In recent months, Fanzing has been approached by not one but TWO individuals wanting to re-tell the Crisis as it happened POST-Crisis. We've decided to present BOTH for your perusal
and an issue focusing on death seemed to be the best occasion for it!
Dueling Crisises, Part Two:
by Alan Kistler
With thanks to the works of Marv Wolfman and Mario Di Giacomo
NOTE: This is how I believe the Crisis should be seen if it's to be both faithful to the original version and yet consistent with post-Crisis history. Any comments on what you think of my version here would be greatly appreciated.
It's about four years ago. There is the mainstream DCU. And for the past several months, a being known as the Monitor has been supplying villains on Earth with manpower. With him, is a woman named Lyla, also known as Harbinger.
In another dimension, we see a world very much like Earth. It is filled with costume champions and villains and both are fighting desperately to save lives as their world is being eaten away by a wave of anti-matter. One scientist and his wife (we don't know their names) take their infant son Alexander and place him within a strange golden vessel. The scientist says that his studies have revealed the presence of an alternate universe, another world with heroes who will protect his son. He sends the boy rocketing off. The only witness is an alien scientist known as Pariah. He watches from a safe position, as this universe dies. He screams in vain. "Why? Why must I watch? Hundreds of universes now! Hundreds DEAD … and I've seen them all."
Pariah watches then as Alexander brushes against the anti-matter wave just before he teleports into the Main DCU. Alexander lands in the abandoned JLA satellite. The Monitor arrives and takes the child. He then sends Harbinger to recruit various heroes and villains from across the timestream.
From the 1940's comes Firebrand. From modern-day Hub City, the Blue Beetle. In ancient Atlantis, one of Harbinger's multiple forms is possessed by a shadow-demon, though she still succeeds in recruiting Arion. Meanwhile, another Harbinger form journeys through the present recruits the second villain known as Psycho-Pirate, the hero Firestorm and villain known as Killer Frost.
At the Monitor's satellite, they meet the other recruits from the present: Obsidian, Doctor Polaris, Green Lantern John Stewart, Geo-Force, Cyborg and Psimon.
After repelling an attack of shadow demons, the assembled guests meet their host…the Monitor.
Meanwhile, on prehistoric Earth, a temporal ripple sends a herd of mastodons temporarily to the 30th Century. In the present, the Batman is visited by a vision of Barry Allen dying, warning that the world must be saved. He's confused. Barry had told the JLA he was retiring after his recent trial concerning the death of Prof. Zoom. After that, he'd vanished and hasn't been seen nor heard from in over a month.
The Guardians of the Universe detect rising danger, but are routed before they can act.
Batman and Superman meet to discuss Batman's vision of Barry. Superman's glad to meet with the world's greatest detective, as he has a mystery of his own to solve, a girl named Kara Zor-El.
Kara literally materialized in his apartment two weeks ago, claiming to be a Kryptonian who survived due to an experimental teleportation platform. The teleportation platform had been intended to send her to Earth along with Kal, while at the same time bombarding her with radiation that would break her genetic link with the planet. But the thing had malfunctioned as Krypton was exploding and had sent her years into the future as well, thus she didn't appear until now. She's also apparently Superman's cousin, though unlike the main Kryptonians who were dedicated to cold science, her family was part of a small minority movement that advocated a return to the old ways of life (think an "amish" community, Kryptonian style). It was her family's example that had caused Jor-El to question his planet's lifestyle and prefer feelings to cold science. DNA scans verify her family link. Some unusual things though. A), Kara has gained similar super-powers almost immediately upon coming to Earth, unlike Superman who took years to achieve his own powers. And B), Power Girl once claimed a similar story, that she was Superman's cousin named Kara. Genetic tests quickly disproved that she was Kryptonian and her true story's still unknown, but the similarity in claims is unsettling. Batman agrees that he will help Superman with his mystery if Superman will help him figure out his own vision of Barry. Superman agrees, when they're suddenly approached by Pariah.
On the Monitor's satellite, the group is split into several teams across time. They are sent to ancient Atlantis, 1940's Markovia, the Wild West, the age of King Arthur, and modern-day NYC. In each realm, they meet native heroes, and battle shadow demons anew. One new hero joins them … the second Dr. Light, given powers by the Monitor. Each team is sent to protect one of the Monitor's mysterious devices.
However, Harbinger holds a secret. Corrupted by her possession, she now serves the as-yet-unrevealed enemy and plots to kill her former master. Unbeknownst to her, he's perfectly aware of this. While all this occurs, young Alexander is aging at an astonishing rate. Apparently, he is a being composed of both positive and anti-matter energies. The Monitor thinks he can use this to their advantage, hence the reason why he took the child. Meanwhile, the heroes battle on.
