Table of Contents
AUTHOR: Wolfman, Marv
ARTIST: George Pérez (illustrator); Jerry Ordway (penciller and inker); Mike DeCarlo (inker); Dick Giordano (inker); Mike Machlan (inker); Carl Gafford (colorist); Robert Greenberger (colorist); Tom McCraw (colorist); Adrienne Roy (colorist); Anthony Tollin (colorist); Tom Ziuko (colorist); John Costanza (letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
FIRST SERIAL PUBLICATION: 1985-1986
FIRST BOOK PUBLICATION: 1998
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a twelve-issue maxiseries published by DC Comics. The story was conceived by writer Marv Wolfman as a solution to the problematic issue of DC Comics’ convoluted continuity. Because of several decades’ worth of stories, this continuity included multiple versions of characters and worlds, which was confusing, especially for new readers. Crisis on Infinite Earths was intended to simplify the continuity by eliminating the excessive alternate characters and worlds, establishing a new, singular continuity that could be followed by readers and comic creators alike.
Although first announced in 1981, research for the story line took several years, leading the maxiseries to be published in 1985, marking DC Comics’ fiftieth anniversary. Originally titled The History of the DC Universe and proposed as a ten-issue maxiseries with a two-issue epilogue intended to establish the new history, the scope of the story extended the series to twelve issues, while the two-issue history epilogue was pushed back and released in 1987.
Writer and editor Len Wein was initially involved as the story’s cowriter but was unable to devote enough time because he was editing DC Comics’ Who’s Who handbooks. Although not initially considered for the project, artist George Pérez got the job partially because of his previous partnership with Wolfman on The New Teen Titans. Dick Giordano was the inker on the first three issues but was too busy to ink the rest because of his schedule as executive editor. His assistant inker, Mike DeCarlo, worked on the fourth issue before Jerry Ordway was hired to ink the rest of the series.
Almost all of DC’s writers and editors tied their comics to the Crisis crossover. However, the monumental changes that the story line brought to the respective comic books and characters caused controversy among some writers. This led those working on Crisis to change the ending of one of the issues and decide against renumbering all of the subsequent comic books.
Crisis on Infinite Earths opens with the gradual destruction of the Multiverse, parallel universes that contain duplicate worlds with alternate histories and inhabitants. Aware of this crisis is the Monitor and his assistant, Harbinger, who both decide to take action. Harbinger disperses herself into multiple identical versions to recruit heroes and villains across the Multiverse, while the Monitor retrieves the infant Alexander Luthor, Jr., who escapes his universe’s destruction. The group of heroes and villains meet the Monitor, who informs them of the danger that threatens their respective universes. The group is dispatched into smaller groups to protect massive golden towers placed across different points in time in Earth’s history, later revealed to be machines to unite the Multiverse into a single universe. Psycho-Pirate is abducted by the Anti-Monitor, the individual responsible for the crisis. Afraid of the Anti-Monitor’s power, Psycho-Pirate pledges his servitude to him.
Heroes everywhere try to stem the chaos brought about by the Crisis, while the groups guarding the towers fight shadow demons who intend to destroy them. Conflicts grow and escalate across time and space, culminating with the Monitor’s death at the hands of a possessed Harbinger. Foreseeing his death, the Monitor releases his energies, activating the towers and creating a realm that protects the remaining universes from the Anti-Monitor. The heroes later stage an assault against the Anti-Monitor, resulting in his temporary retreat and the death of Supergirl.
During this reprieve, the villains band together in an attempt to take control of the remaining Earths. The Anti-Monitor constructs an antimatter cannon to destroy the Earths but is thwarted by Barry Allen, the Flash of Earth-1, who sacrifices his life to destroy the cannon. The Anti-Monitor then travels to the dawn of time to rewrite existence in his favor. The heroes and villains work together to stop it; the former fight the Anti-Monitor and the latter travel to the planet Oa’s distant past to prevent the scientist Krona from looking back to the origin of creation, which would cause the Anti-Monitor to succeed. The villains fail to stop Krona, and the Spectre’s battle with the Anti-Monitor causes reality around them to explode and shatter.
