Here is where I wrap up my synopsis of THE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and offer you my thoughts on the whole thing. Also included is a list of those who died during the Crisis, as well as those who seemed to die but popped up again later.
This is continued from Phases 7-10.
CRISIS — Phase 11: “Aftershock”
What a strange cover. Gives a good rundown of the issue though.
The first page is a nod to the first page of issue 1. Except where issue 1 talked about a multiverse being created, this page speaks of only a single universe being born out of the big bang, ending with the line “what had been many, became one.”
As the sun rises, Kal-L of Earth-2 awakens in bed, convinced that the events of the past few days has just been a horrible nightmare. But as he gets up, he frowns at how different his apartment looks. Figuring his wife Lois must have redecorated, he shrugs, gets dressed, and goes on to work. So distracted is he by his own thoughts that he doesn’t realize the building he walks into is called the Daily Planet, not the Daily Star (the newspaper that he is editor of on Earth-2). As he sits behind the editor’s desk, Kal-L is shocked to see Perry White show up and yell at him. Quickly, the younger Earth-1 Kal-El/Clark Kent appears, saying that this older man is “Uncle Clark … the one I was named after.” He then quickly guides his Earth-2 counterpart away, as Lois remarks that absentmindedness must run in the Kent family. Jimmy Olsen smiles and says, “Nice to know there are some consistent things in this universe, eh, Lois?”
On the rooftop, Superman and the Earth-2 Superman realize that the “dream” was true and that somehow the elder Kal-L was teleported to Earth-1 rather than his own planet after they defeated the Anti-Monitor. The two decide that they’ll go to the warp zone bridge in New York and use that to send Kal-L home. But to their surprise, the warp zone is gone. No time anomalies or parallel universe bridges to be found here. Nor does anyone seem to remember the warp zones ever being there.
Confused by this, the Supermen figure that Barry Allen’s time-travel machine, the Cosmic Treadmill, can be jury-rigged to send Kal-L home. But as they fly to Central City, they see that it now neighbors Keystone City. The heroes are confused. Central City is the home of the Earth-1 Flash and Keystone is the home of the Earth-2 Flash.
As they fly over Keystone, they see Jay Garrick’s house and drop in. Kal-L is shocked that his old friend Joan (Jay’s wife) recognizes the Earth-1 Superman but not him. Jay Garrick then appears and Kal-L is relieved to see that his old teammate still recognizes him. Jay asks them inside so they can speak in his lab (this is when half the super-heroes seemed to have really advanced labs just sitting in their homes). Waiting inside the lab is Kid Flash, making modifications to the Cosmic Treadmill.
Jay Garrick says that people here know about there being a Flash in Central City and even remember that he was on trial recently, but that those same people also claim that Jay Garrick is the “original” Flash and has lived in the neighboring town of Keystone City all his wife. Wally asks simply “Which Earth are we on?” The heroes agree to use the cosmic treadmill to try and find Earth-2. Wally adds that, when all is done, he also wants to search for Barry Allen, who still hasn’t been seen since the Titans and the Outsider saw him vanish.
The four heroes activate the treadmill and are shocked by what they find. Instead of being taken to another Earth, they only see a black endless void. Kal-El and Jay Garrick realize the truth. “Nothing exists but ONE Earth … ONE UNIVERSE!”
Kal-L realizes no one remembers him because in the new reality he doesn’t exist. He tries to fly out into the void, spurred by the shock of no longer having a home or even a past, but Kal-El grabs him and the heroes return to Earth. As a result of their journey, though, the cosmic treadmill explodes and Wally says “this time beyond repair.”
One of DC’s edicts at the time was that, after the Crisis was over, time travel would be far more difficult, so people couldn’t just jump through time whenever. The destruction of the Treadmill was to help with this. However, it would later be repaired and as the years went on, the time travel rules relaxed, allowing the writers more freedom again.
Back to the story. In space, Rip Hunter, time traveler extraordinaire, travels in his time-sphere with the heroes Animal Man, Adam Strange, Dolphin, the Atomic Knight and Captain Comet. Rip Hunter is confused, saying that while he remembers multiple Earths, his partners don’t. What’s more, time itself seems to have realigned. The heroes find Brainiac’s head-ship floating aimlessly and decide to board it (I guess they were feeling cocky that day and figured there was no harm in walking into the home of one of Superman’s greatest enemies). They see Brainiac sitting in his command chair, looking quite dead.
In New York, the various heroes of what were once five universes now gather at Titans Tower to try and figure things out. Captain Marvel says he can’t reach Earth-S and the Freedom Fighters haven’t been able to travel to Earth-X. Lady Quark remarks “It appears as if only ONE Earth now exists.” Pariah adds, “A new Earth … one which combines parts of all the others which came before.”
Lyla then arrives, dressed in her Harbinger armor again, her powers having returned as a side-effect of the universe’s recreation. She explains that time and space have reconfigured and that the only reason the heroes remember there used to be a multivese is because they stood at the dawn of time and were out of the timestream when things changed. Hence, Kal-L is still alive even though his Earth isn’t. The adult Robin of Earth-2 and the Huntress of Earth-2 both relate how they woke up in this new world to find that, as far as history is concerned, they’ve never existed.
