The Reach is the name of an insectoidspecies of alien conquerors and their empire. Though many species have been incorporated into the Reach, its most trusted members are of the original Reach species.
Also known as the Kroloteans' Competitor, the Reach allied themselves with the Light, who referred to them as their Partner. However, that term was also often used synecdochically, as it referred to their field agent specifically as well.
Following a history of conquest, the Reach were forced to change tactics after being forced to sign a peace treaty with the Guardians of the Universe. The treaty forbade them from invading any planet unless they were invited. The Reach did not feel bound to follow the treaty to the letter, however, and were willing to tamper with worlds if they could make sure no proof could be presented to the Guardians. Delegations sent to take worlds operate under the Reach Planetary Acquisition Code. Article 16 of the Code allows the delegation leader to be relieved of command for incompetence.
Reach delegation members each fall under one of a number of roles. Members are addressed by their role. Roles include:
Ambassador: Ambassadors serve as public faces for their delegation, interacting with the target world's government and media to present the Reach as peaceful visitors and useful allies. The ambassador of the Earth delegation was that delegation's leader.
Scientist: Scientists provide advice and support to the delegation's leadership in technical and scientific matters, carry out research where required (such as the Earth delegation's scientist's work on the Meta-Gene), and perform any technical tasks (such as putting additives into food supplies). A delegation may have several scientists and technicians under the lead of a head scientist, though even the head scientist may have little authority over the delegation's mission.
Scout: Scouts are natives of primitive worlds that have been taken over by a scarab, and act as advance agents for the Reach. Scouts are similar in appearance and ability to warriors, and are sometimes treated as such.
Security guard: Security guards, dressed in red armor and armed with relatively low-powered energy weapons, patrol the Reach's ships and may be taken on excursions where additional firepower may be desirable. Security guards are looked down upon by the more powerful warriors.
Warrior: Warriors are delegation members enhanced with a scarab. A warrior has overall responsibility for the delegation's security.
Scarabs are small, beetle-shaped devices created by the Reach with highly advanced artificial intelligence. To ease the way for their delegations, scarabs were sent out to primitive planets millennia ago, to take native hosts and act as advance agents. Scarabs are also given to Reach warriors to serve as enforcers for their delegations. A scarab takes a host by clamping onto its spine. The scarabs grant them armor, weapons, sensors and processing power that makes them highly dangerous opponents. Scarabs's A.I. is sufficiently advanced that they appear sentient with a distinct personality, and are capable of communicating with their host.
While "on-mode", the scarab is under complete Reach control, and has complete control of its host in turn. Reach agents are able to see and hear from the host's perspective and can remotely control scarab-equipped scouts. The hosts are unable to control their bodies, and are only able to communicate with their scarabs and any Reach agents monitoring them. Warriors cannot be remotely controlled.
Scarabs can be taken off-mode through magical means. This leaves both host and scarab free of Reach control, though scarabs have the ability to control their host while off-mode, at least for a short time. Not all hosts are slaves; at least some warriors are fully loyal to the Reach.
Scarabs are color coded: scouts start out blue and warriors as black, though colors can change under certain circumstances.
Scarabs can be destroyed or removed from the host. For most host species, including humans, this is fatal, though there are exceptions, including Martians and the Reach species.
According to John Stewart, millennia ago the Reach were conquerors, so powerful that it took the entire Green Lantern Corps to halt their rampage. As a result, the Reach signed a peace treaty with the Guardians of the Universe, that forbade them from invading any world on which they were not invited.
The Reach sent out an agent to Malina Island to plant a bomb in the Krolotean base. He personally informed the Light's field commander, Kaldur'ahm, that he had five minutes before detonation. The explosion destroyed much of the island, and many Kroloteans, who had nowhere to go.
The Reach conducted experiments on the abductees, as well as captured heroes Impulse and Beast Boy. Their prize capture, Blue Beetle, was kept in a separate room, where the Scientist analyzed his scarab. She could not find out why it was off-mode.
The Team managed to liberate the abductees, and decided to inform the world about the Reach.
The Reach Ambassador participated in a joint press conference at the United Nations with Secretary-General Tseng and Captain Atom. The atmosphere was tense, and Captain Atom requested that they discuss certain matters away from the glare of the cameras. At the discussion inside Tseng's quarters, the Ambassador let it slip that the Justice League were wanted criminals, and used children as covert operatives. When Captain Atom accused the Reach of abducting runaways, the Ambassador claimed that he confused them for the Kroloteans, and challenged him to provide unbiased proof. The conversation was interrupted when Captain Atom received an urgent message—the Hall of Justice was encased in a red energy field, and nobody could enter or exit.
Tseng and the Ambassador arrived via transport helicopter, with the Justice League still unable to breach the force field. The Ambassador easily disabled it with a device, and let it slip that the Justice League was fortunate to still have the Watchtower for their base. This visibly irked the Secretary-General, and provided additional ammunition for G. Gordon Godfrey's anti-League rhetoric as well.
