Alan Kistler’s Guide to THE CRISIS – Phases 1-6

Okay, folks, here it is. An issue by issue summary of THE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, including a synopsis of the later writtten “Lost Chapter.” Let’s begin.

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This is continued from my CRISIS intro.

THE CRISIS — Phase 1: “The Summoning!”

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For anyone who didn’t know that DC Comics had been, for a while now, composed of many universes, there was a quick one-page recap. There was darkness and then essentially the big bang happened and “a multiverse was born.” Different worlds replicating, existing on different vibrational frequencies. But it added the words “a multiverse that should have been one, became many.” Readers now understood that there weren’t SUPPOSED to have been so many versions of Earth. An important theme that would later come full circle in this story.

We then see a version of Earth that seems to have no heroes. A white wall of anti-matter is consuming it. And watching this is a figure cloaked in green with purple hair and black eyes. He’s called Pariah and he weeps as he watches this version of Earth die in front of him, unable to save anyone. He screams that he wants to die too, that he has paid enough for his “sins”, but against his will he feels himself being teleported away before the wall of white can reach him. He knows that he’s leaving because somewhere else yet ANOTHER universe is also about to die. He moans “and I must attend as I have the hundreds that have died before it.”

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Our next stop is Earth-3. Most of the universe is already gone now and the anti-matter wall is making its ways towards this version of Earth now. The Crime Syndicate, villains who refuse to die and have their playground taken away, do what they can to fight and contain the many natural disasters that are happening, not realizing these are merely symptoms of a larger problem. The villains Johnny Quick and Owlman lament that they can’t win this fight. The heroic Alex Luthor watches as Superwoman is destroyed by anti-matter. Quickly, he retreats to his home where his wife Lois holds their infant son Alexander. Luthor takes the child and places him in a prototype ship that can traverse universes and is keyed to journey to Earth-1. As he places the child in the ship, he parallels Jor-El of Krypton as he says, “We will die, but our son will survive.”

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Owlman and Johnny Quick die as Power Ring and Ultraman find Pariah. Pariah simply tells them, “Mine is not the hand which slays worlds. I can do nothing more than CRY.”

Ultraman decides he’s had enough and marches towards the wall. Power Ring asks what he’s doing. Ultraman turns and gives a Superman smile as he says “What I have done all my life. I fight to the very end!” He then flies into the wall headfirst and is destroyed in moments.

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As Alexander escapes in his rocket, Earth-3 and its whole universe dies. The ship is touched by both matter and anti-matter energies. Alexander’s ship lands on the Justice League satellite base, just as his father had intended, hoping the JLA would take care of him. But no one is there to greet the boy, since the base was abandoned months beforehand when the JLA disbanded and then has now reformed in Detroit.

Elsewhere, on his own satellite base, the Monitor tells Lyla it’s time to summon those he needs. The 20-year-old girl says, “I still fail to understand. Why not BOTH Supermans and Wonder Womans? Why not the most POWERFUL of those we’ve observed?”

The Monitor responds “I have analyzed all those with power — in the past, present and future … and our greatest hope lies with both so-called heroes and villains fighting alongside each other. Yet, another alternative has been made available … one I could not have expected.” The Monitor then tells Lyla to energize and she does so, splitting herself into several replicates of herself, several armored Harbingers who travel through time and space.

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With her gone, the Monitor decides, like countless super-villains in the past, to talk to himself for its own sake. “As her mission begins … so does mine. For months I’ve observed the multiverse and the many planet Earths. But now, when all is ready, doubts begin to form. I see my own death as well as the death of worlds. Ahhh, the future comes as it will. I can only help prepare the many pathways it may take. The Luthor child … I need him now.”

Meanwhile, the team is gathered. From Gorilla City on Earth-1 comes King Solovar, an intelligent speaking gorilla and frequent ally of Barry Allen. From Earth-1’s distant past, in a time before the continent of Atlantis sank beneath the waves and its people became into water-breathers, comes the Atlantean sorcerer Arion. Lord of Atlantis, Arion is a very powerful mage, especially because Atlantis is the focal point of much of Earth’s magic. While recruiting Arion, that particular replicate of Harbinger is attacked and infected by a creature that looks like a living shadow. Keep that in mind, kiddies, because when the different Harbinger replicates re-merge into a single entity, the infection of this single replicate will affect the whole person.

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Also from Earth-1 come the heroes John Stewart (recently made a Green Lantern since Hal Jordan retired), Geo-Force (Earth-powered member of the Outsiders), Cyborg (member of the Teen Titans) and Firestorm (able to control/alter matter). The Earth-1 super-villains include Psycho-Pirate (with his emotion-controlling Medusa Mask), Killer Frost (ice powered villain temporarily hypnotized into thinking she’s in love with Firestorm), Dr. Polaris (magnetically powered psycho) and Psimon (telepathic leader of the Fearsome Five). From Earth-1’s 30th century comes Dawnstar, a winged member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. From Earth-4 comes Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle.

