Crisis on Infinite Earths (Parts 1-3) Review
By Justin Carter
The Arrowverse has come a long way since Arrow first salmon-laddered its way onto screens in 2012. With each successive show and crossover, its universe and reach has grown wider, to the point where we have to wonder when the ambitions of the CW and the various creative teams will finally exceed their reach.
When this year’s crossover was revealed to be an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the legendary 1985 maxi-series from Marv Wolfman and George Perez that streamlined the DC Universe, it finally seemed like those ambitions may be the network’s undoing, and that feeling slowly grew once they began announcing a legendary lineup of guest stars from past DC extended media. With three of its five parts now released, I feel confident in saying that at least some of the network’s eyes are bigger than its belly. Crisis is easily the most chaotic of the crossovers thus far, and at times it gets unwieldy, but it more often than not succeeds at it what it wants to do with an admirable amount of gusto that it papers over most of the flaws.
In case you missed out on last year’s crossover Elseworlds or haven’t been keeping up with the various Arrowverse shows (and frankly, that’s totally valid), the multiverse is in danger of being completely eradicated by a wave of antimatter courtesy of the Anti-Monitor. His brother, the Monitor, has been trying to prep the heroes of various Arrowverse shows for the incoming Crisis across all the shows, and when Supergirl’s home of Earth-38 is next to be turned to dust, it’s time for everyone to come together to save their worlds.
Right off the bat, Crisis sets itself apart from other crossovers for being pretty brisk in its pacing. It hops around from universe to universe and various characters to the point where some subplots only get about five minutes of screentime, both those moments still prove to be vital despite the short attention given. It’s fun to see all these characters hang out with one another and have those classic Hero Bonding discussions with uplifting music in the background and wry smiles exchanged, especially because the whole cast of characters is here rather than just a handful as in the case with Elseworlds last year.
Another thing that helps endear Crisis is that it’s got a lot of cameos, all of them great. None of them overstay their welcome and they all make sense within the story. Some of them, like the appearances of characters from DC Universe’s Titans or Netflix’s (formerly Fox’s) Lucifer, feel like a celebration of WB and DC media from the last two decades. The return of Smallville’s Tom Welling in particular has arguably the best cameo, at least until Brandon Routh shows up again as his version of Superman from Superman Returns. The crossover is at its best when it hones in on these characters, and it’s a credit to the writers that they’re able to create compelling combinations from characters like Flash and Black Lightning hanging out or Lois Lane letting Heat Wave hold her infant son.
If there’s a downside to all of this, it’s that some of the Arrowverse themselves are all over the place. Pariah, formerly Nash Wells on The Flash, feels like a walking plot device whenever the story needs him to bring someone somewhere while he remains a passive observer, which is part of the point. Similarly, I feel that having John Wesley Shipp’s Flash from Earth-90 be the one to die, while having a strong conclusion to his character, is a cheat given how well our Flash has earned the moments of trying to help the members of his team step up. I’m keeping my mind open in Oliver dying during the first episode; while it’s maybe a bit too dramatic and ridiculous (one guy fighting a bunch of demons barehanded saves a billion lives?), the crossover finds some interesting things to do with his demise that clearly have to wait until January.
It’s hard to review 3/5ths of an event that has to wait another four or five weeks for its conclusion. But Crisis on Infinite Earths is a lot of fun, even when it sometimes overreaches or gets in its own way. I respect just on its scope alone and even moreso that it manages to elicit such big nostalgia feelings from me. I can’t see it botching its potential, especially when it ends with the delightfully ridiculous Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor swapping Superman out with himself to be a Paragon using permanent marker. Like the crossover comics it aspires to live up to, Crisis is a beautiful mess that you’ll remember, even if someone should’ve maybe cleaned up some of the stains before moving on.
- Like I said, the cameos here are all very good; next to Welling’s, I enjoyed Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne, even if it is very strange to hear such an iconic voice come out of a human person. The runner up would be Tom Ellis as Lucifer if only because no one had said he’d be showing up prior to this.
- The Monitor gave Cisco his Vibe powers back, so safely assume that’ll be permanent when everything sorts itself out.
- Wentworth Miller is back, voicing the Waverider of Earth-10 the heroes frequently use.
- Lotta great lines from all this, with the best being Sara’s “I told my team we’d never do another crossover again.”
- It’s too soon to have an opinion on Osric Chau as Ryan Choi, the eventual second Atom, but the conversation between him and Iris was very good.
- See you all in January.