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Crisis on Infinite Earths
Marv Wolfman
Multi-cast performance, audio adaptation by Richard Rohan
GraphicAudio, 7 Hours

Crisis on Infinite Earths
Marv Wolfman
Marv Wolfman is the creator of Blade, the Vampire Hunter which has been turned into three hit movies starring Wesley Snipes. He also created Bullseye, the villain in the movie Daredevil. Wolfman's work in television includes The New Teen Titans, which made its animated series debut in May, 2003 on The Cartoon Network, renewed for a few season. Wolfman's character Cat Grant was a regular on the Lois and Clark, The New Adventures of Superman TV series. Many of Wolfman's other characters have appeared on Lois and Clark, Smallville, as well as numerous animated series. Wolfman has written dozens of animated TV episodes as well as developed and story-edited the animated series The Transformers, The Adventures of Superman and Monster Force.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Ivy Reisner

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First written in 1985, this story is still fabulous. It's the first of DC Comics' Crisis storylines, along with Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) and Final Crisis (2008). It was an attempt by DC to reboot the entire universe, bring a few characters up to date, and overcome 50 years of continuity problems, and it was mixed in its success. It was also one of the earliest universe-wide crossover events of the type that is now standard fare in the comic book industry.

The story opens with the death of Barry Allen as witnessed by Allen himself. What killed him, we soon learn, is a wall of anti-matter that is slowly making its way across, not only Keystone City, not only the Earth, but the entire multiverse. On world after world, the skies bleed to red. Then the shadows come -- creatures that shift between solid and wrath-like and who seek only destruction. Finally, the anti-matter wall sweeps the planet, destroying everything alive. Universes become nothing in a heartbeat. The Monitor must gather heroes from all of these worlds, including the Superman from Earth Two, the Green Lantern (John Stewart) from Earth One, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter, Batman, and even more to band together to save what few worlds remain.

This story is particularly well-suited for audio. It was originally told with comic book pacing, which means each of the twelve issues ended on the kind of high point that would encourage readers to buy the next issue. That leads to an uneven plot flow in a novel length work, but this problem is handled by making the Flash (Barry Allen) a primary narrator with occasional point-of-view shifts. Also, the order of events is somewhat altered to allow for a smoother flow. There are points where a rough spot, created by the original structure, is smoothed over with brilliant voice acting (the portrayal of Psycho-Pirate is nothing shy of inspired), or by tying sections together with the background music. It's subtle and clever and it works. It's also better suited to a single work, rather than comics, because it's easier to pick up the subtle undertones and the path of the biblical allusions if the pieces aren't spaced a month apart.

This isn't a simple work. It's fun, sure, but there is a method to the revisiting of the same scene over and over with increased information that plays out towards the end. There are grand themes. We see the value of communal wisdom, first in the events leading to the creation of the main villain, and then in the story of how the current crisis came to be. This is unusual in a genre that normally celebrates the visionary who bucks conventional wisdom to make wonderful discoveries that help all mankind or lauds the hero who stands apart from society as something higher, something more. We get a theological theme, with allusions to the Passion, the Exodus and expulsion from Eden. The story touches more heavily on the Eden story, with the others flanking it in the order the story unfolds.

We also get a theme of free will. Some characters can watch and not act. Some characters are possessed by others. Some characters are driven by their destiny. Some are manipulated through lack of information. In turn after turn we see characters dragged in various directions without the ability to resist. Pariah is forced to watch, helpless, as world after world dies. Barry is forced to watch, equally helpless, the events leading to the destruction, the destruction itself, and the aftermath. Striving in the face of impotence is another major theme of this work. For fans of DC Comics, the Crisis trilogy is mandatory reading material, and this is the first volume.

Copyright © 2009 Ivy Reisner

Ivy Reisner is a writer, an obsessive knitter, and a podcaster. Find her at IvyReisner.com.


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