Crisis on Infinite Earths kicks off this Sunday. It’s a massive five-part crossover connecting the heroes of the Arrowverse and beyond.
What was Crisis?
DC Editorial figured their continuity was too convoluted to attract new readers and wanted to streamline its history. Over the years writers added to the fabric of the DC Universe by creating various Earths for different characters. Captain Marvel/Shazam and his Marvel Family were on Earth-S, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters fought Nazis on Earth-X in a world where World War II was still raging on. Earth-2 featured older versions of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman as well as the Justice Society of America.
Rather than just rebooting under some fancy new banner, DC decided to do a massive, sprawling event to take the Multiverse to one Earth. Writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, got the gig. This was a dream team for the project as Wolfman and Perez had taken The New Teen Titans to a level of popularity that was only rivaled at that time by the equally iconic run of Chris Claremont and John Byrne on X-Men.
I always loved the DC Who’s Who series as it was an excellent primer on the multitude of DC characters. With Crisis coming, I figured I’d catch everyone up to speed on the main players that share a common thread with the comic version and TV spin. Then I’ll add another category for the characters who had a greater significance in the comic or TV version. Naturally, there will be some comic book spoilers although they’re not likely to play out the same way in the TV adaptation.
In the comics, The Flash is in the future and away from his Justice League allies and sidekick Wally West aka Kid Flash. When Crisis arrives in his future timeline, Barry is able to shift his molecules and return to the past to get a warning message to his friends. Flash’s abilities poses a singular threat to The Anti-Monitor who captures him to keep him off the board. Biding his time, Flash strikes and stops The Anti-Monitor from unleashing an anti-matter cannon to destroy the remaining Earths at the cost of his life.
The TV buildup has followed a similar pattern of Flash being a major part of Crisis. Ever since the first episode, it’s been teased that Flash would vanish during Crisis never to be seen or heard from again. The Monitor reinforces this belief by showing Flash a vision where everyone dies in a wave of anti-matter if Flash doesn’t sacrifice himself. The comic story does place a major emphasis on Flash’s death, but would the TV series actually stay on that course?
Supergirl isn’t sure what to make of Crisis in the comics, but she continues trying to save others. She’s called to join a special gathering aboard The Monitor’s ship before being dispatched to Earth-S. After helping to stop the Marvel Family, Supergirl is part of the small elite squad that goes to stop The Anti-Monitor’s first plan. When her cousin, Superman, is ambushed and on the brink of death, Supergirl rushes off to save him. Supergirl goes toe-to-toe with The Anti-Monitor, who kills her leaving Superman, the Earth-1 heroes and the Legion of Super Heroes to mourn her.
Oddly, Supergirl’s first half of the season wasn’t used for a massive Crisis set-up. The main connection was a subplot involving Martian Manhunter and his brother, which was a test by The Monitor. Supergirl isn’t doing awesome in the ratings, but is there any possible way Crisis would end with Supergirl getting killed to be true to the comic?
Over a series of years, The Monitor gathered weapons and honed the abilities of the Multiverse heroes to prepare them for Crisis. He’s waged a long battle against his opposite number, but time is running out. He sets a final plan in motion where his aid, Harbinger, has all the necessary tools to stop the destruction of the Multiverse before his death.
In the TV version The Monitor has been operating behind the scenes since the Elseworlds crossover specifically communicating with Oliver Queen and Barry Allen about their roles in the pending Crisis. He doesn’t have much good news for them, but assures them that their sacrifice won’t be in vain.
Arguably the best event villain in all of comics, The Anti-Monitor is power mad, relentless and desperate to see the Multiverse bathed in anti-matter. He is directly responsible for the deaths of Supergirl, The Flash, the Crime Syndicate of America and countless other heroes and villains. In the comics it took a string of attacks to finally defeat him for good.
As Crisis is just now getting started, we haven’t seen any traces of The Anti-Monitor besides the promotional pictures. Hopefully he gets a more comic-accurate makeover at some point in the crossover.
