In September of 1996, an alien refugee by the name of Dusk crash-landed in Metropolis' West River on Earth to warn the planet of the coming of an entity known as a Sun-Eater. As its name implied, this artificially created black hole was en route to Earth to literally consume Earth's sun. Many of Ear The Final Night is a 1996 crossover storyline written by Karl Kesel with art by Stuart Immonen. The main story, about a Sun-Eater threatening Earth's Sun, was told in the miniseries The Final Night (Volume 1), with tie-ins in the majority of other series. It had major impact on the DC Universe, with the deaths of Hal Jordan, Ferro Lad and Blackfire, and Superman losing his powers due to changes to the sun.
In September of 1996, an alien refugee by the name of Dusk crash-landed in Metropolis' West River on Earth to warn the planet of the coming of an entity known as a Sun-Eater. As its name implied, this artificially created black hole was en route to Earth to literally consume Earth's sun. Many of Earth's heroes convened for a special session in the hopes of developing a solution for this pending crisis. Among the assembled characters was longtime Superman adversary, Lex Luthor. Although Luthor's motives were born largely out of self-interest, he also recognized the seriousness of the situation and agreed to set aside old grudges in order to save the Earth. Also in attendance were the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group of teen heroes from the 30th century. The Legion proved invaluable as they had historical references to draw upon, documenting the demise of Earth's sun (unfortunately information from the future relating to the 20th century was not always reliable).
Mister Miracle was the first to develop a strategy to stop the threat of the Sun-Eater. At the urging of his wife, Big Barda, Miracle created a gigantic Boom-Tube, designed to shunt the Sun-Eater to an alternate location away from Earth. The Sun-Eater proved too powerful for the device however, and it caused the internal circuitry of the Boom-Tube to overload. As the device reached critical mass, Takion used his time-distortion powers to move everyone to a safe distance.
The second strategy proved just as unsuccessful. The heroes hoped that they could lure the Sun-Eater away by creating a "second sun". Several energy-based heroes including, Ultra Boy, Firestorm, Sentinel, Green Lantern, Ray, Fire, Inferno and Superman pooled their resources and created a massive ball of thermal-energy. The sphere of energy was so massive in scale that people across the country gawked in wonder at Earth's "second sun". This plan however proved fruitless, and the Sun-Eater engulfed Earth's sun.
Within thirty-seven hours, Earth was already beginning to reel in its death-throes. Civil unrest and riots broke out across the globe. Twenty foot high snowdrifts blanketed the continents and the seas began to freeze. Many heroes did whatever they could to save lives and bring comfort to the frightened masses.
Lex Luthor realized that no plan of action could be taken until they learned more about the device itself. Working with the Legions' Brainiac 5, Luthor developed a probe that could withstand the intense heat of the Sun-Eater. Green Lantern, at great risk to himself, flew the probe into the heart of the Sun-Eater and deployed it.
Back on Earth, Etrigan the Demon, acting as an emissary from Hell, offered to protect the citizens of Earth from their ultimate fate. The offer naturally came with an unwelcome caveat – the immortal souls of every single human being on Earth. Even the Pope publicly renounced Etrigan's offer and a headline in the Daily Planet read, "Etrigan: Go to Hell".
Other cosmically powerful beings found themselves as unwilling spectators to the disaster. The Spectre, refused to offer substantial aid, declaring that if it was God's will that Earth should die, then so be it. However, he did approach Gaea, the spiritual mother of the planet, and attempted to keep her warm during the Darkest Night. Even the Phantom Stranger could do little but watch as people cowered in fear. He took the alien, Dusk, on a spiritual journey across the globe, showing her that the people of Earth were deserving of hope.
As bleak as things appeared, they only got worse. Brainiac 5 discovered that the sun, was shrinking in size, and yet it maintained its mass. This led him to believe that the sun would ultimately go supernova and the resulting backlash of thermal energy would destroy all life on Earth. The heroes labored to find a way to shield the Earth from the solar nova.
Lex Luthor designed an interlinked network of force field modules. With the aid of the Flash, he managed to produce 500,000 of these devices that he hoped would create a force field large enough to shield the entire planet from the sun's supernova blast. To deploy the modules however, someone had to manually fly them towards the sun at the moment of nova. Superman, already greatly weakened from the loss of yellow star radiation, volunteered to pilot Dusk's ship towards the sun and activate the force field network. A young neophyte hero named Ferro recognized that Superman was too important to sacrifice and took it upon himself to pilot the ship. Ferro would have died in the blast, but for the intervention of the most unexpected hero of all – Hal Jordan. Jordan, having acquired massive amounts of power as Parallax, saved Ferro from certain death and returned him home.
As Parallax, Jordan had once tried to save the Earth by reshaping it in his own image. The experience branded him as a super-villain and earned him the enmity of nearly every other hero on Earth. With a greater clarity of mind though, he now realized that Earth must be saved despite his own maddened ambitions. Parallax entered the sun and absorbed all of the energy from the supernova blast. He then re-channeled the radiation, as well as his own green energy to reignite the star thus saving all of Earth. The effort proved too much for even one as powerful as himself, and Parallax died at the heart of the sun.
Even though the Earth was now safe, massive geological upheaval had devastated the globe. The heroes worked tirelessly to restore the damaged ecosystem, and in time, everything returned to normal.
- Green Lantern (Volume 3) #80
- The Power of Shazam! #20
- Sovereign Seven #16
- Superman (Volume 2) #117
- Adventures of Superman #540
- Batman #536
- Green Arrow (Volume 2) #114
- Supergirl (Volume 4) #3
- Action Comics #727
- Aquaman (Volume 5) #26
- Detective Comics #703
- Superboy (Volume 4) #33
- The Flash (Volume 2) #119
- Hitman #8
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #86
- Robin (Volume 2) #35
- Spectre (Volume 3) #47
- Superman: The Man of Steel #62
- Takion #6
- Parallax: Emerald Night #1
- All four issues of The Final Night were reprinted in trade paperback format in 1996. The collection also includes The Final Night preview solicitation.
- Parallax: Emerald Night #1 served as a tie-in special, and took place between The Final Night #3 and #4.
- According to Wildcat (Ted Grant), the events chronicled in The Final Night take place in the month of September.
- The Final Night is a significant event in the DC Universe, as it presents the death of former Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Jordan resurfaced in 1999 when his soul bonded with the Spirit of Vengeance, transforming him into the new host for the Spectre.
- This series introduced the character of Dusk, and the 20th century counterpart to Ferro Lad, Ferro. In Pre-Crisis history, Ferro Lad was a one-time member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who nobly sacrificed himself in order to stop a Sun-Eater.
- The Final Night was a top vote-getter for the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards for Favorite Comic-Book Story and Favorite Limited Series for 1997.
- Each issue of the The Final Night limited series included an Earthwatch website feature, as well as a projected timeline of how long it would take before all life on Earth would cease to exist.
Links and References
The Final Night Crossover