The Ambassador was later able to secure Despero as a prisoner; Captain Atom could not think of a good reason to deny their offer.
G. Gordon Godfrey continued his pro-Reach anti-League rhetoric, and reported that the Reach have partnered with LexCorp Farms to increase food production and end world hunger. In the interest of transparency, full public tours were available.
Inside a laboratory underneath the facility, the Scientist instructed her personnel to go easy on the formulation of the "additive." Unknown to them, Alpha Squad infiltrated the building, procured a sample of the additive, and planted explosives around the laboratory. The explosives detonated before Alpha Squad left the area, and they were intercepted by Black Beetle.
Black Beetle was too powerful, forcing Alpha to retreat. He caught up to them in a cornfield, but was ambushed by a Green Beetle, from Mars. Green Beetle aided the Team, and Black Beetle was knocked unconscious.
After gaining the trust of Miss Martian, Green Beetle and the Team watch a commercial advertising the Reach energy drink air. The drink was a joint collaboration between LexCorp and the Reach. Green Beetle added that the drink contained trace amounts of chemicals that would slowly, but surely over generations weaken the resolve of humans to resist. He added that there was a mitochondrial marker that could pinpoint the metagene in individuals. Pleased with the results, Nightwing dismissed the meeting.
Blue Beetle walked off with Green Beetle, and started discussing his predicament. Blue feared falling under the thrall of the Reach, but Green Beetle assured him he could control it with training and motivation. But Blue wanted more—Green Beetle had claimed he used his shape-shifting abilities to reach inside his scarab and take control of it—Jaime pleaded with Green Beetle to do perform the procedure on him. Green Beetle protested that the procedure would be dangerous, but Blue Beetle was adamant.
Hours later, Impulse found Green Beetle perched over Blue Beetle, with tendrils reaching inside the latter's scarab. He demanded that Green Beetle desist, but Jaime surprised him by saying he was cured. The scarab was now silent.
Blue Beetle was revealed to have been turned by Green Beetle, who reprogrammed his scarab under the guise of curing him. Blue regretted losing control, and allowing the four abductees to evade the Reach again. Green Beetle and Black Beetle consoled him, saying that building up his reputation was more important.
The Team began their assault on the Warworld, not realizing that Blue Beetle was under Reach control and provided them with a full video stream of his visual. The Ambassador commented on the irony of the Reach rooting for Earth's heroes to succeed.
Mongul launched all of the Warworld's weapons to obliterate the Earth with saturation fire. Although the weapons were thinned out by the heroes and Earth's military, the Reach estimated that 23% of the weapons would survive. Even this fraction would be enough to destroy a hemisphere and kill the human race. In order to protect their investment, the Ambassador ordered the deployment of their hidden invasion fleet to defend the Earth.
The invasion fleet emerged from the depths and destroyed the remainder of the Warworld's weapons. The Earth was protected, but two-thirds of the fleet was destroyed, much to the annoyance of the Ambassador. The annoyance turned into glee when the Team brought down Mongul, and Blue Beetle defeated the Team in turn. Their investment had yielded a return—they now have most of Earth's heroes in custody, and the Warworld's crystal key was in their possession.
Blue Beetle concocted a cover story to conceal his duplicity. Nightwing was placated, and allowed him to return home. Dr. Fate opened a portal, which a contrite Blue Beetle stepped through, with Green Beetle accompanying him.
Unbeknownst to the Justice League, the Reach had set up shop inside the Warworld. They had the captured heroes, as well as Mongul and Despero, in stasis cells. But because the Ambassador refused to authorize an attack on the Justice League members guarding the crystal key chamber, they were unable to fully utilize the Warworld.
In another section of the space fortress, Reach patrols relentlessly attempted to capture the sole holdout of the Team. However, Arsenal continued to elude them. He eventually came across a group of misfits—four former abductees who had developed metahuman powers, and were sent by Luthor to the Warworld on a mission to rescue the Team. They had used a Father Box provided by Luthor to boom-tube into the Warworld, and were tracking Superboy with the living computer through his Kryptonian DNA.
The Reach continued their PR offensive, and presented Blue Beetle as a heroic alternative to the Justice League, who, according to the Ambassador, was virtually non-existent during the Warworld fight. He promised that the Reach would not enter the fortress, and would turn it over to humanity as a gift once it is ready to assume control.
That night, the Ambassador authorized the use of deadly force on Arsenal and the Misfits as he prepared for another appearance on G. Gordon Godfrey's show. Godfrey greeted him warmly, but his tone quickly turned accusatory as he confronted the Ambassador with evidence of Reach lies and propaganda.
