Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 came out thirty years ago today. Last issue ended with the apparent death of the Monitor and the destruction of Earth 1 and Earth 2. How could anything from those earths survive the sweeping wave of destruction? As a fan, I had no idea where Marv Wolfman and George Perez could go from the white-out finale from Crisis #4.
After four issues or meandering around the multiverse, defending giant tuning forks, and spending time with Solivar and Doctor Polaris, this issue picks up the pace. The multiverse is dying. The Monitor is dead. Things are truly falling apart. These are the most desperate times and they require desperate measures. There was a sudden sense of urgency in the book as these characters strive to save everything.
This issue marks the introduction of Jerry Ordway as inker on the book. The Perez/Ordway team up completely shine the rest of the way.
And the cover to Crisis #5 is just spectacular as we see all these characters from Earth 1 and Earth 2 split down the center as we see the overlapping Earths cracked but intact. I can remember going row by row, seeing if I could name everybody. For those looking, Supergirl is there on the left, just about the middle of the seam.
So what did happen at the end of last issue.
Lyla, now in control of herself, triggers a taped message from the Monitor, his last testament. Realizing there was no way to defeat his enemy and knowing the possessed Harbinger was coming to kill him, the Monitor planned something shaky. Using his body and energy, the Monitor created a 'netherverse' (I might have called it a pocket universe) in which Earth 1 and Earth 2 were shunted to safely.
The two Earths were meant to be unified but their vibrations are out of synch. They are partially overlapping, at different frequencies. When those frequencies slow sufficiently, both Earths will die.
As if that wasn't enough of a bombshell, we meet Alex Luthor, now grown to adulthood in a matter of weeks. He knew Monitor's plan. He knew how much he loved Lyla.
We also learn he is also part positive matter and part anti-matter.
It is time to figure out how to save these two most important Earths.
With the Earth merged and things going crazy, it is time to let everyone in on the threat of the Crisis.
That means that Harbinger, Alex Luthor, and Pariah invite just about every super-hero they can onto the Monitor's satellite.
This satellite scene is another one of the insane art pieces of this series. How many people did Perez put in these pages?? And trust me ... this scene made an impact both in this book and elsewhere.
And I don't think this is necessarily a random group shot. I mean, Perez takes the time to put Kara and Brainy together. There had to be some thought behind the groupings.
How great is it that Supergirl and Brainy would seek each other out!
And then we get a little bit more exposition. We hear about Earth 1 and Earth 2 being partially merged, their time lines in flux. We hear about how the surviving universes need to all merge into one to try to survive. And the heroes need to be part of this battle.
Of course, the heroes are a bit wary to just take the word of this group. They ask for time and are given it. They all head back to the two Earths to take in the insanity up close.
These are the small side scenes in Crisis that I love.
Hey look, Anthro's cave appeared in Wayne Manor. And we get Per Degaton, Monsieur Mallah, and the Brain all in attendance. What a crazy group of characters appearing together in one panel!
It only cements that time and space and multiple spaces are in danger. I also just how much reference material Perez had at his disposal to remember all these characters looks. Or are the all in his head?
And then we get to see just what the vibrational barrier looks like. Here half the Legion is on one side of the wall, half on the other.
Again, it is the small touches that make the scenes bigger than they are. Yes we learn that the Earths will soon occupy the same space and be destroyed. But I again like that Kara and Brainy are together. And while their relationship ended years earlier, it is touching that Ayla and Brin find each other. This is an 'end of days' scenario. These two loved each other at one point. I liked this moment.
Despite the Monitor's energies keeping everyone calm, this is still a chaotic environment. I mean, dinosaurs are running beside futuristic flying cars. The heroes are all out trying to help people from accidents that are resulting from the chronal/spatial storms erupting around them.
A bolt from one of those storms hits Ted Grant as he is saving a child.The energy shatters his legs and basically ends his career as Wildcat. We knew that characters would be forever changed by the Crisis. That doesn't always mean death.
I do like that we get a heroic ending for Ted.
And then, the big reveal.
At last we meet the big bad behind the destruction of the positive matter universes ... the Monitor.
Later he gets called the Anti-Monitor. But right now, all we know is that he looks like a mechanized cadaverous Monitor. And back in the day, I was stumped. What did this all mean? At least for now it was an explanation for why the Shadow Demons from the early issues had the Monitor's silhouette. They are the same.
So another issue of the Crisis is done. With the death of the Monitor behind us, we are in uncharted and unplanned waters. It feels like Alex and Harbinger are making things up as they go along. The surviving worlds are a jumbled mess. We learn the enemy's identity. The plot just sped up.
And yet in all that, we have tiny moments of greatness, embracing the depth of the DCU, whether it is character moments or massive crowd scenes, this is truly a company wide crossover. And it is brilliant.
That satellite 2 page spread alone is worth the price!