Crisis-Relevant Texts


Crisis Annotations

Comics Mentioned in Crisis

The Flash #350, October '85: "Flash Flees"

Bates, Infantino, McLaughlin
This comic occurs before the Crisis, and involves the end of a long and complex storyline. F2 had been accused of murder, but it turned out many events surrounding his trial were being manipulated by two beings from the future. One was the villainous Abra Kadabra, who was trying to get Flash found guilty, and the other was Flash's resurrected wife, Iris, who was living in the 25th Century. Ironically, Abra was trying to "cheat destiny", by having Flash abandon the 20th Century, thus avoiding the terrible fate history said awaited him. In the end, Flash actually did make that choice, but Abra was in jail and unable to appreciate it. The issue (and the series) ended with Flash and his rediscovered wife happily living in the future. But, destiny refused to be cheated...

Aquaman, February '86 through May '86

4 issues
Pozner, Hamilton
Aquaman returns to New Venice, and finds it under attack by the Ocean Master. He gets beat up by OM, abandons New Venice and his wife, and hunts down OM, nearly killing him. There's more to it than that, but you get the gist. Introduces Nuada Silverhand as an "ally" for Aquaman, and the temporary blue costume. This miniseries is not part of post-Zero Hour continuity.


Reference Texts

Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe

March '85 through April '87
26 issues of 32 pages
Wein, Wolfman, various
This massive work was considered the companion piece to Crisis, and was intended to clearly define the characters of the DC Universe. It failed, as the WW editors simply had no idea how many characters would be greatly changed by the Crisis. There may be a major character whose WW'85 entry is still valid, but they're few and far between. It is, however, a wonderful reference to the pre-Crisis DC Multiverse, except towards the end, where the Byrne Superman and Pérez Wonder Woman are clear examples of post-Crisis-isms creeping in. It catalogs approximately a thousand different characters, teams, places, and items, and (unlike the more recent loose-leaf Who's Who) was intended to be exhaustive. Each character is done by a different (and, where possible, appropriate) artist, with the more important characters getting two-page spreads. The letter column is a fascinating mine of facts as to what The Powers That Were were thinking during those years, and overall it is an absolute must-have for the DC fan with any interest in that company's rich history.

History of the DC Universe

1986
2 issues of 48 pages
Wolfman, Pérez
This was intended to be the bookend to the Crisis, last of the "trilogy" that redefined the DC Universe. It was a reasonably accurate presentation of the major events in that universe's history, covering comics published up through about Legends. Its inner premise is that it is a text assembled by Harbinger in her attempt to chronicle and understand the new post-Crisis universe, and, as such, plays a role in Millennium. It remained more-or-less valid (Brainiac silliness notwithstanding) up through about the time of Invasion!, when ill-conceived continuity changes such as Hawkworld began ripping holes in it. Its value to today's reader lies mostly in that it is a very pretty book, with an abundance of gorgeous Pérez art that is not obliged to carry a plot.

cover

cover

The Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Index, March '86

Ward, Mougin, Waid, Pérez
Contains a history of the Multiverse concept, a near-complete list of alternate Earths, and extremely detailed info on each issue of the series. (Cover description, credits, feature characters, guest stars, villains, guest appearances, other characters, synopsis, etc.) Incredibly detailed; includes things like "Guest Star: Guardians of the Universe (appearance here same as Green Lantern (second series) #194, page 15; appear next, imprisoned, in Green Lantern (second series) #195, page 19, to be freed in issue #5, page 13." Positively intimidating to a casual annotater like myself.
The cover deserves a mention. It's by Pérez, and is merely gorgeous at first glance... until you realize what all those characters have in common. Notable emotional impact.

The Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover Index, July '86

Ward, Mougin, Waid, Duursema
Contains even more detailed histories of even more alternate Earths, a list of Monitor appearances, synopses of all the crossover issues, and a list of every character who appeared in Crisis, and what issues they appeared in. (Yoicks.) Plus selected chronologies, and a four-page flowchart of the Crisis.

JLA in Crisis Secret Files #1, November '98

Peyer, various
A brief introduction to the many, many crossovers that have marked the last 14 years of DC's history. It also contains a discussion of the original crossover between Earth-1 and Earth-2, and of the Crisis. As a bonus, the splash page is the cover to Crisis #7. Not much detail, but an adequate quick-n-dirty reference, and the art on p34-35 isn't bad.


