Crisis on Infinite Earths

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Crisis on Infinite Earths
Dust jacket of the 2005 hardcover Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths; art by Alex Ross and George Pérez
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date April 1985 – March 1986
Number of issues 12
Main character(s) Batman (Bruce Wayne)
Superman (Kal-El)
Alexander Luthor Jr.
Flash (Barry Allen)
Creative team
Writer(s) Marv Wolfman
Penciller(s) George Pérez
Inker(s) Dick Giordano
Jerry Ordway
Mike DeCarlo
Letterer(s) John Costanza
Colorist(s) Anthony Tollin
Tom Ziuko
Carl Gafford
Creator(s) Marv Wolfman
George Pérez
Editor(s) Marv Wolfman
Collected editions
Crisis on Infinite Earths (hardcover) ISBN 1-56389-434-3
Crisis on Infinite Earths (softcover) ISBN 1-5638-9750-4
Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition (hardcover) ISBN 1-4012-0712-X

Crisis on Infinite Earths is an American comic book crossover storyline published by DC Comics from 1985 to 1986, consisting of an eponymous 12-issue, limited series comic book and a number of tie-in books. It was produced by DC Comics to simplify its then-50-year-old continuity.[1] The series was written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Pérez (pencils and layouts),[2] Mike DeCarlo, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway (inking and embellishing). The series removed the multiverse concept from the fictional DC Universe, depicting the death of long-standing characters Supergirl and the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash. Continuity in the DC Universe is divided into pre-Crisis and post-Crisis periods. The Flash was later reborn.

The series' title was inspired by earlier multiverse crossover stories of parallel Earths, such as "Crisis on Earth-Two" and "Crisis on Earth-Three", and involves almost every significant character in every parallel universe of DC Comics history. It inspired the titles of four DC crossover series: Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! (1994), Infinite Crisis (2005–2006), Final Crisis (2008), and Convergence (2015) .


Continuity issues[edit]

Before Crisis on Infinite Earths was published, DC storylines had many continuity problems;[3] no character's backstory was entirely consistent and reliable. DC's oldest superhero, Superman (sole survivor of the destroyed planet Krypton), could not originally fly; his strength came from evolving on a planet with stronger gravity than Earth's. He was later depicted flying, with his powers explained as deriving from Earth's yellow sun. Superman's history later incorporated his exploits as Superboy. More Krypton survivors (including Supergirl, a dog named Krypto and the inhabitants of the bottled city of Kandor) were introduced, contradicting the original premise that Superman was the sole survivor of Krypton's destruction.

Issues also arose about the age of some characters. Batman (an Earth-born human without superpowers) retained his youth and vitality well into the 1980s despite his World War II heroism, and his sidekick Robin took over 30 years in real time to graduate from high school. Characters such as the Flash, the Atom and Green Lantern appeared in conflicting storylines, with differing origins and powers.

Crisis resolution[edit]

Although Crisis was originally conceived to celebrate DC's 50th anniversary,[citation needed] Marv Wolfman and Len Wein saw it as a chance to clean up DC's convoluted continuity. The term "Crisis" denoted an inter-dimensional crossover, similar to the annual Justice League-Justice Society crossovers which began with "Crisis on Earth-One".[citation needed]

Early in planning, a list was made of characters which were part of the DC Universe.[4] The crossover was fleshed out and coordinated at a meeting attended by president Jenette Kahn, Paul Levitz, vice president and executive editor Dick Giordano and DC's editors.[4] The groundwork for Crisis was laid the year before it was published, and one of its main characters (the shadowy, potentially villainous Monitor) was introduced into several comics.[citation needed]

When Giordano (the series' initial inker) had difficulty meeting deadlines while continuing as DC vice-president and executive editor, editorial coordinator Pat Bastienne reassigned the inking to Jerry Ordway despite Giordano's objections.[4] According to writer Steve Gerber, Crisis on Infinite Earths "got virtually no promotion ... How many handouts did you see? How many posters did you see in people's windows? How much information was really distributed to the press and how much was gotten just by individual reporters going to Marv Wolfman and [Crisis artist] George Pérez?"[5] Despite this the series was successful, renewing interest in the company's books and attracting readers with the slogan, "The DC Universe will never be the same".[citation needed]

Plot summary[edit]

Comic-book cover, with superheroes tumbling away from Earth
Cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #1; art by George Pérez
Detailed comic-book cover
The Anti-Monitor fights heroes from eight Earths; Cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (art by George Pérez)

