Crisis on Multiple Earths was a genius idea. It was a way for DC to bring back some old characters from the past, and it changed their universe forever.
In the 40’s Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman and several other heroes joined forces as the Justice Society of America. This was an original idea at the time and sold many a comic. However people got sick of it and the Justice Society disappeared. Many of the heroes were reworked and renamed (Jay “flash” Garrick became Barry “flash” Allen for instance), and the Justice Society of America was formed. No explanation was given for this transition and time passed.
Eventually DC’s writers wanted to revisit the old Justice Society members and provide some closure on their disappearance. This was accomplished in 1961 by Gardner Fox (original Justice Society creator). He invented a universe that consisted of more than one dimension and simply wrote a story that placed the original Justice Society members on a different Earth than the Justice League members. They met up when the two flashes vibrated in to each other’s respective dimension (possible because the two Earths occupied the same space, but at different vibrational frequencies). The current more familiar Earth was dubbed Earth-1 and the old Justice Society Earth was named Earth-2 (even though it was first).
The series was a hit. For years the Justice League and the Justice Society would team up in the pages of the Justice League of America comics. In 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths kicked off. It was a year long maxi-series and ended up with the merging of parallell universes in to one.
My interest in Crisis on Multiple Earths was sparked from reading the current Infinte Crisis series. Things were more than a little confusing to me, so I thought: why not begin at the begining? I purchased Crisis on Multiple Earths volume one from a local comic shop and started reading. Right from the get-go I loved the idea of Multiple Earths, alternate realities and old heroes revisisted. The idea behind the story is great… the execution is another matter. Silver age comics lack a serious tone… I already knew this from reading old Spider-Man comics… but nothing I’ve ever read in the super hero genre can compare to the ridiculous writing in this series.
Crisis? What crisis?
Each time the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America would team up, the event was dubbed a “crisis”, yet in reality each of these events was basically a fight between the afore mentioned teams and some decrepit, broken-down super villains who some how managed to almost conquer the heroes, only to be stopped in the end in an unimaginative manner. How can the threat of Owl Man and his band of super villains be considered a crisis? His name is Owl Man, and he wears an Owl Head hood that leaves his face fully exposed for crying out loud!
A criris should be something big… something horrible. The comic did pick up a little towards the end of the volume when people from Earth-One were changing places with people on Earth-Two. These two issues featured the Specter as well as Anti-Matter Man. This had a slightly more desperate ring to it, but once you find out why the two worlds were switching places, you really can’t help but laugh (one of the Atom’s students from Earth-One built a machine that would manipulate the orbit of planets. When switched on, it pulled the two earths towards each other from their seperate dimensions).
No C.O.M.E. = no C.O.I.E. = no I.C.
I can’t complain too much about Crisis on Multiple Earths. The fact is, Crisis on Multiple Earths was a great idea. I love the fact that the Justice Society could be revived with their original costumes and identities in such an easy, sensible manner. I love the idea behind this story. I don’t love the execution… that’s where things are a little off. I just couldn’t get lost in the story without noticing the dated artwork and dialouge, thin plot lines and gaping plot holes, and really goofy looking characters.
Yet, without Crisis on Multiple Earths we wouldn’t have Crisis on Infinite Earths which in turn would mean no Infinite Crisis, and that’s just a crime! If you haven’t read Crisis on Multiple Earths and want a better grip on what this Crisis thing is all about, go to your local comic shop, pick up the issue and read the introduction. It’s the best part of the book and explains things better than any other write up I’ve seen. After that, but the book back on the shelf and save yourself $15… Crisis on Multiple Earths ain’t worth your cash.