Saturday, January 10, 2015

30th Anniversary Of Crisis On Infinite Earths

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Crisis on Infinite Earths #1.

Crisis is the archetype of the company-wide crossover event. Whether you felt it was necessary or not, the Crisis changed the DCU in a lasting way, shrinking the multiverse down, changing histories, and leading to a period of intense creativity for the company.

Out of the Crisis, we got the Byrne Superman, a move which breathed life into a semi-stagnant mythos. We got the Wally West flash. And the new Justice League. And Guy Gardner as a Green Lantern. And a Blue Beetle book. We got Iron Munro and Fury.

As a teenager, I read the Crisis as it came out and approved of almost all of it. I loved the book and much of what came out of it.

I should be celebrating this anniversary just as it seems DC will be.

But ...

This is the lasting image from the Crisis ... the death of Supergirl.

Kara was felt to be superfluous. She was felt to be a big enough character to show how serious this series was.

The Crisis removed my favorite character from the DCU. It removed her from the memories of its characters. She was simply erased. And, perhaps just as bad, this very famous death has given older Supergirl fans a sort of PTSD. Her death has been a theme in her subsequent incarnations. Whether it is Peter David's Linda Danvers who for a short period of time was thought to have died in a universal threat or Sterling Gates' Supergirl who saw how she died in the Superman Museum of the future, that sense of a heroic death was palpable for a while.

And while it has receded these last couple of years, it is creeping back a bit as I worry about this upcoming anniversary.

So I ask ... should I be celebrating the anniversary of the Crisis?

There is no denying that this issue, this story, this series is a crucial part of Supergirl's history. I mean I myself have gone out of my way to have meet the creators and have them autograph my issue. It is a great moment for Supergirl. And it made people appreciate her more.

Out of the Crisis we got the Matrix Supergirl which led to the PAD Linda Danvers. And, like many things in comics, Kara Zor-El has returned.

And I have reviewed of Supergirl's involvement in the periphery of the Crisis (albeit in the infancy of this site):
Superman #415 - Crisis crossover
DCCP #86 - Crisis crossover
Legion of Super-Heroes #16 - Crisis crossover

In the end, I will be celebrating this anniversary here. Initially I thought about writing reviews for each issue of the Crisis but I don't think I have the energy. So instead, expect a sprinkling of posts throughout the year, looking at Supergirl in the Crisis, some Crisis ephemera, and some of the homages that have happened from the book.

Happy 30th COIE!


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

COIE was the only comic I'd read WHILE I walked back home down a side street from 95th to 87th. The fact that Supergirl and The Flash died two issues in a row was a brilliant idea, looking back. I recall how INFINITE CRISIS was supposed to have Nightwing die and not Superboy. Kara and Barry were both around for around twenty years at the time of COIE and I always thought of SUPERGIRL as the Gwen Stacy of the DC universe.

Landry Walker said...

It was Crisis that put Supergirl on the map for me. I'm not a fan of characters that live forever, and I felt Kara's death re-framed her entire existence. It made her a relatively unique hero with a edge of nobility and tragedy to her career.

This is why I purposefully seeded in reference to Crisis in Cosmic Adventures. It's the same version of Kara, destined for the same fate. Albeit with a twist. Because she is also the hand that Krona saw while battling Mxyzptlk, she is essentially the progenitor of the multiverse. A multiverse she later sacrifices herself in defense of.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Wayne, Crisis was the first comic that I bought 2 copies of, knowing I would read one until the cover fell off.

Landry, I agree that this moment gave her a legacy that has been crucial to her character. It showcased so much of her character's strength - honor, nobility, determination, and heroism. I think the issue is that people only learned about her from this. She was killed because she was felt to be expendable.

