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Crisis On Infinite Earths Paperback – January 1, 2001
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About the Author
A veteran of the comics field, George Perez has illustrated dozens of the most popular series over the last 20 years including New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and JLA/Avengers.
Top Customer Reviews
Longtime comicbook readers feel that they need "continuity" in the stories they read. Continuity is the idea that a fictional universe, such as the one in which DC's superhero comics take place, operates with a certain logic and is internally consistent. By 1961, however, DC was having trouble with continuity. How could they explain that, twenty years ago, Batman and Robin were fighting Nazis and hanging out with FDR, while in the present they were fighting Commies and hanging out with JFK ... but Robin was still only a teenager???
Since DC's WW2 stories were too fondly remembered to just be ignored, the editors decided that they all took place in an alternate universe, dubbed Earth-2. The present-day DC heroes lived on Earth-1 and were a good deal younger than their Earth-2 counterparts, not having debuted until after WW2. Every year Earth-1's Justice League teamed up with Earth-2's Justice Society, whose Robin was an adult, whose Superman had grey hair, etc., etc.
By the early 1980s, DC decided that the multiplicity of Earths-- of Supermen, Batmen, and Wonder Women--was hurting the company's ability to attract new readers. The DC universes needed to be simplified into a single universe and duplicate characters eliminated. This move has remained controversial ever since, but I maintain that it was the right thing to do, because I only became a DC reader in the aftermath of CRISIS.
When I was growing up, my first knowledge of superheroes came through Saturday morning cartoons, namely Superfriends and Spider-Man. The first comic book I ever bought was a pre-Crisis JLA/JSA teamup. It was confusing as hell because it didn't fit into the template I had picked up from Superfriends: Who was this grown-up Robin? Why did Superman have grey hair? And just what was going on in the WW2 flashbacks? Then I realized that, over at Marvel Comics, Spider-Man was the same guy I saw on TV. I realized that if I bought a Marvel comic, Spider-Man would always be Peter Parker from the cartoons and not some geezer from "Earth-P." Marvel was still a young company, without all of DC's editorial baggage. And so I said, "Make Mine Marvel!"
CRISIS came and went without much notice from my pre-adolescent eyes. So what if they killed Supergirl? Her movie sucked. Adult Robin died? Hey, he was never on "Challenge of the Superfriends," so how important could he be? The good thing about CRISIS was that it swept DC's creative playing field clean. If John Byrne had never written Superman, Frank Miller never revised Batman, and George Perez never graced Wonder Woman, the Marvel zombies of the world would still dismiss these characters as naive throwbacks. It was these titles that made me sit up and notice DC. I became a fan of DC's iconic characters. I dug up that JLA/JSA crossover, reread it, enjoyed it, and even bought more back issues of the '70s Earth-1/Earth-2 teamups.
So in that sense, CRISIS was a success. DC's late '80s relaunches brought new readers to the company and redefined their characters for a new generation. But the editorial staff never really made explicit what had and hadn't changed in the new post-Crisis universe, so contradictions started creeping in. Some writers decided to ignore the Crisis altogether. And now, 20 years later, the DC universe looks more convoluted than it did back in 1961. That means that CRISIS failed in its goal of revising continuity. Rather, it wrecked continuity so badly that DC's creators threw out the concept altogether.
So people who hate CRISIS can blame people like me--Generation X babies brainwashed by too many TV channels--for why DC thought the Crisis was necessary. But now I look through my back issue collection and see stories like "The Freedom Fighters of Earth-X! The Crime Syndicate of Earth-3! The Marvel Family of Earth-S!" and can understand the excitement that those tales must have caused when they first appeared. CRISIS is the last, greatest, and by far the saddest of those classic stories.
If DC's heroes have any resonance in your memory, whether pre- or post-Crisis, buy this book, read it, love it or hate it, and then put it on your shelf knowing that it's a piece of pop culture history.
The Crisis is a massive, ambitious project which DC undertook in 1985 to simplify the DC Multiverse and turn it into a universe. The multiverse was too confusing with different versions of the same characters living in different parralel universes. The end result wasa single coherent universe in which different universes were merged into one. So it is obviously a very important story.
But that's not all because it also holds its own as a story. The Monitor is in a mission to save the positive universe from being devoured by the negative universe, ruled by the Anti-monitor. To do this, he gathers key heroes and villains from both the positive nad negative unverses to stop this.
The end result, as the advertisements of the time said, world lived, world died, but the unverse was never hte same again.
Like, say Lord of the Rings, Crisis has a main antagonist but does not seem to have a main character. In the beginning it seems that perhaps the Monitor and his helper the Harbinger are the main characters but at some points the focus shifts on other characters. There are literally hundreds of characters making appearances in this story and this is one of the things I like about it. In addition to the superheroes you would expect to see, characters like Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Jonah Hex, The Demon, Sgt Rock, Enemy Ace, Vandal Savage, Sam Simeon, Tomahawk, Johnny Double and others make appearances.
Although there are dozens of comics that crossover with the main Crisis story, its not necessary to read all of them to get the main storyline, which is good.
Unfortunately it seems that Crisi opened a Pandora's Box of crossover events, which now seem to be an almost annual occurance. Some have been good, such as Legends and Zero Hour, but others we could have done without (The Final Night for example).
A final note on the art. It is simply brilliant. Very few artists could have pulled this story off and I can't think ofanyone better than Perez. He is so good at drawing dozens of characters in single panels. He has an average about 10 or 11 panels on every page which makes for good storytelling, ideal for such a complex tale. In one page I counted 18 panels!!!
I bought the hardcover edition of this book... and I can tell you it was worth every cent. Its such a complex story that you can read it again every six months or a year and it still seems fresh because there is no way you can possibly remember all its intracacies. For me its best on the third reading.
There is also a brilliant cover by Alex Ross. Sometimes I like to just take out the book and pass time just by looking at the cover and trying to identify as many characters as I can.