Harbinger says certain paradoxes exist at the moment. She then goes on to give a brief summary of the history of the new Earth, which is a combo of all the five surviving Earths, except that Earth-1 apparently has predominance. One major new difference is that in the new history the Freedom Fighters stayed on this Earth, fighting alongside the JSA and the All-Star Squadron rather than going into another dimension. On this Earth, the Earth-2 heroes had been the champions of the Golden Age, except for folks like Kal-L and the adult Robin who had direct/identical analogues on Earth-1 because history says they were never around, since their Earth-1 counterparts have dominance. History says the Golden Agers then retired and sometime afterwards, a new wave of heroes started, and that some of those who had similar powers to certain Golden Age heroes decided to adopt similar names and costumes as an homage. Thus, Barry Allen and his like are not parallel universe counterparts of Jay Garrick and the rest. Rather, they are their successors.
In terms of those who had identical rather than “equivalent” twins on Earth-1, they have no place in the new reality. Kal-El’s Krypton exploded and he came to Earth, but there wasn’t a second Krypton to send Kal-L there too, years earlier. And the Earth-1 Batman is now the ONLY Batman. No older Batman, thus no one to father Helena Wayne, etc. Any Earth-2 people who had twins on Earth-1 have been erased. Kal-L freaks out again as he realizes that this means his wife is gone too, since the Earth-1 Lois Lane’s existence took dominance. He flies off, screaming, “Why did I go back in time instead of staying here … instead of entering oblivion with my wife?” Kal-El goes after him to calm him down.
Although Harbinger doesn’t explain my next point here, it is rather obvious when you think about it. Since the universe was changed starting at the dawn of time, this also means that even if one of the heroes time traveled to, say, five days BEFORE the Crisis began, they wouldn’t suddenly be back in a multiverse and able to travel between the different Earths. History was changed from scratch starting with the big bang. So except for the heroes’ own memories, the multiverse isn’t just gone, it never existed.
In a dark place elsewhere, the Phantom Stranger and the Earth-bound ghost called Deadman look over the Spectre, who lies in a coma as he recovers from the strain of his battle with the Anti-Monitor.
In Las Vegas, a detective convention is interrupted when a murder is found. Jonni Thunder (a woman detective, no relation to the JSA member or the old west gunslinger), Gotham PD detective Harvey Bullock, Johnny Double, Angel O’Day (of “Angel and Ape”) and Christopher Chance (the “Human Target”), are all detectives and quickly figure out that the Wonder Woman villain known as the Angle Man has somehow killed himself with his own weapon. The scene abruptly ends there and at first glance it seems both a pointless and slightly confusing scene. However, with some explanation, the truth becomes a bit clearer. You see, the Angle Man had an “angler” made of Apokoliptian technology that could let him cross between dimensions. With what happened to the multiverse, it seems that Wolfman was indicating that the weapon not only didn’t work anymore, it actually backfired and killed the villain. Not a bad sub-plot, except that the setting of a detective convention seems like another too-convenient excuse to throw in a bunch of characters who have no real effect on the Crisis. Also, considering that Angle Man would be reintroduced into continuity later, it kind of kills the gravity of this scene. That wasn’t Wolfman’s fault, though, he didn’t know that later stuff was going to happen.
In Salem, the sorcerer Dr. Fate and the demon Etrigan sense a dark presence approaching Earth. They see the Princess Amethyst of Gemworld escaping a mob. She is helped by Dr. Occult, the supernatural investigator who can cast spells with his talisman, the “mystic symbol of The Seven.” Amethyst looks up to see the sky has suddenly turned red … the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons descend. Etrigan and Dr. Fate join the battle. Dr. Fate realizes that if the shadow demons are here, the Anti-Monitor still lives. He then takes Amethyst into Gemworld, and readers are told to pick up AMETHYST #13 for the rest of that story (basically, Amethyst finds out the people of Gemworld were connected to Dr. Fate’s people, the Lords of Order).
At Titans Tower, Power Girl poses a fair question … In this world, there was only Kal-El’s version of Krypton. If she is from the Earth-2 universe’s version of Krypton, why is she remembered but Kal-L isn’t? If Supergirl was her direct analogue and was dominant, then Earth should only remember her and not both of them. This was a hint by Wolfman that there would be a story coming soon that would reveal that Power Girl was no Kryptonian at all. Though now THAT origin is in question. For more info on that, read my History of Power Girl article.
Batman and Robin (Jason Todd) show up with Alexander Luthor and they repeat what has been stated about five or six times already, that the older Earth-2 analogues of some people didn’t die, they simply “never were.” While I appreciate the fact that you want to make things clear to readers, this is getting a bit much. Batman also says that he visited Lex Luthor in prison and that the villain had no memory of the battle with the Anti-Monitor. Since the villains were not there at the dawn of time, they have no memory of the multiverse that existed previously or of the Crisis itself.
In Gorilla City, King Solovar lies wounded (looks like he didn’t die on the Monitor’s mission but was teleported back home in the nick of time). In Peru, the famous explorer Cave Carson and his team find an anti-matter energy field far beneath the earth. And at Titans Tower, Pariah is being drawn away again while Alexander is simultaneously becoming a being of both positive matter and anti-matter once again. The Crisis isn’t over!
Elswhere, the two Supermen watch as the sky changes. Superman of Earth-2 uses his heightened vision powers and realizes that the entire planet Earth has somehow been shifted into another universe. Then, the image of the Anti-Monitor appears in the sky, proclaiming, “Welcome to my universe! Welcome to your doom!”
CRISIS — Phase 12: “Final Crisis”
Well, THERE is an issue title that’s been proven false.
