The Justice Leaguers’ heads turned to see the Silver Sorceress, Blue Jay, and two others they did not recognize. One was a fifteen-foot giant, the other a gaunt man in red and blue, with a face colored oddly yellow.
“Blue Jay, Silver Sorceress,” Green Lantern said, rising from his chair. The other Justice Leaguers rose also. “It’s good to see you again. I’m afraid I don’t know your teammates.”
“This is Behemoth,” Silver Sorceress said, indicating the giant, “and this is A-Man. And these…” She turned to her teammates. “…are members of the Justice League, of the planet Earth.”
“I have read the Assemblers computer files on them,” A-Man said in a robotic monotone.
“Now what’s this about a stolen weapon?” Behemoth demanded.
“A powerful new weapon was stolen from a military installation on Earth last night,” Wonder Woman said, in a challenging tone. “Stolen by–“
“The security cameras,” J’onn interrupted, “seem to indicate that four of your teammates were responsible for the theft.”
“What?!” Blue Jay exploded. “Assemblers stealing?“
“The images on the videotape depicted Tin Man, Wandjina, Jack B. Quick, and Pulsar in the act of theft,” Red Tornado explained.
“You’re nuts!” Behemoth swore. “The Assemblers don’t steal! You got your nerve, comin’ into our own headquarters and accusin’ us–“
“And what would you do in our position?” Green Lantern asked. “Nobody is accusing anybody of anything, yet. We merely came to ask–“
“Yet!” Behemoth snarled. “Didja hear that, team? Yet! Here’s your yet, green-jeans!” A massive hand swooped across the room to swat Green Lantern away like a fly. The emerald crusader erected a power-ring barrier just in time; Behemoth’s giant hand bounced off it.
“Do you see?” Wonder Woman roared. “They attack! This proves their guilt!”
“Now, wait a minute!” Blue Jay snapped. “Bart’s always been hotheaded, but that doesn’t mean he–” But it was too late. Wonder Woman was pressing the attack, charging forward with fists raised for battle.
“Wonder Woman, stop!” Silver Sorceress cried, flinging out her arms with palms wide in a universal stop gesture. Her heightened emotional state, however, triggered her unpredictable hex power; a wave of concussive force bowled Wonder Woman over, sending her sprawling into the sofa.
“Nubia!” J’onn cried out in rage.
Belvedere, the long-suffering butler, had been listening from the next room. Sighing, he picked up the phone and began to dial the number of the emergency cleaning service employed by the Assemblers.
“Yes… yes, a simple design, really,” Pumpkinhead said, examining the workings of the L-Bomb. “It’s a wonder I never thought of it.”
“So you’ll be able to make more of those things?” a purple-costumed man said.
“Child’s play, Cacophony,” Pumpkinhead assured him. “Once the Assemblers and Justice League have put each other out of the picture, I will use this L-Bomb on Cosmopolis as planned. Then I will make my demands on the leaders of the world. Soon, the Plunder Lords will control the entire planet!”
Cacophony sighed. He had been a Plunder Lord for a long time and had heard many megalomaniacs make the same claim. It had always ended the same, with him and the others in specially designed prison cells. But, as he always told himself, maybe this time would be different.
“Come out of there and fight like a man!” Behemoth cried, hammering on Green Lantern’s protective dome with both oversized fists. “I’ll tear you limb from limb!”
“Isn’t the line supposed to be, ‘I’ll grind your bones to make my bread’?” Green Lantern asked. “Look, big guy, we didn’t come here to fight! We–” But Behemoth went right on hammering.
“If Nubia is injured,” J’onn said, charging the Silver Sorceress, “you will pay for your craven attack!”
“Craven attack?” Sorceress said. “Who charged whom, Martian? I think you’d better just back off now!” Summoning all her will, Silver Sorceress channeled it into one massive hex. A great wave of force slammed into J’onn J’onzz’s body, sending him tumbling backward.