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Geo-Force

From 1942 Earth-2 comes the female fire-wielder called Firebrand. From present day Earth-2 there’s the hero Obsidian (shadow-powers, son of Alan Scott, member of Infinity, Inc.) and the Golden Age Superman (Kal-L), who fought in World War II, can brush off an atomic bomb blast, and on his Earth is a hero who’s been kicking around for decades, is editor of the Daily Star Newspaper, is married to his Earth’s Lois Lane, and is even a bit more of the fatherly/boy scout than our own Kal-El.

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When Harbinger comes for him, Roger Hayden AKA the Psycho-Pirate claims that he can’t control what absorbing other people’s emotions does to his mind and that she should get the original Psycho-Pirate, a man named Halstead. Harbinger says she needs Hayden because Halstead is dead, but this is curious since she’s been time-traveling to pick up Arion and Firebrand II. Why can’t she just go back and get Halstead?

The Monitor sees all this and muses to himself. He thinks of Harbinger, saying “When I found you a half-dead child floating lost at sea … when I saved you, nurtured you to grow into womanhood these past twenty years, when I came to love you like the daughter I never had and never could … little did either of us know that one day you would be my killer! I fear for you, Lyla. My life may be forfeit — but you, my dear … you hold in your hands the fate of the cosmos itself.”

The gathered heroes and villains chit-chat in the Monitor’s satellite for a bit before suddenly being attacked by many shadow demons. A big brawl ensues before the Monitor slams on some high-powered lights and the demons scatter. Interestingly enough, the demons seem to resemble the Monitor’s own silhouette.

The Monitor then informs those he’s summoned that their worlds could all die very soon and so the CRISIS starts with a bang.

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CRISIS — Phase 2: “Time And Time Again!”

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We open up with Anthro, a character featured in DC stories as “the first Cro-Magnon” born to Neanderthals. Anthro gets weirded out when a time/space ripple lets him see a Metropolis of the 30th century, which he describes as a strange village. The fact that a Cro-Magnon would be able to recognize a city thousands of years in the future as anything close to a village is rather impressive to me, but whatever.

In Gotham City, Batman tackles with the Joker yet again. At one point, the Joker has the drop on our hero when suddenly there’s another time/space ripple. The Joker freaks as he sees an image of the Flash appear before them. Thinking the Flash has joined the battle, he leaves. Batman is confused, thinking about how it’s been a month since anyone’s seen Barry. Barry warns Batman that everything’s going to die and then seems to disintegrate before his eyes. Not realizing this is an echo of the future, Batman worries about what’s happened to his friend.

The heroes and villains gathered on the Monitor’s satellite argue about whether or not to trust him or what they should do. Eventually, they agree and go along with the Monitor’s plan. The Monitor explains that there’s an anti-matter wall coming that will disrupt their universes and destroy them. He’s built several large towers that act as cosmic tuning forks and will maintain the universes. He sends out the heroes and villains in teams to protect each tower from shadow demons who serve the will of the villain responsible for the anti-matter wall.

On Oa, homeworld and base of the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe contemplate what they can do about the oncoming crisis. A voice speaks to them through the Central Battery, the main power source of all Green Lantern rings in the universe. “What began with you so many centuries ago — ends with you now!!” Suddenly, a blast from the battery knocks all the Guardians down.

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Back on Earth-1, Superman is confused by various natural disasters springing up in the oddest places. He finds Batman, who tells him that he saw an “image” of the Flash. Pariah suddenly appears and Batman and Superman look at him in surprise as the man cries out that their world will die soon. Before they can ask him anything more, Pariah vanishes again.

In the far future, one of the Monitor’s towers is discovered by Kamandi, DC Comics’ “Last Boy On Earth.” Kamandi winds up teaming up with one of the Monitor’s teams as they all defend the tower from shadow demons. This team is composed of Solovar, Dawnstar and the Earth-2 Superman.

In ancient Atlantis (back before it sank), another tower has appeared. The team that arrives to guard this one is Arion, Obsidian and the Psycho-Pirate. Pariah shows up and immediately the Psycho Pirate uses his emotion controlling powers on him for fun.

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Arion stops the Pirate, but it’s too late. Absorbing Pariah’s emotions has given him a power boost and he goes rogue. Suddenly, an unseen hand teleports him away. Within a dark lair of some sort, the Psycho-Pirate is approached by a figure with a voice “like ice.” This figure, the secret villain behind it all, forces the Psycho-Pirate to swear allegiance to him, displaying fantastic powers as he does so.

Back in ancient Atlantis, Pariah explains that he is “Not from this Earth, but another. The first that fell when this insanity began. But long after I was cursed for an evil act I had committed. A deed I have paid for a thousand times over and must suffer still a thousand times over.”

