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#2: “The Crossover Crisis”
By Mikel Midnight


The sky parted, and two men, each clad in midnight blue, swept downward over the oceanic platform. They seemed to embody the classic elements of water, earth, and air. The guards on the platform saw them and raised their guns, but to no avail. The pair swept through them as if they were made of paper, and descended on the machine the guards sought to protect. It shown golden in the sun, its fine ornamentation redolent of a bygone age and concealing the deadly purpose for which it was designed.

On a guardrail overlooking the machine stood a robed man whose features were hidden behind an iron mask. He cursed in an ancient tongue. "Supermanta and Dark Knight! How did you escape? Asylum ought to have ... "

"You've learned nothing from your alliances with him in the past, have you? Whatever body he possesses, Asylum is insane," the Dark Knight said, his own features hidden behind a Kevlar mask. He reflected back on the suit that Spider-Mite had brought with him from a secret war in some microscopic realm, which somehow had taken on a life of its own and possessed a variety of ordinary humans, transforming them each in turn into a murderous, ebony harlequin. "As deadly as he is, he can always be outmaneuvered."

Supermanta’s eyes glowed red, and gave rise to fire. The robed man shouted his frustration as he saw the machine begin to disintegrate under the intense heat. "Your plan to mutate all the krill in the ocean to allow yourself to control the world’s sealife is at an end, tyrant. Now will you surrender peacefully or - "

His words were cut off as the pair vanished. The robed man they spoke to felt his eyes widen in surprise, though the expression was hidden by the mask he wore. He barked orders to his guards: "Repair the damage they did! Or Ra's Al Doom will have your heads!"

On another world not their own:

The two men suddenly re-appeared over empty ocean. From their viewpoint, the platform they were standing on had inexplicably disappeared, and the pair plunged into the water. Supermanta took the other by the hand and pulled him out, and they stood hovering in mid-air, scrutinising the formerly populated section of water. "Steven, are you all right?"

The masked man nodded. "I'm fine. What happened to Ra's and his men?"

The hovering man scanned the surrounding area. "I'm not seeing any sign of his platform. You know him better than I do; would he have teleported the entire operation back to his home nation of Latverus, if he thought his plans were being foiled?"

"Perhaps so; more than once his arrogance has gotten the better of him. We should contact S.H.I.E.L.D. and tell them the threat is suspended for now."

"I know you prefer reporting directly to Nick Fury, but I haven't seen Lois Dean in quite some time. I'm going to take us to the mainland. She can interview us for the Metropolis Star."

The masked man chuckled, "And then she can report to Fury in her role as covert S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Very well old friend, I'm not one to interfere with true romance."

As they neared land, Supermanta started to lose altitude, and the pair crashed into Metropolis Harbor. The Dark Knight rolled to his feet, his face solicitous even as he became instantly alert for any impending attack. "Namor-El? What happened?"

The other rose slowly to his feet, his face showing his sudden fatigue. He rubbed at his brow in confusion. "I don't know. Some odd weakness has come over me."

The Dark Knight looked at his friend carefully. "Perhaps some after-effect of Ra's teleportation method? It doesn't seem to have affected me at all." He wondered at what might deal such a blow to the man’s powerful alien physiognomy.

Supermanta steadied himself, "We will go speak to Lois, and then I will return to Atlantis. Their medicine should be able to detect anything that is wrong with me." He took the Dark Knight’s hand and, compensating for his body’s mysterious symptoms, he ascended once more into the skies.

As they flew over the city, they heard the familiar sounds of battle. "That sounds like our kind of affair. Are you up to it?" The Dark Knight’s muscles reflexively tensed, ready for further conflict.

Supermanta scowled, "I am a prince of Atlantis ... no petty weakness will stand in my way." He was unused to physical malaise, and it disturbed him, but he had battled through worse foes before, such as the gamma-powered undead monstrosity known as Armageddon.

The Dark Knight indicated his assent, and as they followed the sounds they came across a familiar sight. "Imperious Rex," exclaimed Supermanta, "It's the Six Sinister Deadpools!"

The pair briefly recalled the Canadian program which had turned six mercenaries into super-powered killers. Individually they had been defeated by Spider-Mite, but as a team they were much more dangerous. Not all of the Weapon X products had been evil, and the reformed Thunderpool, Wonderpool, and Deadstorm were testament to that; but all had had their sanity affected in some way.