In the end, the Crisis has given her something very special, something Special, something which has trascended all her subsequent history. And I appreciate that ... Just as I think more fans appreciate her because of this.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to enter a note of fierce (but polite) dissent. If COIE #7 gave a tragedy, nobility and closure to Supegirl's character arc it also occasioned something unique in comic's history, her fanbase within the DCU was basically told to love Power Girl or else take a hike. That is my big take away from COIE, the sheer HATE that DC projected onto the Supergirl fans for nigh on twenty years afterwards. Which to me as a fan was nothing but a confession of hypocritical bullying and project how the hell could SUPERGIRL somehow come to symbolize what was wrong with the SuperMAN franchise?
If that was the case why suffer Batgirl, Wonder Girl, Lady Blackhawk, Mera the Aquagirl and Queen Arrow to live as well??
I can't ever see COIE #7 as anything but a cynical ploy dreamt up by some dangerously jaded fan-pros at DC.
As for her death having "meaning", her very name and continuity was viciously expunged from the DCU what else could I conclude but that DC hated Supergirl?? What other fanbase had to wait twenty years like that??
I apologize if this reads like a rant, the story is one thing, the consequences of the story and motivations behind the story undermine the "nobility and tragedy" of said story.

Screw the Crisis and the Horse It Rode In On sez I....DC has a corrupt history of bending over backwards for jobbers like Power Girl while letting Kara Z languish in obscurity.

Again apologies


Landry Walker said...

Well, in all fairness to your point, about other derivative characters, Batgirl was shot through the spine and stripped naked shortly after. Power Girl was stripped of her entire identity and reconstructed as Atlantean wizard/warrior of some kind, Aquagirl also died of poison in the Crisis, and Jason Todd became a street thug who was soon after beaten to death with a crowbar.

It was certainly the era of "Comics aren't for kids anymore".

Comparatively, Kara's death was noble and heroic. And her being expunged from the DC beyond that point didn't matter to me because I looked at that DC as a revision. To me, the Superman and Wonder Woman and Lois and Jimmy of the Silver Age were as absent post-Crisis as Kara was. All of them were gone and eventually replaced with revised versions.

But I agree with the corporate motivations being misguided, as well as the general behind the scenes behavior towards the character. But none of that mattered to me back then, as a reader. Generally speaking, I think the politics and economics of comics are things that should stay behind the curtain. It's an ugly and competitive business, filled with backstabbing and nepotism.

So yeah. I liked the story. But when I read that a major editor thought their was no point to the character? I can only shake my head. That shows a serious lack of imagination, and that is something that comics editorial can do without.

Anonymous said...

Despite the seeming negative motives for killing off Supergirl, I find it hard to deny that it didn't actually showcase the character at her best, as Anj has stated. Her heroism, bravery and selflessness were displayed for all comic fans to see. The real Supergirl may have languished for 20 years but it was a good way to go IMO, same as Barry Allen's death.

And as an event book COIE sets such a high standard for others to follow. Its uniqueness, scale and actual long term changes (til Flashpoint) have been felt for 25 years up to 2011. Look at events today and how oversaturated how they feel. Crisis came at a one off time when no one expected it and that timing might have helped it stand out IMO.

Nice piece Anj with a balanced premise.


Anonymous said...

I mean Tula the Aquagirl, not Mera the Queen of Atlantis....apologies.
And that was another whole issue for me, why was Supergirl's death, abolition from DC continuity & the concurrent expulsion of her fanbase from the DC audience...have to be the twenty year benchmark of DC's commitment to producing "comics that aren't for kids anymore"? They let Batgirl & Wondergirl back in long before the Fatwah against Kara the Kryptonian got definitely dropped in 2004.
This is why I have a general suspicion of fans turning pro, because it seems that pure fans have fixed sometimes irrational notions as to what characters "work" and "don't work"...and those notions carry over when they "make the majors" so to speak. Which is when we get things like COIE #7..

Okay seriously I am ranting here....apologies.


Anj said...

Thanks for brilliant conversation!

I think this is a case where time has healed some wounds for me.

