LEGION send Lobo to investigate an alien ship that has been seen appearing through “a rift – or rend – in the fabric of space!“, putting him in as a member of a squad led by a promising new recruit that LEGION’s leader, Vril Dox, wishes to test in the field. That new recruit is Layla, a mohawk sporting, ripped T-shirt wearing, leather clad biker babe who is more than a match for Lobo, kneeing him in the groin in their first encounter. While he’s not pleased at not being the leader, Lobo is happy to join the mission when told that the Poiple Gang – who had previously stolen his space cycle – are in the vicinity of the alien craft, giving him the opportunity to get revenge.
The Poiple Gang encounter the craft and manage to get a squad aboard just as Lobo and the team arrive. Lobo’s behaviour forces Layla to hypnotise him using an amulet she owns, forcing him to obey her every command and act like a dog. Landing on the hull of the craft, Layla and her team enter and split into two groups to both track down the Poiple Gang and find if there are any aliens aboard.
Within the craft, seven aliens – the Bloodlines Parasites – awake, unsure of where they are. They encounter one of the Poiple Gang, revealing themselves to be shapeshifters before one of them, Glonth, kills him by feeding on his spinal fluid. Layla’s team realise the others are in trouble but arrive too late, as the Bloodlines Parasites feast on their team-mates after assuming their forms. The Parasites, however, discover that the spinal fluids of all of them are too bitter to consume. One of the Parasites, Slodd, attacks Layla who proves to taste delicious but before he can kill her, Lobo kills him. The death of Slodd weakens the other Parasites, leaving them limited to shifting between their normal state and those of the LEGION members they had imitated.
Lobo manages to escape with a barely conscious Layla, killing the leader of the Poiple Gang along the way, and detonates an explosive charge that damages the aliens’ ship, leaving them drifting. Layla recovers, suffering from amnesia but with increased strength and endurance, able to survive in space without a suit. As Lobo reports to Dox, the alien craft enters the solar system.
The Parasites’ ship crash lands on Earth, just outside Metropolis, witnessed by a biker gang. As the Parasites quickly cover the ship in trees to “disguise it as a small hill“, the bikers arrive and, despite the others advising caution, Angon attacks, forcing the others to join in. With the bikers killed, Angon steals one of their bikes and heads into Metropolis.
Steel is working out at his gym with his friend, Tom O’Brien, who wears a home-made Superman symbol T-shirt given to him by his siblings as thanks for looking after them. He is over-protective of them, filling in the role of surrogate father after their own father had died, and is unhappy when his younger brother Petey takes a paper delivery job to help out as Tom insists Petey stay in school and get better grades.
Arriving in Metropolis, Angon wastes no time and kills a homeless man, stuffing his corpse down a nearby drain. When Tom sees her attacking someone, he mistakenly thinks she’s the victim and rushes to save her. As thanks, Angon feeds on him and drops him down the same drain.
Steel is alerted to Tom’s disappearance and sets out to find him but he is discovered first by some Underworlders who live in the sewers. They witness his transformation into a figure covered in blades which he can fire at anyone or anything. Unable to remember his previous life, Tom scares of the Underworlders and runs just before Steel arrives. Steel finds Tom’s home-made Superman shirt among the corpses and, with the Underworlders’ description, realises something has happened to Tom just as Angon deposits another body from the drain cover above. Steel attacks her and drives her off, following her while the Underworlders contact the police.
As the police investigate, Petey arrives, worried about his missing brother. Hearing them discuss the T-shirt, he sets off to find Tom, watched and hunted by Angon. Steel finds Tom and calms him down enough to have Tom call his worried family, even though he doesn’t remember them. Still learns that Petey is now missing and the two of them find him just as Angon was about to attack. Between Steel’s hammer and rivets, and Tom’s blades, they manage to drive Angon off.
Petey names his brother Edge and Steel takes them both home.
Note: At the time of Bloodlines, Superman was still dead following the Death of Superman storyline which is why Steel is featured.
In Gotham City, the Parasite called Gemir attacks and kills a young woman before flying off with her.
Elsewhere, Batman apprehends a drug runner/money man named Shades who works for a dealer named Happy Jack. Batman convinces Shades to talk, giving up the location of Happy Jack, and decides to take his place.
Gemir deposits his latest victim in a cell he is using near Blackgate Island where he holds other, still living, victims.
At Happy Jack’s yacht, Batman – disguised as Shades – arrives, unaware the whole thing is being watched by a new vigilante called Joe Public. Batman makes his way aboard and confronts Happy Jack just as Joe Public arrives, giving Happy Jack enough time to stun them both and escape with a case of drugs. During his escape, Jack’s bodyguard Sal is captured by Gemir who flies off with him. Annoyed by Joe Public’s appearance, Batman dismisses him, telling him to quit.
Batman later encounters another vigilante, Pagan, who is trying to find the mysterious killer of a number of people in the previous week. Together they find Sal, Happy Jack’s bodyguard, whom Gemir had killed and left. At the same time, Joe Public finds Jack looking for the case of drugs Sal had dropped and they are both snatched by Gemir who flies away toward Blackgate. Spotted by Batman, he pursues them using a batwing flier, Pagan following by boat.
