As you may recall from last time, Dragon has a "time bomb" strapped to his chest, which can explode again and again, taking him to a different time with each kaboom. This is a convenient device for the superhero comic theme, as it allows him to explore the various eras of comics.
Dragon's lot is a sad one, though he knows an end does come when he meets Venus in the 1970s -- how long until then, however, no one can say. Also, it's so weird to see Kirby-style Ultiman like that. Kirby didn't draw Superman a lot, did he?
However, despite this, the story opens with Dragon popping back to Chicago on the very day he was taken by the Society of Evil Minds. But it's... different. Not his Chicago at all; he goes to the police station and nobody, not even his partner Alex Wilde, recognizes him.
That's when the cops call in the National Guardians to deal with this green monster. Who are the National Guardians?
Evidently this is the 90s of Earth-B specifically. Check out that gloveless Ultiman and the Earth-B Beacon. I don't get the third guy, though.I guess that makes sense, Binana had input on Grandfather Clock's time machine, no doubt it can travel between the worlds, too. Ultiman does recognize Dragon, but from a warp Dragon hasn't taken yet -- to the 1930s. Apparently they had some serious altercation, because Ultiman's been waiting nearly 60 years to pop Dragon in the mouth again.
There's more; Venus went back to the gods in '57, and Ultiman is married to Lori Lake, not that Arlene woman seen last issue. Or, she was, until she died in childbirth. I'd feel sorry for Dragon if he weren't being so slow on the uptake here, though I don't know how familiar he'd be with alternate universes in the first place.
A blow from Ultiman coincides with the bomb exploding again, sending him, funnily enough, to meet 1930s Ultiman. Dragon doesn't realize he's in a different time at first, probably because the art style changes are imperceptible to him. He doesn't get it until Ultiman mentions only getting his powers last week. Oh, and naturally there's the requisite Action Comics #1 homage, though in a somewhat novel move it's Dragon hefting the car.
Yeesh, you know, I never realized how uneven Dragon's proportions normally are until I saw this relatively realistic version.
Dragon thinks the time stream may have been corrupted after the last time he met Ultiman. Er, the last time he met Ultiman and they were friends, that is. Probably something to do with the temporal paradox caused by the two Grandfather Clocks in the Brave and the Bold segment that closed out the last issue. Speaking of, you may remember that Dragon got a hold of a remote to control the time jumps at the end of the issue, but being stuck in Earth-B means that hasn't been helpful. Anyway, their fight continues until Dragon's had his fill; he activates the time bomb without bothering to set it, landing in a US Army camp in 1952 Korea.
An Army nurse talks to Dragon, and soon reveals herself to be Venus. Again, Earth-B Venus
That's a crappy excuse to get retired, at least old Ultiman got sick and lost his powers. Not gonna lie, this is the least eventful jump yet, and possibly ever. They just talk, really, I don't feel like I understand Venus' deal in the 50s any better.
She hears him out, and realizes what must have happened -- Binana can probably send Dragon back to his own world, and with the Earth-A/B time difference, he'll have the knowledge to do so in 1944, which is where (or when, I guess) he heads next. There (then), a trip to the hair salon for Molly Wilson proves to be a trap set by Dr. Binana, who apparently knows her civilian identity and, judging by the fact that he bound her arms, the "must touch ring to necklace" caveat of the Thunder Girl transformation. That's where Dragon comes in.
He frightens Binana into submission and frees Molly as insurance, watching her turn into Thunder Girl. I mentioned before that it's not much of a transformation, but Thunder Girl clearly looks taller and more muscular than Molly in this story, so whatever. Binana does some pretty funny sniveling to TG, so great is his fear of Dragon.
So they force Binana to let Dragon use his world hopping device, but Binana secretly pulls the plug halfway through sending Dragon home. This causes Dragon to be split between the worlds, literally. This ties into a Blitz story; The Silver Age Blitz and his sidekick Cyclone are headed to Earth-B for a wedding, that of Golden Age Blitz Mack Snelling and his pseudo-sidekick Speed Queen.
I should mention that Cyclone's relation to the Blitz isn't made very clear, but whatever. Anyway, as they vibrate their molecules to Earth-B's frequency, they get interference from Dragon blocking the way.
The Earth-B Blitz sees his other half, and heads to Earth-A to investigate, but Dragon vanishes before he gets the chance to help. A mysterious force sets off the Time Bomb, sending him back to Earth-A in full... in 1965! There, he lands in the secret HQ of BADGE, based on SHIELD, which is one of a scant handful of Marvel-inspired things in Big Bang in general, including the original Badge and his Rookies. Wait, wasn't the Badge an Earth-B character? Eh, whatever.
BADGE, the Bureau for Advanced Defense and Global Espionage, is headed by the original Badge's former sidekicks Bobby and Trooper; Trooper was crippled in an accident at some point and is strictly an administrator, but Bobby is his top field agent. Oh, and they're brother and sister, in case you were wondering.
Dragon's just trying to make sense of where he is, but can't get a moment's peace because all the BADGE agents think he's some spy or monster after the Infinity Orb. He even knocks out Bobby when she comes after him. It doesn't get much better when the Badge himself shows up. And he's throwing his shield now, having essentially gone full Captain America because the Guardian wasn't relevant in 1965.
Dragon has no clue what the Infinity Orb is, (though you and I know it's basically the Cosmic Cube), but some creep shrouded in darkness uses the confusion to steal it for himself. The bad guy flees into the time stream, and Dragon gives chase, hoping to be pulled by the other guy's wake. See, he recognizes the voice as that of the mysterious dude who saved him from the half-and-half Earth A/B thing a minute ago, and wants answers. The Badge, grabbing his leg, comes with him out of concern for the Infinity Orb.
Things don't go so great; Dragon thinks it's because he didn't set a destination, but he winds up in a crazy place with the chronometer reading all zeros. And then the time bomb and remote just turn to dust. Also, the Badge was killed on arrival, and turns out to have been a robot the whole time.
That's when he meets the end of time's inhabitants: the Time Being (Lord of Time) and Oblivia (the End of Everything). I don't think they're especially direct counterparts to anyone -- the Time Being is kind of a Kang/Watcher I guess. The Kirbyesque art in this segment is, really authentic looking, by the way, and I kind of wish Kirby Dragon happened more often.
The Time Being is the guy who took the Infinity Orb; by his reasoning, its power was never meant for mortal hands, in which it would only bring destruction and misery. He also fixed the Earth A/B mix-up, as it was causing a disturbance in the time stream. In any case, the Time Being offers to send Dragon back to his own time via his Time Tunnel, and invites him to look around his palace while he gets that ready. Dragon soon discovers something seriously weird while looking for a bathroom, though -- the Infinity Orb sapping power from several unconscious (or even dead) Ultimen. And on that note, we're done for now, with Part 3 coming in Big Bang #18. In color, no less!