“Of all the times I've been yanked out of the past and into an alternate future, this one was the most pleasant.”
“I'm not supossed to tell you, but I covered this war.”
The Secret Wars were an event of cosmic magnitude spanning multiple timeframes, dimensions and monthly comic-book series. Featuring the world's greatest heroes, the New American Justice Coalition, the Secret Wars were the culmination of events that took place within the Manhattan and Apollo Projects, and involved a mighty battle between our American Presidents and the Illuminati. Because of the cross-dimensional nature of the conflict, as well as the security interests implicated, there is no human alive who knows the details of the Secret Wars, but I'll tell you all about it anyway.
January 1994: Alternate Reality XDR-347 — Just as in our own reality, 1994 brought a momentous Republican Revolution, but unlike in our reality, this revolution came in the form of a bloody coup, and instead of aiming to cut taxes and reform welfare, it carried out the genocidal oppression of the weak. Led by Minority Whip Newt Gringrich, the armies of evil converged around the White Tower of the Washington Monument to do battle with the armies of men. Composed only of those beings that were Intelligently Designed, the dark and twisted armies encamped in the fetid swamps of the District of Columbia, ready to do their master's bidding. The America of Reality XDR-347 pondered what had happened to Newt Gingrich, but their Presidents were busy fleeing so that they could regroup and formulate a plan.
Gringrich's secret masters knew that the New American Justice Coalition would be a threat to them, however, and set out to capture, discredit or destroy them. It began with a propaganda campaign by J. Jonah Jameson to convince the public that their friendly neighborhood Bill Clinton was actually a masked criminal. With their leader being hunted, the rest of the Justice Coalition gathered itself together from the four corners of the globe to face Gingrich and take down the army of the intelligently designed. Instead of a decisive battle, however, the Justice Coalition found a great new menace — the man who wielded the power behind Gingrich.
A New Super-Villain
That power was a masked supervillain known only as Forty-Thr33 who had come from another time. With amazingly precise and powerful control over the power of magnetism, he was able to handily defeat the unsuspecting New American Justice Coalition and send them on the run. Soon after, Forty-Thr33 announced to the world his grand intentions: utter and complete world domination.
Now in control of all government functions, he commandeered the moon of Mimas, which had been transformed into a giant weapon by the Star Wars Defense Initiative, and he threatened to use it against anyone who disobeyed him. To demonstrate this power, Forty-Thr33 used the weapon on the nation of Canada, destroying all its major cities, not because they had disobeyed him but because he figured that no one would care.
It was then that the NAJC began to suspect the source of their enemy's power. The Mimas transformation had largely been championed by members of the Illuminati, particularly some who, it was rumored, had come from another reality — in fact those members had come from another dimension: ours! To defeat Forty-Thr33, the NAJC would have to discover the true source of his power and recruit new allies.
With the help of Alpha Flight, the team of super-powered Canadian Prime Ministers, the NAJC managed to break into NASA headquarters, deep in enemy territory, and access the Apollo Project's dimensional gateway, sending Spiro Agnew through into our dimension to elicit the aid of our New American Justice Coalition. Agnew immediately vanished out of sight from the unexpecting Illuminati of our dimension and went to warn our President Clinton, who immediately called together all seven members of the Justice Coalition. Worried that the same threat might some day arise in our own reality, the NAJC set out for the dimensional door and Reality XDR-347.
Once in Reality XDR-347, however, the Justice Coalition met with heavy resistance. Forty-Thr33 had anticipated Agnew's return with reinforcements and had stationed Gingrich and several of his generals at the gate to stop the interdimensional travelers. As soon as they crossed through the Apollo gateway, our heroes found themselves pinned down and cornered, heavily outnumbered. They tried to fight their way out, but the super-villain's forces were too many.
Fortunately, help came in the form of the XDR-347 version of Ronald Reagan, who possessed an array of telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Reagan (XDR-347) devised a plan whereby most of the team could escape. He psychically released all of the mental controls within Richard Nixon that held him back from becoming the Hulk. Entirely released from control, the Hulk went on a rampage that Forty-Thr33 could never have anticipated — especially because the Nixon of XDR-347 possessed an entirely different superpower, that of shapeshifting. The plan worked but Nixon had to sacrifice himself in the process.
Faced with an enemy in two strongholds — the armies of evil commanded from the White Tower of Washington and Forty-Thr33 himself stationed on the moon of Mimas — the members of the two Justice Coalitions decided to split up into two forces. Led by Gerald Ford, the blue team would attack the enemy's terrestrial forces in Washington, aiming to wrest control of the evil armies from Gingrich. The gold team, led by Jimmy Carter (our reality), would take on Forty-Thr33 at his base at Mimas.
