Animal Man is faced with something he can't begin to comprehend--a breach in the continuum! Who is in control? Who is writing the world?
The first few panels of the issue cut between an unwell Psycho Pirate, and someone's hands typing out the scene on a computer keyboard. The hands type out the phrase, "The story begins:"
Animal Man and the aliens approach the hole that Ultraman made in the panel border. Animal Man asks what it is and the aliens tell him that it is a hole into the continuum. Animal Man looks through the hole at the reader, and mentions that he sees a giant blurred face looking back. The aliens ask him if he's afraid to which Buddy replies that he's not. Ultraman tries to stop Buddy from entering the empty space by telling him that he did and it was horrible. Everything was white, and there were faces staring down. Dr. Highwater is excited because this proves his theory: that they are all minor characters in a story. Ultraman scoffs because there's no way he could be a minor character. Psycho Pirate angrily tells them they're all stupid, but is interrupted Overman who has entered still carrying the gigantic bomb with the words "Purification Day" written on it.
Highwater asks the aliens if they can do anything, but they can't interfere with the story. Ultraman seems to realize that Overman is him if he had grown up on another earth. Overman flips the switch; arming the bomb. Ultraman battles the insane "hero", while Psycho Pirate tries to get them to stop fighting because it's what "they" want.
While Overman battles other Supeman analogues including Streaky the Supercat and Bizarro, Dr. Highwater grabs some comic books and explains to the others that this is the nature of their reality. While they all think they have histories, it's just their minds filling in the gaps. On the other hand, each time their story is read; they live again. Unfortunately, Animal Man isn't paying much attention. He decides someone needs to stop Overman, and jumps through the hole into the white space between panels.
Buddy spends some time in the gutters; observing Overman fight. He finally reaches into a panel, and taps Overman on the shoulder. Overman freaks out because there's no one there. Buddy calmly rests his arm on top of the panel border, but Overman is too fast and manages to pull him back into the comic.
The transparent Psycho Pirate's form is beginning to lose it's shape. He asks Highwater if he remembers the Crisis. Highwater tells him that he only remembers the vague details; red skies and natural disasters. Psycho Pirate tells the physicist that because he was the only one who remembered the multiverse, everything was in his head. They're all coming back and everything will be like it was... total chaos.
With some help from the Veil, Animal Man has managed to drag Overman into the panel gutters. They trap Overman in a comic panel that continuously gets smaller, until he disappears from existence.
Back in the comic, Highwater is again attempting to tell the assembled characters about their reality. He tells them that they're just memories of older characters who don't fit into continuity anymore. Ultraman and Sunshine Superman angrily claim that they have a right to life, and if they go back to limbo they may never been seen again. Highwater explains to them that they're wrong. Every time someone about them they will live again... In a way, they out live their creators. Ultraman still claims that he's not real, but his compatriot, Power Ring, tells him that he doesn't want to live in this world. Suddenly, he disintegrates into colors. Ultraman is shocked, but soon he and everyone else are also reduced to confetti-like colors. Dr. Highwater looks at Psycho Pirates discarded medusa mask, and realizes that they've all gone into the mask. The aliens reveal to Dr. Highwater that this is his role in the story. The medusa mask has become a gateway, and someone must be a "sacrificial eagle" and contain it with sheer force of will. Psycho Pirate begins freaking out about the bomb that is still there and armed. The aliens refuse to act, but Animal Man re-enters and just flips the bomb's off switch.
Later, Animal Man and two aliens, along with Psycho Pirate, stand outside Arkham Asylum. Animal Man remarks that it feels like someone is missing. Psycho Pirate has almost totally disappeared, and decides that maybe it's not such a bad thing to be taken out of continuity. He remarks about how nice it was to see all those old characters again. He tells Animal Man to smile for him, because he's happy and he finally fades away. The two aliens quote from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Inside the asylum, Dr. Huntoon and a guard are discussing an inmate. The inmate sits on the floor of his cell, not moving but seems happy enough. The inmate is revealed to be Dr. Highwater; wearing Psycho Pirate's medusa mask and guardian of the multiverse.
Meanwhile, Animal Man has returned home with the two aliens in tow. He comes downstairs wearing his old costume and asks about their creators. His family was horribly murdered, and if they are just characters in a story; who makes them suffer? "Who writes the world"? The yellow aliens again quote Prospero and disappear into thin air. Buddy tries to stop them, but is interrupted by a voice calling his name. The voice tells him that it's time to go; time for one last adventure. Buddy opens his front door, and instead of his yard he appears to be in an otherworldly cemetery.