Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 5 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #6-7, Blue Devil #17-18, Infinity Inc #23-24, Legion of Super-Heroes #16,18, DC Comics Presents #87, Superman #414, The Omega Men #31
Written by Marv Wolfman, Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Paul Levitz, Elliot S. Maggin, Todd Klein
Art by George Perez, Alan Kupperberg, Todd McFarlane, Ron Harris, Steve Lightle, Greg LaRocque, Curt Swan, Shawn McManus, Ernie Colon
The Anti-Monitor has been fully revealed and explains that the Multiverse will be his to destroy when the Monitor’s protective energy fades completely. His plan is to first draw Earth S (Shazam), Earth 4 (Charlton), and Earth X (The Freedom Fighters) to the anti-matter universe. Once consumed, they will give him enough power to wipe out Earths 1 and 2, the most powerful of all the worlds in the Multiverse. Harbinger has made the Multiverse heroes aware of what the stakes are, and now they are rushing to deal with the immediate catastrophes befalling their worlds and determine how to defeat the Anti-Monitor.
The Golden Age hero Wildcat taps out due to an injury while his protege Yolanda Montez plans to suit up as a new version of the crimefighter. Lex Luthor is rescued from capture by the new cybernetic Brainiac, who has plans to make the two of them the rulers of the Multiverse. Psycho-Pirate uses his emotional manipulation powers to drive the entire populations of Earths S, X, and 4 into a murderous frenzy. Harbinger dispatches collections of heroes from across the worlds to help get these situations under control. She also manages to alter the vibrational frequencies of these realities, so they are just hovering near Earths 2 and 3. However, if they fully merge, it will destroy them all.
Harbinger realizes it will take a task force of the most powerful heroes in all these worlds to journey into the anti-matter universe and destroy the machinery making all this possible. She recruits Superman of Earth-1, Superman of Earth-2, Uncle Sam of Earth-X, Captain Marvel of Earth-S, and Blue Beetle of Earth-4. Lady Quark as the final living representative of Earth-6, demands to take part in the raid as well. These heroes are told the secret origin of the Multiverse, reaching back to the early days of Oa and the being who would become the Guardians of the Universe. Unfortunately, an experiment by scientist Krona goes awry, creating the shadow reflection of the universe while splitting it into a myriad of possible realities. This also brings about The Monitor and his twin, The Anti-Monitor.
More heroes join the fray: Mon-El of the 31st Century, Captain Atom, Jade, Green Lantern of Earth-2, Wonder Woman, The Ray, The Martian Manhunter, Wildfire, Dr. Light, Firestorm, and Supergirl. They enter the anti-matter universe and tussle with the shadow demons from earlier. Superman fights alongside his Earth-2 counterpart toe-to-toe with the Anti-Monitor. The villain gets the upper hand and is ready to kill the Man of Steel when Supergirl rockets to her cousin’s rescue absorbing the energy blast, and is killed. Her blows have left the Anti-Monitor on the verge of death, and he secretly escapes in a vessel deeper into the anti-matter universe.
Superman returns to Earth-1, the body of his cousin Kara Zor-El wrapped in his cape. Memorials are held across the globe. In the future, her one-time paramour Brainiac 5, weeps at the moment in history he always knew was coming. Superman goes about seeing to her final affairs and learns Supergirl was married to an alien he had never met. Through flashbacks, we see her getting amnesia and living in this alien’s world for several months, leading to their legally binding marriage. Superman allows this husband to take part in saying last farewells.
The death of Supergirl had to be such a shocking moment for readers. Major characters dying in comics has become so commonplace now that no one bats an eye over it. However, in 1985 killing off someone as iconic as Supergirl (she’d literally had her own film the previous year) was unexpected. If Supergirl could die, then that meant anyone could go during the Crisis. I think ratcheting up the stakes so high like this at the midpoint of the event is a brilliant idea. Supergirl was not the last or only death in the series, and even more significant losses were to come. If you have followed comics, then you know the name of Supergirl doesn’t stay dead. By 1988, John Byrne introduced a new Supergirl into the Post-Crisis continuity. This version was a shapeshifting alien who presented as female and made their clothing to match Superman’s after meeting him. In 2004, the Kara Zor-El version was reintroduced in the pages of Superman/Batman, and it’s been Superman’s cousin ever since.
The other big moment in these stories comes from DC Comics Presents #87, where Superboy-Prime is introduced. This character became horribly infamous from Infinite Crisis in 2006, but here he is still in his purest form. Earth-Prime is the “real world”; there are no superheroes other than the ones you find in comic books. The timeline of that reality follows ours strictly. However, in this comic, we learn there was a Krypton in this world that exploded. A scientist named Jor-El sent his only child to Earth using a teleportation device, with the baby boy arriving circa 1970.
On Earth in New England, Jerry and Naomi Kent are hiking and come upon the baby newly arrived. They are able to adopt the baby and, for a laugh, name him Clark, just like the famous fictional superhero everyone on Earth knows about. But this Clark Kent is nothing extraordinary, just a kid growing up and eventually developing feelings for classmate Laurie Lemmon. They go to a beach party over the summer with a costume theme. Having a good sense of humor, Clark comes dressed as Superman. Then a portal appears in the sky, and the real Superman arrives in this world.
Somehow, Earth-Prime’s Clark Kent interacting with the real Superman manifests powers in the boy. He can fly and has some of the Man of Steel’s abilities. The two team up to deal with an alien invasion of Earth-Prime, and before Superman leaves, he gives this Superboy his blessing. This won’t be the last time we see Superboy-Prime in this event, but he’s in a happy place for now. I always loved this concept because it combined Superman with what drew kids to Shazam. Every kid wishes they would wake up someday and have abilities and powers. Elliot S. Maggin, a sort of Superman sage, penned this story, and it’s one of the best Bronze age stories for the hero.