Posted - November 2010 | Updated : August 14, 2011 | April 23, 2012 | August 18, 2015
Crisis on Infinite Earths
What is Crisis on Infinite Earths?
During the early 80s, the hottest creative team in DC was Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Their book, The New Teen Titans was number one, and deservedly so.
When Crisis On Infinite Earths came out, it was hyped as an event that would forever change the DCU. All well and good, I dutifully bought nearly every issue, missing only 8 and 11, which I hunted down later. I bought those issues for a simple reason: I wanted to see George Perez draw every single character in the DC universe. And he did. Doing it in such a way as to rival even my highest expectations.
DC has had many events since then, but for me this remains the event. For a long time, I lent out those twelve issues to people I wanted to attract to comicbooks, it was like 'Read this, this is how good comics can get'.
Crisis on Infinite Earths presents the DC Universe circa 1985 in all its detail. Because of this, it's easy to lose the main plot points of the story. What I'll do as we go into the story is: I'll highlight the text that point to the main plot of the story so that it will be easy to see how Wolfman's tale moves along. Let's get started . . .
The series starts with a wave of destruction destroying all the Earths/Universes. One Earth/Universe after another. Just like this one.
I love the way Power Ring corks up a volcano with his ring, a welcome respite from the traditional giant hand that Hal Jordan was always coming up with during this time.
Power Ring is the villainous equivalent of Green Lantern and a member of the Crime Syndicate. The Crime Syndicate operates on Earth-3 and has a member equivalent to each major member of the classic JLA save Martian Manhunter; they are all villains on their world. And who's the lone hero? Lex Luthor . Ha!
Look at Power Ring's gear up close. Not an Oan ring for sure.
On Earth-3 Batman is Owlman.
Here's Alexander Luthor, the son of Lex Luthor of Earth-3, still a baby, with Mom crying before they send him out, to save him from the anti-matter wave sweeping the planet.
Many, many years from hence he will play a key part in yet another big DC event - Infinite Crisis - as a villain!
This panel, and the dialogue to go with it, explains why I absolutely detest Pariah.
His power : whining and crying.
babeshot : Dawnstar of the Legion of Super-Heroes
Here's Blue Beetle in the middle of a fight.
Blue Beetle is not an original DC character. He became part of the DCU when DC bought Charlton Comics. I had the good fortune to read some of the Charlton Blue Beetle issues . This is the exact way he moves in a fight even then. It's a good decision for DC to continue the signature fighting style.
The DC Blue Beetle is actually Blue Beetle II. The first Blue Beetle was a character from Fox Features Comics. Here he is.
Lastly, here's the Monitor. Not a good look, in my opinion. I mean, compare this look with, oh . . . Darkseid . . . or Eclipso.
babeshot : Harbinger
The Monitor sends Harbinger to gather all the heroes, and villains, to defend the Multiverse.
DC shows some Perez designs at the end and it's Pariah. They really love this guy. I think he's the Jar-Jar Binks of Crisis.
Here's a first indication of a major change from this event.
Here's a roster showing a small sampling of the heroes and villains in this event.
The Anti-Monitor is the villain of the series. He sends out these shadow creatures to attack everybody else.
Soon there are only five universes left. In these universes the Monitor has set up a defence : Tuning forks designed to combine the universes into one defensible universe.
Check out one of the Monitor's Tuning Forks courtesy of George Perez. The guy climbing it is Kamandi . In the DC universe Kamandi is the first Homo Sapien and comes from an earlier age. In Crisis, not only the universes but the timelines also temporarily merge with each other.
The big villain is called the Anti-Monitor but he isn't revealed this early so they simply show black in the panels when he talks.
See how the Flash's speed is rendered below? They don't do it this way anymore. Current rendition shows the lightning of the speed force which, I must admit, is a superior rendition. But this rendition of speed brings back memories. This is the kind of Flash drawings I grew up with.
To defend the five tuning forks against the shadow creatures the heroes are divided into five teams.