The Blue Team
The first thing the Blue Team had to do was to reach the White Tower of Washington in the District of Columbia without being noticed by the Black Helicopters, which were searching for them; this was a particular challenge for the team of brightly colored — and therefore easily spotted — superheroes. Seeking to avoid detection they approached the capital through a secret passage running through the dead marshes around Washington. Even there, the Black Helicopters sought them, but President Clinton (our reality) used his spider-sense to feel their coming and hide the team.
Once they reached Washington, the Blue Team's plan was simple: Agnew would teleport into Gringrich's stronghold in the Capitol and open it from the inside; Reagan (our reality) would use his blinding globules of light to block anyone else from entering; Carter (XDR-347) and Nixon (XDR-347) would provide cover for Reagan, making sure no interior guards could attack him; and finally Ford (our reality) and Clinton (our reality) would confront Gingrich. In the best case scenario, Clinton would simply bind Gingrich in webbing. If that were not possible, Ford would use his Norse God strength to destroy Gingrich. Either way, the dark armies would have no leader and order could then be restored.
As it happened, things would not turn out so well for our heroes. They proceeded to the Capitol and Agnew opened the gate only after setting off multiple alarms. The Blue Team entered and Nixon, Carter and Reagan took their positions guarding the entrance, while the rest of the team proceeded onto the floor of the House to capture or kill Gingrich. What they did not understand, however, was that Gingrich did not draw his power simply from his army. He possessed something which gave him great power that not even Ford's mighty hammer could best.
On the floor of the House the battle raged epicly, but as it grew increasingly long, the beleaguered Presidents guarding the entrance came under increasing siege. As Gingrich finally declared, "Fools. No man can defeat me!" our heroes began their retreat, but by that point the building was so surrounded that there was little hope for escape. In a desperate attempt to allow an escape, Reagan let forth a giant blinding flash of energy, pouring all his mental energies into an explosion that rocked the enemy forces, after which he collapsed unconscious.
Agnew proceeded to teleport to safety carrying the unconscious Reagan, but even though the massive blast had torn a hole in the enemy ranks, escape seemed nearly impossible for our heroes until an unexpected friend appeared. Swinging out from the skyscrapers and toward the Washington Monument came the reality's native President Clinton, who had been on the run since the initial attack by Gingrich. Clinton's arrival completely refocused Gingrich's attention, allowing our heroes to rally together on familiar ground: the White House. Even so, the blue team was outnumbered and badly in need of a plan. It was a tense, uncertain and climactic situation, so now it's time to cut away to our other heroes on the Gold Team.
The Gold Team
Meanwhile, the Gold Team was busy trying to prevent Forty-Thr33 from using the Mimas weapons system on any part of Earth. They sped to Cape Canaveral in order to commandeer a shuttle with which to reach Mimas. Carter (our reality) broke through the gates to confront and distract the guards, while Bush (our reality) and Bush (XDR-347) secured the shuttle for launch. Reagan (XDR-347) used his psychic abilities to learn from the attendant scientists how to launch the shuttle, while George Rice-Bush, the time-travelling President who is part of our reality's Justice Coalition, rigged the shuttle with the futuristic technology needed to make it capable of going as far as Mimas.
The five heroes blasted off and made their way to Mimas quickly by using a combination of Reagan's super-telekinesis and Rice-Bush's future technology. After landing on the moon of Mimas, the group once again split up. Reagan and our reality's Bush went to shut off the shielding around the moon; Rice-Bush and XDR-347's Bush went to the reactor core so that they could destroy it once the shielding was down; and Carter went to face Forty-Thr33.
Swinging into Action
At first the plan went swimmingly: Bush (our reality) and Reagan were able to shut off the shielding, and while they faced difficulty, they overcame it themselves, entirely without any sort of help from any walking Teddy Bears. I repeat: there were NO fuzzy, cute or semi-collectable Teddy-Bear-aliens involved. If our heroes had needed that sort of help it would have totally ruined what has up to now been a perfectly good story, and we won't stand for that sort of thing. Anyhow, moving on....
Bush (XDR-347) and Rice-Bush made their way to the reactor core, avoiding numerous rounds of blaster fire along the way, and then waited for Reagan and our Bush to shut down its shielding. Carter, meanwhile, went to confront Forty-Thr33 in order to defeat him, or at least keep him from interfering with their plan. But just as the Blue Team had underestimated Gingrich, the Gold Team had drastically underestimated their enemy, and the normally supreme Carter found himself sorely outmatched.
The reason for this was that Forty-Thr33 quickly displayed amazing mastery over the power of magnetism, which allowed him to fight the metal-skeletoned Carter without ever landing a blow. The two struggled against each other as Forty-Th33 slowly pushed Carter toward the reactor core before finally incapacitating Carter by brutally ripping the adamantium out of his body. Once Carter was at the reactor core Rice-Bush rushed to his aid, leaving only Bush (XDR-347) to destroy it once the other part of the team deactivated the shield.
