The Annotated Crisis on Infinite Earths

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Issue #1, April '85: "The Summoning!"

Wolfman, Pérez, Giordano
Oversized Issue

Plot Summary: We see two universes destroyed by waves of anti-matter, and are introduced to Pariah, who is being unwillingly dragged from Earth to Earth as they die. This is being observed by the mysterious Monitor (who appears to be attempting to stop it) and his aide, Harbinger. He expresses an interest in the sole survivor of one of these universes, Luthor IV. The Monitor then sends Harbinger to recruit 15 beings from across time and dimension (including the emotion-controlling Psycho-Pirate II) for an unspecified purpose. During this task, one of Harbinger's replicants is turned evil by a dark shadow. When all 15 are gathered on his satellite, they are attacked by these shadow demons, minions of an as-yet unseen foe. Monitor dispels the shadows, and confronts the heroes with the statement that their worlds are about to die.

cover

1.Cover: Going by location of heads, right to left, we have Power Ring, Pariah, S1, Firestorm, Blue Beetle, Arion (Lord of Atlantis), Dawnstar, Cyborg, Dr. Polaris, Geo-Force, Psimon, Firebrand II, Superwoman, Obsidian, PP2, Killer Frost, Harbinger, L3, Ultraman, Johnny Quick II, Solovar, GL3, Owlman. In the upper-left corner is the shadowy face of the Monitor. These characters are A) all the superhumans of E3, B) people gathered by Harbinger in this issue, and C) Pariah, the Monitor, and Harbinger herself, three of the pivotal figures in this series.

1.1: We start with the Big Bang. In the DC multiverse, the bang is even bigger, as infinite different parallel worlds are created.

1.1.3

1.1.4: "...should have been one..." As we later find out, the "multi" nature of the multiverse is due to the actions of a particular being; it was "meant" to be one universe, but someone screwed it up...

1.2-3: Many billion years later, we get to see the death of one of these universes. It's not named, but E5 appears nowhere else, so that's what I call it. We watch as a wave of all-devouring whiteness devours Earth, and is then itself obscured by black nothingness.

1.2-3.7: We're not the only observers. This is Pariah, a new character. He quickly demonstrates himself to be a tragic figure (apart from the serious mascara problem, even), who is being dragged from world to world to witness each's death-throes. We are to find out that his role in this tragedy is much greater than "witness", however.

1.2-3.20: "...I must attend as I have the hundreds which have died before it." Hundreds? Oy...

1.2-3.27: Earth-5 dies.

1.4: Quoting from the Crime Syndicate entry in WW5:

On Earth-3, a parallel world vibrating on a slightly different plane than the world we know, history had chosen a strange, opposing path. There, it was the American Christopher Columbus who discovered Europe; colonial England that won her freedom from the United States during the Revolutionary War; and actor Abraham Lincoln who shot president John Wilkes Booth...

Previous appearances of the Crime Syndicate include Justice League of America #29-30, All-Star Squadron #15-17, Secret Society of Super-Villains #14-15, and DC Comics Presents Annual #1. (Issue numbers may be off slightly.)

This world contains only 6 superhumans; 5 evil alternates of JLA members who make up the Crime Syndicate, and L3, the only superhero. Though it's not mentioned here, L3 had released the Syndicate from captivity for their aid in preventing the destruction of their world just prior to the series' start (WW14.3).

1.4.2: We see on this world that the wave of nothingness is preceded by natural disasters.

1.4.4: "...changed the course of mighty oceans...", "adopted planet" References to Superman catchphrases, he being Ultraman's counterpart.

1.5.5: The first reference to the wave of nothingness as "anti-matter".

1.5.9: Superwoman dies.

1.6.4: First appearance of L4, son of L3 and this world's Lois Lane.

1.7.1: Owlman dies. Johnny Quick II dies.

1.7.2: We actually see Power Ring trying to save lives - not just blocking volcanos and lava.

1.7.4, 6, 8, 10: A touching "echo" of the Superman origin.

1.7.5, 7, 9: Pariah arrives, and weeps for yet another world.

1.7.12: Of course, Power Ring still isn't exactly a nice guy...

1.8.6: "I do what I have done all my life. I fight to the very end!" Ultraman dies.

1.8.7: Power Ring dies. The Crime Syndicate dies.

1.8.16: Luthor III dies. Lois Lane-Luthor dies.

1.9.7: Earth-3 dies.

1.9.11-14: One good thing about this series is all the explanatory captions... JLA satellite HQ, yup... abandoned, yup... Don't worry, the kid is found soon enough.

1.10-11.4: The Monitor, another observer of the cross-universe destruction, and (apparently) one with a plan to stop it. During the lead-in months, Monitor appeared in many comics, but his motives were left ambiguous.

1.10-11.8: "July, 1985" When this was released, July was still several months in the future. It's not an error, however. The first several issues take place over mere days, all in July of 1985 (sort of). "...another alternative has been made available..." L4 is this alternative, for reasons which become clear later. Lyla is Harbinger in her "unenergized" form.

