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.
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have gotten relatively acquainted with Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of that world. In the following year, Warner Brothers will release the Dwayne Johnson-led Black Adam, and audiences will meet Doctor Fate (played by Pierce Brosnan). Since the 1940s, Doctor Fate has been the chief magic-user of the DCU, mentoring and working with characters like Zatanna and John Constantine. Fate’s history is a complicated one, centered around a magic helmet that has been worn by several different people. Doctor Fate first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940). It started as a six-page strip in an anthology of superheroes, pulp stories, and funny talking animals. He was created by the prolific creative mind Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman who didn’t really have a background or even secret identity. The character was just Doctor Fate.
Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3 (of 9) Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, DC Comics Presents #86, Infinity Inc. #20-21, Infinity Inc. Annual #1, New Teen Titans #13-14, Swamp Thing #46, Wonder Woman #328-329 Written by Marv Wolfman, Paul Kupperberg, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Alan Moore, and Mindy Newell Art by George Perez, Rick Hoberg, Todd McFarlane, Michael Bair, Ron Harris, Eduardo Barreto, Steve Bissette, Don Heck, and Pablo Marcos
One of the things I’ve noted during this full reading of the Crisis event is that it was clearly broken into acts and that for most of the story, the majority of Earth’s heroes don’t really know what’s going on. It’s a handful of characters in the inner circle of the Monitor at this point, and everyone else on the various Earths is left wondering why the skies are red and time is breaking all around them. Crisis #4 opens with Supergirl swooping in for a short visit with Batgirl. It’s also a reminder that these two have rarely been paired together in their lengthy histories. With Superman & Batman being partnered so often and now their sons, you have to wonder why we didn’t see more of a Supergirl/Batgirl ongoing team-up. It seems like a natural fit.
Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 2 (of 9) Reviewing stories found in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2-3, Infinity Inc #19, Justice League of America #244, Detective Comics #558, The Losers Special, and Wonder Woman #327 Written by Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Gerry Conway, Doug Moench, Robert Kanigher, and Mindy Newell Art by George Perez, Todd McFarlane, Joe Staton, Gene Colan, Judith Hunt, Sam Glanzman, and Don Heck
The first phase of Crisis was well underway by issue two with Harbinger dispatching her assembled heroes & villains to help activate unique towers The Monitor has posted through space and time to hold back the wave of antimatter. This leads to Superman of Earth-2, King Solovar, and Dawnstar being sent to Earth-AD, where they help Kamandi the Last Boy battle the Demon Shadows. Arion, Obsidian, and Psycho-Pirate show up in ancient Atlantis, which quickly goes awry when Psycho-Pirate uses his emotional manipulation powers on his allies. The Pirate is taken away and ends up in the presence of a large shadowy being.
Crisis On Infinite Earths Part 1 (of 9) Reviewing stories found in DC Comics Presents #78, Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, All-Star Squadron #50-52, Fury of Firestorm #41, Infinity Inc. #18, and Green Lantern #194 Written by Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Dann Thomas, and Steve Englehart Art by Curt Swan, George Perez, Mike Clark, Arvell Jones, Rafael Kayanan, Todd McFarlane, and Joe Staton
Worlds lived. Worlds died. And nothing was ever the same again. It began with The Flash #123 (Sept. 1961) when Barry Allen discovered another Earth vibrating at a slightly different frequency than his own. This was labeled Earth-2, and here he met Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. Garrick had become the Flash in the 1940s; historically, he was the first to bear the name. However, Garrick was a fictional comic book character in Allen’s world, the character he took his name from. This team-up would lead to an annual event in the pages of Justice League of America where the team would cross worlds and help out their allies in the Justice Society combatting their mutual villains.
Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 3 (2019) Reprints Wonder Woman #218-226 & Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3 Written by Greg Rucka Art by Cliff Richards, Nicola Scott, Rags Morales, Tom Derenick, Georges Jeanty, Karl Kerschel, David Lopez, Eduardo Panisca, and Ron Randall
What started with great promise came to a rather messy and unsatisfying end. I loved the opening volume of Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman collection, but it appeared that editorial demands shifted the direction he started out with. By the time these issues were being published, DC Comics had made it clear they were headed towards Infinite Crisis, a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths. This meant every major superhero title would be roped into the event. Geoff Johns was writing Infinite Crisis, so if you were to read his titles, The Flash or JSA, they tied in much more neatly. For writers that were being folded into the event, like Rucka, you see slightly awkward inclusion.
At first glance, Doom Patrol may appear to be an attempt by DC Comics to create an X-Men knock-off. Doom Patrol first appeared in the pages of My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963). This was an adventure anthology that evolved over time from pulp stories to science fiction to finally becoming the home of Doom Patrol. Over at Marvel, the X-Men debuted in the pages of their own title in September 1963. Now that doesn’t mean the X-Men are a rip-off of Doom Patrol either. Due to the writing and production schedules, both ideas were already in the works before either company was aware of the other. It’s just one of those strange coincidences.
The next episode of the PopCult Podcast has dropped.
I open things up by talking about my personal views on the future of movie theaters and film distribution in the wake of COVID-19. This leads to our Top 5 list with Ariana where we share our Top 5 Book Adaptations. Then I go over the highlights of DC’s new Infinite Frontier initiative. The episode wraps with Ariana & I sharing some books we’ve recently read.
Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2 (2021) Reprints Superman v2 #5-11, Action Comics #588-593, Adventures of Superman #429-435, and Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #37-38 Written by John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, & Paul Levitz Art by John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Erik Larsen, and Terry Austin
One of the things that were always a bit confusing during this era of Superman was how much the character remembered the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis had been DC’s way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company and was used to condense the elements of the Multiverse into one cohesive reality. Part of that was John Byrne’s reboot of Superman, erasing certain sillier Silver Age elements from the characters and reducing his powers. A significant piece of Superman’s backstory that was axed was his early days in Smallville as Superboy. Under Byrne’s version, Clark Kent’s powers developed slowly, and only when he was an adult did he have them all. His costume wasn’t made until then, so Superboy never existed.
Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 2 Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #206-217 & Flash v2 #219 Written by Greg Rucka with Geoff Johns Art by Drew Johnson, Rags Morales
This is an odd one because it shifts away from many of the storylines centered around Veronica Cale, Doctor Psycho, and Vanessa Kapetelis. Those stories sort of fade into the background as the action here is centered all around the conflict between Wonder Woman the Olympian Gods. The story is very good, and Rucka proves he’s a worthy successor to George Perez’s legendary opening run. I think he actually balances Man’s World and the mythological elements a little better than Perez. There’s time spent on both old villains and introducing new ones in the context of this run of Wonder Woman, Diana acting as a United Nations ambassador.