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Crisis on Multiple Earths - Volume 5 Paperback – April 7, 2007
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About the Author
Gerry Conway began his professional comic book career in 1969 when DC Comics published his first work in its anthology title THE HOUSE OF SECRETS. He went on to co-create the characters Firestorm the Nuclear Man, Vixen and Killer Croc for DC. Conway also worked for Marvel Comics, where he notably wrote "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" in The Amazing Spider-Man #121 as well as serving briefly as that company's editor-in-chief. His numerous writing credits include the first DC/Marvel crossover, SUPERMAN VS. SPIDER-MAN. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Gerry Conway can be a terrible writer and Crisis in Time is exhibit A in what makes his writing so bad. Old time JLA villain `The Lord of Time' builds a super computer with programming so bad that it decides to stop all time dead in its tracks. In desperation The Lord of Time formulates a plan, a most... retarded plan to stop his own computer from completing its goal by luring the JLA/JSA into attacking it. He uses chronal energy to power up five DC characters from the past including Jonah Hex, the Viking Prince and three others in order to attack the JLA/JSA. They manage to completely incapacitate 16 heroes leaving 8 battered but unbroken. LoT's "plan" was to hand the JLA/JSA their first total defeat tempering them for the battle yet to come. I guess putting 66% of them into a coma was intended to strengthen the other 33%. Stupid. The remaining heroes which Conway calls "the mightiest heroes of two earths" proceed to track LoT's chronal trace to attack the source. These "mightiest heroes" include Dr. Mid Nite and The Huntress. Really? The Huntress? The opening shot of issue two shows the eight heroes rushing through time and the art is just horrible with Superman looking constipated and awkwardly drawn.
The heroes manage to slam face first into some craggy barrier set up in spacetime prompting the Elongated Man to note that The Flash's "vibrational auro" protects the rest from suffocation and getting splattered? This is back when The Flash's vibrations could do ANYTHING including I guess protecting people 15 feet away. They break through the reef by infusing Superman's body with cosmic energy and tossing him like a spear but when he punches a hole through the reef it's clear that it was only about 20 feet wide and could easily be circumvented. Even when I was a preteen this was dumb. Long story short each of the heroes is taken out until only the Elongated Man, who has been suffering an inferiority complex, is left. He touches the computer which inexplicably blows up, problem solved and The Lord of Time's moronic plan actually works.
The second story is better and one I've always wanted to read, the death of Mr. Terrific. It's played off like a murder mystery and would probably have worked better had the story not shown the villain at the start of the story. It did turn out that a hero was sort of involved but most readers would just assume the killer was the villain from issue one and it was. I love how when Superman finds Mr. Terrific dead in outer space Conway writes, "the ravages of explosive decompression have turned this noble man into a lifeless mass of flesh" however the art contradicts by showing Mr. Terrific looking perfectly fine. Likewise Huntress is "horribly burned" but only shown with a few ash smudges. Yeah, Dick Dillin isn't much better at art than Conway is at writing. In the classic whodunit reveal Batman describes the evidence as pointing to Power Girl even pointing his finger and shouting her name only to retract it saying as a suspect she's TOO obvious. World's Greatest Detective folks. Of course he turns out to be correct but why the dramatic accusal if you're not serious. This was probably the best of the three stories but that's not saying much.
On paper the third story seems like it should be something special with Darkseid being reconstructed after his death in a previous story. It came out several years prior to the Great Darkness Saga and features the JLA and JSA teaming up against a character who would have a profound affect on the DCU. They even brought in a young George Perez to draw the second and third issue. Unfortunately it's still written by Gerry Conway. Somehow the dead Darkseid managed to reach out to three members of the Injustice Society including Shade, Fiddler and Icicle to help him capture all of New Genesis and resurrect him. I'm calling a major foul on this. Not only would Darkseid never need or call on the Injustice Society for assistance but the absurd ease with which the Injustice Society captures the entire New Genesis population makes Jack Kirby's New Gods look ridiculous. Conway also makes Orion, Power Girl and Firestorm look like chumps by allowing them to get frozen solid by Icicle who has generally been a mid to low level villain.
Perhaps my favorite part of this silly story was when Hal Jordan fails to free Highfather (New Genesis version of Odin or Zeus) from his shackles and collapses to the ground. GL explains that his emotional breakdown was because, `I have a special feeling for father-figures because of the Guardians of OA'. That has to be one of the dumbest attempt at characterization I have ever read in a DC comic. When this story was written Darkseid the character may have still been in the processes of refinement because his Omega Beam was emanating from his right hand rather than his eyes. Also, Firestorm was able to create a circular tube to rebound the Omega Beam back at Darkseid more akin to something that might happen on the Superfriends and rather undignified for Darkseid. The icing on the cake was an abrupt ending which seems weird given that it's a three issue story.
All in all this collection is from a very weak period for the JLA and I attribute almost all of it to Gerry Conway and his writing. There MIGHT be some sense of nostalgia from readers who grew up during the era but these stories are a real challenge to enjoy.
Our stories this time around include a crossover from some of DC's more historical characters such as Jonah Hex and Jon, the Viking Prince. While it appears to be a rather silly story, it does end up being satisfying. Plus, we get a rather nice surprise as to who is actually saves the day. Imagine showing up not one, but TWO Supermen!
Next is the death of Mr. Terrific. Another of these team ups I can remember reading when it came out, even then I thought the ending was a bit of a cop out. Still, it's kind of interesting. Major kudos to John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake for the follow up (several decades later but at least it got done) to this story in their incredible Spectre run. (I wish that had been included in this collection)
And lastly we come to the Justice League/Justice Society/New Gods crossover. And the aforementioned last work of Mr. Dillin. As I was in my early teens at the time, it was a bit of surprise when I read in the JLA letter column of his passing. I can't say that the New Gods are out of character, but something didn't feel right to me here. I'm by no means a New Gods expert, so I may be wrong here. Still, I would have like to see a dust up between Wonder Woman from Earth 2 and Granny Goodness.
There are some nice touches here and there. The growing romance between Firestorm and Power Girl. A mention of Earth 2 Batman's passing between his daughter and the Earth 1 Batman. (I still wonder how that would feel, to know your almost exact counterpart had died?) And the elder statesmen of the Justice Society giving advice and support to the newer generation of the Justice League.