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In Gotham City, Barbatos asks The Batman Who Laughs if it is time. He replies that it is time for him to wail. Barbatos is on edge because Superman's escape stopped Earth-0 from sinking into


Quote1 Stop. Just listen. You hear that? People think of birth as loud and death as silent. Things start with a bang, end with a whimper, but I'll tell you a secret. See, endings...endings are the loudest of all. Quote2
-- The Batman Who Laughs



Appearing in the 1st Story

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Synopsis for the 1st Story

In Gotham City, Barbatos asks The Batman Who Laughs if it is time. He replies that it is time for him to wail. Barbatos is on edge because Superman's escape stopped Earth-0 from sinking into the dark, and the remaining heroes are closing in on the metal that could allow them to become a credible threat to their plans. However, the head Dark Knight is confident that they will fail. He explains that all beginnings come from great noise, but Barbatos' voice is anti-music that will call forth the army of Dark Multiverse beings. As the dark dragon opens his gaping maw, The Batman Who Laughs calls for him to blow the walls off once and for all.

At the Forge of Worlds, Superman hears Barbatos' cry and alerts Batman, but Bruce is focused on trying to reason with Carter Hall. However, Carter has been thoroughly corrupted and attacks the duo. The two avoid Carter's hammer and land on a piece of debris resembling Crime Alley. Carter attacks again and they jump to another rock with a ruined piece of the Kent Farm. Superman's hope begins to falter, as the forge is no longer able to create anything but nightmares, and suggests that they regroup. However, Bruce refuses to let Barbatos take his hope away after last time. The next jump takes them to a piece of Arkham Asylum, where Two-Face, Penguin, and Killer Croc are roaming. Clinging to Dream's words about the metal hidden in the Forge, he leaps closer to the core, stating that they need to get to the bottom.

Meanwhile, Aquaman and Deathstroke exit the portal found at Arion's grave, and Arthur determines that they are at the Earth's core, where they can't contact the rest of the Justice League. He also realizes that the magma being extracted is being contained by Atlantean technology. Slade figures that whoever killed the guards at Arion's grave has been there as well, and asks about what was being done there. Arthur remembers the story of Arion saving Atlantis by using magic created at the Earth's core, but the tech before them is only partly Atlantean. Slade detects Nth Metal inside the magma, and Aquaman believes that he can operate the extractor, so the two get to work.

On Thanagar Prime, Hal Jordan is trying to create a lock pick, but because of the neural impediment caused by Starro, he cannot stay focused long enough to create any constructs. Mister Terrific is more worried about Plastic Man and what will happen if they gain control of him. Hal asks why Plastic Man is so important, so Michael explains his origins. Patrick "Eel" O'Brian fell into a vat of chemicals, made either by S.T.A.R. Labs or the Court of Owls as an attempt to forge makeshift cosmic metals. The accident that gave him his powers also made him a super-conductor for cosmic energies. As a result of the increasing levels of dark energy, the nightmares of every living thing in existence began constantly running through his mind, trying to turn him evil. To help Holt protect the Multiverse, he powered through the thoughts as best he could. Eventually they became so overwhelming that he took the egg shape to cope, and he is now fighting off an infinite number of dark impulses every second. All of this earned him Holt's respect and friendship. Hal realizes the importance of saving Plastic Man, but there's not much they can do from inside their cell. At that moment they are approached by a guard, who reveals himself to be Martian Manhunter in disguise. It turns out J'onn has been exploring Thanagar Prime to learn about the secret Nth Metal deposits, but recognizes rescuing Plastic Man as the priority. As they leave, J'onn puts up mental shields to block Starro and prepares to return Holt's T-Spheres, and Hal prepares to pay Starro back for the grief he caused.

At the Rock of Eternity, Wonder Woman questions Black Adam's motives for selling the world out to Barbatos. Adam responds that he wants a world where Kahndaq thrives, and that compromise is the only option for that to happen, a stance Diana opposes. After failing to reach anyone on the comms, she pleads with Kendra to resist Barbatos, but she refuses. Diana brings up Carter and his mace, and Adam strikes her down, saying that the mace isn't there and that Carter is already lost.

Back at the Forge of Worlds, Carter is still trying to stop Clark and Bruce from passing. An exhausted Bruce suggests Clark leave him behind and get to the Forge alone, but Clark doesn't believe the Forge has any light left and suggests retreating. However, Carter catches up to them and declares that there is no retreat. Surprisingly, Bruce agrees with him. Reciting a quote from Carter's journal, he reminds him of the person he came to the Dark Multiverse looking for: Hawkman. When Carter argues that Hawkman is gone, Bruce agrees with him again; the hero he searched for died long ago. Carter is preparing a reply, but before he finishes, Clark notices a spark of light in the forge. Bruce goes on to say that Carter may have been the greatest detective in history, because he carried the torch of discovery to light the darkness, no matter how terrifying it was. He pushed for the truth, even when it seemed as though it couldn't be found, and even when the answers weren't pleasant.