Temptation of Bush
As fortune would have it, the shield went down just as Forty-Thr33 came upon Bush (XDR-347), but instead of trying to defeat him, Forty-Thr33 instead tried to convince Bush to join him. It was at this juncture that Forty-Thr33 revealed his true identity; he was the as-of-yet-unelected 43rd President and Bush's own son — George W. Bush from the future. Even confronted with this revelation, Bush (#41, XDR-347) rejected the offer and fired a blast into the reactor core, setting off a self-destructive chain reaction.
Faced with the destruction of the tiny moon, Forty-Thr33 fled into our reality through a second dimensional gateway that he had set up on Mimas, though he accidentally dropped something along the way. Meanwhile, our heroes rushed to the space shuttle and took off before the entire installation exploded. They had saved the Earth of Reality XDR-347, but as a consequence our own reality was now in terrible danger. Before we can deal with that, however, we should get back to the Blue Team.
The Blue Team
Trapped in their place of refuge at the White House, our heroes in the Blue Team needed two things: a force with which to defeat the dark armies surrounding them and a method of felling the apparently invulnerable Gingrich. The answer to the first quandary came from asking a seemingly innocent question: why is it that the walls of the Oval Office tended to bleed on random occasions? Each of the Presidents on the Blue Team had lived in the White House and wondered at this, but until this moment of need they had remained only vaguely aware of why this happened.
Calling the Army of the Dead
Pooling their knowledge, they slowly came to the realization that both the source of the blood and the reason that the White House occasionally spoke were that the spirit of former President Ulysses S. Grant was haunting the White House. In 1865, Grant had accepted the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomattox. The terms of the surrender were generous, because if the nation were to heal, then Southern pride had to be maintained.
Still, Grant needed a way to enforce the surrender and he came up with what seemed like an ingenious method. Any Confederate that failed to abide by the surrender would be cursed to remain a restless spirit, damned to haunt the Earth until they performed a service of atonement for the rightful President of the Union. When some Confederate soldiers continued the futile war for several more weeks, they were bound by the curse, and Grant too became stuck with them.
Fortunately, numbered among our heroes was the rightful President of the Union. Quickly calling up Madame Cleo, our heroes began to commune with the dead President and soon they had an army of the dead at their disposal. But what they still needed was a way to defeat Gingrich. They thought and thought, and that was the moment that something magical happened: Clinton (both) reached into his desk for a porno mag. Well, that in and of itself wasn't magical, but the idea that it gave the other members of the Blue Team was.
The team had already observed their enemy's near-fanatical dislike of Clinton in particular and Gingrich had stated that no man could destroy him. Together the heroes of the Blue team came up with a risky strategy that would require quick thinking by Clinton, the shape-changing abilities of Nixon (XDR-347) and a healthy amount of luck:
Together the ghost army of Grant and the heroes of the Blue Team set out for the field of battle. The ghosts were formidable allies and quickly cut down much of the dark army, allowing the super-Presidents to make their way to Gingrich. But instead of engaging Gingrich in combat, Clinton (XDR-347) began to hit on one of the female soldiers in the dark army. Gingrich exploded wrathfully, emitting an angry rant about Clinton's immorality and decrying that a married man would do such a thing. At that moment, exactly on cue, Nixon appeared, having changed his shape into that of a particular 20-something Congressional aide with whom Gingrich had been having an extra-marital affair. Confronted with his own hypocrisy, Gingrich was felled. The Blue Team was victorious!
Jubilation would not last long, however, as our heroes learned that Reagan (ours) had been permanently damaged by the blast with which he had saved them earlier. So too did the return of the Gold Team bring the news that Carter (ours) was in critical condition and that Forty-Thr33 now posed a grave danger to our reality: at the same time this threat was emerging, our own Justice Coalition was now down fully three members due to death and injury.
Clearly our heroes needed to enlist an ally that had not been heard from since he fought alongside the original American Justice Coalition. Fortunately, there was a way to retrieve just such an ally: when fleeing Reality XDR-347, Forty-Thr33 had dropped his time-travel device and Rice-Bush, recognizing what it was, picked it up. Our heroes returned to our own dimension and after a quick conference they decided what they had to do and set out to go back in time and enlist the aid of the most powerful superbeing ever to fight alongside the American Justice Coalition — Oscar Wilde.
Oscar Wilde was one of the most powerful super-beings ever to walk the Earth and several theories have been advanced as to his origin. Some believe he was a mutant sea monster that was formed by the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. Others believe that he is far older, theorizing that he had simply chosen to rest in Boston Harbor during some bygone era and awoke as a result of all the caffine diffused into the seawater by the Boston Tea Party. Still others believe he is entirely unconnected to the sea and is, in fact, one of the externals, a group of immortal mutants that have existed since the beginning of time. When asked about it directly, Oscar Wilde has been evasive, saying only, "It is a sorry man who cannot invent an Oscar Wilde origin to fit his situation."
