Sunday, July 10, 2005
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #9 DC Comics, 1985
This is the first issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths that I bought, and it was the cover that sucked me in.
Of course, I ended up getting all twelve issues of Crisis, but back in 1985 I was only vaguely interested in the book, and had no idea that Crisis was going to be this big epochal event – I just thought it was a cool cover, and I was right. Check that shit out. How can you resist that bad-ass George Perez cover, with an army of colorful DC villains comin’ atcha? You can not.
I’m not going to go into the whole Crisis mini-series here because really, who has the energy? I’ll do a whole big-ass post about it someday when I’ve had too many Red Bulls and I’m bored. Suffice to say that Crisis on Infinite Earths was a fictional pogrom, a ruthless editorial purging by DC of all the redundant/confusing/wacky multiple Earths in their comic book universe. In story terms that meant a whole bunch of people had to die!
Regardless of what might think of the overall quality of Crisis, you have to acknowledge that it was a massive creative undertaking. Crisis involved just about every DC comic book character -- I don’t know how writer Marv “Teen Titans” Wolfman and penciller George Perez kept track of all those characters. Most heroes and villains were relegated to cameos and bit parts, but still – Perez had to draw all of them. That sounds like a one way ticket to Carpal Tunnel City if you ask me.
The inclusion of just about everybody in the Crisis storyline is at once the book’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. The story feels epic and comprehensive, and everybody gets to see their favorite character, if only fleetingly. Crisis rewards the avid comics fan with lots of “Easter eggs” and fun details, but that same encyclopedic quality makes it impenetrable to new readers. This is not entry-level stuff. The density of the art and sheer number of characters and locations in Crisis robs the story of a narrative momentum, and the reader ends up bogged down in a superheroic “Where’s Waldo?” full of neat details instead of getting pulled into a gripping yarn.
Having said all that, I am a geek and I actually like pouring over Perez’s tiny, detailed little panels. Crisis #9 was a particularly strong issue in the series because it focuses on a big superhero war, and that’s never bad. The villains of the various Earths band together and take over several planets, apparently killing more than a few heroes who stand in the way.
Here are a few panels, narrated by Lex Luthor and Brainiac. The Earth with the Charlton heroes – Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, The Question – falls to the villainous invaders.
That’s the original Captain Atom in the first panel.
Check out that second panel, with the Beetle’s Bug burning off New York as Chemo stands near a headless Statue of Liberty in the background. Good stuff.
Boy, I hope Blue Beetle’s okay…
On another of the many many Earths, the battle rages on. Let’s see, in the first panel that’s Earth-S Superman (right?) versus Captain Nazi (really) while below, Katana fights Scarecrow and um, Samurai, I think. In the next panel Wildcat kicks Cheshire with Dr. Mid-Nite in the background. In the next panel we have Dr. Phosphorous and Northwind in the background while Hawkman 1.0 swats Blockbuster with a flail. No idea who that guy in the background is…
Here’s another super-dense panel featuring one of my favorite villains, Validus, the huge guy with the visible brain. What a great character design. This panel also features a match-up we’ve all been waiting for: Firestorm vs Penguin! I wonder who wins? Actually, considering that Firestorm fights lame-asses like Slipknot, maybe Penguin is just his speed.
You see what I mean about the “Where’s Waldo?” factor. The whole story screeches to a halt while the reader tries to figure out who everybody is. It’s fun, but I don’t know how compelling it would be for a Normal Person.
I would be remiss if I did not leave you with an image of The Creeper, one of the coolest/goofiest heroes ever. Here he is leaping through Metropolis, giving everybody a look at his striped green underwear. The Creeper is aptly named.
“One word of caution – in his presence… beware.” Yes, beware. The Creeper ate a couple chili dogs earlier and he is just rank.