1984. Somewhere in Metro City...
"The Blink's holding off Streak. Arsenal's got Man-Catcher and Kali. The Senator's up against Mr. Grim; Wytch is taking on a horde of demons somewhere above your location."
"Last we saw him, he was fighting off pretty much every other mask they've got," Inessa said. "We lost communication when the battle moved over the Pacific. Where are you?"
Donald Daysdale--the third Skull--shook his head. He had traded his usual skull-styled face-paint and military fatigues for a suit of power armor; it had once been Captain Plasma's. The unconscious body of a similar figure was laid out before him, their own power armor cracked and disabled. The armor's faceplate had been removed, exposing the bruised features of its owner.
"I just finished beating the shit out of a guy with my face," the Skull said. "Called himself the Skeleton. Didn't have any powers, just tech."
"Yeah. They don't have strong counters for everyone," she said. "And they've got nothing for Sovereign."
"Doesn't make sense. There's an opposite of every cape from this world, except for him?"
"We think their Sovereign--he was called 'Tyrant'--we think he was killed a few years back. As for the 'Skeletons'--their version of the Skulls..."
"They never found the formula. Yeah," the Skull said. "About that."
"You've got a lot of intel on these guys." The suit hummed around him; he charged forward, springing off the building top and toward the next one. Above and around him, the air burned with the release of charged energy--men and women were engaged in battle. The streets had broken into all out war. "You know their names, their powers..."
"This isn't the first time they've crossed over," Inessa said.
"1895. Dr. Von Dread's Omnisphere. Somehow, he managed to connect to their universe--one of them came over. We captured him, interrogated him. Learned a lot. Since then, there have been other incursions, most of them minor. We've been expecting them to make a move, but not this soon, not this big..."
"No," the Skull said.
"Beg your pardon?"
"You didn't figure all this from a few leaky faucets," he said. "You've got detailed information on their powers--and on countermeasures to their powers. On which ones we have to worry about and which ones we don't. On who should be fighting who. You knew Arsenal would be able to take on his alternate version and Kali... and you knew we'd need extra power against their version of the Silver Bolt."
"Just what are you saying?"
"You've got someone on the inside," he said. "Someone in their universe who's feeding you information. Don't you?"
"You've always been far too clever for your own good," Inessa said. "Yeah. We do."
Inessa laughed. "You'd never believe me if I told you."
"You ever wonder where the hell the Scourge came from?" she said. "And why Andrew Bristle just up and disappeared at the turn of the 19th century?"
Shock hit the Skull like a thunderbolt; he nearly missed his next jump. "You're not saying--shit. Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"Yeah. It's him," she said. "The first Skull is alive. And he's fighting the good fight in the Mirrorverse."
"Parallel universes," I said.
"Yeah," Sumerset replied. "It's--"
"Complicated. Yeah, we figured," I said. "Try us anyway."
Sumerset sighed. "It's hard to even begin describing. There are shit-tons of alternate worlds, parallel dimensions where things went differently--where you never became the Skull, where capes don't exist, where the government never enforced registration. And then there's at least one world where all the capes and masks are reversed."
"'Reversed'?" Red asked.
"Heroes are villains," Wytch said. "Villains are heroes. Nearly each of us has a parallel 'reversed' version. For instance, in the Mirrorverse, I took the name of my patron Goddess, 'Kali'. And I have a bit more of a..." she paused, as if searching for the right phrase. "...fiery temperament."
"Mine's called 'Man-Catcher'. Focuses on traps and gadgets rather than power armor," Sumerset said. "The Skulls are called 'the Skeletons'; they never found the formula."
"So, like, there's a bizarro version of me in this world?" Bonesaw asked.
"Yeah, probably all polite and useful," Mulligan replied. "Hey, are we allowed to trade?"
Bonesaw flipped him the middle finger.
"We don't know all the details of how and why, but in 1984, they tried to take over," Sumerset said. "We have reason to believe that there was someone else behind the invasion--maybe another universe. I don't know. But..."
"...but how does Scourge fit into this?" I asked.
"In 1895, the first denizen of the Mirroverse crossed over," Wytch said. "He met his alternate version here, and they fought. In the battle that ensued, they traded places--one was left in our world, the other in theirs."
I lifted my head. "Wait--are you saying--"
"Yeah," Sumerset said. "Scourge is the evil version of Andrew Bristle--your great grandfather. He's their world's first Skeleton."