All the Justice Society saw was darkness. Dr. Mid-Nite placed his finger to his lips. "This is no simple absence of light," he whispered. "Ted, can you see anything?"
Starman shone a beam of light towards the ground, only to see it swallowed up by the impenetrable night. "You've got the right of it, Doc," he whispered back.
Green Lantern narrowed his eyes. "I don't think it's safest for us to be airborne," he said. "I'll try to make enough of a bubble of visibility in which we can at least land safely." He expanded the platform which the non-flying members of the Society had been standing on to make a protective sphere. and Starman assisted him by adding his light to the Lantern's. Slowly, they descended to ground level.
There was a familiar sound and Dr. Mid-Nite tilted his head curiously. "Hooty?" he called, and then recoiled in shock at an angry screech and the sensation of razor-sharp claws against his face. Only his goggles prevented him from being permanently and truly blinded.
"Return, Deathclaw," said a voice, and the darkness began to retract, revealing a quintet of darkly garbed individuals, surrounding the Society:
Ian Karkull, a man in shadow form:
Night, a woman in a black leotard and boots who carries a bullwhip;
Fog, a long-haired man in a grey bodysuit and goggles;
Night-Owl, a pointy-eared bald man wearing a grey bodysuit and black boots, with a very mean looking owl perched on his arm;
Shade, a tall man dressed in a suit and top hat, his face partially concealed behind an eyemask.
"Shade," the Flash hissed, "I see you escaped from Iron Heights Penitentiary's death row, you murderer."
The Shade smirked and bowed deeply, and Ian Karkull waved his hand dismissively. "Whatever crimes he may have committed are as nothing in our new world order." His voice was a modulated absence of sound which somehow managed to be understood.
"My brother and I have come to realise that as well," said Night; "to the true masters of the world, national boundaries are only like cages for dumb animals, and some of us have chosen to be the keepers rather than the pets."
Rand cupped his hand to his mouth and whispered to Starman, who nodded. The cosmic knight stepped forward. "You've made a deal with the Spider Men of Mars, haven't you? You realise they're not even from this planet. They don't care about you and you won't be able to trust them with any promises they might have made to you giving you any kind of power."
"So you know about the Kigor." Karkull's body language managed to convey his surprise, "but it matters little. The superior man uses what tools he is offered in order to conquer … and even science and magic may be brought together to those ends. But my decision to allow you to see the face of your executioners was an indulgence which has grown tiresome."
Emerald light blazed out from Green Lantern's ring, soon joined by illumination brought down from the stars themselves, courtesy of Ted Knight's cosmic rod.
Karkull recoiled in revulsion, but as Night and Shade summoned darkness from the shadowlands and Night-Owl activated his black light projectors, the Society found themselves once more in darkness.
"Is this supposed to impress us?" Mid-Nite activated his goggles.
"I ain't been scared o' the dark since I was knee-high to a grasshopper," Hourman said, cracking his knuckles.
Fog's body started to dissipate. "Then I'll have to give you new reasons to be afraid," he said, transforming himself into a mist-like form that slowly began to asphyxiate Hourman.
Dr. Mid-Nite scowled at the personal attack. "Cover of darkness isn't going to protect you from me," he said to Night-Owl. "Maybe you were able to give Iron Munro a hard time, but you'll find the Society is made of sterner stuff." His sought to conceal with his bravado the fact that the artificial night was proof against the technology he invented,
The Flash felt a familiar chill, and understood that his old foe the Shade had targeted him. He set up an antipathetic vibration, attempting to disrupt the darkness his old foe had generated.
Ian Karkull gestured, pitting his dark magic against the magic of the green flame, just as Night sought to conceal the light of the stars.
The Justice Society found themselves ensconced in a sort of nightmare, the lack of light intruding into their bodies like a chill in their bones even as they were barraged by attacks which seemed baffling and incomprehensible. The blackness which shrouded over them combined both science and magic as their foes coordinated their attacks. Ordinary men would have fallen into the depths of despair as the umbral tendrils permeated their very souls.
Only they were not ordinary men, and the entity which had once brought the gift of power to the man called Alan Scott would not allow itself to be so casually snuffed out. Stronger than his own will, the green flame burned, and the entity which had once been the man called Ian Karkull cried out in pain, his personal darkness retracting. That was enough to throw out the balance, and it was not long after that justice was returned to James Street.
Karkull had barely enough magic left that, augmented by the Shade, the allies were able to fade to the darkness dimension. Hourman ground his teeth in frustration. "Lantern, is there any way to follow them?"
