Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 7 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9-10, Green Lantern #196, Justice League of America #245, The Fury of Firestorm #42, and The Omega Men #33
Written by Marv Wolfman, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Todd Klein
Art by George Perez, Joe Staton, Luke McDonnell, Rafael Kayanan, Shawn McManus
I recently read an interview from Comics Interview (issue 26) with Marv Wolfman & Bob Greenberger about Crisis on Infinite Earths after issue eight was published. It’s an incredibly insightful piece into the thinking behind the scenes, how Wolfman worked with DC’s writers to integrate elements of the event into ongoing titles. My biggest takeaway was that Wolfman was incredibly tired from the logistics of the event. There was so much coordination needed, but it also required a light touch to not feel like blatant editorial changes happening in books. There still needed to be stories and engaging character arcs, not just plot beats. What’s interesting is how neutral he is about killing off characters. From his point of view, he was given a list of changes to make, including deaths by writers and editors. Yet, he managed to make Barry Allen’s death such a beautifully heroic moment regardless of the mandate put on him.
Crisis #9 is a standout issue for me personally as it was one of those books I found in a grocery store grab bag in the mid-1990s. The cover is a brilliant piece by George Perez, even remarked upon in that Comics Interview piece by Wolfman. His idea involved three floating heads, but Perez said no and illustrated a piece that contains dozens of DC supervillains. The work Perez puts into this series is masterclass level, and not a single panel feels like he was lazy. As the cover implies, this issue is about the villains of the Multiverse, working under the direction of Lex Luthor and Brainiac, to take advantage of the vulnerabilities created by the Crisis.
I don’t think anything about the villain war adds significantly to the plot, though it is an enjoyable issue. You have villains crossing over to Earths they’ve never been to, fighting new heroes. The fight continues into issue 10, where Psimon of the Fearsome Five (a group of adversaries to the Teen Titans) has his plans to overthrow Brainiac and Luthor foiled. Brainiac’s body is destroyed but, because this is happening on his skull ship, he forms a new construct and kills Psimon. The chaos provides an opportunity to kill off several minor characters. Kole of the Teen Titans is killed, as is Dove (of Hawk & Dove), and Aquagirl is poisoned by the monstrous chemical being Chemo. There’s a great sequence where, with help from the villains of other Earths, Dr. Sivana has Billy Batson and the Marvel Family bound and gagged, unable to say their magic word. Martian Manhunter, The Atom, and Platinum of The Metal Men show up and rescue Billy, letting him shout “Shazam!” and turn the tide.
The saving grace of the heroes comes in the form of The Spectre. The Spectre was a Golden Age hero, formerly police officer Jim Corrigan who died and was brought back as one of the early mystery men. Eventually, it would be developed that he was imbued with Yahweh’s spirit of judgment, making him somewhat like a version of Marvel’s Ghost Rider. The Spectre has greater cosmic awareness than almost any hero and warns that The Anti-Monitor has gone to the Dawn of Time to reset the entire creation of the Multiverse from the start. The villains surrender when it becomes clear that they won’t even exist if they don’t work with the heroes. Groups of heroes and villains are sent to different points in time to protect the events that have already happened while The Spectre prepares for a showdown with The Anti-Monitor.
Over in Green Lantern, Guy Gardner’s newly announced tenure with the ring starts, and he wants to gather a group of villains he can force to help him fight the Anti-Monitor. In Justice League of America, Commander Steel is sent hurtling into the future (see in Crisis) by Warp and lives out a few months in a post-apocalyptic world. In Firestorm, the title hero isn’t really present, and instead, we follow his friend Firehawk as she teams up with Wonder Girl, and they both get hurled back to the Revolutionary War era. Then in Omega Men, the alien rebels experience a shock wave of change in reality as planets that once existed aren’t there or have changed.
The ending is coming fast. All the pieces are set…however, there’s one more important story to tell before the Crisis ends: The final Superman story.