The villain called Eclipso, now possessing the body of Lady Lunar, smirked and laughed bitterly as he began his story, his voice deep despite his outwardly feminine features. “I was a defeated man. The second Green Lantern had beaten me and robbed me of the solar jet. (*) Then, to my own shock, I emerged anew during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Something about that weird cosmic event gave me new freedom, but I knew it was fleeting, for I was still bound to Bruce Gordon in the incarnation awakened during the time-tossed Crisis. I encountered other criminals like Captain Cold and Copperhead during our assault on the other Earths, but they lacked that certain something that I needed to survive. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “In Brightest Night,” Green Lantern v2 #186 (March, 1985), “Revelations,” Swamp Thing v2 #46 (March 1986), and “War Zone,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 (December, 1985).]
“Then I met Lady Lunar, whose moon-based powers spoke to me in some arcane way. (*) I passed some of my consciousness on to her. I’d never been able to do so to anyone else. We met defeat. I vanished. However, when Stacy Macklin returned to her Lady Lunar persona after Black Manta changed her for his own plans, I whispered to her from within. It took time, but I urged her onward to here where one other mystic diamond still existed. She claimed it, half-thinking it was some lunar relic, and… oh, how I claimed her!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Villain War, Chapter 3: Three Worlds to Conquer.]
“Batman told me about you,” said Captain Comet. “You are not a god — just a villain or madman with mystic powers. We’ll stop you!”
“True. I am just a criminal schemer and not some demigod of vengeance, but I have room to grow!” Eclipso waved one hand, and the energy of Lady Lunar exploded to force them all above ground. The sheer force of the blast sent several rocks soaring, and one grazed Nadir’s head. The Master of Magic fell into the Enchantress, who tried to support him.
“What’s happened to her?” asked Dolphin. “We all read her file! She looks different!”
“She’s become possessed by a monster called Eclipso,” said Captain Comet. “I know how to defeat him.”
“So do I!” shouted Major Victory. “Hit him hard, team!”
Captain Comet shook his head. “Brute force won’t work! Sparkler, Lady Liberty, Glider, Enchantress, use any light-based attacks you have!”
Major Victory frowned in irritation as his partners obeyed Adam Blake. Still, he was a hero, too, and he obeyed. “I have limited starburst powers! They are light-based!” he said.
They all blasted Eclipso with their light until he staggered back and said, “Clever, Captain! Still, in her body, I have one new option! Her lunatic touch may spread my might!” Weird energy that alternated from green to black bathed the nearest heroes. As it touched them, they changed to resemble Eclipso. He smiled and said, “Excellent! Her power to alter minds allows me to control more than one host!”
Indeed, to Captain Comet’s dismay, his allies began to change and smile darkly, though his own mental shields kept him free. He immediately noticed that Dolphin had vanished in a flash of magic. Her father’s ornate glyph hovered briefly where she had stood. Arion’s protective magic seems to have spirited Mara away again, he mused. No doubt it was the magic of the threat that activated his spell. I’ve got to talk to them both about this later.
The Enchantress had long been the victim of a dark evil, and her own mind was now heavily guarded. Nadir was stunned. The light generated by the Golden Glider’s gemstone had shielded her, and the powers of Sparkler and Lady Liberty had protected them. However, Major Victory had fallen to the power of Eclipso, as had Silent Majority, Terra-Man, and the Shadow-Thief.
Zond shrieked, “You won’t take me over. I swear it!”
“Oh, I won’t need you!” said Eclipso. “Part of me dislikes you immensely.”
The Shadow-Thief slipped closer to Zond and stabbed him in the back with a small dagger. Even in his possessed state, Carl Sands seemed to brighten visibly as Zond groaned and fell to the ground.
Terra-Man charged toward the heroes who were still free. “Kill ’em, y’all!”
“Take out the source, and we’ll likely free them,” said Captain Comet. “Watch my back, Glider!”
The Golden Glider pursed her lips and said, “Oh, I always do!”
Captain Comet flew over Terra-Man and was struggling to reach Eclipso, when the replicating doubles of Silent Majority began to grab his legs, and Major Victory punched him in the jaw.
The Golden Glider skated across a stream of ice generated by her skates and started to spin ever faster. The gems that hung as a belt on her skirt glowed brightly, and the Top-inspired weapon forced back some of the possessed foes. I can spin as long as I have to, but it’s all defensive! she thought.
