- What's your story, anyway? You're some kind of vampire, right? The type that sucks blood, turns into smoke, doesn't go to church on Sunday? Right. We all know the drill. Gestapo's watching. Let's do this before the radiation in this joint cooks the juice out of all of us.
- — The Bat
Synopsis for "The Blood-Soaked Sands"
The issue starts off on Earth-19 with this reality's Batman perched on a high building. Hearing a cry for help Batman swoops into mid-air and an unseen force whisks him away.
Similarly on Earth-21 where a similar thing happens to Earth-21's Wonder Woman as a unseen assailant kills Steve Trevor and teleports Diana. As in Earth-12, Green Lantern Hal Jordan is teleported away in front of Firestorm in which Jordan's kidnapper foretells him that he may return to "recruit" him.
In the skies above Earth-31's Russia as that world's older Superman prepares for battle against Brainiac, Monarch fully appears before him. Startled by the Monarch's appearance, the Earth-31 Superman is transported away from his source Earth to re-appear on the Monarch's satellite.
The Earth-31 Superman wakes up and meets with Earth-21 Wonder Woman and the other assembled superpowered beings. Monarch then appears and kills many of the heroes with his powers just to get the survivors' attention. The Monarch tells them (while fighting, and beating, three Supermen who retaliates at Monarch's murder) he has selected several versions of the superpowered beings from across the known 52 multiverses to battle with each other in the life threatening radioactive arena designated as the Bleed. They will fight to determine the most powerful of the assembled beings, who will then be forced to join the Monarch's army in a war against the Monitors. According to his rule, a single Arena battle will be pick for each counterpart, as well in providing a view screen of the battle to the superpowered audience. Monarch lastly forewarn them that if they try to escape from him, there will be consequences "far more severe than you can possibly imagine."
The first of the assembled counterparts to fight are the Nightshade/Shades. Eve of Shadows and Nightshade of Earth-4 introduce to each other, and Eve tries to reason and analyze their situation. However, the third Shade (The Shade), reveals herself as a villain of her reality, attacks her counterparts. The Shade subdues Eve of Shadows with her shadow creatures and kills Nightshade by severing her limbs, and prepares to kill Eve of Shadows. Fortunately, Eve of Shadows use her powers in bringing the evil Shade and herself to the Shadowlands. Within the Shadowlands and fully powered by its reality, Eve of Shadows kills her evil counterpart by decapitating her. After finishing her, Eve use the opportunity of the Shadowlands to escape to her home reality. After arriving in front of her home, Eve is shock to discover Monarch carrying her motionless husband, Brigadier Atom. Monarch tells her that she should have taken his consequences seriously, and then destroys Earth-13's North America with his power. Monarch then take a deeply shocked Eve back to his satellite as he coldly tells her that the destruction of her country were her fault if she hadn't escape from him, and declares her to be a part of his army, to Eve as a punishment.
Back at the Monarch's satellite, Monarch retells to the stunned superpowered heroes and villains of the consequences given the devastation of Eve of Shadows' country and coerce their option of fighting in his Arena. The gather beings are at a dire predicament, but the alternate Batmen (with the exception of the Vampire Batman) and Supermen tries to reason with the group of working together and plan of overthrowing Monarch. Monarch return to the beings' prison and drops the corpse and remains of Earth-4 Night Shade. Monarch then chose the second group to fight, which is composed of the Batmen.
Once in the Arena the Batmen of Earth-19 and 40 work together in battling the Vampire Batman. Batman-19 sends two knives plunging into the Vampire Batman's eyes, after which he breaks his neck as The Bat puts a cyanide pill into the vampire's mouth. After The Bat attempts to stake him through the heart, the Vampire seems to flee by dissipating into smoke, leaving the two men to battle against each other, as they swear to a "gentlemen's agreement" without weapon or tricks, "only skills".
Unfortunately, the Vampire Batman had no such concerns, appears and bites the throat of Batman-40 as he saved his counterpart from the Vampire by knocking him out. Vampire Batman then prepares to feed on Batman-19, but only for the Monarch to intervene, pushing the Vampire aside and teleporting the other Batmen from the Arena. Vampire Batman is then declare as part of Monarch's army.
Back in Monarch's satellite, Monarch briefs to the heroes and villains of which combatants will participate in the third battle. Having disgusted with Monarch's brutality, Earth-31 Superman refuse to comply with Monarch and declares to his fellow prisoners of joining him in his stance.
Appearing in "The Blood-Soaked Sands"
- Superman (Earth-30)
- Christopher Kent (Earth-16) (First appearance)
- Jay Garrick (Earth-2)
- Johnny Quick (Earth-3)
- Lia Nelson (Earth-9)
- Diana Trevor (Earth-34)
- Diana Prince (Earth-18) (First appearance)
- Diana of Paradise Island (Earth-21)
- Hal Jordan (Earth-5) (First appearance)
- Hal Jordan (Earth-12) (First appearance)
- Bruce Wayne (Earth-32)
- Theodore Kord (Earth-33) (First appearance)
- Daniel Garrett (Earth-39) (First appearance)
- The Scarab (Earth-26) (First appearance)
- Ray (Earth-10) (First appearance)
- Apollo (Earth-50)
- Ray (Earth-6) (First appearance)
- Starman of the Black Planet (Earth-48) (First appearance)
- Starwoman (Earth-7) (First appearance)
- Starman (Earth-17) (First appearance)
- Quantum-Storm (Earth-37) (First appearance)
- Captain Atom (Earth-38) (First appearance)
- Robin (Earth-37) (Dies)
- Batgirl (Earth-37) (Dies)
- Steve Trevor (Earth-21) (Only appearance; dies)
- Firestorm (Earth-12) (First appearance)
- Brigadier Atom (Earth-13) (First appearance)
- The other unnamed characters that were obliterated by Monarch are Earth-26 (animal) Teen Titans, alternate Firestorms, alternate Batgirls and Robins with one pair appearing to be based on Batgirl and Robin Thrillkiller while the other Robin matches the appearance of his Pre-Crisis Earth-Two counterpart, an alternate Lobo, Ultraa, L.E.G.I.O.N from the Legion Elseworld story L.E.G.I.O.N. 90210, Justice Society of America members (Mister Terrific I, Black Canary I, Hourman I, Doctor Mid-Nite I) from JSA: The Liberty Files, and JLA members (Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, and the Atom) from what resembles to be from the universe of JLA: The Nail.
- This issue also shipped with a retailer incentive variant cover illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and Mick Gray.
- Includes DC Nation editorial #90 by Dan DiDio which is only two sentences as a prelude to a larger commentary.
- Superman (Earth-31)'s conversation with the President of his reality shares some traits with the real-world Ronald Reagan, as it is suggested from the reference of the unseen President asking if Superman would like a reward of jelly beans, a favorite confectionery to the then President.
- The evil Shade who appears in the former Starman series is a man though here is reconfigured into a female version who is shocked at the true ruthlessness of her Earth-13 counterpart who casually pulls the female Shade's head off of her body to win the tournament. Though The Shade's world is unspecified, but is likely possible that she is actually a female version of Shade from the gender-reversed world of Earth-11.
- The aftermath of the Arena fight between the Batmen was previously shown in Countdown to Final Crisis #20.
Links and References
The events from this issue or series are related to the Countdown to Final Crisis. Countdown was a weekly series spanning exactly 52 issues, and tying in with plots across many story arcs all over the DCU. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Countdown Crossover category.