The Amalgam Universe…
The hideous, green-haired villain Hyena is on the run. He leaps from building to building, and judging by the horrible grin plastered across his face, he enjoys every moment of it. Hot on his trail is Dark Claw, who repeatedly shouts for Hyena to surrender. After hearing the latest refusal, the frustrated Dark Claw hurls an explosive capsule at Hyena. Using a broken ventilation pipe as a bat, Hyena repels the projectile like a baseball and sends it flying toward a crowd of innocent bystanders.
Just then, Super-Soldier springs forth and blocks the hand bomb with his shield, absorbing the brunt of the explosion. This irritates Hyena because in addition to not successfully slaughtering a bunch of civilians, he now has to deal with yet another formidable super-hero. Dark Claw and Super-Soldier continue their pursuit, completely focused on the task at hand. However, all the parties involved neglect to comprehend their cosmic insignificance, as their current existence is merely the result of an inter-dimensional anomaly.
In a forgotten alleyway directly beneath these buildings, the nexus of this disconcerting universe continues to shed its light. The homeless man, who was only recently young and vigorous, now slumps against the brick alley walls in a nearly lifeless heap. His ashen skin sags off his face as he comes to a horrible realization: this amalgam universe is not the doing of the Brothers at all, but is a desperate last-ditch effort of the Spectre and the Living Tribunal to save one of the realities. It seems that the Brothers were ready to cast the losing universe into oblivion, but in that fateful moment, the Spectre reached out to the Living Tribunal for help. In order to save one universe, they merged them together, much to the ire of the Brothers.
And the Brothers are not beings one should ever anger.
Back in the city, Hyena’s escape comes to a halt when he finds himself trapped on a rooftop by Dark Claw and Super-Soldier. They ask him to surrender, but the devious villain scoffs at their demand. He flips off the roof and crashes through a window. Dark Claw and Super-Soldier split up in order to find him.
Axel Asher, now wielding the supreme power of the Access, now finds himself witnessing the cosmic struggle of the Living Tribunal and the Spectre. The enormity of this scene threatens to destroy Access’ mind, but in a subconscious act of self-preservation, his power transports him back to the amalgam Earth. He appears in the alleyway, next to his aged predecessor. The decrepit appearance of his old protégé shocks Access, but the old homeless man merely laughs this off. “With all the contests to worry about, a beauty contest ain’t one of ‘em,” he jokes. The man then addresses Access in a serious tone. “Listen fast, kid: I pulled fate’s strings to get Soldier and Claw nearby, with some help from Spec and the Trib, but now it’s up to you. I’ve done almost everything I could.”
Access replies that he still does not know what to do. The homeless man grabs his arm, and transfers the rest of his power to his protégé. “When I said I’d done ‘almost’ everything…well, here’s the rest. Bye, kid,” he says as he begins to vanish. “By the way…my name’s Morty. Glad we met.” With that, Morty disappears forever.
This sudden burst of light draws the attention of Super-Soldier. Unfortunately, it also attracts Hyena, who comes crashing through a window into the alley. He sees Access and begins taunting him. Access pays him no attention, as he is currently mourning the loss of his friend and mentor. Just like all antagonists, Hyena hates being ignored, so he escalates the cruelty of his derision. Access turns, faces the irritating villain, and calmly tells him to go away. With a mere wave of his hand, Access banishes Hyena from the universe.
Just then, Dark Claw and Super-Soldier enter the alley in pursuit of the villain. They ask Access where he went, but the melancholy Access responds that it does not matter. Super-Soldier begins to angrily respond, but Access assures him that nothing matters. Nothing, that is, except for the fragments of the separate realities that he hid within each these two heroes. He explains that this was the only way to protect the two universes from being completely destroyed by the Brothers, and begins to draw the universal energy out of both Dark Claw and Super-Soldier. “I’m giving Spectre and Living Tribunal access to the power within you,” he explains, “…and we’re using it to restore the universes.”
The remains of these realities begin to return to their protectors as Access utters the powerful, restorative phrase, “let there be light.” With this, the amalgam universe is torn asunder, and reverts to its component realities. Amazon, Dark Claw, Doctor Strangefate, Emerald Eye, Spiderboy, and Super-Soldier cry out as their souls are cleaved in two. However, the original heroes, back in their pure forms, spring forth from this blinding flash of light.