Among Wilde's powers were the ability to control his size and shape, flight, fire-breathing, telekinesis and extreme wit — and the Justice Coalition needed them all. Leaving Reagan and Carter to recuperate, Rice-Bush set the time-travel device he had recovered from Forty-Thr33 to send Clinton, Bush, Ford, and himself back in time to the last known whereabouts of Wilde. But before they could find Wilde, our heroes would have to do battle with the second-most-powerful super-being on Earth — the evil wallpaper.
NAJC vs. the Evil Wallpaper
Born in a demon dimension and possessed of will of utter darkness, the Evil Wallpaper possesses a pattern that can lull the weak man into a hypnotic obedience to the dark arts and strike terror into the heart of any man who opposes it. Even the strongest steam can not unmoor it from its terrible dominion, and yet, in order to find Wilde, the Justice Coalition would have to best the terrible creature in order to extract Wilde's location from it.
Across half of France the Wallpaper and the Justice Coalition battled. At first the Justice Coalition seemed to have the upper hand, for Clinton's wall-crawling ability gave him the ability to go wherever the wallpaper could, but soon the tide turned when the wallpaper cut deeply into Bush's finger and temporarily took possession of Ford, turning him against the others. In the end, however, no wallpaper could defeat America's greatest heroes, especially no French wallpaper. They pinned it down and, threatening it with a can of horridly colored paint, they forced it to reveal Wilde's location.
Wilde Joins the Team
After traveling in the direction the Evil Wallpaper had told them, the time-travelling members of the Justice Coalition found Wilde in the spring of 1901. He had set off into the French alps to remove himself from the world, and there he had taken up residence in a Carthusian monastary, where he made a vow of silence and dedicated himself to a life of simple joys, honest labor, and green alcohol.
Wilde had suffered ill public reaction to both the fact that he had had relationships with younger men and the fact that he was actually a shape-changing mutant lizard; as a result, Wilde was reluctant to leave his seclusion and re-enter a world full of strife, turmoil and EncyclopediaDramatica. Nevertheless, the members of the New American Justice Coalition convinced him to fight alongside a team of American superheroes once more in their time of greatest need. Wilde reluctantly left the monastery, donned a cape and a pair of tights, and travelled into the future with our heroes to do battle with Forty-Thr33.
The Final Battle
Once back in the present day, the New American Justice Coalition set off to the Mimas of our dimension, to which Forty-Thr33 had escaped. A recovering Carter rejoined the group and with the addition of Wilde they were a full six strong. Forty-Thr33 was expecting them, however, and he had been given time to prepare, meaning that our heroes would have to tread carefully. With all of the moon's equipment amplifying his magnetic powers, the arch-villain would be able to block anything metal.
To prevent Forty-Thr33 from using these powers against any of them, the members of the Justice Coalition emptied all of the change out of their pockets, even going through the metal detector twice and taking off their shoes. Most importantly, however, they needed a method of space travel that used no metal, and it was here that Oscar Wilde's awesome powers were used. Possessed of super strength and endurance, and the ability to change his shape and size, Wilde could serve as their spacecraft. An aircraft carrier brought the team to high altitude, from which Wilde flew into space, carrying the rest of the team. Because they used no metal, the team was thus able to take their enemy by surprise.
Once on the moon the plan was simple, the Presidents would determine what safeguards Forty-Thr33 had set up in order to protect the facility and then they would bypass them to destroy the installation. Meanwhile Wilde would battle the super-villain directly. And so it happened: The Justice Coalition once again destroyed the reactor, this time completely without any help from any computer generated Rastafarian aliens, while Wilde and Forty-Thr33 waged an epic battle.
Forty-Thr33 could control all the metal in the environment, but Wilde had fire-breath, remarkable wit and dreamy eyes. Obviously Wilde was the victor, leaving Forty-Thr33 battered and beaten as the rest of the team set off a massive self-destruct explosion on the moon. The last remnants of the SDI program had been destroyed and our heroes returned to Earth knowing that the world was now safe again.
Following the epic battle, there were only a few loose ends. The Justice Coalition would watch George W. Bush closely to see that at no point in the future would he turn into Forty-Thr33, while trusted observers kept contact with reality XDR-347. Oscar Wilde elected to stay in our time and he regained fame as the host of E! Network's Wilde On!. Later that year, the Republican Revolution occurred bloodlessly through the electoral process. Gingrich was a bit testy, but had not been turned evil.
The only thread still hanging was the question of how Gingrich and Forty-Thr33 had turned evil. Or who had done it....