I didn’t read a single issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths until about a year or so after the series had ended. I didn’t read any DC comics before then, either. Even when I did finally track down a few issues of Crisis, it was removed from the other comics that DC was publishing at the time. This was an event comic, after all, so surely there were ripples throughout the rest of the DCU.
I figured that if CB were going to cover Crisis, we should cover the crossover issues as well.
What I didn’t realize is that an event comic in 1985 was very different than an event comic from today.
Try to imagine the first issue of Avengers vs. X-Men or Blackest Night being released without a single other comic book from either Big Two being related to it. They actually publish books specifically FOR the events, now, like Blackest Night: Captain Carrot and that kind of thing. Financially speaking, the tie-ins are probably just as important as the event itself. It’s also a go to way to get people to buy books that aren’t selling.
But Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 was released in a vacuum.
Okay, that’s not entirely true, but it was released without any other books trying to latch on to it. While the series would eventually send banners across the tops of comics throughout the DC line-up, in the first month there was nary a banner to be found. It did, however, have a companion series, but in sticking with DC’s process at the time, it was a companion series that was never labeled as such. In fact, you’d have been hard pressed to realize it was a companion series.
That series was Who’s Who in the DC Universe.
The first issue of Who’s Who actually came out a month before Crisis #1 and, to DC’s credit, didn’t feature any references to the event. Given the extent to which a number of the characters in Who’s Who #1 would change, this was an impressive bit of secrecy on DC’s part. Someone out there at the time had to wonder, though, why DC was releasing this series now. Why was a cataloging of every DC character necessary?
The Tie-ins for April, 1985
There are two big scoops in the second issue of Who’s Who. The first comes in the form of the profile pages for Batman I and Batman II. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that DC laid out a clear distinction between the two. Batman I first appeared in Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of any Batman of any kind. But Batman II is listed as first appearing in Detective Comics #327, the first “new look” Batman issue. Everything up until #327 had happened to Batman I, the Batman of Earth-2.
It’s such a clear cut distinction that it’s surprising DC made it, particularly given their plan to update the DCU — Detective Comics #327 was published 21 years before Crisis, so not exactly modern.
Two years later, DC would update Who’s Who and the new entry for Batman listed his first appearance as Detective #27, because now there was only one Batman.
The other scoop for inquiring fans came on the inside back cover of Who’s Who #2 and every issue in the series. This page was devoted to listing the current whereabouts of the characters profiled in the comic. The majority of the characters in this issue are listed as appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a series that had just started. This was setting the bar awfully high for Wolfman and Perez, who would have to fit all of these characters into the series.
“Gotham Bridge is Falling Down!” and the Executrix is to blame! Yes, I said Executrix. It’s hard to believe that the character find of 1985 would only appear two more times in the whole history of DC (calling the New 52!). All three appearances were written by Joey Cavalieri. This one was drawn by Stan Woch and Alfredo Alcala and, at the very least, it looks really good.
This is the last tie-in issue, so it’s the final time we see the Monitor pretending to be a bad guy. We also see him refer to Superman as the weak link in the Superman-Batman team, which is an odd thing for him to say given that it’s completely irrelevant. We do see Lyla, which is not something that happened in every tie-in.
Two comics, two comics compromised the total tie-ins for the first month of DC’s universe changing event, and neither of them is labeled in any way. These days even a single panel featuring the Monitor would get a giant banner across the top.
They don’t make events like Crisis anymore.