Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (July 1985)

The Crisis on Infinite Earths rages on! The anti-matter wave has been consuming more Earths left and right! It's eaten more Earths than a starving man at a buffet! We've seen heroes fight to save the universe, and we've also seen the first real casualties. And it's only going to get worse from here.

Previously on Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Monitor did some testing on Alex Luthor, Jr. The New Teen Titans and Outsiders fought to save Earth-1's New York City from the anti-matter wave. Geo-Force and Dr. Polaris protected a tower in WWII Markovia alongside DC's wartime characters, and we saw the death of the Losers. Members of the Harbinger Group met DC's Western heroes in 1879, and Nighthawk got consumed by the anti-matter wall. The Legion of Super-Heroes valiantly fought to save 31st century Metropolis from the anti-matter wave, and they got their first casualty in Kid Psycho. The Monitor found himself facing a murderous Harbinger.

So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Crisis on Infinite Earths #4!

The cover is pretty cool. You got the Monitor lying on what looks like a platform of some kind, his chest smoking from a blast wound, Pariah just standing there like, "The fudge just happened?!" And then there's Harbinger floating above them, her hands glowing. The cover promises "The Death of the Monitor!" Based on that cover...he seems pretty dead.

"And Thus Shall the World Die!"
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Letterer: John Constanza
Editors: Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Robert Greenberger

The story begins with Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl, flying over Gotham. At least, I think it's Gotham. She is there to meet Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. The narration notes that the universe itself has seemingly gone mad. The weather is exhibiting crazy patterns, the stars are no longer in their proper places. And the anti-matter wall is slowly eating the city.

Batgirl is looking out at the wall with her Bat-Binoculars, and remarks that the city seems so empty. Everyone is huddled in their homes, waiting for the end. Batgirl thinks the end is here, and she has given up. She's willing to let the wall consume her like it has so many before. Supergirl is not willing to give up so easily. The Maid of Might believes there is a way to stop this. Batgirl admits that she is scared out of her wits. Not hard to see why. Unlike her Kryptonian compatriot, Barbara Gordon does not have powers and abilities beyond the powers of mortal men. She's just a really smart woman with martial arts skills and some gadgets. How can she fight something like this?

Supergirl assures her that she's not alone in being scared. Everyone is scared. It's believed Flash is dead. Other heroes and some villains have vanished. Supergirl herself is scared, but she can't let that stop her from trying to help people now, when they are more needed than ever.

Barbara isn't convinced. It's easy for Supergirl to say that because she has actual powers. Again, Barbara is just a smart woman with martial arts skills and some gadgets. Supergirl tries to tell her that there are lots of people trying to help like she is. And like Barbara, they have no superpowers. Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, EMTs, they're all trying to help people, and none of them have the power of a Kryptonian under a yellow sun. The Girl of Steel then spots a plane careening towards the anti-matter wall, and goes to stop it.

Batgirl watches Supergirl in action, and notes that despite Supergirl's own fears, she still is risking her own life to help others, and it makes her feel guilty. It doesn't help that the pilot of the plane is hinting that he was trying to commit suicide as he felt the world was ending and there was no hope, and Supergirl tells him that was nonsense.

In Steve Dayton's manor, the member of the Doom Patrol is getting good and soused while talking to an old friend. His friend tries to assure him that they will not die, and neither will the Earth. Dayton notes that it's rather unusual for his friend to have such...naivet√©. And it's not an unfair assumption, considering that friend is (making one of his earliest appearances) one John Constantine, the Hellblazer.

He didn't quite adopt his iconic trenchcoat look yet at this point, I think. But yeah, that's an early appearance by the anti-heroic trickster sorcerer. He takes a drag of his cigarette (Silk Cut, no doubt), and thinks about Swamp Thing.

The anti-matter wall is slowly sweeping over Earth-1, and it's almost finished consuming its way through Earth-6. Pariah finds himself there, wailing that he has to witness another Earth die. This Earth unusually lacks any of the standard DC heroes (The wall never got to reach Marvel's end of the Omniverse), but it is ruled by a family of powerful superheroes. One of them, Lord Volt, spots Pariah and demands to know why he is here...and why he is attacking their world. Pariah tries to explain that he's got nothing to do with this, but Lord Volt doesn't believe him. The electric monarch tries to grab Pariah's shoulder, but...