Back on Brainiac’s ship, we watch as the heroes accompanying the time traveler Rip Hunter enter the place. It’s a weird scene, cuz it seems like a repeated/extended version what we saw last issue. The heroes marvel at the strang ship and find Brainiac (this time hanging by a harness rather than sitting). The android howls and wakes up. Brainiac realizes his programming has been altered (how he could realize that, considering all time and space was realigned from scratch, is still something I can’t figure out). The heroes tell Brainiac about the Crisis and the Anti-Monitor and they realize that Earth has been moved out of this universe. Brainiac decides he needs help to defeat the Anti-Monitor (he doesn’t want the universe he intends to rule destroyed) and pilots his headship to some distant corner of the universe.
On Earth, the population and heroes look up at the red skies as a giant hologram of the Anti-Monitor appears and gives a proclamation.
“Since my birth, ten billion years, I have not known defeat. A thousand universes before yours perished without resistance. But you refused to die … A thousand meaningless victories because you resisted my efforts to destroy you. One universe … protected by one small and terribly insignificant little world. A token force of humans succeeds where untold powers had failed. I offer you my congratulations. I acknowledge your persistence. Your will to lives is astonishing. But it ultimately changes nothing. Your world must die. As your Supergirl died. As your Flash died. As so many others who tried to stop me died …”
And in Titans Tower, Wally West stiffens as he says “The Flash … He IS dead? YOU MURDERED THE FLASH?”
The sky grows dark. Harbinger appears and quickly recruits the two Supermen. She then heads to Japan and recruits Dr. Light, who is still disturbed by the death of Supergirl. And at Challengers Mountain, the famous Challengers of the Unknown realize that the darkness that surrounds Earth is actually alive as millions of shadow demons are descending on the planet. All over Earth, the shadow demons are flying around, killing people everywhere and laying destruction for its own sake. The heroes spread out around the planet, trying to fight the demons as best they can and doing their best to protect as many people as possible. There’s one panel that shows the three Lt. Marvels, with a caption reading that the three are “overwhelmed.” Some people took this to mean that they were killed, some believed it meant they weren’t able to make much of a difference. I guess it doesn’t matter, since the Lt. Marvels were dropped from continuity right after the Crisis anyway.
Elsewhere, the sorcerer called Dr. Mist and the Phantom Stranger work together to summon the essence of the Spectre out of his comatose body, energies they intend to use in their final battle with the Anti-Monitor. It is their plan that they and the other mages of Earth will keep the shadow demons at bay while other heroes battle the Anti-Monitor. In the valley below them, the ghost Deadman watches as Alexander Luthor, Harbinger and Earth’s heroes discuss their plan. Harbinger selects a specific strike team, explaining ONCE AGAIN that she acted as the Monitor’s assistant and thus gathered much information on all the heroes for over a year. “You may not be as powerful as some others, but YOUR abilities are needed now.”
The Anti-Monitor surrounds Earth with an energy barrier to keep them on the planet, but Alexander Luthor now uses his abilities to break it open and teleports himself and Harbinger’s strike force to the villain’s lair. As they leave, Deadman notices a figure moving at super-speed and joining the teleportation beam at the last second.
Beyond the confines of normal space, back in the positive matter universe, Brainiac’s head-ship reaches Apokolips, where he receives an audience with Darkseid the Destroyer.
Back on Earth, the original teenage heroes called Hawk and Dove (brothers Hank and Don Hall) are trying to save civilians from shadow demon attacks. As he’s carrying a child to safety, Dove doesn’t see the shadow demon coming up behind him. Hawk can only cry out his brother’s name as Dove is killed.
The original Hawk and Dove
In Dr. Fate’s Salem Tower, the magic-users are gathered. Heroes such as Zatanna, her father Zatarra, the Black Bison, the thunderbolt genie, Sargon the Sorcerer and Madame Xanadu. Villains such as the Wizard, Felix Faust, the Enchantress, Blackbriar Thorn and Circe. All of them are pouring their energies into Dr. Occult and Alan Scott, who sit in the center, their own powers focused on their individual talismans: the Symbol of the Seven and Alan Scott’s mystical green lantern. You can imagine how much raw power is flowing through this room right now.
Alan Scott Dr. Occult
Harbinger’s strike team arrives on Qward. Present are the Earth-2 Superman, the younger Kal-El Superman, the Superboy of Earth-Prime, the Earth-2 Wonder Woman, the younger Earth-1 Wonder Woman, Fury of Infinity, Inc., Captain Marvel, the Ray, Power Girl, Firestorm, Firehawk, the Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom, Negative Woman, Lady Quark, Jade and Dr. Light, along with Harbinger, Pariah and Alexander Luthor. The heroes are surprised when they see that Kid Flash has joined them, having raced into the teleport beam at the last minute. Kid Flash says he’s here to find out what happened to his uncle, when suddenly they see an image of the Flash flicker in the air. Captain Atom says “Flash was moving through time … his image must have phased in and out as he did.” Exactly how does Captain Atom know Barry was shifting in and out of time as he died? Ah, well.
Wally (perhaps because of his super-speed abilities) can still pick up a flickering after-image and chases it through the rubble. He stops short as he finds the Psycho-Pirate clinging to the Flash’s empty costume, pleading “C’mon, Flash … you said you’d SAVE me … SAVE ME!” Overcome with shock and grief, Wally freaks out and attacks the Pirate. Ray and Captain Atom intervene, saying the villain has obviously lost his mind. Lady Quark finds the famous Flash signet ring. Wally sadly realizes that this isn’t a trick or some mistake. Barry’s really dead and all that’s left is his costume.
Pariah suddenly feels a surge of evil directly ahead. Just over the horizon stands the Anti-Monitor, now standing at what seems to be roughly 100 feet tall (and how did the heroes miss seeing such a big guy? :-P). A new battle begins.