Watching from afar, the Monitor is concerned. He needed the Pirate’s unique powers for a part of his plan later. Lyla suggests the mystical Teen Titan known as Raven, but the Monitor can’t find her on his screens at the moment. With no one capable of controlling emotions, plan B has to be set into motion which means switching focus onto a new player. The villain Dr. Light has been out of the spotlight for a while. Now, the Monitor intends to create a NEW Dr. Light.

As ancient Atlantis begins to be consumed by the anti-matter wall (which apparently moves through time as well as space), the Monitor remarks that his enemy is moving faster than he’d anticipated.

Elsewhere, the secret villain watches the same scene in Atlantis, with Lyla now standing at his side. He boasts to Lyla that each universe’s death makes him stronger than his “brother.”

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Back on his satellite, the Monitor muses to himself that only through Lyla and the Earth-3 boy Alexander Luthor can they save everyone.

CRISIS — Phase 3: “Oblivion Upon Us!”

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On his satellite, the Monitor is examining Alexander Luthor, the child of Alex and Lois Luthor from Eath-3. Remarkably, the child has aged from infancy to adolescence in just days. As the Monitor runs tests on the boy, he sees that somehow Alexander possesses both positive matter and anti-matter within him, possibly as a result of hurtling through the vibrational gap that separates universes. As he realizes the boy is a bridge between the positive matter universes and the anti-matter universe, the Montor sadly says, “My heart cries for you, child — For an innocent must be corrupted that a universe may life.”

Harbinger flies off and returns to the secret villain. The villain already knows the news Harbinger wishes to share, saying also “I know all as soon as the Monitor himself thinks it.” He then tells Harbinger to kill Alexander. As Harbinger leaves, the Psycho-Pirate says that her mind is a mass of contradictory emotions and offers to instill blind loyalty or love into her. The villain says “Harbinger will do as I require. Before long, she will slay the Monitor.”

In the 30th century of Earth-1, Barry Allen has been living in peaceful bliss with his wife Iris for a full month now. But bizarre natural disasters are occurring. The sky is red. The world itself seems to be coming apart, and so Barry dons his old costume and is racing through the streets, helping where he can. He then looks in shock as he sees the anti-matter wall coming for him. Using his vibrational abilities, he sends himself back to present-day Earth-1 to get help.

On present day Earth-1, the anti-matter wall is appearing in the middle of New York City. The Teen Titans and the Outsiders both show up to try and evacuate as many people as they can while also seeing if they can somehow stop the wall’s slow but unending approach. Superman and Batman show up. The alien Teen Titan called Starfire (warrior princess with devastating power blasts) is trying to force the wall back. Superman flies up to her, saying she’s having no effect, but the passionate woman cries out that she’s already lost one home when her own planet Tamaran was conquered.

“You CAN’T understand,” she says. “I won’t let this planet die!” Superman answers, “Believe me, Starfire. I understand all too well!”

Batman then looks up in shock as he sees the Flash again. But this time, he realizes it’s not just an image, it actually IS Barry. The Flash cries out “Something’s happening in the future … Everything’s unraveling.” Batman tells Barry to calm down, that they have to speak, but the Flash winces in pain, his body glowing. “What’s happening to me?” Batman reaches out to help his friend, but the Teen Titan named Jericho senses danger and tackles Batman to the ground. Barry then begins screaming as his body seems to contort and then vanishes completely.

“Oh my God — My GOD! … I tried WARNING you … HELP ME … HEL-”

The heroes are stunned. Was Flash captured or was he just killed in front of their eyes?

Far beyond Earth’s solar system, the living android villain Brainiac, arch-enemy of Superman, sits in his headship. He contemplates the anti-matter wall as he watches it consume a sector of space. He realizes the destructive potential of the wall and decides “To save myself is my prime directive. But to do that, I must also save the universe. I need assistance — on Earth! Only the one who calls himself Luthor can help me now.”

Back on Earth-1, in the year 1944, another of the Monitor’s towers appears in the nation of Markovia (home to the Outsider named Geo-Force and the dead Titan called Terra). A battle is happening between allied forces and the Nazis. Involved in the fight is J.E.B. Stuart and his Haunted tank, the O.S.S. task force known as the Losers, and the most famous war heroes of DC Comics, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company.

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Acting for the Monitor, Blue Beetle, Geo-Force and Doctor Polaris arrive, just in time to defend the tower from shadow demons. The battle doesn’t go well and the shadow demons attack and kill all four Losers. They are, as depicted below in clockwise order from the top left: Captain Storm, Johnny “Navajo Ace” Cloud, Sarge and Gunner.
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As if the four of them weren’t enough, one of the shadow demons then attacks and kills Farmer Boy of Easy Company (though he is called “Flower” for some reason in the comic).

