November 22nd 1941.
A shining box fell down to Earth, burning bright with flame that scorched its alien crafted skin.
An ocean of white snow lay far below the tumbling box, cool winds chilling and erasing the flames that covered the device's hide. After almost an eternity of falling through beautiful blue skies the box landed with a notable thump before quickly being submerged in its freezing blanket.
Alone in the snow, the Mother Box waited patiently to be found.
In the days that would follow Darkseid's invasion the blissfully unaware people of Earth began to slowly notice their missing heroes.
However there were some that noticed sooner.
The JSA Clubhouse, once noted by citizens as a constant source of activity now stood strangely dormant, with many wondering about what was occurring within and whether or not the nation's heroes were simply hiding inside.
"Tell us what happened again, Snapper. Slowly this time."
Three men stood within the building's trophy room, one well known to the missing super team and the other two relatively mysterious. Slumping down in his chair the familiar Snapper Carr nervously twiddled his fingers and shot a nervous glance at his two visitors standing before him.
"They left a couplea days ago." Snapper mumbled looking back down to the ground. "After Doctor Fate came callin' and told 'em about some kinda alien invasion that was on the way."
The two visitors stood in the shadows, both wearing suits and fedoras. The man to Snapper's left was smoking a cigarette, the flaming stick briefly illuminating his face while the man on the right simply stared forward with white, empty eyes. Squinting slightly, Snapper found that he actually recognized the cigarette smoking man, something that he expressed with his typical glee.
"I know you!" He yelled springing up to his feet, snapping his fingers excitedly as he did so. "You're that guy from the papers! Doctor Oculus!"
The man let out an angry puff of smoke before stepping from the dark revealing the beige color of his suit jacket. The man on the right did the same, blue suit for this one, but Snapper didn't recognize him. A stranger.
"That's 'Occult', son!" The Doctor grumbled placing a firm hand on Snapper's shoulder and practically pushing him back down into his seat. "And so far what you've told us is a loada baloney! There couldn't've been an alien invasion otherwise we'd have noticed!"
In his chair Snapper smirked slightly.
"The boy's not lying." The Stranger said, curiously inspecting one of the trophy cabinets to his right, Gentleman Ghost's cane. "Not about this anyway. Although I do sense a false truth about him..."
"Then what's happened, Stranger?" Doctor Occult asked, seemingly forgetting about Snapper for the moment as he turned to his friend. "Where's Nelson? Where's the JSA?"
The Phantom Stranger simply stared into the glass reflection of the trophy cabinet, top portion of his face hidden under the unnatural shade of his hat.
"Walk with me." The Stranger finally said, beginning to walk towards the room's exit. Occult did as he was asked, quickly following after the man. Snapper simply remained where he was stood looking entirely confused.
"Hey!" He yelled as the two men opened the exit to the room and began to step through. "Where are you guys going?"
The Phantom Stranger and Doctor Occult stepped out into the black of space leaving behind them the meager confines of mortality, their feet strode across the emptiness as if it were solid ground and directly in front of the two was the Earth, looking almost peaceful in its silent state. The cigarette in Occult's mouth pulled itself free from his mouth and slowly floated away, small flames spluttering in the dark.
Wisely Occult placed a hand atop his fedora to keep it still, the Phantom Stranger made no such movement yet his outfit remained completely fine.
"Beautiful." Occult muttered as he shoved his hands into his coat's pockets, cold in the vacuum. "Why are we here?"
"We're simply testing a theory, my friend." Cautiously the Phantom Stranger took an extra step forward and raised his hand, moving it forward as if he were about to stroke a dangerous animal. His hand inched towards the giant blue orb until finally a golden spark in the darkness sent the Stranger jumping back in surprise! "As I thought." The Stranger said, passive as ever as he turned towards his companion. "It seems that Kent Nelson, wise as he is powerful, has enacted a sort of barrier to keep any unwanted guests away from the Earth." A small smile, perhaps of relief, filled the lower portion of the man's face. "That will be why we were unaware of the New God's invasion."
"That's great, Stranger." Occult said, unimpressed. "But where the hell is he?!"