Harbinger was a girl who was spared from drowning at sea by The Monitor, who raised her as his herald for the pending Crisis. She had no other connections and bonded quickly with Alexander Luthor and Pariah over their joint roles in The Monitor’s plans. Lyla proved a key figure in helping the heroes of the Multiverse defeat the Anti-Monitor.
In the TV universe, eyes were raised when Diggle’s wife Lyla first dropped her call signal of Harbinger on a mission. While it could have been written off as a coincidence, this season of Arrow revealed Lyla has been in league with The Monitor for years. She’s helped him test the heroes to prepare for Crisis.
A brilliant scientist unsatisfied with his knowledge tempts fate further by seeking the dawn of creation. Pariah’s efforts contribute to The Anti-Monitor’s re-emergence and as penance, he’s forced to travel through the Multiverse just as Earths are being consumed by anti-matter until all are wiped out. The Monitor has a grander plan in mind for Pariah and he begins to use his abilities as a tool to help the heroes.
We’ve yet to officially see Pariah in the TV side although he looks like one of the thousands of Wells in the Multiverse. Could this be the final form of Nash Wells who seems to know more about The Monitor than he’s let on?
The emotional controlling Psycho Pirate is a major figure in Crisis. Initially sought out by The Monitor to help calm people from panicking, Psycho Pirate switches sides and joins The Anti-Monitor over the promise of having worlds to play with. His mental assault on three Earths pits their respective heroes against others trying to save them. Psycho Pirate helps keep The Flash in check before being used as an instrument to nearly kill his master. As the Crisis concludes, he’s one of the few cursed with the memories of how everything occurred.
We haven’t seen Psycho Pirate since he got imprisoned in Arkham Asylum at the end of Elseworlds, but we do know he’s got his Madusa mask that helps him control emotions.
No big story could take part in the DCU without Superman playing a major role. Superman enters the fray relatively early on, but comes to the forefront in issue 7 when facing the Anti-Monitor and seeing Supergirl die to save him. This leads to a more vengeful Man of Steel who remains every bit the hero you’d want next to you when facing the ultimate evil.
The TV Superman has been off-planet as Lois Lane is giving birth to their son, Jon. He’ll be back in time to join Supergirl and the other heroes as they travel through the Multiverse trying to stop The Anti-Monitor.
When Crisis begins, it’s the Superman of Earth-2 that The Monitor calls in first. Earth-2 Superman remained a pivotal character through the series. He joins the select group of heroes to battle the Anti-Monitor on his home turf as well as the final battle. He sends Superman and Lady Quark through the new reality to avoid being wiped out of reality. It’s Earth-2 Superman who lands the killing blow to finally end the threat of The Anti-Monitor and has an unexpected joyous reunion with his wife Lois Lane.
In lieu of going with the Earth-2 route since that was already established and destroyed early on in Arrow, the Arrowverse shifts to the Kingdom Come reality with another Superman with greying temples. He should be the last hero standing, but I’ve got a feeling that big moment is going to be reserved for Green Arrow complete with his reunion with Felicity.
Early on Lex Luthor was a non-factor in the event until he teamed up with his longtime ally Brainiac to lead the villains’ surge on the remaining worlds when the Anti-Monitor was presumed dead. Luthor eventually joined the effort to save the Multiverse leading a cadre of villains on a desperate attempt to stop the creation of the anti-matter universe.
In the show, Luthor is far darker and ruthless. As he was dying after crossing his sister Lena, Luthor revealed her best friend was Supergirl. Luthor did not die and was spared by The Monitor who knows the value of having a super genius on hand.
Atom does get some quality time throughout Crisis as he helps in the effort to save Red Tornado and rescues Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family during the Villain War.
In the Arrowverse, Ray Palmer is one of the remaining founding members of the Legends of Tomorrow although his Atom is less a size changer and more of a bootleg take on Iron Man. Atom will be suiting up for some part of the event despite star Brandon Routh also suiting up as the Kingdom Come Superman. This could lead to the death of Ray Palmer as Osric Chau will be making his debut as Ryan Choi, who became The Atom in the comics following Ray Palmer.
Black Canary traveled to Earth-S with Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Kole and Changeling to aid the mind-controlled Marvel Family. She helped prevent the Family from killing themselves while under Psycho Pirate’s control. She also took part in the Villain War alongside Green Arrow and her former Justice League allies.
