- Writers: Joshua Williamson, Brandon Thomas, Stephanie Phillips, Dan Watters
- Artists: Valentine de Landro, Inaki Miranda, Stephen Byrne, Christopher Mitten
- Penciller: Phil Hester
- Inker: Ande Parks
- Colorists: Marissa Louise, Triona Farrell, Nick Filardi, Stephen Byrne, Dave Stewart
- Letterer: Tom Napolitano
- Cover Artist: Bryan Hitch
- Cover Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Cover: In the background is Darkseid whom we last saw in the previous issue killing the Quintessence and the Spectre. Top left are Mr Bones and Obsidian; below them is Roy Harper; beneath him is President Superman of Earth-23; to the right of him is Jade; and below her is Psycho Pirate.
Page 1 – Panels 1 and 2: As the captions say, this is Mr Bones, director of the Department of Extranormal Operations, or DEO.
Page 1 – Panel 3: He’s sorting through a collection of audio cassette tapes (which is very old school). Note the two on his desk are labelled Roy Harper and Alan Scott, while the one in his hand is Cal Ellis, the surname partially obscured. His comment about “every Earth” having “one of these guys” references the ubiquity of Superman variants throughout the Multiverse. It’s not meant to be taken literally, though, as neither Earth-4 nor Earth-5 (among others) have a Superman.
Page 1 – Panels 4 and 5: The voice on the tape belongs to Cameron Chase, the DEO’s best investigator whom, we learn later, Bones has charged with investigating various characters. Calvin Ellis – the name on the tape – is the identity of the Superman of Earth-23.
Page 2 – Panel 1: And here’s President Superman in his civilian guise. The caption, showing his thoughts, is interesting as it mentions Earth-24; according to the MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK, Earth-24 is one of the seven unknown worlds. With the remaking of the Multiverse, of course, who knows if that’s still canon, but as the Multiverse map was used in INFINITE FRONTIER #0, it stands to reason that it is.
Page 2 – Panel 2: The President’s staff are dealing with an issue of an alien armada approaching Moon-3.
Page 3 – Panel 1: And just as many worlds have Supermen, so they will use the “this looks like a job for” line.
Page 3 – Panel 2: In a neat reversal, however, President Ellis is requesting that they find a solution that doesn’t require Superman’s involvement. As he refers to Superman in the third person, it’s not entirely clear if the staff here know that Ellis is Superman.
Page 3 – Panel 4: With the mention of a Jimmy, it’s tempting to assume that he’s referring to Jimmy Olsen who may be the Vice President. The caption’s a little ambiguous as he may be speaking to Jimmy and then to the Vice President. If anyone can clarify, use the Contact Me link at the top and send me some information.
Page 3 – Panel 5: Kelex is a Kryptonian robot that serves Superman. That he has a Kryptonian robot flying around the White does seem to indicate his identity is known.
Page 4 – Panel 2: Superman’s aide Courtney knows of Justice Incarnate, the team of heroes from across the Multiverse that Superman leads, and which stand against threats from beyond this Earth’s universe.
Page 4 – Panel 5: Like the “this looks like a job for” line, it seems most Superman will strike the open shirt revealing the S shield post as well.
Page 5 – Panel 2: A giant Brainiac robot, wielding the globe from atop the Daily Planet building, attacks Metropolis. The Superman on Earth-0 has also utilized robot duplicates in the past.
Page 5 – Panel 6: “Perry” is presumably Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet here.
Page 6 – Panel 1: The House of Heroes is the headquarters of Justice Incarnate, situated in the Bleed, the space between the universes. Machinehead of Earth-8 is another member of the team.
Page 6 – Panel 3: Superman visits his Earth parents and shares a morning prayer.
Page 6 – Panel 4: Markovia, at least on Earth-0, is home to the hero Geo-Force.
Page 6 – Panel 5: Superman is being punched by . . .
Page 7 – Panel 1: . . . the Kryptonite Man.
Page 7 – Panels 2 and 3: But the best way to avoid a radioactive source, is to get into a radiation proof suit at superspeed.
Page 7 – Panel 5: And on to the next problem that needs to be solved.
Page 8 – Panel 2: There’s another mention of Moon-3 which was the situation being discussed in the White House at the start of the story.
