I made an error earlier, I said this was intended for Action 635. In fact, it was for 642. I had assumed it was the earlier of the two crossover issues, simply based on the line-up that appears in the story – none of the post-635 series are included. But the ending makes it clear that it was for the latter issue.
Neil Gaiman’s script was rejected by John Byrne. At the time, it was a hard and fast rule that no one knew Superman’s identity, and Gaiman insisted on the characters meeting as Clark and Hal. Neither would budge, and the script got set aside. The story was finally published in 2001.
This special also has a large art team, divided chapter by chapter. Eddie Campbell, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jaosn Little, Michael Allred, Eric Shanower, Terry Austin and Arthur Adams.
The story begins with a prologue in Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II. Blackhawks Janos Prohaska and Weng Chan go rooting through rubble, searching for a lost weapon. They come across the remains of the Justice Society of America, although they do not realize who these people are. We see Sandman, and the remains of Hawkman’s wings, but it’s Alan Scott’s lantern that grabs Weng’s interest, and he takes it with him.
Jumping to the present day, Hal is feeling lost and alone, and turns to Clark for a shoulder to cry on. Lois Lane wrangles the two into attending a gallery opening that night.
Catwoman makes a cameo, running into Hal. But the catkin emerald she was interested in is not there, so Selina leaves. Exploring the gallery, Hal comes across the lantern, on display. He is fascinated. It’s a Green Lantern lantern, but not one he recognizes. He uses his ring to scan it.
Deadman comes across the confused heroes, and tells them they are dead. They aren’t. Not quite. But they have been pulled into the magical, somewhat sentient flame that powers Alan Scott’s lantern, and are between being alive and dead.
The Flame’s burst of energy draws the attention of the Phantom Stranger.
He convinces Hal that he does have the willpower to tame the wild magic of the flame, and get it back into its battery, dormant.
The final page makes it clear that this was intended for issue 642. The story printed there uses a similar marquee in its background.