Saturday, May 23, 2015

30th Anniversary: Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 Satellite Scene

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, I have been looking at the Supergirl specific issues, culminating in the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

Earlier this month, I reviewed Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 and showed how the creative team of Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway were really starting the stretch their legs on the book, bringing more and more characters from the DCU into the story.

And no scene captured that feeling more than the famous 'Monitor satellite scene' in the issue. There, on two pages, Perez stuffed in as many characters as he could, both the famous and the obscure, the popular and the forgotten. I can remember looking at these pages closely when the book first hit the shelves, trying to name everyone that I saw.

This scene certainly struck a chord to fans and creators alike because we saw it replayed elsewhere, albeit from different viewpoints. I thought, breaking briefly away from the Supergirl-centric approach to my Crisis coverage, I'd review those other versions of this gathering in a couple of Crisis cross-over issues and one late arrival.

Swamp Thing #46 was one of the more interesting Crisis cross-overs to hit the stand. This was smack in the middle of the run by the acclaimed, legendary team of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben. Moore had made Swamp Thing into a true horror comic. This was the 'American Gothic' storyline, one which introduced the world to John Constantine. At this point, Swamp Thing didn't know exactly what was going on other than the world was becoming darker and a great metaphysical threat was approaching.

Moore had included the JLA as cameos in the 'Anatomy Lesson' arc and later in this book he would include other mainstream characters like Zatanna, Zatara, and Mento. He even has an arc where Swamp Thing fights Batman and later Lex Luthor. So Moore didn't shy away from dipping his toes in mainstream DC.

Here we open up with Swamp Thing just as he is brought to the Monitor's satellite. Constantine talks about the multiverse ending. We see him look into a globe similar to Morrison's Orrery of Worlds. And Constantine warns that there is more than just the physical worlds that people need to worry about.

It is great to see this scene from Swamp Thing's eyes. He feels out of place amongst the lunacy there. From Kamandi to Ambush Bug to the Creeper, it is Mardi Gras. It is a place of Gods and Monsters. Nice. Moore always had a turn of the phrase.

But I loved how Swamp Thing notices the reaction to Alex Luthor. Surprise and suspicion. I would react the same way. How do you trust a Luthor, even if he is from Earth 3?

Again, Swamp Thing at this point doesn't know exactly what part he is playing in this, just that Constantine has him blipping from place to place fighting monsters. They run into the Phantom Stranger who brings up the mysterious (at this point) Newcastle event.

There is a ton of foreshadowing here ... both in Swamp Thing's personal response to hearing the name Luthor to the Stranger saying he will see Constantine and Swamp Thing again. Nothing was wasted in these Moore issues. It remains a stellar read.

Finally we get a little information. Constantine and Swamp Thing will spearhead the defense of the spiritual planes while the super-heroes will defend the physical realm. I love Constantine's confidence that the physical world will survive. It is the other threat that is more dangerous.

Spoiler alert - Later in this issue we learn about the Brujeria, the Invunche, and the plan to bring back the Anti-God. All this comes to a close in Swamp Thing #50. Go out and buy these issues or trades!

We move from what I consider the best Crisis crossover, and certainly one of the more intelligent, to one of the sillier and forgettable crossovers, Infinity Inc. #22.

Now you have to remember that Earth 2, as it was, was going to disappear after the Crisis. The backbone of the All-Star Squadron and the history of Infinity Inc. was going to change dramatically. Roy Thomas was the writer of all the Earth 2 books and must have felt like he was playing continuity Jenga, removing a key piece somewhere and hoping nothing would fall.

Maybe because of this upheaval, Infinity Inc. got 8 Crisis cross-over issues - 7 monthly issues and an Annual! (Similarly, All-Star Squadron got 7 cross-over issues.)

Infinity Inc. #22, written by Roy Thomas with art by Mike Clark, Tony DeZuniga, and a young Tod McFarlane,  starts out smack dab in the middle of the Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 satellite scene.

The team, composed mostly of the children of the All-Star Squadron, meets up with their parents and spend a good portion of these early pages arguing with Helix, a super-villain team that spar with throughout the book.

One of the things that I like about these visits to this scene is we see the smaller picture. As Swamp Thing is just trying to absorb all he is seeing, these more seasoned super-heroes seem to take it all in stride.

So here we see Fury and Silver Scarab touch base with Wonder Woman and the Flash simply to compare notes.

I love Plastic Man and Elongated Man in these panels.

And look at Scarab waving to his parents.

Look closely though. There, in the shadows ...


It's Supergirl! Standing between Deathbolt and Blok. And there is Braniac 5 too!

We get a bit of exposition here about what is happening in the Crisis. We have Alex Luthor again explain about the merging of worlds.

And, as in Swamp Thing, he is asking the gathered to trust him, to help him save the universe.

And then something of a left wing turn.

In 1999, 13 years after the Crisis, Marv Wolfman tapped the well one more time writing a one-shot issue of Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. Art was by Paul Ryan. In this issue, the heroes journey to another world to try to stop the anti-matter wave from destroying everything.

One of the main characters in the story, as seen by the cover, is Supergirl. That's right, we get a whole issue of Kara Zor-El in the headband at a time when Linda Danvers was dealing with being an Earth Angel.

Seems a little odd ..

I am sure I will review this issue in it's entirety at some point.

But the last page of the book is another look at the satellite scene. This one is a bit more consistent with the original, from Harbinger to Pariah to Luthor and even Platinum and Mercury, the framework of the scene is the same.

There in the middle is Supergirl. She is hugging Superman. It is a bit chilling knowing what we know happens soon enough.

And so this closes my look at Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 and the famous satellite scene.


Anonymous said...

I have always loved George Perez crowd scenes. However, in my opinion, the loss of Earth 2 ruined decades of continuity. I don't imagine Roy Thomas was very happy, as he is an avid fan and scholar of the JSA and other Golden Age characters. The pre-Crisis JLA/JSA annual team-ups were some of the finest DC stories ever told, and proof that continuity was not a bad thing. In this era of constant reboots, re-imaginings, and near-instant cancellations, it was nice to know that DC cared about its history. Oh well, I guess today's readers have 25 Batman books to choose from. Sigh.

Anj said...

Well, I think it was clear that fans can understand a multiverse since DC brought it back.

And yes, one of DC's strengths was its history. So much needed to be rejiggered post Crisis.

Still, the post Crisis DC exploded with new energy.

We lost Earth 2. We lost Supergirl.

Was it all worth it?

Anonymous said...

No, it was not.