Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 9 (of 9)
Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, Green Lantern #198, Infinity Inc #25, All-Star Squadron #57-60, and DC Comic Presents #94
Written by Marv Wolfman, Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Robert Greenberger, and Barbara Kesel
Art by George Perez, Joe Staton, Todd McFarlane, Mike Clark, Rick Hoberg, Arvell Jones, Richard Howell, and Tom Mandrake
Throughout Crisis issue 11 and continuing into #12, there is a subplot where the Forgotten Heroes stumble across Brainiac’s ship. The Forgotten Heroes were a group of C-tier characters put together in the pages of Action Comics and DC Comics Presents. Their roster consisted of Animal Man, Atomic Knight, Dolphin, and more. When Brainiac wakes, it’s another sign of the effects of the Crisis, with the robot having no memory of the pre-Crisis timeline. However, he does detect that Earth is in the Antimatter Universe and rushes off to Apokalips to seek aid from Darkseid.
Earth’s heroes make their final stand, led by three Supermen (Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-Prime), Alexander Luthor, Pariah, and Harbinger. Shadow demons swarm the planet and kill Dove of Hawk & Dove in the process. Dr. Fate gathers the planet’s magicians and sorcerers in his tower to focus all of reality’s magic into a single source. Wally West finally learns his mentor and uncle Barry Allen died, discovering the empty Flash costume in the ruins of Anti-Monitor’s headquarters. Atlantis fights the shadow hordes. Green Arrow of Earth-2 is killed in battle, erasing any remnants of him from the timeline. Finally, Darkseid filters his power through Alexander Luthor and ends the Anti-Monitor for good, allowing Earth to return to the Positive Matter Universe.
In the story’s final act, Superman of Earth-2 laments that he misses his Lois, and Alexander reveals he saved her within his nebulous powers, creating a pocket universe. Superman E-2, Superboy E-Prime, Alexander, and Lois exit into the Pocket Universe, where they say they will spend the rest of their days. Wonder Woman’s timeline is erased, rebooting her existence from the beginning; humanity hasn’t heard of her yet. Finally, the Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor of Earth-2 are transported to a realm beyond Olympus by Zeus. Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, discovers Wally’s illness is gone, and the former sidekick dons the Flash costume to honor his fallen mentor. Only one person remains that remembers, Psycho-Pirate sits straight-jacketed in Arkham Asylum, muttering about worlds living and dying.
Crisis would resonate through the DC Universe and comic books for decades and even still affects the current Infinite Frontier direction of DC Comics. The Multiverse would be brought back after Infinite Crisis, which also saw the return of the four characters the exited to the Pocket Universe. Crisis would also serve to create a format for future line-wide events. Now when you read the big crossover from Marvel or any other company, you will inevitably have moments where the heroes have crowded into a room and have exposition delivered to them by a character who knows what is going on. You’ll see team-ups between characters that clash or seem like a natural fit; some of them will die, or now you’ll see heroes return.
The end of the Crisis didn’t mean our last look at the Multiverse. Infinity Inc #25 showed the team returning to a world where they had always been a part of Earth-1’s history. However, in All-Star Squadron, writer Roy Thomas spent four issues telling the final tale of Earth-2. A futuristic robot Mekanique is wreaking havoc, and the largest assemblage of Golden Age heroes fight against her. They seem to have their memories of Crisis erased, and by issue 60, we see a group photo transform to erase any inconsistencies (Superman, Batman, Aquaman) and replace them with other Golden Age heroes. In Green Lantern, we see Guy’s plan fail, but the rivalry between him and the other Lanterns is now established and becomes a part of DC Comics into the 1990s. In DC Comics Presents, we see Lady Quark and Pariah speak to the public, permanent outcasts from worlds that no longer exist.
One of the biggest problems left by Crisis is what exactly happened in DC’s history and what hadn’t yet with the reset. Wonder Woman’s origins being pushed forward to the present day then made the formation of the Justice League difficult. It was decided that Superman and Batman wouldn’t be founding members either. So years later, Mark Waid tried to fill in that gap with Justice League: Year One that had Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, The Flash, Black Canary, and Aquaman as the original members. That was then done away after Infinite Crisis, which served to let back in pre-Crisis elements. I’ve previously spoken about the insanity of Hawkman post-Crisis, and he was one of a few heroes whose roots were not explicitly made clear.
Overall, Crisis still stands up as a decent story. You can certainly see the plates spinning at certain moments as Marv Wolfman tries to balance his narrative with other writers who want their books to touch on Crisis. However, there is also clearly a lack of understanding about how to reboot a comic book universe. The Alan Moore Superman two-parter, while being a fantastic story, doesn’t mesh with anything happening in Crisis. Batman never really comments on these events outside of the main event book, and things only happen at an editorial level rather than an in-universe way in the Bat-titles. Green Lantern just continues on, as do Teen Titans and Justice League for the most part. Legends would be published in 1987 to set up the new status quo, but it still didn’t manage to address the continuity issues. Comic books were never quite the same in the wake of Crisis’s influence.