Issue #1‘s events follow directly on from the end of PLANET HEIST which saw the planet Rann, which Adam Strange has long called home, transported to the Polaris system, causing Thanager to fall towards the Polaris star, resulting in millions of Thanagarian deaths. Adam Strange helpfully recaps all this in issue 1 when he contacts Hawkman and Hawkgirl, asking for their help.
Rann offers to help the Thanagarians, evacuating as many from the doomed planet as they can. Old emnities are stirred, however, by religious elements in the Thanagarian refugee camps as well as by Rannians who “distrust off-worlders, fearing racial contamination and disease.” The Hawks agree to help Strange and transport with him to Rann.
Meanwhile, onboard one of Thanagarian war ships, officer Shayera Thal – Hawkwoman – tries to contact Hawkman herself before she is captured by a Thanagarian official.
The Hawks and Strange materialise on Rann in the middle of an all out war. They make their way to one of the bunkers to meet with Strange’s family.
Back on Earth, on Mount Everest, Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Kilowog talk with Kilowog giving Rayner orders from the Guardians of the Universe, orders which expressly forbid GL interference in the Rann/Thanagar War. Instead, Rayner is heading into space to sort out a Khundian blockade around the planet Ancar.
Strange and the Hawks meet up with Strange’s family – his wife Alanna and daughter Aleea as well as his father-in-law and de facto leader of Rann, Sardath. As Sardath informs him of an alliance between Thanagar and Tamaran, their bunker is breached by attacking Thanagarians.
Issue 2 begins on Throneworld, an ally of Rann and home to one of DC’s many characters that have used the name Starman – Prince Gavyn. He is joined in defending his planet by Tigorr of the Omega Men.
On the devastated Thanagar, undead priests ressurect Onimar Synn, one of Thanagar’s Seven Devils. He had previously been defeated by Hawkman in the pages of JSA during Hawkman’s return.
GL Rayner arrives at Ancar to find not only the Khunds but also LEGION, led by Vril Dox, who claim to be protecting the planet from the Khunds. Captain Comet, acting as a technical advisor to LEGION, translates the Khundian data banks that reveal Thanagar’s war plans which include the colonization of Rann and the liquidisation of its native people. The Khunds, meanwhile, have been charged by a religious group on Thanagar to search for deposits of the Nth metal that gives the Hawkmen the power of flight. With these plans revealed, Rayner tells both the Khunds and LEGION to leave the planet under his protection.
On Polara, now Rann’s nearest neighbour after the almost total destruction of Thanagar, a meeting takes place between Komand’r, the ruler of Tamaran (and sister of Starfire) and the Thanagarian ambassador who had captured Hawkwoman in the previous issue. They pledge to aid each other in the defeat of the Rannians with the ambassador offering Hawkwoman as a sacrifice.
The Hawks and Strange, meanwhile, apparently had a “narrow escape” from the command bunker and are leading a fleet to Polara where they engage both the Tamaranians and the Thanagarians, allowing Hawkwoman to escape her captors. However, seeing Strange, she vows to kill him as an enemy of her home planet.
On Ancar, GL Rayner discovers one of the deposits of Nth metal that the Khunds were hunting for. He is joined by Captain Comet who tells him that the last message from Thanagar that he translated, and which he failed to mention to LEGION, was sent days after the surface of the world was destroyed when nobody should have been alive to send it. Defying his orders, Rayner, accompanied by Comet, leaves Ancar for Thanagar in an attempt to ensure that Onimar Synn has not returned.
Synn, however, is alive and well on the ravaged planet and, with his undead priest Denoth, lays his plans to conquer first Rann and then the whole universe.
Issue 3 begins as Sardath and Alanna Strange watch the battle rage above Rann and deal with their tentative allies, the Okaarans and the Dominators. The Dominators are keen to secure the Rannian Zeta Beam technology, the device that allows Adam Strange to beam to and from Earth; they also reveal concerns about the Thanagarian Seven Devils cult that has influence with the Thanagarian forces and the recent alliance between Thanagar and the Tamaranians.
On Polara, the battle between the Thanagarians and the Rannians continues, with Hawkwoman attempting to kill Strange despite Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s insistence that he’s not the enemy. Komand’r of Tamaran shows her true colours by betraying the Thanagarian ambassador.
On Throneworld, Prince Gavyn and Tigorr defend the royal palace against the Thanagarians before realising that they are after a Zeta Beam transporter that Sardath had given to Gavyn. Tigorr leaves the battle in an attempt to secure it.
Back on Polara, Komand’r allies herself with the Rannian forces though Hawkwoman is against the alliance until Hawkgirl convinces her that it’s the best idea. Reluctantly, Hawkwoman pledges herself to Strange, the man she had recently tried to kill.
Meanwhile, GL Rayner and Captain Comet have arrived on Thanagar and are attacked by reanimated soldiers before facing Onimar Synn himself.
Strange, the Hawks and Komand’r return to Rann to find it under siege and Sardath convinced they will be overrun.
Issue 4 begins with GL Rayner and Captain Comet attacking Onimar Synn on Thanagar. They are prevented from trapping him there, however, by the arrival of a Thanagarian ship. To delay Rayner and Comet following him, the ship throws out life support pods with captives inside, forcing them to choose saving them over following Synn.
On Throneworld, Tigorr and Prince Gavyn manage to protect the Zeta Beam technology and defeat the Thanagarians. Having seen how badly Rann was faring, Tigorr beams to the planet with Gavyn destroying the Zeta Beam after he has gone, leaving Thanagar with no motive to keep attacking the planet.
