I’ve been wanting to write a piece about event comics for a while. Ever since Infinity War hit theaters actually. But, like many of my post ideas, I took to long to actually write the piece and the timing just wasn’t right for it anymore.
And then last night this happened:
For anybody who knows comics, saying, “They’re doing Crisis” is a powerful sentence. Crisis on Infinite Earths is the most famous superhero comic story ever written and it set the template and rules for the Event Comic, an annual crossover along the entire brand line or both DC and Marvel comics. Crisis on Infinite Earths is the reason we have Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
In the Golden Age of comics the first superhero team was the Justice Society of America. The team featured heroes like The Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, and they all fought in WWII. Then DC comics decided to reboot their entire line (they do this a lot) and re-imagined their characters. For example; Green Lantern went from a man with a cape, magic ring, and a weakness to wood to a space cop with a science ring and a weakness to yellow (much cooler). The new characters joined forces as the Justice League of America, because leagues are cooler than societies and that’s a fact.
And then a few years after the Silver Age began, the Justice League and Justice Society teamed up. DC explained how they could both exist by setting the Justice Society on an alternate Earth dubbed Earth-2 while the League exists on Earth-1. Kind of rude since the Society was first but I digress. The Justice League and Justice Society started teaming up annually, much like how The CW’s Arrowverse does now.
As time went on they added more and more Earths. The one where everyone is evil; Earth-3. The one with Shazam and his family; Earth-S. The one where Superman landed in Germany and WWII never ended; Earth-X. Eventually the barrier for entry into DC grew to high. There were too many alternate realities for new readers to keep track of. So DC decided to simplify everything.
Sure, they could have quietly removed the multiverse from their stories. But instead they decided to go BIG. And potentially make some money off of the whole thing.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-part Maxi-Series that ran from 1985 into 1986. It featured every single character in the DC Universe, added some more, and then killed off even more. Supergirl and The Flash died stopping the evil Anti-Monitor from wiping out the entire multiverse. The five earths that survived were all folded into one New Earth with one shared history. Now the Justice Society and Justice League both existed in one world. DC stories have been filtered into either Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis ever since.
Crisis was a best seller and might have even saved the company. It spawned the sequels Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, and it convinced Marvel comics to try the same thing with Secret Wars on their end.
The rules of the Event Comic are simple. It must be at least six parts long, it must have special tie-in issues about specific characters in the event, and the universe the story is set in must be different in some way afterwards. They are written in a way where there is rarely a single point of view character. Instead the whole universe is the main character and more often than not you, the reader, are expected to already know who everyone is.
While Crisis is the first, there have been many great Event Comics since. DC’s best always go big in scale like with Invasion!, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, The Final Night (the rare soulful DC crossover), the aforementioned Infinite Crisis (which brought the multiverse back) & Final Crisis, and Blackest Night. Marvel started out aping DC’s scale with Secret Wars, the Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and Infinity Crusade, but found a much better character based style later on with House of M, Civil War, and erm… another Secret Wars.
And now Event Comics are being adapted for the screen. The Arrowverse did Invasion! The MCU adapted the Infinity Gauntlet into Infinity War, a movie that checked all the boxes on an event Comic including the massive change to the setting at the end. And now the Arrowverse is going to do Crisis on Infinite Earths. Before these crossovers couldn’t be so big to completely throw off their respective series, but I don’t think that matters any more. The question is, will it work? It has every time in the past.
Holy crap they’re doing Crisis.
PS, I owe everyone a piece on Supergirl, a show I deeply regret writing off for petty reasons back in Season One.