“So, your true colors are revealed!” Wonder Woman snarled, back on her feet. “I shall smite the lot of you, beginning with you, yellow man!” Wonder Woman launched a powerful punch at A-Man, who stood still and calm.
“The Assemblers computer files list the Justice League as a group of honorable heroes,” A-Man said in a robotic monotone. “I shall have to see that the files are updated.” At the last possible minute, A-Man’s body turned immaterial. Wonder Woman’s fist went right through it.
“By the sword of Mars!” she cried, the force of her punch carrying her whole body through the non-solid Assembler, tumbling head over foot into the far wall.
“This violence is not logical,” Red Tornado said to himself. “I shall end it.” The awesome android raised his arms, preparing to use his wind-funnel powers. Taking this as another attack, Blue Jay shrank down to bird-size and darted in, delivering a powerful punch to the android’s jaw. The impact sent the Red Tornado stumbling backward.
“Well, we didn’t come here to start a fight,” Green Lantern said, watching his friends go down, “but if you want to give us one, well–“
“Hold it!” a new voice called out. All heads snapped around in the direction of the voice and saw a brilliant green glow. “What’s going on here?”
“Whoa,” Behemoth said.
“Is that–?” Wonder Woman began.
The newcomer was a young man with bright blond hair, wearing a costume identical to Green Lantern’s. A power ring on his hand blazed forth with emerald light.
“I am Vaughn Wendel,” the young man said. “Formerly Pulsar of the Assemblers, now the Green Lantern of this sector of space. My power ring alerted me to the presence of another power ring in my sector, and I came to investigate to find my friends tearing each other apart like high school rival gangs! Now, I repeat: what’s going on?”
“These creeps came in here and accused us of stealin’ a weapon from their world!” Behemoth declared. “Accused you, Vaughn!”
“We only came to talk,” Green Lantern said. “True, a weapon was stolen, and video footage showed what looked like four members of the Assemblers. But we never–“
“Who started the fighting?” Vaughn asked.
Seven hands all pointed to Behemoth. The fifteen-foot fighter was silent for a moment, then finally grumbled, “Ah, nuts!”
“I might have known,” Vaughn said. “Bart, you’ve been on this team a lot longer than I have, but your hot head is as legendary as your courage!”
“Even when he was our archer, he was always picking fights and starting trouble,” Silver Sorceress said. “It’s just gotten worse since you gave him that growth serum, Jay!”
“All right, all right, let’s just say both teams overreacted,” Green Lantern said. “Why don’t we quit bickering and try to solve this problem?”
“I concur,” Red Tornado said.
“As do I,” A-Man echoed.
“Very well,” Vaughn said. “Now, you say this video footage showed four Assemblers, including myself?”
“That is correct,” J’onn said. “Yourself, in your Pulsar identity, as well as Tin Man, Wandjina, and Jack B. Quick.”
“What did they do?” Blue Jay asked. “I mean, I know they stole a weapon. But what exactly did they do? How did they go about it?”
“Well, they broke into a military facility,” Wonder Woman said. “Tin Man dissolved the wall, then they stepped in and–“
“Hold it!” Behemoth snapped. “Dissolved the wall, you said? Not blasted through or broke it down? Dissolved, as in all over the floor?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Green Lantern said. “The wall turned into liquid. He did the same thing to a pile of soldiers’ guns that Jack B. Quick confiscated.”
The Assemblers’ faces turned to each other.
“The Dissembler,” Blue Jay said.
“The Plunder Lords,” A-Man intoned hollowly.
“The hell, you say!” Green Lantern cried. “You mean we’ve been tricked?“
“Sure looks like it,” Behemoth said.
“So who are these Plunder Lords?” Wonder Woman asked.
“A loosely organized group of super-villains,” Blue Jay said. “They purport to be the evil counterpart of the Assemblers, but they lack the organization and teamwork that we have.”
“Kind of like our own Injustice Gang,” Green Lantern said.
