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Commence Ouroboros: DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Part 12

It’s all over but the crying! And there would be plenty to cry about if you were an longtime fan of the DCU.

But not all change is bad. It gave us one of the best developments in comics, one that was certainly doomed from the start, yet last longer than any of us could have dreamed: Wally West is the Flash!

Honestly, that final page thrills the hell out of me.  It’s perfect in every way.  Yes, Crisis reset the DCU, but guess what, fanboys?  It all still happened!  And we have a witness!  A witness who was driven insane, nonetheless — driven insane by the events of Crisis.

Shit, Wolfman and Perez threw in another stand in for the reader, didn’t they?

And it’s easy to be insane after reading this, Psycho Pirate, because it’s playing with so many different elements at once.

It’s sad that all of these characters died, yes, but ultimately the majority of them were erased, so it makes you wonder what the point of those deaths were.  What did these characters sacrifice themselves for?  It was all erased in the end.  Supergirl died!  Yeah, but technically so did Brother Power the Geek.  So why does it matter?

And therein lies the gist of what Crisis was asking, both of itself and superhero readers across the globe.  Is continuity king?  Is a story less poignant if it doesn’t “count?”  Is Supergirl’s death, her entire life, meaningless because she never existed?

That was the challenge for Crisis, to make these 12 issues matter even if the end result paved over most of what happened.

And that was the challenge for DC, convincing its fans that the stories were more important than continuity, something DC is trying to do yet again 30 years later.  Crisis wasn’t just an event, it was a transition, a support group in comic book form created to ease fans from one mode of storytelling to another.  I think we can safely say that it cleared the playing field in an appropriately epic manner.  I’m just not sure that it entirely worked.

We’re told that Earth-1 Wonder Woman is basically rebooted and that Earth-2 Wonder Woman goes to live with the gods, but why?  Wonder Woman is being restarted.  The fact that she was killed in Crisis #12 is all that needs to be said because the world starts over.

And there were deaths?  Earth-2 Robin and Huntress were mourned?  How is that possible?  That would require people to remember the other Earths and the whole point of the last page is that only one person remembers the other earths.  That’s what makes the ending so great.

Maybe the New 52 was following precedence by being wishy washy with its reboot after all.

Crisis really was an impossible story to tell, yet Wolfman and Perez managed to navigate it at a level we rarely see from event comics these days.  I can’t even comprehend the checklist that had to have been given to the creators when they started working on this series.  They managed a lot of different elements and still made us care about the events on the page.

This is where Flashpoint went horribly wrong.  Wolfman and Perez made a point throughout Crisis to show us how much they loved and respected all of the characters they were about to erase.  In fact, all that stuff I said earlier, about why does any of it matter when it was all erased?  Scratch that.  It matters because it says something to the audience.  It matters because nearly fifty years of stories deserved a proper send off.

Apparently, twenty-five years of stories did not, so we got Flashpoint.

And this, perhaps, is where Crisis manages to succeed despite the system in which it was created, despite all the requirements that were being asked of it.  Crisis convinces us that these stories still matter even if that continuity has ended, and that shared universes are not the be all and end all of superhero stories.

It kind of feels like we could use another Crisis.

The Tie-Ins

You would think that, given these issues came out when Crisis was coming to an end, we’d get some kind of send off, at the very least for some the characters in the two Earth-2 books listed below.  After all, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were all members of the All Star Squadron on Earth 2, but that wasn’t going to be the case in the new DCU.  And Wonder Woman certainly wasn’t going to have a daughter running around, as was the situation with Fury in Infinity, Inc.

But, no.  In fact, the Earth-2 books wouldn’t change at all for another five months; they continued along as if nothing had happened, sometimes going so far as to actually mentioning that the Crisis had past.  It’s the kind editorial negligence that would set the internet on fire these days, but probably on pissed off the folks at the local comic shop back in 1985.

All Star Squardon #55

Thankfully, the rather racist turn of events that ended the last issue are reversed in this one, although the collected heroes from the past aren’t exactly enlightened.  This is one of the better issues of the All Star Crisis tie-ins because it allows Roy Thomas to play with obscure characters that speak to the wide range genres that DC featured throughout its history.  Funny enough, none of these characters are technically erased by the events of Crisis, as all of them live in the past and none of them have super powers.  A story like this actually would have been useful post-Crisis.

This is drawn by Arvell Jones and Vince Colletta and it’s some of the heaviest inking I’ve seen from Colletta, which is saying a lot.  I doubt I could pick Jones’ pencils out of a line-up, and I’ve read a dozen issues of his work over the last few months.

Green Lantern #198

You don’t really expect 198th issues to be giant sized, but here you go.  This is the climax of the “Green Lantern no more!” story line that featured Hal Jordan as a civilian, John Stewart as the one, true Green Lantern (as he should be), and Guy Gardner as an ass.  Gardner goes round the bend as a Green Lantern and, as you might imagine, Hal helps to save the day and, in turn, gets his ring back.  For what it’s worth, John had it, but John “inherits” Tomar-Re’s ring, so Hal’s comes back to him.  I think that would actually make John the GL of whatever sector Tomar-Re was covering, but I’m a little shaky on Green Lantern lore.

Anyway, this issue has little to nothing to do with the Crisis, but where have we heard that before?  Still, Steve Englehart, Joe Staten, and Bruce Patterson have made me more interested in Green Lantern than I’ve ever been, which is saying something.

Infinity, Inc. #24

It’s the return of Knodar, the Last Criminal!  I know, try to contain your excitement.  In our last issue, Star Spangled Kid rescued Jonni Thunder, but not before they were both swept away to who knows where.  Well, it was Hollywood.  And they fight gangsters and Knodar and stuff.  I do believe Jonni Thunder was created by Roy Thomas, so perhaps this is him giving her one last send off, although I don’t know why she would have been erased with Crisis.  That guy Todd McFarlane pencils the first five pages, heavily inked by Tony DeZuniga.  Ron Harris pencils the rest, with inks by Giordano and Starr.  Roy is joined by Dann Thomas on the scripting duties.

Swamp Thing #46

Wha-huh?  Swamp Thing gets a tie-in issue?  Surely it’s not written by Alan Moore, though, right?  Nope, it is.  And drawn quite nicely by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, too.

I suppose you could look at this as Moore’s attempt to look at Crisis on a different level.  Swamp Thing and Constantine are going to fight the good fight on the immaterial plane/psychic plane/spiritual plane.  The issue serves more as a showcase for Constantine through his relationship with Swamp Thing than anything else.  It’s perfectly fine for what it is and would probably have blown my mind back in ’85, but just about as essential to Crisis and every other tie-in we’ve seen — not at all.

Next: Oh, you thought we were done, did you?

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