Reviews of Old Comics: Crisis on Infinite Earths #11

CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #11

March 1985

01I’ve been very critical of the New 52. A lot of critics have been very quick to call it a disaster. To their credit, DC is sticking to its guns and standing behind a rewriting of the history of the DC Universe, throwing out a lot of continuity. I’m not the first person to draw comparisons to first time that DC tried something like this in 1985 with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

There was criticism, too. In retrospect, DC let some personalities exert too much control and resist the changes to DC History, and didn’t fully plot out how every aspect of the changes would play out. It was a valiant effort, though, but when DC had to try to fix the changes, everything that happened that had seemed so world-shattering just seemed kind of pointless in retrospect.

That’s why I’m content to ignore the New 52 for a while, because as is evident from the inconsistencies pointed out by many fans and critics, the time will come when DC will peddle back to fix the problems that their solution to so many problems caused.

SYNOPSIS:

In the dawn of time, something changed so that what once had birthed many universes had just birthed one.

The Superman of Earth-2 wakes up in his apartment to find it redecorated and his wife, Lois already left for work. He gets dressed for his job as Clark Kent, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Star and goes to work, not noticing that he’s entering the offices of the Daily Planet and sitting behind Perry White’s desk. Fortunately, when he’s confronted, Clark Kent, his counterpart on Earth-1 comes to rescue claiming that its his uncle that Clark had told he was the Editor. The two Clark Kents go to the roof to change into Superman an fly to Washington Square where Earths 1 & 2 overlap. When they get there, the zone is gone and no one remembers the crisis. They go to Central City to find it part of twin cities of Central City and Keystone City.

They arrive at the home of Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, but his wife doesn’t recognize the older Superman. Jay Garrick remembers, though and they go to his lab where he and Wally West are reassembling Barry Allen’s Cosmic Treadmill that he used to travel between Earths. As the four men use the Cosmic Treadmill to travel to Earth-2 they find only a black void. They make their way back before the older Superman can throw himself into the void, but doing so destroys the treadmill. They decide to bring in everyone that they know.

Rip Hunter, Animal Man, Dolphin,Captain Comet, the Atomic Knight, and Adam Strange have reemerged from a turbulent timestream, stumbling upon Brainiac’s dormant ship.

All of the major heroes on Earth assemble at Titans Tower, comparing notes on the one Earth that now exists, combining parts of all of the previous ones. Harbinger, now with her powers back, explains that after the rebirth of the universe, many realities changed. While many of the heroes that fought at the dawn of time remained in existence, their worlds and the parts of them that supported their existence did not. The largest effect is on the Superman, Robin and Huntress of Earth-2.  Harbinger explains the history of the new Earth, how Superman and Batman’s origins happened after World War II. Many of the heroes grasp the new reality and some remain baffled by it, and the Superman of Earth-2 flies off screaming in rage and despair.

Elsewhere, the Spectre lies immobile after confronting the Anti-Monitor at the Dawn of time, and a convention of detectives comes across the smoldering corpse of Angle Man. Doctor Fate, the Demon, and Doctor Occult rescue Amethyst from a mob only to be attacked by the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons that blind Amethyst, leading Doctor Fate to transport her to Gemworld.

Superman catches up to his older counterpart while back at Titans Tower, the heroes continue to compare notes, with the heroes of Earth-2 being most drastically affected, since their younger counterparts are the ones that remained after the rebirth of the Universe. Power Girl is remembered on the new Earth, however, and Batman arrives revealing that the villains that aided them but did not go to the dawn of time, remember nothing. The weather goes crazy with the skies turning red again and the Anti-Monitor appears in the sky, signifying that he’s transported Earth to the Anti-Matter universe for its doom.

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REVIEW:

I’m breaking from form and mentioning the artwork first. George Perez is essentially at his height here. The artwork doesn’t scrimp on the details, which is especially crucial when trying to communicate that the world is slightly different from the one we know. He conveys information that’s necessary to the larger story without Marv Wolfman needing to write captions for it, like with Wally looking like he’s almost in pain using the Cosmic Treadmill.

He’s also being inked by Jerry Ordway, which does the impossible and make you think that Romeo Tanghal was the wrong inker for George Perez for all of those years of New Teen Titans.

There’s a lot of problems continuity wise here, after Crisis, Lex Luthor was retconned as a businessman so Batman visiting him in prison would not have happened. Wonder Woman’s origin restarted and Brainiac was redesigned away from the robotic form seen here. At the time Marv Wolfman wrote this issue, that was not known to him. At least, I’ll assume that to be the case.

The main purpose of the issue then remains to explain quickly how the new DC Universe differs from any of the Infinite Earths that came before.What we get instead of a proper mash-up is the old Earth-1 with everything that doesn’t contradict it wedged in. Sadly, anticipating that much of the recent history wouldn’t be changed, Wolfman found half of the history he states in this issue being contradicted within a year. He also incorporates characters that were unclear in which Earth they originally called home, like Angel and the Ape.

That’s the problem with doing a reboot of an entire fictional universe. You have to plan out not only the causes of the change and the story around the change, but you have to decide exactly what changes so you don’t contradict changes that come afterwards. With the recent New 52, Flashpoint #5 avoided this by not going into details about the new world, and only including Flash’s new costume. Here, though, The decision to change was made and the thought was that the new world would be very similar to what had been established in the old Earth-1, but just a few weeks later, changes had to be made. Here, we don’t even see a glimpse of how the changes affect the future, so we’re left assuming that it stays intact. I’ve heard that the original plans were for the first ten issues to be the story, ending in the rebirth of the DC Universe and the last two issues to be a history of the new DC Universe.

It just seems that most of the plans were for how the change would happen and not how the world would look in the aftermath. I don’t blame Marv Wolfman for that, I blame DC Editorial at the time, for not coordinating things and facilitating communication between creative teams. I’m not sure exactly how far in advance John Byrne plotted Man of Steel, but if it’s the four months between this issue and its release,then there’s no reason that Marv Wolfman couldn’t have included some mention of no Superboy career, and the lack of a relationship between the “new” Superman and Lois Lane. We haven’t even gotten into the various changes that weren’t thought out surrounding Hawkman, Batman, and many of the other DC Characters. It’s events like this that almost necessitate a powerful, and controlling Editor in Chief. Unfortunately, when there are not times of coordinating massive continuity changes, that type of person is detrimental to producing good comics.

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NOTES:

Crisis on Infinite Earths available in both hardcover(ISBN #1563894343) and paperback (ISBN #1563897504) as well as in digital formats. If you’re feeling ambitious and want all the extra stuff that comes with it, you can get Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths  (ISBN #140120712X). Finding a copy of the comic itself shouldn’t prove difficult, and should only cost you a few dollars.

FINAL RATING: 8.5 (out of a possible 10)