Commence Ouroboros: DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Part 11

The true genius of Crisis #11 is this: It’s the step in between.  We don’t generally see things like this in comic book storytelling.  Look at the transition from Flashpoint to the New 52, for example.  One minute it was the old universe, the next it was the new.  There was no step in between there, no moment where the two realities converged and conflicted.  There was no “half-way” reality where we saw both universes together.

But that’s exactly what we get in Crisis #11.

The story speaks directly to the audience.  It’s saying “yes, I know you want us to keep these characters and their histories, but look at what you’d get if we actually did that.”  This was before the internet made fan response readily available.  Wolfman and Perez knew what they were getting into and they addressed it head on in this issue.

“Do you want two Supermen?  Two Wonder Women?  Do you see how convoluted it is to have these character share the same space?”

Crisis #11 was every first issue any new reader purchased from DC prior to Crisis.

It’s brilliant in that it’s incredibly metafictional, yet still essential to the story that’s being told.  We, the fans, need to see this transition.  We need to know what goes into making the sausage or we will always wonder.  We need to know why these changes are being done, why they can’t be done differently, and how horribly wrong it could all go.

Earth-2 Superman is the old DC fan, trying to find his place.  And Crisis #11 is Wolfman and Perez saying “don’t worry, we’ll work this out…together.”

Reboots are a dime a dozen these days.  They don’t really carry the same weight.  We know now (as we technically always should have) that this is all temporary and worlds live and die on a regular basis.  DC didn’t even make it three years without showing us the pre-Flashpoint universe again and now they say all universes exist and then some.

But this wasn’t the case when Crisis came out, so its impact was huge.

Or was it?

Because on a day in, day out level, Crisis didn’t actually do anything but narrow the field.

When Crisis came out there, there were exactly two DC comics (of the 40 they were publishing each month, so 5%) that did NOT take place on Earth-1.  That meant there were only two books that had to be drastically altered going forward.

Technically speaking, Superman and Wonder Woman could have, more or less, kept on keeping on.

But even if you consider the new wave Superman and a rebooted Wonder Woman, there was still a substantial portion of DC that was relatively untouched by Crisis, untouched because those other Earths hadn’t played an important role in mainstream DC in quite some time.

You can see, then, how DC came to the decision to unify.

The merging of earths was surprisingly smooth, all things considered, and that was for one reason: Earth-2 was really the only one that anyone actually cared about.

All the other major earths had formerly been lines from other publishers, so erasing that continuity was fairly minimal, as they had histories pre-DC, anyway; fans of Captain Marvel and Blue Beetle had been down this road once before.  It was Earth-2 that mattered.

It makes me wonder what would have happened if DC had simply let Earth-2 live and destroyed all the other earths.

Certainly would have made me happy, that’s for sure.

You can actually make a reasonable case that Batman and Green Lantern have never been completely rebooted, only tweaked.  The Batman books don’t even blink when Crisis happens.  I mean, they change Jason Todd’s origin completely, but down the road, after the fact.  We don’t start over with Batman, anymore than we do with Green Lantern.  It’s actually kind of amazing, that you can make the case that Batman has been a victim of continuity tweaks for 75 years, but DC has never bothered to restart him.

So the post-Crisis DCU still had some work to do to make it all make sense.

The Tie-Ins

The penultimate month!  Except not really, as there will be crossover issues even after Crisis is over!  DC is just wacky that way.

All-Star Squardon #54

God bless you, Roy Thomas, and your love of obscure DC characters.  While this is another issue bogged down under the weight of the ridiculous Monster Society story, we also get a glimpse of what Firebrand is up to, which involves teaming up with a load of characters from throughout history.  Gunslingers? Check. Knights? Check. Revolutionary War heroes? Check. Oh, and a pirate, of course.  And his son.

This is Thomas at his best, writing about characters that no one really cares about, but whose simple existence is entertaining on its own.  And he sticks them in Florida, which is great.  But then he sends them to fight some of those gosh darn Indians, the godless savages, and you cringe and wonder why couldn’t just use Nazis like he usually does.

Mike Clarke and Arvell Jones handle the pencils, while Alfredo Alcala and Vince Colleta handle the heavy, heavy inking.

Amethyst, Princess of Gem World #13

Here’s a wild card, eh?  We saw in All-Star Squardon (at some point) that Dr. Fate disappeared; he ended up n Gem World, which has got to be an 80s hair metal song, right?  It just has to be.

This issue is a big deal if you’re a regular reader of Amethyst, but I am not, so it’s not nearly as dramatic as it’s intended to be.

This is basically the secret origin of Amethyst and it is, as most pre-Crisis origins were concerned, kind of messed up.  See, there was a Lord of Order watching over Gem World and he fell in love with Amethyst’s mom.  So he did what any horrible being would do, he possessed Amethyst’s dad and made with the rape, which is what you call it when a someone has sex with someone else without their consent (she willingly had sex with her husband; this was not her husband).

Anyway, no Lord or Order had ever assumed a physical form, let alone had sex with a human, let alone knocked said human up, but it happened this one time, and Amethyst was born, unknowingly the child of a Lord of Order.

After dumping all this information on Amethyst, Dr. Fate proceeds to dump her at the Temple of the Ancient Ones which, judging by her reaction, is a messed up thing to do.  Oh, and she’s blind.  Real nice, Dr. Fate.  Real nice.

Keith Giffen plotted, Robert Loring Fleming scripted, Ernie Colon penciled, and Karl Kesel inked this big revelations issue.

Infinity, Inc. #23

Jade and Brainwave, Jr. have sex.

There’s some stuff about the crazy world Northwind is from and a glacier that’s going to destroy them all and Solomon Grundy shows up and Jade tries to get him to help her stop the glacier and they fail, but that’s not really the main plot point of this issue.  Infinity, Inc. is a comic about the younger generation, and as such an fair amount of emphasis is placed on romantic entanglements.  I’m not even entirely sure if Northwind’s homeland survives the end of Crisis, so it’s destruction could ultimately be meaningless.

As for Crisis connections, the opening scene is one we already saw in Crisis, this time drawn by Todd McFarlane (pencils the first 5 pages) and Steve Montano.  Montano is joined by Tony DeZuniga on inks and Mike Harris pencils the rest of the book, written by Roy and Dann Thomas.

Wonder Woman #329

Gerry Conway and Don Heck bring the first volume of Wonder Woman to a close with an issue that is almost entirely dedicated to WW getting laid.  Oh, sure, there’s a big battle involving Amazons and Greek gods and some connections to Crisis, but Wonder Woman makes it very clear to Steve Trevor early on that she wants to do the deed as soon as they can.  It’s a little disconcerting, to be honest, that the grand finale of 329 issues of Wonder Woman’s life is getting married and losing her V card.

It is interesting, though, that her main foe in this issue is Ares, the god of war, given her role in the current DCU.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s