The heroes find themselves on an unfamiliar Earth and learn that the battle from the dawn of time resulted in the creation of a single universe with no one except themselves remembering the previous reality. The Anti-Monitor makes another attack on Earth, but the heroes coordinate a successful counterassault that puts down the Anti-Monitor long enough to transport the Earth and themselves to safety. When the Anti-Monitor revives, Superman of Earth-2 opposes him and, assisted by an attack from the New God Darkseid, finally manages to kill the Anti-Monitor. Escaping the destructive effects of the Anti-Monitor’s death, Alexander Luthor sends Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-2, Superboy of Earth-Prime, and himself to a paradise dimension to live out the rest of their days.
After detailing the statuses of certain heroes in the aftermath of the Crisis, Harbinger resolves her intent to live her life and explore the new Earth. The story ends with Psycho-Pirate committed in Arkham Asylum, rambling to himself about the events of the Crisis.
The Anti-Monitor, the central antagonist, is a cosmically powered being who appears as a humanoid mass of energy encased in sinister-looking metallic armor. He has massive teeth and eyes that seem to be on fire. He was born during the creation of the antimatter universe. His plan to destroy the positive matter Multiverse and establish his native antimatter universe as the sole dominant reality presents a threat so great that all heroes must band together to oppose him.
Pariah is a purple-haired man garbed in a green hood and cloak. The premier scientist of his world, he performs an experiment that allows him to watch the beginning of the universe but ultimately revives both the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, resulting in the destruction of his universe. The sole, guilt-ridden survivor, he is empowered by the Monitor to teleport to locations that will be targeted for and struck by catastrophic events. Although he warns others of impending doom, he views his power as a curse, witnessing death after death.
Alexander Luthor, Jr., has curly red hair and dresses in a metallic gold suit. The sole survivor of Earth-3, he is the son of superhero Alexander Luthor and his wife Lois Lane. He escapes the antimatter wave when his father sends him to another universe as an infant. Rescued by the Monitor, who discovers that his body miraculously carries both positive and negative matter, he quickly grows into an adult and helps coordinate the heroes’ attempts to save the remaining worlds. He possesses the power to act as a living portal to other universes, allowing the heroes to follow and battle the Anti-Monitor.
The Monitor is a cosmically powered, pink-skinned humanoid with a nearly bald head. He wears armor and a cape, and is the benevolent counterpart to the Anti-Monitor. He alerts, prepares, and coordinates heroes and villains across the Multiverse to protect their worlds from the Anti-Monitor. Killed by a possessed Harbinger, his death helps protect the remaining Earths from the Anti-Monitor.
Harbinger, a.k.a. Lyla, is a young, blond human who primarily wears skintight blue armor and a red headdress. Rescued by the Monitor after being adrift at sea and raised by him, she possesses the power to split herself into numerous identical versions and travel to different places and eras across the Multiverse. She gathers the heroes from throughout the Multiverse and helps them save the remaining worlds.
Superman of Earth-2 is a mature man with graying hair who wears a prominent red-and-blue costume with a waist-length red cape. He is distinguished from his Earth-1 counterpart by his slightly different costume, older age, and marriage to his Earth’s Lois Lane. Possessing the various Kryptonian superpowers, including superstrength and flight, Superman of Earth-2 is one of the foremost heroes during the Crisis, recruited by the Monitor at the beginning and opposing the Anti-Monitor during the final battle.
Psycho-Pirate, a.k.a. Alex Hayden, is a villain whose golden mask and red-and-black attire is reminiscent of a court jester. Originating from Earth-1, he is the second man to assume the villainous mantle of the Psycho-Pirate. With his golden Medusa Mask, he possesses the power to manipulate other people’s emotions and feed off of them. Although initially recruited by the Monitor, Psycho-Pirate is later abducted and terrorized by the Anti-Monitor.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC Comics’ biggest and most ambitious superhero epic to date, filled with multitudes of characters and countless scenes of action, pathos, and fantastic phenomena that took place over a variety of settings across space and time. Pages contain an average of seven to eight busy panels, at times numbering up to fifteen. Although this style limited Pérez’s opportunities to showcase the high level of detail for which his art is known, the numerous panels highlight key visual, physical, or emotional aspects of a scene or event. The variation in panel size and placement within layouts presents a more dynamic reading experience while also allotting the appropriate space for accompanying exposition without obstructing the panels’ visual content. Inking by artists such as Ordway gives the pages their appropriate dramatic weight and gravity while emphasizing the visual quality and detail of Pérez’s art.