Back at the Rock of Eternity, the dent Diana made in the wall reveals Carter's mace. While she tries to reach it, Adam grabs her and claims that even with the mace, she can't win. However, Diana reminds him that Nth Metal absorbs energy, including his magic lightning. With one swing of the mace, she manages to knock Adam out. While she takes a moment to enjoy wielding the mace, she is shot from behind by The Batman Who Laughs. As he takes the mace from her, he tells her that he shot her with a bullet made of the eighth metal, the same material that makes the invisible jet. He then takes a moment to talk about all of the realities he has seen involving the two of them. While they were allies on most worlds, there were some where they were enemies. There were also a few where they had children together, until he killed them. The one constant he saw in the realities he visited is that Diana fought to the end, even when everyone else fell. A weakened Diana proclaims that her friends will find a way to stop him. He responds by telling her to listen and saying that while most believe that birth is loud and endings are quiet, his take is that endings are the loudest part of all.

At the center of the Earth, Aquaman and Deathstroke finally get the Nth Metal extractor up and running. While the machine does its work, Arthur takes the time to thank Slade for his help. He then muses about what Arion did down there to save Atlantis. Slade advises him not to think too much on it, but Arthur wants to know what dark deal was made for his kingdom's safety. As the extractor spits out a few drops of molten Nth metal, Slade tells him to focus more on the answers in front of him. As they prepare to grab the few drops of molten Nth Metal and leave, the two are hit with harpoons, and Arthur recognizes the shooter immediately: Black Manta. Arthur tries to reason with his old enemy to let him save the Earth, but he reveals that he already allied himself with Barbatos when he offered him a world where all Atlanteans are in chains. As The Murder Machine, The Red Death, and The Drowned arrive, Arthur vows to keep fighting, which is what they wanted anyway.

On Thanagar Prime, Hal, Michael and J'onn push to the throne room where Onimar Synn is clutching Plastic Man, warning them that, as with all others, their path will lead to darkness. It takes little to get him to give up Plastic Man, but he still doesn't think having him will do them any good. The team heads to the Phoenix Cannon, which was designed to empower the Nth Metal at the Earth's core to counter attempts to sink Earth into the Dark Multiverse. Holt believes they can reverse the sinking that has already taken place if they can activate it. However, he notices that the cannon's polarity has been reversed by someone. The someone in question is revealed to be The Merciless, The Devastator, and the The Dawnbreaker.

At the Rock of Eternity, The Batman Who Laughs explains to Wonder Woman that all of the heroes' missions to find the Nth Metal deposits were so the Knights could get to them without risk of harm. Using Plastic Man and the Phoenix Cannon, they can now darken the Earth's core, and using Carter's mace they can force Earth to sink the rest of the way into the Dark Multiverse. He says that even though Clark and Superman are leaping into the Forge to reach the spark, they will fail too. To top it off, Earth is now low enough for Barbatos' army to claim the world. When he finishes bragging about how epic their failure was, he leaves Diana with Lady Blackhawk to do what she always does: fight alone. Diana refuses to admit defeat, but Kendra tells her that this was the only way it would end. As Batman and Superman sink into the Forge, Superman has all but given up, but Bruce refuses to listen to his despair. At the Rock, Kendra and Diana charge at each other, and Diana wraps her Lasso around her hand and punches Kendra, at the same time restoring her mind. Kendra tries to apologize, but Diana is already moving on to the the next issue at hand. She asks if the core of the Rock can get them to Barbatos. Kendra believes it can, but his army is already arriving. Kendra tries to tell her that there's no hope, but Diana cuts her off with a glare, and they depart, with Diana hoping they arrive before the Earth sinks any further. However, the dark horde is already there. As two dark Wonder Women deliver war cries, the army charges at them.

In the Forge, Bruce and Clark are about to sink into the dark metal, with Bruce still clinging to hope that the others can win. Clark is simply glad they are meeting whatever fate awaits them together. As the dark army rushes Diana and Kendra, Diana's hope finally begins to falter. Still prepared to fight, Diana asks Kendra to yell as they fight - yell so loud that Barbatos and The Batman who Laughs can hear them - so they can understand that the screams at the endings are actually war cries. With that said, the two leap into battle.



Notes

  • This book was first published on January 31, 2018.
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