Jason Sacks: Well, gents, we’ve finally done it. We’ve reached the end, and as Daniel Elkin would say…
Me, I’m not sure I had enough of this series. Yeah, it was loud and long and had moments when the momentum slows to a crawl, but goddamn it, this was a fun series, full of energy and verve and a modicum of passion. For all that our friends on the newcomers side like to paint this series as a kind of soulless Michael Bay movie, this final issue shows why it’s special. And I’ll miss that verve every couple of weeks in our posts.
First and most importantly, we can see the fear, stress and worry that our heroes are feeling. From the opening page, when a half-dozen obscure DC heroes gaze upon something so horrifying that we read panic in the heroes’ eyes, to the looks of pain and horror on Wally West’s face throughout the issue, to the moments of personal sacrifice that dot this comic, there’s a sense of unbelievably high stakes and that things will never be the same again.
Unlike all those other crises, all those Final Nights and Armageddon 2001s, this final issue makes the clear point that this all means something. For once, things literally will never be the same again. We saw last year what that all meant, but we see this issue exactly what separates the heroes from the civilians. Civilians see the stakes and run in fear. But the heroes? They run to the danger. Because that’s what heroes do. They fight and fight, beyond their last breaths, because that’s what heroes do.
It’s a genuinely spooky moment when the shadow demons explode as individuals from a black sky. I have a mental image every time I read that sequence of the sky pulsing with energy and then exploding as the creatures streak across the sky, annihilating everything in their path. I would be one of those people running away, I’m sure, but in the DC Universe, heroism is a constant all over the world. Blue Devil, B’wana Beast, Rising Sun and Green Fury… it doesn’t matter the nationality or the personality of the hero. Like the Marines, they’re always ready to fight for all that is good and right. Even the mystical heroes jump in, with some vitally important work that ultimately helps turn the day.
In this issue we get a few more deaths, and a satisfying ending, and all kinds of great character beats (Darkseid and his air quotes are awesome here). More than anything, we get a sense of the series summing itself up in the right way. Maybe this climax has a touch of Michael Bay in it, but there’s nothing wrong with an epic battle ending like a summer popcorn flick.
Guys, did you feel like Superman or like Wally West, ready to put on the ol’ red suit and run into battle?
Kyle Garret: Wally West all the way! Honestly, that final page thrills the hell out of me. It’s perfect in every way. Yes, Crisis reset the DCU, but guess what, fanboys? It all still happened! And we have a witness! A witness who was driven insane, nonetheless — driven insane by the events of Crisis.
Shit, Wolfman and Perez threw in another stand in for the reader, didn’t they?
And it’s easy to be insane after reading this, Psycho Pirate, because it’s playing with so many different elements at once.
It’s sad when these characters die, yes, but ultimately the majority of them are erased, so it makes you wonder what the point of those deaths were. What did these characters sacrifice themselves for? It was all erased in the end. Supergirl died! Yeah, but technically so did Brother Power the Geek. So why does it matter?
And therein lies the gist of what Crisis was asking, both of itself and superhero readers across the globe. Is continuity king? Is a story less poignant if it doesn’t “count?” Is Supergirl’s death, her entire life, meaningless because she never existed?
That was the challenge for Crisis, to make these 12 issues matter even if the end result paved over most of what happened.
And that was the challenge for DC, convincing its fans that the stories were more important than continuity, something DC is trying to do yet again 30 years later. Crisis wasn’t just an event, it was a transition, a support group in comic book form created to ease fans from one mode of storytelling to another. I think we can safely say that it cleared the playing field in an appropriately epic manner. I’m just not sure that it entirely worked.
We’re told that Earth-1 Wonder Woman is basically rebooted and that Earth-2 Wonder Woman goes to live with the gods, but why? Wonder Woman is being restarted. The fact that she was killed in Crisis #12 is all that needs to be said because the world starts over.
