Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 8 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Superman #423, Action Comics #583, Crisis on Infinite Earths #11, Amethyst #13, and Green Lantern #197
Written by Alan Moore, Marv Wolfman, Robert Loren Fleming, Keith Giffen, and Steve Englehart
Art by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, George Perez, Ernie Colon, and Joe Staton
One of the major conventions of the Superman comics during the Silver Age was “Imaginary Stories,” these were “what if?” style scenarios revolving around changing some essential aspect of Superman’s lore and seeing how it plays out. For example, a typical story might be about Superman getting married, having children, being killed by one of his enemies, or vice versa. To wrap up this era of Superman, writer Alan Moore penned a two-point narrative that brings the story of the Man of Steel to a clear finale. It doesn’t necessarily fit with the continuity of what was happening in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, but it was written because of what Crisis was bringing to the DC Universe.
In Moore’s story, titled “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, a reporter in 1997 visits Lois Lane. He’s working on a piece for The Daily Planet’s Superman Memorial Edition and wants to ask her questions about what happened the last time the hero was seen in 1986. At the time, all of Superman’s rogues begin attacking. It starts with Bizarro, who kills himself, then Superman’s secret identity is revealed to the Planet staff thanks to a trap set by The Prankster and Toyman. Next, Lex Luthor scavenges the Antarctic, where he finds the remains of Brainiac and is forcibly bonded with the cyber being. Finally, Superman takes his loved ones to his Fortress for safety, where the final showdown occurs.
There is an absolutely brilliant moment when Supergirl from the past visits Superman while she was with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Everyone there except for Supergirl is aware of her fate, dying to save her cousin’s life against the Anti-Monitor. At one point, she asks Superman if she grows up to be Superwoman, and he manages to stammer out that she grows up to be beautiful. Part of this visit is that Superman can be gifted a statue by the Legion, which holds a clue to how he will get out of this situation. Myxzptlk is revealed to be the ultimate villain behind these shenanigans. The bookend story ends with Lois telling the reporter she never saw Superman again while the reader sees him entering a room containing Gold Kryptonite, a variation that permanently strips powers away from Kryptonians. The reporter leaves, and her husband arrives home with their infant son, Jonathan. The final panels reveal that this is Superman, in a new identity, living as a mortal man happily ever after with his true love.
Back in Crisis #11, a new world has been born, a single universe. However, remnants of the other universes are still alive, and very few remember them. In the instance of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, and the other Flashes, they are part of a legacy that has played out over decades. For the Superman of Earth-2, he is an anomaly; he should not exist. The Supermen of Earths-1 and 2, along with Jay Garrick and Kid Flash (Wally West), use the Cosmic Treadmill to access the Multiverse but find a black void where it used to be.
Harbinger returns at a gathering of the heroes in Titans Tower to explain what has happened. The heroes of the Multiverse who are still alive were outside the rebirth of the universe in their battle last issue. This also includes Huntress (the daughter of Earth-2’s Batman and Catwoman) and the Robin of Earth-2. Uncle Sam of Earth-X and Captain Marvel of Earth-S concur that they also find themselves trapped on this New Earth. E-2 Superman goes through profound grief when he realizes his love, Lois, was erased from existence. Wonder Girl shares how the Earth-2 Wonder Woman and her daughter Fury appeared confused on New Earth’s Paradise Island.
Batman and Robin show up with Earth-3’s Alexander Luthor and reveal they spoke to Lex Luthor, who is locked up and has no memory of participation in Crisis. Unfortunately, this rings true for all the villains and some of the heroes. As the gathered heroes try to figure things out, shadow demons emerge, and an electrical storm covers the Earth. It’s then that the heroes realize the planet has been transported into the Antimatter Universe, and the Anti-Monitor is coming.
Amethyst was Amy Winston, a teenage girl on Earth, who discovered she was the princess of Gemworld, a pocket reality. She was participating in the Crisis when she and Doctor Fate had to teleport away to escape the newly emerged shadow demons. Writers Robert Loren Fleming and Keith Giffen use the Crisis as an opportunity to sow seeds of the roots of magic in the DC Universe that are still very relevant. They introduce the Lords of Order and Chaos and introduce how different magic users are often aligned with one of these powers. For example, Amethyst and Fate are under the Lords of Order. These ideas would be developed further in the years that followed.
In Green Lantern, there’s finally a showdown between Guy Gardner, hand-picked by the now missing Guardians of the Universe, and Earth’s Green Lantern John Stewart. A powerless Hal Jordan is caught in the middle. Guy has gathered a quartet of villains forced to help him (The Shark, Hector Hammond, Sonar, Goldface). A ceasefire between parties is reached, and Hal even shows up with a power ring ready to help. A wild left turn occurs when Sinestro reveals himself, not as an enemy but as an untrustworthy ally in keeping what remains of the universe from being completely obliterated.
One more left…