While Black Canary is dead, Black Siren is a major part of Arrow and will be part of the future spin-off. Expect Black Siren to play a big role in Crisis as one of the few powerhouse superheroes in the mix.
In the comics, Black Lightning was a prominent member of The Outsiders including Batman, Geo-Force, Katana, Metamorpho and Halo. During Crisis, Black Lightning primarily stayed close with his teammates in battle before joining major assault strikes against The Anti-Monitor.
Crisis will mark the first time the TV version will interact with the other characters in the Arrowverse as his adventures have played out on a different Earth. Given the one Earth standing premise of Crisis this might be the gateway to bring Black Lightning onto the main Earth.
For the first half of Crisis, Spectre sits on the sidelines while The Anti-Monitor plots, but as more heroes fall and his plan reaches a higher level of desperation, The Spectre enters the fray to end the Villain War and make a last ditch effort to stop The Anti-Monitor from destroying the Multiverse.
It’s a pretty iconic moment in Crisis and the fact that Stephen Lobo will be playing the character indicates we’ll at least have an homage to that big scene. But he is too powerful to have a major role in the crossover.
J’onn J’ozz is a regular player in the comics version as he joins the effort to prevent the Charlton heroes from killing themselves in the anti-matter wave. He is also part of the satellite crew to help Red Tornado and leads an assault in the Villain War. He is among the main heroes in the final battle against the Anti-Monitor.
The Arrowverse version of Martian Manhunter is regularly overwhelmed by lackluster villains and tends to fight in his human alter ego form. Hopefully at some point in the crossover we’ll see Manhunter unleashed.
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In the comics, Green Arrow doesn’t have a very significant role in Crisis. That definitely won’t be the case in the TV version as the Arrowverse is named after Arrow. His series is ending two episodes after Crisis and we’ve already been spoiled that he is considered dead afterwards. Likewise, it’s easy to see he’ll get the Earth-2 Superman happy ending with Felicity when it’s all over.
Batwoman isn’t a factor in DC during Crisis as Batgirl is the main female member of the Bat Family. It’s safe to say Batwoman will take on a prominent role and largely fill in for Batman’s fairly key role. It was Batman who first started seeing visions of the time-distorted Flash. It wouldn’t necessarily have the same impact since Batwoman only met The Flash once, but that would be a way to raise her profile in the crossover.
Green Arrow’s daughter with Felicity is going to take up the mantle of the Green Arrow after Oliver’s death. She’s been a major factor in the TV series while she didn’t even exist during the comics crossover.
This category is for all of the major players from the comic who had significant roles in the comic version of Crisis who might not be in the crossover.
Like Earth-2 Superman, Firestorm is present in Crisis right from the start as part of the initial band of recruits. He teams with his rival Killer Frost and helps battle the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons. They also try and protect one of the Monitor’s devices and Firestorm joins the small strike squad to take on The Anti-Monitor. After that battle, he is part of the Justice League contingent that travels to the satellite to try and repair the destroyed Red Tornado. Firestorm also joins the battle with the Justice League in the Villain War and travels to the Dawn of Time with the main hero unit and is a member of the final attack squad battling the Anti-Monitor.
As pivotal as he was in the comic series, Firestorm might be sitting out the TV version since Martin Stein was killed in the Crisis on Earth-X crossover unless Jax can find a new partner. That would be ideal since Firestorm really should be a part of this crossover.
As the conduit between the anti-matter and positive matter world, Alexander Luthor is a major part of Crisis and a potential important player if the Arrowverse were to eventually adapt Infinite Crisis.
Fan indulgence here. Michael Rosenbaum said he wouldn’t be playing Lex Luthor in the crossover, but maybe he was trying to throw fans off as he’ll be playing the heroic Alexander Luthor instead? Alex really is too important to ignore so hopefully the crossover has a role for him in some capacity.
So that’s a brief summary of the key players in Crisis. The Arrowverse adaptation kicks off Dec. 8 and if you want to see how the story played out, check out the Crisis trade now.