As they approached, they noticed the sextet were in battle against another pair of metahumans. Supermanta asked, "Do you know these two?"

The Dark Knight shook his head, "Given those claws he is brandishing, one of them looks like Bladerunner wearing one of my spare uniforms, but he's not nearly so fast. I don't recognise the other, though he's obviously very patriotic."

Supermanta smirked. Despite his attachment he had developed to the sprawling city of Metropolis and its inhabitants, he remained indifferent to the surface world’s bewildering multitude of nationalities. "If they’re challenging the Deadpools, they’re on our side, whoever they are ... let's give them a hand."

They descended, and Supermanta released the Dark Knight so that his ally could attack at ground level. The pair waded into battle, and the other metahumans did not question their newfound allies as they found their numbers bolstered against their mad attackers. Doc Deadpool's eight mechanical arms seized Supermanta and slammed him into the ground effortlessly, where he lay dazed. The Dark Knight's mask hid his astonishment, and he leapt forward to defend his friend, his shield ricocheting between the mechanical arms in an attempt to baffle the villain while he made short work of him with his fists.

Super-Soldier found himself under attack by the elements themselves, as Electrodeadpool and Sanddeadpool besieged him while Vulture Deadpool harassed him from the skies.

Dark Claw’s heightened senses made him more susceptible to Mysteriodeadpool’s barrage of smoke and sound and insane images, while his opponent sought to evade his deadly claws.

The Dark Knight narrowly ducked a thrown grenade, his impenetrable shield absorbing its impact, and then whirled around to see another attacker laughing maniacally at him. “You’re going to be the next one down, Deadpool Goblin,” he growled.

The city streets erupted in a chaos of combat and madness. But the Deadpools, for all their skill, found themselves at a disadvantage as this world’s finest heroes battled together as a unit, after years of long experience at each other’s side. The Dark Knight, although as unfamiliar to the world as were the villains, worked seamlessly along with his newfound allies, his fighting style mirroring their own in many ways. Soon, the three remaining heroes finished up the mercenaries.

Super-Soldier and Dark Claw approached the Dark Knight. The latter looked up at them as he knelt over Supermanta, checking his vital signs. "Not bad moves for newcomers," he quipped.

"We're hardly that,” Super-Soldier chuckled. “We thank you for the assistance, though. Do you know where you are?"

Supermanta slowly staggered to his feet. "Of course ... we're in Metropolis. I wasn't hit badly enough to not know my 'home away from home.'" He spoke tersely, his face revealing his frustration at being left out of the combat which he considered his birthright.

Dark Claw shook his head. "I suspect it’s not the Metropolis you know."

Super-Soldier turned to the Atlantean, finding something familiar about his bearing. “I would wager you have more than human visual perceptions, don’t you? Use them to scan the city around you, and tell us what you see.”

Supermanta narrowed his eyes as he peered towards the city. “I … can see … there are … similarities … but even the Metropolis Star building is different, replaced by something called the Daily Planet.”

Super-Soldier told them about the recent events in their world which they had labelled the Crossover Crisis, and their attempts to track down the source behind it while at the same time dealing with all the metahumans who had been appearing from alternate universes, some for good and some for ill. He and Dark Claw introduced themselves, and the other pair shared in the exposition.

Supermanta told the tale of how he was rocketed from the doomed aquatic world of Krypton, and crashed onto the similarly water-based planet of Earth. Adopted by the king and queen of the underwater continent Atlantis, he was raised by the monarchy as one of its own and named Namor-El, which means 'the Avenging Star-Child'. Acting as a liaison between Atlantis and the surface world, he had become the ultimate ecological warrior, traveling the world's oceans fighting for conservation, preservation and the Atlantean way.

The Dark Knight revealed how frail 23-year-old Steven Wayne was tossed aside as his parents were mercilessly gunned down by thieves. The killers were captured and released on a technicality, and he saw the American dream crash down around him. Too weak to lash out, his destiny unfurled when he discovered a secret super-soldier serum in his father's laboratory and drank the only sample. His body transformed to the pinnacle of human perfection, and he spent years training to become the perfect fighting machine. Donning the mantle of a bat to instil fear into criminals' superstitious, cowardly hearts, he fought for those who couldn't fight for themselves.

