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The Lightning Saga is a Justice League/Justice Society crossover written by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns with illustrations by Shane Davis, Ed Benes and Dale Eaglesham. It's the second arc on Meltzer's Justice League of America series and Johns' Justice Society of America series. This is following their debut arcs The Next Age and The Tornado's Path, leading into Thy Kingdom Come and Dwayne McDuffie's Injustice League Unlimited. The story features the return of the original Legion of Super-Heroes, who had been out of continuity for many years.
Part I: Lightning Lad
On the Justice League Satellite, members of the Justice League and Justice Society play a game of capture the flag. Hawkgirl taunts Red Arrow, inciting him to make a "stupid unorganized dash" for the flag. Roy's chances are severely hampered by the intrusion of Red Tornado.
Meanwhile, Mister Terrific challenges Black Canary and Hal Jordan to a simultaneous game of Chess using two different boards. Terrific handicaps himself by playing both games while blindfolded.
At the Batcave, Batman and Black Lightning analyze the Trident Guild agent lying before them. Tapping into the files from the Fortress of Solitude, Batman concludes that this agent is actually named Val Armorr, a young hero from the far-distant future who also goes by the name Karate Kid. Armorr awakens and in a disoriented, confused state, attacks Batman and Black Lightning. They eventually subdue him and Batman reports his findings to the JLA and JSA. Mister Terrific feels that their own resident "future-hero", Starman, may be able to shed some light on the purpose behind Val Armorr's presence. They bring Val to the Hall of Justice and Starman speaks to him in an alien language. Suddenly, Val falls over unconscious. They conclude that both Val and Starman belong to a team called the Legion of Super-Heroes. Further, they discover that five more time-lost Legionaires are somewhere on Earth. The JLA and the JSA decide to join forces to find the other five.
Meanwhile, in the year 1948, two mysterious individuals break into a secure hospital wing at Mount Sinai hospital. They go to the room of the ailing Dolores Winters - a Silver Screen actress who once played host to the mind of the Ultra-Humanite.
Part II: Dreams and Fire
In Gotham City, the Gotham City Police Department has managed to remove all the civilians from Arkham Asylum, as Batman, Geo-Force, Sandman, and Starman arrive. Commission Gordon explains that everyone started experiencing their worst fears without warning, and they're thinking that Scarecrow must have released some fear gas. Batman points out that the fears seem to have become real, at least temporarily. Starman babbles that his lover, Dream Girl, is in their, with a doctor with no face. Batman realizes that he's talking about Doctor Destiny, who must have gained access to another Dreamstone. Starman explains that it's Dream Girl, as she can see into the future through her access to the Dreaming, similar to Sandman. Geo-Force comments that he just reallized he has both Sandman and Starman's powers comdined, but Sandman says that he smells like mud. Batman intends to sneak into Arkham using an escape route the Joker used last week, but Starman simply goes in through the front door.
Inside, Sandman hears almost inaudible scratching on the doors, and Geo-Force says that they's about to be hit with their worst nightmares. Batman, however, points out that Doctor Destiny has access to nightmares far worse than their own, such as Two-Face and Mad Hatter, and they're all the same—Batman himself.
As the heroes battle the Batmen, Starman breaks into the cell where Doctor Destiny contains the catatonic Dream Girl. He orders Destiny to release Nura, or he'll increase his brain's weight and cause to collapse through his body. Destiny, however, is not scared: he knows all too well about Starman and Dream Girl's history, and that they share the same nightmare—Kenz Nuhor, Dream Girl's old lover, who Starman was forced to kill in self-defense. The Nuhor illusion begins attacking Starman, who begs Destiny to release Dream Girl for him. Just then, Starman remembers the failsafe word, and says "Lightning Lad" in Interlac, restoring Dream Girl's memories and waking her up, severing Destiny's access to the Dreaming. Dream Girl throws Destiny against the wall and knocks him out, saying that he will die in his sleep, tortured by Dream. Dream Girl and Starman embraced, but she begns crying, saying that she had a vision that one of them would die.
At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman leads Stargirl, Cyclone, and Red Tornado through the Fortress. Stargirl had expected Cyclone to be asking Superman questions, but she's been staring at Red Tornado the whole time. At Stargirl's urging, Cyclone and Redddy begin talking about her kidnapping by T.O. Morrow and the recent Grundy incident. Superman retrieves his old Flight Ring from its casing, and Reddy says that the other ring is still in the Fortress. Superman explains that as a child, he had to conceal his powers, unless someone found out. The Legion were the only people from his childhood who had powers, when Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad traveled through time to welcome young Clark Kent into the Legion. Over the years, Superman would encounter them several more times, but hasn't seen them since the First Crisis. Red Tornado then announces that the other ring is in the room, and Cyclone notices that there are two statues of the Legionnaire named Wildfire. Saying "Lightning Lad" in Interlac causes Wildfire to reactivate, as he had been immobilized the whole time. Suddenly, he ejects a Utility Belt from him.
