The Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Dr. Occult, and Mister E have gathered in a dimly lit room to discuss a young boy who has a natural power for magic. It is an uneasy gathering. Occult says they should help the boy channel his power for good, while E says they ought to kill him to prevent him from ever turning evil. Constantine doesn't really want anything to do with the situation. The Stranger, who appears to be somewhat in charge, says that they must only offer him a choice. Occult mentions that the Cold Flame, a group of evil magicians is also after the child. The Stranger manages to convince the others that it is up to the four of them to make sure that the boy chooses correctly.
While the four have been talking, a young boy has been skateboarding nearby. He hears a tapping that seems to be coming from every direction. He stops, turns around and is frightened to find Mister E directly behind him. E grimly asks him if he believes in magic; the boy takes off running. He goes down an alleyway, only to find Dr. Occult who tells him that they only want to talk. The boy(whose name we learn is Tim) skates away and nearly misses hitting the Phantom Stranger. Thinking that he's clear, he finally stops outside a magic shop to catch his breath, only to be grabbed by the cigarette-smoking John Constantine.
Constantine tells Tim that he and his friends aren't going to hurt him; they just want to talk. The three other mystics appear, and the Stranger re-asks E's question. "Do you believe in magic?" After Tim's sarcastic retort, the Stranger asks him a final time. Tim tells him that he used to when he was younger. He used to wish magic was real, but he grew out of it. The Stranger tells the lad that magic IS real, and the four introduce themselves. Tim learns that names have power, and he should never tell anyone his real name. Also, instead of asking someone's name, he should ask what they would like to be called. Tim looks at them in disbelief and and asks them if he's on a Candid Camera. Occult assures him that there is no camera, and that they want to offer Tim a choice. To prove that magic is real, Occult takes Tim's yo-yo and clasps it in his hands. He releases them and an owl flies out. Tim gasps and asks if he could learn to do that. The Stranger tells Tim that in time, he could. He tells Tim that they want to educate him; and asks Tim to go with him. Tim thinks to himself that if he could do stuff like that, nobody would ever mess with him again. He accepts the Stranger's offer, and the owl flies back down and lands on Tim's shoulder. The Phantom Stranger creates a door and the two walk through.
They enter total blackness. Tim expresses fear, but the Stranger tells him that nothing in the past can hurt him. Tim asks where they are; the Stranger informs him that they are not anyWHERE. They are in the void at the dawn of time. Tim hears a loud, painful noise that sounds like screaming. The Stranger says that the painful cry of birth... the birth of everything. A light appears in the distance. The Stranger describes it as the Silver City, and sadly says that he can go no further. Suddenly, a light shines down from the city. Tim describes it as looking "like Star Wars". The Stranger tells him that it is the result of the first war; the war in Heaven. The "light" is actually the falling angels. Six giants stand in a circle, each wearing a different colored robe. The Phantom Stranger tells Tim that they are the archangels. The Stranger then tells Tim that it is time to visit Earth. As they approach the Earth, the Stranger tells Tim that while it is true that the Earth was once a molten ball of lave, in another frame of reference it is true that the Earth was once a concave dish full of the pre-dead(demons).
The two walk through Earth's past, past the death of the dinosaurs, until they reach the destruction of Atlantis. The Stranger informs Tim that this isn't the true Atlantis, this was just the last archipelago. They approach a toothless old man sitting alone on a rock. The man surprises Tim by talking to him. Tim asks the man if he can see him, but the man responds that he can't see or hear him. Still, his spells told him that Tim would be there. As the man was saying, Atlantis doesn't have a "quantifiable existence." There have been many Atlantises, and will be many more. Atlantis is a symbol of magic; the true Atlantis is inside everyone. It is our birthplace and our unattainable goal. Moving on to the subject of magic, the wizened old man tells Tim that basically it's a bunch of crap. Definitely not worth the price. He tells the Phantom Stranger to take Tim away, and advises Tim not to take the Trenchcoat Brigade's offer.
Tim and the Stranger continue their walk through the ages of magic. They see a prehistoric shaman, ancient Egypt, a Chinese sorceress, and representations of Greek rituals. Tim begins to feel sick, and the Phantom Stranger apologizes for moving so fast. They stop in Winchester, England, where they meet a teenaged boy. The teen introduces himself as Merlin. When Tim asks how Merlin can see them, he responds that he is the greatest wizard of his time due to his demon blood. He then goes into detail about his future life. Of how he'll Arthur become king, but will become infatuated by Nimue. Of how she'll betray him and seal him in cave to die. At least, Merlin points out, it will be interesting. A young boy enters and asks Merlin who he's talking to because he can't see anyone. Merlin introduces the boy as Iason, and tells him that of course he can't see anyone. Tim is puzzled and asks Merlin that if he knows the future is going to end so bad, why doesn't he try to change it. Merlin solemnly tells him he can't... "magic grants no freedoms". As the two leave, Tim asks the Stranger if he could be as powerful as Merlin. The Stranger tells him that while he isn't of demon blood, he could indeed be that powerful. Tim ponders the fact that Merlin's life wouldn't be worth the cost of magic, but he was going to do it anyway. He tells the Strange that wants to see more.
They walk through the Salem Witch Trials to show Tim that people kill what they fear. He explains to Tim about the differences between science and magic and how the two are rarely compatible. They continue walking. The Stranger show Tim Kent Nelson and the helmet of Nabu; and then asks Tim to take a seat. They appear to be in a theater of some sort, and a well-dressed with a top hat appears on-screen. The Phantom Stranger tells Tim that the man is Zatara; father of Zatanna, the famous stage magician. Zatara recites a poetic monologue about his life and pulls a bloody rabbit out of his hat. As the screen goes dark, Tim notices a man in a turban sitting next to him. The man begins speaking, and the Stranger tells Tim that the man is Sargon the Sorceror; a magician who gave his life to protect heaven. Sargon begins grotesquely melting and pointing his finger at Tim, he intones that, "It's got a price. Nothing's free". The Stranger grabs Sargon's ruby from the melted goo and asks Tim if he wants it. Tim doesn't know, and the Stranger tells him that makes sense.
The two walk through the exit, and the Stranger tells Tim that he has taken him as far as he can. The exit, and appear coming out of the magic shop's door. John Constantine tells Tim that he's going to be his next guide and asks Tim if he wants to bring his owl. Tim agrees, and the two begin walking. As Tim and Constantine head off into the distance, E grimly informs the others that he thinks they should still kill him.