Space Sector 2814. Mars. The tomb of the Martian Manhunter.
An electrical storm rocked the red soil outside J'Onn J'Onzz's pyramid. Inside, the Choco sandwich cookie set on J'Onn's coffin after his funeral was knocked to the floor, the impact crumbling it. A Black Lantern power ring burst into the structure, penetrated the Manhunter's coffin, and set itself on his right middle finger.
J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars.
An oily black substance covered the Martian Manhunter's body, becoming a costume. Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz then smashed his way out of his glass coffin.
In Gotham City, Alfred Pennyworth had called Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash (Barry Allen) to investigate the robbing of Batman's skull from Bruce Wayne's grave. Flash found "Some kind of black residue. And it's coagulating. Like blood."
A voice could be heard within the heroes' minds. "Hal. Barry." A disturbed Flash uttered "Ma'aleca'andra." The voice came again, verbally and from behind, "You shouldn't be back. You should both be dead."
"J'Onn? You're... here."
While Green Lantern's ring checked out the former Manhunter from Mars, Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz's own power ring determined Jordan was emotionally dominated by will and Flash by hope.
Scanning complete. J'Onn J'Onzz A.K.A. Martian Manhunter. Founding member of the Justice League of America. Last survivor of the Green Martian race. Vital Signs: Negative.
"I realize my appearance may be disturbing-- but if this form, the form I met humanity halfway with, is less discomforting--"
Before J'Onzz could fully shapeshift into the visage of his old self, Green Lantern fired on his swiftly immaterial and invisible form. Jordan defended his action before a startled Flash. "...you heard J'Onn. He's not asking for milk and cookies."
The Black Lantern from Mars knocked Flash off his feet and began choking Jordan. "Don't worry Hal. You were my friends. I've come back to help you." Lifting Green Lantern into the air by his neck, J'Onn J'Onzz fired laser vision at the ground covered by the Scarlet Speedster. "Barry. You had your chance to embrace the Speed Force. To become part of Nirvana. But you ran away from it. How would it make you feel to leave Iris and Wally behind again?" Images filled the Flash's mind, instilling fear, another emotion to be savored. "And you Hal. After everything you did-- if you died at the right time you would've gone straight to Hell." Despite J'Onzz's taunts, Jordan's emotional spectrum would not expand beyond will. "But you no longer subject yourself to guilt or anger over Parallax, do you? Your heart is full of willpower again. Let me see."
The Flash ran up a ramp and snatched Green Lantern from J'Onzz's grasp, but Jordan was still shaken from the mental intrusion, and barely reacted in time to save them from free fall. Recognizing J'Onn J'Onzz as the bearer of a previously unidentified power ring type, Green Lantern tried to contact some of his fellow corpsmen, to no avail. Sheltered in a fire station, the heroes considered the probably that J'Onzz wasn't the only new black ring bearer, and how to exploit his greatest weakness.The building then began to quake. "J'Onn knocking at the front door." Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz razed the structure. "I'm as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?"
On planet Oa, inside the citadel of the Guardians of the Universe, their adulterated sister Scar had taken control. Scar felt that all previous Guardian initiatives had failed to bring order to the universe, and so had thrown her loyalty behind the new Black Lantern Corps. Scar had begun hearing a commanding voice as her body "died from the poisonous burn of the Anti-Monitor," making her realize only the absence of emotion could bring ultimate peace. "The Black Lanterns are collecting hearts full of splintered light-- and soon it will be His turn to rise. Now. You will need to rest for what's come. Back to sleep-- fellow Guardian."
Back on Earth, a Green Lantern ring construct had saved everyone so far, but an invisible Manhunter was to be feared. Flash had a plan, but also considered, "Maybe we can reach J'Onn. We can trigger something in him so he can fight back. He's the strongest telepath on the planet. What was his state of mind when he died? Was he still using his human guise out of Denver?"
"Detective John Jones? I think so... Truth is, I didn't see much of J'Onn in the end. He left the League. He distanced himself. He felt more alien."
"Alien? J'Onn wasn't alien. He was alienated."
The Flash was pained by another telepathic invasion. "Hal was the one who never flinched at the sight of a Martian, but you understood me, Barry. And I want you to understand me now. You can't outrun death. Not when it's me." The Flash launched into a two-pronged attack, physical and verbal. "I know it's you in there, J'Onn. Somewhere deep down. Remember. We used to talk shop. Cases. You were fascinated by what you never had on Mars-- law. Justice."
Weakly, Green Lantern fended off the Flash's battery, after the Scarlet Speedster had been made to see Jordan as the Black Lantern. The real evil J'Onn J'Onzz then wrapped a tentacle around Jordan's neck and flung him through the Gotham night sky toward an unanswered Bat-Signal. "Justice? For who? My wife and daughter? Myself? The man who orchestrated my murder still walks the streets. Half the League you knew is gone. Justice is dead, Barry." Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz then batted the Flash into a pool of chemical sludge.
Meanwhile, in Space Sector 1313, Green Lantern John Stewart was faced with the rise of the Black Lantern planet Xanshi...
"Only the Good Die Young" was by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke with Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen & Rodney Ramos