Page 8 – Panel 3: Cadmus on Earth-0 was responsible for cloning, creating the Guardian, Dubbilex, and eventually Superboy.
Page 8 – Panel 5: Superman is constantly concerned about the time.
Page 9 – Panel 1: Repairs to the Daily Planet after the earlier attack by Brainiac.
Page 9 – Panels 2 to 5: It’s not just planet threatening attacks Superman deals with; he also finds the time to fetch a lost dog.
Page 9 – Panel 6: And back at the White House, the staff have worked out what they need to do.
Page 10 – Panels 1 and 2: Superman’s aide wonders about his attempt to find time that Kelex points out is actually counting down even as she asks the question.
Page 10 – Panels 4 to 6, and Page 11: And here we find out why Superman has been trying to find some time during the day, even if it is just a couple of minutes: within a void gifted him by the Black Martians, he can switch off and recuperate, and reinvigorate himself.
Page 12: He returns to face the armada arriving near Moon-3.
Page 15 – Panel 1: On the left is Green Arrow, and on the right is Roy Harper as Speedy. The white on black caption is Cameron Chase’s audio from the cassette that Mr Bones is listening to and, as she says, Roy was supposed to be dead, having been killed in the HEROES IN CRISIS story published in 2018.
Page 15 – Panel 2: As the caption says, this takes place years before in Star City where Roy and Arrow are facing off against Deathstroke.
Page 16 – Panel 1: A run down of Roy’s various codenames (which is why I’m referring to him as Roy throughout) where he’s been known as Speedy, Arsenal, and Red Arrow.
Page 16 – Panel 4: Deathstroke escapes as Roy’s arrow misses. Chase’s audio lists the various teams he’s been connected with over the years.
Page 16 – Panel 6: Chase mentions Roy having gone through hell, and we’ll get a glimpse of that in the next few pages.
Page 17 – Panel 2: Arrow refers to Deathstroke as Slade, the villain’s real name being Slade Wilson.
Page 17 – Panel 3: Arrow’s mention of Buddhist monks and archery is a call back to the GREEN ARROW series of the 90s where Arrow stayed with some monks and met Connor Hawke who would be revealed as his natural son, and who would later take on the role of Green Arrow after Ollie died.
Page 17 – Panel 4: Roy may have missed Deathstroke with his arrow, but he’s also missing the point of Arrow’s story.
Page 18: In a bar in New Mexico, Roy is getting the stuffing beaten out of him by Big Bill, while Chase’s commentary wonders who Roy will become now that he has returned from the dead.
Page 20 – Panel 2: Roy coming back from the dead before may be a reference to his return in DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL where he was resurrected by Batman to fight The Batman Who Laughs.
Page 20 – Panel 3: Depending on which timeline you reference, Roy has either been an alcoholic or, more famously, suffered from heroin addiction.
Page 20 – Panel 4: Clockwise from bottom left behind Roy are Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and Robin, all members of the Teen Titans. At various points, multiple members of the Titans have been killed, most returning to life some time later.
Page 20 – Panel 5: He worked for a time with Deathstroke, and had a long standing relationship with the assassin Cheshire.
Page 20 – Panel 6: It was with Cheshire that he had his daughter Lian who died thanks to mass destruction of Star City caused by the Electrocutioner, at the behest of Prometheus.
Page 20 – Panel 8: He stands with Cheshire at the grave of Lian.
Page 21: The self-destructive nature of Roy has come to the fore and he’s actually hoping that Big Bill will kill him.
Page 22: And it looks as though Roy is about to get his wish until . . .
Page 23: The bartender steps in and distracts Big Bill’s attention, which in turn forces Roy . . .
Page 24: . . . into choosing to save the bartender and become the hero which, at heart, he’s always been.
Page 25 – Panel 5: Roy senses that he’s made the right decision, that when he had to step up and be a hero, he overcame his own urge to end himself and did the right thing.
Page 25 – Panels 6 and 7: Unsure to whom Roy is referring here – it may be Donna Troy who was like a big sister to him in the Titans, or perhaps Black Canary who helped Roy overcome so much.
Page 26 – Panel 3: And here’s Mr Bones, listening to the tape.
