Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, DC Comics Presents #86, Infinity Inc. #20-21, Infinity Inc. Annual #1, New Teen Titans #13-14, Swamp Thing #46, Wonder Woman #328-329
Written by Marv Wolfman, Paul Kupperberg, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Alan Moore, and Mindy Newell
Art by George Perez, Rick Hoberg, Todd McFarlane, Michael Bair, Ron Harris, Eduardo Barreto, Steve Bissette, Don Heck, and Pablo Marcos
One of the things I’ve noted during this full reading of the Crisis event is that it was clearly broken into acts and that for most of the story, the majority of Earth’s heroes don’t really know what’s going on. It’s a handful of characters in the inner circle of the Monitor at this point, and everyone else on the various Earths is left wondering why the skies are red and time is breaking all around them. Crisis #4 opens with Supergirl swooping in for a short visit with Batgirl. It’s also a reminder that these two have rarely been paired together in their lengthy histories. With Superman & Batman being partnered so often and now their sons, you have to wonder why we didn’t see more of a Supergirl/Batgirl ongoing team-up. It seems like a natural fit.
I have also noticed the drive to introduce new characters. Some of them were destined to not make it out of the crossover, while others appear to have had some potential around them that has ultimately gone unrealized. Lady Quark is introduced and becomes the sole survivor of Earth-6’s destruction. She watches as an anti-matter wave wipes away her husband, Lord Volt, and daughter, Princess Fern. Pariah, the man who is cursed to watch worlds die, teleports Lady Quark away to safety as it’s all he can do to help. Then we have The Monitor creating a new heroic Dr. Light from Japanese astronomer Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi. Dr. Light pops up throughout Crisis and then became an infrequently used member of the post-Crisis Justice League. By the mid-1990s, she had fallen into complete obscurity and became one of those characters that would populate crowd scenes in crossover events.
Psycho-Pirate still waits in the court of the being that rescued him, waiting for the evil plan to be hatched. Killer Frost is still swooning over Firestorm due to the Pirate’s emotional manipulations. Frost and Firestorm try to get the Monitor’s tuning tower up and working in Earth-2’s middle ages. The villainous Vandal Savage watches on from a distance centuries away from becoming the recurring villain to this world’s Golden Age heroes.
Things feel like they are in a routine, a plot we can predict coming. But then a twist is thrown at the reader. Harbinger, who has been struggling with the shadow demon that possessed her, is broken and becomes responsible for killing her boss, The Monitor. The Monitor seemed to be the only person in this whole story who understood what was going on and how to fix it. Now he lays dead, and with his defeat, the wave of anti-matter sweeps over the Multiverse, and the heroes watch as everything becomes nothing.
Some crossovers like Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, and New Teen Titans seem to gingerly touch on the Crisis with red skies ever-present. Swamp Thing does get slightly more involved, but not much. Wonder Woman’s storylines do feel like a series coming to a close, and so in that way, they are influenced by the impending reboot of the character that was coming. New Teen Titans is very much an Earth in chaos, red skies moment that is more interested in the stories happening with its characters, in this instance, Starfire being recalled to her homeworld of Tamaran for an arranged marriage.
Proving more substantial in its interactions with the Crisis and adhering to tell stories centered in its book are the issues of Infinity Inc that cross over. As stated before, this series follows the now-adult children of the classic Golden Age heroes. The biggest revelation of these issues comes when Obsidian returns from his time helping The Monitor. He reunites with his sister Jade, and they finally learn who their biological parents were. As infants, they were separated and adopted by different parents. As adults, they discover their father is none other than Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. It is also revealed that their mother was the plant controlling villain Thorn, a precursor to Poison Ivy in many ways. I’ve always found the Jade/Obsidian stuff interesting but never really read straight through a solid run of Infinity Inc. Recently, Alan Scott has come out as gay, something his son Obsidian was already openly. It appears that Alan and the Justice Society will have a more prominent spotlight shone on them soon in the DCU, so I hope we see these characters return to prominence.
In Infinity Inc #21, we see Rick Tyler, the son of Hourman, take up his father’s mantle to become the new Hourman. Hourman is a hero whose powers are derived from a pill called Miraclo. For one hour, his strength, stamina, and senses are boosted to a superhuman level. Rex Tyler would discourage his son Rick from getting into the superhero business, but events surrounding the Crisis allow Rick to jump into action. Eventually, Rick would end up hospitalized due to the toxic effects of Miraclo. With help from Johnny Quick, Rex and Rick learned how to use meditative techniques to tap into their powers and forgo the pills. In this issue of Infinity Inc, as Rick becomes the new Hourman, he also seeks out friend Dr. Beth Chapel who was blinded in an accident at her hospital. Like her mentor Charles McNider aka Dr. Mid-Nite, Beth discovers she is blind during the day but can see in the darkness. She takes up the heroic mantle becoming Dr. Midnight and carrying on her mentor’s legacy. Both characters would become members of Infinity Inc and stay with the team until the book’s cancellation in the late 1980s.
Throughout this part of Crisis, things still feel like they are getting started. The first big twist of the event has happened, but the Multiverse is far from over. There are tremendous sacrifices to come and legendary battles to fight. Looming in the darkness is still the story’s main antagonist, hungry to destroy all that ever was.