“THE KEY – OR NOT THE KEY.” The JLA investigates how in the world Snapper Carr has become their enemy!
The Justice League of America and the Privateer, have just discovered that their one time mascot, Snapper Carr, is the villain, the Star-Tsar. Carr was rendered unconscious, by a piece of flying debris, during the Justice League of America's battle with Doctor Light. Carr's reveal as the Star-Tsar sows discord in the ranks of the Justice League of America. Upon recovering consciousness, Carr shows no regret for his actions. The Star-Tsar's henchmen, the Star-Lords, attack the Justice League of America, and the Privateer.
The Star-Lords defeat the Justice League of America. Carr, himself, personally, fells the Batman, the Flash, and Wonder Woman. The Green Lantern, and the Red Tornado, discover a way to track Carr, using the radiation emitted from the Star-Tsar's weapon. The Flash decides to summon the entire Justice League of America, due to Carr's involvement in the case. The Justice League of America decide to split into two teams. One to follow the weapon's trail, the other to speak with Carr's family. The Phantom Stranger declines to join the investigation.
The Green Arrow allows the Black Canary to work with the Privateer, but harbors concerns about the Privateer joining the Justice League of America. The Justice League of America, and the Privateer, follow the weapon's energy signature to a lighthouse, on an island with a runway. Upon landing on the island, the Justice League of America, and the Privateer, are attacked by automated key weapons. Suddenly, a key hole opens underneath the Justice League of America, and the Privateer. The Justice League of America are drawn into individuals keyholes, that hold them between dimensions, in limbo.
The Key reveals his presence. The Key explains how he survived the cancer which was killing him. The Hawkman notices that the Key seems very unsteady on his feet. The Justice League of America make contact with Carr's family. Carr's father refuses to speak to the Justice League of America. Carr's sister, Janet, is more forthcoming. After Carr had betrayed the team, as part of one of the Joker's schemes. Carr tried to put his past with the Justice League of America behind him. His celebrity status, as the Justice League of America's mascot, however, proved impossible to escape.
Unable to study in college, due to all the unwanted attention, Carr dropped out, and began looking for work. Carr was plagued by the same ills, however, in trying to procure a job. Unable to find work, Carr was denied welfare, again, due to his past connection with the Justice League of America. His celebrity status, however, was too meager to attract endorsements. At his lowest point, Carr moved to New York, and vanished. The Star-Tsar attacks the Justice League of America. The Flash neutralizes the Star-Tsar's weapon. Seeing his sister, the Star-Tsar flees.
The Justice League of America follow the Star-Tsar to the lighthouse. The Star-Tsar tries to warn the Jusitce League of America away, only to be subdued, along with the rest of the Justice League of America, by a second Star-Tsar. The Star-Tsar issues an ultimatum to President Jimmy Carter. The Star-Tsar destroys a lightly populated slum area of Washington, D.C., as a demonstration of his power. The Star-Tsar demands money, or else he will target a more populous area. The Justice League of America, and Carr, regain consciousness, in the same type of keyholes holding their teammates.
Carr elaborates on his sister's narrative. Down on his luck, in New York, Carr was approached by the Key, and offered power and money. Carr, out of bitterness, accepted. Carr had been on the sidelines, while the Key, as the Star Tsar, robbed the Belgraviian Embassy. That was when the Justice League of America encountered Carr. As the Star Tsar, Carr followed the Justice League of America, to Doctor Light's underwater lair, where he was accidentally rendered unconscious, by flying debris. Surprised by how much the Justice League of America still cared for him, Carr began to rethink his choice to become a super-villain.
Carr staged the attack on the Justice League of America outside of his home, to draw them back to the Key's secret lair. Carr tried to alert the team to their danger, when he was struck down, by the second Star Tsar. The Elongated Man has the Flash vibrate across the adjoining keyholes, to his keyhole. The Elongated Man stretches himself into the shape of a treadmill. The Flash runs fast enough to break through the dimensional barrier, imprisoning him within the limbo of the keyhole. The Flash releases the Justice League of America.
After the Elongated Man has sufficiently recovered, the Justice League of America, and Carr, hunt for the Key. Discovering the Star Tsar, the Batman attacks, literally punching the Star-Tsar's head off. The Key tumbles out of the empty body of the Star-Tsar. The energy release that cured the Key's cancer was not without unfortunate side-effects. The Key's body shriveled up. The Key designed exo-suits that he could plug himself into, like a key in a door lock, giving him the illusion of normalcy. The Privateer interrogates the Key. After denying that he is the Star-Tsar, the Key loses consciousness.
The Justice League of America are alerted to the Star-Tsar's threat to the President of the United States. As Carr was imprisoned with the Justice League of America, and the Key was too unsteady on his feet to act, the identity of the second Star-Tsar is in question. The Red Tornado determines that the Privateer is the Star-Tsar. Though the Privateer has, supposedly, been a part of the investigation throughout, the Red Tornado points out several sudden absences of the Privateer. Though the Privateer stormed Doctor Light's underwater lair, with the Justice League of America, he was not present when the team were caught in Doctor Light's deathtrap.
Though the Privateer stormed the Key's island lair, with the Justice League of America, he was not present when the team were caught in the inter-dimensional keyholes. His gambit revealed, the Privateer attacks the Red Tornado, then flees. The Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman prevent the Privateers's escape. The Privateer reveals that while he turned his back on the Shan, he still had a taste for the status, wealth, and power that came with being a Manhunter. The Privateer, posing as the Star-Tsar, garnered his arsenal from the Key.
To mask his criminal activities, the Key enlisted Carr to portray the Star-Tsar, so that all criminal activities would fall on the Privateer. While the Key practiced his games of deceit, so too did the Privateer. With the Key committing crimes as the Star-Tsar, the Privateer knew that his own criminal activities would go unnoticed. All the while, the Privateer worked his way into the good graces of the Justice League of America, with an eye towards membership. Despite his planning, the Privateer's scheme has been revealed by the Red Tornado. Superman takes custody of the Privateer, and Carr. Superman tells Carr that he has something other than incarceration in mind for Carr. The Red Tornado bursts into laughter, relishing his triumph over the Privateer.