A series of unnatural disasters involving alien menaces plagued Central City. Barry Allen struggled to figure it all out. The ever-understanding Iris West moaned about their canceled date "Oh, no! Why'd I ever fall for a police scientist? If I were engaged to the Flash, he'd have time for me!" Barry reckoned she'd be even more steamed to learn that he was in fact the Scarlet Speedster, but the Flash's identity remained his secret. The Monarch of Motion dealt with something akin to lava, giant robots, and disastrous plant life. Understandably, this tuckered him out.
Meanwhile, famed scientist Dr. Willis Stanton made headlines calling on the aid of the Atom for a crucial experiment. At Ivy University, Ray Palmer couldn't resist the summons, and made the trip to Stanton's lab as the Mighty Mite. Stanton had found an inert green orb that fell from out of the sky, and needed an intelligent, maneuverable replacement for a missing electron to activate the orb. Meanwhile, the Flash had traced "molecular agitation" related to his disasters to Stanton's lab. Finding both men inside above reproach, the Scarlet Streak set aside his investigation to assist in the experiment. The Flash threw the World's Smallest Super-Hero at the orb at sufficiently high speed to penetrate it. This must have distracted the Flash, as he was then clubbed on the back of the head.
The Atom caused the intended chain reaction, but as he began to grow, he found himself in a world within the orb. One levitating vehicle was in pursuit of another, firing lasers indiscriminately. One struck the Atom, but it was surprisingly reflected backward, downing the pursuing vehicle. The vehicle he had inadvertently aided stopped to offer thanks and a ride, since the Tiny Titan had just made an enemy of Attila-5. The scientist Larnus and his daughter Arbellice explained that their planet had been imperiled by a rogue star. Science saved the day by shrinking the world to safety with a Molecular-Oscillator. However, the event generated such panic in the citizenry that Attila-5 managed a successful coup against their former ruler, Zarn. Attila-5's reign was diminished by science's inability to restore their planet to its normal size. Attila-5 had been remotely monitoring Earth (named as he was after Attila the Hun,) and sent his planet to be fixed there. Taking mental control of Dr. Willis Stanton, the experiments in restoring native objects that followed had led to the tumult in Central City.
Thanks to the Atom, the orb was steadily expanding back to normal size, but in the process it would eventually displace the Earth. The Atom had to keep adjusting his own size to keep up with the changes. Meanwhile, the Flash had recovered, and used his superspeed to vibrate into the orb. Within, the Scarlet Speedster was a towering giant, but he had lost his flash abilities and was wiped out by the effort. Attack ships blasted at the Flash, and he was eventually bound by tethers. The Atom discovered this just as Arbellice had begun hardcore flirting with him, but no time for love Dr. Palmer!
On this world, an adjustment in density sent the Infinitesimal Battler flying through the air. Ships fired lasers upon him, but by twisting and turning his body, the Atom simply ricocheted the beams back at the ships. "When I took on electron status to enter this world, it must've given me immunity to them!" The invulnerable mite freed the Flash, and with a device given to them by Larnus, summoned all their remaining swiftness to break out of the expanding orb. "GO, FLASH, GO!" Outside, they found that the poor town of Hadleyville had already been flattened (no mention of casualties) and USAF jets attacks were having no effect. Larnus' device caused the orb to divide into two equal and enlarging orbs, so the Atom directed the Flash to run around them so fast that they fell into a crater and got smooshed and reintegrated or disintegrated or something. The science was very bad, and the implications went unaddressed. Point was, one small orb exited the crater and flew off back into space.
Ray Palmer gave Barry Allen a call, explaining that Dr. Stanton's trance had broken once the orb left. "Well, it was great teaming up with you! See you soon... So long!" If Ray had hung on a bit longer, he could have heard Barry explaining to a girlfriend who is somehow even more of a shrew than Jean Loring that he was just chatting with a friend. "Hmmph! You waste time gabbing, but haven't time for our date... It makes a girl wonder if she's not just wasting her time being in love with you!" Seriously, there was fear in Barry's eyes and red-purple radiation emanating from Iris West's head.
"The Challenge of the Expanding World" was by Bob Haney and Alex Toth. The plot was dull and the science was dreadful, but the art was swell and how often does anybody get jobbed to make the Atom look infallible. Dude was pimping like Superman while poor Barry came off like a winded chump. I approve!
DC Comics Presents
- Aquaman & Hawkman in "Fury of the Exiled Creature" @ Justice League Detroit
- Martian Manhunter & Green Arrow in "Wanted--The Capsule Master!" @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu
- Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud & the Haunted Tank in "Suicide Mission! Save Him or Kill Him!" @ DC Bloodlines
- Wonder Woman & Steve Trevor in “The Time Traveler of Terror!” @ Diana Prince