the bounty on Adam and Kory remained active. A bounty hunter called Molek the Hunter wrecked their ship, but committed suicide rather than accept defeat by them. Starfire was injured during the fight with Molek and the blind Adam Strange had to carry her free from his exploding ship. Fortunately for them the flare from the explosion was noticed by Green Lantern Opto309y and their failing craft was brought into a crash-landing on the planet sized Green Lantern Mogo (52 Week 41, 14 Feb 2007).
The Green Lanterns took Adam Strange back to Rann where Sardath was able to restore his eyes using copies of his daughter’s eyes laced with genetic improvements which allowed him to see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Kory didn’t stay on Rann, she took a few hours to absorb energy from Rann’s suns and then left for Earth. She still believed that Animal Man had died in space and was determined to return his jacket to Ellen. She arrived just in time to stop a final pair of bounty hunters attacking Animal Man and his family before collapsing from exhaustion on their front porch (51 Week 51, 25 April 2007).