Commence Ouroboros: DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Part 2

Look, over there, it’s the Flash!

Yes, it’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #2 and the Flash has started popping up and being all ominous.  In this issue, he appears before Batman as the Caped Crusader is taking on the Joker.  This is mostly important because it means we get to see both Batman and the Joker drawn by George Pérez, which is awesome.

This issue is something of a Perez showcase (aren’t they all?) in that he gets to draw a wide range of characters, going all the way to DC’s first man, Anthro.

Wolfman uses Anthro the same way that Morrison did in Final Crisis, as a book end.  Anthro is ostensibly the DC character whose adventures take place the furthest in the past and, surprise surprise, we then move to the Legion of Superheroes, who hang out a thousand years in the future.

But the use of Anthro — and the Legion — underscores my biggest problem with this issue: it’s crazy padded.  Wolfman obviously wants to showcase as many corners of the DCU as possible as a way of honoring them before they go away, but it’s a bit much.  The division of the heroes (and villains) into teams that go to different times comes across as arbitrary and unnecessary.  It’s as if Crisis wants to double as an event comic and a tour of a DCU that won’t be around in ten months.

It’s interesting; I don’t remember thinking it was padded when I first read it those many years ago, yet feel like it is now.  It’s because I didn’t know who any of these characters were back then. Those insignificant moments in every corner of the DCU fascinated me, but now it just slows down the story.

The problem, in my mind, is that the audience would be reading it like people do now.  Given what Crisis was, the audience had to be people who already read DC comics.

Then again, I think the reading habits of the audience were very different.  I think we were all a bit more willing to let stories play out slowly, particularly if it involved giving dozens of seemingly random characters a few panels of time.

The Tie-Ins

You’d never have known the DC universe was in the midst of its most radical change in the history of comics.

And yet, it was.

Crisis was going to dramatically alter the DCU, so you’d think it would be reflected in the rest of the DCU. Wouldn’t DC’s regular titles be wrapping up story lines and the like?

Well, yes and no.  No, in the regard that this was 1985 and extended, universe-wide story lines had yet to become the norm.  While DC’s writers surely knew what was coming down the pipelines, a lot of the titles didn’t even reflect the changes from Crisis until months after the series ended.  Crisis may have been meant to streamline the DCU, but the individual titles didn’t seem to get that memo.

Flash #345

There was one title, though, that was clearly impacted by the coming of Crisis, whose story line was modified as a direct result of the event.  That title was The Flash.  Crisis #2 came out the same month as The Flash #345 and the two stories contradicted each other.

In his own title, The Flash had been embroiled in the infamous “Trail of the Flash” story in which he was accused of murder.  Barry Allen had killed Professor Zoom while defending his fiance, Fiona Webb — no, not Iris West.  Zoom had actually killed Iris earlier in the series, although she was resurrected and returned to the future (comics!).  But all of this meant that Barry had motive to kill Zoom instead of simply protecting Fiona.

The main reason the “Trial of the Flash” is infamous is because it went on forever.  This was because the story had to be padded so it, and the series, could end with Flash #350.

But while the Flash was standing trial in Flash #345, he was appearing as a wasting vision to Batman (and the Joker) in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2.

You have to imagine that, given the size of the event, everyone who was then reading the Flash (and there weren’t many) was also reading Crisis.  In fact, this one scene in Crisis probably created more interest into the fate of the Flash than anything that had happened to the character in a decade.  I just wonder how many Crisis readers decided to pick up Flash #345 based on this one scene only to be completely confused.

Who’s Who #3

Unlike last issue, Who’s Who #3 doesn’t feature any references to Crisis within the entries themselves.  This is particularly notable for a character like Brainiac, who would receive a new origin and a new first appearance post-Crisis.

Brainiac’s entry does serve to underscore how bizarre the timing of this series was, given how many of the entries would need to be updated within the coming year.

So still not a while lot of tie-ins for DC’s biggest event.  That would change soon enough…

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