And there were deaths? Earth-2 Robin and Huntress were mourned? How is that possible? That would require people to remember the other Earths and the whole point of the last page is that only one person remembers the other earths. That’s what makes the ending so great.
Maybe the New 52 was following presedence by being wishy washy with its reboot after all.
Daniel Gehen: I’m not going to lie, we could’ve saved a lot of time and energy by just looking at this issue. It’s clear that Wolfman and Perez hold the notion of “every comic is someone’s first” near and dear to their hearts, as much of Crisis #12 feels redundant after the previous eleven chapters. Perhaps its the exposition-induced fatigue taking hold of me, but so much of this issue felt very repetitive. It is an oversized issue that spends most of the first half recapping or rehashing the event’s major beats. There is Harbinger gathering a select group of heroes “for a great cause.” There are shadow-demons attacking everywhere at once. And there are a bunch of characters that don’t have a clue what the fuck is going on.
It’s easy to sweep this issue’s weaknesses under the rug because the second half is exactly what we’re promised on the cover – an epic, bombastic final fight against the Anti-Monitor. Once Wolfman and Perez turn our attention to Q’ward and the big finale, Crisis #12 is a lot of fun, but before that it is rather tedious. Also, what’s the deal with Earth-Two Wonder Woman at the end? What about Robin and Huntress? I forgot how many threads are left dangling at the end of this which are just left out there to be never picked up again.
Okay, now that I’ve thrown my complaints out there for all to see, there is a lot to like about this issue. Like Kyle mentioned, all of the stuff with Wally West is fantastic. While future knowledge makes that reveal in the final pages exciting, it’s the stuff during Wally’s arrival on Q’ward that is really fantastic. Wolfman and Perez do a stellar job in conveying the emotional anguish and subsequent hatred burning within Wally upon his discovery of Barry’s death. It’s clear in this moment that Barry’s legacy will be a huge factor in Wally’s stories going forward.
Of course, the big draw for this issue is the aforementioned battle with the Anti-Monitor, or “Perez’s Wild Cosmic Ride.” While much of the criticism for this event – especially through the lens of modern comics – can be put on Wolfman’s dense exposition, George Perez has excelled from the cover of issue #1 to the final page of issue #12. The way he managed to handle the sheer size and scope of this story, delivering high quality work on a consistent basis, cemented his place as a not just a very good comic artist, but as an industry legend.
The epilogue proves once and for all that the creators here were given an impossible task. As mentioned previously, there are story elements that simply do not make sense in the rebooted universe. Even the sloppy event Flashpoint managed to close the loop on the old continuity during DC’s 2011 reboot. Then again, perhaps that’s a sacrifice the Crisis team made for the sake of a better story. We scoff at a story that makes sense from a continuity perspective, but is poorly written. But when a story manages to take hold of readers and fully immerse them in a world (or collapsing multiverse) where nearly anything is possible, forgetting to put a couple of toys back in the box is forgivable.
KG: I think you nailed it, Dan. Crisis really was an impossible story to tell, yet Wolfman and Perez managed to navigate it at a level we rarely see from event comics these days. I can’t even comprehend the checklist that had to have been given to the creators when they started working on this series. They managed a lot of different elements and still made us care about the events on the page.
This is where Flashpoint went horribly wrong. Wolfman and Perez made a point throughout Crisis to show us how much they loved and respected all of the characters they were about to erase. In fact, all that stuff I said earlier, about why does any of it matter when it was all erased? Scratch that. It matters because it says something to the audience. It matters because nearly fifty years of stories deserves a proper send off.
Apparently, twenty-five years of stories did not, so we got Flashpoint.
And this, perhaps, where Crisis manages to succeed despite the system in which it was required, despite all the requirements that were being asked of it. Crisis convinces us that these stories still matter even if that continuity has ended, and that shared universes are not the be all and end all of superhero stories.
It kind of feels like we could use another Crisis.