Saturday, June 6, 2015

30th Anniversary: Crisis On Infinite Earths #6

Today I continue my Supergirl-centric look back at Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 came out 30 years ago today according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, bringing to a close the first half of this universe defining mini-series.

Writer Marv Wolfman, penciller George Perez, and inker Jerry Ordway were firing on all cylinders at this point. The Monitor was dead. Earth 1 and Earth 2 were temporarily safe, swirling in a decaying vibrational orbit with each other, the other universes are still winking out of existence, and finally we have met the enemy ... The Anti-Monitor.

We had wondered who the mastermind of this Crisis was. We wondered why the shadow demons looked like the Monitor. Now we knew. Of course, that was about all we knew about the Anti-Monitor. He looked like the Monitor. He called himself the Monitor. And he was out for total destruction of the positive matter worlds.

But, for me, what was more important was that this series finally started to feel like a universe-wide crossover. Gone were the issues of Dawnstar and Dr Polaris and Solivar trying to defend giant tuning forks. Last issue, we had every super-hero from two Earths together in a room hearing how their universes were dying. This issue, we bring three more Earths into the fray, three more universes of chess pieces for Marv Wolfman to start playing with.

And amidst all that, we get a touch of redemption for Harbinger who just two issues ago killed the Monitor, the man who saved her life and wanted to save everyone else too.

I am breathless just doing the opening overview. Here comes the issue!

With Earth-1 and Earth-2 temporarily out of reach, the Anti-Monitor turns his attention to the remaining Earths within his grasp - Earth 4 (Charlton heroes), Earth-S (Shazam/Fawcett heroes), and Earth-X (Quality heroes). Knowing the heroes from Earth-1 and Earth-2 will be heading to those Earths, the Anti-Monitor decides to improve his chances.

The Anti-Monitor had promised the Psycho Pirate worlds of emotions to play with. Now he keeps that promise. He exponentially increases the Pirate's powers.

The Pirate now controls the feelings of all those on the remaining Earths and he sends panic and fear in crippling waves. But the Pirate was already walking a fine line of sanity. This is a violation of him as much as it is for his victims. He is in agony.

I love the art here, the change in perspective, color, viewpoint, all showing the panic and pain of the Pirate.

Meanwhile, the Monitor's satellite, existing in the netherverse of the Earth-1/Earth-2 amalgam, is falling apart, attacked by the Anti-Monitor. You might recall that many of the heroes from those Earths are on the satellite. This isn't as simple as flying out into space. This is a limbo. You cannot survive outside!

The heroes, including Supergirl, are inside, trying to save those heroes who need saving, and trying to figure out the next step. I love that Supergirl is holding onto Black Canary.

And Changeling still checking out the beautiful heroes despite the chaos still makes me chuckle.

With the satellite falling apart around them, Lyla powers up again as Harbinger, entering the satellite's power chamber where her physical body resides. There she seems to gain immense power which is causing her pain, a scene that seems like a reflection of the Psycho Pirate's increase.

Despite her efforts, or because of her efforts, the satellite explodes. The assumption is that everyone on board has died. But Lyla seemed to have a plan in mind.

Harbinger's plan is both simple and complicated.

The simple part, send the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 to Earths-4,S, and X to defend them and try to calm the populace from the emotional wringer that the Psycho Pirate is putting them through.

And so we finally see Earth-4 and meet it's heroes. We had met Blue Beetle earlier in the Crisis. But now we finally see The Question, Thunderbolt, Captain Atom, Peacemaker, and Nightshade. Unfortunately, they assume that Earth-1 and Earth-2 heroes are the cause of the storms and anti-matter wave destroying their planet.

It is a classic comic trope. Heroes meet and immediately fight each other.

Hard to believe that I didn't know who any of these Charlton people were back then in my salad days of comic collecting.

There is a similar scene on Earth-X as the heroes sent there are forced to fight the Freedom Fighters.

And on Earth-S, the Marvel Family is running amok. And the world's mightiest mortal is no weakling.

In a great sequence of pages, we get fantastic Supergirl action. That middle panel with her delivering a right hook to Captain Marvel, laying him out is just spectacular.

But I also love how she pauses, trying to talk sense into the enraged Captain. She knows he isn't in control of himself.

But he is too out of control.

Again, Perez gives us some great visuals of Supergirl. These three panels progress so beautifully. The first panel with Kara looking up moves nicely into the next panel where the action is all moving upwards in the panel, as Supergirl smashes through the falling building. And then we completely reverse direction in the last panel as she flies into Shazam, maintaining her position from the second panel. There is a sense of momentum and almost violent veering as you follow that action.

How I wish Perez drew Supergirl more over his career. She really shines in this issue.

An enormous image of Harbinger has been seen within the antimatter wave on all these planets during these battles. We finally see what her desperate plan has been all along.

Using every erg of energy she has, she acts as a conduit, bringing in the three remaining Earths and universes into the netherverse with Earth-1 and Earth-2.

Suddenly removed from space, the Psycho Pirate is cut off from his puppets.

Incredible. And a great semi-splash by Perez, giving us the huge scope of this act by Lyla while still giving us shots of the action on each planet with smaller inset panels. Perez was perfect in his execution of these issues.

While the Earths might be saved, it is only a temporary reprieve. As with the first two Earths, the vibrations keeping them separated are slowing down. Eventually, the five Earths will try to occupy the same space and destroy each other.

Still, just a powerful issue for Harbinger as she nearly sacrifices herself to try to continue to Monitor's work. It is a nice redemption story.

And even in the darkest times, a hero can emerge.

Last issue we saw Ted Grant, Wildcat, be injured saving people. His legs crushed, we were told that he would never walk again.

And so, in one of the legacies heroism born from the tragedy of the Crisis, Yolanda Montez picks up the mantle and becomes the new Wildcat.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 was the perfect ending of the first half of the story. The pedal was put to the floor as Wolfman and Perez steamroll through three new Earths being saved. We get the redemption of Lyla, the introduction of the new Wildcat, and a hint at a subplot of super-villains disappearing from the multiverse. I felt a bit out of breath after reading this issue as the action is amazing throughout.

It all leads into this announcement in the letters page.

See you guys next month. Bring your tissues.


Anonymous said...

How about I bring my 4 july fireworks...?
The way it all ends in 30 more years, (too bad, DC!!!) it is all a reason for Joy & Celebration !!!...
She indeed every time comes back stronger & stronger to punch them in the face.-

Anonymous said...

"The way it all ends in 30 more years, (too bad, DC!!!) it is all a reason for Joy & Celebration !!!...
She indeed every time comes back stronger & stronger to punch them in the face.-"

Amen, brother/sister!