Sparkler pleaded with his hero. “Major! You got to resist it! We need you! America needs you!”
Meanwhile, the eclipsed Mayflower sent vines growing to wrap around the Enchantress and Lady Liberty. The French beauty cried to her old friend, “Rachel, stop! This ees madness!” The powerful vines snaked around Lady Liberty’s legs as she burned them away with her torch. The destruction of her plants shocked Mayflower as well, who gasped in pain.
Terra-Man and the Shadow-Thief charged toward the spinning Lisa Snart and brought her down by sheer force. As the beautiful blonde fell, she shouted, “Boys, please! I can only sign autographs so fast!”
Captain Comet blasted Major Victory with a mental bolt and tried to free Will Vickers’ enslaved mind, but it was all the man of the future could do to stay aloft as his foes swarmed over him.
“Hold on, Captain! Help has arrived!” cried a newcomer.
Glancing up, Captain Comet saw the Manhunter leading his Task Force X team through the jungle. They had tracked Carl Sands via his energy pattern as Amanda Waller had ordered.
Captain Comet knew Paul Kirk from their days battling Darkseid and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, yet he was surprised to see that the clone had survived. Manhunter respected Captain Comet and knew he could be counted on in a fight. His own allies were less reliable. He led a team of villains seeking parole. Their legs were bound with devices to allow him to track them or punish them should they seek to escape or disobey him.
The first figure to leap into battle was the dark-costumed man called Deathstroke the Terminator. He used his battle staff to shatter the vines growing around them and watched as Mayflower fell into a swoon from the feedback. He had keenly deduced that such would be the effect of his destruction of the plant life she nurtured. Slade Wilson was a veteran of combat and had fought soldiers, mercenaries, and super-heroes in his time. This was nothing new.
Manhunter was perhaps even more skilled in combat, and he gave an appropriate order: “Boomerang, take down the doubles!”
A siren sound staggered the multiple forms of Silent Majority as a boomerang spun near his many bodies. “Wish I had that naif around durin’ my rogue days!” sneered Digger Harkness, alias Captain Boomerang, as his sonic-rang caused Silent Majority to wince in pain.
The Shadow-Thief vanished into the shadows and moved closer to attack another newcomer. He shuddered as a bullet missed his head by a fraction of an inch. He had become solid again, and the shot would likely have ended his life.
“I see you! One of the perks of my lens!” said Deadshot as he aimed his wrist gun once more. The former Batman foe had been a fake hero once and was now equally skilled at stopping criminals with his superb marksmanship. The fact that the Shadow-Thief hadn’t been killed meant that Deadshot’s bullet had gone exactly where he intended it to.
The Enchantress chanted as the second Terra-Man roped her with a high-tech lasso. It had moved with a will of its own via his cyber-link with the device. She gasped as it rendered her hands and mouth of no use. She could not cast her spells, and she fell helplessly at his feet. He showed little gratification, since his mind belonged to Eclipso.
As Eclipso gestured, the darkness struck Boomerang, who became yet another slave to the villain. “You merely add soldiers to my army!” he laughed.
The Golden Glider yelped as the light hit her, and she was also eclipsed. She had broken the gem light when she had fallen. Manhunter, firing his own gun, shattered the icy trail she was using. As she fell at his feet, he bound her swiftly and efficiently.
The Shadow-Thief jumped forward and caught Deadshot in a tight embrace. The pair tumbled down a rocky slope, struggling madly.
Then Deathstroke gasped as the Cheetah clawed his back and pounced on his shoulders. He flipped her forward and brought his fists down on her head. She moaned and kicked him savagely. She was holding her own with him when the black-green energy struck him from behind.
Eclipso laughed and said, “Captain, you are losing allies with every second!”
Captain Boomerang hurled another weapon. A razor-rang almost decapitated Lady Liberty, and she broke her torch across Terra-Man’s head. The energy she generated came from her body, but the torch was her focusing device, and the bright light left the cowboy dazed but free. “Whut happened?” he muttered.
Manhunter spun to kick Boomerang down. He hated to fight his own ally, but it was certainly not the first time he had come to blows with a member of Task Force X. “Captain, any ideas?” he called.
Captain Comet shoved Major Victory into Shadow-Thief as he emerged from where he had left a beaten Deadshot. Sands was not hurt and crept ever closer to fight anew. “Sparkler! Keep using your light to hold Lunar back!” Comet called as the brave boy flew around the hovering Eclipso like a patriotic moth.