On Earth, Atlantis is being invaded by shadow demons. Lori Lemaris, once Clark Kent’s college girlfriend, is attacked from behind as shadow demon rips her apart. Queen Mera screams as she watches Lori die, knowing there’s nothing she can do.
In Chicago, the hero Peacemaker looks up as the Earth-2 Green Arrow is killed by a shadow-demon. In New Orleans, the hero Roc Shade watches as the hero Prince Ra-Man is killed by a shadow demon. In Gotham City, the villains known as Clayface II (Matt Hagen) and the original Bug-Eyed Bandit are both slaughtered by shadow demons. The villain called the Ten-Eyed Man is likewise killed. Perez says he insisted on the Bug-Eyed Bandit and the Ten-Eyed Man getting killed because he “couldn’t be part of a company that would print [them].”
Ten-Eyed Man. He sees through his FINGERS! Worst … Villain … Ever!
In New York, the Earth-2 Robin and Earth-2 Huntress are saving people when a building collapses. The Huntress is buried beneath the rubble. As Mary Marvel and the Teen Titan called Kole fly by, Earth-2 Robin begs for help. Kole leaps down as the heroes are surrounded by shadow demons. Using her powers, she surrounds herself, the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress with a crystal barrier. But the shadow demons swarm down and break through the barrier, killing all three as Mary Marvel screams “NO!”
But now comes the cavalry. Using their collective energies, the mages gathered in Dr. Fate’s Tower send out a mystic net that ensnares every single shadow demon on Earth and rips them all off the planet and into a containment field in space. Meanwhile, on Qward, the heroes are doing their best to combine their firepower with careful strategy. Rather than do too much damage, several of the fliers and energy wielders are doing their best to distract the Anti-Monitor. Nearby, Harbinger and Alexander explain to Dr. Light that there was a reason the Monitor gave her such specific powers. The Anti-Monitor is drawing much of his enegies from the nearby binary star; it’s up to Dr. Light to absorb the energy of one of those suns and cut his power down. Knowing she might be destroyed by such efforts, but changed now after seeing Supergirl’s sacrifice, Dr. Light begins draining one of the suns. The Anti-Monitor gives a start as he feels his power weakening. Alexander Luthor then uses his own powers to absorb anti-matter energies directly out of the villain. The Anti-Monitor stumbles as he weakens further and then screams that he will not tolerate another defeat.
With the villain off-balance, it’s now time for Negative Woman to release her radioactive energy duplicate (it’s a weird power, I know, but it works). Piloting her radioactive energy form, Negative Woman wraps herself around the Anti-Monitor’s entire body like a snake, burning him with radiation. All the heroes who have energy blasts or heat-vision or whatever unleash their energies on the villain in a focused attack. The Anti-Monitor falls and then Dr. Light releases all the sun’s energy she’s just absorbed back at the him in a huge blast. The Anti-Monitor screams as his armor cracks open in several places and he apparently dies.
The heroes take a few moments to catch their breath and absorb their victory. Kal-El comments to Kal-L that he was expecting more satisfaction. Alexander says he’s now absorbed enough anti-matter energies that he can open up a giant doorway back to the positive matter universe and send Earth back where it belongs. The strain is enormous on him, so the heroes hurry to travel back with their planet. But then, Firehawk notices that something is happening to the shadow demons in their containment field. Suddenly, the shadow demons fly back towards the Anti-Monitor’s body and the Anti-Monitor rises, barely standing but still alive. “Fools! I have absorbed the power of the anti-matter demons! Once again I am indestructible!”
This is obviously hyperbole, since anyone can see that the villain is barely holding together, but still he looks dangerous and ticked. He lets out a blast and the younger Earth-1 Wonder Woman is disintegrated. Most of the heroes have already gone though the portal. Firestorm flies up to the portal, carrying Kid Flash and Psycho-Pirate who he says he saved “just as Monny’s blast hit us. Only they’re not in the best shape.” Firestorm takes them back to Earth in the positive matter universe. The off-panel scene of the Anti-Monitor just barely hitting Wally with his energy blast will come up again later.
With nearly all the other heroes gone, Superman of Earth-1 and Lady Quark are determined to take down the Anti-Monitor again, but the Earth-2 Superman quickly decks them and gives their unconscious forms to the Superboy of Earth-Prime, telling the boy he needs to get out of there and take these two with him. This could be a fight to the death and he won’t have younger heroes who still have so much to give dying.
The Anti-Monitor sees the Golden Age Superman and says, “You stayed behind, Kryptonian? Then you are the greatest fool I have ever known.” The elder Superman says, “Ugly, you may be right … but somebody had to clean up the garbage! Guess I was elected.”
The Anti-Monitor readies his attack, when suddenly his body glows green and he starts to convulse in pain. We learn that the sorcerers poisoned the essences of the demons just in case the Anti-Monitor tried to absorb them. Now they’re literally destroying him from the inside. The Earth-2 Superman delivers several punches, but the Anti-Monitor is still standing.
Superboy-Prime reaches the portal to the positive universe and stops. Like Kal-L, he has nothing left there, no home, no place in this new reality. Deciding he can’t let his Earth-2 counterpart fight alone, Superboy-Prime throws Earth-1′s Superman and Lady Quark through the portal just as it closes. Meanwhile, Alexander Luthor feels something happening to him … a surge of power. But why?