Next panels feature the Teen Titans. They were the hottest group coming into the mid-80s.
The only ones missing are Kid Flash, Raven and Cyborg.
The New Teen Titans under Wolfman and Perez are some of the best examples of comics. Arguably the best New Teen Titans story is 'The Judas Contract'.
At the time, Brainiac and Luthor went through some kind of revamp before the Crisis. Check out Brainiac and his ship.
There used to be an old war comic featuring a haunted Sherman tank. Here's tank commander Jeb and the ghost of General Stuart (inside the black cloud). Note the Confederate flag.
Blue Beetle is the Spider-Man of DC (Steve Ditko created the Beetle and co-created Spider-Man). He was given his own comicbook right after the Crisis event. Unfortunately, years later, he got murdered and a new Blue Beetle took his place right before the Infinite Crisis event.
Everybody's here, even DC's Western heroes. I recognize Scalphunter (leftmost) and Jonah Hex (rightmost).
This is the Legion of Super-Heroes I know and love. Wildfire (with the dialog) is my favorite.
I particularly like the concept of the shadow creatures merging into one dark giant in each of five locations defended by a group of heroes. It's a structure that accommodates what otherwise would be too many combatants.
Perez drew small but detailed figures in small panels. The overall effect is giving the reader a sense of the immensity of the event. Here are some samples.
There is a two-pager showing most of the heroes. I've never seen anybody pack in this many bodies in two pages. Here is a detail of just part of a page. The big guy is Colossal Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Did I say heroes? The villains are here too.
Evidently Oa is not going to be any help here, the explosion below is the second one in Oa but this time the victims are the Guardians themselves.
This fist is from the original Superman, the Earth-2 Superman. The dead giveaway? The sweater cuffs on the uniform.
During the days of the cold war, DC gave Russia one super-hero - Red Star. Here he is.
Here's a nice multi-panel shot of the magic-based heroes. The last panel is of Dr. Fate, a big favorite of mine, look at his spectacularly rendered mystic blast, the shield shape is wonderful.
The two Supermen(with Lois). Note how Perez makes them distinct visually.
babeshot : Phantom Lady
Here is the anti-Monitor. As villains go, he looks like a poor man's Apocalypse. Considering the buildup of not showing him during the past five issues, this is pretty underwhelming.
Is it me? Or are the small panel art getting much better without sacrificing detail. Look at this!
Brainiac's ship also looks much better now. Perez is hitting his stride.
Here are the heroes DC inherited by purchasing Charlston Comics:
DC had plans of making Captain Atom a major villain in one of it's events but readers had become quite fond of the Captain, who would eventually become a member of the popular Justice League International, and Hawk was used to replace him as a bad guy.
Blue Beetle and the Question
Like the Beetle, the Question would also be replaced. He would die of cancer and be replaced by former Gotham City Police Department detective Renee Montoya.
Peacemaker and Nightshade
There was a time when DC (then National Periodicals) sued Fawcett, the owners of Shazam, because they felt the Big Red Cheese was a copyright violation of Superman. Now Captain Marvel is part of the DCU.
This is a sample of Kole's power.
In this issue the last five universes have been drawn together but not yet unified.
It all comes down to a select group of heroes:
Lady Quark is nuclear powered so it's the Beetle on the lowest rung of the power scale. Considering there are two Supermen and Shazam here I'd feel pretty safe.
This is Krona and his mad scheme to look into the forbidden : the beginning of time. Krona is a familiar figure to long time readers of DC. His actions still continues to surface as an integral part of the DCU mythos.
Here we get into the history between the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. The problem with villains specifically created for events is that readers do not have a strong emotional bond with them so they lose a lot in terms of substance. I mean, if I see the Joker, I become aware of the many times I've read him, and the Joker becomes the Joker, you know, real, substantial. This instant histories just don't create that kind of connection. The solution would be to use an established villain - no, I won't say Darkseid anymore.
