No discussion about the most ambitious crossover events in pop culture history is complete without mentioning DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths. After nearly a century of comic books, Crisis remains one of the most major DC crossover sagas in the company's entire history. It's got everything a comic book fan could want: super team-ups, the entire universe at stake, and emotional deaths.
While critics and fans laud the excellence and drama of Avengers: Infinity War it's important to note how that film - and really the entire Marvel cinematic universe - is built off a template DC established back in 1985 with Crisis. There's never been a more influential crossover in comics, and its one still being replicated and reverberated today in modern storytelling.
Despite Crisis' importance, not a lot of people seem to know what exactly happened, what the multiverse is, or what an impact the story had on DC comic's continuity. On December 11, 2018, at the end of CW's Elseworlds crossover event, the channel revealed that Crisis on Infinite Earths is slated for a Fall 2019 release. Here's what you need to know about this massive comic storyline.
The idea of a DC multiverse first appeared in 1961 in Flash #123 - "Flash of Two Worlds." In this comic, Barry Allen meets Jay Garrick. The weird thing about their meeting? They're both the Flash.
Allen - who is Flash on Earth-1 - accidentally vibrates his molecules in such a way that he leaves his universe and travels to another called Earth-2. Earth-2 is much like the Earth Allen left, except in this universe, Garrick is the Flash. DC Comics continued to explore these alternate universes and superheroes for the next two decades.
There was no set guidelines to the different Earths, and some comics, like the 1964 Justice League of America #29 - "Crisis on Earth-Three!" - used "Earth-3" and "Earth-Three" interchangeably. By the early '80s, there were more Earths - and iterations of the same Earth - than anybody could count.
Barry Allen's discovery of an alternate universe didn't end with Earth-2. It can be inferred that before Crisis On Infinite Earths, there was an infinite number of different universes populated with their own superheroes and alter-egos. One of those crazy universes was Earth Prime which is the readers' universe.
Thanks to a lack of consistency between books, it was extremely difficult to determine how many there were. Keeping it all straight was almost impossible.
In 1985, the very first book in the Crisis on Infinite Earths story was released. Titled The Summoning, the first installment of the series helps explain how exactly the multiverse came into being.
In the Crisis debut, the Big Bang creates the universe, much like how we know it. The surprising difference is the Big Bang didn't create just one universe - it created an infinite number of entirely separate but identical universes. And because of some cosmic vibrations, all these distinct universes are isolated from each other.
Each universe also has its own version of how history plays out. This means in one universe, a superhero could be a good guy, but in another they could be a villain. In yet another universe, they might not have ever come to existence in the first place, or they could be a different person entirely.
From the beginning of time, the Monitor has watched over and cataloged the various universes that make up DC's extended multiverse. The Monitor's powers have never been explicitly defined, but he is absolutely one of the most powerful entities of the DC Universe. But there exists an evil counterpart - the Anti-Monitor - who hails from an antimatter universe.
After an accident in his universe during the beginning of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Anti-Monitor begins destroying all alternate universes. His plan is to ultimately become the sole ruler of all reality.