“Worlds lived, worlds died. Nothing will ever be the same.”
After viewing the 2018 multi-show crossover for the Arrowverse on the CW this year, as most fans will recall, they teased us that Crisis was coming to television in 2019. I have to admit, my inner child was super excited when the title card was shown.
Any DC comic fan (which I was growing up) immediately recognized the tile from the 12 Edition Crossover Series that brought all DC characters together to face a Crisis like no other. Psycho Pirate’s words echoed as the tagline for the series, and indeed we are led to believe that was none other than the Pirate himself at the end of the Elseworlds Crossover.
First though, we should address why DC did this in the first place. And you can give credit to Marv Wolfman. He had been pushing an idea to get all the superheroes together in one comic ark for some time. DC finally took his idea, and hoped to use it to take care of the problems they faced by having a large Multi-verse. They felt they were losing readers who may be confused about the different versions of various heroes. For example, they had two Superman comics going, one was the Golden Age Superman who had been explained away as living on Earth-2, while their primary Superman lived on Earth-1. So this series was devised as a way to either kill off extra characters, or somehow retcon them all into one planetary universe.
Seeing the title, however, made me want to revisit those glorious days in 1984 and 1985 when Crisis was teased and then finally released. To do so I decided to re-read the comics almost 35 years later and see how they held up. But with one addition, I wanted to read EVERY cross over comic involved in any way shape or form, not just the comics I was reading at the time (see the list here). So how did the hold up all these years later? The answer isn’t so simple.
First off, I never realized how many comics crossed over, if even only in a tiny way. In 1984, comic readers were given a glimpse at what was coming when two unknown characters began to appear randomly in various comic lines. Those characters where The Monitor, and Lyla Michaels (aka Harbinger).
At first The Monitor appears to be a weapons dealer who lives on a satellite high above the Multiverse Earths. He supplies villains with ways to beat or test the superheroes. For a price of course. But it isn’t until Crisis starts in earnest that we discover what the monitor truly is, and how he and Harbinger have been setting this all up.
I won’t go over all the events, I will just give you my impression here. First, the main storyline (which you can read without having to delve into all the spinoffs if you choose). The main comic still holds up today. Yes, you do painfully feel the Eighties in the way people talk, and more obviously the hairstyles which can be painful, but the core of the story is still brilliant. And getting to see all those heroes playing in each other’s sandboxes is just as cool as it was the first time around.
The downside really comes more when reading the attached series. Some of the worst offenders were books like Omega Men, Amethyst, and worst of all, the All Star Squadron.
All Star Squadron had the highest number of issues that crossover. And they were outright difficult to slog through. In fact, the outright racism and sexism featured in those books more than once gave me pause and I considered dropping them entirely. I understand it was showing life in the forties, but that didn’t mean readers needed to see every bad thing said or done in a book particularly aimed at children. The excessive use of words derogatory toward African Americans, Native Americans, and people of the Jewish faith really had no reason to be in a comic. I will not include any of the offensive panels, but for people to be writing that way even as late as the eighties really wrenched my gut.
Beyond that, comics such as Omega Men and Amethyst, were just so boring and in some cases confusing since I wasn’t a long term reader of the books. In fact, after reading them, most all the crossover comics can probably be disregarded. Though I did enjoy some of the DC Comics Presents crossovers.
Bottom line, it did nothing to deter my excitement at next this year’s crossover television event. It would be interesting to see if they can include any more characters we have yet to see on the CW. I particularly would love to see a Batman appearance, though I don’t think that one can be done for legal reasons. But how about a little Booster Gold or Blue Beetle? And will we even get a Harbinger? What did Ollies deal with the Monitor mean in regards to the fate of Supergirl and The Flash? So much could happen, it should make for a great week of television!!!