As Alexander wonders, the Earth-2 Superman gives up any remaining shred of mercy. Using his incredible strength, he grabs the whole damn MOON of Qward and throws it at the Anti-Monitor. And watching all of this on his viewscreen on the planet Apokolips is Darkseid. Darkseid tells Brainiac that as powerful as the Earth-2 Superman is, he’s still not quite powerful enough to get the job done. The hero Captain Comet asks how Darkseid is able to see events in the anti-matter universe and the villain explains that since Alexander is a conduit between the postive and anti-matter universe, it’s possible to latch onto the young man’s energies and use him as a camera of sorts.
Superboy-Prime joins the battle but is immediately blasted by the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor is obviously weaker, since his blast only knocked Superboy around a bit. Kal-L grabs a few asteroids and starts slamming them into the Anti-Monitor, burrying him in rock. As he lifts another asteroid, Kal-L thinks, “Long ago, I vowed never to take a life needlessly. But there’s no other way I can save our universe. I’ll LIVE with myself for doing this.”
He slams the last asteroid into the Anti-Monitor and the villain seems to finally die. Kal-L checks on the young Superboy of Earth-Prime, making sure he’s not too badly hurt. A second later, the Anti-Monitor rises, no longer in a containment suit as he’s just a giant vaguely humanoid energy construct now. Seeriously weakened, the Anti-Monitor can barely speak as he shouts, “Y-you must … die … I — I absorb … all the energy … my universe … provides … I … will … kill … you … even … if … I … must … die … myself …”
As the Anti-Monitor makes his one last desperate and weakened attack on Kal-L and Superboy, Darkseid decides it’s time to act. Using Alexander as a conduit, he releases energy at the Anti-Monitor (possibly his famous Omega Beams). The blast erupts from Alexander’s eyes and slams into the Anti-Monitor, hurtling him backwards into one of the binary suns.
Darkseid’s “Omega Force” beams
Kal-L looks to Alexander, but the young man says he doesn’t have the energy left to open up a portal to the positive matter universe. He’s about to say something else, when the three hear a voice crying out from the sun. “SUPERMAN … I … WILL … NOT … DIE … UNTIL … YOU … DIE … WITH … ME…”
No long able to construct even the semblance of a body for himself, the Anti-Monitor rises from the sun in the form of a screaming fireball. Kal-L cries out, “No more … Nothing matters any longer. I want to see him destroyed! I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!”
Charging forwards, Kal-L puts all his last strength into one final punch and, finally, kills the Anti-Monitor by dispersing his last remaining energies as they fall back into the sun. A chain reaction starts and shockwaves start rippling outwards. Alexander says that everything for a million miles in all directions will be disintegrated. Kal-L and the young Superboy know that they can’t fly fast enough to escape death, but don’t seem to mind, satisfied that they fought a good fight. Kal-L mentions how he misses Lois and then Alexander reveals that he actually saved the Earth-2 Lois Lane, having known that she would not exist in the newly born universe. He tells Kal-L “I could not let YOU, of all the heroes, suffer in that loss.”
Lois of Earth-2 tells Kal-L that she was “inside” Alex, “in a place that was so beautiful.” Alexander explains that he is a doorway to that other place and to save their lives he can take them all there now. Kal-L smiles, knowing he is together with his wife again. Superboy of Earth-Prime agrees to join, saying “Better to go into the unknown than die here alone.” And as they vanish, Alexander says, “Do not worry, young Superboy … Where WE go now there will be no fear … only PEACE … ever-lasting peace.”
In DC Comics’ WHO’S WHO entry concerning Alexander Luthor (listed as “Luthor IV”): “[Alexander Luthor's] power was eliminated upon opening the final door into that unknown limbo, and that door can never be reopened without the complete and utter destruction of all life everywhere.” Kinda belaboring the point that DC didn’t want the Earth-2 Superman coming back, don’t ya think?
Another strange thing … first of all, why didn’t Alexander mention Lois was still alive earlier? A weakness for dramatic effect? What’s more, Alexander didn’t have his powers when he saw Lois and Superman say their good-byes in issue #10. He lost his anti-matter energies when the five universes stabilized earlier and didn’t get them back until issue #11 when the Anti-Monitor pulled the Earth into his universe. So how could he have sent Lois to that paradise dimension during the time in-between?
Ah, well. At least they gave Kal-L a happy ending instead of just killing him. Somewhere, Superman of Earth-2 is in paradise with his wife Lois, Alexander, the son of an alternate version of his worst enemy, and Earth-Prime Superboy, a younger brother of sorts. We wish him, and indeed all of them, well.
Lyla begins to narrate, saying that though much still defies explanation (you’re telling ME), some truths have been determined. First, Wonder Woman is not dead, but was actually somehow sent backwards down her own timeline. Exactly why the Anti-Monitor’s death ray did this to her when it just atomized or burned everyone else, isn’t explained. Meanwhile, it is also shown that the Earth-2 Wonder Woman, no longer belonging on Earth, is welcomed into Olympus, as the Greek Gods consider her family. Joining her is her husband, the Earth-2 version of Steve Trevor (though how he survived the rebirth of the universe, I don’t know).
Around the world, there is much mourning. Batman and Robin find that the bodies of Kole and the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress are gone, perhaps completely destroyed by the shadow demons, and hold graveside services. “They would not be forgotten.” In Atlantis, Tula and Lori Lemaris are both mourned. At his arctic Fortress of Solitude, Kal-El and Power Girl grieve over the death of Kara Zor-El and the disappearance of Kal-L and his Lois, who saw Power Girl as a daughter. In Japan, we see Dr. Light II mourning the Japanese hero Sunburst and we realize he was killed during the shadow demon attack. At a cemetery, the Teen Titans mourn Dove AKA Don Hall.