The construction of the Manhunters by the Guardians are shown here. Precursors of the Green Lantern Corps, the Manhunters went amok and killed those they should have protected (are you listening Hal Jordan?). In doing so they inadvertently created the Red Lanterns, the epitome of rage. 'Millenium' is the DC limited series that tackles the final resolution of the Manhunters.
The heroes of the afterlife are here too.
With the earths temporarily stabilized, the heroes decide to attack the Anti-Monitor in order to protect the precarious victory.
And here's my first critique of George Perez. He could have done the Anti-Monitor HQ better. It looks like slum housing.
The big battle scene in the Anti-Monitor's place is a must see. It establishes the Anti-Monitor as a definite powerhouse. Here are the most powerful heroes of the DCU: the Superman family, Shazam, Firestorm, Alan Scott to name a few and they are getting creamed. Do not miss.
Here's a teaser.
The Anti-Monitor retreats.
This is the battle that would kill Supergirl.
Brainiac 5 is particularly hard hit. He was courting Supergirl.
A little poem at the end to close a fantastic issue
I'm not too keen on the design of the Anti-Monitor, his base, and, as shown below - his ship. You're one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse and you ride a flying rock.
After he was forced to retreat, the Anti-Monitor commands the weaponnaires of Quard to create an anti-matter cannon to destroy the last five universes.
Fortunately, Barry Allen is here to stop the construction.
After getting stopped by the Flash, the Monitor isn't finished. He goes to plan B : Absorbing the energy of a million worlds from his own anti-matter universe.
This would piss off the most powerful DC hero of them all. And here he is.
In the meantime, other things have been happening, here Cyborg and the Atom check out the Red Tornado. T. O. Morrow, who created the Tornado is on hand.
The atom is on the inside, checking things out and he is stunned by the engineering.
T. O. is quick to take the compliment
But it seems that the Anti-Monitor was doing some reengineering of his own inside the Tornado
The Martian Manhunter is vulnerable to fire. Here's a great shot of Firestorm using his power to create some water to shield the Manhunter.
Here's more of DC history, the Challengers of the Unknown.
He's mellowed down these days, but back in '85 Guy Gardner was such a boor. The only one with more attitude was Lobo.
The villains, ever the opportunists, organize under these two.
I'm no fan of Luthor's armor and I would've bet it wouldn't make it to the twenty-first century. But he's still wearing that thing as of Infinite Crisis, twenty years later.
The villains take over three of the five earths.
And just like that, the original Luthor, the Luthor of Earth-2, meets his end.
Once again, look at Perez's detailed pen. This is a landscape that shows the timelines mixing up.
babeshot : Wonder Girl
Oh, it is so nice to see the Creeper again. I love this character. He had a backup series in World's Finest Comics in the 70s. This guy's pretty awesome. He's agile and has superhuman strength (just very strong, not even Spiderman class) and can climb walls (powers very closely resembling X-Men's Beast who could lift 2,000 pounds). Aside from that, he had a healing factor strong enough for him to recover from gunshot wounds. Hearing him laugh can make people comatose.
With the villains rampaging on three earths, the heroes rig a cosmic treadmill to go and take them out.
The next pages show all the heroes fighting all the villains. Just total enjoyment. Here are some choice scenes.
babeshot : Phantom Lady again.
The battle rages on. I particularly love the way Negative Woman handles Chemo.
Black Adam is whiter and leaner than I'm used to seeing him
babeshot : Phobia
Suddenly, The Spectre stops the fights.
Ok, here's the thing: In the latest in a series of efforts to destroy the positive matter universe, the Anti-Monitor plans to journey to the beginning of time and prevent Krona from conducting his experiment and creating the multiverse. Logical, clear so far. The heroes form a team to stop him. The villains form another team to stop Krona. Now that's weird, because stopping Krona is exactly what the Anti-Monitor wants. Now Luthor says that stopping Krona will stop the creation of the multiverse and the anti-matter universe and introduce a single universe. Now the villains' mission makes sense. But this time it is the Monitor's intent that doesn't make sense; if he stops Krona, his anti matter universe will not exist. The only logical explanation I can think of is that the Anti-Monitor has a way of preventing the multiverse to be created while ensuring the creation of his anti-matter universe.
