Infinite Crisis

Authors: Marv Wolfman, Joe Kelly, Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP: 7.99, US $12.99

ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 342 8
ISBN-10: 1 84576 342 4
Available 20 October 2006

As the events of the Infinite Crisis rage on, the Man of Steel is locked in a desperate battle - with himself - and the very fate of our reality is at stake! Superboy of Earth-Prime, the Golden-Age Superman of Earth-Two and Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three have hatched a desperate plan to break out of the limbo dimension that has been their home since the Crisis on Infinite Earths. But as Superman clashes with Superman, the shockwaves ripple through the fabric of reality and begin to alter history. This no-holds-barred brawl will change the Man of Steel forever...

Well, I wouldn't exactly call it an Infinite Crisis, would you? I mean, the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline of the mid-1980s involved a large number of parallel worlds, but this volume deals with just two: Earth-One (the world of "our" Superman) and Earth-Two (the former home of the "original" Golden-Age Superman, Kal-L). Perhaps this book should have been called Crisis on a Couple of Earths?

So, how is Earth-Two brought back into being, given that every single alternate world coalesced into one at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths? Er, well, I'm not really sure. How is Superboy-Prime able to influence the nature of reality as he punches his way out of limbo? This book doesn't really go into specifics, beyond the fact that Alexander Luthor believes it to be "miraculous". How are the two Earths brought back into a state of singularity? To find that out, you'll need to read the companion volume simply entitled Infinite Crisis. If I were in charge of DC Comics or Titan Books, I would have considered extracting the Superman-related pages and presented them as part of this compilation. As it is, we don't even get one of those "our story so far" recaps at the beginning of the next volume, Up, Up and Away!

However, we do get an explanation as to why Superman didn't bring World War II to a speedy resolution all those decades ago. This is something that the 1940 strip What if Superman Ended the War? (recently reprinted in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told) failed to clarify.

We learn this as the two Men of Steel experience each other's version of history and begin to reshape those histories as they see fit. This is where the graphic novel truly comes into its own. If you think the modern-day Superman has been too namby-pamby and has done too much agonising soul-searching of late, then you'll identify with the Earth-Two Kal-L's hard-line, black-or-white approach to the corruption he perceives on Earth-One. It soon becomes clear, though, that Kal-L is too far right of centre for comfort. (I wonder, could his history-altering influence have been behind the Man of Steel's overly aggressive and cocky stance, which I commented upon in my review of The Wrath of Gog?) Ultimately, both Supermen come to realise that their respective worlds are doomed whatever happens.

We are also offered an explanation for why so many DC heroes have experienced forms of death and rebirth since the early 1990s. Apparently it's all to do with the fact that the singular Earth never fully settled following the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Illustrated by a seemingly infinite number of artists, this is a great book. But be warned: you will need to read the separate volume Infinite Crisis in order to fully grasp what is going on.

Richard McGinlay

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