The Monitor is murdered by his assistant, Harbinger, and one of Harbinger's duplicates is possessed by one of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons. Monitor accepts his death, which releases enough energy to project the last five parallel Earths into a limbo universe. The Anti-Monitor recruits Psycho-Pirate to his cause, infusing him with part of his power to control the other three Earths (4, S and X). This fails when all five Earths are in the limbo universe. Harbinger then recruits a group of heroes from the five remaining Earths to lead an assault on the Anti-Monitor in the antimatter universe under her guidance, using Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s powers to open a portal between the limbo and antimatter universes. Pariah tracks down the Anti-Monitor at his fortress, where he is using a converter powered by stellar energy to destroy the last five Earths. The heroes destroy the converter, the injured Anti-Monitor retreats and Supergirl dies.

During a lull in the war the supervillains unite under Brainiac, who kills Alexei Luthor of Earth-Two and says that the villains do not need two Luthors to lead them because he has recruited the Earth-One Lex Luthor to conquer the Earths. They use an antimatter cannon to penetrate the limbo universe, destroying the five partially merged Earths. The Flash (Barry Allen) dies; the Anti-Monitor, furious, vows to stop the heroes and travels through time to prevent the creation of the multiverse. The Spectre halts the conflict between the heroes and villains by warning them about the Anti-Monitor's plan and they unite to save their universe, the heroes traveling back in time to stop the Anti-Monitor. The villains travel back in time to the ancient planet Oa to prevent renegade scientist Krona from creating the technology necessary for the Anti-Monitor's plan to succeed.

The villains fail, and Krona continues his experiment. The Anti-Monitor waits for Alex Luthor to open the portal between the positive and antimatter universes, capturing the heroes. The Spectre (supported by Earth's magically powered heroes in the positive universe) battles the Anti-Monitor, creating an energy overload which shatters space and time. A single universe is created, and the superheroes return to the present (where elements of the five Earths are fused into a single planet). Only those present at the dawn of time remember the original reality.

The Anti-Monitor (now gigantic) attacks again, transporting Earth to the antimatter universe and summoning a horde of shadow demons. He falls in a carefully planned counterattack culminating in a battle with Kal-L (the Earth-Two Superman), Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three and Superboy of Earth-Prime, with help from New Gods adversary Darkseid. In this final battle the Anti-Monitor, reduced to a flaming head, crashes into a star and dies; Alex sends Earth-Two Superman, Earth-Two Lois Lane, Earth-Prime Superboy and himself to a paradise.




* Not bannered as Crisis crossovers


Acknowledgment of the Crisis[edit]

Crisis on Infinite Earths created a new universe with a new backstory, and revised DC Universe characters refer to a past Crisis. In this history the heroes opposed the Anti-Monitor, who tried to destroy the positive-matter universe. The heroes do not know that they saved the multiverse, believing that they saved their universe from destruction because their memories of the Crisis #10 dawn-of-time battle in have been erased.[6]


Comic-book cover, with a grieving Superman carrying Supergirl
The death of Supergirl; art by George Pérez

The following DC characters were shown to have died during Crisis on Infinite Earths:

Dead characters who have reappeared[edit]

A cybernetically enhanced Gunner of The Losers appears in 2000's Creature Commandos.[20] In a 2010 story set on July 4, 1976, the Losers survive World War II.[21] In a Hawkman issue, Nighthawk is believed to have died under different circumstances and is a reincarnation of the Golden Age Hawkman after Prince Khufu.[22]

The Superman reboot erased Lori Lemaris' death; she is reintroduced as able-bodied, with a "leg-changing" ability.[23] The Crime Syndicate reappears three times: as Qwardians (fought years ago by the Justice League),[24] after Zero Hour as people from the Earth of the antimatter universe[25] and as the Crime Society of America in 52 and Countdown.[26][27][28][29][30] In James Robinson's Starman comics Prince Gavyn's spirit survives, bonding with Will Payton to create a new Starman.[31]

Psimon is resurrected.[32] Mark Merlin, the human host of Prince Ra-Man, does not die with him but is "freed" from his possession.[33] Twenty-three years after his death in Crisis, Barry Allen returns to the DC Universe on the last page of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis #2.

New characters and changes[edit]

Several new characters were introduced in Crisis; the Monitor's assistant, Harbinger, and scientist Pariah played major roles in the story. Lady Quark was introduced as a survivor of one of the destroyed worlds. A new Doctor Light, a female hero, was introduced. Former Charlton Comics characters (notably Blue Beetle II) were introduced to the DC Universe.