And in Jay’s lab, Wally and Jay check over lab results. Apparently, being struck by the edge of the Anti-Monitor’s blast altered Kid Flash’s body chemistry. The disease that was killing his body in reaction to super-speed is now in remission. But as a result, it seems the fastest that Wally can run now is the speed of sound tops. Holding Barry’s signet ring, Wally says, “Barry died saving us. I want the Flash — HIS Flash remembered.” He pops the ring open and out shoots Barry’s costume. In an instant, Wally dons the outfit, proclaiming, “From this day forth — The Flash lives again!”
I want you folks to understand the significance of this scene. It’s not just Wally’s first appearance as the Flash, a title he’s held now for almost twenty years. It’s the first time in comics that a kid sidekick actually fulfilled the unspoken promise that comes with the job, that one day the student would take over for his mentor.
Lyla’s narration continues, saying that there is one consistent Earth now with one consistent past, and she ponders the future. She reveals that the future of Kamandi no longer remains, but Tommy Tomorrow and the Planeteers will still be around in the world of tomorrow (in fact, she says that Kamandi BECOMES Tommy Tomorrow in this new history). She also mentions that the series HEX, which features western hero Jonah Hex transported into the 21st century along with other time-lost warriors, is still in continuity.
Pariah and Lady Quark arrive and Lyla says she still needs to research more to complete the Monitor’s tapes. As she goes with them to explore this new Earth, Lyla says “We should never forget the past, but we should always look to the future … because that’s where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.”
In Arkham Asylum, two doctors discuss the return of their patient Roger Hayden, who now rants on and on about thousands of universes dying, creating a new Earth in their wake. As they leave, we see the Psycho-Pirate strapped in a straightjacket, lying in a padded room, talking to himself.
“I’m the ONLY one left who remembers the infinite Earths. You see, I know the truth. I remember all that happened, and I’m not going to forget. Worlds lived, worlds died. Nothing will ever be the same. But those were GREAT days for me … I had a GOOD FRIEND in the good old days. Really. He was the Anti-Monitor. He was going to me a WORLD to rule. Now HE’S gone, too. But that’s okay with me. You see, I like to REMEMBER the past because those were BETTER times than now. I mean, I’D rather live in the PAST than today, wouldn’t you? I mean, NOTHING’S ever certain anymore. Nothing’s ever PREDICTABLE like it USED to be. These days … y-you just NEVER know who’s going to die … and who’s going to LIVE.”
I’ve mentioned my tiny problems with the series here and there already. So let’s focus on the positive first. The Crisis was a great story with some serious scope to it and very exciting battles. It was a great showcase for everyone and had fun character interactions. The dialogue was good for the most part (though a bit dry in others) and the art was fantastic.
My major problem is that I think the story should have been a bit better planned. After the Crisis, there was an issue of ALL-STAR SQUADRON in which an android named Mekanique was apparently holding back the effects of the Crisis. When she finally let go, reality made its final adjustments and memories were altered so that even the heroes who were there at the dawn of time no longer remembered how the universe used to be.
This explained some anomalies between the last issue of the Crisis and what became Post-Crisis continuity. For instance, after the rebirth of the unified universe, Lex Luthor is shown to be in prison and without any changes to his history apparently, but months later his Post-Crisis self was introduced as a business man villain who hadn’t spent a single day in prison. The Earth-2 Wonder Woman was never seen again, which means that apparently she didn’t just go to Olympus as we saw in CRISIS #12. That scene where Lyla says that the Earth-2 Robin and Earth-2 Huntress would not be forgotten? They were. At the end of the Crisis, we saw Superman walking to his Fortress of Solitude on the last few pages, but in the Post-Crisis continuity it would be determined that that version of the Fortress never existed. Lori Lemaris was killed in front of readers and was laid to rest in the last issue, but a few years later in the Superman comics it was revealed she was alive and well.
All of these minor anomalies could be blamed on Mechanique. But there was still the process of poor planning. Such as the fact that, after the Crisis, Wonder Woman was rebooted as a new hero who’d never been an active hero before. Sadly, Donna Troy was still said to have been a founding member of the Teen Titans years earlier. So now, Wonder Girl PRECEEDED Wonder Woman. Also, Post-Crisis, Superman started his career as an adult and was never Superboy. But this meant that parts of the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes had to be changed, because they had had many team-ups with Superboy (a new alternate universe Superboy was created to explain this, but that’s another story).
I’m not putting this all at Wolfman’s feet. He’s a fine writer and did a great job. I just think that DC should have given him more time and that the editors and writers should have all determined beforehand just whose history was going to be re-written in what way. That way, issue #11 could have REALLY been an introduction to the Post-Crisis universe. Instead, it shows us a unified Earth that, while cool, is NOT what we see in the months afterwards.
And this doesn’t even take into account that Superman had a good run of Post-Crisis (and one of them actually HAD the label “Post-Crisis” on the cover) stories for about EIGHT MONTHS before John Byrne rebooted the character and his personal universe. On the flip-side, Superman at least had a wonderful two-issue “good-bye story” that tied up all the loose ends of his Pre-Crisis/Earth-1 self and gave the character a happy ending before we met his next incarnation.
