Monday, January 18, 2021

CRISIS COUNSELING: some personal background


Crisis on Infinite Earths may be the most consequential comic book event, ever. It's certainly the one that's had the most impact on me, as a reader and a fan. And it is, by far, my favorite of the event comics. Maybe that's because -- despite the fact that Marvel's Secret Wars came out the year before -- it's the first major company crossover. It was in the planning stages, and prematurely announced in Dick Giordano's "Meanwhile..." column, before Marvel's Jim Shooter conceived of his Secret War, and it can definitely lay claim to the fact that it had the most impact on its characters and titles, and, by extension, its fans. 

I didn't read Crisis when it was initially published in 1985. I lived in Calais, Maine, just about as far east as you can go in the United States, right on the border with Canada. Calais was a town of roughly 4,000. We had no comic book store -- heck, I'd never heard of comic book stores at this point -- but we had a bookstore that sold comics, which is where I got mine for the most part (you could also find them at the convenience store or the drugstore, as well as at a smaller bookstore in the strip mall across the river, in St. Stephen). I am certain that my local bookstore, Mr. Paperback, did not order Crisis. Because if I had seen that gorgeous George Perez artwork, I would have snatched it up without thinking, and been the happier for it. 

But I was a huge fan of the Flash (secret identity: Barry Allen). Still today, the Flash is my favorite superhero. It started with the Super Friends cartoons. When I started collecting comics in 1984, at age 12, the latest issue of his title was one of the first ones I bought at Mr. Paperback, number 336. Many more were added to the collection later. Many more. But, at some point in 1986 (by my best guess), I was poring through the latest Mile High Comics catalog, looking carefully at the notes next to the individual issues -- notes that would mark a significant character appearance or situation, as well as the names of popular creators who may have written or drawn said issues. As I perused the titles, I came across a note that stated: "Death of the Flash." 

What the what!?!
I had no idea Barry Allen had died. I needed to get this comic (it was issue #8 of Crisis on Infinite Earths). And since it was one chapter of a twelve-chapter series, I had to get them all. I can't remember which of the issues weren't available at that point -- I think #10 may have been one of them -- but I ordered all the back issues that were available and quickly managed to fill in the gaps. Then I read the story. 

Marv Wolfman & George Perez

I was blown away. No, I wasn't familiar with the vast majority of these characters, but I was intrigued. The story by Marv Wolfman propelled along at a blistering pace, and the art by Perez . . . what can I say, it was amazing. I immediately fell in love with his tight, detailed comic art, and he quickly became my favorite superhero artist. And Crisis became one of my all-time favorite stories. It's one that I re-read regularly, every year or two, and it never fails to entertain me. Wolfman & Perez were at the top of their game, when they wrote and drew Crisis, and the effects of this dimension and era-spanning tale were cataclysmic. 

And now, my buddies and I are doing a deep dive into Crisis, with all its crossovers. The first episode of our podcast should be hitting soon, and when it does, I'll let you know. Hope you'll join us for a look back at one of the most important superhero stories in comic history.



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