After the Crisis, former Kid Flash Wally West assumed the mantle of the Flash. Jonah Hex was transported to a post-apocalyptic future, but this was unpopular and later stories brought him back to the Wild West. Justice Society of America member Wildcat was replaced by his goddaughter, Yolanda Montez, and became a member of Infinity, Inc. with Rick Tyler Hourman II and Beth Chapel (Doctor Mid-Nite). The Guardians of the Universe left for an unknown dimension and the Green Lantern Corps was reorganized, with Hal Jordan leading an Earth-based team. The surviving Justice Society members left for Limbo with Wildcat Ted Grant.

The story introduces the good Monitor and the evil Anti-Monitor, created by the experiment which created the multiverse. The Monitor made cameo appearances in DC comic series for two years before Crisis. At first he appears to be a new supervillain, but with the onset of the Crisis he is revealed as working on a plan to save the multiverse from destruction by the Anti-Monitor.

Relationship to other crises and possible nullification[edit]

At the 2008 New York Comic Con, Dan DiDio said that Crisis on Infinite Earths was the first of a trilogy of "Crisis" limited series describing stages in the development of the DC multiverse;[34] Crisis on Infinite Earths represented the "death of the multiverse", Infinite Crisis the "rebuilding of the multiverse" and Final Crisis the "final saga of the multiverse". In an October 2, 2011 post on his Facebook page, DiDio implied that Crisis On Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis did not occur in the DC New 52 universe. According to John Lichman's "DC New 52 Timeline So Far", this clarified an earlier assertion by DiDio: "Brace yourself, but after further review, there have been no Crisis events in the New DCU".[35]

The Convergence (2015) crossover officially retconned the events of Crisis after heroes in that series went back in time to prevent the collapse of the Multiverse.[36] However, the actual events that occurred when the Crisis' erasure of the multiverse was averted have yet to be disclosed. Whether this means that the pre-Crisis Supergirl and Flash did not die during the recalibration has yet to be clarified.


Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths[edit]

An unpublished Crisis on Infinite Earths story, written by Marv Wolfman with art by Paul Ryan and Bob McLeod, was published in the February 1999 Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. Its events occur during and after Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, and it has the only appearance of Earth-D. The Flash of Earth-D is Tanaka Rei, a Japanese man who idolizes Barry Allen. Allen and Rei meet in Crisis on Infinite Earths when Barry returns from the 30th century to the wrong universe. Since that Earth is under attack by shadow demons, Barry calls on the Justice League and Rei calls on the Justice Alliance (his world's version of the Justice League).

DC Retroactive: Superman - The '80s[edit]

Another untold Crisis-related story by Wolfman was published in August 2011 as part of the DC Retroactive series. Illustrated by Sergio Cariello and Curt Swan and set in 1984, Superman - The '80s #1 describes Destiny showing the pre-Crisis Superman images of future disasters (such as No Man's Land, Identity Crisis, his own death and the death of Supergirl) in the forthcoming Crisis.[37] Superman vows to fight on despite the grim future, and Destiny reveals herself as Harbinger.[38]

Parodies and homages[edit]

Blackthorne Comics published a two-issue miniseries, Freak-Out on Infant Earths, in 1987.[39] In Marvel Comics' Mighty Mouse #4-5 (1991), entitled "Mices on Infinite Earths", Mighty Mouse meets Mighty Mousette and helping the Minotaur, Harebinger and Piranha fight the evil and powerful Anti-Minotaur. George Pérez drew the cover of issue #4 (parodying Crisis on Infinite Earths #7)[40] and issue #5, parodying Crisis on Infinite Earths #12.[41] The Crisis, other crossovers and "event" comics were parodied by Simpsons Comics in the Radioactive Man series.[42]

The series finale of Green Lantern: The Animated Series featured a storyline that involved a character going back in time to re-shape the creation of the universe. In this version, the villain was the sentient robot Aya, who had gained control of the Anti-Monitor's body and sought to erase emotion from the universe.[43]


Action figures[edit]

For the 20th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Direct released three series of Crisis action figures. The first series included Earth-Two Robin, Supergirl, the Monitor, Harbinger and Psycho-Pirate. The second series included the Flash (Barry Allen), Earth-Two Superman, the Anti-Monitor, Lex Luthor and Brainiac, and the third series included Earth-Prime Superboy, Batman, a Weaponer of Qward, Earth-Two Huntress and the female Dr. Light.[citation needed]

Novelization and audiobook[edit]

iBooks (distributed by Publishers Group West) novelized the comic-book miniseries with Marv Wolfman, one of its writers, narrated by Barry Allen. The hardcover edition (ISBN 1-5968-7290-X) was published in April 2005 and the paperback edition (ISBN 1-5968-7343-4) was published the following February. Its cover art was by George Pérez and Alex Ross. GraphicAudio, which had produced audiobooks of Infinite Crisis and 52, released an audiobook version of Crisis on Infinite Earths based on the novel in May 2009.


