Countdown: Arena

Issue 1: The Blood-Soaked Sands

From different realities spread throughout the multiverse, Monarch abducts different heroes, taking each of them to his ship hidden from the Monitors in the extra-dimensional space between universes known as The Bleed.

52 heroes are brought together in Monarch’s ship before he appears, slaughtering a large number of them just to mark his arrival in the room before outlining his plan: that each of the heroes should battle their counterparts in order to find the stongest amongst them who would then serve in his army. They are all warned not to attempt an escape.

In the first battle, three versions of Nightshade are forced to fight before Eve of Shadows from Earth-13 wins and escapes from the ship back to her home world. There, however, she finds Monarch already waiting. He recaptures her and, as punishment for her and warning to the other heroes, destroys North America.

Monarch then pits three different Batmen against each other with Earth-43’s vampiric Batman winning out against his counterparts.

Sickened by what he has seen, Superman of Earth-31 rallies the other heroes to defeat Monarch.

Issue 2: The Face Of Death

As Earth-31’s Superman attempts to united the other heroes held on Monarch’s ship, he finds conflict with Earth-30’s Superman, a last son of Krypton raised in the Soviet Union.

Monarch arrives and as Superman attempts to stand off against him, casually puts down the rebellion before selecting three Rays to battle in his arena.

The Ray of Earth-6 won his battle by guile, earning his place in Monarch’s army reluctantly, swearing to help bring the despot down.

Pitting three Blue Beetle’s against each other, the Earth-26 Beetle quickly dispatched the other two but not before the Earth-33 Beetle managed to send a clue back to the watching heroes aboard Monarch’s ship that he had started something, a piece of work that he wished them to finish.

Starwoman found what he had been working on – an energy vest – just as three Green Lanterns were forced into the arena by Monarch who also found and damaged the vest.

Forced by the Lanterns into appearing in the arena himself, Monarch finds them teaming up against him. He, however, defeats them until only the Lantern of Earth-12 is still conscious. The other two, still alive, are transported to a holding pen in Monarch’s ship where the other surviving heroes of the contests were also held; what Monarch did not realise, though, was that the Batman of Earth-40, having been bitten by the vampiric Batman, had become a vampire himself.

Issue 3: True Colors

The vampire Batman of Earth-40 attempts to free his counterpart and Apollo who are held captive by Monarch but is unable to do so. Instead, he attempts to contact the remaining heroes.

Those heroes, particularly the Supermen of Earths-30 and 31, argue over the damaged energy vest that the Blue Beetle of Earth-33 had been working on. Monarch arrives and forces the two Starmen and one Starwoman to battle and, almost by accident, Starwoman of Earth-7 won.

The vampire Batman finds the captive heroes and deduces what the energy vest can do, giving it to Breach whose internal power source can allow him to travel between universes, collecting as many different versions of himself as he can.

As Monarch returns, the Supermen of Earth-30 and 31 battle to distract him from noticing Breach’s disappearance. Quelling their fight, Monarch forces three Flashes to fight. Using treachery, Johnny Quick of Earth-3 wins and joins Monarch’s army.

Monarch discovers the missing Breach and while the heroes attack him, he defeats them easily, transporting three Wonder Women to the arena. They fight long and hard until the Wonder Woman of Earth-34 is victorious.

Issue 4: All Fall Down

Monarch pits the three Supermen against each other, the three of them almost destroying the arena during their battle.

Elsewhere in the ship, as the vampire Batman attempts to free the captive heroes, he and his allies are attacked by Monarch’s troops, leading Batman to think it’s a trap. Monarch arrives and confirms his suspicions, revealing that both the Blue Beetle of Earth-33 and Breach were working for him all along.

The Supermen attempt to work together as Monarch appears in the arena, but he defeats them one after another until Breach arrives with the multiple versions of Captain Atom he has collected from the multiverse. Monarch absorbs the energies of his counterparts one after another, not realising that Breach, realising that what he has done is wrong, hands the energy vest to Superman of Earth-33 who uses it to escape the arena.

Finally Monarch absorbs Breach’s energies as well, claiming the Soviet Superman for his army. He finds, though, that the Earth-31 Superman had also freed his captives before escaping, taking them back to their respective Earths.

Confident that he has no need of them, Monarch plans his war against the Monitors.