"Nuclear Option": In Washington, D.C., Captain Atom and Amanda Waller observe a heavily restrained infected female in the deep underground of the Cadmus facility, awaiting for an unspecified amount of time on the return of Ray Palmer, the Atom, from inside the infected. Waller states that they c
- This is Lois Lane of the Daily Planet in Metropolis. I know this world looks like a nightmare. If you can hear me, I know you're scared. But you are not alone. We are regrouping. The Justice League is gathering in Metropolis. Anyone with the power or means to confront this, please come to the Daily Planet roof, if it is safe and you are capable of doing so.
Synopsis for "Nuclear Option"
In Washington, D.C., Captain Atom and Amanda Waller observe a heavily restrained infected female in the deep underground of the Cadmus facility, awaiting for an unspecified amount of time on the return of Ray Palmer, the Atom, from inside the infected. Waller states that they can't wait any longer, to which Captain Atom replies that per Plague Protocol B, Palmer has shrunken down to observe the building blocks of the virus in the hopes of destabilizing it to find a cure, and they must wait for his return. Waller retorts that the government has enacted Plague Protocol C and that Captain Atom is being ordered to begin purging the infected from the worst-affected areas in the city. In the midst of attacking infected in the streets, the Captain begins to writhe in pain. Unbeknownst to either Waller or Captain Atom, Palmer was infected during his investigation in the infected woman and went on to enter Captain Atom, where he proceeds to microscopically attack his heart, infecting him as well.
In Metropolis, Superman returns to the Daily Planet with his mother, Martha Kent. Superman, Lois, and Jon embrace her when she reveals to Jon and Lois that Jonathan Kent succumbed to the infection. Lois then states to Superman that they are ready to begin broadcasting the distress signal. Superman informs the group that he isn't staying and he is leaving to continue assisting other survivors. Green Arrow and Green Lantern attempt to stop him, telling him that it is too great of a risk of him getting infected. Superman eases their concern by informing them he has been continuously using his x-ray vision since the very beginning of the outbreak when he realized the primary means the infection transmits. Superman and Green Lantern then depart to find other heroes, while Lois begins broadcasting on all analog and television channels, informing all who could hear and had the means to rally at Metropolis to help confront the pandemic.
On Themyscira, Queen Mera arrives and informs Queen Hyppolyta on the fall of Aquaman and all of Atlantis to the infection. Diana then informs the two that she is heading for Metropolis to rally with the other surviving heroes. In Keystone City, Superman and Green Lantern locate the Flash and Kid Flash. The two inform Superman and Green Lantern that they went into hiding at the start of the pandemic at the urging of Batman to prevent becoming infected. Meanwhile in Gotham, Harley Quinn is almost overwhelmed by the infected Birds of Prey, before being saved by Poison Ivy, who dispatches all four. The two then depart together, with Ivy remarking that the Green will keep them safe.
Back in Metropolis, the Daily Planet survivors are assaulted by an infected Giganta. The group holds their ground, with added aerial support provided by Alfred in the Batwing. During the confrontation, Giganta damages the Batwing, but before it could crash, Alfred is saved by Green Lantern, while Superman knocks down Giganta. At the same time, Wonder Woman arrives and promptly attempts to kill Giganta only to be stopped by Superman. The two begin to argue over whether or not they should kill the infected, with Superman stating that there still could be hope for a cure. The argument is interrupted by Cyborg's sudden arrival and subsequent killing of Giganta by blasting a hole through her head.
Green Lantern safely lands the Batwing to which Alfred emerges from and approaches Damian. He apologizes to him on the loss of his father and delivers a suitcase to him containing a Batsuit and associated equipment. Alfred informs Damian that Bruce said he was worthy of assuming the mantle of Batman and that he was proud of him before embracing the boy. Meanwhile, Black Lightning's daughter, Anissa, gives both Flash and Kid Flash her contact lenses to blur their vision as a temporary solution to preventing infection from viewing compromised screens. Cyborg then informs the group as to the true nature of the infected, revealing that the infected are not zombies as they assumed, but rather extensions of the corrupted Anti-Life Equation. The infected are attracted to the living and their only urge is to further spread the infection, constantly seeking out life to destroy and convert.
Suddenly, Hawkgirl is seen plummeting from the sky above the Daily Planet only to be saved by Wonder Woman. She informs both her and Superman that Captain Atom has succumbed to the infection and is on the verge of inadvertently self-destructing. Both Superman and Wonder Woman quickly fly to Washington, D.C. where they find a rapidly destabilizing Captain Atom above the U.S. Capitol. The two grab him and attempt to haul him into the upper atmosphere for him to safely explode. However, before they could get high enough, Captain Atom detonates in a titanic explosion that consumes both Superman and Wonder Woman and instantly vaporizes Washington, D.C. The cataclysm quickly expands outward, obliterating several major cities such as Baltimore before finally reaching Metropolis.
As the Daily Planet survivors look on in horror, Black Lightning holds his daughters close and attempts to calm then as the light of the blast wave seemingly consumes them all.
Appearing in "Nuclear Option"
- Justice League of America
- Alfred Pennyworth (Apparent Death)
- Kid Flash (First appearance) (Apparent Death)
- Lois Lane (Apparent Death)
- Martha Kent (Apparent Death)
- Robin (Damian Wayne) (Apparent Death)
- Superboy (Jon Kent) (Apparent Death)
- Thunder (Apparent Death)
- The Anti-Living
- Harley Quinn
- Lena Luthor (First appearance) (Cameo)
- Lex Luthor (First appearance) (Cameo)
- Jennifer Pierce (Apparent Death)
- Poison Ivy
- Project Cadmus (First appearance)
- Amanda Waller (Apparent Death)
- Queen Hippolyta (First appearance)
- Teen Titans (First appearance) (Cameo)
- Arthur Curry (Mentioned only)
- Batman (Mentioned only)
- Hal Jordan (Mentioned only)
- Jonathan Kent (Mentioned only)
- United States Army (Mentioned only)
- United States of America
- Atlantis (Mentioned only)
- Batwing (Destroyed)
Variant Cover Gallery
- While Sgt. Rock is heavily featured in the cover of this issue, the latter is nowhere to be found nor even mentioned in the story.