William Johnson's Reviews > Crisis on Infinite Earths

Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman
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Mar 14, 10

bookshelves: 2010, since-joining-goodreads, best-comics
Read from March 03 to 14, 2010, read count: 1

So, what do you do when you know next to nothing about the DC Universe? You decide to read the most complex, complicated, mind-boggingly convoluted saga in the company’s history, that’s what! For whatever reason I was compelled, for months it seemed, to pick up Crisis on Infinite Earths and read it. I can’t explain it but for some reason I decided I’d buy it and try it out. And while the book is everything I described above, it also happens to be a masterpiece of the comic art form and, whether I knew it or not, built for knowledge-less saps like myself.

See, Crisis on Infinite Earths existed mainly because the DC universe was getting way too crazy. There were different universes (called the multiverse) and within those universes were many of the same characters. There were multiple Supermans, multiple Lex Luthors, multiple Wonder Womans, etc. etc. etc. It was chaos as an art form and the heads of DC just kinda said, ’screw it. Let’s give some of these people a last hurrah and start from scratch’. This bold idea led to a 12-issue miniseries where every single feasible character in DC’s mythos, whether appearing in one panel or in every scene, would combine to take on a literally universe-shattering menace. The inevitable result: the destruction of almost every single property in the DC canon (save one universe and one Earth) and a chance for DC to continue with a select few. The additions would be in readers.

And while I may have missed a few things due to my lack of knowledge of many of the characters and near complete ignorance of the multiple universes and their deep histories, the story is compelling in how final and epic it feels. There are 474 characters in this book and many of them. . .a majority in fact. . .die in this book. Some die without fanfare while others die in the most grand way possible. And even my lack of knowledge of some of them didn’t dampen my sadness for some of their passing. Crisis on Infinite Earths feels important. . .something very few comics, especially in this day and age (and Crisis was written in 1985), manage to do. And the primary culprit of such genius belongs to writer Marv Wolfman and the man behind the pencils George Perez.


Wolfman manages to take this confusing story and make it both palatable to those just entering the fray (like me) and to please those deep into the continuity and fandom. I am generally familiar with the Superman and Batman legacies and Wolfman managed to make the existence of two Supermans (one from Earth-2 and one from Earth-1) seem different even though they wear the same costume. This, of course, could not have been completed without Perez’s art. This story hardly allows for many one on one conversations. . .often there are 30-40 characters on a page at once. . .some who, like Superman, wear the same thing. Somehow Perez manages to make them distinct despite their picture-perfect similarities. The writing and art is a true wonder for fans of comics to behold. I’m glad, as late as I was to the party, I had the opportunity to enjoy it.

Crisis on Infinite Earths is about the existence of thousands of identical universes. These universes all have different outcomes and exist in different time periods but were created from the same source. The Earth we know is in the positive matter universe. But there is also an anti-matter universe that exists and anyone who lives there is kind of anti-anything positive, both physically and mentally. A creature called the Anti-Monitor is wiping out every universe in the positive side of existence and sucking in the energy. By the time the story starts, only five to eight universes still exist (hence five to eight earths). Over the course of the first few chapters, a number of Earths are destroyed.

A creature called the Monitor is trying to gather the remaining Earth’s greatest heroes and even their villains to fight the Anti-Monitor. As a new Earth falls, the Monitor grows weaker. Led by two Supermans, Dr. Light, Supergirl, a number of Flashes, a number of Green Lanterns, a sad man named Pariah, and an ambiguous heroine (and aid to Monitor) named Harbinger (just to name a few) lead an assault against the Anti-Monitor and his forces of shadowy evil. Naturally, villains mess up the harmony and also try to take advantage: Braniac, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid will play a role in the multiple Earths existence, for better or worse.

I have very little complaints about the whole thing: only a few times did I sit and scratch my head trying to figure out what was going on. But if I found myself confounding by a character’s random appearance or a motivation that made no sense to me, I rest assured that by the book’s end they’d either be dead or ‘rebooted’ so to speak. The greatest impact the book has, and this could be both positive and negative, is that the set up (11 issues worth) is so incredible that when everything kind of starts over *SPOILER* you feel a sadness for what was, a bit. Sure, it’s less complicated, but the existence of only ONE universe and ONE earth, and the non-existence of hundreds of characters can be a bit sad. Imagine if I was actually connected to all these guys as deeply as a DC enthusiast.

A LOT of people die. Supergirl and The Flash are probably the biggest casualties while Earth-2’s Superman goes into a special place (we aren’t really told) which left it open for future appearances (I’d guess). And there are some actually gripping things that occur with these deaths amongst others. Like I said, things feel FINAL here. For instance, one earth’s Bruce Wayne ceases to exist at the end and his daughter, also from that universe who manages to survive the extinction of that universe (long story), is alive to wonder who she is and WHY she is when, she really isn’t supposed to be anymore. Sad stuff. *END SPOILER*

My only real gripe is that some of the characters spend the entire book crying. Nothing wrong with a cry here or there but one of the main heroes of the story, Pariah, spends about 95% of his appearance crying his eyes out and whining. It grates a bit. But oh well. . .if that is the one thing I can think of in a story I’d thought would be impossible then Crisis on Infinite Earths is a resounding success. I highly recommend it and it will appeal whether you don’t know your Lois Lane from your Lana Lang or wear your Superman undies to bed.

See the article in it's original form on my website,Secure Immaturity.
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Reading Progress

03/03/2010 page 44
11.96% "Not as confusing as I thought it'd be (especially with little DC knowledge) BUT it is thick and dense."
03/04/2010 page 72
19.57% "This is surprisingly understandable. Hopefully I'll stop saying 'surprising' at some point."
03/08/2010 page 96
26.09% "Now I'm starting to get confused. I'm NOT surprised (I told you I'd say it)."
03/10/2010 page 148
40.22% "Well. . ."
03/11/2010 page 218
59.24% "This book is. . .awesome. . ."
03/14/2010 page 298
80.98% "Great except for the one chapter where it kept saying 'tune in to Green Lantern #17 for this' and 'see Teen Titans #2 for that'. BS."
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