And after an extended delay, on we go through the massive 1985 maxi-series, Crisis on Infinite Earths, written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by George Perez. The last issue ended with the visual reveal of the series’ main villain (not yet referred to as the Anti-Monitor). Now, we continue with #6.
Issue 6 – 3 Earths! 3 Deaths!
Page 1 – The narration reveals for the first time that the anti-matter universe (first revealed, I think, way back in early issues of Green Lantern) was created in an accident. I think this is the first time also that we reveal that that is where all the scenes with the story’s villain have been set. The evil Monitor puts Psycho Pirate to use by increasing his powers so he can controls the emotions of everyone on the three remaining, yet vulnerable earths: Earth 4, Earth X, and Earth S.
Page 5 – The tried and true “You won’t sacrifice yourself, I will instead, so I knock you unconscious” trope shows up here as Harbinger refuses to allow Alexander Luthor to use his energies to save the remaining three universes.
It’s not clear to understand exactly what is going on, but we learn here that apparently Harbinger’s powers are the result of “all the cerebral powers released in one being.” Sort of like the movie Lucy, I guess.
Page 7 – Ted Grant is apparently out of commission as Wildcat, but never mind because Yolanda Montez is hanging out his window talking about her undefined special abilities that will allow her to honor his legacy.
Page 8 – Apparently, this is the first meeting between Lex Luthor and the “new” Brainiac.
Page 9 – On Earth X we see a giant image of Harbinger who is attempting to save the universe, but the Earth 1 & 2 heroes are attacked by the emotionally-controlled Freedom Fighters. Dr. Light is there, still demonstrating a lot of grouchiness.
Page 12 – The same sort of thing is happening on Earth 4, as Blue Beetle’s fellow Charlton heroes–Captain Atom, Peacemaker, Peter Cannon, etc–make their DC debut.
Page 15 – We catch up with Aquaman briefly, who is looking for Mera. After that, Black Manta and Ocean Master become the first villains in the series to suddenly disappear, which we will later see is the work of Luthor and Brainiac.
Page 16 – Earth S is under similar threat as the other worlds, and Supergirl gets to pound it out with Captain Marvel.
Page 21 – Harbinger is able to complete her work and bring the other three earths into the same safety net that Earth 1 and Earth 2 are in. Harbinger’s powers are apparently dissipated because of this. One Page 24, we have one of the series’ few jokes, where Alexander and Lyla wonder how they are going to get off the floating rock they are hanging out on.
Page 25 – And the new Wildcat makes her debut in a dramatic panel, which seems inconsistent with how important a character she actually is.
Issue 7 – Beyond the Silent Night
Cover – Though the image is not completely original (having been famously used in lots of previous comics as well as in historical Christian art which depicts a subject called the Pietà), this cover by George Perez became a bit of an instant classic, and most later uses of the composition generally refer back to this one, rather than the any earlier ones.
Page 1 – Lyla and Alexander Luthor are still on their rock, and are soon joined by Pariah. Though the last issue involved three more universes being saved from the Anti-Monitor, here it’s clear that all five remaining earths are in terrible danger. Pariah speaks extensively about his miserable plight On one hand, he acts like all the deaths he’s witnessed are punishment enough for his sins, but on the other hand he also acknowledges that all those deaths actually are his fault. So I guess, the more deaths that take place, the more punishment he deserves?
Page 2 – On Earth S, Captain Marvel (as he was still known back then) is no longer under Psycho Pirate’s control, and neither are all the rest of the Earth S / 4 / X heroes. His enemies, Ibac and Dr. Sivana are mysteriously pulled away like some of their comrades-in-villainy, and we see explicitly that Braniac (and presumably, Luthor) are responsible.
Page 3 – Lyla turns up on Earth S, asking for just one representative from that universe to come to a meeting. Just one representative from the entire universe. Whoever it is is going to have a lot of work ‘splaining to every single other person in his universe.
Page 4 – The JSA are stressing over Ted Grant’s condition. Then Pariah speaks to the heroes of Earth 4 and gets Blue Beetle to come to their meeting.
Page 6 – The meeting actually begins, back on the floating rock. In attendance are Alexander Luthor, Lyla, Pariah, Superman (Earth 1), Superman (Earth 2), Uncle Sam, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle and Lady Quark (whose universe, Earth 6, is destroyed). Blue Beetle throws out a meta-reference to “Who’s Who”, which was DC’s reference book series which was being published at the same time as this series.
Page 7 – We get our second example of the trope where someone says to Superman that he doesn’t understand what it means to be the last of their kind. This time, it’s Lady Quark, and she’s talking to two Supermen.
And now we get the beginning of a lot of exposition….
