--SYSTEM INTERRUPT--BREACH DETECTED--
--ANOMALOUS LIFEFORM--BASELINE HUMAN--ORIGIN--QUARANTINE ZONE--DESIGNATION--EARTH-33/EARTH SUPERPRIME
--MAXIMUM SANCTION AUTHORIZED--
--OVERRIDE MAXIMUM SANCTION--
--APPREHEND AND ISOLATE--
--ACTIVATE OPERATION LAST RESORT--
At an undisclosed location somewhere on Earth-5.
--Panels One Through Two Hundred Eighteen--Page One Splash--Begin:
"Mr. Woods Goes to Metropolis!"
The visitor awoke in a daze, blinking at the searing light pointed right into his face, grunting with early-morning incoherence. He reached out for Sylvia, but she wasn't there - in fact, he wasn't even in bed, though he was still wearing the t-shirt and underwear he'd worn to sleep.
"GAH!" he screamed, scrambling backward into the corner of the black leather couch he found himself on, staring wide-eyed at the fierce-looking black woman who was regarding him with something between annoyance and contempt. Her voice was granite.
"Listen closely. You won't be harmed and your wife is fine. My name is Amanda Waller and I need your help. This world needs your help."
The visitor froze. "Oh, this is going to be cool," he said, grinning from ear to ear. His lucid dreams often involved superheroic adventures, though nev--
She slapped him.
"This isn't a dream, Mr. Woods. You were right; everything happens somewhere, including the stories you read in your world - the ones printed in comic books. From your perspective, you'd think of this place as Earth-5."
The visitor was still pretty sure he was dreaming, but pain in his dreams felt real enough, so he nodded. Might as well play along.
"We've been waiting for someone like you for a long time," Waller said. "We've had accidental visitors from Earth-33 before, but none of them fit the profile we needed. According to the portions of your blog we've been able to scan, you might just be geeky enough to help us."
"The Justice League has been disbanded. The United Nations revoked their charter."
"Gosh, that's terrible," the visitor said. He found it strange that he'd used the word "gosh" in actual conversation.
"It's worse than terrible. It's catastrophic. We don't have enough time to go over all the details, but as a consequence of recent events none of this world's heroes trust each other, nor do the various government agencies and NGOS with JLA oversight trust the heroes. And the Phantom Stranger popped into my bedroom last night to warn me that 'armageddeon is nigh.' Those were his exact words."
Waller raised an eyebrow.
"Sorry. I'm not sure why I'm talking like a...uh...like a comic book character."
"This world is as real to me as yours is to you," Waller said. "And it's going to need a new Justice League, an organized, united, and most importantly, versatile group of heroes to defend this Earth from the comic threat. The UN has lost its moral authority to choose the team members, and there isn't one hero that's universally trusted to do the job. We need a neutral observer."
The visitor suddenly understood.
"I get it. I'm familiar with all the DC characters and how they interact with each other, their powers, their secret identities...so who better to choose their membership?"
Waller relaxed a little, relieved the visitor understood.
"The Stranger said something else. 'No more than one score.' He wouldn't explain, but these magic types don't lay down rules without good reason. So your JLA is restricted to 20 members or less."
Waller dumped a thick binder in the visitor's lap.
"They're all there in alphabetical order in case you don't remember everyone you have to choose from. I'll leave you to it. When you've prepared your list, press the big orange "Publish" button on the wall and you'll be sent back to your Earth."
The visitor figured he really was dreaming or trapped in a piece of particularly annoying metafiction, but there seemed to be little else to do but compose the list. Well, it was a simple enough task: just imagine the heroes he'd want on the team if it were his world they were defending from an undefined but catastrophic threat.
He contemplated for a while, then scratched down names on the pad of paper Waller had left him:
He added a note:
"Without knowing the exact nature of the threat Earth-5 faces, I've been conservative with my choices while trying to includes heroes who are comfortable in a variety of physical environments and who offer different power sets and intellectual and emotional gifts. If I were Maxwell Lord or the Secretary General of the United Nations and I had a guarantee that every person I picked would agree to serve...this would be my list. Good luck."
He pressed Published, and was gone.