Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciller: George Pérez
Publisher: DC Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A time/dimension/reality/universe-spanning epic that connects everything from DC Comics history (up until 1985) into one connected universe.
One of the first company-wide large scale events. Meaning, if you hate the annual events that promise they'll "change everything," you have Crisis on Infinite Earths to thank! Hell, that was the tag line!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A quick, short synopsis is what usually goes here. Thing is, nothing about Crisis on Infinite Earths (COIE here on out) is quick or short. Hell, I have to use an acronym because even the title is a mouthful. But, seeing as we want this quick and dirty, I'll try my best!
Yin and Yang, Good and Evil, The Monitor and The Anti-Monitor, the basis of a multitude of stories. Well, not the last part, that is in fact directed at COIE's story. That is, the story of two beings from the beginning of time: The Monitor, with his job of cataloging a large number of realities, and the Anti-Monitor, just hanging about in the antimatter universe (as one does). Hopping over to The Monitor's reality (where DC stories take place), the Anti-Monitor does what any villain would do and starts causing mayhem by destroying realities with a wave of antimatter. That's only the prologue, dear reader. Like Flash, let's pick up speed.
Dozens of realities die. So do some of DC Universe's main and side characters (or, they just got rebooted origins following the event). Fearing for the worst, The Monitor sends a new character, Harbinger, with a plea for help, calling upon heroes and villains from across all time and realities. The plan? Combine all realities into one super awesome, powerful one. But as cape comics go, a huge battle ensues. Heroes lose, train up, recruit friends, then believe even more in the power of friendship and win the day. But not without lives and realities lost.
That right there, folks, may be the quickest, most information-filled synopsis you can get. Trust me, regaling the story in full would make this an hourlong read. But hey! Hopefully that writing above, and the ones that follow below interest you enough to check out COIE!
COIE was created due to fans complaining about conflicting histories between stories and characters in the DC Universe. DC explained that this was due to different realities, then decided to combine all of them into one. (This worked until they started screwing it all up again.)
For such a large book trying to accomplish a humongous feat, COIE starts off fast and keeps its momentum.
Wolfman's vast knowledge of the extended DC Universe shows throughout the event. Each character he writes shows his respect and care for them and the universe they inhabit. Through each character interaction and plot point, Wolfman showcases his understanding of the characteristics and how they act and react.
Although it may not look it, the plot is simple, yet accomplishes much.
The origins of The Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and Pariah are told very well and are kept short-but-interesting, keeping the readers engaged.
COIE was one of the first times where character deaths seemed to matter, changing the course of history. Even years later they still feel impactful, meaningful, and sad.
Even with the end of the world in sight, the villains saw an opportunity to attack the heroes and took it, almost beating them. True villains 'til the end.
Character Moment: Garth pleading that with so many people having powers, not one could save the ones he loved that died was an amazing scene.
Pérez' art still holds up as some of the best of the '80s.
Pérez studied every character to make sure they are physically correct and matches how they were previously drawn. This shows throughout the series and gives a glimpse at how Wolfman & Pérez had love and respect for the characters and universe.
Everything Pérez draws has so much detail in every aspect of the page. Even the small, insignificant parts have insane amounts of details.
All the new characters (The Monitor, Anti-Monitor, Harbinger, Pariah) designs are just super epic!
Memorable Quote: "Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the universe will never be the same." Although that's a tagline and not a quote, you have to admit it's badass. Plus, it did follow through on its promise!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Made in the ‘80s: COIE can feel like a damn novel at times!
Understandably looks intimating to newcomers (but trust me, it's not).
As stated, Pérez' art is insanely busy at times. This is beautiful to some, but I've met a few people who absolutely can't stand it.
It could be seen as the beginning of the annual comics events/crossovers trend, something that earns a groan from many readers.
COIE has a ton of tie-ins! Luckily you can still get the complete story by the main event itself.
COIE has always been labeled as Marv Wolfman & George Pérez work, but if you look at the credits for each issue, you'll realize we also need to credit all the inkers, colorists and the letterer who worked on it. Personally, I feel badly because I've read different releases of COIE and never noticed this. Some readers prefer a single inker and colorist, but with tight deadlines, comics often had multiples of each. Also, the trades have updated colors by Tom McCraw, so, I cannot speak on behalf of the original inks and colors as I sadly don't own the original prints.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
COIE is one of the biggest comic events ever, hands down. It may not be super-welcoming to newcomers, but that shouldn't deter you from reading it! Honestly, Crisis on Infinite Earths is a must-read for anyone even a little bit interested in DC characters or the comics medium. The event changed comics forever, in many ways for the better.
Plus, the CW's adaption is premiering a 5-part crossover this month, so why not read the original before watching the show!
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Ivan Reis, Jerry Ordway
Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and J. G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy, Doug Mahnke
If you like the art:
Wonder Woman by George Pérez
Atari Force by Gerry Conway & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Wonder Woman, Vol. 1 205 Robert Kanigher & Don Heck
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Marv Wolfman – Writer
Name Recognition: This guy created so much Big 2 canon, if you've never heard of him, you need to look him up immediately
Award Winner: Crisis on Infinite Earths won the 1985 and 1986 Jack Kirby Awards for Best Finite Series
George Pérez – Penciller
Multitalented: Has written and drawn a multitude of comics
Dream Team: Does amazing work with Marv Wolfman
Dick Giordano – Inker
Dream Team: Worked as Inker for Neal Adams work on Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow
Jerry Ordway – Inker
Got a job at DC by showing his work at the 1980 Chicago Comicon which was hosted by DC
Mike DeCarlo – Inker
Decarlo was Dick Giordano's assistant
Anthony Tollin – Colorist
Colored almost all the covers for DC in the '80s
Tom Ziuko – Colorist
Known for coloring reprinted editions of past comic books around the '80s and '90s
Carl Gafford – Colorist
Was a proofreader in the DC Comics production department - I honestly forgot this position existed
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Sadly can't find much on McCraw, but he did the recoloring and enhancements for the colors of the COIE's trades
John Costanza – Letterer
Letterer for Alan Moore's Swamp Thing
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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