Super-Soldier fought to resist staring at Supermanta, seeking to conceal his amazement at the details of the man’s story. "I think I may have the answer to the cause of your physical malady." He activated his JL: A communicator. "Based on what you say about your background, I suspect you may be vulnerable to a latent K-radiation which has contaminated our world. I am vulnerable to it as well, and it has diminished my powers somewhat, but I have had time to become adapted to it. You haven't."

Supermanta’s x-ray vision scanned Super-Soldier, his curiosity piqued at any possible similarity with the man. Although accepted into the royal family of Atlantis, he had known for many years that he was not native to his Earth, and that knowledge was as alienating as his incredible powers. He saw genetic material which mirrored his own, interwoven with that of a normal land-bound human; moreover, a human which resembled Steven Wayne enough to be the man’s half-brother. He found the conjunction startling, and vowed to discuss the matter further with his apparent counterpart if time on this world allowed. There were no other rockets in his alternate earth, no tests with dogs or little girls.

The Dark Knight mused. Dark Claw’s name and costume mirrored his own in many ways, and he felt a strange kinship to the man, although the other had been less than forthcoming about whatever personal tragedies haunted his own background; he wondered whether it had been similarly marred by murder and abandonment. “We are both very grateful for the information, and pleased to have been able to assist you against a threat brought to you from our own universe. However, I am concerned about Ra's Al Doom and his plans. He appears not to have accompanied us here.”

Supermanta tore his attention from his internal speculation to return to the immediate problems at hand, and nodded his agreement. “We had caused a delay in his plans, but now he is free to carry on repairing the damage we had done.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what is causing these ‘crossovers’ in the first place,” Dark Claw said. “We will certainly restore you and the other emigrants to your own worlds as soon as possible, and I hope all goes well. Did you notify anyone of your mission against this version of Ra’s? Do you have anyone like our Judgement League: Avengers who can follow up behind you?”

“What is that, some sort of … union for metahumans? “ the Dark Knight said. “No, we don’t. We both often coordinate our operations with S.H.I.E.L.D. … I can see from your faces that you have something similar here. Namor-El and I have found great success collaborating with each other as well, although we have on some cases also operated in tandem with a heroine named Hell's Angel.” He recalled the fierce Amazon warrior who had fought her way back from the depths of Hades in order to combat evil in “man’s world.” Her motivations were obscure at best, and he had at times privately questioned her intentions, although she had always acted as a stalwart ally on the rare occasions when she had worked alongside them.

“If your version of S.H.I.E.L.D. is as effective as ours is, I have no doubt that they’ll be able to clean up the rest now that you’ve cleared the way,” Super-Soldier said.

Soon, the Aqua-Mariner arrived in response to Super-Soldier’s summons, and more introductions were made. He and Supermanta quickly found common ground, and the former took the visitor back to his own version of Atlantis, where he'd be relatively shielded from the pervasive Kryptonite radiation. Super-Soldier and Dark Claw made arrangements to contain the Deadpools, and to transport the Dark Knight back to JL: A headquarters in order to join their assembled company of heroes until a path home could be found.

Afterwards, while Canary assisted with their visitor’s orientation, Dark Claw noticed Super-Soldier looking pensive. He approached him curiously. "What's the matter, old friend?" he asked quietly.

Super-Soldier shook his head. "What Supermanta said ... that was him, wasn't it? The baby in the starship which died, and from which I gained my powers. Was that what he would have grown up to be? I've finally seen the face of the star-child."

NOTE: In the brief period when Amalgam Comics were a hot item, WIZARD MAGAZINE ran a section with their own amalgamations. The Dark Knight, Supermanta, the Deadpools and the other characters mentioned from their universe are from that issue.

Supermanta = Superman + Sub-Mariner
The Dark Knight = Batman + Captain America
Ra's al Doom = Ra's al Ghul + Doctor Doom
Asylum = the Joker + Venom
Spider-Mite = Spider-man + the Atom
Armageddon = the Hulk + Evil Ernie
Blade Runner = Wolverine + the Flash
Hell's Angel = Wonder Woman + Spawn
Wildcard = Gambit + Grifter
Witchhunt = Witchblade + Lady Death

Some of the visualisations can be seen at http://www.angelfire.com/ar3/slingshot1983/Wizard

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