“The membership fluctuates,” A-Man said hollowly, “but there are four core members of the group who have been present in every incarnation. Their names and abilities are as follows:
“The Dissembler is a scientist who discovered a ray that can weaken the cohesive force binding the atoms of matter. One blast can turn solid matter into liquid, or liquid into gas, or gas into random atoms, instantly.
“Spin Doctor was born with the power to move at superhuman speed, nearly as fast as our own Jack B. Quick. However, he must spin like a top to employ this speed.
“Roentgen is a human radioactive generator. His body can produce any kind of radiation, from ordinary visible light to hard atomic radiation.
“Cacophony is the master of sound. He can mimic any sound, from a pin drop to a thunderclap; or he can produce blasts of tightly channeled sonic energy that can punch a hole in three feet of solid steel.”
“They sound like a formidable group,” J’onn J’onzz said.
“Indeed,” Silver Sorceress confirmed. “As Blue Jay said, though, they lack organization. There has always been some mastermind controlling the group, directing their efforts. Count Mezo, Megavac, even Doctor Decapod.”
“No way of knowing who’s calling the shots now,” Behemoth said, “but whoever it is, he sure came up with a doozy of a plan this time!”
“Indeed,” Vaughn said. “If that L-Bomb you describe is as dangerous as you say it is, we’ve got to recover it immediately!”
“But even if we know for whom we are searching,” Red Tornado said, “how do we locate them?”
“That will be simple,” Vaughn said, his power ring glowing. “The Dissembler’s weapon leaves a very distinct energy trail. I can track it with my power ring easily.”
“Um, Justice Guys,” Behemoth said, a trifle sheepishly, “I know I overreacted before, and I’m sorry about that. But, well… want to join us for a little head-bashing?“
“Now you are speaking my language, tall one,” Wonder Woman said with a grin.
Moments later, the nine heroes were lifted through the ceiling of Assemblers Estate in two power-ring bubbles.
“Yes, we’ll need at least two heavy-duty vacuum cleaners,” Belvedere was saying into the phone. “And that wall… Do you have a sandblaster?“
“Everything is ready,” said Pumpkinhead, fitting the canister of the L-Bomb into a spherical metal device. “Very soon, the city of Cosmopolis will be one big–“
“Mother!” the Dissembler cried out. “Pumpkinhead! Look, outside! The–“
But the villain’s words were cut off by twin green beams of light breaking down the walls of Pumpkinhead’s lair. Brightly costumed heroes of two worlds swarmed into the hideout through the hole.
“Well, well,” Blue Jay said, flying above the costumed figures. “If it isn’t my old punching-bag, Pumpkinhead! I might have known this caper had your signature all over it!”
“What are you standing around for?” Pumpkinhead shouted at the Plunder Lords. “Get them!”
“Don’t have to tell me twice,” the Dissembler said, firing his dissembling beam from his chest-mounted projector. J’onn J’onzz became immaterial, and the beam passed through him, turning a large section of the far wall into liquid.
“Wha-wha-wha — I-I thought only A-Man could do that!” Dissembler stammered.
“Looks like not, but only I can do this!” Behemoth cried out, and before the Dissembler could recover his wits, a giant fist slammed into his chest, shattering his dissembling beam projector and sending him flying into the opposite wall.
“You never learn, do you, Luger?” Blue Jay asked, flying toward Spin Doctor’s rapidly whirling form. “Still trying to outsmart the good guys!”
“You’ve been saying crap like that since I was the Living Pinwheel,” Spin Doctor said as Blue Jay flitted rapidly around him. “But this time I’m gonna squash you like a–“
“Silence!” Wonder Woman cried, driving her fist into Spin Doctor’s whirling head. His weirdly shaped helmet dented under her powerful fist, and he went down, his unconscious body spinning across the floor.
“Get back, all of you!” Roentgen cried out, raising his hands, which began to glow with brilliant blue heat. “I’ll fry you all if you take another step!”
