This is what everything’s been building up to in this yearlong destruction of the DC Multiverse.
We’ve seen legendary heroes and even some villains die in the battle against the Anti-Monitor. With the ultimate showdown taking place on his home field, the Anti-Monitor aims to up the body count and take down the rest of the forces opposing him.
That personal vendetta writer Marv Wolfman gives this final battle higher stakes than just heroes vs. a big bad guy. Anti-Monitor is outraged that the heroes haven’t just cowered in terror yet while the heroes want payback for the death of their friends. By the issue’s end the body count will skyrocket.
To ensure a victory the Anti-Monitor unleashes his forces throughout the Earth. That sequence when the sky erupts and it’s just a mass of shadow demons is insane. Artist George Perez stages it in a way I doubt a director could make it look better in a live-action version.
Millions of shadow demons being stopped at every turn wouldn’t properly convey their threat so scores of characters get killed in the onslaught including the Earth-2 Green Arrow, Dove, Kole and the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress. The latter two’s death really felt tragic after they learned their past was erased with the creation of the New Earth.
This is also the first issue where Wally West’s fears are confirmed as Anti-Monitor reveals he killed The Flash. But he is lying to some extent so Wally joins the final attack team that’s going after the Anti-Monitor.
Perez deserves a slew of credit for this massive project and packing in as many characters as possible on seemingly every panel. It’s his deep knowledge of DC lore that might be the most impressive. In the sequence where Wally takes Flash’s ring, the reactions from his Justice League teammates Superman and Firestorm fully sells the moment.
Wolfman gives the last battle the main event feel it deserves as the heroes launch one assault while Dr. Light hangs back in reserve.
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Meanwhile Brainiac takes a group of heroes to Apocalypse where Darkseid joins the fray to land a critical blow on the Anti-Monitor. While this is playing out, Earth’s magic users are focusing their powers to remove the shadow demons and poison the Anti-Monitor.
He doesn’t go down without a fight though and kills Wonder Woman in a shocking casualty.
Wolfman long ago established that the Anti-Monitor wouldn’t stay down in a fight. With Alexander Luthor opening a portal to send Earth and her heroes back to the positive matter realm time is running out to end the threat of the Anti-Monitor once and for all. Earth-2 Superman and Superboy Prime make the ultimate sacrifice to stay behind and finish the fight for good.
Pérez will always deliver on an epic battle and the temptation might be there to just move onto the next panel and page, but take the time to pore over all the details from character arrangement and presentation like the subtle differences between Superman and the E2 Superman.
While victorious, Earth-2 Superman is ready to face the void of anti-matter when Alexander reveals he saved the E2 Lois Lane so they could be reunited.
This paved the way for a very clever storyline Geoff Johns would tackle years later in Infinite Crisis.
In the aftermath, the heroes mourn their dead and a rebirth occurs as Wally West ushers in the post-Crisis as the new Flash. It’s a fitting closure on the Silver Age with a natural transition to the new era.
Crisis accomplished what could be perceived as a cynical, agenda-driven event and made one of the landmark achievements in Comics history. The displays of heroism and villainy still hold up incredibly well today. As you start watching the Arrowverse’s take on it, don’t forget to check out or revisit one of the best epics ever.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: DC Comics