ROB BASS: Welcome to the LONE STAR CRISIS REACTION THREAD!, gentle readers, where your esteemed correspondents will attempt to come to terms with all the madness that Greg Berlanti and his talented colleagues have visited upon us in the third and most recent installment of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS
. Brother Bexar, are you there?
ROBERT BEXAR: Eyup! I am here ready to save a few Earths.. Or at least try to!
BASS: All right. There’s no one I’d rather have by my side on this adventure. Let’s do a quick capsule review on how the first two episodes hit us. What did you think?
BEXAR: It’s been an ‘A’ so far for me. I think they have had a lot to cover in a very short period and while the time on other Earths has been short, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives for me. The big PRO has been Brandon Routh as Kingdom Come Superman. He has been absolutely amazing. And the biggest “CON” if you wanna take it that far was Kevin Conroy as an overly jaded Batman. I get it, I thought it was interesting, but having heard him play opposite George Newbern’s Superman for so long, it was a little disheartening to see his first (and only) live action Batman be a Batman who never become friends with Clark.
BASS: That is an extremely valid point. I did certainly appreciate the plot twist and the execution but would have absolutely preferred seeing him portray Grandfather Batman, grizzled but kind patriarch to an unannounced entire crew of Robins, all the way down to Stephanie Brown, even. Because we’re down in CONs, I’ll repeat what I said yesterday, this entire thing has mainly been a slam-dunk for me, but I’m not a fan of the Anti-Monitor’s costume design. Too much Night King, not enough George Perez, especially when you see how hard they nailed Tom Cavanagh’s Pariah costume.
My biggest PRO might be the way it all went down with Oliver at the end of the first episode. Kat McNamara has been solid-to-great this entire final season of ARROW, but those two really sold their father/daughter relationship hard in those scenes. And of course I love all those Supermen. Oh! Best all-time moment for me was when the John Williams score suddenly wells up there in the Kingdom Come Daily Planet office. Dry eyes to Eyes-cannot-contain-streaming-tears in maybe three notes. Okay, should we dive into tonight, scene by scene? Did you ever catch that BIRDS OF PREY show that ran one season on the good old The WB back in 2002?
BEXAR: I did AND I own the DVD set. I loved that we not only got Ashley Scott back as Huntress but that was Dina Meyer on the comm as Oracle before everything went to poop for their Earth. Now see, that was just enough time spent on that Earth. (I loved the WB.)
BASS: And I believe The WB got rebooted into The CW? What a world. Okay, I 100% missed the boat on that show, but still felt the impact. And wow, very cool to have Meyer on comms. Only know her from STARSHIP TROOPERS. I just learned that that show’s Dinah was played by Rachel Skarsten, who grew up to raise such hell in Gotham here with Kate Kane this very season. That was a deep cut, even for this crossover.
BEXAR: And I loved every minute of it!
BASS: Happy for you to get that. Then, Cisco got his powers back. I like how little angst there was for that process. We didn’t have time for a soul-searching monologue!
BEXAR: Yeah, I like that he didn’t have a say in the matter. You’re a hero, shut up, suit up and get going! BUT! I do love (and I was going to mention this earlier)… I do love that you like the design of the Anti-Monitor as much as Cisco hates the name ‘The Anti-Monitor’. Even when the poop is hitting the fan, he has to begrudgingly say ‘anti-monitor’.
BASS: So true. Nice touch to revisit the oldest running joke on THE FLASH, Cisco and his names. Moving on, and rewind me if I skip past something you want to mention, the next moment that jumped out at me was when Kara and Kate went to talk to Luthor and then Ruby Rose got him up against the wall and her face turned into like this mask of terror. It was scary as hell what she did there, no cowl necessary. We needed Grandfather Conroy to be in this scene, look over and just say, “Terrifying,” to Kara.
