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 STARMAN: Life After Death 
A Limited Series

Part 4: Starcrossed

by Joel Ellis Rea
Intended to be published in the May issue of Showcase ’94

Page 1 — Splash

Similar to the second pages of the previous chapters, showing Starman in the process of recounting these events to his loved ones, in the park-like place where he's telling them this.

Caption box:Several months ago —

STARMAN: I came face-to-face with my creators — my parents, in a sense. I had learned how powerful I was, and now I was about to learn why I was created, and just what I’m to do with all this power.

Chapter Title: “Starcrossed”

Next Several Pages

Panels of Starman, Maya the Earth-goddess, and Ra the Egyptian Sun god. Starman's expressions throughout show an undercurrent of awe.

MAYA: My son, usually my children learn their natures and abilities over time, giving them a chance to adapt. You do not have this luxury.

RA: The spawn of the Serpent-Who-Never-Dies is abroad in your world, ravaging the body of your mother for his evil ends. Though Apepherself is long since dead, her foul child is carrying on and surpassing her vast evil.

STARMAN: Serpent? Apep?

RA: Apep was my ancient enemy. She was the Serpent-Who-Never-Dies, and she and I were to battle throughout eternity. I created the Metamorphæ to aid me in this battle, but as our worshippers passed away, so did our power, and our very life force. I adapted by finding new worshippers elsewhere, albeit under different names. She could not, and so she, too, was no more -- the Serpent-Who-Never-Dies was dead.

MAYA: But before she died, she concentrated her remaining evil power into a massive egg shaped from carbon, the basis for life itself, in its purest, most beautiful form: the crystal men value and call “diamond” — but corrupted, black as the void itself. She allowed it to incubate in the most violent and negative emotions of all humanity, so that anyone experiencing those emotions would in effect be worshipping her son, even if they had never heard of him, so that he would never starve and die from lack of worship as she was dying. After she was dead, her foul spawn hatched during a total eclipse of the Moon, and so was born Eclipso.

STARMAN: So that’s why he’s vulnerable to direct sunlight! As the son of your appointed enemy, Father Ra, your radiance is his weakness!

RA: That is true. My power bars him from half of Maya’s flesh at a time, but I cannot protect the other half. Thus I needed the Metamorphæ, and you. What little of my power is reflected by the Moon weakens him slightly, but when Maya’s form blocks my light from the Moon, or the Moon blocks it from a portion of her skin, then is Eclipso’s power ultimate. Then, he can possess humans even without negative emotions on their part, as he did to the mortal Bruce Gordon over the years.

MAYA:This is the danger. In the past, Eclipso would possess mortals such as Gordon and use them to do his bidding, spreading his evil. But mortals alone limited what he could do. Now, however, my body is host to a new breed of mortals — the metahumans, not to mention the mortal children of others like me, my sister worlds, who have come here with powerful abilities of their own. When Eclipso possesses them, he claims their power as well, and can add it to his own. Elementals and Metamorphæ alone are no longer sufficient. Thus, you are needed.

RA: That is not all. He even now is plotting to slowly adapt the carbon-based pollutants rapidly filling Maya’s veil, causing them to act as tiny black diamonds. Once this is done, he will be able to possess anyone not exposed to my radiance, anywhere, with minimal negative emotion on their part. Those same pollutants will darken the sky, helping to block some of my power, weakening my ability to undo his evil influence. He will use his pawns over the next several years to increase the output of such carbon-based pollutants, in amounts sufficient to block my radiance enough that he can act even in the daytime.

STARMAN: My God! He could then possess almost every superhuman on the planet, at once! Even with my power, I’d be no match for that!

RA: You know now that you can resist Eclipso’s control by destroying and then recreating your body should he try to possess it. But we permitted him to possess you during his latest scheme. Your lack of knowledge of your true self let you experience the full impact of his control. You had to know what it was like to be controlled by him — how no exercise of will alone would be sufficient to break his control once it is established. You had to learn that for yourself — otherwise, you would never be able to bring yourself to do what you must do.

MAYA:There is only one thing you can do, my son. It will not be pleasant, and it will be very difficult, but it must be done. Only you can do it.