The cosmic explosion propels Access across the chasm between realities before returning him to solid ground. He looks around his new surroundings, only to realize that he is once again in the same mysterious, fateful alleyway. Further, Batman and Captain America both find themselves there as well. Access is happy to see that the amalgam universe no longer exists, but sighs at the fact that the two universes still overlap.
The Bat Cave…
With the universes now separate but still overlapping, the heroes and villains resume exploiting their new surroundings. Mole Man and his Moloids continue exploring the Bat Cave, but the Hulk shows up and crashes their party. At their master’s request, the Mole Men begin swarming on Hulk. They do not represent a severe threat individually, but the Hulk quickly finds himself overcome by their sheer numbers. The situation turns even more dangerous when a group of them bring out a large gun.
Fortunately, Superman intervenes and absorbs the blast from the powerful weapon. He tells Mole Man that this cave belongs to one of his associates, and kindly asks him to leave. Mole Man does not need to be told twice; he recognizes that he is outmatched, and flees with his Moloids.
As the cave empties out, Dr. Banner thanks Superman for the assistance. “So…do you have any idea what just happened?” Hulk asks in reference to the recent cosmic synthesis.
“None,” Superman responds, adding that he has a feeling the affair is not quite over.
Sure enough, the end of everything may be close at hand. The Living Tribunal and the Spectre converse about recent events while frantically trying to restore order to their worlds, only to realize that they still overlap. More frightening, however, is the sight of the Brothers engaging each other directly instead of proceeding through less destructive channels. Both cosmic beings gasp at the destruction before their eyes. As the Brothers exchange blows, they inadvertently destroy entire galaxies. Neither the Living Tribunal nor the Spectre has ever bore witness to such awesome power, and the display makes both beings quiver.
The Daily Planet…
The Daily Planet’s irate editor Perry White and his associate, J. Jonah Jameson, attempt to reprimand their owner, the notorious Wilson Fisk. Scoffing at their harmless threats, Fisk nonchalantly throws Perry over his shoulder and into the wall. As Lois rushes to aid her injured boss, Kingpin asserts that he thinks he made his point. Fisk’s confidence is quickly shattered by the timely arrival of both Spider-Man and Superboy. They double-team the corrupt mob boss and hurl against a chalkboard, while demanding that he sell The Daily Planet back to its original owners.
Jubilee and Robin share a passionate kiss on a gondola in the scenic waterways of Venice. Neither of them understands how they arrived in this romantic setting, but they waste none of their remaining time together worrying about it.
“Where is he?!” Thanos shouts as he thrashes his urban surroundings. Buildings crumble around the merchant of death as he searches for his new nemesis, Darkseid. Wolverine and Lobo reluctantly team up in order to put an end to his menace, but Thanos overpowers them both. After blasting Lobo to the ground, Thanos elicits a response from Wolverine.
“Can’t say I care what you do to Lobo, Thanos,” Logan says as he rips a chunk out of Thanos’ chest. “But I can’t stand by and let your tussle bring the city down around innocent people’s skulls.”
“It’ll be a cold day in Hell before I need your help, ya puny bastich!” Lobo snaps back. Finally, Darkseid arrives and tells Thanos to prepare for death.
All around the dual Earths, heroes unite to stop rampaging villains. Catwoman and Elektra, who only moments before fought to the death, now team up to subdue Abomination in Central Park. Flash and Quicksilver team up to take down Venom. In what promises to be an awe-inspiring display of power, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Storm, Thor, and Wonder Woman unite to put a stop to the threat of Darkseid and Thanos.
Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Green Lantern attack Thanos in unison, while the others engage Darkseid. Darkseid blasts his unfamiliar opponents and sends Mjolnir flying out of Thor’s hands. Once more, the mighty hammer lands at the feet of Wonder Woman. She picks up the divine weapon, but this time, willingly hands it back to its rightful owner. Thor stares at the hammer in confusion, as it did not induce a transformation in Wonder Woman. Before he can ponder this mystery, something else draws his attention. In fact, this new event draws the attention of every being in existence.
