Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 2 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2-3, Infinity Inc #19, Justice League of America #244, Detective Comics #558, The Losers Special, and Wonder Woman #327
Written by Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Gerry Conway, Doug Moench, Robert Kanigher, and Mindy Newell
Art by George Perez, Todd McFarlane, Joe Staton, Gene Colan, Judith Hunt, Sam Glanzman, and Don Heck
The first phase of Crisis was well underway by issue two with Harbinger dispatching her assembled heroes & villains to help activate unique towers The Monitor has posted through space and time to hold back the wave of antimatter. This leads to Superman of Earth-2, King Solovar, and Dawnstar being sent to Earth-AD, where they help Kamandi the Last Boy battle the Demon Shadows. Arion, Obsidian, and Psycho-Pirate show up in ancient Atlantis, which quickly goes awry when Psycho-Pirate uses his emotional manipulation powers on his allies. The Pirate is taken away and ends up in the presence of a large shadowy being.
Blue Beetle, Doctor Polaris, and Geo-Force go to Markovia in 1944, where they meet Sgt. Rock & Easy Company, The Haunted Tank, and The Losers, all heroes from D.C. war comics published well after WWII. Meanwhile, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Psimon, and Firebrand show up in Texas in 1879, where they work together with a host of D.C.’s western heroes like Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, and Scalphunter. They all watch as their efforts to get Monitor’s towers working seem to fail as the skies turn red and the shadow demons attack.
All throughout the Multiverse, other people become aware something is going horribly wrong. Brainiac surveys the anti-matter-wave from his starship and goes off in search of his old ally Lex Luthor. Batman is on the trail of The Joker, but his confrontation with the villain is halted when The Flash (Barry Allen) appears warning about the end of the world but then fades away. Meanwhile, The Flash lives in the 30th century with his bride Iris and encounters the collapse of reality around him. The Legion of Super-Heroes deal with stampeding wooly mammoths through the streets of future Metropolis as time itself begins cracking.
Harbinger had an encounter with one of the shadow demons earlier, and it is living within her soul. While The Monitor tells her how vital Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 will be for what is coming, Harbinger finds her body overtaken by the evil presence. She watches as Alex Luthor ages at an accelerated rate going from baby to adolescent in moments. The Monitor explains that the child is composed of both positive and antimatter due to his travel through the Multiverse. After consorting with the same shadow figure Psycho-Pirate is with, Harbinger returns and kills The Monitor with a blast of energy.
At this point in the Crisis, most of the crossovers involved characters who weren’t directly aware of what was going on. From their perspectives, the sky turned red, and storms started brewing around the globe. The Detective Comics and Wonder Woman entries here are wrapping up their current storylines, and the artists colored the skies to reflect what was happening in the Crisis maxi-series. Near the ends of those stories, there are some references to worries over what is happening, but overall, those books would remain disconnected from Crisis until the series was over and the universe was rebooted.
Over in Infinity Inc and Justice League, there is a multi-part story billed as “The Last JLA-JSA Team-Up,” which would hold true until Grant Morrison’s run on the JLA title in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Infinity Inc #19 introduced Dr. Beth Chapel, who will become an important figure in the series. The team is confused about Obsidian’s absence, having no idea he was whisked away by Harbinger. The Golden Age hero Commander Steel surfaces claiming he needs Infinity Inc’s help and claims an imposter is working with Earth-1’s Justice League. The Inifinitors are convinced and end up fighting the JLA over their teammate Steel, the grandson of the old Commander. Eventually, it’s revealed that Commander Steel has gone mad and has to be stopped by his allies from WWII: Flash, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Dr. Mid-Nite of Earth-2. Overall, this story isn’t connected to Crisis beyond its Multiverse elements. It’s more focused on setting up a future storyline for Steel and paying homage to the long-standing partnerships between Earths 1 and 2.
The Losers Special is the one comic that stands out here. It is penned by Robert Kanigher, who was well known for his war comics writing at D.C. Kanigher created classic characters like Sergeant Rock, had a 22-year run writing Wonder Woman, and is the writer responsible for introducing Barry Allen as The Flash, marked as the first Silver Age comic at D.C. He also created Black Canary, The Metal Men, and Poison Ivy. For The Losers Special, he describes the “final” adventure of his war heroes, The Losers. These are Johnny Cloud, Gunner, Sarge, and their mascot Pooch. They were named the Losers as they came together as failures for various reasons, with each member representing a different branch of the military.
In the Special, Sgt. Rock’s Easy Company is under fire from the Germans as the Allies march into Europe following D-Day. As the Losers rush to help, they each look back on what led them to this moment. Captain Storm (of the Navy) recalls the submarine attack in the Pacific that cost him his leg. Gunner and Sarge (both Marines) look for a rocket emplacement, while it’s Pooch, the dog who thinks back on the circumstances that brought them together. Johnny Cloud, a Native American Air Force pilot, remembers his early days dealing with racial prejudice and how he developed as a fighter pilot. The whole special concludes with the Losers rushing into what they know is a fight they won’t return from, going out in a blaze of glory. While this might seem like a farewell to the war comics, D.C. was publishing G.I. Combat continued until March of 1987. It was evident that the war comics of years past just weren’t selling any longer; the same could be said about western books. Crisis allowed the writers to give a send-off as these comic book genres faded away.