During the fight, the Blue Beetle is touched by a shadow demon. But instead of killing him, it merely burns him and then explodes. The first Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, had possessed a blue mystic scarab that had given him powers. When he died, he gave it to Ted, who was going to carry on the mantle (though Ted never knew how to use the scarab to give himself powers). Apparently, the scarab is protecting Ted now, though he doesn’t mean to test its limits.

Watching from afar, the Monitor says he was hoping Ted Kord could wield Garrett’s scarab and use its full potential. Deciding that Kord is useless if he can’t do this, he immediately teleports the Blue Beetle back home.

In the far future, Kamandi, Northstar and the Earth-2 Superman all attend King Solovar, who is mortally wounded.

On Earth-1 in the year 1879, another tower appears. The masked vigilante Nighthawk and his friend Ke-Who-No-Tay (known as Matt Savage or “Scalphunter” to the white man) find it and are suspicious of the machine that no animals will approach. They telegram friends to join them for help and advice, including: the gunslinger Johnny Thunder (not to be confused with the JSA member who controls a genie), renowned poker player Bat Lash, and the scarred gunman Jonah Hex, DC’s most famous Western hero of all time (and who’s been implied to be a possible ancestor of Batman’s).

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Jonah Hex

As these DC Western heroes discuss what to do with this machine, Nighthawk goes outside for weapons and then another of the Monitor’s teams arrives. Cyborg, John Stewart, Firebrand and Psimon quickly introduce themselves. Jonah Hex and Bat Lash vouch for the Green Lantern, having met Hal Jordan and other JLA members during a time travel adventure not too long before. The team doesn’t have much time to explain themselves before a group of shadow demons attack. John Stewart panics when his ring doesn’t seem to have any effect against the creatures.

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Johnny Thunder and the man called Nighthawk

Outside, Nighthawk panics as the skies go red and suddenly the anti-matter wall begins forming on the horizon. He takes off on his horse towards a nearby town that’s directly in the path of the wall, hoping to save what people he can. As he rides, he says, “It’s gotta be that metal machine’s fault! Never did trust mechanical things!” This statement is either supposed to be sarcastically ironic or simply bad editing, since Nighthawk was known to be quite the handyman in his own adventures with a great love of mechanics. Either way, he can only look in horror as the wall devours people in front of him and then takes him as well.

In the 30th century, the Legion of Super-Heroes are trying to help people evacuate Earth as the anti-matter wall consumes the planet. Element Lad watches in horror as Kid Psycho is consumed by the wall.

On his satellite, the Monitor sees these events and says “He’s moved quicker than I expected. Instead of days, only HOURS remain! The earths are doomed! Still, my machines are in place, my agents are at their posts — it is time for my plan to begin.”

But watching the Monitor on a viewscreen elsewhere, Harbinger energizes her hands and says “Wrong, old fool. It is time for you to die!”

Quick comment here. A few times in the story, it seems as if ideas were changed down the line. Pariah says his Earth died long after he did a horrible thing, but we later find out the two events happened simultaneously. Secondly, at the end of this issue, we know that Lyla is watching the Monitor on a viewscreen because the panels featuring him are curved, indicating a screen. But if you look, the Monitor is obviously looking up in reaction to Lyla’s words. And if you ignore the way the panels are drawn, it seems like a very direct page layout in which Lyla has just walked into the same room and is telling the Monitor he’s about to die. I think that she was actually supposed to kill him in the beginning of the next chapter initially, but that this was changed to happen later in the story for whatever reason, so Perez quickly curved the panels around the Monitor so they could say Harbinger was just watching a view screen of him. While this is a fun story, one of the failings of the Crisis is little things like this (and the fact that Solovar’s name is mispelled several times) that showed it wasn’t as planned out as perhaps it should have been, considering the scope of the story and all.

Still, Wolfman and Perez do a good job. Nothing but love for each of them.

CRISIS — Phase 4: “Death of the Monitor!”

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Well THERE’S a title that doesn’t give anything away, huh?

ANYWAY, a lot of random stuff happened this chapter. In Japan, solar scientist Kimiyo Hoshi is granted power by the Monitor, who also dons her in a female version of the costume worn by the villain Dr. Light. As the new Dr. Light, Hoshi is sent to the Monitor’s vibrational tuning fork tower in New York, where she meets several heroes and demands to know just what the Hell they think they’re doing trying to wreack the tower. Katana and Superman translate and Dr. Light II tells them all that this tower is not the cause of the red skies, natural distasters or the shadow demons and that it must be protected. Meanwhile, all over Earth-1 and Earth-2, heroes are trying to save lives.

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On Earth-1, Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl is having a crisis of faith (pardon the pun). Supergirl, Kal-El’s cousin Kara Zor-El and a good friend of Barbara’s, lands by her and they have a heart-to-heart. Their conversation foreshadows Kara’s fate in issue #7 and Barbara’s retirement from super-heroics following the end of the Crisis.

