Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 4 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis Special, Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, All-Star Squadron #53-56, Infinity Inc. #22, Superman #413, and DC Comics Presents #95
Written by Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Cary Bates, Tony
Isabella, and Alan Gold
Art by Paul Ryan, George Perez, Mike Clark, Arvell Jones, Mike Harris, Todd McFarlane, Curt Swan, and Richard Howell
The Multiverse is on the verge of extinction. The antimatter waves sweep across realities destroying universes en masse. Barry Allen, the Flash, has retired and lives in the future with his wife Iris, but the Crisis is pulling him back into action. He tries to use the antimatter destroying his own point in time to go back but finds himself transferred to Earth-D. Here the superheroes are much more diverse than on Earth-1. Tanaka Rei is the Flash of this world, and he teams up with Barry carrying on a tradition of the Flashes of the Multiverse helping each other out. Pariah and Lady Quark are transported here following their escape from Earth-6 in the pages of Crisis. Pariah realizes what has pulled him to this world; it is about to be destroyed. This leads to a team-up between Earth-D’s Justice Alliance and the Justice League for a fight that is destined to be lost.
This one-off special, published in 1999, is a retroactive tie-in written by Crisis’s author Marv Wolfman. What he showcased was his own concept for the DC Universe post-Crisis. He wanted to see an ethnically diverse DCU with a Brazilian Green Lantern, an Indigenous Green Arrow, a Black Superman, an olive-skinned Wonder Woman, and an alien-looking Aquaman. But this idea was turned down by DC editors who didn’t want to “rock the boat” too dramatically. It’s a shame because that sort of a new change could have made some of these titles more interesting in the wake of Crisis.
In Crisis #5, the shadowy figure in the Antimatter Universe has captured Barry Allen and the android Red Tornado. Psycho-Pirate helps his master control Barry by keeping him emotionally confused. Meanwhile, Harbinger comes to her senses and realizes she was just manipulated into murdering The Monitor. Pariah is brought there to witness the killing, and the two are interrupted by a pre-recorded message from The Monitor. He foresaw his own murder and created a backup plan that shunted Earths One and Two into a limbo space where they are protected from the antimatter wave. At this moment, Alexander Luthor arrives, now fully grown and ready to assume his role in this story.
This is followed by lots of time scrambling as dinosaurs stomp through Metropolis and World War I pilots soar over Gotham City. Batman tries to organize heroes in his cave to develop a plan while the Green Lantern Corps seek guidance from the Guardians on Oa. The Golden Age hero Wildcat is out helping those in need but has his legs crushed when trying to save a little girl setting up the introduction of a new character very soon.
Red Tornado is transformed into a primal force of nature by the shadowy figure who unleashes him on the two protected worlds. This causes Earths One and Two to merge together slightly; people in either universe begin seeing ghost images from the other. Barry Allen finds a way to overcome Psycho-Pirate while the villain is distracted and accosts his captor. The being steps out of the shadows revealing himself as a twisted and corrupted version of The Monitor, an Anti-Monitor.
I have noted that while reading over the tie-in books, the characters never seem fully aware of what is happening. The world is just falling into chaos, and they are trying to stay afloat. In All-Star Squadron, we continue the story of the Monster Society of Evil. Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Tarantula, and Amazing Man are teleported to the Monitor’s satellite, where Harbinger gathers a host of heroes and even villains to help her stop the antimatter wave. This is an interesting moment as it gets paralleled in Infinity Inc #22, where they encounter an aged Green Lantern (Alan Scott) from further in the timeline in Earth-2.
I can’t say these All-Star Squadron issues are as enjoyable as I wanted them to be. I am a sucker for Golden Age stories, but I think the messiness of the Crisis story keeps the book from feeling cohesive. It’s challenging to state who even makes up the regular cast because, at points, it feels like every DC superhero of the era is a member of the All-Star Squadron. There’s a side story where Firebrand leads a group of historical heroes like Super-Chief, Miss Liberty, and Silent Knight to stop Ultra-Humanite from stealing a rocket at Cape Canaveral. This is followed by a story about the Seven Soldiers of Victory trying to investigate the red skies but getting sidetracked by a villain.
The Superman and DC Comics Presents stories feel barely connected to Crisis, with just some casual mentions. We’re just into the second act of Crisis and still in a place where things are getting started. The great tragedies have yet to happen. It feels like the other writers were hesitant to incorporate the Crisis events too deeply or were not allowed because of the story confusion it might cause.