My Brother Is A Kind Of Shadow
Page 27 – Panel 1: Mr Bones would definitely remember Jade and Obsidian as he made his first appearance as the leader of the Helix team of villains that fought against the brother and sister when they were members of Infinity Inc. Jade died in the Rann/Thanagar war during INFINITE CRISIS and returned to life at the end of BLACKEST NIGHT. Obsidian attempted to cover the world in darkness in JSA in 2003.
Page 27 – Panel 3: Green Lantern on the left hugs his son Obsidian; this is just after the evens of INFINITE CRISIS #0 when Green Lantern has come out as gay to both Obsidian and Jade.
Page 27 – Panel 4: And this is Jade, on the roof of the JSA headquarters in New York.
Page 28 – Panel 1: The Starheart, shown as the green star in her palm, is the source of Jade’s power.
Page 28 – Panel 3: The whole multiverse being reborn happened at the end of DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL . . . but Jade and the rest of the JSA returned at the end of DOOMSDAY CLOCK.
Page 28 – Panel 5: The heroes greet themselves by their first names; their full names are Jennie-Lynn Hayden and Todd Rice, their surnames being different as they were adopted by different families.
Page 29 – Panel 1: As mentioned above, Green Lantern came out as gay in INFINITE FRONTIER #0.
Page 29 – Panel 5: In the background, on the left, is Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern that Jade dated for a while; on the right is Parallax, the Fear Entity.
Page 30 – Panel 1: Obsidian gives a potted history of the Starheart, and Jade reveals her fear and worry about it simply stopping working.
Page 30 – Panel 3: Their conversation is interrupted by a warning going off.
Page 30 – Panel 4: However, Jade is unsure what the warning refers to. With all the Multiversal rebirths, it’s hardly surprising her memory isn’t perfect.
Page 30 – Panels 5 and 6: Obsidian understands Jade’s hesitancy about using her powers to travel a great distance, so offers an alternative method.
Page 31 – Panel 3: The Shadowlands are the source of Obsidian’s powers, and also the same dimension that other darkness wielding characters, like Nightshade, use.
Page 31 – Panel 4: Jade can’t help feel nervous while travelling through the darkness, even if it is under her brother’s guidance.
Page 32 – Panel 1: But they manage to step outside into bright sunshine.
Page 32 – Panel 3: The music that Obsidian hears is about to become important.
Page 32 – Panels 4 and 5: Jade spots a man walking off the edge of the cliff . . .
Page 33 – Panel 1: Jade is clearly doubting her ability to use and/or control the Starheart.
Page 33 – Panels 2 and 3: Despite Obsidian’s powers running the risk of corrupting him, he uses them to save the man without thinking.
Page 33 – Panels 4 and 5: With the man in some form of trance due to the music, Jade and Obsidian decide to investigate.
Page 34 – Panel 1: The source of the music, the apocalypse song, is Chroma, an old Infinity Inc villain the heroes faced years before.
Page 34 – Panel 2 to 4: Chroma’s promise not to return to Earth for a million years, which they made at the end of their last encounter, has been circumvented by the rebirth of the Multiverse and it’s new vibrations and sounds, which they want to hear brought to their end by destroying the world.
Page 35 – Panels 1 and 2: Despite her concerns about the Starheart, Jade readies herself to fight Chroma.
Page 35 – Panels 3 to 5: But before she can act, Obsidian swallows them all in darkness.
Page 36 – Panels 1 and 2: Instead of fighting, Obsidian has brought Chroma into the Shadowlands where they discover the darkness is even more intriguing and worth singing of than Earth’s destruction.
Page 36 – Panels 3 to 5: With Chroma saying it’ll take anything from twenty minutes to fifteen million years to finish singing of the Shadowlands, Obsidian and Jade leave them to it.
Page 37 – Panel 3: Back in the desert, Jade worries about Chroma returning and what the heroes will be able to do to stop them.
Page 37 – Panels 4 and 5: Obsidian has Jade listen to the song coming from the Shadowlands and she realises it’s beautiful.
Page 38 – Panels 1 and 2: Despite, or perhaps because of, all he’s gone through, Obsidian feels that there’s little sense worrying about things that might happen and instead, they may as well enjoy life.
Page 38 – Panel 4: Understanding the point her brother’s made, Jade embraces her power, however different it may be, and flies once more.
The Two Totalities
Page 41 – Panel 2: Back with Director Bones bemoaning running out of alcohol.