Joe and Jack are dropped on the island by Gemir, the fall killing Jack, leaving Gemir to feast on Joe’s spinal fluid. Batman arrives – followed by Pagan – and they attack Gemir before escaping and ending up in the same cell where the Parasite has stored his other victims. As they attack the Parasite, Joe unconsciously absorbs the strength of not only Batman and Pagan but also the other captives and is then strong enough to drive Gemir away.
Shocked by the events, Joe Public decides to retire from the vigilante game.
Note: Batman is the only character to refer to Joe as “Joe Public” and only once, even though Joe has never introduced himself by that name.
In an abandoned train station, Nick Kovak meets with his mob boss who wants to discuss the killing of an informer. Nick’s problem is that he’s the informer, an undercover agent for the FBI and his mob boss has realised this. Before his boss can do anything, they’re both attacked by two Parasites, Glonth and Venev, the former taking out the mob boss while Venev feasts on Kovak. Kovak is found sometime later by two police who barely notice him in the shadows.
The next day, Linda Park is investigating the disappearances and murders that seem to be connected to Kovak’s attackers. She tries to speak to Kovak as he’s released from hospital as he’s the first survivor, but he blows her off, trying to retain his mob cover. He phones his FBI handler who wants him to come out of the mission but he refuses, believing a rival crime organisation called the Combine are behind his attack.
In an abandoned slaughterhouse, Venev and Glonth argue about how best to deal with the humans.
As Kovak walks through Keystone City he comes across a mugging and, trying to help, discovers he has the ability to almost vanish in shadow as well as utilise other forms of sight such as seeing heat. Tackling the muggers he finds his reflexes and strength are enhanced as well.
He steals an outfit and equipment from the FBI and breaks into the Combine’s headquarters looking for evidence of their involvement in his attack but discovers instead that they had nothing to do with it. He witnesses another attack by Venev and tries to help but she gets away.
Following a clue from the crime scene, Linda and her cameraman investigate the old slaughterhouse and are attacked by Glonth who captures Linda, planning to eat her later. Following the same clue, Argus arrives soon after and is confronted by the Flash who has learned Linda is missing. They are attacked by the Parasites and drive them off, Argus proving himself a good guy by helping to save Linda before disappearing into the shadows.
The next day, Linda confronts Kovak and tells him she knows he is Argus, promising to help him if she can.
In the Gulf of Mexico, offshore from New Orleans, a Dayton Industries research platform suffers a major disaster, spilling toxins into the water. Dwight Mason is brought in to handle the press, leaving his daughter Courtney and his son Jeremy to entertain themselves. Outside New Orleans, Joe Christmas, an unemployed actor, stages a fake Voodoo ceremony for tourists, pretending to summon two spirits. He’s as surprised as the tourists when two Parasites, Lissik and Pritor, arrive and demand to feed.
The Titans are called in by Steve Dayton to help contain the toxins leaking from the research station and manage to prevent any major damage before retiring to New Orleans to relax. Dwight Mason realises his children have stolen his credit card and are now missing in the city and gets the Titans to help look for them.
Joe Christmas has organised the tourists into a gang that kidnaps victims to feed the Parasites and Courtney is among the latest catch. Lissik feeds upon her and she later awakens with no memory, calling herself Anima after a sign she discovers. Despite not remembering anything, her instincts lead her back to her family home. Confronted by Dwight and her brother, she almost attacks but is stopped by a being called Animus that resides within her. She returns to the site of the Voodoo ceremony and uses Animus to attack the Parasites just as the Titans arrive to help. Hurt by Animus, the Parasites retreat and Anima flies into the night.
Note: Anima is the first of the New Bloods not to be overtly heroic; she’s more confused as opposed to being a villain, but she’s not exactly a good person at this point.
Several weeks before the Parasites land on Earth, Metropolis landfill takes delivery of another load of garbage; unknown to the site’s workers, there is the dead body of a woman amongst the trash.
In the present, the Cyborg Superman arrives at a mass grave, the third found in a single day. He offers to help but Police Commissioner Henderson distrusts him and shuts him out of the investigation.
Back at the landfill, Gemir and Venev arrive, Gemir killing the guard before detecting the scent of the corpse dumped there weeks before. He digs it out and feeds on it, ignoring Venev’s disgust, before they both leave. The dead woman – who was once Sasha Green, a sparring partner of Lex Luthor whom he killed – reanimates and, with no memory, heads in to Metropolis. She finds an athletic club and sneaks in to use the showers. When a woman innocently touches her, she takes on the woman’s memories and personality
The Cyborg listens in on a conversation between Lex Luthor and Henderson, and uses his cybernetics to gain access to all the information Luthor has on the crime scene, as well as finding out about the murder at the landfill. As he investigates the killing, the Cyborg discovers the presence of alien DNA. He also finds personal effects of Sasha by which he’s able to identify her.
