24 June 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part I: Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups, Volume One

Comic trade paperback, 223 pages
Published 2005 (contents: 1961-68)
Borrowed from the library
Read May 2013
Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups, Volume One

Writers: Gardner Fox, John Broome
Pencillers: Murphy Anderson, Dick Dillin, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane
Inkers: Murphy Anderson, Joe Giella, Sid Greene 
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino

Having finished Birds of Prey, it's time to move on to my next comics-reading project: Project Crisis!, which is a journey through the spine of the DC Universe, its various "crisis" crossovers. Starting with the old "crises on multiple Earths," I'll then move on to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis. There's a lot there, and much of it is well-regarded for what it did, not how it did it, so I'm curious to see what I'll think of it all.

Before all those big, multiverse-shattering mega-events, though, comes the stories collected in Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups, Volume One. Here we have nine single-issue stories, most of which are about superheroes crossing the dimensional boundaries between Earth-One and Earth-Two. These stories aren't exactly the most sophisticated by modern standards, but there's a certain thrill to them-- Gardner Fox correctly identifies, I think, that the idea of there being multiple Earths is just fun, and working your way through all its various permutations is guaranteed to be interesting.

"Flash of Two Worlds!" of course introduced all this parallel-Earth malarkey to DC, and is justly famous, but I also enjoyed "Double Danger on Earth!", where Jay Garrick crosses from Earth-Two to Earth-One in pursuit of a vital meteorite that was destroyed on his world but might still exist on Barry Allen's, or "Invader from the Dark Dimension!", where strange creatures from a dimension outside of both Earths, made up of pure darkness, menace our heroes. Fox never really repeats his old triumphs, continually aiming to do something new and unusual.

The only story here not written by Gardner Fox is "Secret Origin of the Guardians!", John Broome's somewhat overcomplicated tale of the two Green Lanterns meeting one another. It lacks the energy that Fox brings to his stories-- not to mention that delightful Carmine Infantino art that features in all the Flash stories.

Interestingly, there are also a couple stories here that don't feature trans-dimensional team-ups, but team-ups isolated to Earth-Two.  "Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage!" and "Perils of the Psycho-Pirate!" feature Doctor Fate, Hourman, and the Earth-Two Green Lantern in somewhat typical superhero team-ups, while "Mastermind of Menaces!" does the same for Starman and the Black Canary. Then there's one last story, "The Hour Hourman Died!" which has no team-up element at all, but it's called a "bonus feature," so I guess that's okay. Most of these stories are fine, but lack the certain frisson that comes from the parallel-Earth setup. "The Hour Hourman Died!" is pretty neat, though-- a clever concept.

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