Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman

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Title: Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Writer(s): Marv Wolfman.
Penciller(s)George Pérez.
Inker(s): Dick GiordanoMike DeCarlo & Jerry Ordway.
Colourist(s): Anthony TollinTom ZiukoCarl Gafford & Tom McCraw.
Letterer(s): John Costanza.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: January 1st 2001 (first published 1985).
Pages: 368.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781563897504.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

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When it comes to superheroes, you tend to discover them in their personal life trajectories as they confront various obstacles that lead them to perceive life differently to other mortals. While some find themselves in front of incredible adversity with the occasional homework to take tough life-threatening decisions, others are driven to face what is often known as destiny as their faith and perseverance are tested beyond the ordinary strain we all encounter throughout life. There are, however, circumstances where their routes cross paths with others only to further expand the dilemmas they are confronted with. It isn’t just about the people they love or care for the most or the citizens of their hometown that turn out to be the center of their attention. The threats oblige them to look a good way off and apprehend the existence of other heroes, other civilizations, other planets but also other universes where the stakes are sometimes far worse than what they seem. In 1985, DC Comics unleashed one of the first and most colossal companywide crossovers that altered the franchise in unimaginable ways and it is a ride to remember forever.

What is Crisis on Infinite Earths about? This graphic novel collects the 12-issue series that tragically doomed the DC Multiverse by delivering some of the most iconic moments that fans will never forget.  The story serves as the end and beginning of an era with a central focus on the powerful cosmic entity known as the Monitor. With the duty to reconnoiter all the parallel universes and alternate realities in his realm, he one day encounters his malicious archnemesis, the Anti-Monitor, who successfully plunges one reality after the after into oblivion. In order to put an end to his wretched plans, the Monitor recruits heroes from different times and worlds to help him out while the Anti-Monitor proceeds to recruit his own secret villains to sabotage any attempt of heroism. As the story unfolds, worlds are destroyed, others are born and some are reconfigured to ultimately pave the way to the DC Universe rather than the complicated DC Multiverse that reigned for countless years. But for this to occur, huge costs are met by our favourite heroes.

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Right at the footsteps of the Modern of Age of superhero comic books, Marv Wolfman and George Pérez team up to deliver what might be one of the most important and respect-worthy cosmic crossover events in the history of superheroes. To be able to oversaturate a whole narrative with heroes from multiple worlds is a task that is beyond a man’s fancy as it wasn’t a complete disaster although it can be incredibly tedious to sort through all of these heroes or to even understand their relevance. While many of the heroes and villains that are part of this event might be unknown to the reader, the story allows a certain hope of discovery even if it is plunged in a narrative of destruction and chaos. While it is a geeky pleasure to see countless heroes and villains assembled together on the same pages of the story, it doesn’t always help the reader to be impaled with insane amounts of dialogue even if it is an inevitable and necessary condition to having this many heroes in this existence-threatening event.

Unsurprisingly, this graphic novel does explore themes of dread, defeat, and death with the grandiose spectacle that is expected of such an event. The repercussions of the crisis that unfold are felt throughout the universe in unimaginable ways but set the table for new story arcs and crossovers in the years to come. The artwork demands to be addressed for its ability to colorfully display the epic scale of the event as well as the intriguing and sequential panel configuration that allows the creative team to exploit both the artwork and the writing as much as they want. The style is a bit dated but iconic of the era in which the story was created. There’s no denying that it is the perfect style on which DC could end a generation of fantastic stories before embarking on a new adventure. While the visuals can get hectic and often feel populated, the character designs and the action sequences allow the story to breathe and develop in its entirety. It is no doubt that this graphic novel will never be stripped away its achievement as a sturdy and complete crisis.

Crisis on Infinite Earths is an epic scale crossover event that weaves together countless years of continuity to deliver a tragic and unforgettable change to the DC Universe.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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Only watch the above scene teasing the CW Network’s upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths TV series special if you’re ready for a spoiler!

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19 comments

  • I’m torn here… I kind of preferred the messy Multiverse to the post-Crisis DC scene, even despite the many convoluted and contradictory plots… I understand the whys and theretofores, and yet so many of the newer stories don’t seem to hold up to closer scrutiny – with regards to both art and to writing. And, as the New 52 initiative seemed to prove, DC preferred it too 😉 I hope Rebirth ends quickly as well 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha your opinion of the New 52 and Rebirth era of DC always make me laugh 😂 But there was indeed a marketing strategy that was quite successful post-Crisis although the structure of story arcs were sometime more rewarding pre-Crisis. At least chance was necessary to know what worked and what doesn’t. Doubt they’ll however reboot anytime soon though. They can still work with what they have for now 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad my suffering still can make you laugh 😛
        And as for the reboot, isn’t that a pity? 😂😂 They get pretty thinly stretched when it comes to sensible plotlines 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  • From a perspective of “neatness” and “orderliness” I was glad that DC made this happen. They needed to clean up their act. Golden Age Superman alongside Silver Age Superman alongside Modern Age Superman? It was a mess!

    Unfortunately, as the years have shown, DC just can’t seem to get away from making things wicked complicated. It seems like every decade or so they need another “Event” to clean up all their trash. Personally, I think they need to stop trying to crossover everything into everything else and just let their comics roam wild. Have each comic exist in its own universe so there is no continuity between various characters. The Superman from the Superman line of comics would have nothing to do with the Superman showing up in the Batman comics and the Superman from the Justice League is his own thing.

    I don’t foresee that happening though. Sales and marketing will keep DC on the path of Marvel-lite and both are headed downward, in the comics anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am completely with you on that. It was all over the place. They needed to make it much more accessible to the public if they wanted to strive in the comic book business.