Anyway the heroes get to him and anybody with any level of blasting capability let's him have it.
Wonderful to see but, obviously, it's not enough. The villains too, fail to stop Krona.
It's all up to the most powerful hero in DC (ok, most powerful occasional hero, since he's known to go crazy once in a while). It's . . .
That hand is the Anti-Monitor's hand so this is along the lines of a cosmic-level arm wrestling.
Behind the Spectre the magical heroes are reinforcing his power.
This is heartbreaking - and symbolic of the wide displacement caused by the Crisis. The original Clark Kent, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet on Earth-2, goes to the office as usual only to find out that Perry White is the Editor, which is the case in Earth-1. This is because the Earth-1 Daily Planet survived. With the unified universe there is no more Earth-2, there never was.
There are many other changes to a lot of other heroes but his is impactful because this Clark Kent happens to be the original Superman.
These are the two Supermen. One way to tell them apart is by the different stylized 'S' on there chests. The 'S' symbol means 'hope' in their native Krypton.
This panel further shows Jay Garrick, the golden-age Flash, explain how things are going to be post-Crisis.
The discovery of Brainiac's ship by a group led by the Timemaster, Rip Hunter. The ship was floating lifelessly in space with Brainiacs robot body inside it. The angle of the shot reminds me of the scene in the movie 'Alien'.
Harvey Bullock from the Batman family of books is here. Bullock is iconic because of his many appearances in the Batman books.
This is Amethyst, the most powerful magic user on her world.
This is Dr. Occult, a detective specializing in mystical crimes. He was kidnapped at a young age to be used as a sacrifice by a Satanic cult but he was rescued and trained in the mystic arts. The disc he is holding is the Symbol of Seven, it allows him to focus his magical energies.
In spite of the singular universe, it's not over, as the shadow beings arrive en masse.
Here are two of the best mystical power manifestations:
Etrigan with flames coming out of his mouth.
Dr. Fate's power blast.
In addition to the original Superman, the original Wonder Woman has also lost her universe.
What was established in Crisis was that no one outside of the battle with the Monitor remembers the multiverse.
At the end of this issue the Monitor absorbs the unified Earth into the anti-matter universe for the purpose of destroying it.
babeshot : Dolphin
I'll let Harbinger announce the plan at this point.
In the fight against the shadow creatures, I like these two shots in particular:
Because Japan is known as 'The Land of the Rising Sun', the three heroes DC gave them are all solar-based. Here is Sunburst and Rising Sun.
The third hero is the new Doctor Light - also solar-related.
DC's Dr. Fate has a domicile almost as good as Dr. Strange's Greenwich Village sanctum over at Marvel. He has this one tower with no doors or windows.
The magic based heroes gather to focus their mystic energies. Front and center among the mystic artifacts are Dr. Occult's Sign of Seven and the original Green Lantern's Power Battery.
Unlike the cosmic-based power of the Oan Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan, John Steward, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner), the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, is a mystical hero. The original inspiration for this hero was Aladdin and his magic lamp.
The mystic power of the heroes creates a powerful energy net, obviously based on the Green Lantern energy, that takes care of the shadow creatures.
Step one : Have the most powerful heroes hit him together.
Step two : Have the new Dr. Light absorb the power of a star and pummel the Anti-Monitor with it.
Step three : Let the Negative Woman do to him what she did to Chemo.
Step four : Have the heroes hit him again.
That should do it.
Ah, nope, he's still up.
This is a job for Superman. The original Superman.
The Anti-Monitor is at last destroyed. We will all see his corpse again in the pages of Infinite Crisis.
The last panel of Crisis of Infinite Earths involves an institutionalized Psycho Pirate babbling about the multiverse. It's an often quoted classic.