Next Several Pages — Interlude

Back on the mountaintop in Asia. Monarch,with helmet off and showing the face of the female Dove, confronts the immobilized Hawk.

Caption 1: Interlude. These events are currently unknown to Starman, and thus are not part of his recounted experiences, but do concern him closely.

Caption 2:A particular Himalayan mountainside —

HAWK: No. I may have been gullible before, but you won’t fool me this way twice! You’re no more Dove than you are me!

MONARCH: And why do you say that?

HAWK: Because Dawn and I are equals. She couldn’t have beaten me so easily. Also, she’s too goody-goody to ever want to take over the world.

MONARCH: Ah, but I’m not just Dawn Granger. I am also your brother. We have merged, becoming twice what either of us were before — twice as powerful as you. We are Ultimate Order, and we remade the world of the future in our image.

At this, “Dove’s” face shifts to that of Don Hall as Dove I.

HAWK: Even so, I can stop you. Neither of you ever could predict me. I’ll find a way.

MONARCH: Given time, you probably would. But time is something you no longer have.

Monarch blasts Hawk, this time full-force, with both gauntlets. Hawk’s body is burned as badly as Dove’s was in A:2001 #2, and he soon reverts to Hank Hall. Monarch then lifts Hawk’s body, and walks off with it. Monarch'snext balloons are all thought balloons.

MONARCH: It is done. I cannot actually kill you, any more than I could your partner. The forces that created you are even older and more universal than those which created me. But I have damaged both of you enough so that your mystic energies are concentrated on maintaining the spark of life that remains. It will rebuild you, over the years, and you will come to plague me again.

Monarch enters a cavern, wherein is the comatose body of Dawn Granger. Monarch lays Hank Hall beside her.

MONARCH: Now I know why it is that when you two first re-appeared in my time, you mistrusted each other — Hawk especially mistrusting Dove. It was my own doing, to provide my younger self more time to do what he had to do without interference from the only superhumans he lacked the power to actually kill. By appearing as Dove just now, I gave him reason to mistrust her in his future, which is my recent past.

Monarch exits the cave, and blasts it, causing a cave-in.

MONARCH: The two of you will sleep for years now, and will not be able to prevent what is to come. I almost wish you could have, but no. I did what I had to do. The stakes were, and remain, too great.

Caption box: End Interlude.

Next Several Pages

Back to the park-like place where Starman is recounting his experiences to his family. They are looking at him aghast, as if he had just told them something they refuse to accept — which is, in fact, the case.

MARIE: NOOO! You can’t mean it!! You have my son’s personality! You can’t seriously consider this!

JAYNE: All of them!? The good as well as the evil!? Surely you know you would never get away with this, Starman! They’ll stop you!

STARMAN: I don’t want to, but I have to! I must deny Eclipso his most powerful weapons, to buy time. And then I must eliminate the negative emotions that empower him and perpetuate his existence. As for them stopping me, they believe me dead, remember? I will never again wear this form, nor that of Will, publically. I can become anyone or anything. I can control matter at all levels, and energy as well. I will pick them off one by one, and they will never suspect it is one being that is doing this to them. They’ll never even know that I exist.

JAYNE: You honestly plan on murdering every single superhuman on the face of the Earth? Superman? Flash? What about your girlfriend, Kitty Faulkner? She’s a superhuman too, remember? Rampage?

MARIE: And then you’re going to rule the world? Hitler thought he had good intentions too, you know. No matter how you try to justify it, what you plan is evil. We’ll warn the superheroes, you know. Will you kill us, whom you remember as your own mother and sister? Because that’s what you’ll have to do to stop us.

JAYNE: (very quietly, as yet another horrible truth dawns on her) No. He won’t kill us. He doesn’t have to.

MARIE: Why not?

JAYNE: Because he already has.

MARIE: What!?

JAYNE: Look at this place! He said he would take us to a peaceful place to explain his return. You don’t get much more peaceful than this! (turns to face Starman) This is Paradise, isn’t it? I remember your description — this place matches exactly! You killed us already!

MARIE: Is this true?

