by Martin Maenza, adapted and expanded from Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Unlike the destructive fires and smothering ice that gripped the other two captive Earths, this one was actually benefiting a little thanks to its attackers. This world was actually becoming a horticulturist’s delight, thanks to the increased growth rate of the vegetation.
Inside a botanical garden in Big City, the conquering villains had set up their base of operations. Poison Ivy leaned against one of the walls, where vines of all types were growing toward the ceiling. “Jason Woodrue, you know something?” she asked of one of her colleagues. “I really love this planet. A veritable garden of delights.” She took a deep breath to smell the honeysuckle and aromatic perfumes in the air.
The man who was very much a plant, in part due to his coming from another dimension where creatures such as he were commonplace, nodded in agreement. “Can you feel the power of the Green?” the Floronic Man asked her, having always wanted to do something like this. “It gives me hope — and life.”
The white-skinned clown with the green hair shook his head. “Bah!” grumbled the Joker. “It gives me the hives. Definitely upsets my delicate constitution.”
All around the room, the members of the Freedom Fighters were bound and held fast by massive vines and roots from the hybrid vegetation. The Joker walked past a yellow Venus Flytrap-like plant that held the diminutive Doll Man in its jaws and stopped before one particular captive.
“Ahh,” the Joker sighed, “my lovely Phantom Lady — perhaps you would like to massage my jangled nerves?” The clown prince of crime looked hungrily at her exposed cleavage and had other thoughts in his mind.
“I’d like to rip them out, Joker!” the heroine snapped. “One by one.”
The Joker smiled his crimson smile. “A girl after my own heart… literally.” He let out a laugh. “I could learn to like you, P.L.”
The Joker reached down and plucked a flower with yellow petals, brought it to his nose, and sniffed. “My dear — what say we team together?” he continued his charming seduction, if for no other reason than to amuse himself. “Think of the living we can make selling all these flowers to those religious groups who hang out in airports! No expenses and one-hundred-percent profit. It would warm J.D. Rockefeller’s heart just thinking about it.”
Phantom Lady gave him a piercing glance but said nothing. She didn’t want to further encourage the fool from rattling on.
Uncle Sam, however, could not hang idly by while the Joker taunted someone he cared for. “Sonny, you may think you hold us here now, but justice has a way of winning in the end.” Clearly, the embodiment of America’s freedom would not stand for being a prisoner long.
The Silver Ghost stood with his arms crossed. “Stuff a sock in it, old man,” he said. “We won by sheer numbers. For every big shot on your side, we’ve got five more ready to fight for us.” He was about to point out that these six were about the only heroes this world had left, and they were beaten, when he was interrupted.
Over in the corner, the worm Mister Mind had set up a monitor, the only piece of technology in this organic base of operations. “If that’s the case, Silver Ghost,” the genius worm said, “better call in reinforcements. We’ve got company calling — the Justice Society, Infinity, Incorporated, and the Outsiders.” He shook his head. “Thank heaven they didn’t call in the blamed Marvel Family, too.”
From the image on the monitor to where the heroes were, the young blonde Halo flew alongside some of Earth-Two’s greatest heroes. “Where do we begin?” the girl asked.
“We have to find the Freedom Fighters,” Starman said. “The JSA has met them before.”
“Right,” Hawkman replied. “If they’re still alive, we have to free them. We can always use extra hands in taking back this world.”
“What’s next, Dad?” the armored Silver Scarab asked. “One of those rallying cries you all used back in World War II?”
“Whatever it takes, Hector,” the winged wonder replied.
Down below, the battle lines were drawn. “Who do you think you are, old geezer?” laughed Captain Nazi as he dived at a man in blue and red. The caped hero dodged the attack.
“Son, you’d better learn to respect your elders,” the gray-templed Superman replied with a solid right punch. “And take a lesson from history, too. The Nazis lost the war, so that old swastika on your chest is out of date.”
Captain Nazi’s jaw smarted from the punch. “Whoever you are, gramps, I have to say you’re pretty tough,” the villain admitted. “Maybe as tough as Captain Marvel, but not as tough as me.”
“Well just see about that,” the elder Superman said as he laid into the villain once more.
Below, a large warrior with Japan’s red sun on his tunic raised his sword in battle. “I have no problem striking a woman,” the Samurai said in Japanese. “There is always honor in battle, no matter the gender of your opponent.” He brought the weapon down hard.
“Is that so?” the red-and-yellow-costumed woman replied in Japanese as she blocked with her own blade. The two swords clanged loudly, and Katana was able to hold her own against her enemy’s great strength. “I’m surprised to see enlightened thinking from one such as you.”
