Physicists Ray Palmer and David Dorman discover an “X-Element,” a vital catalyst for all basic chemical reactions, which is about to decay, thus disrupting all natural activity on Earth. As the Atom, Ray summons the Justice League, which splits up into sub-teams to stave off worldwide catastrophe. Just as all seems lost, aliens called the Treasurers appear, offering to reverse the decay of the X-Element in return for specimens of Earth flora and fauna, including, unknown to the JLA, one human: a seemingly ordinary postal clerk named George Arthur Stuart.
Physicists David Dorman, and Ray Palmer, have just discovered the heretofore theoretical "X" Element, a quintessential element connected to all basic chemical reactions. Unfortunately, Dorman & Palmer have discovered the "X" Element just in time to see it decaying away. The horrific magnitude of the absence of the "X" Element, regarding life on Earth, is not lost on either scientist. Palmer departs, to alert the Justice League of America, in his guise as the Atom. Facing the end of the very world, Dorman is desperate to reach his fiancee, Olivia St. James, a Pop Star, on tour in Sweden.
After making contact with Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet, the Atom summons the Justice League of America. Aboard their satellite headquarters, the Atom explains the situation to the Justice League of America. Aquaman confirms the Atom's fears, pointing out crisis points appearing all across the planet. The Justice League of America split into teams to deal with the crisis. Unbeknownst to all, a pair of aliens have the Earth under surveillance. Wonder Woman rescues a passenger plane, it's engines suffering a loss of combustion due to the absence of the "X" Element.
James is one of the passengers aboard the plane. Her near-death experience prompts her to try to reach Dorman. Superman fashions a giant magnifying glass over Stockholm, using the sun's rays to thaw out the frozen city, another victim of the absence of the "X" Element. The Elongated Man, and The Flash, stop a runaway train from crashing, due to the loss of friction caused by the absence of the "X" Element. The effort severely injures the Elongated Man. The loss of the "X" Element ceases oxygenation in flora in Africa. The Green Lantern keeps the fauna, and the people, alive, by pumping in breathable air.
On the ground, the Atom confirms that the "X" Element is truly decaying away. In Southeast Asia, the loss of the "X" Element causes hydrogen and oxygen to separate, evaporating all the water. Working together, Aquaman, the Batman, the Hawkgirl and the Hawkman, keep the rice paddies irrigated, to stave off starvation for the populace. In the midwest, the loss of the "X" Element is preventing evaporated water from being absorbed in the air, resulting in choking mists. Working together, the Black Canary, the Green Arrow and the Red Tornado, collect the mists, then transform them into rain.
The aliens descend on London. The aliens offer to provide the "X" Element to the Earth, in exchange for seemingly absurd items. With the Earth's future at stake, the Justice League of America, nonetheless, complies with the aliens. Superman collects snow from the very peak of Mount Everest. Aquaman and the Green Lantern, mine salt from the Indian Ocean floor. The Flash, the Red Tornado and Wonder Woman gather Saharan sand. The Green Arrow cages llamas. The Elongated Man captures chimpanzees. The Atom bags egrets. The Black Canary downs sparrows.
Unbeknownst to the Justice League of America, the United States Government kept one item on the aliens' list from them. A man, named George Arthur Stuart. The United States Army is dispatched to bring in Stuart.
- Part One: "The Day the Earth Went Bankrupt!"
- Part Two: "The Treason Trade!"
- Silver-Nitrate Rain Arrow used.
- The Phantom Stranger appears on the cover and splash page, but he doesn't appear in the story.