Crisis' Legacy: Crossovers

Secret Wars, May '84 through April '85

12 issues
Shooter, Zeck, Layton

Technically, the title was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, and, technically, it wasn't a crossover. It had no tie-ins to regular titles, and was entirely self-contained. It is of debatable quality; the writing is stilted and the heroes are frequently out of character, the art is unremarkable (though competent), and the long-lasting repercussions are few (Spider-Man's costume is the exception, leading as it did to Venom). Nevertheless, I consider it a guilty pleasure. It's got some scope, pretty good villainy, and an undefinable Marvel-ness about it that I like. Fun Fact: In all twelve issues, there are less than a dozen lines of dialogue that end with a simple period.

Secret Wars II

Dreck. Avoid.

Legends (forthcoming)

Millenium (forthcoming)

Zero Hour (forthcoming)

Deathmate (forthcoming)


Endings

"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"

The last (imaginary) pre-Crisis Superman story.
Superman #423 and Action Comics #583, September '86
Moore, Swan, Pérez, Schaffenberger
A wonderful, nostalgia-ridden story of Superman's final days. It takes place after the Crisis - Supergirl is dead - but before the continuity changes introduced by Byrne. I can't say much about it without ruining it, but it is a must-read for anyone purporting to know anything about Superman and the Silver Age.

DC Comics Presents #97, September '86: "Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter"

The last (in-continuity) pre-Crisis Superman story.
Gerber, Veitch, Smith
Possibly the only comic ever advertised specifically as a "Pre-Crisis Universe" tale; it has those very words on the cover! It's a weird, dark history of the Phantom Zone, including its discovery by Jor-El, its use as a prison, the revelation that the zone is, in some way, sentient, and its eventual destiny. Along the way Bizarro World is destroyed, Mxyzptlk demolishes his home dimension, the space-city of Argo is dropped on Metropolis, inundating the city in kryptonite and the corpses of Argo's residents, and Washington is devastated by an army of Kryptonian criminals. This was the last issue of DCCP.

Batman #400, October '86: "Resurrection Night!"

The last pre-Crisis Batman story.
Monech, various (introduction by Stephen King)
Though published several months after the conclusion of Crisis, this giant-sized anniversary special takes place in pre-Crisis continuity. It features the last appearance of the pre-Crisis Catwoman II, friend and ally to the Batman, the last appearance of a Jason Todd whose parents were killed by Croc (as opposed to the post-Crisis Todd whose father was killed by Two-Face), and the last appearance of many Batman villains, freed from captivity but never seen again. (It is also an excellent story in its own right.) It is a turning point, and the creators knew this. I quote from the epilogue: "And so the night of resurrection nears its end, but when next he strides forth from this dark womb of bats... it all begins anew. 'Hello again. Beware... forever.'"
Batman #401 was a Legends crossover, and is the beginning of the post-Crisis Batman.

Last Days of the Justice Society Special #1, 1986

The end of the second era of the Justice Society.
Thomas, Ross, Gustovich
A complex, time-and-dimension-hopping tale involving Hitler's final attempt to destroy the Earth with the Spear of Destiny. The JSA travels to Asgard to do constant battle, preventing the end of the world. Includes the funerals of Robin I and Huntress II, discussion of the other JSA'ers lost in the Crisis, and the (temporary) deaths of most of the JSA (some several times over). This was intended to be the end of the JSA, and they did not reappear until Armageddon: Inferno #4 (1992).
Infinity Inc. #30 is a coda to this story.

Christmas with the Superheroes #2, 1989: "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot"

The last Supergirl story.
Brennert, Giordano
The ghostly hero Deadman is moping about how he's invisible to all the people he helps, when a young blond woman shows up and sets him straight. "We don't do it for the glory. We don't do it for the recognition... We do it because it needs to be done. Because, if we don't, no one else will. And we do it even if no one knows what we've done. Even if no one knows we exist. Even if no one remembers we ever existed." "I... I don't even know your name..." "My name is Kara. Though I doubt that'll mean anything to you."


