And so we continue a retread through the epic maxi-series from the mid-1980’s, Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Have a look at previous issues here and here. Today, though, we pick up things with Issue #4:
Issue 4 – And thus shall the World Die!
Page 1 – The story starts off with the series debuts of Supergirl and Batgirl, who have a bit of a heart to heart on a building top. Batgirl is feeling depressed and discouraged by what is happening, while Supergirl is undaunted in her hope and optimism. Supergirl, incidentally, sports the headband that she wore during this period that somebody apparently thought was a good idea, but otherwise is not too different from the hero we see on TV now. Batgirl, for her part, shows up here a few years prior to her character altering appearance in The Killing Joke.
Page 3 – We get a 1 page interlude with John Constantine and Steve Dayton, two characters I knew nothing about when I was first reading this and about whom I learned nothing from this scene, except that they had something to do with Swamp Thing. They don’t appear again in the series (as far as I know), and what they’re talking about doesn’t seem to relate to anything else that happens.
Who would have known back then that three of the four characters we’ve mentioned so far would have headlined their own TV series’ 31 years later?
Page 4 – Pariah appears after taking the last issue off, and materializes on Earth 6, an earth we’ve never seen before, and which the narration explains is actually the 6th last earth remaining. Is that where it got its name? No matter, the inhabitants of Earth 6 are soon no more, except for Lady Quark, the wife of the world’s ruler, whom Pariah is able to save.
Page 8 – The Monitor, who we learn here is still alive (the issue having gone back in time a while before the events of the last issue’s last page), goes to work creating the new Dr. Light. She his Kimiyo Hoshi, a real unpleasant piece of work.
Page 10 – Alexander Luthor is now a physical teenager, and he knows that Harbinger is going to kill the Monitor according to his own wishes.
Page 11 – The mysterious villian of our piece kidnaps the Red Tornado to bend him to his purposes. If I was a particular fan of Red Tornado, I’d have been pretty grumpy about his treatment in this series, as he gets killed off but with none of the heroic fanfare as the other major heroes who lose their lives.
Page 12 – Killer Frost and Firestorm turn up to guard the last of the big machines, which is located in Camelot on Earth 2. This is the only one of the five machines not to be on Earth 1. Vandal Savage is lurking around there dreaming of worldly conquest, and the Shining Knight is on hand to assist in fighting the Shadow Demons.
Page 15 – Dr. Hoshi reappears as the new Dr. Light, guarding a sixth machine that shimmers into existence in present day Metropolis. She seems fully powered up and also informed as to her role in assisting the Monitor. So again, why-oh-why doesn’t the Monitor use these abilities to inform lots and lots of heroes as to what he is doing, instead of his oddly-chosen 15?
Page 17 – A brief cutaway to show us where Wonder Woman is during all this, which is apparently on Paradise Island not getting along with her mother.
Then Pariah shows up to talk to the Monitor. The Monitor reveals he is actually responsible for Pariah’s survival, and thus by implication, for his curse of witnessing the death of untold millions. The Monitor tells him to shut up and be grateful, and repeats the central conceit of the series,which is that “The Universe was split apart at the dawn of time…each world weaker than the whole it was meant to be.” He also tells him that his machines are designed to save Earth 1 and Earth 2 from the anti-matter.
But then Harbinger shows up and, saying different dialogue from the end of Issue #3, kills the Monitor and then herself collapses and falls down an internal chasm worthy of any Star Wars movie. Pariah collapses onto the Monitor’s body and has his most histrionic moment yet.
The last three pages basically show the worlds seeming to die and being replaced by absolute nothing.
Issue 5 – Worlds in Limbo
Page 1 – The series’ villain doesn’t understand why the energy from Earth 1 and Earth 2 haven’t flown into him. Like in all the best Christ-analogies, the devil often doesn’t understand what the Christ-figure is up to.
Page 2 – Meanwhile, the Monitor is dead, and Lyla, though having plunged down an endless pit in the previous issue, is right there, but albeit not as Harbinger anymore. A recording of the Monitor turns on and reveals how on to it that guy was, confirming that he arranged for Harbinger to kill him at that particular moment so that it would release all his energy not only to power the vibrational forks (his giant machines) but also to create a netherverse for Earth 1 and 2 to live in. Alex Luthor, now a young man, joins them and confirms that his journey from Earth 3 has somehow turned him into a combination of Positive and Negative Matter. The trio have a little funeral ceremony for the Monitor and then get on with saving the universe.
Page 5 – As a prisoner of the series’ villain, the Flash begins to be tortured by the Psycho Pirate.
Page 6 – Earths 1 & 2 are having lots of problems as time and alternate universe begin to be squished into each other.
Page 7 – Meanwhile, Harbinger, Alex Luthor, and Pariah gather all the heroes together that they can to fill them in on things. Lots of characters from all over time are flung together.
During this scene, Alex Luthor states again the concept that the universe was once one reality before it was mysteriously split, and he states that it was the Monitor’s plan to ultimately merge the multiverse back together into on world. Strangely, the heroes feel the need to go back to earth and see how bad things are before they agree to help.
Page 13 – A whole bunch of Green Lanterns (none from earth) show up on Oa to find out why their rings don’t work. They find the Guardians imprisoned, and then fall victim to some mysterious attack.
Page 14 – Rip Hunter and his crew of time travelers make a two panel cameo – they are lost in time.
Page 16 – The writer takes the time to show us that Killer Frost is no longer in love with Firestorm, Psycho Pirate’s influence having worn off.
Page 17 – Red Tornado is altered by the villain. This villain announces that Red Tornado is neither man nor machine, but a primal force. I don’t know the character well enough to know whether this was a new concept or not. Either way, we are told bluntly about Red Tornado, “That being simply no longer exists.”
Page 19 – The altered Red Tornado attacks Earth 1, crippling Ted Grant / Wildcat. Yolanda Montez makes her series debut–I assume she’d appeared previously in Infinity Inc. but I don’t know that for sure.
Page 22 – Alex Luthor, Pariah and Harbinger send another group of heroes to protect some of the remaining three earths. We don’t get a good look at these guys, but they come under attack from the enemy before they can get going.
That enemy finally reveals himself, at least to Flash and Psycho Pirate, and names himself “The Monitor” (nobody has used the term “Anti-Monitor” yet.)
Page 25 – Abruptly on the last page, we see Earth X, where World War II lasted for decades, and we see their main heroes, the Freedom Fighters, appearing to attack the wall of anti-matter headlong. Later, though, we’ll see that they aren’t killed.