The Stranger's eyes narrowed, his smile faded, and the man who knew everything said a phrase he had never said before.
"I do not know."
Alone in a cell sat Clifford DeVoe, otherwise known as the Thinker.
He was a scrawny man when compared to other residents of Iron Heights Penitentiary but in this bleak place he reigned supreme... and he smiled. He'd been given the morning paper approximately two hours and twenty seven minutes later than normal which would normally have angered him greatly but the headline had cheered him up massively. There had been rumors of course... talk throughout the prison but now DeVoe knew them to be true.
"The Flash is dead." He sighed, crumpling up his newspaper and casting it aside.
For the first time in a good long while he was happy... but his smile quickly faded.
"So what's the point?"
It was just over a month later and the Justice Society stood in Centennial Park, shining in front of their headquarters. Around them a crowd formed of hundreds, composed largely of police officers, firefighters and other like minded individuals. Some tears were shed, words were spoken and as the JSA's newly fashioned statue was unveiled there was some hope that perhaps the world's greatest heroes might return, having been part of some confusing hoax.
They did not.
Yet upon a stage dressed in a suit and tie, Snapper Carr began to speak and offer his all too brief memories of the team.
"I didn't know the JSA for long." He said into a microphone sending his voice across the park. "Just a year really... but I can say without any doubt that I knew and loved them like they were my own family. I saw them at their highest and at their lowest." A small tear began to well up in Snapper's right eye. "I was there for their beginning... and I wish I coulda been there for their end. Thank you."
As Snapper stepped down from the stage tearfully he was replaced at the microphone by a young woman wearing an arm cast, a small queue of people also standing behind her.
"About two months ago I got into a car crash." She said. "It was my fault really... I thought I was gonna die, but the Green Lantern pulled me out and held my hand the whole way to the hospital."
Then a man stepped forward.
"The Flash saved my home from being burgled, he stayed to make sure I was alright and signed a couple of comics for my son."
Then another person stepped forward.
"Hawkgirl saved my son from Vandal Savage. He's a police officer and would have died if it weren't for her."
"I owed money to some loan sharks. The Sandman saved my store and helped me clear the debt."
"I was a drunk with a death wish... Hawkman helped me sober up."
Until finally the stage was empty and the mayor of Metropolis took the microphone, golden statue of the team shining behind him.
"These heroes helped correct our mistakes in the past. Now their memory and guiding light can help steer our future."
In the years to come Gotham City, already America's leading locale for violent crimes would become far worse.
With its champions the Green Lantern and Sandman gone, the city's criminal underworld soon rose up and made the once decent streets seem like an upper level of Hell.
Jasper Newman ran a Deli in the East End.
One day he woke up blind.
The dark confused him for a moment, he tried to open his eyes again but quickly found that he couldn't.
"H...hello?" He said aloud, not sure if there'd be a response.
There was one.
"Ah. You're awake." A male voice, silky and smooth sounded in Jasper's ears. "Good. It's always boring when they don't wake up... takes the fun out of it."
"Wh... why can't I move?"
"Because you've got no limbs." Came the reply. "I've been experimenting, see? Testing the waters. Don't worry though, I stopped the bleeding so you won't miss a thing."
"Oh my God..."
"I know. It's a bit messy, enjoyable but not my forte."
"If you're asking who I am I've been called by many names, friend. When I was in London the papers called me 'The Gouger' for obvious reasons. In India I was named 'Saphed Daanav' I think that's white devil... but in America though I'm called... 'The Corinthian'."
The Corinthian took a breath.
"If you're asking 'why' it's because I'm experimenting. I've sawn bone, squashed organs and battered flesh but I think that I've got a thing for eyes."
"The Corinthian. But I had to be sure, you see. That's why I had to test it. That's why I've been practicing on you..." The man smiled.
Even in the blind dark he smiled.
"And that's why your eyes are next."
Upon the moon sat a golden helmet, untouched by the blackness around it. It sat completely still for a long time going unnoticed until the moon shook and trembled and a group of heroes reappeared among reality.
"Where are we?" Alan Scott, the Green Lantern asked.