Also, about a year or so after the Crisis was over, Wolfman and Perez put out the two-book HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE, narrated by Harbinger as it marked the completion of her work on the Monitor Tapes. It was exactly what it said, a chronological rundown of the history of the DC universe, showing how the unified Earth worked, what heroes appeared when, etc. Minor problem: by two years later, a lot of it was rendered out of continuity. Captain Atom was depicted as he had been for years in the HISTORY pages, but when he was later reintroduced into Post-Crisis continuity he had a totally different look, was a new hero rather than one with years of history, and had a different origin. Aquaman was depicted with his Silver Age origin, but a couple of years after the HISTORY was published, Keith Giffen changed the circumstances of his birth and that new story became cannon, etc. Again, not Wolfman’s fault. And to be fair, DC didn’t even know that so many writers would want to reboot in the next few years. I mean, who could have foreseen the HAWKMAN fiasco that would happen five years later?
This, added with my earlier complaints that scenes with Blue Devil should have been put aside so that we could see what the Green Lantern Corps was up to (they’ve had more experience with the anti-matter universe than anyone else, why wasn’t at least ONE GL sent with Harbinger’s strike force at the end?), and the fact that plot points seemed to change as the issues went on (Harbinger tells the assembled heroes on the satellite that the Monitor never said the name of his enemy, but two issues later knows his entire origin and his name), keeps this from becoming as mind-blowing as it could have been. Also, the story depended on a pretty decent knowledge of not only many of the characters but the histories of the different Earths, which made this crossover confusing for readers who maybe followed only one or two comic characters regularly.
Wolfman’s novelization is an excellent read and far more new-reader-friendly than the original comic series. Also, with the benefit of hindsight and knowing what storylines came later, Wolfman was able to add quite a lot into the story, which is made all the more interesting since the entire thing is told from Barry Allen’s point of view.
Perhaps the biggest complaint from readers concerned Supergirl. She wasn’t that popular beforehand. She was liked, but wasn’t that popular. A girl version of Superman who wore a headband and had an origin that stretched credibility even in a universe of time travel and alien tech. But most people agreed that her final battle and her death scene were sights to behold and many have contended it was actually more dramatic and emotional than Barry Allen’s sacrifice in the next issue. Yet while Barry is still remembered as the martyr of the Crisis, since Kara was taken out of continuity, none of the heroes remember her heroic sacrifice. Hell, DOVE’s death is remembered, but not Supergirl’s. And that’s tragic. I understand DC’s decision that Superman was to now be the only Kryptonian in Post-Crisis continuity, but couldn’t you have said he’s the only Kryptonian NOW because the only other survivor, Kara, DIED during the Crisis? Wouldn’t that have added a lot more resonance to the Post-Crisis Superman, the fact that once he’d at least had a family member to share his loneliness with but later, because of the Anti-Monitor, he was left as the sole survivor of his whole world? Just my two cents.
But please, understand that these criticisms are in no way meant to say that this was a bad series or a bad story. It wasn’t and still isn’t. Entire universes were destroyed and many characters were killed. I’ve yet to find the comic crossover that matches the sheer scale and power of this one. Perhaps one day a writer will spit-polish the story and give us a Post-Crisis version of the events of the Crisis (I have my own version how that would be, which I may share someday if I have enough drinks in me).
WOLFMAN’S IDEAS THAT NEVER MADE IT
Originally, Wolfman didn’t mean to necessarily kill Barry Allen, so he left an out for the character. Those time warps happening when Barry was running his last race? Wolfman put them there so they could do another Flash series later if they wanted, showing Barry having gone through one of those warps. Whereas before he might have seemed a stiff, too-good character, now he’d be a man living on borrowed time, desperate to do as much good as he could because at any given moment he knew he could be warped back in time and forced to finish his race to save everything in reality.
Another thing, Wolfman’s original ending was that NO ONE WOULD REMEMBER THE CRISIS AT ALL. Instead, after the destruction of the multiverse in issue 10, issues 11 and 12 would be an intro to the new reality (much like what Wolfman later did with the HISTORY OF THE DCU books) and that the next month ALL DC titles would start from scratch with issue number 1. If you’re readers of Ultimate Marvel, you can imagine that all of Marvel’s titles would be dropped and then the next month starting with Ultimate Spider-Man #1 they’d recreate it all from scratch.
Not a bad idea, and it certainly would have saved people from as many continuity hiccups that happened later due to the fact that some books were restarted from ground zero and some weren’t. Ah, well.
POST-CRISIS VERSION OF THE CRISIS
Due to some time travel adventures, it’s been revealed that Barry actually knew that he would somehow die during the Crisis and that he was all right with that, knowing he’d run a good race and knowing that Wally would take over for him.
In his series JLA: INCARNATIONS, John Ostrander finally tried to give a definitive answer on “how do the heroes remember the Crisis?” The issue didn’t cover the ENTIRE Crisis, but gave a new version of when Harbinger, Alex and Pariah called up everyone to the satellite and first explained what was going on. In this retcon, Harbinger explained to the heroes (who were now all from the same Earth and always had been) that the Anti-Monitor was using anti-matter in different points of time to compress their single positive matter universe into one small span of time and then destroy that small span with his anti-matter cannon, at which point he’d absorb the energies of the now-dead reality. The tuning fork towers were meant to protect the most sensitive time-zones.
The same issue recapped Barry Allen’s death, adding that the Anti-Monitor had used Barry’s speed energies to help power his cannon. The story also showed that in his last moments, Barry realized what Wally West had discovered long after the Crisis; that speedsters were connected by an extra-dimensional Speed Force.
