Starman carried Black Canary across country from Star City to Metropolis, where he hoped to help the lovely blonde crime-fighter in tracking down a villain they had earlier battled. The villain alternately called the Star Czar or Larry Lance was, in fact, both and neither.
He was a being of pure stellar energy — a living star known as Aquarius who had inhabited a deceased human body, the Larry Lance of Earth-One, and used the costumed identity of the Star Czar, which had been popular among felons and pawns of various types. His power source and his goal of acquiring all of the sun’s energy for his own use had made him deadly to all and of particular interest to Starman.
Young Will Payton used stellar energy himself in numerous ways to fight crime and help people in need. As the costumed Starman, the hero had fought several menaces of late that all sprang directly or indirectly from Aquarius and the star being’s quest for power.
Black Canary’s interest had a personal level as well. She had loved the Larry Lance of Earth-Two, the world from which she came. She knew this deceased body being used by the star being was not truly her Larry, but she blamed Aquarius for the loss of that good man, and she was determined to at least let the other Larry find his final rest. Aquarius had also developed an interest in the pretty bird because of the latent emotions associated with the two men called Larry Lance. One had loved her, while the other had battled her.
Starman had met her before, during his time with Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad, and her beauty and skill impressed him no less now than they did at first glance. He tried to encourage her, since he sensed her concern beneath a steely façade.
“Black Canary, I am honored to work with you like this,” he said. “I am a big fan of the JSA, as you can tell from my name. Any hint of any of your old group on our world during the various visits they made with the JLA thrilled me as a kid.”
She smiled; he was sweet. He was also intuitive and bright. “Thanks, Starman,” she said. “From what I’ve seen and heard, the Starman of the JSA would be proud that a man like you was carrying on his name on this Earth.”
Starman smiled readily. “That’s high praise. He is my hero. I always wanted to read more about him, and I saved his press clippings from the few times he visited here.”
Black Canary held her wig as he swooped down to land at STAR Labs in Metropolis. A stern but friendly redhead met them.
“Will, good to see you,” said Dr. Jenet Klyburn, Director of STAR Labs. “You really have made a name for yourself since leaving us.”
“Thanks, Doc,” he said. “That’s nice of you to say. I owe this costume to your staff. The one Jayne made me was not exactly on Mr. Blackwell’s list of best-dressed do-gooders!”
Black Canary grinned. “Blackwell tore me apart when I wore that feathered blue jumpsuit before the Crisis.”
Dr. Klyburn led them inside. “Acting on your exact specifications, and in partnership with Dr. Danvers from our West Coast branch, I’ve learned that this Aquarius is gaining in power and is, in fact, actively draining our sun! The light and heat we receive is rapidly fading, thanks to his efforts.”
“You did manage to track him?” asked Starman. “He blocked my power to do so when we last met.”
Klyburn nodded. “It looks very serious, Will. See the darkness?” She pointed to the dim sky, though it was mid-afternoon. “Bruce Gordon was not available,” she continued. “He has problems of his own. Still, Dr. Fred Danvers, Dr. Jonathan Cheval, and myself are certain we have detected the work of Aquarius. He means to rob us of our sun and end all life on Earth!”
Starman shook hands with the scientists and stopped Dr. Danvers. “Sir, I know this is no time for idle chitchat, but isn’t your assistant Dr. Lucas Carr?” asked Will.
Black Canary embraced the young man and said, “Sure is, but we used to know this happenin’ cat as Snapper!” She referred to the fact that, when he was a teenager a decade ago, Lucas “Snapper” Carr was the mascot of the Justice League of America.
Lucas smiled. “I still lapse into that hep jive at times.”
Fred Danvers also smiled. “Slang or not, he’s the best help I could ask for, especially in the last few difficult months.”
“I can stop him if I can get to him,” said Starman. “He’s near the sun, so I’d better get a move on!”