In his mansion, Steve Dayton (a billionaire who’s also the occasional super-hero called Mento), discusses the Crisis with self-described “blue collar sorcerer” John Constantine. Constantine actually has a pretty good understanding about what’s causing the Crisis and what’s going to need to happen to fix things. His conversation with Mento will lead into the Swamp Thing storyline “A Murder of Crows”, which I’ll talk about a bit later.

It’s said during this issue that only FOUR universes remain, but starting next issue we find out that actually FIVE remain. This is because DC didn’t decide to save Earth-4, the home of the Charlton heroes, until later.

Scattered throughout time, the Monitor’s teams try to protect his other vibrational fork towers. On Earth-6, a place we readers have never seen before, Pariah watches as the anti-matter wall consumes the planet. Here, the only super-heroes are part of a royal family that rules this Earth. Namely the family of Lord Volt, Lady Quark and Princess Fern. Lady Quark sees her family and planet die. Pariah grabs her, trying to console her, and inexplicably is somehow able to take her with him as he’s drawn away from this universe moments before it dies. Thus, Lady Quark becomes the sole survivor of Earth-6.

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Lady Quark

From Earth-1, the android hero Red Tornado, former member of the JLA, is captured by the Anti-Monitor, who has also captured the Flash.

Pariah finds himself teleported onto the Monitor’s satellite (what happened to Lady Quark, did she get dropped off somewhere?). The Monitor mentions that he’s responsible for keeping Pariah alive, making him immortal so that he would always survive the destruction of each universe. Pariah demands to know why he was cursed in such a way, but the Monitor assures him he has a purpose to play later on.

Harbinger enters the room and the Monitor doesn’t resist as she fires an energy blast, killing him on the spot. The anti-matter walls seem to consume Earths 1 and 2 and as Pariah weeps (he does that a lot, doesn’t he?), it looks like everyone just died!

CRISIS — Phase 4.5

The Lost Chapter – Featured in LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE SPECIAL: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.

Over a decade later, Marv Wolfman and George Perez created a “untold chapter” issue that was supposed to take place between Crisis issue #4 and #5. It’s not a bad story, but it doesn’t exactly fit into the timeline of things. The one interesting thing here is that we have a scene where Barry comes to the belief that since he’s been gone from the 30th century for too long now, he’s likely too late to stop the anti-matter wall from devouring that future version of Earth-1 and that must mean his wife Iris is dead. Another interesting thing is that Barry finds himself on the never-before-seen Earth-D. Presumably the “D” stands for “diversity”, because all the versions of the DC heroes here are of different ethnicities and nationalities. The Superman and Supergirl of Earth-D are black, the Earth-D Flash is Asian, Green Arrow is Native American, Green Lantern is Brazilian, etc. It has been said by some that Wolfman thought the DC Universe should have been made to be more ethnically diverse after the Crisis rebooted everything, so Earth-D makes sense (although the alternate Flash and Superman costumes are just silly-looking, sorry).

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Another interesting thing is that the Flash of Earth-D, Tanaka Rei, has been reading Barry’s adventures in comic books just as Barry read Jay’s adventures. Tanaka comments how Barry’s stories got darker towards the end and no one seemed to have fun anymore. This seems to be both a comment on Barry’s year-long trial before his series ended and also on how comics in general seemed to darken after the time of the Crisis. To emphasize the innocence of Earth-D, all the Earth-D inhabitants have very bubbly, cute-looking speech balloons and it’s mentioned later that none of their heroes have ever died before (which means, by extension, that their villains are probably less violent and malicious as well).

Barry tries to help Earth-D and Pariah shows up. For whatever reason, Pariah actually has pretty good control of his powers in this chapter and is able to direct them enough to bring a team of Earth-1 heroes to Earth-D. This just makes the lost chapter a little harder to get into, since throughout the rest of the Crisis Pariah seems more the passenger than the driver. The Earth-1 heroes can’t help however and Earth-D dies.

Not a bad story, it just doesn’t fit.

CRISIS — Phase 5: “Worlds in Limbo!”

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The secret villain behind the Crisis is confused. The “first two prime universes” of Earth-1 and Earth-2 have seemingly been destroyed, but he doesn’t feel any stronger. Nor did he feel himself absorb any energy from the Monitor’s death. Where did all that energy go? Before he can figure out an answer, the Psycho-Pirate asks about the planet he was promised and then demands to know why the Flash and the android Red Tornado were taken captive.

“The Flash is the only being capable of traversing dimensions unaided … I could not allow him to be free … Red Tornado has powers which will allow me to control my new universe. He will be reshaped as my tool!”