In his novelization of the Crisis, Wolfman took this idea of Barry discovering the Speed Force in his last moments and ran with it (couldn’t resist the pun). The novel retells the Crisis from Barry’s point of view. Basically, since he was shifting through time, Wolfman has Barry witness nearly the entire Crisis unfold (thought not exactly linearly) and delivers a very nice and touching take on the whole thing. One thing he added was that Barry was there, literally in spirit, when Kal-L was about to deliver the final blow on the Anti-Monitor and that he was able to grant the Earth-2 hero extra power gathered from the Speed Force itself. It also had him discover that Iris would indeed survive the Crisis and he even saw that he’d have a grandson named Bart.
For years, readers constantly snickered about the fact that Wally West had gotten his powers by suffering the exact same accident his mentor had. During his run, Mark Waid implied that Barry himself was somehow responsible for this. Later, Ostrander strongly implied that at the moment of his death, Barry had reached back in time and granted his powers to Wally. In the novel, Wolfman confirms it. When Barry is running and peering into the past, he reachs out to the image of a young Wally West moments before the boy gained his powers. This causes his Speed Force energies to enter into the past and become the lightning bolt that hits Wally, giving him his powers as Kid Flash. Thus, Barry actually ensured his own sidekick years before through time travel.
The whole book is a great read, so really, just throw down the twenty bucks and pick it up.
THE LIST OF THE DEAD
What’s the Crisis most known for, other than restructuring the universe? The body count! So here it is! This list, by the way, does not include the countless billions upon billions that were killed simply by living on the wrong planets in the other universes. This is in alphabetical order.
- Angle Man (later reintroduced in continuity; as far as history is concerned, he wasn’t even around during the Crisis and therefore wasn’t killed)
- The Anti-Monitor
- Aquagirl I (Tula)
- The Bug-Eyed Bandit I
- Clayface II (Matt Hagen)
- The Crime Syndicate of Earth-3: Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick II, and Power Ring (new versions of them were introduced in Grant Morrison’s wonderful JLA: EARTH 2 story, so their deaths in the Crisis, like Angle Man’s, don’t really “count” anymore)
- Dove I (Don Hall) (a later story said that he was actually killed by falling debris while saving a child during the Crisis, rather than being slaughtered by a shadow demon).
- Farmer Boy of Easy Company (this death may or may not still be in continuity; it’s debated whether or not history now says Farmer Boy simply died during or soon after WW II)
- Flash II (Barry Allen)
- Green Arrow of Earth-2 (history says he never existed)
- Huntress of Earth-2 (history says she never existed)
- Icicle I
- The Immortal Man (turns out Harbinger was wrong about this one, cuz he turned up alive many years later, big surprise, in the comic series RESURRECTION MAN)
- The Lt. Marvels: Fat Marvel, Tall Marvel and Hillbilly Marvel (like I said, it’s debated whether or not they were actually killed during the Crisis, but either way, they were wiped from continuity afterwards)
- Alexei Luthor of Earth-2
- Alex Luthor of Earth-3
- Lois Lane-Luthor of Earth-3
- Lori Lemaris (death was later retconned; history says she was only injured during the Crisis, though Superman did believe her to have been killed for some time)
- Lord Volt of Earth-6
- The Losers: Johnny Cloud, Gunner, Sarge and Captain Storm (right after the Crisis, a comic came out showing that, with time and space reordered, the Losers actually died in the last daysof WW II; yet Gunner appeared again as a living cyborg later in CREATURE COMMANDOS, so it’s possible the other Losers survived the war as well, in some form or other)
- Maaldor the Darklord (later seen alive; apparently, he was only injured by Krona’s blast)
- Mirror Master I (Sam Scudder)
- The Monitor
- Nighthawk I (in recent issues of HAWKMAN, it’s been said that he died later on in life when he was shot, not as a result of the anti-matter wave)
- Prince Ra-Man
- Princess Fern of Earth-6
- Psimon (shown alive and well after the Crisis; it was later said he was only seriously injured, not killed; which is okay, I guess, as he is a fun villain, but DAMMIT his execution was cool!)
- Robin of Earth-2 (history says he never existed)
- Shaggy Man (this was the second Shaggy Man apparently, since the original was later found again during Grant Morrison’s JLA run)
- Starman (Prince Gavyn) (though his body died, it was later revealed that his soul may or may not have bonded with Will Payton, turning him into the new Starman).
- Supergirl (Kara Zor-El of Earth-1) (history says this version of Supergirl never existed)
- The Ten-Eyed Man (still very much dead. Who thought of this villain anyway? He sees through his fingers? What the Hell kind of advantage is that, especially when you try to take Batman in a fight?!)
So that’s 19 deaths that DEFINITELY happened (including Alex and Lois Lane-Luthor of Earth-3 because they have to have existed in order for Alexander to be part of the Crisis). Everyone else either may or may not have died in that way (Farmer Boy, the Losers), has come back from the dead in some way (Lori Lemaris, Psimon, Immortal Man, Prince Gavyn, sort of), or continuity claims that they were never killed or never existed. Still, a healthy body count.
If you’re curious, why not click on this link and answer the question WHERE ARE THEY NOW???
Alan Kistler is a New Yorker in his mid-twenties who has been labeled a “continuity cop” and “comic book historian” in articles of Wikipedia.org and by several of his readers. He enjoys both those titles very much and loves the opportunity of writing these articles for Monitor Duty, run by the ever-patient Michael Hutchison. His fan-fiction blog can be found HERE. He would love to write for DC and Marvel some day. He also wants to time travel.
Other articles by Alan Kistler, including various other Profiles posted on Monitor Duty, can be found HERE.