From the side, the Scarecrow watched the two in heated battle. “Maybe I can help out a bit,” the villain said as he pulled forth one of his fear bombs. “A little phobia and paranoia should tip the scales of the battle.”
Katana saw his movement out of the corner of her eye and dodged the next cut by Samurai. As the warrior’s blade struck the ground to her left, she performed a spin side kick to the right and knocked the weapon from the Scarecrow’s hand. She then followed up with a quick front snap kick, connecting her yellow-booted foot squarely against the villain’s chest. The Scarecrow tumbled backward into the overgrown brush.
Nearby, Doctor Mid-Nite tumbled backward as the savage Cheshire advanced her attack. Her claws had already torn his red tunic but failed to pierce the skin. I need to beware, the elder hero thought to himself. She’s a deadly opponent, and my blackout bombs haven’t slowed her down.
Cheshire landed on the ground before him with a pounce. “There you are, my prey,” the dark-haired assassin said. “I think play time is over!” She raised her claw-like nails to strike.
“Not so fast!” a female voice called from the fence top behind Mid-Nite.
Cheshire looked up at the sound just as a pair of blue-costumed feet kicked her squarely in the jaw. “If you want to play with claws, let’s even up the sides some!” The reddish-brown-haired Wildcat landed on all fours. The young Latino heroine, despite being a rookie to the game, was more than willing to fight for her friends. After all, Doctor Mid-Nite was a good friend to her Uncle Ted, the first Wildcat.
Cheshire rubbed her jaw. “If that’s the way you want to play, kitty, fine by me! Let’s get it on!” And the cat fight between the two women was on.
Hawkman had broken away from the group he arrived with, having spotted the brutish Blockbuster below. He swung his mighty mace, connecting squarely with the hulking figure, and Blockbuster fell back.
From space, Luthor had been monitoring the progress and broadcasted to the troops below via special radios. “Mothership to Earth-X. Pay attention, you fools. The heroes are desperate now. Work together, not alone. Attack with force.”
Shut up, Luthor, thought a man whose appearance was that of a flaming skeleton as he leaped from the rooftops, having one of the heroes in sight and about to score a victory. Doctor Phosphorus knows what he’s doing! As he fell, he stretched out his arms. Stay where you are, Hawkman, and let my touch burn you as you fight.
Landing squarely on the winged hero’s back, Phosphorus drove his flaming fists directly into Hawkman’s exposed skin. The hero screamed out in pain as flames began to char the flesh and burn through his wings.
In the sky above, a winged young man from Feithera who had followed Hawkman watched in horror as his godfather was attacked. “Good Lord!” Northwind exclaimed. “Doctor Phosphorus — is killing Hawkman!” The hero swooped down like a bat out of hell to try to save the man who meant so much to him.
“You cannot stop me,” laughed the Shadow-Thief elsewhere as he remained in his intangible form. “When I’m in this mode, I am untouchable.”
“Yeah,” said a blue-and-gray-costumed young man with a face of pure shadow. “I guess you don’t know the deal, buddy!” Obsidian thrust his fist into the Shadow-Thief’s body, and the villain cried out in pain. “Where I come from, I’m the master of all things shadowy. You’re going down!”
Shadow-Thief had little choice. He reached for his belt and turned the shadow field off, making himself solid once more.
Obsidian smiled, hauled back his fist, and nailed the villain in the face. “Lights out, pal!”
In the air, another intangible villain was having second thoughts about his security as well. “Leave me be,” the Mist demanded, floating through the air as he tried to escape his pursuer.
“No can do,” said a pink bolt of electricity. “Master Johnny told me to take you down, and the Thunderbolt does as he is commanded.” The T-bolt used his mystic powers to blast the phantom-like villain. When he could endure no more, the Mist became solid once more and dropped from the sky.
Below, a blond man in a green suit watched the action. “Say you, Thunderbolt,” Johnny Thunder said, “don’t let him hit the ground. We want him jailed, not dead.”
“Whatever you say, master,” the pink Thunderbolt replied. In a flash, he streaked down and caught the weakened older villain in his arms, placing him gently to the ground below.
“Argh!” screamed the Star Sapphire as a yellow burst blinded her. “As soon as my vision clears, I will rip the pretty blonde hair from your head!”
“I don’t think so,” said Halo, switching her beam colors from yellow to green before she shot at the villainess once more. “This should hold you.” The stasis beam held Star Sapphire fast, certainly long enough until one of her teammates could suggest what to do with the woman.