Pariah rescues Lady Quark from the destruction of her own world in yet another universe. Unfortunately, her husband and child perish. Psycho-Pirate meets the unrevealed villain and joins forces with him. Said foe then snatches Barry Allen from his retirement in the early 30th century, while also corrupting the captive android Red Tornado.
Pariah meets the Monitor and discovers that he is behind the man's eternal torment. Furthermore, the machines that the Monitor has scattered throughout time are creating a safety-net wavelength that is linking all times together, in hopes of saving reality.
Then, carrying out the orders of the major villain, Harbinger kills the Monitor. Even here, however, Lyla has again played into the Monitor's careful manipulations. His energies, released by his death, activated the aforementioned machines which are now drawing Earth into Limbo for its own protection. But in his haste, all time has become disrupted and warped areas are appearing throughout the universe.
Harbinger, Pariah, and the now adult Alexander hold a funeral for the Monitor, then gathers every major active hero of the DCU Earth. Freed of her possession, she explains what has occurred. She asks for their help.
Some agree, some disagree. They are returned to Earth to ponder their decision as prehistoric beast roam the cities. The transformed Red Tornado, now a full Air Elemental, is driven temporarily insane, but is defeated through the magicks of Doctor Fate, Sargon, Zatanna, and Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt. The heroes (and even a few villains) decide. They will help. Before they are given a task, the satellite is attacked and the Anti-Monitor reveals his face.
Using the Psycho-Pirate's power, the Anti-Monitor attacks an already unstable populace. While the satellite crumbles, Harbinger releases her ultimate ability, destroying the satellite. The heroes find themselves back on Earth, battling those few heroes who, for various reasons, were not summoned by Harbinger, and are now maddened by the Pirate's emotional projections. Even retired heroes such as the Freedom Fighters are brought under the control of Pirate. However, his powers are stretched to their limit and he's starting to weaken.
Batman and Superman are attempting to quell the chaos when there's a rip in reality and a dimensional portal opens. Suddenly, we see two older versions of the World's Finest team emerge from the portal. They claim that they are the Batman and Superman of another universe, a universe where they had both been born decades earlier and had been the first super-heroes ever, even joining the JSA of their planet. Superman is happy to enlist the aid of a more experienced version of himself. Batman is suspicious, as his older twin has a gun holstered to his side (a la Golden Age version) and later mentions that he eventually married and had a child with Catwoman.
Also, Superman and Batman find it somewhat unnerving seeing how well their older counterparts work together and even like one another. While they've definitely grown mutual respect, they can't imagine ever being friends like these two older counterparts are.
Finally, the image of Harbinger appears, focusing her energies and shattering the Pirate's power completely. The maddened populace has its sanity restored. But unbeknownst to everyone, another portal opens and an elder version of Lex Luthor (wearing a prison uniform) is jettisoned onto our world. He stands up and dusts himself off, muttering that he has to find our world's counter-part of him.
Harbinger calls a meeting to give the heroes their task. She explains that when the Big Bang created both the universe and the anti-matter universe of Qward, two beings were simultaneously born: the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, created near Oa and Qward. The Anti-Monitor craved conquest, and soon had the entire antimatter universe in his grasp. Only then did he realize the presence of his twin, whom even he could not destroy. Rendered immobile by simultaneous attacks, they slept for 9 billion years.
Harbinger then explains that there exist alternate universes, similar to our own. The Anti-Monitor found a way to use anti-matter waves to destroy universes one by one and then absorb the massive energy that would be released by each destruction. He's already destroyed several universes. The elder Batman and Superman are from what will be the next universe to be destroyed should the heroes in the DCU fail. The two heroes had learned this from their universe's version of Dr. Fate and the sorcerer had sent them here to ensure the disaster was stopped ahead of time, before it reaches their own universe.
It's also realized that it was due to the time-disruptions currently occurring that caused Kara Zor-El to appear now rather than immediately being teleported to Earth. The disruptions had snatched her and landed her on Earth a mere two weeks before the Crisis. What's more, it's understood that it was because of this and the teleport-platform's unusual radiation that her system was altered to absorb solar energy more easily.
But more than that is revealed still. Long ago, in yet another parallel universe, the scientist Mossa, attempted to view the origin of reality, but succeeded only in destroying his world, by linking it to the anti-matter universe of Qward.. This unleashed the anti-matter waves while simultaneously awaking the Anti-Monitor. Simultaneously, the Monitor awoke, and began his plan to combat his dark twin. But with each world destroyed by antimatter, the Anti-Monitor gained strength, while the Monitor weakened. As another result, Mossa was rendered invulnerable to the anti-matter affects and finds himself drawn to each universe as it's being destroyed. Now, he's trapped, a pariah of his own experiment.