Pérez’s clean line work allowed him to pack details within the images contained in the panels. Although he illustrated a variety of environments and fantastic phenomena, such as the destruction of entire worlds, Pérez is best known for his character art. He paid significant attention to appearances, researching characters’ costume details and studying their physical attributes and expressions to distinguish the characters from one another. Taking advantage of the unique opportunity to draw all of DC’s characters, Pérez took the initiative to include as many prominent and obscure characters alongside the key characters as possible within any given image.
Bright colors complete the story’s grandeur. Originally, DC used flexography, printing technology new to comics at the time, to improve color brightness. The first issues were printed with this technology, but DC decided to return to traditional printing when the visual result was jarring. When the maxiseries was collected in trade, colorist Tom McCraw recolored the issues, realizing the bright colors that DC originally envisioned for the work.
The major themes of Crisis on Infinite Earths are heroism and the conflict between good and evil. The threat posed by the Anti-Monitor causes everyone to rise and unite against him. Characters such as the Monitor, Harbinger, and Alexander Luthor, Jr., act as leaders, coordinating efforts to save the remaining worlds and stop the Anti-Monitor. Heroes rise to the occasion, pushing themselves to do their best in protecting their worlds and combating the Anti-Monitor. Some, such as Supergirl, give their lives, and their examples inspire others to acts of heroism. Even the villains are moved to acts of heroism; for example, the Crime Syndicate of America tries to stop the antimatter wave from consuming their world. In the face of an encompassing threat, all kinds of people are moved to action and unite to protect all that they hold dear.
Tied to the theme of heroism is the theme of loss. Worlds, people, and entire universes are destroyed, killed, or ultimately wiped from existence. Characters throughout the series deal with loss in terms of their respective homes and loved ones. Some, such as Superman of Earth-2, experience doubt, survivor’s guilt, and a loss of motivation to continue. Others, such as Batgirl, are intimidated by the foreboding feeling of potential loss and feel insecure and helpless. However, the heroes overcome this sense of loss, finding the resolve to continue protecting others and to face the danger that threatens them, emphasizing the theme of heroism.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was only partially successful in achieving its intended goal. Some longtime readers were alienated by the elimination of decades of stories and the deaths of numerous characters. In addition, although the story line and the simplified continuity succeeded in drawing in new readers, DC Comics did not immediately take advantage of the new creative opportunities. For part of 1986, DC comic books and characters continued on as if the Crisis story line had not happened. Eventually, the editors and writers revamped and rebooted their characters. Some characters, such as Superman and Batman, were successful, while others, such as Hawkman, were not as well received or were reintroduced to readers several years later. New continuity issues arose and amassed over time, eventually leading to another reboot in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (1994).
Despite the remaining continuity issues, the drastic creative direction of Crisis on Infinite Earths helped attract new creative talent to DC Comics and allowed for the development of influential projects such as The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Watchmen (1986-1987). Furthermore, Crisis on Infinite Earths became a significant DC Comics landmark, to the extent that fans discuss continuity and publication history in terms of pre-Crisis and post-Crisis.
On a broader scale, Crisis on Infinite Earths is widely remembered as the seminal story line of the comics industry. The series brought the issue of continuity to the forefront, calling attention to its importance for both readers and comics professionals. In addition, its success helped popularize the limited series format among most major comics companies in the industry, as well as the major event story line and related format. As in Crisis, major event crossovers are used to bring significant changes to characters, settings, and themes in order to facilitate a new creative direction and introduce new or revamped characters to readers. Such story lines generally occur within a limited series, with other comics and even other new limited series tying into it, and are used by comics companies to generate sales and establish new comic books, following Crisis on Infinite Earths’ example.
How to Watch the Crisis on Infinite Earths
According to IMDB, following episodes of the different TV Shows are actually Crisis on Infinite Earths Show
|Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two (2019) (TV Episode)
– Season 1 | Episode 9
– Batwoman (2019) (TV Series)
|Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three (2019) (TV Episode)
– Season 6 | Episode 9
– The Flash (2014) (TV Series)
|Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four (2020) (TV Episode)
– Season 8 | Episode 8
– Arrow (2012) (TV Series)