  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12 (April 1985 – March 1986) was published in hardcover (December 1998; ISBN 1-56389-434-3) and trade paperback (January 2001; ISBN 1-56389-750-4) editions, with cover art by George Pérez and Alex Ross.[44]
  • Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Index (March 1986) describes each issue in the series, lists alternative Earths and provides a history of the multiverse concept.
  • Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross-Over Index (July 1986) summarizes every comic-book issue connected to the Crisis storyline, describes alternative Earths and lists every character in the Crisis series.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition (November 2005; ISBN 1-4012-0712-X)[45] is an oversized, slipcased, hardcover edition. The first volume reprints the limited series, and the second volume includes scripts, commentaries, retrospectives and the two indexes.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths Deluxe Edition (hardcover, October 2015, ISBN 1401258417). Includes the entire Crisis maxi series and the 2-issue series History of the DC Universe and other bonus material.


  1. ^ Rozakis, Bob (October 20, 2003). "It's Bob the Answer Man". Silver Bullet Comics. Retrieved October 4, 2007. 
  2. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. 
  3. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. "Crisis Beginnings" by Marv Wolfman.
  4. ^ a b c Eury, Michael (June 2009). "When Worlds Collided! Behind the Scenes of Crisis on Infinite Earths". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (34): 34–39. 
  5. ^ Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (September 1986). "Steve Gerber (part 2)". Comics Interview (38) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 6–19. 
  6. ^ Fleming, Robert Loren; Infantino, Carmine (1988). "Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt". Secret Origins Annual #2. 
  7. ^ a b Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (April 1985)
  8. ^ a b Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 (Dec 1985)
  9. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 (Feb 1986)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March 1986)
  11. ^ a b c d Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 (June 1985)
  12. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (Nov 1985)
  13. ^ a b c d e f Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 (Jan 1986)
  14. ^ Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths (1999)
  15. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (July 1985)
  16. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (July 1985)
  17. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (July 1985)
  18. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (Oct 1985)
  19. ^ Legend of Wonder Woman #1-4
  20. ^ Creature Commandos #1 (May 2000)
  21. ^ DC Universe: Legacies #4 (October 2010)
  22. ^ Hawkman Vol. 4 #7 (Nov 2002)
  23. ^ Superman Vol.2 #12 (Dec 1987)
  24. ^ Justice League Quarterly #8 (Autumn 1992)
  25. ^ JLA: Earth 2
  26. ^ 52 52: 11/3-4 ((May 2, 2007)), DC Comics
  27. ^ Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1
  28. ^ Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "The 52 Exit Interviews: Grant Morrison". Newsarama. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  the
  29. ^ "A QUICK CHECK-IN WITH JAMAL IGLE - NEWSARAMA". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  30. ^ CCI: DC New World Order - Comic Book Resources.
  31. ^ Starman Vol. 2 #58 (Oct 1999)
  32. ^ New Titans #115 (Nov 1994)
  33. ^ Detective Comics #779 (April 2003)
  34. ^ Ching, Albert (April 20, 2008). "NYCC '08: DC's (final) Final Crisis Panel". Newsarama. 
  35. ^ Lichman, John (October 4, 2011) "DC New 52 Timeline So Far". UGO Team.
  36. ^ Vaneta Rogers (27 May 2015)"MAJOR SPOILERS: DC's CONVERGENCE Concludes, Undoes [Redacted]" Newsarama
  37. ^ McElhatton, Greg (2011-08-10). "DC RETROACTIVE: SUPERMAN – THE '80S #1". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved July 29, 2012. 
  38. ^ Bailey, Michael. "Mild Mannered Reviews - DC Retroactive Comics: DC Retroactive: Superman - The 80s #1". Superman Homepage. Retrieved July 29, 2012. 
  39. ^ Chin, Don; Wood, Herb. "Freak-Out on Infant Earths". Atomic Avenue. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  40. ^ Mighty Mouse #4 at the Comic Book DB
  41. ^ Mighty Mouse #5 at the Comic Book DB
  42. ^ Radioactive Man #679 at the Comic Book DB
  43. ^ Green Lantern: The Animated Series Episode "Dark Matter"
  44. ^ "Crisis on Infinite Earths graphic novel". DC Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition". DC Retrieved June 17, 2010. 

External links[edit]