There is no doubt in the aftermath of the Crisis I was pretty unhappy with the decision that Supergirl was expendable. And even in the early years of Matrix (introduced only a handful of years post-COIE 7), I was upset because that character was pretty far away from what I loved about the original Supergirl.

But then Matrix becomes Linda Danvers. And angry Kara gets reimagined by Gates/Igle and becomes part of the JLA. And she shines in the JLU cartoon. And we get Cosmic Adventures. And we get some redemption and heroism in the New 52 (after some rough years). And she stars in a couple of animated movies, and cartoon shorts, and now a TV show.

There is no doubt that DC didn't respect the character or her fans in the late 80s. And if I was still waiting for Supergirl to reappear, I would be pretty sore.

But there is no doubt that DC gets it now.

And the Crisis is now part of a richer history. That moment is such a huge moment, saving the universe, being a hero, being mourned, and showing everyone who was avoiding Kara's stories just how great she is.

In the Crisis, Huntress died basically off-screen. In Identity Crisis, Firestorm is and afterthought when he is killed by Deathstroke. Martian Manhunter is killed by Libra without raising a finger in Final Crisis. There are many many many heroes who have died without a 'moment', who have had it worse (in the long run).

Supergirl being back and bigger than ever, with that moment in her history, takes away the sting of DC's snub from 30 yrs ago.

Craig said...

I was nine years old when Kara died 30 years ago. I didn't expect it. She was (and is) my favorite super hero/ fictional character of all time. When I read her death in a grocery store at nine, I was devastated. Honestly, I really should have gone to a counselor. It affected me deeply. Suddenly gone was a big sister and best friend. I threw down the comic book and left, tears in my eyes.

Later I did get the comic book because it was Kara and I had to have it. But it hurt. (Eventually I tore it up.) Right after that, my second favourite hero, Barry Allen was dead. Superman and Wonder Woman who I loved were suddenly changed, and it was confusing.

I wrote angry letters to DC I never sent. It's kind of sad that a child starts writing hate letters, but I did.

I had seen on a kids show about the new Superman, and there had been an interview mentioning that there was no Supergirl. I was so upset, but then one day back in the grocery store I found Kara dead, I found myself staring at a comic book cover that showed Supergirl's legs and Superman being in shock of who it was. I was overjoyed, as Kara was back! But, it wasn't her. I tossed the comic back and I felt sick.

I had still been getting comics but never enjoying them as much, and suddenly I wasn't enjoying them even more so.

Just as I saw a new Supergirl, I also began to read how Power Girl was Atlantean and Kara had never existed. I didn't understand that. I kept wanting to go to DC and show them all the comics I had with Kara. I may not have understood it entirely but I did realize that Kara was no longer being mentioned anymore. I would still get Superman because I loved Superman enough, and because I needed a Supergirl fix, I would begrudgingly get a comic with Matrix, but I'd say that it was Kara instead - pathetic child that I was.

Craig said...

In amongst all this, I had been dreading the death of the Multiverse; at nine and 10, I didn't get why people found the idea of it so complicated. There was so much death and erasure in comic books. No Batgirl, Mary Marvel or Captain Marvel Junior; the Golden Age no longer had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or Aquaman, for example. It jaded me.

My favourite team, Legion of Super-Heroes, now had a Supergirl replacement. I would read in a letters page a scathing reply to a letter by "Stick," telling him that if Supergirl had been popular she wouldn't have died. There was a comment later referring to Kara as "The girl with the 'S' on her chest." In a Phantom Girl origin story, in the back, it mentioned Kara as "S*p*r*g*rl". There was no love lost on Supergirl, but I still bought comics, pretending that Matrix and Laurel Gand were Supergirl.

Years later, as an adult, I finally bought the issue that revealed Laurel's origin; it did then and still does make me feel sick. While I had someone mention that at the time, he was just happy that there was a "Supergirl", and that he had interpreted her placement as a way for Kara to still "live." For me, it is just a reminder how much hate there was for Kara and her fans.

