Project 500: Crisis of Infinite Reviewers
Welcome ComicVine to this the fifth installment of Project 500. Project 500 was the idea of reviewer Silkcuts for a series of Jam session style reviews where users come together to write reviews for the series . The first review for Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 was a jam session, while the reviews for the other issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths will be handed off baton-style from reviewer to reviewer...
Project 500 is a metaphysical undertaking. It concerns itself obviously with the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the assembly of DC characters faced with a problem on a grand cosmic scale. We reviewers in this relay have also assembled to ask questions on a cosmic scale. Like any lasting and good piece of art created by mankind, Crisis on Infinite Earths leaves us with more questions than answers. This is ironic as it was originally conceived as a tool of simplification by editorial. Another great aspect of Project 500 is that is a humbling and constructive experience. My deepest and most profound rumination is still just a cog in a bigger 12 part cycle of introspection. The ability of this medium we know and love to inspire this level of thought is inspiring and as "magickal" as Project 500's ringmaster and impresario, Silkcuts said it was in the conclusion of his review of issue four. I know have the dubious pleasure of taking the relay baton from him. *Takes baton. I say dubious because though I have only kind words to say about this user and colleague, his is a tough act to follow. Let's go...
Let's start with the cover:
The cover depicts the merging of Earth 1 and Earth 2. This merge is the brainchild of the benevolent Monitor and is essentially a timesaving device that buys the titanically huge cast some time to prepare for the coming clash. While the heroes and villains are trying to cope with and comprehend the crisis, Barry Allen, Psycho-Pirate, and Red Tornado are pawns/ prisoners of the shadowy villain of this epic. Now that the scene has been set, I'd like to discuss three big points in this issue. One could write volumes about Crisis, but in the interest of space and time (haha) I'll stick to three talking points.
The Monitor's closest associate is Harbinger. The dictionary definition of harbinger, is " a : one that pioneers in or initiates a major change :precursor b : one that presages or foreshadows what is to come "
The relationship between Harbinger and the Monitor reminds me a little bit of the one between the Silver Surfer and Galactus. Aside from that, throughout the first issues of Crisis, we see (through the use of non-linear time and storytelling) that Harbinger is being used by both the Monitor and his nemesis. While she is very powerful, she is not in control of her actions. This raises the issue of predestination. When dealing with cosmic entities like the Monitor and Harbinger, it's often difficult in a comic book sense to think of anyone higher than these masters, but there seems to be a preset destiny. And even if there's no god or tangible puppet master, all this feels as if it has been decided long ago. The deep ramifications of this are that although SPOILER WARNING: Click here to reveal hidden content. She does so because in the grand scheme of things it is her destiny and it is in the interest of the greater welfare of the universe. I am reminded (perhaps indicative of a scattered brain) of Christian theology. More specifically, of the death of Jesus Christ and the role Judas played in it. Had Judas not betrayed him, how would this messiah die for the sins of a greater humanity? Bob Dylan is more eloquent in describing this in his song "With God On Our Side":
" In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.
So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war."
II. The Red Tornado: Elemental or Manipulated Superhero?
Crisis on Infinite Earths is famous for many reasons and for the serious consequences it had on many different characters. The famous deaths in the series often stand out in people's minds. Yet lost amidst the A-listers is the fate of the Red Tornado. There is a great moment in this issue that stands out in my mind. The scene is a black abyss in which Barry Allen, the Red Tornado, Psycho-Pirate, and the villain behind the crisis reside. The bad guy is talking to Barry and says, that they've both been wrong. While the Earth heroes have thought of Red Tornado as a person and a comrade, and while he has seen him only as a machine, he is in fact an air elemental. To put it another way, Red Tornado is essentially a physical incarnation of air itself. This would make him very very powerful. Below I have drolly stated that Red Tornado = (alchemical symbol for air).
Air since ancient times has been revered and considered integral to the harmony of life (for obvious reasons). One of the Hindu labels for air is Pavana पवन. This loosely translates to "purifier". What better perversion of good and positive matter is there for a villain in a comic book than air itself personified in a superhero and member of the JUSTICE League of America? I'm probably reading too much into this, but that's half the fun of this little relay and if you've stuck around 'till now it's because you get weird masochistic pleasure from watching people wax philosophical about comic books.
The End of the Universe
Let's face it, comic books exist in a world devoid of nature's laws our physics themselves. Rather they are a playground for writers with varying comprehensions about the universe around them. As condescending as that sounds, it's very true and it's one of the things that makes comics wonderful. Their unbridled embracement of all things impossible is what draws me to them and instills me with a sense of hope about life as a whole. BUT, periodically, it's fun to thing about comic book stuff in terms of real world stuff, so... In Crisis on Infinite Earths we've seen so far, a wave of bright light/anti-matter/ whatever flow over various earths and universes and consume them, counting down to the final earths. Being a physics enthusiast, albeit with a pea-sized brain and understanding of the academic discipline, I sought a possible parallel to this CRISIS in our cosmos. The first that came up was the cause of a childhood apprehension or two and a potential scenario for how the real universe could in essence die. It's called the Big Crunch. Don't fret, I don't have a degree in physics, so I won't pretend you do either, and as such will speak plainly for both our benefit. Think of the Big Crunch as the Big Bang in reverse. The ever-expanding universe eventually hits a stopping point in this scenario and crunches back up in to nothingness. Scary, huh? I'd say that kinda sums up what we're seeing here so far. But, I'll leave you with this mind-bending little gem which I think is the piece de resistance in a big cosmological irony. It's called Crisis on Infinite Earths, but the only way the Big Crunch scenario can technically happen is if the universe itself is FINITE. So, would this imply that a finite universe containing an infinite number of earths is imploding in on itself? WOW. Just wow.
So in closing, I once again thank Silkcuts for the great opportunity to join an assembly of Viners, whom I have respected or now have the privilege of getting to know and respect, in this glorious undertaking, a Blues Brothers-esque mission from God if you will. Big things are coming in the next issue and in the next review, so stick around for all the fun and games as this Project 500 Jam Session kicks it into high gear.
*prepares the baton for the next reviewer*