“Is he always so melodramatic?” Red Tornado asked.
“I am afraid so,” A-Man said. “A sadly human failing, this tendency to overdramatize.”
“They are an emotional people, that is true,” Red Tornado agreed. “I’ve always found it to be one of their most endearing qualities.” With that, he sent twin funnels of air at Roentgen. The radioactive villain dug in and held his ground against the whirlwind onslaught. He strained so hard against the wind, he did not see A-Man turn immaterial and sink beneath the floor. Nor did he notice the immaterial android rise up behind him; Roentgen was unaware of A-Man’s presence until the android stuck his unsolid hand through the villain’s body and partially solidified it. With a scream of pain, Roentgen collapsed.
“Die, you witch!” Cacophony cried, sending sonic bursts at the Silver Sorceress. The mutant Assembler summoned all her will power and unleashed a powerful hex at the sonic villain. Cacophony’s natural immunity to his own powers suddenly vanished, and he screamed in agony, collapsing to the floor with two punctured eardrums.
“Just a few seconds more…” Pumpkinhead muttered, making final adjustments to the metallic sphere. “There!” he cried in glee. Suddenly, a hole irised open in the ceiling, and the metal sphere rocketed up through it. The evil scientist whirled on the heroes, a look of malicious triumph on his face.
“You have defeated my lackeys, Assemblers,” Pumpkinhead declared, “but you’re too late to save Cosmopolis! The L-Bomb is on its way!”
The heroes’ heads turned up to stare at the hole in the ceiling through which the L-Bomb had rocketed.
“No sweat!” Behemoth swore. “We’ll just go after it and nab it before it gets anywhere near Cosmopolis!”
“Have a care, heroes,” Pumpkinhead warned. “The carrying module has a pressure- sensitive detonator. The slightest touch will set off the L-Bomb! You can’t stop it!”
“Maybe not,” Vaughn said, “but we can sure try!” In a streak of emerald light, the Green Lantern of Angor soared through the ceiling into the sky. Seconds later, Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Earth, followed him. The two emerald champions were soaring through the sky alongside one another. In seconds, they closed in on the spherical module carrying the L-Bomb.
“There it is!” Vaughn cried. “How do we stop it?”
“We could contain it in a power-ring bubble, let it blow,” Green Lantern offered.
“I’ve got a better idea,” Vaughn said. “Pumpkinhead said the slightest touch would set it off. But the wind resistance as it flies isn’t bothering it!”
“I get you,” Green Lantern said. “One power-ring air brake coming up!” Together, the twin Green Lanterns used their power rings to create cushions of air ahead of the module. Gradually, the module slowed its speed until it finally came to a stop in a cushion of air.
“Got it,” Hal said, surrounding the module in an air-cushioned power ring bubble. “I’ll get this back to Earth now, safe and sound.”
“That’s good,” Vaughn said. “Angor has enough deadly weapons without someone importing more.”
The two Green Lanterns returned to Pumpkinhead’s headquarters. The Assemblers and Justice Leaguers were binding the defeated villains; Behemoth held Pumpkinhead off the floor by his lab coat, his legs kicking furiously.
“Put me down, you Brobdingnagian bungler!” Pumpkinhead cried. “This is brutality! I’ll sue! I’ll have you before the bench, you overgrown australopithecine!”
“Yadda, yadda, yadda,” Behemoth mocked.
“You got the L-Bomb, I see,” J’onn J’onzz said.
“Yes, it’s safe,” Green Lantern said. “Let’s get it back to Earth where it belongs.”
“Justice Leaguers, thank you for your help today,” Blue Jay said. “And again, my apologies on behalf of my entire team–” He shot a sidelong glance at Behemoth. “–for the misunderstanding earlier.”
“I believe both teams were equally at fault,” Red Tornado said. “The important thing is, everything turned out well in the end.”
“Well, of course it did, Red Guy!” Behemoth said confidently. “Heroes always win!”
“Bah!” Pumpkinhead cursed.