Barney Buchanan was afraid. He hero-worshipped Major Victory with a passion, and he feared his hero would remain a monster under the control of the villain. Still, his powers were able to fight the evil well, and he vowed to fight on as Vickers would have wanted.
Deathstroke, grappling with Captain Comet, said, “You cannot beat me! This one uses ninety percent of his brain capacity!”
Captain Comet twisted free and backhanded him aside. “Call me when you work your way up to one hundred percent!”
Major Victory struggled to his feet. “Comet, I’m trying to fight for freedom!”
Captain Comet noticed that, apparently by sheer strength of will, Will Vickers was trying to retain some sense of self. He wondered whether it had been seeing Sparkler in peril that had inspired him, or if it had been the boy’s plea that America needed Major Victory. Captain Comet took the chance to try something new. He used Victory’s partially enslaved mind as a conduit for his own power and sent a subtle but potent mental compulsion through the hero toward his master.
Lady Lunar suddenly shuddered and clutched her chest as she generated a burst of energy skyward. The resultant explosion left her drained of power. In the voice of Stacy Macklin, she cried out, “Please help me!”
Captain Comet mentally sent the diamond hurtling into the ocean. Grabbing Lady Lunar, he said, “Stacy, I’ve placed a mental block that prevents you from ever becoming Lady Lunar again. That helped you fight free of the hold Eclipso placed upon you via that diamond. I think you’ll be fine now.”
Slowly, Captain Comet’s Forgotten Heroes awakened and gathered their senses. Manhunter’s Extreme Justice also recovered from the battle. The Force of July congratulated Major Victory on fighting Eclipso enough to regain his will.
“You did eet, Major!” said a smiling Lady Liberty as Sparkler shook hands with his mentor.
“I could not let America down!” said Vickers.
Nadir the Master of Magic bent over the injured Zond and said, “This fellow is going to recover from the wound in time.”
“None of them have any lingering traces of Eclipso that I can detect,” added the Enchantress. “Even Lady Lunar is free.”
Manhunter shook hands with Captain Comet as their teams bound the defeated Crime Champions. “Shadow-Thief, Terra-Man, and Zond are secured,” he said. “Lady Lunar will need help. I’m not certain she was mentally responsible for her actions. Astronaut Brice Rogers will testify more accurately. He was the first Moonman.”
Captain Comet nodded. “I’m glad to see you. You must have escaped the explosion from our fight with Darkseid. Or are you another clone?”
“Let’s just say I’m a friend,” said Manhunter, smiling enigmatically.
Debbie Domaine muttered, “Rachel, this is the last time I ever do you a favor. You can’t imagine what I’ve been through.”
Mayflower held the Cheetah in her arms and smiled. “It’s OK,” she said. “Comet smoothed things over with the ASA, and Carlyle will recover. We know you were trying to stop those creeps.”
The Cheetah smiled and thought, Idiot. The combination of Lunar’s magic and Eclipso’s power has brought me to my senses. I’ll play along with the gal pal act until you are satisfied, then the Cheetah will prowl again, and a certain Amazon will regret it!
“When I recover, I’ll get you all!” vowed Zond.
The Shadow-Thief scowled and said, “Shut up! It was worth being eclipsed just to have stabbed you!” Then he was gone.
Carl Sands blinked in surprise and looked around. He was not in Tropidor. He was in a lab where he now faced several costumed figures. “Mirror Master?” he asked.
The man in orange and green grinned. “Actually, I’m the second one. You know the Scarecrow and Poison Ivy, but let me introduce our new members. This is Fadeaway Man; he replaced the late Tattooed Man. That final member more than adequately replaces the missing Chronos. I present the Time Commander.” He waved toward a gaunt man in a straw-lined suit, a nubile woman in a leafy bikini, an old man in a fancy cape, and a stern figure in purple and blue.
The Shadow-Thief gulped. “Members? You mean–?”
The second Mirror Master grinned. “You pane me! Surely you understand. We’ve formed a new Injustice Gang, and you are invited to join. That’s why I had T.C. pluck you from Central America. The heroes think you were never there. Of course, your pal Zond is healed, too, as a side effect, but why quibble?”
The Shadow-Thief shrugged. “Why, indeed!”