Page 8 – We are back in history on Oa, and we are introduced again to Krona, a classic Green Lantern villain who caused lots of problems when he tried to find out the origins of universe. The image of a giant hand emerging from the primordial storm is a bit of a DC classic.
Page 9 – And here we learn that the same accident that gave rise to the anti-matter universe also created the multiverse, where all worlds are duplicated except Oa.
The ancestors of the Guardians, by the way, don’t believe in death but they do believe in reducing you to disembodied energy to circle harmlessly throughout the universe forever, but Krona isn’t having any of that.
Page 10 – And now we see that it was because of the guilt of knowing about the evil that was created in the anti-matter universe (ie the Anti-Monitor) that led the Oans to their ongoing pursuit for justice and order. I don’t know if this is a new idea, or something that had been previously established. To be thorough, Lyla throws in here the history of the Manhunters and the Controllers as well.
Page 11 – Now we hear about the rise of the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor, it turns out, is the leader of the Weaponers of Qward, who have been Green Lantern foes for a long time. The worst of these Weaponers became the Shadow Demons that were introduced in this series.
Page 13 – 16 – Finally, we get into what Pariah actually did that he feels so guilty about. Apparently, in his pride, he also wanted to see the origins of the universe, and in doing so released anti-matter which destroyed his universe and caused the Anti-Monitor to wake up and get stronger, and start hungering for other universes.
But it also woke the Monitor, who was able to start using Pariah to track his evil brother’s movements. Lyla also gets a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it backstory here, told in two panels, which doesn’t really reveal anything new. She was drifting at sea when the Monitor saw her and raised her. She feels bad for killing him, but everyone recognizes that she was under the Anti-Monitor’s control.
And the exposition finally ends!
Page 17 – This page is a quick survey of the heroes of five earths who for whatever reason are not going on a big mission to take down the Anti-Monitor. These heroes include the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger (whose magic is useless in the anti-matter universe), Power Girl, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel jr (who seem to be being held in some sort of reserve) and a bunch of less powerful heroes.
Page 18-19 – The calm before the storm, the heroes who are going on this attack mission all stand around the floating asteroid. They include the likes of Lady Quark, Captain Atom, Mon-El, Jade, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, both Supermen, the Ray, Firestorm, J’Onn J’Onzz, Dr. Light, Green Lantern Alan Scott, Wildfire, and Captain Marvel.
We learn here, if we didn’t know already, that the reason the Monitor recruited Alexander Luthor was because he journey to Earth 1 left him imbued with both positive and anti-matter. Once he opens the portal to the anti-matter universe, Pariah leads the way the villain, seeing it as his atonement.
Pages 22-23 – A double page image of the great stone fortress of the Anti-Monitor. It’s pretty amazing, and the sort of thing the extra pages of the issue allows the creative team to do.
Page 24 – It turns out that stopping this attack was what the Anti-Monitor was keeping the Psycho Pirate around for. But the Psycho Pirate is too drained after the events of the last issue, where he was controlling all the people on the other three worlds.
Page 26 – We establish that Kryptonians can be hurt in the anti-matter universe when the Earth 2 Superman starts bleeding after an attack.
Page 31 – The battle rages on, and Pariah is apparently killed. But if we’ve been paying attention we know that he can’t really be hurt. In the meantime, Superman notes that Dr. Light is changing, becoming more overtly a hero.
Page 33 – 36 We begin to build up to the end of Supergirl…she hears Superman in trouble and heroically pushes past all the obstacles to come to his aid. “There’s always hope. You can’t give up hoping. Not ever!” Supergirl’s legacy to everyone else. Supergirl, in her heroism, particularly inspires Dr. Light to become a better person.
Pages 38-39 – The Anti-Monitor deals Supergirl the death blow, but she has done him severe damage and forces him to retreat. Before he leaves, the Anti-Monitor conveniently mentions that he plays to find his triumph at the dawn of time. The death of Supergirl, in Superman’s arms, remains one of the most moving pages I’ve ever sen in a comic book.
Page 41 – The aftermath of Supergirl’s death. The newspaper headline mentions that her memorial will be in Chicago, which is where she was living in the most recent comics. We see lots of other characters reacting and mourning, including Batgirl, who delivers the eulogy, and Braniac 5 from the Legion of Super-Heroes, who was in love with her.
Page 42 – The issue ends with Superman having a private funeral for his cousin, which appears to include some sort of Kryptonian prayer ritual. Finally, there’s a quote: “Is there beyond the silent night an endless day? Is death a door that leads to light? we cannot say.” It is attributed to the “Declaration of the Free” (apparently by Robert G. Ingersoll).