Using his unique abilities, Alexander opens a gateway to Qward, sending the most powerful team of heroes in history to the Anti-Monitor's realm, where Pariah uses his power to detect evil to track the Anti-Monitor's lair.
In Qward, powers work differently, but the team does not despair. Living creatures of rock attack and are destroyed, only to rise again. Slowly, however, Superman makes it through, along with Pariah and Doctor Light. Pariah, predictably, isn't much help but the others meet face to face with the Anti-Monitor. Superman is getting the crap beat out of him when Kara Zor-El steps in and sacrifices herself. Superman mourns the loss of the one living connection he'd finally found to his home world. The others never got to know her (and she never put on an actual costume nor called herself Supergirl), so they don't feel the need to really hark on her sacrifice when they remember the Crisis years later.
Throughout the universe, plans are made. On the Anti-Monitor's ship, a burned out Psycho-Pirate obsesses. On Apokolips, Darkseid plots. On Oa, the Guardians debate. On Earth, the warp zones created by the temporal merging are turning into tourist attractions, while the JLA study a drastically different Red Tornado. Reddy explodes. Blue Devil, summoned to help decipher Reddy, ends up near Vega. And meanwhile, Lex Luthor meet his elder counterpart. The elder Luthor says that he's followed his own universe's versions of Batman and Superman to our dimension. He suggests that profit and glory can be gained from this chaos. Our Luthor agrees and decides to contact Brainiac. The two Luthors and Brainiac begin to plan. The elder Luthor provides much help in teaching the other two about the great technology he used and sharing what he overheard when his world's Dr. Fate was transporting the elder Batman and Superman through the portal, a portal which this Luthor rushed through before it fully closed. Thus, Brainiac and our Luthor learn about the true nature behind this current Crisis.
Back in the Anti-Matter universe, the Anti-Monitor, in a new suit of armor, oversees the construction of an anti-matter cannon. Unfortunately, the Flash has freed himself from captivity, and with the aid of a cowardly Psycho-Pirate, turns the Anti-Monitor's army against him.
While they attack their master in vain, the Flash pushes himself to the limit, outpacing time itself to destroy the cannon, at the cost of his very life. Suffused with rage, the Anti-Monitor absorbs fantastic amounts of energy from his own universe, a move so drastic that the Spectre himself cries out in fear.
Back on Oa, Guy Gardner finally earns a ring. And on Braniac's ship, villains assemble. Brainiac and Luthor are leading, when the elder Luthor suddenly protests. He claims that were it not for him, this assembly wouldn't have begun and Brainiac and Lex Luthor would be oblivious as to the nature of the Crisis. What's more, he's grown tired of his younger counter-part and protests that HE was chosen to lead over he, the elder more experienced criminal. He shouts "You don't need TWO Luthors!" Brainiac nods. "You're right," he says, before shooting the elder Luthor down.
At the UN, a press conference is being held by Harbinger, Pariah and Alexander. Brainiac appears, indicating that certain warped areas are now under the direct control of his super-villain army. However, with the aid of Wally West, Jay Garrick, and a specially enhanced Cosmic Treadmill, the heroes pierce the temporal barrier and attack. Psimon's temporary betrayal doesn't help the villains much. Luthor watches the whole battle from Brainiac's ship (he didn't wish to risk being seen by the UN as an associate of these criminals) and rockets away in an escape pod when he sees that his associates are losing the "Villain War."
Heroes fight across the planet. The battle rages on, until the Spectre, his voice echoing around time and space, bids them cease. Like Parallax would a few years later, the Anti-Monitor has fled to the dawn of time, to redirect history itself.
After a somber speech by Uncle Sam, one team of heroes and villains is sent to the dawn of time, while the other, to Krona's laboratory. This is a new bookmark in history. Six years previous, all heroes on Earth worked together for the first time. Now, for the first time ever, every metahuman on Earth is working together.
At the Dawn of Time, the Anti-Monitor awaits the arrival of the heroes. He reveals that Pariah is actually innocent of the crimes he believed he'd committed. In fact, Pariah had merely shown the Anti-Monitor the potential uses of anti-matter, and did not actually cause the anti-matter "wall" itself. He gloats a bit. Meanwhile in Krona's lab, the villains bicker over the best way to redirect history, their lack of unity enabling the timeline to follow its true course.
The Anti-Monitor defeats every hero. Using their life energies, he stands poised to shape reality to his whims, but finds one being holding him back. The Spectre, backed by the combined will of several sorcerers, has come to meet him. The great minds collide. The Spectre screams. And the universe explodes.
