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Legends of the Dead Earth

Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Craig Hamilton (Shade's Tale), Bret Blevins (Gavyn's Tale), J.H. Williams III (Billy's Tale) Inks: Ray Snyder (Shade's Tale), Bret Blevins (Gavyn's Tale), Mick Gray (Billy's Tale)
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Kevin Somers
Assistant Editor: Chuck Kim
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Annual #1, 1996
Legends of the Dead Earth

Earth is Dead.

Those who once might have called it home are long scattered to the endless stars.

But in that scattering, on a thousand different worlds, by a thousand different ways...

Earth's greatest legends live on...

We open upon a city that covers nearly all of a small planet and learn that it is leaded and guarded by a man who once loved to writing down tales. But the man’s urge to write died with the Earth. Despite this, he still had stories to tell and came to love telling them. Yes, it is The Shade… and however many years have passed, Shade has become much more sociable. He’s even wearing a brightly colored vest when we see him! Shade is telling a group of children stories and he starts out with the tale of Prince Gavyn, The Fourth Starman.

Gavyn was the prince of the capital planet of an empire of some 24 inhabited worlds. The time came when is father died and Gavyn expected to become the new Emperor. It was the laws of his people that when a new Emperor was crowned all others who had a claim to the throne would be executed, to prevent unrest and rebellion. Gavyn intended to change this law to protect the life of his sister. Unfortunately for him, his sister did not feel the same and upheld the law when she was made ruler instead of Gavyn. The prince was cast into space and died for a moment, his spirit revived a being called Mn’Torr.

Mn’Torr would teach Gavyn hat he was a freak and that he had a power he could draw forth naturally from the stars. He trained Gavyn to use this power and made the rather foolish prince wise. He also gave Gavyn a pair of armbands that would allow him to focus the energy inside him. Gavyn returned to his home planet and became a hero, called in his own tongue “Brak Ne”, which in the proper context translates as “Man of Star”. He fought to protect his world, becoming ruler of it after his sister died. He dissolved the empire (leaving him with one world to rule) and married his love, Merria. They lived quite happily until one day…

Jediah Rikane , advisor and friend to Gavyn told him that their scientists had discovered a massive wave of nothingness consuming other worlds. DC history scholars will recognize as being the Anti-Matter wave from Crisis of Infinite Earths. After a last night with Merria and a hearty meal, Gavyn dons his costume and prepares to face the danger. Merria stops him before he goes and begs him to use a ship they have that can take them to safety. Gavyn says he cannot, because his duty to his people demands that he try to save them. Before he leaves her, he says “The Lake by the Royal Retreat will be lovely at this cycle time. When I return when can go there. We’ll be alone together. Perhaps we can give the people the prince they clamor for.” (These words become important later in Starman #60) Their last farewell said, Gavyn goes and tries to use his power to turn back the wall of Anti-Matter. Needless to say, he fails and is vaporized instantly. Ironically, moments later the wall, which was now quite visible from his planet, disappeared. The people praised their Great Prince who gave his life to save them all. The sad truth is that it was at that moment the heroes of many worlds defeated the Anti-Monitor (Shade briefly notes the death of Barry Allen; “Some of them died, too. One, a friendly foe, I miss to this day”) and that Gavyn’s death did nothing to stop the wave. But the people of Gavyn’s world never find this out and to them, he is still a hero. Shade notes that the saddest part of the story is that had Gavyn waited just a few moments more with Merria… had he not been the hero he was, then he would have lived quite happily for the rest of his life.

Shade comforts a young girl who found the ending too sad and assures her that despite several years of heartbreak, Merria eventually found love again and lived happily ever after. She asks him to tell that story, but Shade declines saying she is not yet old enough. A red-haired, freckled boy of Irish appearance named Lawrence declares that he is old enough and Shade agrees that is growing up and will soon be helping his father and brothers with the guarding of the city. Shade then speaks of Lawerence’s ancestors, The O’Dares and notes that their tradition of police service is still continuing. He then speaks of the five O’Dare siblings of Jack’s time, noting that one would give his life to save Jack and another (Matt O’Dare) would become the best friend he ever had. Speaking of the O’Dares of the past reminds Shade of a story involving Billy O’Dare; the story of how he became a friend to Ted Knight.

One evening, Starman was contacted by the newly promoted Inspector Red Bailey. Red tells Starman that a villainess called “The Prairie Witch”, who had been committing robberies in Opal for sometime assaulted five of this offices the night before. Three of them were killed and a fourth was kidnapped. The fifth officer, William “Billy” O’Dare, was wounded and was last seen clinging to the side of the van driven by the Witch’s henchmen. Starman agrees to keep an eye out.

He attempted to catch the Witch at a robbery several days later, but was knocked out after taking a blow to the head while falling after being shot. When he awoke, he found himself in a silo with Billy O’Dare, who told him that they were out in the country somewhere and that other cop was killed in a ritual the Witch did that would help their crimes succeed. The two escaped using a Gravity Rod made from O'Dare's billyclub and some circuitry Starman had sewed into the lining of his cape, for just such an emergency if he needed to create a second rod. The two then worked together to stop the Witch's next robbery. In the battle that followed, Billy killed for the first time while on duty; one of the Prairie Witch’s henchmen. Later, as Red Bailey comes by with the Paddy Wagon and talks to Billy and Starman as they look over the Prairie Witch’s broken broomstick. Starman wanted to examine the technology that allowed the witch to fly… it is upon close examination that they find, much to his discomfort, that it is just an ordinary broom. Afterward, O'Dare invites Starman out for a drink and promises to help each other whenever there was a need.

Shade notes, again when pestered by the girl about a happy ending, that Billy eventually died because of his love of drinking and that Ted Knight’s life was bittersweet at best. The children beg him for another story about Starman and Shade agrees to tell one… another time, because it is getting late. Again, the one girl asks about a happy ending. Shade responds by telling her “It’s apparent to me as I look around at all of this… how safe you being safe here with me. You, your parents and your children too, when you have them. This planet… my planet and its glory and wonder and you, its people safe and free from fear. Don’t you see my child? This planet and you… that is the happy ending.”

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