Part III: Suicide
Part IV: Three Worlds
Superman tells the assembled members of the Justice League and Justice Society about his experiences with the Legion of Super-Heroes. He knows the origin of the strange lightning rods they have found, and tells them that they were once used to resurrect the spirit of Lightning Lad who had died during combat.
Meanwhile, the Legion of Super-Heroes flies through swampy marshland trying to track down their quarry. Speaking amongst themselves, they stress the importance of making sure that Superman does not learn what they are up to. It is revealed that Starman was part of the initial time-traveling expedition, but was accidentally shunted to an alternate reality for several years – an experience that greatly impaired his mental faculties.
Meanwhile, Black Lightning, Damage, Hourman, Liberty Belle and Wonder Woman explore the marshlands of Suicide Swamp in search of the Legion. They come upon the ruins of an old hideout once used by the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Black Lightning generates a bolt of lightning that opens the front doors. Inside, they find the Legionnaire known as Triplicate Girl. Triplicate Girl tells them that the Legion are here in the 21st century to stop the threat of an aggressive artificial intelligence known as Computo. Computo's primary function is to eradicate all metahuman life from the planet.
Computo comes to life inside of a piece of machinery at the base and begins growing mechanical tentacles that it uses to attack the heroes. The rest of the JLA and JSA arrive on the scene and together everyone fights the haywire machine. None of their efforts to stop it appears to work however. The Legion members begin communicating secretly amongst themselves and it soon becomes known that Computo's presence is merely an intricate hallucination required to keep the other heroes distracted. The Legionnaire responsible for this illusion is Sensor Girl, who had until now remained hidden from the other combatants.
The Legionnaires fly away before the JLA and JSA realize that they have been duped. Sensor Girl feels guilty for having tricked the JLA and JSA, but her teammates remind her that she did it for their own good. The Legionnaires veer off towards a predetermined set of coordinates.
Part V: The Villain is the Hero in His Own Story
At Slaughter Swamp, the Justice League and the Justice Society are shocked that they've been fighting such real illusions. Looking around, Superman spots what he believes is Sensor Girl, and grabs her before she can leave. Sensor Girl claims that Superman just shattered her shoulder, and Superman is horrified, until Power Girl reveals that she's also an illusion. Superman orders the others to find the Legionarries immediately.
Around the world, the Legionaires assume their intended positions. Starman says that he won't be able to go back with them, and asks them to take of Dream Girl for him. Flash confronts Dream Girl, and realizes that she can still see into the future. She knows that she isn't the one to get struck, but her job is to keep him distracted. Flash reminds her that he's hardly the fastest of the two teams, and within seconds, the other heroes confront the Legionaires: Power Girl confronts Dawnstar, Red Tornado confronts Wildfire, and Green Lantern confronts Timber Wolf. In Smallville, Superman confronts Sensor Girl, saying that he's "very annoyed". He looks at her in every visual spectrum he is capable of, and listens for both her hearts, only believing that it's Sensor Girl when he can smell her tears as she says Superman wasn't supposed to find them. She doesn't reveal exactly why the Legion are here, but confirms that it's a repeat of Lightning Lad's resurrection.
In Gotham, Batman and Mr. Terrific head into an abandon mansion where Starman is located. Terrific asks if they should really be stopping them, but Batman points out that they aren't debating suicide. As they make their way through the building, Batman realizes that he's been here before: it's where the Flash tried to contact him during the First Crisis. At the same time, Green Lantern realizes that the building he's in is the Lab where Barry Allen was first exposed to the Speed Force. The two realize that they're trying to resurrect one of their, they're trying to bring back the Flash. Green Lantern is now hesitant, and Timber Wolf notices. Terrific finds Starman and tries to grab him, only for the Flight Rings to activate force fields to keep the heroes from getting through. Black Canary activates a shutdown mechanism Terrific installed, but the rings are self-repairing.
Terrific says that the last tracer is located in the mansion, but Starman reveals that Karate Kid removed his tracer. And in Blue Valley, the lightning strikes his rod. The other heroes begin moving in on his location, and find that they succeeded: They not only brought back Wally West, but his entire family. The other Legionaires then fade away, escept for Starman, who removes his ring. Green Lantern and Red Arrow arrive, and have a touching reunion with Wally, as Lantern officially invites him into the new Justice League. In Gotham, Terrific notices that Batman almost seems disappointed, and Batman admits that he was expecting someone else. At the Fortress of Solitude, the Legionaires depart for their timeline, only for another Legionaire to come through and say that Karate Kid has another mission. Karate Kid explains that he survived by ducking, but that doens't matter now. The countdown has begun.
In the future, Wildfire is debriefing Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5, explaining that West was somehow riging the lightning to return to Earth. Brainiac 5 is surprised, having not expected that. However, it doens't really matter to him. All he cares is that they got the individual they wanted—housed in the Lightning Rod.