Evidently, Pariah's body has a built-in defense system. It's stopped by Lady Quark, who uses a blast of nuclear energy to seemingly vaporize Pariah. It doesn't work, as Pariah cannot die. He pleads for them to listen, saying he wants to help stop this...if he can. Another member of the family, Princess Liana, uses her powers over nature to attack Pariah. So, Volt has electrokinesis, and Quark has nuclear-based powers, but Liana got...nature-based powers. However, the anti-matter wall consumes the vines she has created...and Liana herself.

Enraged and grief-stricken, Lord Volt and Lady Quark blast at the wall, but it's no good. The anti-matter advances, consuming Lord Volt. Pariah feels himself being drawn away, but he can still save someone. He grabs Lady Quark as he fades. Quark pleads with him to let her die with her family, but Pariah refuses and apologizes. But if he can save just one life, he feels it will ease his eternal damnation. I have a bit of a theory about Lady Quark, but I'm saving it for later. Trust me.

Back in the Monitor's satellite, the Monitor observes the enemy is coming closer to being unstoppable. If he consumes Earth-1, then there is no hope. Thus, the Monitor arranges for his one last weapon to rise. A beam of energy towards the Earth. On Earth-1's Japan, a group of scientists are observing the anti-matter wall, noting there's no way to avoid it. One admits he is terrified. Another figure walks in, calling the scientist a coward. The woman has no time for fear, there's science to be done. One of the scientists, an elder man, tries to convince the woman that in this situation, fear is understandable, and her being so cold is not going to help. Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi...doesn't take this well.

The elder man is her father, and she basically calls him a weakling. The furious scientist tells everyone to go home, saying if she will die today, she will not die amongst cowards. Yeah, Kimiyo is not exactly showing herself to be one of the best people to work with, huh? I'm guessing she got it from her mother. The scientist observes some of the phenomenon from her telescope. She then spots a light coming from the star Vega (thanks to the events of Omega Men #26 (May 1985)). The light fills up the telescope's viewfinder, and Kimiyo realizes to her horror...it's coming to her. The light engulfs the screaming scientist, destroying the room. When the light fades, the room is wrecked...and Kimiyo Hoshi is gone. Her father realizes that something took her.

Harbinger observes the Monitor, and notes that the enemy is making her hate him...and she must kill him. The young Alexander Luthor watches this, and notes that well...the Monitor knew this would happen. Yeah, he knows what happened to Lyla, and he knows she will kill him. Luthor also knows that the Monitor's death will only help him. He thinks "Do what you must", making me wonder that maybe Luthor's heel turn in Infinite Crisis makes a bit more sense than one thinks. Yeah.

In the enemy's lair, he notices the Red Tornado flying around on a screen. The enemy then makes the android appear in his lair. The Justice Leaguer demands to know why he is there, and if he is the cause of the madness all over the world. The enemy confirms it, and it's not just on the Tornado's earth.

In Earth-2's medieval era, Firestorm and Killer Frost head towards the Monitor's tower. Killer Frost is still under the Psycho Pirate's love spell, which the Nuclear Man is finding rather tiresome. The immortal villain Vandal Savage observes them and is curious as to who they are and what they're doing here. He vows to get some answers. The two modern Earth-1 metahumans have more company:

The Shining Knight, aka Sir Justin! Knight of the Round Table, mighty defender of Camelot! Riding against evil on his winged horse Victory. The Knight assumes that Firestorm and Killer Frost are evil sorcerers. A group of Shadow Demons emerge from the tower, and the Knight thinks they're the evil spells. Vandal Savage is shocked by this, and think that he needs to figure out what in the name of the Presence is going on here if he's going to have any shot at conquering the world. The two metahumans battler the Shadow Demons, noting that they...are not that tough. Thankfully, the Shining Knight gets the hint and helps out with kicking some Shadow Demon buttocks. The three heroes more Shadow Demons, and something is happening. Every era, every site of a tower, the Demons are merging, combining into some new dark beings.