Everything in the DCU is restored to normal. But there has been an unforseen side-effect. Apparently, all the alternate universes that were previously abound now no longer exist. They've been wiped out through time and space, so even if one used a combination of time and dimensional travel, they'd never be able to visit those universes. They haven't just been destroyed, they've been completely erased from existence! The DCU is now apparently the only universe (not counting Qward). The elder Batman and Superman, along with Pariah, Alexander and Lady Qwark are thus the only survivors of what was once a multiverse. Pariah, Alexander and Lady Qwark had all lost their respective universes before hand, so this news is not so great for them. But the elder Batman and Superman are in mourning as they realize that the universe they'd intended to save is now gone and they are now strangers in a strange land.
As the day rolls on, all seems peaceful on Earth. Heroes awaken in their own beds. Most of the population has forgotten the bizarre events of the past several days. They remember only some natural disasters. One group that hasn't forgotten, a team of space explorers, finds Braniac's ship in orbit, power drained. The Phantom Stranger finds a comatose Spectre. The sky turns red. And then… the shadow demons attack. Earth is drawn into the universe of Qward. And we learn to our horror that the Anti-Monitor still lives.
Harbinger gathers Superman, Batman, Doctor Light, the older Batman and Superman, Lady Qwark, the Martian Manhunter and Alexander into a strike force. To add to their firepower, she journeys to a possible future a few years away and grabs one of the most powerful metahumans, Captain Atom. Capt. Atom joins the strike force. The blackness sunders into thousands of shadow demons, attacking the battered Earth. Once again, heroes fight. In the process, the elder Batman sacrifices himself in order to save the life of his younger counterpart. As he dies, the elder Batman tells OUR Batman that he's doing this not just to save his life, but the lives of the many he knows his younger self will help in the years to come. Batman finds himself morbidly wondering whether or not his eventual death will happen in the same manner, sacrificing his life for another. He also suffers an eye-opener as he sees how much the elder Superman is in mourning for, as he puts it, "one of the noblest men I've ever known."
Joined by the greatest mages on Earth, the Stranger casts a spell to tap the immense power of the Spectre. Alexander opens a portal through the barrier around Earth. Harbinger's team, joined by an uninvited Kid Flash, attack.
Brainiac, reactivated, takes the explorers to Apokolips, where they tell their tale to Darkseid. On Qward, Kid Flash finds the insane Psycho-Pirate, as well as the costume of the Flash. The Pirate was caught in the shockwave of the strange energy explosion that killed Flash and as a result he's absorbed knowledge and memories from all the different realities that the Anti-Monitor had destroyed. It's driving him over the edge.
The Stranger's spell is released. Every shadow demon on Earth is drawn into a single mass, and sent through the barrier. There, the heroes have been keeping their foe off-balance, doing little damage, until Doctor Light absorbs the energy of an entire star. The Anti-Monitor staggers. Alexander drains his energies. He staggers further. The Negative Woman weakens his armor and the Anti-Monitor falls.
Doctor Light releases the energy, blasting the Anti-Monitor into the landscape as the imprisoned shadow demons arrive. Alexander stretches his powers to their utmost, transporting the entire Earth back to its proper home in the DCU.
The Anti-Monitor, greatly weakened, absorbs the demons. Alexander seals the rift, trapping himself in Qward. Unfortunately for him, the demons were enchanted and begin destroying him from within. As Alexander watches, he feels something take over his mind.
Darkseid, knowing that Apokolips may someday become a target, taps into the conduit that is Alexander, and lets loose the greatest weapon in his arsenal… the Omega Effect. The Anti-Monitor is at his weakest then, when the older Superman finally delivers the killing blow.
All returns to normal, as the heroes bury their dead. Alexander then makes efforts to transport the elder Superman to another dimension, a "paradise". Before the two of them leave for this alternate dimension, the elder Superman asks him "You look so familiar. On your native Earth, what was your full name?" The young man answers "Alexander … Luthor. My parents were named Alex and Lois."
The two of them vanish into another dimension, a "secret paradise" Alexander has discovered. Its true nature is to this day, unknown.
The heroes tell the population that the red skies, shadow demons and natural disasters were caused by an "alien conqueror" known as the Anti-Monitor. They say that he was a despot who sought to conquer the galaxy but the heroes were able to stop him in time, although certainly not without suffering from casualties. They don't mention the whole anti-matter or multiple universes which were wiped out.
Finally, in Arkham Asylum, the Psycho-Pirate has gone completely insane with all the contradicting memories he's gained from the alternate universes the Anti-Monitor destroyed. He now thinks that our own universe is nothing more than an amalgam of these old universes and he is terrified to step out of his cell. Batman visits him, privately. He wants to know if the memories the Pirate obtained means that he now knows the secret identities of all of Earth's heroes. But the Pirate can't sort the memories out enough for him to distinguish any one name or person. Convinced he's not a threat, Batman walks away as he hears the Pirate babble about multiple universes and how good things used to be in "the old days."
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Alan Kistler.