So this summer we are seeing not one but two world altering multi-comic series that will change the face of the industry as we know it. Characters will die, timelines rewritten yaddah yaddah, blah blah. Anyway seen as how both companies are already undermining their efforts by relasing post crisis material already, not wishing to splash out on five dollar comics plus a million must read tie ins and because not many people are prepared to give out free stuff on the internet for a snarky badly written review I have decided to go back to the beginning, to where all this started and ask does Crisis on Infinite Earths hold up and is it as confusing as everyone says?
Running from 85 to 86 ‘Crisis’ itself was a twelve issue series designed to not only celebrate and honour the fifty year history of DC but also to get rid of it because at this point it was pretty embarrassing. You might think this is something of a conflict of interest but apparently not. See in running for fifty years and bowing to every passing fad and whim comics didn’t make much sense at this point in time, as opposed to the serious gritty drama we demand nowadays. Batman had gone from a gun toting vigilante to a guy with his own spaceship regularly facing beings from the fifth dimension. Robin had been a teenager for nearly thirty years at this point and had got out only through the power of disco collars. So they started to lay the groundwork and of course the tied in every book going to support this event but here I shall be looking at the twelve issues only that make up the ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ and to be fair we’re off to a good start.
See one of the worries for such an event is that you won’t know who everyone is, heck I don’t know who everyone is and I’ve just reread the thing. Being honest it took me one and a half reads to recognise Black Canary and she isn’t even a parallel universe Black Canary or anything. Yet truth be told in classic, well written comic book style the book paces itself and tells you what you need to know when you need to know it, either through insert boxes or clunky dialogue. Unfortunatly this means you can expect a lot of “look over there, it is Superman my arch foe who I have not seen since our last encounter where he blah blah blah…….” and while this might be a bit annoying for people who know this stuff I think you can stomach it and it means that if you know little beyond what you have seen at the movies you can at least start reading the book without a wiki open in front of you. For instance we start on Earth-3 where we meet Ultraman and Power Ring, now just by using your eyes you can tell they are Superman and Green Lantern, the insert box tells us they belong to the Crime Syndicate of America, letting you know that they are a) not Superman and Green Lantern and b) probably bad guys. They then talk to each other about Alexander Luthor, a man they describe as the only hero of the world. Yes they use those words exactly, or more or less, which means that while we can sit here and argue about the characterisation of people who actually see themselves as villains we at least can figure out quite easily what is going on. So all you really need is a basic knowledge of DC superheros that can be gathered from Saturday morning television and a basic understanding of the theory of parallel worlds which can be learnt from mid nineties television.
Oh yes speaking of ‘what is going on’ a great wave of white is sweeping across their world erasing everything in its path, none are able to stand against it, not even Alexander Luthor who retreats back to his summer house of science to spend the last few minutes with his wife, Lois. His last act of heroism is to send his only baby son in a rocket ship, not to another world as they have all been erased by this wave, but to another dimension. Remember this kid because he will be important. You will be able to spot him because he is a) ginger and because b) Lex’s ego is not bound by the concept of multi-verse or your puny concepts of heroism and villainy and thus named his only son after himself.
The only other important person we meet at this time is a man in green called Pariah who beams in to watch the world burn, sheds a few tears and then is apparently beamed away again for another disaster else where. No offence but nobody else really matters at the moment.
Not until we meet Harbinger, don’t worry if you don’t recognise her because nobody else did at the time either. Oh there were a few teases of her and her boss in books before this moment but nothing you need to worry about.
It is her job to collect a group of heroes from across the worlds to face this threat and that means a few heroes we would probably at least today consider second stringers, Superman is about the only big name on the team, so big they get two of him, while the rest is made up of villains and vigilantes like Blue Beetle and Psycho Pirate.
Once together the team is attacked by shadows, not a league of shadows just like evil shadows and so ends book 1. The notion of the threat has been revealed but enough is still in mystery to lure you on.
Don’t worry folks, I’m sure DC can keep up this great pace.