Back on the Monitor’s satellite, which now rests in a white void, Pariah weeps over the Monitor’s body. “Everything is gone, except us … except me.” Lyla regains her senses and is shocked by what she’s done. A recording then activates and both Lyla and Pariah look up in surprise as the Monitor’s image appears.

The recording speaks, “Lyla … do not grieve over what you have done … I was aware of your possession. I knew what was to occur. You had no choice but to slay me, Lyla, but by doing so you fulfilled my last request … My machines were not ready … my power source not yet complete … Killing me, Lyla, released all my energy. Energy which would do more than just power the vibrational forks … Out of my very being was created a netherverse … one which has temporarily absorbed your two universes … But, in my haste … all time has become one … because my vibrational forks were not fully attuned … the universes are merging … they will destroy each other!”

As Lyla absorbs this news, Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 walks in, now looking to be in his late teens and wearing golden armor. The Monitor gave him instructions and it’s time to act.

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The secret villain understands what’s happened now. To quiet the prattling Psycho-Pirate, he tells him to amuse himself torturing the Flash as he moves on with his own plans.

Earth-1 and Earth-2 are merging, causing time fluxes all over. Dinosaurs appear in Metropolis and World War I planes find themselves flying alongside 30th century short-range space-crafts. As Earth’s heroes try to figure out what’s going on, they’re all suddenly teleported onto the Monitor’s satellite.

Lyla, Pariah and Alexander Luthor look down at the crowd gathered. It is an assembly of pretty much every super-hero of Earths 1 and 2, not to mention other-dimensional heroes such as Princess Amethyst and Travis Morgan the Warlord, and magic-inclined folk like the Phantom Stranger, Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Several villains are there as well, along with time-lost people such as several Western heroes (Scalphunter, Bat Lash, etc.), war heroes (Sgt. Rock and Easy Company), the Legion of Super-Heroes and Kamandi.

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Alexander Luthor and Harbinger explain that a secret enemy has been destroying all positive matter universes. They don’t know who the enemy is, only what the Monitor’s plan was to combat him. Alexander says, “To escape the enemy’s anti-matter attack, the Monitor began the process of MERGING the universes into ONE … as it was INTENDED to be, but somehow, at the dawn of time, we were split into an infinite number of universes. To save all life, we must RETURN to being ONE UNIVERSE again!”

Those who are gathered aren’t sure what to make of such claims, so Alexander tells them to return to the merging Earths below and see the danger for themselves if they don’t act quickly. Superman of Earth-2 swears that if there’s a way to save everything, he’ll help.

Elsewhere, a space-ship full of several Green Lanterns (including Tomar Re, Arisia, Katma Tui, Ch’p and others) arrives on Oa only to find that the Guardians of the Universe are trapped in some sort of stasis beam in front of the Central Battery. There’s a flash of green light and those GLs present are knocked out cold.

Time and space are going nuts. There are cavemen in the Batcave and dinosaurs in Russia. Back at the secret villain’s lair, the secret villain is amazed that Barry Allen is actually able to resist the full brunt of the Psycho-Pirate’s power. The villain then starts working on the Red Tornado. “I believed him to be a mere machine, but I was wrong. Red Tornado is a primal force, more than machine! More than human! I am changing him into what he was meant to be! This change is IRREVOCABLE! Never again will he be the Red Tornado you once knew!”

TornadoSmall.jpg Red Tornado II: elemental spirit, android body

The villain was talking about what readers and Firestorm had known for a while now, that the android Red Tornado was not just artificially intelligent but had been infused with an elemental spirit once native to the planet Rann. This elemental had once been evil and called itself the Tornado Tyrant, but after being inspired by the JLA it changed its ways and became the Tornado Champion. And then later still, it got itself bound to the newly completed android body of the Red Tornado just as the android was activated, losing its memories in the process. As for the villains words that this change was irrevocable … Well, although after the Crisis the Red Tornado would return to being an android hero rather than an evil force of nature, it was true at least that he would never quite be the same. Whereas the Red Tornado had, before this, become very human after a while, with a girlfriend and an adopted daughter, after the Crisis he would be far more an android in personality as well as body.

As the elemental that was once the Red Tornado attacks, several heroes try to stop the destruction. While saving a girl, the Golden Age hero Wildcat is struck in the legs by a lightning bolt. JLA sorceress Zatanna combines with the Earth-2 mages Sargon and Dr. Fate and, with help from Johnny Thunder’s thunderbolt (this is the JSA’s Johnny Thunder, not the gunslinger), they beat back the elemental, realizing that it is actually their old friend the Red Tornado. Ultra Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes looks at Wildcat with X-ray vision and says “His legs are shattered. I — I don’t think he’ll ever walk again.” The heroes are troubled by this, as is Yolanda Montez, Wildcat’s goddaughter.