Strange, Komand’r and the Hawks attack the Thanagarians in the Rannian city of Dys and manage to hold it. However, Strange receives word from the capital that they are under attack and, by means of a video feed, they all see that Onimar Synn himself has arrived on Rann and is busy killing as many people as he can.
Back on Thanagar, Comet and GL Rayner discover a vault full of people held in suspended animation as reserve food for Synn; now that he has left the planet, they are reviving and run the risk of suffocating in their pods. GL Kilowog arrives unexpectedly and helps them save the captives.
On Rann, Synn has taken control of the Thanagarian forces, capturing the Grand Mor, leader of Thanagar. Watching him, the Hawks, Strange and Komand’r all agree that rescuing the Grand Mor and reinstating him as leader is preferable to having the Thanagarians being led by Synn. The undead priest, Denoth, turns out to be a Rannian who leads a strike force to the bunker where Sardath and the Rannian high command were hiding; however, Sardath, Alanna and the others have escaped leaving Denoth empty handed.
Issue 5 starts with Komand’r apparently having been captured by the Thanagarians as she is led into a prison ship.
Sardath, Alanna and the other Rannians are attacked by Thanagarians but are rescued by Khundian mercenaries led by Tigorr who had used the Zeta Beam on Throneworld to get to Rann. Sardath arranges for the mercenaries to leave them as a distraction while Tigorr joins them heading for the last safe refuge on Mount Ebalon.
On Thanagar, Rayner and Kilowog set about terraforming the terrain so that the survivors of Synn’s stockpile can start getting their planet back in order. Comet, meanwhile, leaves them for Rann to continure the war.
Komand’r’s guards are revealed to be Hawkman and Hawkman and Hawkwoman who have used her to get to the Grand Mor. Komand’r betrays the Hawks, however, planning to ally herself with the Grand Mor and form a new Tamaran/Thanagar empire. As Hawkwoman tries to stop her leaving, Komand’r kills her.
Sardath leads Alanna, Tigorr and Aleea to Mount Ebalon where he reveals the advanced Zeta Beam models which, if captured by Synn, would allow him to teleport anywhere within the universe.
Synn receives an update from Denoth which is observed by Strange and Hawkgirl when an alarm is sounded warning that the Grand Mor has escaped. As Hawkman is alsmo overwhelmed by the Thanagarians, Strange and Hawkgirl rescue him. Synn almost captures them before Captain Comet arrives to save them.
Strange leads them all to Mount Ebalon where Hawkman comes to terms with Hawkwoman’s death; Comet places her body on a trajectory into the star Polaris using telekinesis. Before they can do anything else, Synn, Denoth, their undead army, Rannian prisoners and Thanagarians approach having somehow tracked them to the mountain.
Issue 6 begins with the assault on Mount Ebalon by Synn and his forces while within, Strange and the others attempt to work out how they were found; Tigorr admits that he beamed in from Throneworld and was still covered in Zeta Beam radiation which was easily tracked by Synn’s armies. Strange comes up with an idea to defeat Synn for good.
The Hawks, Strange, Comet and Tigorr use the Zeta Beams to teleport directly into Synn’s army, hitting them hard and with surprise on their side. They deliberately engage Synn and, one after another, place Zeta Beam transporter’s on his gigantic frame and activate them together. Synn’s body is sent to seven different suns in the galaxy – it seems unlikely that he’ll return.
As the undead army crumbles without Synn’s power and the Thanagarian forces are temporarily disorientated, a huge rift opens in the sky, rupturing space-time. While Thanagar may have been defeated on Rann, the forces on Polara, joined by Komand’r Tamaran army, are heading for Rann to continue the war.
GLs Rayner and Kilowog appear, giving a message of hope to the Thanagarians on Rann, telling them that their planet has been reseeded with life and its orbit stabilised. Tigorr’s Zeta Beam radiation wears off, sending him back to Throneworld and Captain Comet informs the GLs that LEGION is on its way to investigate the space-time rift.
On board a ship above Polara, Komand’r convinces the Grand Mor that the rift is Sardath’s doing, persuading him to continue the war against Rann despite having a chance for peace.
The war continues in INFINITE CRISIS #1.
The RANN-THANAGAR WAR SPECIAL takes place after INFINITE CRISIS #4 where the heroes led by Donna Troy launch an attack against the space-time rift that opened in issue 6 of RANN-THANAGAR WAR.
On Rann, Sardath discovers that the teleportation of Rann into Thanagar’s orbit was not enough to send the latter planet into Polaris and realises that something gave it a helping hand.
As the Rannians and Thangarians continue their war, the heroes of Earth see dozens of the ships destroyed as the rift is widened by two giant hands belonging, though they don’t know it yet, to Alex Luthor. As the various heroes attempt to broker peace between the two worlds, Strange and the Hawks, aided by Tigorr, find a Thanagarian satellite which recorded the moment Rann materialised next to Thanagar. It shows Superboy Prime pushing Thanagar out of its orbit and towards Polaris, the event which started the war. Before they can use the evidence, however, Komand’r and a Tamaranian ship attack them, and the satellite is destroyed by another energy wave from the rift.
GL Rayner and Jade attack the hands in the rift, but Jade is struck and injured. By the time her father, Alan Scott reaches her, she is beyond help and dies, her energy being absorbed by Rayner.
GL Kilowog, the Hawks, Strange and others return to Thanagar and find the handprints of Superboy Prime and use them as evidence that Rann was not to blame for Thanagar’s desturction, forcing a truce between Sardath and the Grand Mor. With that in place, the armies of both planets as well as their allies and Earth’s heroes turn their attention to the hands in the rift, the outcome of which is shown in INFINITE CRISIS #5.