Page 41 – Panel 4: The Totality that Chase refers to is the team of heroes and superheroes that came together following the events of DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL and who are committed to preventing any new multiversal crises from occurring.
Page 42 – Panel 1: This might be redundant, given the caption on this panel, but this is J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter from Earth-0.
Page 42 – Panel 2: Equally redundant, this is J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter from Earth-23.
Page 42 – Panel 3: Both Earths have formed their own Totality groups, both with the same members. Meeting here on Earth-0, they have ended up fighting. At the top, on the left, is Hawkgirl of Earth-0, on the right Hawkgirl of Earth-23. Below them are the two Martian Manhunters we’ve just met. At the back on the left is Lex Luthor of Earth-23 battling Vandal Savage of Earth-0. At the back on the right is Vandal Savage of Earth-23 fighting Mr Terrific of Earth-0. In front of them are two Talia al-Ghul’s fighting, with Earth-0’s on the top and Earth-23’s on the bottom. And at the front of the page is Earth-23’s Mr Terrific on the left fighting with Earth-0’s Lex Luthor.
Page 43 – Panel 1: The Manhunters explain both teams were testing the same device at the same time on their respective worlds, which is why the ended up in the same place.
Page 43 – Panel 3: Rather than fight like their team-mates, the two Manhunters aim to end the conflict, recognising they have the same goals.
Page 43 – Panel 4: Martian Manhunter of Earth-0 admits to his counterpart that there are some on his team that he does not trust.
Page 43 – Panel 5: While the Manhunter of Earth-23 admits he trusts his team, some form of portal opens in the sky behind him.
Page 44 – Panel 2: And that portal allows the Superman of Earth-23 to arrive.
Page 44 – Panels 3 and 4: Interesting that both teams have a protocol established for dealing with the unexpected arrival of a Superman.
Page 44 – Panels 5 to 7: Superman shows how smart he is by recognising that what he’s seeing is a telepathic projection.
Page 45 – Panel 2: Superman mentions Hawkgirl having a uropygial gland which means, as the Earth-0 Hawkgirl’s wings are metal, the Earth-23 Hawkgirl must partake in some preening.
Page 45 – Panel 5: And the Vandal Savage of Earth-23 breaks cover by attacking Superman . . .
Page 46 – Panels 1 to 3: . . . which ends as you’d expect.
Page 46 – Panels 4 and 5: The teams, minus the Manhunters, appear before Superman.
Page 47 – Panel 3: In Manhunter’s Psychic Safe Room, the Earth-0 team regroup only to be told by Martian Manhunter that one of them is a spy, a member of the Earth-23 team, and they need to reveal the reasons why they joined the team to prove they are the genuine members.
Page 48 – Panels 2 and 3: Luthor and Mr Terrific share a rare moment of agreement when they suggest that Manhunter himself may be the duplicate.
Page 48 – Panel 5: Talia mentions “the detective” who is, of course, Batman.
Page 49 – Panels 1 to 3: Talia reveals her reasons.
Page 49 – Panel 5: Luthor reveals his.
Page 50 – Panel 1: Mr Terrific reveals his.
Page 50 – Panel 2: Vandal Savage refuses to reveal his reasons.
Page 50 – Panels 3 and 4: Hawkgirl is now convinced that Luthor was right and that Manhunter has been switched.
Page 51 – Panel 2: Martian Manhunter reveals that, despite his concerns, they all worked as a team when convinced there was a threat to them.
Page 51 – Panel 6: The test complete, they return to Earth-23 . . .
Page 52 – Panel 1: . . . where they find Superman and Vandal Savage fighting.
Page 52 – Panels 2 to 4: The Manhunters share the details of their tests and their encounter.
Page 52 – Panel 5: They say farewell with a wry goodbye.
Page 53 – Panel 1: Director Bones on the radio to his secretary Mildred.
Page 53 – Panels 2 to 4: He is running through the halls of the DEO, attempting to lead someone somewhere.
Page 54 – Panel 1: And that someone is a monstrous version of Captain Boomerang.
Page 55 – Panels 1 and 2: Prior to that meeting, Director Bones is asking if Boomerang remembers being eaten alive which happened in DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL GUIDEBOOK.
Page 55 – Panel 3: The radiation infused monster was the version of Boomerang that was eaten in the GUIDEBOOK.