Sasha accidentally becomes involved in a gang fight and ends up absorbing the skills and personality of one of the gang members. As she wanders through Metropolis, she nears LexCorp tower and is identified. Luthor, desperate to kill her again before she can reveal his guilt, has her brought into the tower under the guise of being examined. Luthor assumes her amnesia will fade and her memories return so he detonates a bomb in the cellar of the tower which distracts the Cyborg and Henderson. This allows one of his team of assassins to get Sasha out of the building and into a helicopter where she is to be killed. Sasha absorbs the assassin’s skills, kills her and escapes into the city, becoming Myriad.
Note: Myriad, like Anima, is not overtly heroic. As she takes on different personalities, and the last one we see her absorbing is that of an assassin, it’s anyone’s guess as to how she’ll turn out.
Lissik hunts in Coast City Hospital, attacking staff and patients alike, including Nik Mayak who had been involved in a car accident and lost the use of his legs. Having heard of the attacks, most of which were committed against women, Green Lantern Hal Jordan heads to Coast City in order to find his one-time girlfriend, Carol Ferris, to make sure she’s okay. Neither her co-workers at Ferris Air nor the staff of her hotel know where she is, however.
In the hospital, Mayak recovers from the attack and finds he can now walk once more. Checking out, he returns home to find his family murdered by Lissik. Using items around his house, he fashions an outfit and sets out to find the killer, starting by asking his neighbour. The neighbour, along with several other men, attack him, slicing off one of his arms. In spite of his initial shock, as he makes his escape, Mayak realises the wound is neither bleeding nor painful.
Jordan has been informed by the police that the husbands of the murdered women seem unconcerned by the deaths of their wives and he investigates, but is attacked by the husbands. As he chases them, Mayak has a moment alone where his arm suddenly grows back. As he is set upon by the men once more, Jordan arrives and helps him to escape. Returning to the police, Jordan hears that Carol’s car has been sighted though she is still missing – unknown to them, she has witnessed an attack and fled.
Now calling himself Nightblade, Mayak accompanies Jordan as they try to find Carol, just as Lissik attacks Ferris Air where Carol had returned. During the fight, Lissik entrances Jordan just as she had the husbands of the women she murdered, placing him under her control. When she attempts the same with Nightblade, she finds he is immune to her charms, and she flees. Jordan and Nightblade fend off the remaining husbands before Jordan leaves to inform the Justice League of what’s been happening.
A spate of murders in Gotham City has the Batman investigating and he quickly tracks down Angon. Trouble is, between BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT ANNUAL listed above and this issue, the events of Knightfall have taken place and it is Jean-Paul Valley in the Batsuit and he is unprepared for the Parasite. While he manages to save Angon’s intended victim, he fails to stop the alien. Instead, reporting back to Commissioner Gordon, he advises that the police stay clear and do not engage with it.
The tactical team are unhappy with this order and plan to ignore it should they encounter the alien. When they get the chance to do so after Angon attacks a warehouse, nine of the ten men squad are killed, the only survivor being rushed to hospital. That survivor, Kelvin Mao, undergoes a transformation as he sleeps, his skin hardening, his senses heightened. When he wakes, he escapes the hospital and, using his police knowledge, sets himself up in an abandoned subway tunnel, stealing weapons and explosives from the police armoury in order to fight Angon.
Calling himself Ballistic, he uses the Bat signal to attract Batman and they pair of them agree to team up against the Parasite, planning to lead it to a building on the outskirts of Gotham, overlooking the sea, owned by Bruce Wayne. When they hear of an attack, they lure Angon away from the city and toward the building. No matter what weapons Ballistic uses on Angon, nothing seems to damage her. Eventually leading her to the highest floor, they detonate a large amount of explosives, just managing to escape themselves as the building is reduced to rubble.
Unknown to them, Angon is merely blown out to sea and emerges unscathed a couple of days later.
In a London pub, dockworker Richard Plante is approached by two government officials and taken to a hidden complex near Big Ben. There he is set upon by several giant robots controlled by other government agents. Finding a laser sword, Plante attacks and defeats the robots before being met by Lord Whitestone who informs him that Plante is to be a special operative and work for him.
At the same time, Elongated Man, Tasmanian Devil and Metamorpho are investigating a rash of murders in London. At a crime scene in London’s Chinatown, the three Leaguers are set upon by a newly armoured Plante who mistakes them for the killers. They fight before Plante leaves, determined to find the real killers. Unknown to all of them, Gemir, Glonth and Pritor stand watching on a nearby rooftop.
Plante confronts Whitestone who tells him he wishes Plante to both find the killers and humiliate the JLI in the process, thus proving that the English are better than them. Plante heads to the JLI castle and informs them that he has information about where the murderers may strike next. When they get to the location, they find no sign of anything suspicious but are alerted to trouble back at the castle by Maya firing flaming arrows into the air.
They arrive just in time to save Maya from the three Parsites, though Plante is bitten by Pritor and saved at the last minute by Elongated Man. Realising the JLI are good people, Plante returns the favour and saves the others, driving off the Parasites. He calls in reinforcements from the UN, choosing to ignore Lord Whitestone’s request and instead acknowledges the JLI and the help they gave him.
Note: It’s unclear what, if any, effect Pritor’s bite has on Lionheart. Prior to being bitten, he already had the suit and the sword and he doesn’t appear to be any different post-spinal tapping.