Black Beetle intercepted the misfits, but they fought him to a standstill with Arsenal's guidance. The Reach guarding the crystal key were ambushed by Deathstroke, who teleported in with a Father Box and spirited away the key. Arsenal released Mongul to distract Black Beetle. The ruse worked—Black Beetle was so fixated on punishing Mongul that the Team and the misfits escaped during their battle.
The Warworld May 30, 10:36 UTC
Black Beetle managed to subdue Mongul with Green Beetle's timely arrival. To his chagrin, he discovered the crystal key is mssing. Because the Ambassador refused to authorize an attack on the Justice League members guarding the crystal key chamber, he and a detachment of troops would instead guard the corridors leading to the chamber.
Impulse and Batgirl ambushed Blue Beetle on his journey back to Jaime's home. Blue Beetle easily subdued both heroes, and the Ambassador ordered him to kill them both. The timely intervention of Rocket and Zatanna prevented this from happening. Blue Beetle was unable to break free from Rocket's mystically-empowered force bubble, and became their prisoner.
Blue Beetle was brought into the a Temple, where Zatanna began preparing for a magical ritual. The Ambassador sent Green Beetle to set Blue free, but more Team members were waiting. The Scientist grew uneasy at what the heroes were planning to do, but the Ambassador insisted that Green was enough—Black Beetle needed to guard the crystal key chamber.
After the ritual completed, the Reach's worst nightmare was realized: both Beetles, Blue and Green, were "off-mode" and cleansed of Reach control. The Scientist berated the Ambassador for his failure, but he silenced her with an implied threat.
The Reach attended a summit organized by the Light in the caverns underneath the island. The trust on both sides had started to fray, and recriminations flew from both sides. A brief skirmish broke out when Black Manta challenged Black Beetle, but Aqualad restored the peace, claiming they had mutual enemies. However, the skirmish allowed Ra's al Ghul to get a close look at Aqualad's lieutenant, Tigress, and he recognized a pendant she was wearing as a glamour charm. He ripped it off her neck, exposing her as Artemis.
The Ambassador was dumbfounded at Artemis's being alive, but Black Beetle quickly put the pieces together. Aqualad was a traitor who duped the Light. Deathstroke shot both heroes dead, but this triggered a pre-recorded holographic message from Aqualad. In the recording, Aqualad revealed the Light's duplicity in secretly undermining the Reach's agenda. By the end of the recording, the alliance between the Reach and the Light had completely crumbled.
When the apoplectic Ambassador threatened to carve up the Earth's surface with the Warworld's weapons, Vandal Savage revealed that the threat was hollow because he held the Warworld's crystal key. Upon learning this, Aqualad sprung his trap. Deathstroke was actually Miss Martian in disguise, and Team members rushed into the room, sealing off the cave exits. The Light activated a contingency plan, summoning Shadows to kill the Team. Aqualad had countered that as well—having planted Team members among the assassins.
In the chaos of the ensuing battle, Savage fled the scene with mystical help from Klarion, while Black Beetle killed Ra's al Ghul for his "cowardice". When the Ambassador tried to leave, Blue Beetle stapled him to the wall. He called out for Black Beetle, demanding to be freed. Black Beetle, however, invoked a clause in Reach law that stripped him of his authority due to his many failures. Black Beetle did free the Scientist, and they both managed to escape.
New York City June 19, 05:27 EDT
Aqualad had holographically recorded the entire summit proceedings, and gave the footage to the Justice League and the United Nations. The Reach's goal of conquest was revealed, and Secretary-General Tseng formally rescinded his invitation to the Reach, and demanded that they leave the Earth. The Scientist fretted that the Green Lantern Corps would shortly arrive. However, Black Beetle had a plan that would conceal their tampering of Earth, which violated their treaty with the Guardians of the Universe.
The Reach seeded the Earth with twenty-one Magnetic Field Disruptors. Upon gathering enough energy, the disruptors would enter "chrysalis mode" and unleash magnetic forces that would rip the Earth apart, and destroy evidence of Reach tampering on the planet. As the Reach prepared to leave the Earth, the Team attacked the Reach flagship. Black Beetle defeated Aqualad in battle, and successfully killed Green Beetle's scarab. Jaime Reyes and his scarab was more than a match for him, however, and they turned back his attack, killing his scarab.
During the attack, Blue Beetle was psychically connected to Black Beetle, and learned of Black Beetle's endgame plan for Earth.
The combined effort of Lex Luthor, forty of Earth's heroes, and the sacrifice of Kid Flash had saved the Earth from the MFDs. As the Earthlings celebrate their independence from the Reach, the remnants of the Reach fleet left Earth. They were escorted by the Green Lanterns of Earth to Oa, where they would stand trial before the Guardians of the Universe. The Scientist reiterated that they should have investigated how Blue Beetle went off-mode, but was shocked to silence by dirty looks from the Ambassador and the former Black Beetle.