Page 56 – Panels 1 to 4: Bones clearly doesn’t believe him, however, and suspects the Multiverse has affected Boomerang. (Of course, there’s also the question of how Bones knows about Boomerang’s transformation and death . . . )
Page 56 – Panel 5: Boomerang’s name is George Harkness, and he also uses the nickname Digger.
Page 57: Locking Boomerang in his cell, Bones triggers a burst of radioactive gas, forcing his transformation.
Page 58 – Panels 3 and 4: Bones is a little surprised to see the cell wall crack beneath Boomerang’s fists.
Page 59 – Panel 1: The Director as Mr Bones, villainous member of Helix.
Page 59 – Panel 2: As a reformed member of Infinity Inc. Behind him, left to right, are Fury, Nuklon, and Jade.
Page 59 – Panel 3: As the Director of the DEO. Behind him is Amanda Waller, head of Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad.
Page 59 – Panel 4: Having a disagreement with Batman.
Page 59 – Panel 5: On the screens behind him, top to bottom, left to right are Robotman; Ragman; Harley Quinn; Catwoman; Superman; Mr Terrific; either the Spectre or Green Arrow; Black Canary; Batman; the Question; probably Solomon Grundy; Poison Ivy; and Martian Manhunter.
Page 60 – Panel 1: And we re-join the main story where Boomerang has caught up with Bones.
Page 60 – Panels 2 and 3: Despite his appearance, Bones does have skin covering his body – it just happens to be invisible and impregnated with cyanide, which Boomerang discovers the hard way.
Page 61 – Panels 4 and 5: Boomerang snaps off the Doomsday-like bone extensions from his back and hurls them at Bones.
Page 62: Bones manages to lure Boomerang into the cell and orders Mildred to begin an untested protocol.
Page 63 – Panels 1 and 2: Boomerang is zapped with some form of energy.
Page 63 – Panels 4 and 5: It appears that energy has allowed Boomerang to retain his monstrous shape but has also cleared his mind.
Page 64 – Panel 1: Bones has history with the Multiverse as he was originally from Earth-2, pre CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.
The Third Question
Page 67 – Panel 1: Bones looks as the file of the Psycho Pirate, originally a small time Earth-2 villain who played a pivotal role in the original Crisis as well as INFINITE CRISIS, and who for the longest time was often said to be the only person who remember the pre-Crisis worlds and the events of Crisis.
Page 67 – Panel 4: The cassette for Psycho Pirate is blank; not just white, but utterly featureless.
Page 68: A man seeks the Lonely Man, in a building that appears to be two-dimensional. He finds a table upon which sits the Psycho Pirate’s Medusa Mask.
Page 69 – Panel 1: And here is the Pirate himself.
Page 69 – Panels 3 and 4: The man outlines the deal – he is to wear the mask and answer the Pirate’s questions. If answered correctly, the man receives some of the Pirate’s power; if not, he will never be seen again.
Page 70: The man answers the first question in a satisfactory manner.
Page 71 – Panel 1: Pirate refers to the original Crisis and how he became “unstuck from the universe“
Page 71 – Panel 6: The man again answers the Pirate’s question.
Page 72 – Panel 6 to Page 73 – Panel 2: The man answers the Pirate’s third question but fails the test.
Page 73 – Panel 4: The Pirate’s reference to the world being “mere months old” is following the events of DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL when the multiverse was remade once more. “Gutters” is the name for the white space between comic panels on a page.
Page 73 – Panels 5 and 6: Gutters which Psycho Pirate rips down around him.
Page 74: The Pirate reveals the behind the scenes foundation of their universe, a scene so terrifying that the man is literally scared to death.
Page 75 – Panel 2: As the Pirate retrieves the Medusa Mask, he becomes aware of the narration continuing around him.
Page 75 – Panel 4: Pirate’s surroundings begin to bound him once more.
Page 77: And he is revealed as being within the full stop at the end of a sentence that says “Darkseid is.“
Page 77 – Panels 2 to 4: Darkseid brings him to Earth-Omega and offers to remake the Pirate.
Page 77 – Panel 6: The screams of Psycho Pirate’s remaking are heard . . .
Page 78 – Panel 1: . . . on the tape that Director Bones listens to.
Page 78 – Panel 4: And with that, Bones destroys his tape player.