1.10-11.11: Lyla has too much attitude, things being what they are. You're the Monitor's equal? Fine, you save the multiverse.

1.12.1: "Doesn't he understand the risk?" Doesn't Harbinger understand the stakes? Of course, she turns out to be right... and wrong. Dividing does weaken her, but Monitor is counting on that.

1.12.4: We begin to learn why someone might want a multiverse over a universe... It's weaker this way.

1.13.1: Not only does he see his death in the future, but it turns out to be necessary.

1.13.5: Gorilla City... a holdover from the day when every tenth villain was a talking ape of some sort, and Barry Allen knew them all. It first appeared very early in his career, in Flash #106.

1.13.7: Solovar's name is misspelled throughout this issue.

1.14.4: We begin to learn Harbinger's mission: recruitment, whether the targets like it or not.

1.15-17: We find Harbinger is not limited by time or dimension, as she visits 30th Century E1 and 1942 E2, recruiting Dawnstar and Firebrand II.

1.17.2: Harbinger can also control time, to a small extent.

1.17.3: The ASQ was a team of superheroes assembled during WW2, and comprising virtually every noble costume-wearer of the era, including the JSA.

1.17.6: Some people trust Harbinger instantly, some (Solovar) don't.

1.17.8-9: Oh good, a bad guy! Actually, this is just a hench-being, but still...

1.17.10: The first appearance in DC Comics of Earth-4, although we don't learn its number until much later.

1.18.4: "...I thought I'd be forgotten after all this time." The Ted Kord Blue Beetle was a minor character who hadn't appeared anywhere since the 70s. This is his first DC appearance. "Bug" is his (partly voice-controlled) aircraft.

1.19.8: Harbinger recognizes her attacker - somewhat mistakenly, as it turns out. The way some of her selves "turn to the dark side" is both a plot point, and an explanation of her erratic behavior in the lead-in appearances.

1.20-21: Harbinger recruits PP2 - another pivotal figure. As of 1996, PP2 still, in theory, remembers the infinite Earths, and he's the only one who recalls the Crisis clearly and correctly. (No one makes use of this except Grant Morrison...) He's also even more insane.

1.21.8: "Someday soon a great hero will stem the frozen tide." I'm not clear on who is being referred to; I think it's an event in Arion's future.

1.22.4: Arion really needs to switch to decaf. On the other hand, the "misunderstanding fight" is sort of a hero tradition.

1.22.6-9: This is the "evil" Harbinger, following the letter of Monitor's commands, but secretly loyal to... who?

1.23: Firestorm's meeting with Killer Frost follows events in The Fury Of Firestorm #41.

1.23.6: Firestorm is a merging of two people, Ronald Raymond and Professor Martin Stein.

1.25.3: "Already another Earth has perished. And five heroes I needed are gone..." Next issue he states that the most recent world to go was E3, so he's referring to the Crime Syndicate here. We also learn Harbinger's origin here; exactly which Earth she is from is unknown, but it's presumed to be E1.

1.25.4: Harbinger does, indeed, end up killing him.

1.26-27.1
(Clipped from 1.26-27.1.)

1.26-27.1: Left to right, Blue Beetle of E4, Dawnstar of E1's LSH, Solovar of E1, Psimon of E1, Geo-Force of E1's Outsiders, Cyborg of E1's Titans, PP2, S1 of E2's JSA and ASQ, Obsidian of E2's Infinity Inc., Firebrand II of E2's ASQ, GL3 of E1, Arion of E1, Firestorm of E1, Killer Frost of E1, Dr. Polaris of E1. They cover 3 Earths, at least 6 teams, and approx. 46,000 years of time. GL3's recruitment is covered in Green Lantern #194, Cyborg's in New Teen Titans #13. "I bet none of 'em's ever even heard of the Blue Beetle!" Indeed, none of them have met him before, or anyone from his world. Firebrand II, Obsidian, and S1 are of the same Earth, but Firebrand II is from 40 years earlier, which is why she thinks S1 looks old and he says it's been awhile - she retired in the 40s. Infinity Inc. and the ASQ met through time-travel.

1.26-27.2: "What could threaten both Earth-1 and Earth-2?" Well, Supes, quite a bit, really. The JSA and the JLA teamed up to fight cross-Earth menaces fairly regularly.

1.28.1: We'll see several thousand of these shadow demons before the series is over; these here are more powerful than typical, as our heroes have virtually no success against them.

1.28.4: "...One part of her self will have altered the rest." The part is, of course, the evil Harbinger who went after Arion. Obsidian's self-doubt here is fairly typical of the character.

1.30.1: This series has a lot of apostrophe problems, I've noticed...

1.30.7: A good example of the shadows' strength: the combined powers of a GL, Firestorm, and Killer Frost can't hold one.

1.31.6: Monitor took long enough to turn on the lights; we find out he needed to test the heroes a little.

1.31.10: The Monitor's silhouette looks a lot like the shadows', hmm?

1.31.11: "Of all beings, she was not at fault." Implying that the Monitor is, somewhat.

1.32.1: And we're off with a bang!

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