"I might be able to detect the vibrational frequency they were using," the Flash said. "Perhaps I can generate a – "
His words were interrupted by a burst of flame from the sky. He looked upwards. "Now what?"
The Freedom Fighters descended from the skies, and looked around at the devastation on the street caused by the battle. "Nice try at mimicking the JSA," Plastic Man said, "but you're even uglier." He turned himself into an enormous ball and began to ricochet around the street, gathering velocity and rebounding off Starman's hastily constructed gravity shield with enough force to knock the scientist off his feet.
Dr. Mid-Nite groaned wearily. "We're not … aaah!" Black Condor swooped towards him, grabbing hold of his wrists to left him off the ground, throwing him against the wall of aa nearby building.
"Enough!" the Flash said, any further action interrupted by Quicksilver and the two raced down the street, the Flash's slightly greater speed almost compensated by Quicksilver's superior agility.
Exhausted, Starman pit his light against the Ray's, and the green flame roused itself once more in battle against the scarlet flame which Wildfire had been granted by the gods themselves.
Hourman struggled to catch hold of Plastic Man, whose elastic body constantly changed as he attempted to struggle with it. "I've fought alongside the Freedom Fighters, engaging in a battle like this is sheer madness."
Plastic Man paused, peering at Hourman through blank-carapaced eyes. "That's not public knowledge. Uncle Sam's original team only went on one secret mission, and not all of them survived." He transformed one of his hands to a megaphone. "Stand down, Freedom Fighters, I think we've been had."
Shadowman activated his boot-jets, taking to the air with surprising speed. The speed of light was greater, though, and pair of piercing blasts from the hands of the Ray sent him tumbling to the ground, landing in an enormous catcher's mitt moulded from the hand of Plastic Man.
Black Condor approached the struggling agent provocateur. "A nice attempt at playing the Justice Society and the Freedom Fighters for fools," he said, "but we've never marched to anyone's tune but our own … and Uncle Sam's."
"Well played, Condor … and the rest of you." The man of mystery known as Rand appeared, and was quickly introduced to the Freedom Fighters by the Flash. "The Spider Men of Mars have been attempting to control human society for centuries, and this was only their latest strategy. Shadowman and his masters were the organising sponsors behind the criminals which attacked both teams, and as Hourman correctly surmised, had planned to pit you against one another."
"What do you want, Rand?" Shadowman spat out.
"They are not for you," Rand replied. "Plastic Man, I think you can release him. He's relatively harmless now."
Plastic Man tilted his head curiously. "I'm a much better catch anyway," he says, retracting his hand. Shadowman dropped to the floor and rolled to his feet, eyeing the assembled heroes contemptuously and brushing dust off his cloak.
The Ray and Firebrand, Green Lantern and Starman, each felt the light touch of Rand's mind within their own, as the mystery man closed his eyes. "He may have been rendered harmless, but his controllers are not. They watch still, unseen, from the shadows. Unleash the full strength of your light and flame on either side of him."
The others looked to Green Lantern, who gave a silent nod. Gleaming golden light and the light of the stars, and burning flames of red and green, surrounded the Shadowman, who gave a scream of surprise. Amidst the onslaught, the assembled heroes briefly saw a pair of giant (10') black spiders with human faces - bald, with pointy ears and fangs and evil expressions, their front two limbs ending in hands, also green-skinned, with pointed fingernails – who emitted horrible and unearthly screams before they disintegrated, their cloaking devices destroyed as they fell to the blasts.
The Flash smiled in grim satisfaction, knowing from experience the ruthlessness of the Kigor, and in no time at all he and Quicksilver had the Shadowman bound and subdued. But it was Dr. Mid-Nite who approached Rand, his face showing the man's scientific curiosity.
"We're all grateful for your help, Mr. Rand," he said.
Rand nodded, "I will no doubt request your own help in some future matter, my good Doctor, I am sure of it."
"You told us the Spider Men of Mars had been operating against Earth for centuries," Dr. Mid-Nite continued. "How long, then, have your own people been battling them?"
Rand smiled, and removed his hat and cloak. The others caught a brief glimpse of skin the color of a tree's leaves, and arms which flowed like waves, before through their mind's eyes they saw him ascend to the skies and beyond on a pair of wings of light, and heard the fluttering of a dule of doves. "We have always been here," echoed the words through their awed minds, before with a humming noise the entity vanished.