The Story: "The Long Road Home" by Gerry Conway, Luke McDonnell, and Mike Machlan. We open with Steel, beaten and dazed, wandering a strange, unfamiliar land. Is this even Earth?
Steel is so tired he falls over onto the ground, but learns this is no time for a rest--he is immediately attacked by a horde of giant insects!
Luckily, instinct and training kicks in, and Steel makes short work of his attackers, punching and throwing them off him.
We see that Steel is being watched, by a mysterious group of people drenched in shadows. They resolve among themselves to capture Steel and bring him to them.
After smushing most of the giant bugs with a giant rock, Steel runs into a beautiful stranger (aren't they always?):
As this Olanda woman carries Steel off, she is attacked by the "killer bot" ordered by the shadowy group to do the same job. Olanda fires a weapon from her ship, blowing the robot up.
This group watches what happened, and talks of "The Progenitor" and how he/she/it will "learn the intruder's secrets." They also claim this Progenitor brought Steel here in the first place.
Back on our Earth, the JLA explain to the wounded, elder Hank Heywood that his grandson is gone, and they have no idea where he is!
Back to with Steel, we see him in an opulent bedroom, with Olanda bringing him food and drink. When he mentions he is part of the Justice League, she is startled, and storms out.
Steel follows Olanda, and sees her talking to a disembodied voice. She tells Steel this is the year 1,000,000,000 A.D., and asks what he remembers before he came here.
Turns out (in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9) Steel was separated from the rest of the League, and caught in some sort of explosion, which knocked him into another dimension, and, apparently, into the far future.
They are then suddenly attacked by a group of "kill bots" from outside their base, but Steel makes quick work of them. He then meets who the disembodied voice is:
...the Lord of Time!
Turns out the Lord of Time eventually gave up his super-villainy, and decided, using cloning techniques, to create a family for himself, including his beloved daughter Olanda.
But the other clones rebelled, and stole the Lord of Time's Chrono-Cube, which allows him to travel through time. Without it, he is stuck here, at the end of the world, suffering their attacks.
At the clones' base, we see they are split as to what to do. Most of them want to attack their "father" one more time, once and for all. But one of them is afraid of this new addition, who ca destroy their robots at will. He suggests taking the cube and moving to another time, leaving the Lord of Time behind.
As the clones dicker, Steel comes crashing through a wall, tossing kill bots left and right!
Olanda grabs the Lord of Time and throws him into the cube, so he disappears, taking the cube with him.
Steel suddenly sees all the clones and bots disappear, and the Lord of Time returns, explaining he went back in time and stopped himself from creating all the clones in the first place...but not Olanda.
The Lord of Time offers to return Steel to his own time, but he grabs Olanda's arm, and says, what's the hurry? He's got all the time in the world...
Roll Call: Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, Gypsy
Notable Moments: A really interesting story...I like the idea of one of the JLA's most indefatigable villains finally giving up and creating a life for himself away from the rest of humanity.
There's very little mention of the LOT's history with the JLA, I wonder how this story would have read if it had been written a lot earlier, and it had been one of the original Leaguers taking this trip? I'm not saying it would have been better, just different.
This is the debut of Luke McDonnell as the JLA's last regular penciler, and I enjoyed his work quite a bit. It would get a bit loose and cartoony at times, but under inkers like Machlan and later Bill Wray, he gave the book a nice smooth (if frequently dark) look.
I'm guessing DC wouldn't have allowed the JLA to not appear at all in their own book, so they make a one-page cameo here. Might've been neat to never see the JLA at all.