The fighting halts, and the champions and villains look up into the sky as it is torn asunder. It turns red and inexplicably begins dripping to the ground below. “Is…is what I think is happening…happening?” Wonder Woman asks aloud.
“Aye,” Thor responds. “The sky is…bleeding.”
The sky pours down onto Access, Batman and Captain America. Cap lifts his shield and protects his companions from the falling sky while pleading with Access to do something. Access refuses to go argue with the supremely powerful Brothers, but after Batman asks him to merely transport them someplace helpful, he agrees. He grabs onto the two heroes and transports all of them to a realm of nothingness.
They arrive into this nebulous void, which Access explains is the source of such perplexing phenomena as racial memory and déjà vu. “It’s not a geographic place…it’s more a state of consciousness,” he explains to his traveling companions. Before them, they are able to glimpse the Brothers in the midst of their epic battle. However, their human minds only comprehend and translate a fragment of what lies before them.
Heroes, villains, and civilians stare helplessly as the universe hemorrhages. In these final moments, lovers embrace, former enemies make amends, and everyone dreads the end of all that is. Everyone, that is, except for one servant of death, who sees nothing but wonder in the death of the universe. “It’s…it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Thanos utters, practically on the verge of tears.
In the distance, Access, Batman and Captain America are able to see tiny figures desperately trying to restrain the warring Brothers. Access explains that the figures are indeed the Spectre and the Living Tribunal, but their efforts to stop the fighting are futile. “We…we have to go back. Form an army,” the stunned Captain America says.
Access rebuffs this suggestion. “The Spectre’s more powerful than a billion armies, and you see how he’s faring,” he says. With no other options before them, Batman and Captain America decide to intervene. They leap up to the almighty Brothers and plead with them to stop. Unsurprisingly, they fail. The Brothers’ swords clash once again, this time destroying everything in the vicinity, including the nearby heroes.
As their bodies and minds are obliterated, both Batman and Captain America have an epiphany: they finally understand that mankind’s insatiable desire to destroy itself has always been a mere echo of the destructive will of its creators. After this final thought, their minds open up and spill their contents.
Providently, in this final moment, the sums of their collective life experiences are laid bare for the Brothers to see. Their full attention turns to Bruce Wayne’s painful memory of the murder of his parents. They witness how this loss if innocence led the young man to devote his entire life to stopping such evil deeds from occurring to anyone else. They realize he and his companions were not merely powerful beings, but heroes for justice.
They also witness a young Steve Rodgers willingly undergoing painful augmentations to his own body, simply so he could better defend the world from evil. They witness him finding friends who shared his courageous spirit. At the same time, the Brothers understand that while each of these creations fights for the common goal of justice, they are also completely and utterly unique.
The Brothers halt their battle as they reflect on these observed memories. As eons pass around them, they reach an epiphany of their own: through their petty fighting, they have become lesser beings than their own heroic creations. With their conflict settled, they reach out, shake hands, and speak to each other for the first time in the history of the universe. “You’ve done well,” they say to each other. They leave it at that.
Using the immense power at their disposal, the Brothers restore the universes to their original, separate states. The various super-heroes struggle to remember the details and cope with the emotional fallout of what they just experienced. Jubilee sheds a tear at the memory of her lost love, Robin. Wonder Woman ponders the divine power she wielded, even if it was for just a brief moment. Thor struggles to provide answers to those who seek them. Aquaman and Namor, both dumbstruck by the enormity of creation, re-evaluate their status as rulers. Batman and Captain America, the true saviors of existence, find themselves humbled by the glimpse of truth they encountered. They bow their heads in respect.
Access, the only mortal being who comprehends the full truth of what happened, stands in his familiar alleyway. He decides to reject the knowledge impressed upon him. His true nature is that of a wanderer, and without some distant truth to seek, his life would lack purpose. With that, he rejects the ultimate knowledge in his possession, opens up a trans-dimensional portal, and steps through. However, it is not Access the all-knowing who steps into the great unknown, but Axel Asher, the restless wanderer.