In modern day Earth-1 New York City, another tower appears. Starfire and Halo head out to destroy it, but the tower has a guardian of its own.

It's Kimiyo Hoshi, clad in a costume similar to the supervillain Doctor Light. Hoshi screams at them to not attack the tower. There's one problem. Neither Starfire nor Halo know Japanese, and Kimiyo doesn't speak English. Halo not being able to understand any Japanese is kind of funny considering that at the time, she and fellow Outsider Katana had a whole mother-daughter thing going, and Katana was Japanese. You'd think she'd have picked up a bit of Japanese from her. As for the status of that with the New 52 and Rebirth, it's both canon and non-canon at the same time because that is how DC continuity currently works.

Anyway, the new Doctor Light expresses that she's protecting this tower in the classic superhero way: Blasting the two heroines with a beam of light. Superman and Katana get the other heroes to stop as they understand Japanese. Superman asks Doctor Light what is going on. She explains, in her classic warm way, that hundreds of alternate worlds have been destroyed, and she can help save them. Superman understands, and he asks what he needs to do...even if it costs him his life.

On Paradise Island, the home of the Amazons, Diana has a bit of a problem. Evidently, she and her mother have some problems going on between them, and the Amazons are...reluctant to help with this big crisis. Evidently, Athena, one of their patron goddesses, has told them that Olympus has problems of its own, and can't help them. I get the Amazons are having a bit of a crisis of their own thanks to their Gods having problems, but...there is a giant wall of anti-matter consuming the universe. It's NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU GUYS ALONE. PICK UP YOUR SWORDS, SHIELDS, AND SPEARS, AND GO HELP OUT.

We then switch scenes again to the Monitor's satellite, where the Monitor feels himself growing weaker. He laments that things aren't ready yet, but he mustn't give up. Pariah finds himself on board the Monitor's satellite. Where did Lady Quark go? When he was last seen, he had grabbed Lady Quark and vanished. Did he drop her off somewhere? The Monitor greets Pariah, and explains that he's the reason why Pariah has his abilities. Pariah takes it well.

He calls out the Monitor for watching the heroes fight to protect their worlds and seemingly not doing anything to help. The Monitor explains that those towers (Pariah saw one in Atlantis) are him doing something about the problem, but he needs the heroes to protect them so they can do their job. Earths 1 and 2 are next on the enemy's Earth hit list. Pariah exclaims that they'll die anyway. He demands to know why he cursed him, why he made Pariah be forced to watch an uncountable amount of Earths get consumed, witnessing uncountable amounts of deaths. The Monitor is doing what he can, but it's not much due to his getting weaker.

The Monitor makes an unusual request of Pariah: To not harm Harbinger. Pariah is rather confused by this, as he has no idea who he is talking about. She introduces herself.

Under the control of the Monitor's enemy, Harbinger blasts the being she has loved like a father, Harbinger herself screaming for the Monitor to stop her. She then...falls. I have no idea. And neither does Pariah. He asks the Monitor what is going on...but, he's dead. And he hears he's just witnessed the end. He spots something, and it makes him shed tears. The story ends with that looks like the anti-matter wave consuming both Earths 1 and 2, leaving nothing but darkness in its wake.

This issue was...enjoyable for what it was. It does not advance things much, but we do get a big moment at the end, and we learn a bit more about how Pariah became the being he was. There is something that does bother me, though. The last issue ended with the Monitor facing a corrupted Harbinger, but in this issue...he first appears in his satellite seemingly calmly waiting for Pariah. Did he manage to escape her off-panel? I also liked the birth of the new Dr. Light paralleling the death of the Monitor. Shame Kimiyo Hoshi is such a jerk. George Perez's art is awesome as always.

Next time, we stick around in the DC Universe, as the Man of Steel battles one of the great foes of the World's Mightiest Mortal...

No comments:

Post a Comment