Liberty Belle tells Harbinger that the All-Star Squadron (an umbrella group that includes the Freedom Fighters, JSA and Seven Soldiers of Victory) will help. Martian Manhunter pledges the Justice League’s assistance. Aquaman offers the forces of Atlantis. The Star-Spangled Kid says Infinity, Inc. will join in. Nightwing says that the Teen Titans, as well as the robotic Metal Men, have agreed to help. Element Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes say yes. Batman says he and the Outsiders will join the fight. And various other heroes and villains of different time periods all agree that the universes need to be saved. This is the single greatest gathering of forces DC Comics had ever seen at this point.

Alexander teleports up only some of the heroes who have agreed to help, telling them they’re needed for another mission first. “The anti-matter cloud is moving through the final three universes … I brought you here to help save the first of those universes … Only by saving ALL FIVE universes will we have enough power to RESIST him.”

Alexander is about to send them on their mission, when Pariah senses danger and the satellite is blown wide open by an long-range attack. Elsewhere, the secret villain gloats over his attack. Psycho-Pirate frowns, saying, “They said there were three universes left … But I though you said something about an “Apokolips.” What about that?”

He was referring, of course, to Apokolips, Darkseid’s world which exists on a different dimensional plane than the rest of the Earth-1 universe. The villain says to the Pirate, “Darkseid and his sycophants shall not escape me. But –” Barry Allen then shouts, “You talk big, mister … But I haven’t seen you do ANYTHING to prove yourself. Your emotion-controlling dupe can’t even hold ME down. Why do you keep hiding yourself?”

Impressed with Barry’s spirit and will, the villain decides “why not” and finally steps into the light. The Psycho-Pirate and the Flash are both shocked as they see what looks like a evil android version of the Monitor. The villain says, “Call me — THE MONITOR! And very soon I shall be ruler over all who live!”

ANTI-MONITOR (original body) anti-monitor1.jpg

For the sake of avoiding confusion, I will be referring to the villain as the “Anti-Monitor”, which is what he’s called starting in issue #6 anyway.

AN ASIDE:
In Swamp Thing’s own comic series at this time, it showed a conversation between him and John Constantine right before Harbinger and Alexander explained everything to the assembly in the satellite. Constantine assures Swamp Thing that the plan to combine the remaining universes would work but that after the Crisis was over there would be a backlash. Evil magical forces would have more power and try to take advantage of things and that it would be up to people like the Swamp Thing and Constantine to avert Earth’s death mere days after the Anti-Monitor would be defeated. If you’re interested in this story, written by Alan Moore, check out the Swamp Thing tpb entitled “A Murder of Crows.” It’s a great story that has Swamp Thing first encounter the famous Parliament of Trees and features the deaths of the Golden Age sorcerers John Zatarra and Sargon.

Swamp Thing CSwampSmall.jpg John Constantine, the Hellblazer ConstantSmall.jpg

CRISIS — Phase 6: “3 Earths! 3 Deaths!”

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The Anti-Monitor’s lair. As the Psycho-Pirate pleads once again for a planet to use his full power on, Barry Allen feels his mind regaining control, knowing it won’t be long now before he can finally act. The Anti-Monitor tells the Pirate to shut up, saying that if he had time he’d grab either Raven of the Teen Titans or the villain Phobia, as both women also have emotion controlling powers. But with no time to find them, he instead uses his abilities to significantly increase the Psycho-Pirate’s power level. He then sets the Pirate loose on the last remaining three Earths so that he can prevent the heroes of Earths 1 and 2 from saving them.

Aboard the Monitor’s wrecked satellite, several heroes are trying to make sure they aren’t sucked out into the limbo-like void beyond its walls. Pariah screams as he’s summoned away, transported to watch as another world far away dies. As a last gambit, Alexander tries to use his anti-matter/matter energies to draw the last three universes into the netherverse. Knowing this could kill the boy, Harbinger stops Alexander. Tapping into the power source of the satellite itself, she sends the heroes to the three Earths and screams as the whole place explodes.

On Earth-2, Al Pratt, the original Atom of the JSA, looks over Wildcat, thinking that his friend’s days are over. Yolanda Montez watches outside from a window, thanks to the use of her metahuman powers, and decides she will honor her godfather.

On Earth-1, Lex Luthor, clad in a suit of armor he only acquired a couple of years before, is trying to escape Superman. Suddenly, he is teleported onto the headship of Brainiac. He doesn’t recognize the android villain at first (Brainiac had only just taken on this new robotic appearance recently in the comics). Brainiac reintroduces himself and says, “I offer you now a plan calculated to make us both RULERS of this universe!”