Suddenly, Starman stiffened and fell over. As Black Canary bent over his fallen body, he cried out, “I must go to my beloved! Only she can satisfy the need within me!” Starman then flew off, leaving Black Canary startled and dismayed.
“Dolphin?” she wondered. “He’s going to see her before he risks his life to save all of Earth. I guess I can understand that. I wish Ollie was here.”
In the headquarters of the heroic Outsiders, a worried Halo and Windfall held a pale and ill woman. “Vee-Raa? Princess, what’s wrong?” asked a grim Katana. “How can we help?”
The redheaded princess from the underground realm smiled and said, “Your concern pleases me. I can only think my illness is due to the darkness. My powers stem from the chalice nectar I use, and it only prolongs what came from the comet that gives light to our world. The distortion of the sun above must have caused some reaction within me.”
Batman nodded. “My own calculations support that theory. I fear the work of this threat to our sun that the Canary warned us about may have many side-effects we never expected.”
“I feel so helpless,” said Geo-Force. “My people, my friends all in peril, and for all my might, what good can I do?”
“Take it easy, Brion,” said Black Lightning. “We’re keeping the streets safe as this perpetual night falls. Plus, along with the New Titans, Captain Comet’s Forgotten Heroes, the Green Lanterns, and the Global Guardians, we’re all trying to hold things together.”
Halo’s eyes widened. “Gosh, Katana! Do you think Superman and the others can stop this Aquarius?”
The steely-eyed warrior woman said, “We must trust that they can do their part as we do ours!”
Batman nodded. “Don’t worry, Halo. Robin and I have grown accustomed to doing what we humans can do while our super-powered allies do what is easier for them. You need to accept limitations without being crippled by them.”
Robin nudged Metamorpho. “I’ve heard that speech before, but it still makes sense.”
Metamorpho grinned. “Yeah, but the thing is, kid, Batman don’t have the limitations most folks do!”
Looker adjusted her makeup, silently agreeing with her teammates.
As for Superman, he had naturally responded to the Black Canary’s alert with his customary readiness, but he was delayed by a most unusual arrival. He stood in the main street of Metropolis and listened as his friends Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lana Lang talked over the frightening changes in the atmosphere.
“It’s the dark and the cold together that scare me!” said Lana.
“I’m on my way to try to fix things now,” said Superman. “The folks at STAR Labs are on it, and we know who is behind it.”
Before he could fly off, Starman zoomed down and shoved him aside. “My love! At last we meet again!” he said passionately as he swept a startled Lois Lane off her feet and into his arms.
He kissed her passionately, and when she gasped a reply, he hushed her with his hand to her lips. “I know the words of love fail you, my beloved. They will come in time and in solitude. Let us begone!” he said as she tried to pull away.
Superman grabbed his arm, “Starman, what’s the big idea?”
Starman casually generated red solar energy, knocking Superman cold. He tossed Lois over his shoulder and flew off, leaving Jimmy and Lana to try to revive their friend.
“Jeepers!” said Jimmy.
Captain Comet frowned as he worked. “This device may allow me to drain all of Aquarius’ power, but I fear returning the power to our sun could prove decidedly tricky.”
Dolphin nodded as she watched the brilliant man at work. “Will’s with the Canary, or so she said. I wonder how he’s doing, being drawn back to the heroic role he considered giving up and all.”
Nadir, master of magic, smiled sadly. “Mara, I fear for those of us with the drive to help or do good, leaving the heroic life is almost beyond our means.”
The Enchantress held his hand and said, “I wish my magic could do something. I need to make up for my time under the spell of the Wizard of Ys!”
“You are, June,” assured Robotgirl. “Just take it one day at a time.”
The Vigilante smiled. “I reckon y’all don’t need a man who is good with a six-iron. Guess I better just wander to the mainland and try to help keep order in the streets.”
Captain Comet nodded. “Please do — you, Joanie, Nadir, and any of the rest you can summon.” He labored over the sapping device and hoped they could all make a difference.