Kyle Garret: I love Crisis on Infinite Earths. I think I’ve probably gone into detail as to why that is. I will also admit that it has flaws, a great number of which stem from the fact that this series is trying to do a lot of different things at once. There are times when the pushing and pulling from multiple agendas overwhelms an individual issue and leaves us with something not particularly great at anything.
Crisis #6 is one of those times.
The crux of this issue involves the five glamour earths of the DCU — Earths 1, 2, 4, S, and X — merging into one. For all the hundreds of earths DC had in its multiverse at the time, these were the five that they wanted to stick around in some form or another.
They’re interesting choices, actually. Earths 1 and 2 are the bedrock of the shared DC universe, so of course those two will play the main role in this series. The other three earths were all home to characters DC had purchased over the years: the Charlton heroes of Earth-4, the Marvel Family of Earth-S, and the Freedom Fightrs on Earth X. It’s probably safe to assume that this was the deciding factor in saving these realities; DC wanted a return on their investments. Because, let’s face facts, how many people were or are screaming for a new Freedom Fighters book?
Because is a superhero event, there’s a very specific rule Crisis has to follow while introducing these 5 worlds: the characters have to fight. It’s awkward and forced and seems to be the main reason the Psycho Pirate is around, which doesn’t make it any better. We get pages after pages of fight scenes, and while they do a perfectly fine job of showing off these characters, it all feels forced. You really see the man behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz here. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there had been some long standing debate in comic fandom about who would win in a fight, Earth-2 or Earth-X. But it feels very paint by number.
Harbinger sacrifices her powers to save the five remaining worlds, but they’re still merging, which I suppose is a better fate than simply fading away all together. In fact, DC, if you could take all those universes from Convergence and merge them with this one, that would be great. I’d probably read more of your comics.
This issue also features another attempt at preparing the DCU for the future, one which will theoretically better reflect modern day society (such as it was). To that end, we meet the new Wildcat, Yolanda Montez, who had been introduced in the pages of Infinity, Inc. a few months earlier. Yolanda is the second major new character introduced (in costume, at least) in Crisis, and not only the second woman, but the second person of color. Even as hamfisted as these introductions were, it’s amazing how much more forward thinking this series was in comparison to, say, Flashpoint and the New 52.
Ted Grant (the original Wildcat) retiring and Yolanda taking his place would be one of a number of changes to come to the Earth-2 characters, who would perhaps be altered more than any others. Roy Thomas’ WWII corner of the DCU was going to be very different after Crisis.
If I remember correctly, this is also the first issue to be inked in its entirety by Jerry Ordway. While I like Ordway’s work, his inks are often overpowering to the point where there are panels where I’d have a hard time telling you if Perez penciled it or if Ordway did.
Zack Davisson: All wonderful points, all of which I agree with. So apologies if I diverge a little bit here. I also love Crisis, as I have said many times. And recently I came to love it all the more for how self-contained it is. I’ve been out of touch with Marvel and DC for some time now, but I recently inherited a stack of Convergence comics as well as a bunch of other past event series for both Marvel and DC. Damn, but they are hard to read. The story is shuffled around in multiple series, and almost impossible to read in the trades. I’ll be reading one trade, and suddenly a major plot point will happen in some other comic, and the story has to leap frog to wherever the current event is going, and … it’s a mess. A huge, unreadable mess.
So flaws and all, a fact undeniable that is magnificent about Crisis is that you can actually read the entire series in a single collection. Sure, there were tie-ins, but none of them had key plot points. None of them distracted from the main story. And you sure as hell don’t switch artists and writers six times in a single trade edition like you do with all these modern comics.