BrainiacRobotSmall.jpg The Ultimate Villain Duo! luthorarmorPREC.jpg

On Earth-X, one of Alexander’s teams arrives. Steel I (Hank Heywood of the JLA), Starfire of the Teen Titans and the new Dr. Light arrive there with Hawkman of Earth-2 and his godson Northwind of Infinity, Inc. Dr. Light II is confused when she realizes that she now speaks and understands English. The heroes see a giant image of Harbinger standing in front of the anti-matter wall. Before they can figure out what’s going on, Northwind sees that the populace of Earth-X is under some kind of mental control and is marching towards the anti-matter like lemmings. As he tries to stop them, he’s attacked by the Freedom Fighters, who, like the populace, are under the emotional control of the Psycho-Pirate.

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In the anti-matter universe, the Psycho-Pirate realizes that he’s TOO powerful now and it’s driving him insane as he’s absorbing the emotions of three entire Earths.

On Earth-4 (which, by the way, never had a designation before THE CRISIS since they’d never met the other DC heroes before), the Martian Manhunter, Katana of the Outsiders, Jay Garrick of Earth-2, Blok of the LSH and Azrael, an ally of the Teen Titans (and an alien, not to be confused with Batman’s apprentice years later), find themselves surrounded by red skies and torrential rain. As they wonder why they see a large image of Harbinger standing before the anti-matter wall, they are attacked by Earth-4’s heroes. Under the Pirate’s influence, the Blue Beetle now misremembers his meeting with the other heroes in issues 1,2 and 3 and has told his pals that he was “kidnapped” by beings from another universe, beings who now seek to destroy Earth-4. The Outsider known as Katana is beaten by Earth-4’s Judo-Master (who should only exist in Earth-4’s World War II days, but is here due to time anomalies). Captain Atom dispatches the alien Azrael, but is then mind-blasted by the Martian Manhunter. Jay Garrick proves that Peter Cannon, the so-called Thunderbolt, can’t match his speed at all when he stops the Earth-4 hero from racing headfirst into the anti-matter wall.

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The Question

Aboard his aerial attack ship The Bug, the Blue Beetle and his friend The Question realize that something is forcing them to act as they are.

On Earth-1, the Atlantis of Arion’s time is suddenly transported into the present day, whereas the present-day versions of the Atlantean cities Tritonis and Poseidonis are suddenly missing from the ocean floor. As Aquaman searches for his home and his wife, he is watched by his enemies Black Manta and Ocean Master. Before they can do anything though, someone teleports them away (kinda like how Luthor was unexpectedly teleported away, wink, wink).

On Earth-S, Supergirl, Black Canary, the Earth-1 Wonder Woman, the Teen Titan called Changeling (he’s also gone back and forth with using the name “Beast Boy” for you who don’t know), and the Teen Titan called Kole find themselves fighting Captain Marvel and his sister Mary Marvel. Uncle Marvel tries to fight the Earth-1 heroes as well, but since he’s an overweight middle-aged man with no actual super-powers, his efforts don’t really make a difference. Supergirl tries to reason with the Captain (they’ve met before and Cap even fought her cousin, Superman), but it doesn’t work. Wonder Woman tries to use her magic lasso to soothe Mary Marvel, but the girl resists long enough for Capt. Marvel to sucker punch Wonder Woman from behind (note: if you own the original publication of this issue, Cap is miscolored in this panel to look like Capt. Marvel, Jr.).

Finally, the fighting on all three Earths stops as Habinger uses the energies she’s harnessed to draw all three universes of Earth-4, Earth-S and Earth-X into the netherverse. The Psycho-Pirate screams. Since all his powers were focused on the three Earths, he is now vulnerable to the fear and shock of the populations on all three worlds.

Lyla wakes up on a floating asteroid and is greeted by Alexander. He says “You’re Lyla now … Harbinger is gone. You sacrificed everything to save those universes.” (This won’t prove to be true, as Lyla will take on the Harbinger identity and powers again later). Harbinger says she expected to die from the strain of harnessing the Monitor’s life energies that had been left behind in his satellite. Alexander comments that although all five universes are now in the netherverse, they’re still not safe because the vibrational frequencies between them are slowing down. What was happening with Earths 1 and 2 is now happening with all five: the universes are trying to merge. Alexander says they must figure out a solution, but in the meantime “there’s only ONE other question … How do we get OFF this floating rock?”

I personally would have also asked “how are we breathing in open space and not being destroyed by the pressure of the void?”, but perhaps that tiny asteroid had an atmosphere … or something.

On Earth-2, Alan Scott, Power Girl and Johnny Quick (the hero, not the now-dead Earth-3 villain) are traveling alongside the Earth-2 time-villain Per Degaton and the Earth-1 villains Star Saphire and Deathbolt. As they ponder what to do about the merging Earths, the villains vanish, teleported away.

In Wildcat’s hospital room, Yolanda Montez looks over her uncle and then leaves, donned in a female version of his costume. “This is for YOU, Ted Grant … I’m the NEW Wildcat!”

This is continued in CRISIS – Phase 7-10.

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