Greetings from the Odinson,
The Crisis Cometh: Part 1 of 2
On December 8, the CW network is going to attempt to pull off something quite frankly the Odinson never thought he’d see in his lifetime. The Arrowverse, a collection of television series that includes Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and (now officially) Black Lightning, are going to tell the epic 5-part crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths!!!
To prepare for this monumental television event, the Odinson would like to do a retrospective on the seminal comic book event that inspired this television milestone. I know I talk about and reference the Crisis in this column a lot, but that is because that moment in comic book history is just that important.
I’m going to talk about what led up to the universal changing events, the event itself, and the effects it had on the DC Universe and the world of comics. Suffice it to say, Crisis on Infinite Earths is an epic novel-length tale with so many moments, characters, and tie-ins that there is no way I could do it all justice in the limited space I have here, even in two parts. So, I will try to stick to the major plot points and important events.
The Flash #123 saw the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, meet the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, for the very first time in history. This was the moment when the multiverse was born. Barry Allen and the Silver Age heroes (i.e. the Justice League of America) lived on Earth-1, and Jay Garrick and the heroes of the Golden Age (i.e. the Justice Society of America) lived on Earth-2. Soon, we would learn about Ultraman and the Crime Syndicate of Amerika, evil counterparts to our heroes that lived on Earth-3.
From there, the multiverse grew exponentially, giving us Earth-S (home of the Marvel Family), Earth-X (home to Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters), Earth-C (home to Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew), and far too many others to list here. What this established is that every single story ever read in DC Comics, no matter how far out there or incomprehensibly whacky, was all cannon. This is what is known as the Pre-Crisis era of the DCU.
The only problem with this is that the narrative of DC Comics from 1938 to 1985 had become so big, so monumentally convoluted, that it was hard to follow, especially for potential new readers. So, something had to be done about it.
The Lead-Up to Crisis (1982-1985)
In The New Teen Titans #21, readers were introduced to a shadowy figure working in the background and on the fringes. For nearly three years, this unknown person would pop up randomly all throughout the DC Universe, many times providing villains with information and/or weapons to use against the heroes of the DCU, like in The New Teen Titans Annual #2. We got our very first look at this mysterious stranger in the pages of G.I. Combat #274.
It would soon be revealed that this mystery man was known as the Monitor, and his mission was to fortify and test the heroes of the DCU in order to prepare them for a coming Crisis.
The Crisis (1985)
The story begins as a wave of pure anti-matter sweeps across the multiverse and wipes out every reality it comes into contact with. One of the first realities to go is Earth-3. Even the mighty Crime Syndicate of Amerika is powerless to stop the coming doom as they, and their world, are completely wiped from existence, but not before the Lex Luthor of this world, in a moment that mirrors the origin of Superman, transports his infant son, Alex, to safety. We are also introduced to a mysterious stranger we will come to know as Pariah, a man cursed to be drawn to and witness the destruction of each universe as it is wiped away.
On Earth-1, a global storm begins to gather. Batman is suddenly confronted by a vision of the Flash (Barry Allen) who delivers a frantic, cryptic message before disappearing. The Monitor plays his first hand by gathering together a team of heroes and villains from across the multiverse for a very important mission. They are introduced to a woman simply known as Harbinger, someone that will play a key role in the Crisis to come. At this gathering, the Monitor explains the universal threat they face.
And this, boys and girls, was just Crisis on Infinite Earths #1.
Crisis #2 – The Monitor’s chosen team is split up amongst several parallel Earths in order to defend monolithic structures that can halt the oncoming wave of anti-matter. They find this task to be quite difficult as their enemy unleashes his deadly Shadow Demons upon them.
Crisis #3 – The heroes of the DCU are confronted with the grand scope of the oncoming threat. This utter annihilation affects all worlds and all time periods, from the Old West to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Plus, the first casualties of war occur as the Losers, Nighthawk, and Kid Psycho all meet their ends. Plus, the Flash (Barry Allen) suddenly disappears from the game board.
Crisis #4 – Another Earth falls to the anti-matter wave, but this time, Pariah is able to save the life of a lone hero, Lady Quark. Red Tornado is the next hero taken off the game board. Then, things take a terrible turn, as Harbinger, under the influence of the enemy, murders the Monitor, the man that has been like a father to her.
Crisis #5 – With the Monitor gone, Pariah, Harbinger, and a now adult Alexander Luthor gather the heroes of the multiverse for a desperate attempt to stop the coming annihilation. Yet, another devastating blow is struck as the enemy attacks the Guardians of the Universe leaving many dead and the Power Battery of OA destroyed. Now, the Green Lantern Corps is powerless to stop this coming doom. Plus, we finally meet the one responsible for the Crisis, the foreboding Anti-Monitor.
Crisis #6 – The Anti-Monitor is a primordial immortal whose power increases exponentially with the demise of each positive matter universe. He holds the Flash captive, the one hero he fears may affect his plans, and uses the power of the Psycho Pirate to enslave three of the last remaining five Earths. Things are looking bleak for our heroes and they may have just gotten even worse as Lex Luthor and Brainiac have a clandestine meeting to discuss how to exploit this Crisis.
Sorry to leave on such a harrowing cliffhanger but this is a topic too massive for a single column. Tune in next week as we see the climax of one of the truly epic events in comics history and see the legacy it leaves in its wake.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.