Throwback Thursday: Recalling DC Comics’ ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ 30 years later

April 23, 2015 | 11:38 a.m.
Alex Ross cover to the collected "Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition,"  released in 2005. (DC Comics)

Alex Ross’ cover for the collected “Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition,” released in 2005. (DC Comics)

In this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” a 12-issue maxi series published by DC Comics 30 years ago this month. It was an event so significant that DC Comics history is often discussed in terms of before-“Crisis” and after-“Crisis” eras. (For those who missed last week’s introduction, Throwback Thursday is a new weekly series exploring the rich history of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comics.)

The series, which ran from April 1985 through March 1986, involved nearly every important character on DC’s roster and dealt with many of the publisher’s pesky continuity issues. Over the years, special issues introduced alternate Earths within universes that had different versions of the DC superheroes and villains. Some characters, such as Superman, Flash, the Atom and Green Lantern, had conflicting storylines, origins and powers, leading to arguments among fans and creators about authenticity.

A poster based on the cover for "Crisis on Infinite Earths" No. 7, illustrated by George Perez, depicts the death of Supergirl. (DC Comics)

A poster based on the cover of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” No. 7, illustrated by George Perez, depicts the death of Supergirl. (DC Comics)

Written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Pérez, “Crisis” centered around The Monitor, an entity who tried to prevent the collapse of all universes, and the Anti-Monitor, who wanted to destroy all of the Earths (14 are featured in the comic) and prevent creation in the multiverse. Ultimately, the Anti-Monitor was defeated, but a single universe and a single Earth remained.

In addition to cleaning up the DC Universe’s continuity, “Crisis” featured some watershed moments — including the deaths of Supergirl and the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash — that raised the stakes of stories to come.

Before “Crisis,” in June 1984, Los Angeles Times writer Jerry Belcher reflected on the state of the comic book industry as a whole.

“Now middle-aged, the comic book industry isn’t what it used to be in terms of vitality,” Belcher wrote, “but is in pretty fair condition, especially considering that until a few years ago it was thought to be in terminal decline if not actually in its death throes.”

“Crisis” helped revive interest in comics and paved the way for the likes of the now-common massive crossover storylines, especially in DC. Flashpoint, Zero Hour and even the current Convergence storyline that will mark the end of “The New 52” were all affected by “Crisis,” and all owe it a debt.

— Denise Florez | @LATHeroComplex

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