For Your Consideration: DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition Volume One

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Crisis on Infinite Earths


In 1984, Marv Wolfman was furiously attempting to figure out how the rest of the DC Comics line could tie-in with the events about to unfold in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The project was large and sprawling; nothing on this scale had been attempted before so everyone was uncertain. He and Len Wein knew to tease the project, so every book, regardless of era and parallel universe, would feature the Monitor and Lyla observing. Who were they, what did they want, and so. It was a wonderful two-year tease.

Tying in actual stories proved more challenging, especially as the maxiseries’ story evolved. Some editors and writers were certainly eager to play, others less so. Still, something needed to be done to signify the Crisis would truly have an impact across the line. Marv asked that every book, at minimum, have the skies turn red as the anti-matter wave came closer. Whether characters reacted to it or not, it should be a visual cue to the readers.

For the more ambitious and commercially minded editors, they saw the chance for sales to spike or explain, in greater depth, what their characters were up to in the maxiseries. Some were successful, some less so, but everyone was testing the creators’ and readers’ appetites for these crossovers. While the Crisis has been collected and remains in print, these crossovers have remained unseen in years – until now.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition Volume One

Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition Volume One


Coming this summer is Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition Volume One, the first of three large books, collecting these seminal tales. I was delighted to be asked to consult on the project and then asked to write some of the contextual essays. However, I insisted this needed a proper introduction and Marv agreed to pen that piece.

Infinity, Inc. #18

Infinity, Inc. #18


Despite all of his concerns about how the new single universe would affect his beloved World War II era heroes, Roy Thomas was perhaps the writer who worked the hardest to make his books work with the event and sow the seeds for what came next. He’s written a short piece to introduce his issues, which include Infinity, Inc. #18-20, All-Star Squadron #50-51, and Justice League of America #244 (the latter from Gerry Conway and Joe Staton). In these issues, we have the final summer team-up of the Justice League and Justice Society, guest-starring Infinity, Inc. as well as the transition of Dr. Beth Chapel into the new Doctor Midnight and the introduction of Rex Tyler’s son Rick, who becomes the new Hourman. The fun also includes seeing these stories drawn by a young Todd McFarlane.

Roy also takes readers from Earth-2 to Earth-S where Mister Mind creates the Monster Society of Evil which will get Captain Marvel involved next volume. There’s also a quick visit to Earth-X and the Freedom Fighters so everyone’s in on the act with some fine art from Mike Clark and Arvell Jones.

Fury of Firestorm #41

Fury of Firestorm #41


He also shows in, A-SS #50, Firebrand II’s point of view as Harbinger arrives to collect her for the first team seen in Crisis #1 and the drafting of Obsidian in II #18. Harbinger is the heroic name of Lyla, granted power by the Monitor to perform her work as seen not only here, but in Fury of Firestorm #41, from Gerry Conway and Rafael Kayanan. She’s accompanied by the Psycho-Pirate who may have suffered the most throughout 1985 and things go awry in recruiting the Nuclear Man. When she tries to gather up John Stewart on her own, it doesn’t go any better in Green Lantern #194 as Steve Englehart and Joe Staton show. Just back from defeating Replikon, John and Katma Tui, along with Green Arrow and Black Canary, are rather suspicious of Harbinger so a fight breaks out.

Justice League of America Annual #3

Justice League of America Annual #3


Dan Mishkin may have been the second most enthusiastic writer to play in the cosmic sandbox so he tackled the Red Tornado’s true nature in Justice League of America Annual #3. In a story drawn by Rick Hoberg, the Tornado Champion emerges and Reddy becomes an elemental but in the process, destroys the JLA Satellite. Over in Blue Devil #17-18 he corwrites with Gary Cohn and Alan Kupperberg pencils. The first story shows the red skies and a wild beach party then sends Dan Cassidy into the multiverse to save alternate versions of himself, accompanied by the Omega Men.

Speaking of the galactic freedom fighters, the underrated series from Todd Klein and Shawn McManus offer Omega Men #31 (partially drawn by Ernie Colon) as Doc, Shlagen, Zirral and Rynoc leave Tamaran and encounter a hole in space which proves to be Blue Devil’s journey.

New Teen Titans #13

New Teen Titans #13


Wolfman gets into the act with New Teen Titans #13-14, both drawn by Ed Barreto (who has many covers in this volume — I miss him and his wonderful work), as a ship from Tamaran arrives to bring Starfire back to the Vegan Star System (also home to the Omega Men) with Nightwing and Jericho choosing to join her.

DC Comics Presents #87

DC Comics Presents #87


The most influential of the crossovers can be found in DC Comics Presents #87 as Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan, and Al Williamson have Superman cross from Earth-1 to Earth-Prime where he meets a young Superboy. From this moment until Final Crisis, Superboy-Prime has been an irritant, catalyst, and major antagonist.

The following issue has one of the lesser efforts in successfully tying in as Steven Englehart, Keith Giffen, and Karl Kesel pair Superman and the Creeper against a demon which occurs somewhere around Crisis #8 although there’s little to work with.

Wonder Woman #328

Wonder Woman #328


Many writers merely had heroes fighting the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons as seen in Wonder Woman #327-328 from Mindy Newell and Don Heck. Her battle against the South American god Tezcatlipoca seemingly ends or is interrupted by these creatures.

With the multiverse in flux, things go awry, as seen above but also allows for some quirky stories such as Firestorm #42 where Conway and Kayanan shift the focus to Firehawk, partnering with Wonder Girl, as they find themselves in 1776, fighting creatures alongside George Washington (why not?), Tomahawk, and Dan Hunter.

The Losers Special #1

The Losers Special #1


Perhaps the most unique story in this volume is The Losers Special #1. When it was decided that this team, made up of Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner, and Sarge, would be among the casualties, we asked Editor Murray Boltinoff to send them off within the proper context of a war series. Robert Kanigher makes one of his final comics appearances with this touching tale, illustrated by Judith Hunt, Sam Glanzman, and Mike Esposito.

Each volume will contain a timeline, placing the crossovers into a chronological context, from the Monitor’s pre-Crisis appearances through the first post-Crisis appearances of Harbinger, Pariah, and Lady Quark. This was something I enjoyed assembling and wishing we included it in the Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths.

If you’re a fan of this era, these characters, and the event, then this book will be a nice look back. For others, it’s a chance to see what all the fuss was about considering “red skies” has become a catchphrase to indicate something big is coming (did you notice them in the Justice League movie?).


 

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