Wolfman, Marv

About the Author:

Marv Wolfman began writing comics for DC Comics in 1968.  He later worked for Marvel Comics and served as the company's Editor-in-Chief from 1975 to 1976.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

2 out of 5

(1 book)

Crisis On Infinite Earths

(Art by George Perez, Dick Giordano, Mike DeCarlo and Jerry Ordway)

As a malevolent entity known as the Anti-Monitor begins destroying entire universes, his opposite number, the Monitor, begins gathering heroes and villains from across the Multiverse to combat the threat.  However, the Anti-Monitor is no common foe and countless millions of lives will be destroyed before the final confrontation.

This book is one of the most famous, influencial and, unfortunately, overrated comics events of all time.

A bit of background first.  By the 1980s, as a result of decades of unbridled (and largely unguided) growth, DC's comic book continuity was a confusing mess of alternate Earths, alien planets and distant times.  When Marvel broke new ground with Jim Shooter's crossover event 'Secret Wars', DC decided they could use the same trick to both drive sales and have a good strong continuity clear-out.  The event saw the Multiverse collapsed down into a single continuity with characters from different Earths now existing coherently on just the one.  The changes it wrought continued to influence DC stories for decades to come, including featuring some of the longest-lasting hero deaths in comics history.  And any comics fan will tell you that a lasting superhero death is a very rare thing.

As a result of all that background knowledge, I was very excited to finally read this story, thirty-five years after its original publication.  But, as with so much in this world, it never came close to living up to all the hype.  The biggest problem for me was that the very reason this book exists is that before this story concluded, DC's continuity was a confusing mess.  What this means is that we have to read our way throught twelve issues-worth of confusing mess before the continuity gets thinned out and streamlined.  There are no consistent core characters here, so we're constantly introduced to new protagonists, antagonists and teams with a bewildering collection of powers, backgrounds and motivations.  Wolfman seemed to take the approach that every DC character ever should make an appearance but what this means for the reader is that, unless you're simply going through and making a tally of who appears (and yes, I did used to do that as a kid), then there is no-one for us to latch onto and follow through the cataclysmic events going on.  It certainly doesn't help that some of DC's characters are really, really lame and have such terrible names as Element Lad, Psycho-Pirate or Tommy Tomorrow.

The second biggest problem is that the book fails to make the most of its visual medium.  George Perez's artwork is consistantly solid all the way through, but Wolfman has made the book very dialogue-heavy.  So, where a picture could've said a thousand words, this book will have some character expositing exactly what's going on or waxing philosophical in the midst of an action scene.  This wouldn't have been quite so bad except that this is unreformed 80s comics dialogue and includes cheesy and unnaturalistic lines like "I did not wish to join this fight before, but I cannot allow you to win."  (And that was just from opening a page at random for an example).

It's not all bad, of course.  The very early parts of the book as we begin to see the destruction of various universes and the heroes therein set the tone really well.  They had a real sense of urgency and impending doom that, sadly, the drawn-out rest of the book failed to deliver on.  Also of note in the positive catagory is the way that the fates of the Flash and Supergirl are handled.  They're given the appropriate amount of space to make sense and have impact.  I particularly liked Supergirl's inner thought processes as she determines to try to live up to the example set by her cousin as she flies into battle against the Anti-Monitor.

The simple truth is though that reading this overly-long graphic novel was a disappointing slog, even for a life-long comics fan like myself.

2 out of 5

Collaborations & Anthologies:

Batman: A Lonely Place Of Dying (here)

Read more...

DC Comics (here)