There was respite come Christmas With The Super-Heroes #2; it gave me so much joy. It became a tradition for me to read it every Christmas and to see "my" Kara again - not that I didn't read other times, lol.

Longer story short, I never enjoyed comics completely again after Kara died. My true joy was killed the moment I saw her die. At the same time, I found myself constantly being teased by DC, but especially so during the first issues of Superman VS Aliens. Then it wasn't a "reincarnation" but it was still "a" Kara, and I loved it but she was quickly forgotten. Kara In-Ze was welcome, as well as any other version of Kara that came by, but it never filled the void entirely.

Craig said...

Now, I hadn't really liked Mae all that much but I had gotten used to her, and when Linda Danvers debuted almost 20 years ago, I was excited - I mean, here was the reincarnation of Kara. Even Kara showed up in the series, both in spirit form, and, then, for the first time in years, in costume as Supergirl (Oh yeah, that Earth-D story was cool enough for having her).

Then she was gone again.

Trying to shorten this some more, when I saw that there was yet another Supergirl coming out in 2004, I wasn't sure who it was but since I had then decided to collect every Supergirl, I bought Superman/ Batman #8. I was so shocked and surprised. Literally, that was the first time since 1985 that my inner child was at peace, and buying comics was as much fun as it had been as a child ... well, almost as much, lol. I truly felt God had given me something awesome because I had missed Kara's presence for so long. I could accept it wasn't Original Kara because it wasn't the Superman or Wonder Woman I had loved so much.

Still, Pre-COIE Kara is sorely missed and I can't believe that she's been gone, more or less, for 30 years. I've forgiven DC, but it's still a sore spot for me.

My biggest issue still is that there was no need to ERASE her from continuity. If it was such a big deal to have Kal-El as the only Kryptonian, they could still have done that by acknowledging her death. After all, she was dead, so just erase the rest, and have him deal with being the only Kryptonian again. I also take issue with anyone who wants him to be the only one of his kind - why wouldn't you want him happy! Why not let him have his one cousin!

One thing that bugs me is how Supergirl is treated today. At one point, and The Answer Man had confirmed it, Supergirl was the SECOND most powerful hero in the DC Universe - above Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and so on. Now, not so much so. But, I'm so happy that Kara, in one way or another lives on. Oh, and one last irritant, people will refer to Kara as having forgettable stories ... Wonder Woman had literal gremlins in her Invisible Jet, but that didn't mean she was any less of a hero, any less iconic, or any less worthy of being loved by her fans.

Craig said...

Mr. Walker, I want to thank you so much for Cosmic Adventures. It portrayed Supergirl as she should be, and having so many Easter Eggs, and having her as the "The Hand" was, and still does bring me soooo much joy! Your story literally made me feel as good as it was to read Supergirl as a child.

To Anj, I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time, if you did read this (and anyone else, lol). It's wonderful, and validating, to have someone else love Kara and Supergirl as I do. Thank you for your site devoted to her. As you can tell, I still have deep issues with her death, or at least her treatment, past and ongoing. Anyway, thanks for having a place where I know I'm not the only one who gets defensive of Sueprgirl or who loves her to pieces.

Anj said...

Thanks for heartfelt posts Craig. The beauty of these characters is that they can touch people as deeply as Supergirl has with you.

I loved your posts. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The DC leadership around the time of the Crisis was rather weak and poor. They lacked ideas. After years of Marvel imitating DC (e.g., Ms Marvel and Carol Danvers imitating Supergirl and Linda Danvers), the weak DC leadership started imitating Marvel. They saw that the Death of Phoenix was successful and imitated it. Even the subsequent Matrix/Linda Danvers story is strikingly similar to the Jean Grey/Phoenix story: alien life force merges with earth person. What they did not realize was that killing off a character is only a short term solution. Losing Supergirl for all those years really cost DC and hopefully taught DC a lesson--never kill off an iconic character like Supergirl.

Craig said...

Thanks, Anj!