"Book One: Discovery": A quiet street of Gotham City suddenly explodes with the sound of a boom tube as a militant group of Apokoliptian storm troopers mobilise quickly, attempting to set up a forcefield generator to secure their first line of defense. Their p
- For the first time in ages, Darkseid the schemer needs help. Worse yet, the aid I must have lies beyond the boundaries of my realm. I am forced to seek it in the camp of my enemies. The powerful deviants and monsters I have surrounded myself with will be of no help in this struggle. What I need now are heroes.
- — Darkseid
Synopsis for "Book One: Discovery"
A quiet street of Gotham City suddenly explodes with the sound of a boom tube as a militant group of Apokoliptian storm troopers mobilise quickly, attempting to set up a forcefield generator to secure their first line of defense. Their plans are abruptly ruined as Superman and Lightray appear and force the invaders to retreat back from whence they came. The two heroes leave, failing to notice one trooper did not make it back through the boom tube.
Above a barren planet on the rim of Alpha Centauri, a boom tube opens and the Mobius Chair crash lands on the wasteland carrying the unconscious Metron. Very little time passes before another thunderous gateway announces the arrival of Darkseid who sets his four of his Techno-Chiefs to gather all the information the chair holds. On Apokolips, after researching the data, Darkseid ponders the imminent threat the universe faces and begrudgingly admits the need for outside help.
Back in Gotham, Batman meets with Commissioner Gordon regarding a spate of disappearances, including the most recent, officer Joe Bester. The Dark Detective uses himself as bait before heading into the sewers, where he follows a trail to a makeshift lair and the grisly "meat locker" of human corpses. In the confines of the tunnels, Batman hides as he hears a sound approaching from behind. The Apokoliptian trooper is a much larger and more powerful foe, but ignoring common sense, Batman kicks the gun from its hand. The alien his too strong for the human, throwing him aside before drawing a blade. In desperation, Batman picks up the alien weapon and blasts a hole through the lunging enemy's torso. By the time Batman returns to the scene with Gordon, the alien corpse has vanished.
Lonar arrives as an emissary at the White House requesting a list of Earth heroes to act as ambassadors to New Genesis. With Superman's help, Batman, the Martian Manhunter, Starfire, John Stewart and an elderly man named Jason Blood gather at the capital where Lonar transports them to his homeworld. They are greeted by Highfather, Orion, Lightray and more disturbingly, Darkseid. Highfather explains that they must all work together to avert a terrible crisis. In the Garden of Tranquillity, Highfather regales the heroes with the history of the Anti-Life Equation, and how trying to harness it for war set off a chain reaction that nearly destroyed all existence. Only two worlds orbiting a single star survived the ravages of the Anti-Life before it imploded, New Genesis and Apokolips. J'onn asks how it concerns them specifically, allowing Darkseid to explain that Metron's lust for knowledge has unleashed the threat once more, but with Metron's catatonic state many details are missing. J'onn understands his role in the selection of heroes and reaches out to Metron's mind, uncovering the shocking revelation that the Anti-Life is a sentient entity trapped in a pocket dimension. Metron was unable to reverse the equation in time and four aspects of the Entity escaped into their realm.
Using data from the Mobius Chair, Darkseid tracks the course of the four aspects, tracing them to Earth, Rann, Thanagar, and Xanshi. Darkseid calculates that if only two of the four planets should be destroyed, the entire Milky Way Galaxy will collapse in on itself, a cosmic upheaval that would potentially allowing the Entity to cross over.
Darkseid splits the heroes into teams of two and provides each a special device designed to disrupt the energy of the aspects. Superman and Orion leave for Thanagar. Starfire and Lightray head for Rann. J'onn and John are allocated to Xanshi. Batman and Forager are sent to Earth where Batman immediately makes a phone call to a friend, asking him to keep an eye on Darkseid. On New Genesis, the aged Jason Blood hobbles up behind Highfather and Darkseid to inquire why he has been involved. Darkseid reveals Blood's partner, Etrigan, as equally ravaged by time as his former host.
Appearing in "Book One: Discovery"
- Anti-Life Entity (First appearance; in a flashback only)
- The Four Aspects (Flashback only)
- Gotham City Police Department
- James Gordon
- Joe Bester (Deceased)
- President of the United States of America and numerous aides
- Batman's "Friend" (Phone call only)
- Killer Croc (Mentioned only)
- Rat-Catcher (Mentioned only)
- Solar System
- New Genesis
- The Garden of Tranquility
- Alpha Centauri
- Uninhabited Planetoid (Unnamed)
- Thalisus Minor
- Pegaron System
- Anti-Life Dark Dimension (Flashback only)
- Anti-Life Cannon (Flashback only)
- Anti-Life Catcher (First appearance)
- Green Lantern Ring
- Mother Box
- This issue is reprinted in the Cosmic Odyssey trade paperback.
- 48 page, squarebound prestige format.
- Batman mentions, "As the Caterpillar said, Curiouser and curiouser..." This quote, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is erroneously attributed to the Caterpillar instead of Alice. This is something Bruce should know, as in Madness he divulges that it was his favorite book which Martha read to him.
- Batman uses an alien gun on an Apokoliptian storm trooper. It's later revealed in that he had not intended to kill the trooper, and that he was still breathing when he left.
- Jack Kirby's Fourth World Recommended Reading:
- Forever People (Volume 1)
- Forever People (Volume 2)
- Mister Miracle (Volume 1)
- Mister Miracle (Volume 2)
- Mister Miracle (Volume 3)
- Mister Miracle (Volume 4)
- Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle (Volume 1)
- New Gods (Volume 1)
- New Gods (Volume 2)
- New Gods (Volume 3)
- New Gods (Volume 4)
- Orion (Volume 1)
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (Volume 1): issues #133-#148
- Jack Kirby's Fourth World (Volume 1)
- Death of the New Gods (Volume 1)
- DC Graphic Novel #4
- Genesis (Volume 1)