Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Justice League of America #133 (8/76)
"The deadliest foe of the... Justice League of America... is back... and he's more dangerous than ever! His name's Despero, and on a world hundreds of light-years from our own, he's managed to defeat and destroy the JLA!"
22,300 miles above the Earth, in the JLA Satellite, were the concerned heroes Aquaman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Flash, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, the Atom and Hawkman. Joining them was Supergirl, who fretted over her missing cousin...
Superman was "some 400 light-years away, above the planet Sirkus," which he had been drawn to defend by Director Ergon & Governor Kwim. Before the Sirkians could revive the Man of Steel, they were attacked by Flamebirds at the order of Despero. However, Ergon had outfitted members of her species as imitation members of the Justice League of America, who turned back the Flamebirds at the cost of their Flash. An "understudy" stepped in as a new Scarlet Speedster almost immediately. The Man of Steel was then duped by Ergon and Kwim into believing these were his teammates, all of whom having been summoned to combat Despero's forces.
"Attention, Sirkians... This is your new master, mercifully providing you with one last ultimatum! Surrender your Cosmic Cannon to me at once-- or suffer total destruction when I take it by force! This demand is non-negotiable!"
"Despero-- possibly the most dangerous would-be conqueror in the universe-- who began his galaxy-spanning career on his home world of Kalanor!"
Launching an attack meant to seize the Cosmic Cannon, Despero piloted his Super-Ship and thought, "The fools have refused my command-- as I expected! Because of their impudence, they must die-- DIE!" Despero was surprised by "Superman-- and the Justice League!? What in the name of Kalanor's second sun!?" The Man of Tomorrow responded "It must be kismet, Despero-- but we always seem drawn together somehow! You try to take over a world-- and we always stop you!"
"Not this time, Kryptonian! This time-- I stop YOU!"
While his Super-Ship fended off Superman, Despero's mental powers grounded a faux Green Lantern Hal Jordan. "Hah! In the years since we last fought, I've developed the power of my Third Eye-- increasing it to undreamed of levels! You're doomed-- all of you!"
While Superman was taken out of the battle by a misfired Cosmic Cannon, Despero's paralyzing hypnotic blast rendered all the soldiers responsible for the cannon unconscious. The phony Wonder Woman and replacement Flash managed to breach the Super-Ship, but the latter soon veered out of control and through an open window. "Is there no end to your suicidal courage? Haven't you a single ounce of self-preservation? ...The mighty Flash--skidding like a sports-car out of control!"
The Sirkian actress playing Wonder Woman blamed Despero for Flash's plight, and swore he'd pay. "Such violent threats from a peace-loving woman? Your behavior is odd, Amazon! Come to think of it, so is the behavior of your fellow-Leaguers!" As he pinned the "princess" down, Despero continued, "Tell me-- when did the Flash gain the ability to fly? And why is the great Wonder Woman suddenly so--weak?"
While pondering this distraction, Despero's Super-Ship crash landed, and only the despot rose from the wreckage. "Something's wrong here... some kind of trickery...! It may be my Kalanorian intuition, but I've the strange notion I'm not fighting the real Justice League!" Just then, Flash recovered, only to belly-flop after a "shattering hypnotic blast!" The true Superman followed, disbelieving that he'd just seen the fastest man alive taken like a rookie. "You'd better believe it, Superman! He isn't the first Leaguer I've crushed-- and he won't be the last!" Despero then burrowed to freedom into the earth, thanks to an unseen "device."
An hour later, "Wonder Woman" was in the hospital, and the Last Son of Krypton was on to Director Ergon's ruse. "When Despero first attacked us, we probed his mind telepathically-- and learned how much he hated you... and how much he feared you! That's why we brought you here! The battle against our planet is merely practice for him-- before he tackles your world, the Earth!" Superman swore to hold the line at Sirkus, just as Despero launched an attack via jetboat while commanding Eel-Creatures! "It's Despero again-- and this time he means business!"
The ersatz Emerald Gladiator was first to engage Despero. "Arrogant whelp! Do you think to defeat me with an emerald laser beam? You'll pay for your stupidity-- with your life!" The Strange Visitor from Another World was aghast as he watched Despero kill "Green Lantern" with his mind. "That's how I deal with inferiors, Superman! And while you're catching your dear-departed-comrade-- I'll turn my attention to your other friend-- Aquaman!" The Sea King was next to die!
Filled with a "sudden white-hot rage," Kal-El charged in without thinking. "Superman forgets the nature of my mental power-- how I can hypnotize instantly, as well as destroy! I have to time this carefully-- and strike-- NOW!"
"Mind-stunning mental energy hits the raging Superman-- and in an instant, turns his rage against him-- with the force of a solar explosion!"
"Justice League-- or pathetic impostors-- I've destroyed you! And with your destruction-- I'm free to enslave this world!"
"Missing--One Man of Steel!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin.