Two issues in and already Crisis on Infinite Earths has had some shocking moments.
Writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez kept Superman and Batman away from the first issue, but for a story of this magnitude there’s only so long they can stay out of the spotlight.
Time is going haywire as Anthro, a prehistoric DC hero, sees a futuristic city in the distance while steering a woolly mammoth herd that suddenly gets whisked away to the 30th Century to cause trouble for the Legion of Super Heroes. It’s here we learn the full scope of Crisis as Brainiac-5 is concerned this threat could destroy even the future universe. This is key as it explains why characters from wildly different eras like 40,000 BC Arion and the Legion member Dawnstar would be involved.
The Monitor tells his initial 15 collected heroes and villains he needs their aid in traveling to specific locations in hopes of staving off the anti-matter wave. Wolfman continues teasing that Harbinger has been corrupted and is now operating as a double agent in the thrall of The Monitor’s arch-enemy.
The Monitor already knows this betrayal is coming and is taking steps to set his plan in motion after his death like creating the new Dr. Light and weaponizing the orphaned baby from Earth-3, who’s grown into an infant seemingly overnight.
Wolfman’s Batman is going to read very odd to those accustomed to perpetually pissed and irritated Batman as he’s actually trading quips with The Joker. The issue’s big eerie moment comes when Batman and Joker’s confrontation is interrupted by The Flash or at least a vision of Batman’s Justice League teammate. Flash almost appears to be hallucinating as he rambles about the world dying all around him while mentioning his dead wife Iris. Naturally Batman wants to help his friend, who wastes away before him. It’s a shocking scene and shows the stakes of Crisis as a main hero’s death is foreshadowed.
Contrary to the modern character who would try to figure it out himself, Batman immediately connects with Superman to warn him of his encounter with Flash when Pariah arrives. He’s thrilled to see two of the universe’s big guns before he’s warped away to another dying Earth.
Psycho Pirate goes rogue and off-script from The Monitor’s plans. That’s bad for The Monitor…and Psycho Pirate as he gets whisked away by the dark evil presence. Wolfman and Perez understand the value of building up the arrival of the series’ big villain. It makes sense not rush his reveal since it took so long and a year’s worth of build to show The Monitor. It’s a nice touch by the colorist to put black caption boxes around the villain’s dialogue as it makes for a simple visual cue this is not a character to take lightly.
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The action is still limited to smaller moments with another assault by the shadow warriors, whom the heroes acknowledge look like silhouettes of The Monitor. This issue is all about setting up the rising tension and growing sense of dread that’s even got Batman and Superman spooked and that’s before they even know the real threat to the Multiverse.
And the big clue that this threat is serious is the big bad takes out The Guardians as part of his first strike thereby knocking out the endless armies of Green Lanterns that could be pitted against him.
Perez masterfully sets the stage here with the disintegrating Flash, the scope of The Monitor’s towers and Psycho Pirate unleashing his powers. There’s no bad issue of Crisis if for no other reason than Perez’s incredible art. From character expressions to the action perspectives to the no cheat backgrounds, Perez simply operated on another level than his peers.
This isn’t the biggest issue of the series, but Wolfman and Perez are quickly setting in gear the elements that will shake Crisis up and intensify as the story progresses.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: DC Comics