STARMAN: Yes. When I came to Mom’s house today, and you were comforting each other over my “death,” I used my Metamorph power to release ether and carbon monoxide into the air as we talked. You died without ever noticing. As an Elemental, I can see spirits with some concentration, and I took you directly to Paradise. I had to — not to stop you from warning the world, but because what I plan to do will, over the short term, cause misery and hardship in the world. I must do it now, while Eclipso can’t take his fullest advantage of the additional negative emotions that would result. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it if you, the people I love most, would suffer from my actions. I knew for a fact that there is life after death, and that for you the afterlife would be peaceful and happy. Will is here, as is Ray, so your family is truly reunited at last. I envy you.

MARIE: You envy us? We’re dead, thanks to you! You’re alive, you filth! To think you lived under my roof for months!

STARMAN: Yes, I envy you! You’re at true peace now, and forever! I will never know true peace, even when I have succeeded in bringing it to the rest of humanity. What I do goes against everything I believe, but there is no other way! It’s either this, or Hell on Earth under the heel of Eclipso. I must not only eliminate all superhumans, both metahuman and alien, to deny Eclipso his arsenal, but I may also have to eliminate such skilled and self-trained humans as Batman who may otherwise discover me, before I’m ready to reveal myself. Then I have to take over rulership of the world, establishing a utopia to eliminate the root causes of anger, greed, and other negative emotions, and thus expunge Eclipso forever, once and for all. Even so, I’ll not be able to face the world, knowing what I’m doing. I’ll cover myself — hide my face in shame from the world I must rule, though even with the powers I’ve known about all along, changing that face is trivial. You don’t hate me nearly as much as I hate myself for what I must do. Many of those I must execute are my friends! I — (at this he turns away, unable to face them anymore) — I’ve done what I promised, and explained my return. I must leave you now. Will and Ray are coming to meet you. I have much to do on Earth — so very much to do.

FINAL FEW PAGES

The mountain in Asia. Monarch stands there, still wearing Don Hall’s Dove-face, and holding his helmet under one arm. The following are all thought-balloons.

MONARCH: Everything is now in place. My necessary rule remains assured. None of the heroes are aware of me, or rather of my younger self — all think me defeated, thanks to Hawk. The only one who has access to any clue about the truth is that fool Ryder — had he less scientific brilliance and more common wit about him, he would realize that he could not have saved his child-self from the fallen building, from an experience he was able to remember as part of his past while still in my Utopia, if history had truly changed in such a way as to derail that Utopia. [Behold the "Mon-El Moment"!] On the contrary — that memory of his, along with his saving his own child-self from the aftermath of a battle that would never even have happened had he not come back in time trying to thwart me, proves that the future history that leads to my Utopia remains unchanged! And he is the only one who has the memory needed to recognize the significance of this, and yet he never will. It’s simply not in him. Though a brilliant scientist, he has absolutely no detective ability. He never knew that I had had his memories scanned, and knew of that incident in his childhood, and could even access the memories that he had been blocking. I recognized what he didn’t — that it was his own altered future-self who had saved his child-self, and thus knew that he had to be permitted to go to the past, as part of my own rise to power, and that I had to allow this, even though I knew that it would empower him, and that he was intending to derail the timeline leading to my Utopia before it ever began. Ironically, he tested the future of every super-hero with his new-found abilities, looking for me — every one, that is, except my younger self, who at that time was wandering the American desert in disguise from both his heroic and normal forms.

Next three panels zoom in on Monarch’schest, as he slowly raises the helmet up.

MONARCH: My younger self is even now returning to Earth from the spirit realms. His future is my past, and is now assured, as I knew it had to be. I have done all that is necessary for him. I wish I could meet him, and advise and comfort him, but I know that this is not to be. I do not remember such an incident myself, and dare not tamper further with history now that my timeline is a certainty. All I can do for him is honor him, by wearing his — my — true face one last time, before I return to the future to continue my rule.

Final three panels show Monarch’s helmet slowly being lowered over his true face — the face of STARMAN.

The End of “STARMAN: Life After Death”


Continue on now to the combined Epilogue to both this story and the Joe Public story.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
"alt.showcase.94" concept by Joel Ellis Rea.
This story is © 1999 by Joel Ellis Rea.


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