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Off The Page: Infinite Crisis

By Patrick McNair Feb 21, 2017 - 8:58 AM print


In 1985, DC Comics published Crisis on Infinite Earths , a huge multi-title crossover event designed to retcon and simplify 50 years’ worth of DC Comics continuity that had become riddled with discrepancies and inconsistencies. One of the key components of that storyline, the Multiverse, featuring alternate versions of characters (such as the Earth-2 Superman, Kal-L) was collapsed into a single Earth ("New Earth"), with revised character biographies and new origin stories. Fast forward 20 years later, a sequel was proposed that would examine the consequences of ending the Multiverse as well as exploring the nature of the conflicted modern hero against the more straitlaced do-gooders of the Golden Age of comics. Infinite Crisis , released between 2005-2006, was a return to the large-scale crossovers that had gone out of fashion in the 1990s and was a follow-up to one of DC's biggest storylines, which had a huge effect on the company's fictional comic history.

The Setup:

Following the collapse of the Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths , a group consisting of the Earth-2 Superman and his wife, Lois Lane Kent, Alexander Luthor of Earth- 3 and Superboy-Prime escaped to a pocket dimension. From there, Alexander and Superboy- Prime witness the increasing carnage and devastation taking place on New Earth, resolving to resurrect the Multiverse in order to create the perfect world. Meanwhile, the modern day heroes, led by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, confront an increasing escalation of violence around the world, shaking them to their very core.

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The Breakdown:

Infinite Crisis was written by comic book alumni (and current Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics) Geoff Johns, with artwork provided by a selection of artists including, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Ries and Phil Jimenez. Along with the seven issue main series, a number of tie-ins were published to complement the series. Among these titles were the one-shot comic, Countdown to Infinite Crisis and several limited series, all culminating with Infinite Crisis .

The comic opens up with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman standing in the ruins of the Justice League Watchtower, reeling from the apparent demise of Martian Manhunter. Both Batman and Superman are wary that Wonder Woman has crossed the line by killing Maxwell Lord for his murder of Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle. Wonder Woman attempts to justify her actions as she was avenging one of their own but the others don't agree. Batman then turns on Superman, stating that he hasn't inspired anyone since his death ( The Death of Superman ) and that he is the only one that is keeping check on the metahuman community. Meanwhile, the Earth-2 Superman, Kal-L, his wife, Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor Jr of Earth-3 and Superboy-Prime escape from the pocket universe that Alexander led them to in Crisis on Infinite Earths . The group hopes to save Lois, who has grown weak and is on the verge of death, with Alexander convincing them that the return of Earth-2 will restore her and bring back the "perfect" Earth. Kal-L seeks out his cousin, Power Girl, also an Earth-2 survivor to bring her to their cause; however, he fails to convince Batman of his plan, storming out of the Batcave. After stumbling onto his real intentions, Alexander reveals to Power Girl that he and Superboy-Prime had left their pocket dimension several times in order to manipulate events in the mainstream universe. Alexander even had Superboy-Prime physically move planets so that Oa (home to the Guardians of the Universe) would no longer be the centre of the universe, but instead where Earth-2 would be. He shows Power Girl the machine he had built from the Anti-Monitor's remains, powered by captured heroes and villains (Alexander had disguised himself as this universe’s Lex Luthor to avoid suspicion, subduing the real Luthor) attuned to the frequencies of different universes (including Martian Manhunter), adding Power Girl to the machine.

Using the machine, Alexander recreates the Multiverse, including Earth-2, with the Earth-2 heroes transported there. However, despite recreating that world, the Earth-2 Lois dies and an aggrieved Kal-L lashes out at Superman, before Wonder Woman breaks it up. Superman reasons Kal-L down, saying that if the world was perfect, it wouldn't need a Superman, noting that the recreated Earth-2 is only a hollow fabrication. Alexander continues to merge different Earths in order to create the "perfect" world, however, a fight between Superboy and Superboy-Prime ends up destroying the machine, collapsing the Multiverse back into a single Earth. Superboy dies and this sacrifice reunites the heroes with Batman in particular taking this tragedy very personally. While Batman and a team destroy Brother Eye (an AI designed by Batman that had gone rogue), a horde of villains converge on Metropolis, resulting in numerous deaths on both sides, with Superboy-Prime responsible for many indiscriminate killings. Eventually, the crazed Kryptonian takes off to destroy Oa and recreate the universe anew, with himself as the only superhero. Superboy-Prime dismantles the Green Lantern Corps, killing many Lanterns, while Superman and Kal-L catch up with Superboy-Prime, flying him through Krypton's sun, crashing onto a nearby planet. After flying through a red sun, the three Kryptonian's are severely reduced in power, but both Superman and Kal-L manage to knock out Superboy-Prime, although Kal-L dies in the process.

After nearly being killed by Batman, Alexander escapes, but is killed by the Joker, while Lex Luthor mocks him. With the Green Lantern Corps capturing and imprisoning Superboy-Prime, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman go their separate ways, the latter two embarking on a journey of self-discovery, with the former entering temporary retirement until his powers return. The Trinity vow that whenever the world needs them, they'll be there.

Summary:

Infinite Crisis proves itself as a worthy sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths , incorporating and following up on many of the elements of that epic crossover, while acknowledging the past continuity of DC Comics. Alexander Luthor was presented as a benevolent figure in the original Crisis , here he is more akin to his dimensional counterpart, scheming and manipulating Superboy-Prime and Kal-L into creating the "perfect" world, with him as its ruler. Infinite Crisis holds a mirror to the differences between the Modern Age heroes and those of the Golden Age, since Kal-L laments the qualities of honesty and decency becoming eroded, replaced with cynicism and fear as typified in Batman’s hostile attitude to his colleagues as well as the line between hero and villain being blurred with Wonder Woman's killing of Maxwell Lord. Such a theme also examines the sophistication in writing and the problems superheroes faced from the 1940s to the 2000’s, as "truth and justice" was deconstructed and analysed for a modern audience, reflecting the times of a changing society. The reality altering shockwaves created by Superboy-Prime trying to escape the pocket universe, became the de facto explanation for the inconsistencies and contradictory events in DC's fictional continuity, replacing Mark Waid’s Hypertime concept, first introduced in The Kingdom . Following Infinite Crisis , DC storylines jumped forward a year in the One Year Later arc, with a weekly comic, 52 , bridging the gap between the end of Infinite Crisis and One Year Later . Bart Allen (the grandson of Barry Allen) became the new Flash and was given his own series, entitled The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive , while Superboy-Prime would next appear in Sinestro Corps War in 2007.



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