      I’ll probably never forget how much you despise the cosmic level events that get bigger and bigger each time nowadays, both with DC and Marvel. I think they just don’t have a choice but to enlarge it and expand if they want to please fans and not have them say “I’ve seen that already…” But your recommendation is something that has been going on between both Batman series (Batman and Detective Comics), for example. The thing is… they sort of do both what you recommend and the crossover thing without exactly having one way of structuring their series. I think they need to come up with a story-related reason to explain why each series wouldn’t exactly be connected and that each series would be its own “parallel universe”. It would be a lot easier for fans to accept and enjoy. Crossover events should then mostly occur in shows/movies. They could also keep comic book crossover events for when ALL series come to and end and they need ONE series to bring everything together or something…

      Liked by 1 person

      • To me, power creep is a sign of a lack of real imagination. You can tell a fantastic story without having to resort to “bigger, badder threat” IF you have the imagination. Sadly, I see zero signs of that much intelligence in hollywood and it seems to be decreasing in the comic books themselves. That is why I think the days of the super hero movies are limited. They can only go so big before fans realize the lack of any good story.

        That is interesting that they’re trying to do both with Batman. I can understand it but it just seems like they need to focus more on the Core (I know, I’m repeating myself 😉 ) instead of trying to please every 1% entitled little *insert pejorative*.
        MAKE your fans follow you, don’t pander to them. And this is why I’m not a big name comic guy, hahahahahahaa!

        I love the idea of crossovers moving over to the screen and letting the individual comics stay on their own path. Next time I meet with the bigwigs at Marvel and DC, I’ll be sure to give them your name 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re right and a lot of the new comic book stories are less likely to be seen on the big screen right now anyways. I think the movies and shows will live a pretty long time since most of them focus on the classic comic book stories and try to introduce the world to heroes that most people haven’t heard of. For example, there’s no way they’ll ever do the last cosmic crossover event, Metal, anytime soon. It complicates the universe too much for the casual fan. But it can definitely be a successful story if they set the table right.

          Hahahah I do agree that they should centralize each series instead of having multiple different line-ups but with Batman it’s a bit more complicated since Detective Comics is what started the franchise and they sort of can’t kill it, just like Action Comics (which is ongoing alongside the Superman run). Otherwise, there are serious like “Red Hood” going on alongside “Red Hood and the Outsiders”… I guess they’ll always keep on doing this as long as they have artists and writers to work on each series too… Otherwise, there just won’t be any more jobs for them…

          Man, I think anyone could come up with a better marketing scheme than what DC has been doing right now, especially movie-wise…

          Liked by 1 person

  • As I said on IG I find the art peculiar in the choice of these narrow “boxes” to feature the drawings. It gives a unique feel like a sequence of events happening at the same time or seeing the story through multiple pov…but maybe I am completely mistaken!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, it’s a funny way to structure, but definitely original. It also helps in showcasing more horizontal events and gives the reader the ease to breeze through those panels easily (vertically) instead of “eye-skipping” to accidentally see what’s going to happen next.

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  • Awesome analysis as ever my friend (I’m always taken with how succinct you are in your reviews whereas I can sometimes get carried away and ramble on about the details), I find myself largely in agreement with you about Crisis on Infinite Earths – a classic story with great art (taken in context of the way comic art was in the 80s) but not without flaws. The huge roster of characters and heavy emphasis on elaborate dialogue (I guess that’s partly down to us being used to modern titles with tighter narratives and a greater focus on the visuals) muddling things up a bit.

    Can’t say I’m hugely interested in the upcoming Arrowverse adaptation (I really wasn’t enthralled with Elseworlds) but I’d love to see it tackled on the big screen someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sometimes want to ramble on as well but over the years I found myself balancing it so that it can also be accessible for non-comic book readers who are just curious about the title in itself. If anything, I love how you write your reviews! I’ve probably mentioned it plenty of times but you have an incredibly eloquent writing style and event add incredible and insightful details about the show/movie/comic book too!

      And you’re right, the huge roster and elaborate dialogue are typical of this era. What I usually have a tough time with is with the dialogue describes the person’s actions. Some Batman stories used to be like that and it was super weird for me.

      I’m skeptical about the Arrowverse adaptation as well… I mean… Even the teaser for Batwoman didn’t get me as excited as I normally would. I guess I’m really burned out by the Arrowverse’s direction the past few seasons. At least the DC Universe shows are looking really good! Like Swamp Thing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, you’re so right – have you read any early Stan Lee marvel? His stories are wonderful and historic but so much of the dialogue can be merely a description of what we can see the character is doing!

        Yeah, I’m pretty much done with the Arrowverse I think I’ve just outgrown it really and find it a bit…juvenile and generic. Based on Titans, I much prefer what’s being done on the DC Universe side of things (come on Netflix, pick up Doom Patrol!!!), it’s much more sophisticated and better written.

        Oh and thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it very much!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve actually never tried anything by Stand Lee. I can’t tell if it’ll actually impress me though. I had a feeling that the dialogues would be like that or just super cheesy!

          I too need Doom Patrol on Netflix already! Or at least make DC Universe available outside the States!……

          Liked by 1 person

          • I have a feeling you’d have a tough time with 60s Stan Lee – pretty much every panel is densely packed with dialogue and description, but that was indicative of the times and his stories and characters are the very foundations of what we enjoy today.

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    • Thanks Caroline! Ahhh, I think most people who don’t know at least some of the characters or how the universes work will find this completely boring and incomprehensible hahah This would never be a story I’d recommend for newcomers since you’d need to read more stories on the other heroes before arriving to this one.

      Liked by 1 person

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