Beginnings

Justice League #1, May '87: "Born Again"

The first truly post-Crisis Justice League.
Giffen, DeMatteis, Maguire, Austin
Though Justice League of America lingered for several months after the Crisis, it was clear that its spirit was broken, and Legends finished it off. Out of that crossover came the new Justice League, a very successful humor title that spawned many spinoffs and imitators, and lasted through two name changes and ten years before its recent (as of 1996) cancellation and replacement by JLA. Justice League #1 was the first post-Crisis Justice League, as its membership included Doctor Fate of Earth-2, Captain Marvel of Earth-S, Blue Beetle of Earth-4, the Monitor's creation Doctor Light II, Guy Gardner (who finally got his ring for real during the Crisis), Mister Miracle and Oberon of Kirby's Fourth World (which had never been considered a source for League members before), and former JLA members Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, and Batman. A scant three issues later Booster Gold, the first post-Crisis superhero, was added to the team. With Justice League #1 the Justice League was radically redefined, and it is only with JLA that this new archetype was discarded in favor of a return to the "big guns" definition. For many people, however, the "Giffen" League will remain the League.

The Man of Steel (forthcoming)

Wonder Woman #1 (forthcoming)


Flash II

Legionnaires Annual #3, 1996: "The Long Road Home"

Stern, Castrillo, Wojtkiewicz, Jurgens
Includes a rare - and true to the legend - glimpse into the few months before his death that Barry Allen spent in the 30th Century. He's depicted as noble, caring, honest, brave, and wise. Further, I remain confident that, if Jenni had told him of his fate, he would not have refused to meet it. Would that all Silver Age heroes were treated this well. It also answers one of the biggest lingering questions about Flash's death: What color was his hair at the time?

Barry Allen's death is discussed in Secret Origins Annual #2, The Flash Secret Files #1, and The Life Story of the Flash, making it the most-mentioned part of the Crisis.


Morrison

Animal Man

On separate page.

Flex Mentallo

On separate page.


Busiek

Shattered Image

On separate page.

Astro City, January '98: "The Nearness of You"

Busiek, Anderson, Blyberg, Sinclair, Ross
To quote Jason Borelli's letter in the back: "An entire time epic... in the span of two pages. ...That's what it felt like to me." And, indeed, that's what it is. The entire story is only 16 pages, and the key, Crisis-like pages are only two pages and seven panels in the middle. The Time-Keeper (a minor time-manipulating crook) battles Eterneon in the chronal realm, and world is thrown into chaos, with heroes and cities vanishing, time-lost warriors striding the streets, and fierce, epic battles to save All That Is. The protagonist, a man who has lost his wife to the reformations of the universe, asks if anyone ever chooses to forget those who have gone. The Hanged Man replies: "No one forgets. No one." Heroes and universes may come and go, but someone must always remember.


Crime Syndicate

Justice League Quarterly #8, Autumn '92: "Double Trouble!"

Waid, Wingham, Tanghal
A rare post-Crisis mention of the Crime Syndicate. We hear this from Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan):

In the early days of the League... we fought a gang of super-villains from the anti-matter universe of Qward. They called themselves the Crime Syndicate. They modeled themselves after Earth's super-heroes... but they were much more powerful. Together with the Justice Society, we brought them down... just barely. The original five Syndicate members are long gone...

They are depicted on a monitor screen as typically Qwardian - all are wide-eyed, and the men are bald - but their costumes and names are unchanged.

JLA Secret Files #1, September '97: "The Roll Call: JLA (Villains)"

Jimenez
The Syndicate are included in the giant shot of League villains. They have Qwardian eyes, but Ultraman and Power Ring have hair. (Johnny Quick II and Owlman may have hair, but they wear cowls.) Superwoman still has hair as well.


Other

Where Are They Now?: DC Comics Presents #94, June '86: "The Challenge of the Volt Lord"

Randall, Greenberger, Mandrake, Heck
Superman teams up with Harbinger, Lady Quark, and Pariah to battle the Volt Lord. Lady Quark briefly suspects he may be the Earth-Sigma incarnation of her lost husband from Earth-6. An interesting treatment of post-Crisis trauma and the reactions of three characters introduced in Crisis to the new world. Cover blurb declares this issue to be "A Post-Crisis Blockbuster".

