18th Dec2020

‘Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Steve Orlando | Art by Mike Perkins | Published by DC Comics

I’ve always had a love/ hate relationship with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Like it or not, it has cast a huge shadow over DC’s output ever since it was published back in the 1980’s. I’ve always appreciated its intent, to clean up DC continuity (albeit for a new readership that never really turned up), and the hard work of all involved, especially George Perez. On the flip side, I was always (and still am) a huge fan of the classic Earth-2, the Justice Society, Infinity,Inc, All-Star Squadron, and the Multiverse in general. All the things that were unceremoniously swept away. This book, with Crisis and the JSA front and centre, couldn’t have jumped out to me anymore if it tried, especially with the superb Mike Perkins on the art, and the always reliable Steve Orlando scripting. Let’s jump in.

The dark twist on this story is that the new Earth created after Crisis wasn’t based on Earth-1, as the mainstream continuity had, but was based on Earth-2. Earth-1 was one of the Earth’s lost, as was ‘our’ Justice League fighting the threat of Surtur. The greatest heroes left on this new Earth? The All-Star Squadron. They will beat down Surtur, right? Er, no. This Surtur is a god, power personified, and he’s taking this Earth. Many of the JSA and All-Stars fall fighting, A few escape. Kal-L, the original Superman, Starman, Johnny Thunder, the original Flash, Aquaman, Obsidian, the original Green Lantern Alan Scott, Huntress, Wildcat, Hawkgirl, and The Sandman. The last remaining heroes, The Justice Society of Earth. Brave, but old. Willing to fight, but scared. Some have powers, some just fight hard. The odds aren’t great.

Although action is always welcome, there follows some serious soul searching from these characters, nicely written by Steve Orlando. We get to eavesdrop a little, hear their stories, their struggle with legacy, with living up to the heroes that are now gone. Most realise you evolve, or die. A plan is needed, and a plan is found. Starman and The Flash formulate a plan to create a miniature black hole that will extinguish Surtur’s flame and suck him in. Will it work? Who knows, but sometimes you just gotta’ have faith. The Justice Society of Earth head into battle again. The fight, again, is brutal, beyond anything they have fought before, and again heroes start to fall. It becomes apparent that this battle is simply unwinnable. Earth will die.

One hero, though, offers the ultimate sacrifice. Not his life, but his soul. Alan Scott offers Surtur a trade. In return for leaving the Earth alone, he will be Surtur’s servant, he will lead him to new planets to destroy in Earth’s stead. If that sounds a little familiar, I suspect Orlando’s been re-reading his old Galactus and Silver Surfer stories. Alan Scott is now the Dread Lantern, a corruption of the Green Lantern power, a herald for Surtur. This being the Dark Multiverse, there are no happy endings here. A devastated Earth, many fallen heroes, and a fallen hero helping a god commit universal genocide. The small crumb of comfort? This Earth does rebuild itself, with new heroes and new hope. Was the cost worth it?

Rather ironically, considering my earlier views on the original Crisis story, I am a little conflicted with this. Technically strong, writing and art were nicely done, but also an opportunity missed. There was little depth here, most of the book being fight scenes, and I think Orlando could have given some characters more airtime. Often characters were fitting the story, rather than driving it. The original Superman was pretty wasted apart from one good scene, and most characters were not really given time to breathe. In the end, it used a Lee/Kirby riff, as nicely executed as I guess it was. It was also less Crisis on Infinite Earths, unless you class it as an epilogue, more as a fresh take on The Last Days of the Justice Society. I have a lot of affection for these characters, so that may influence my view, but the graphic deaths and body count jarred a little too much. Did the story need it? At times, perhaps, but not others.

All that being said, this is certainly worth a read, and is probably a solid mid-pack entry in the Dark Multiverse books. I just wish it could have been out there in the front.
To paraphrase the original tagline..

A world will live, many worlds will die, and the universe will never be the same.

***½  3.5/5


Comments are closed.