Kids today … hurmph …
And issue #6, what can I say? My beloved Marvel Family gets to make an appearance and kick a little ass. It is no great secret that I love the Marvel Family. Pretty much anytime they show up on a page I get a little giddy. And here they are tearing things up …
I know it is cliché, and I know it is just pure nerd pandering … but I love it when the Marvel Family gets to throw down, and is shown as powerful. I love it when they get to take their seat at the top of the pantheon. So yeah, sometimes doing a little nerd pandering isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it is just awesome to watch masters of the form play with my favorite men in tights, like watching an accomplished pianist work her way through Beethoven. The notes are all familiar, but I loved watching them played with fluency.
Yolanda Montez, on the other hand, was a character that did not win me over. I remember not caring much about Wildcat in the first place, and her tendency to talk half in Spanish half in English was annoying. She seemed like a forced character, one that I never really got to love.
Daniel Gehen: Crisis on Infinite Earths is one of my favorite stories, particularly because of how much Wolfman and Perez managed to pack into a 12-issue series. However, I found myself spacing out and my eyes glazing over while reading this installment. DC tells us which earths it wanted to maintain going forward, and that’s what the majority of this issue is. Though Perez once again packs each page with an enormity of detail, there is not a lot of progression in the overarching narrative.
I’m not going to lie, I lost a lot of interest after the first few pages featuring the Anti-Monitor being pestered by Psycho Pirate while the Flash plays possum nearby. It’s a great reveal, since Barry Allen has been destined for something big since the beginning of this series. After this scene though, the issue quickly turns into a dense kaleidoscope of characters and cosmic clouds that overwhelm the senses.
Another element of the issue I did enjoy is the inclusion of Yolanda Montez. Though she would go on to amount to little more than a footnote in DC’s greater canon, she represents one of the industry’s earlier attempts to increase diversity. Sure, the half-and-half combination of English and Spanish dialogue can be bothersome to readers, it’s fairly consistent with a large percentage of America’s Latino community. Aside from that, Wolfman did an admirable job in portraying her as a strong woman of color rather than a walking stereotype like the original Vibe, Paco Ramon.
Jason Sacks: Yeah, basically, this issue is full of awesomestupid, a lot of handwaving “because I said so” and a whole lot of costumed heroes running around doing whatever the fuck the writer wants them to do. But is that a bad thing? Is escapism pointless or perfect? Can you just enjoy the of-kilter crazy quilt nature of this story or do you need, you know, real world logic to keep you interested? I half-facetiously told Daniel Elkin (in the first-timers review this week) that he should think of Crisis as automatic writing, and the more I think about it, the more I both love and hate that idea (there’s nothing more Sacksian than equivocation backed up by psuedo-logic, so don’t complain).
I love that idea because, hell, the more you think about this comic and pull it apart, the more it reads like a strange tone-poem to heroic tropes. It embraces cliches and goes all the way through to a point where they become visionary again. I hate it because it seems like s smart-ass cop-out, and besides nobody ever said that Marv Wolfman is a William S. Burroughs.
KG: I think you’re on the money, though, Jason, and I’m actually worried people will consider that view an attempt to justify a bad comic. Because this was supposed to be the culmination of decades of comic book stories. It’s supposed to be the ultimate superhero comic, the last binge of sugar before we all go on a diet. It’s meant to be ridiculous, I truly believe that. I think it’s the main reason it’s 12 issues long. I think, if you ask Wolfman and Perez, they would probably admit that they had story enough for half as many issues, but wanted the room to do exactly what we’re saying. In theory, this was to be the last time DC would publish stories like this as they entered a new, simplified era. Sure, that didn’t happen, but I think that was the intent.
JS: It doesn’t matter if I overintellectualize this issue or underintellectualize it. Any way I look it just makes me smile because shit like Uncle Sam punching Commande Steel is just such pure comics that it’s absolute awesomestupid magic.
ZD: What Sacks said, to which I will add a “booyah.” Sometimes it’s enough to let the awesomestupid come out to play without delving into deeper issues, and I think we can all agree that’s what we get here.
I think letting us have a little emotional calm before the storm was a good thing. A little break to just let superheroes be superheroes and punch each other without much consequences. Because the next issue gets heavy enough for the entire series.