Flashback: Action Comics #590, July '87: "Better Dying Through Chemistry"

Byrne, Giordano
Contains a rare flashback to the Crisis, concerning Negative Woman's destruction of Chemo in 10.3-4. Also has some commentary: "Where once there had been as many worlds as there might be minds to imagine them, now there remained but one."

Fixing the Legion, 1987

Comprising Cosmic Boy #1-4, Superman #8, Action Comics #591, and Legion of Super-Heroes #37-38.
Byrne, Levitz, various
Post-Crisis, Superman never was "Superboy", as he first donned his cape as a young adult. However, Superboy was integral to the origin of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who had not been changed by the Crisis. In the Cosmic Boy miniseries, Cos took a "vacation" in the 20th Century, and met the post-Crisis Superman. Stunned by the fact that Superman didn't know him, he and Night Girl investigated, and found that the continuum was being manipulated by the foe of the Legion's known as the Time Trapper. It was eventually found that the Time Trapper had created a "Pocket Universe", in which Superboy existed, and that the Legion had been journeying to this past whenever they traveled in time. Superboy sacrificed his life to defeat the Trapper.
It should also be noted that in Superman #8 Superman makes reference to the Superboy of Earth-Prime seen during the Crisis, as distinct from the Pocket Universe Superboy.

Parody: What The--?! #2, September '88: "Doctor Deranged"

Gillis, Foglio
A spoof by Marvel of DC's mystical characters, this story includes an appearance by "The Aunty Monitor!" (looking roughly like the Anti-Monitor in his second suit of armor, plus gray wig and pink apron). To quote: "We've decided that this universe has become entirely too complicated!" "You're gonna get rid of us?" "No -- we're just going to change everything around!" [poof] "The first six pages of this story no longer exist! It's the way we do things here!" Amusingly, the What The--?! series (in its various DC parodies) made fun of both the silliness of having multiple Earths, and the silliness of fixing 'em. Issues 1-4 are recommended for giggle value.

In-Joke: Flash Annual #2, 1988: "The Edges of Life"

Messner-Loebs, LaRocque, Chien
The para-dimensional super called the Chunk sends a scientist on a quick trip through the different universes he can access through his internal singularity. Upon returning, the scientist confers with his colleague: "It's as if an infinite series of worlds, just like Earth... all inhabiting the same space-time continuum, had been crushed together and destroyed in some unimaginable cataclysm!" "...And somehow, Chunk's singularity gives him access to the remains! But if such a cataclysm had happened, we'd have some record of it." "You're right, of course. There must be some other explanation." Fanfic writers take note. (Thanks to Earl J. Woods for calling this bit to my attention.)

Homage: 1963 Book Six: The Tomorrow Syndicate, October '93: "From Here to Alternity!"

Moore, Veitch, Gibbons, Kilroy
The League-like Tomorrow Syndicate travels cross-dimension, meeting the the Golden Age do-gooders of the Victory Vanguard, and discovering the Lobby of Alternity, where all realities intersect. "I'm the blur of Earth Alpha, by the way! This is Blur-Boy, and the Blur of Earth Beta. We've just concluded our annual team-up and we need to go back to our own worlds!" "Earths Alpha through Gamma are currently inaccessible due to an infinite crisis! Wait over there, please!" Guest stars abound.

Homage: Big Bang Comics #6, November '96: "Criss Cross Crisis!"

Swan, Anderson, Ecker, Carlson, Adams, Brozman
A wonderful nostalgia-fest set on the twin worlds of Earths "A" and "B", in which the Golden Age "Knights of Justice" and Silver Age "Round Table of America" team up to keep the villainous Doctor Binana (the most sinister simian of two worlds) from plundering - or destroying - the Earths.

Flashback: Starman Annual #1, 1996: "The City and the Stars"

Robinson, Williams II, Grey, Blevins, Hamilton, Snyder
The story of Starman II (Prince Gavyn), and his death in the Crisis (casually mentioned in 10.9.7) is told here by "super-villain" the Shade. Gavyn died trying to stop the anti-matter wave from consuming his world, and apparently succeeded, but the truth is that he died moments before the worlds of Earth-1 were transported to safety in the Netherverse at the end of Crisis #4. Shade also mentions - mournfully - the death of Flash II.

More to come...

As always, there is constant improvement on this page.

Crisis Annotations


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