BEXAR: I do love that they are really setting up ‘Earth’s Finest’ with this crossover and bringing that Batman/Superman relationship to Supergirl/Batwoman. I loved that relationship in the Jeph Loeb run and anytime in the Tom King run. Batman and Superman shouldn’t be friends, and yet they are best friends and you can, literally, see them doing that in various shots in last night’s episode.
BASS: OH God, don’t get me started on the King run, we’ll never make it back. That two-part double-date with Clay Mann in #36 and #37 last year is one of my favorite stories in any comic ever. It was symphonic perfection, every line. But yes, maybe I want to change my favorite thing to the character work being done with Kara & Kate just in their brief time on-screen together so far. A slight concern I’ve had, the only one about this whole endeavor, is that they’re not just cancelling everything after it’s over. THE FLASH will have a seventh season. I don’t know how you keep that going and still give things weight after worlds living and worlds dying, but the amount of time being spent on just these two anchoring the whole deal, it’s very much a second-generation continuation of the stellar work Amell & Gustin have done being the axis up until now.
BEXAR: I agree that with shows obviously having season pick-ups does tend to bring down some of the weight, I look at it as any other comic crossover. People will die (and we’ve seen plenty of Earths die) but that there will be some MacGuffin (i.e. the book of Destiny) that will bring some of the Earths back and we might get Earth-38 again. I mean, I don’t think everyone will land on one Earth, especially since Earth-1 was wiped out last night, but maybe we get a few Earths. Speaking of wiped out, did you catch the part about Jesse Quick getting wiped out in Earth-2. I hadn’t even thought about that. Also, where are the rest of the Legends?
BASS: Well, Sara did have the aside in Part II about promising not to rope them into anymore crossovers after INVASION! I’m sure there will be more dialogue addressing this, as the LEGENDS premiere is Part V on 1/14. And yeah, Jesse Quick! And H.R.! Horrifying! I absolutely failed to consider them when Earth-2 was the first casualty we saw in the ARROW premiere. I’m going to have to rack my brain for an offscreen death that was comparable for me in terms of impact. I do think that everything will end up on one Earth, no multiverse, just like the original. I was going to ask you, too, did you hit BLACK LIGHTNING? I didn’t realize it was going to be involved until seeing that the title was “Earth Crisis,” and sure enough, those old skies went red right before the first commercial break.
BEXAR: Dude, no, I am about a season and ½ behind on Black Lightning.
BASS: Okay, never mind. It turned out to be straight-up CRISIS, part 2.5, but that will just be madness for you to catch up on in your own time. Do you want me to tell you the ending in relation to this event?
BEXAR: Oh no, I went on YouTube after seeing your comment. Hahaha!
BASS: Okay, that was a bit of madness.
BEXAR: It was and I loved that they did link him in that way. It reminded me of the old X-Men crossover, Age of Apocalypse, where the last panel of every Marvel book ended the same way, with the M’Kraan crystal wiping everyone out.
BASS: Yes! +10 points to House Bexar for surreptitiously working the M’Kraan Crystal into the conversation, additional +5 for spelling it correctly.
BEXAR: *mic drop* But no, I love that Cress Williams is finally introduced into the universe and that when he sees Superman (X2), he just goes “the Superman myth is real”. Like, I loved that even in a moment of sheer horror, the ‘S’ is still something to be in awe of.
BASS: That is a wonderful beat. This is skipping ahead a little bit, but talking Black Lightning, that conversation that he and Barry share two-thirds into the episode was a really powerful moment. Really elegant amidst all the madness how they make time to welcome him into the massive ensemble, much like they did with Kara three years ago in INVASION! Okay, though, back into sequence, did you watch LUCIFER? How crushing was Tom Ellis just dropping in out of nowhere?
BEXAR: Bro… Dude… that was absolutely, positively JAW-DROPPINGLY AWESOME!! Like, I could add in a slew of curse words here, but damnit that was awesome!! I thought when I saw Earth-666 it would be a hellish Earth where everyone is a sinful version of themselves, not Lucifer Morningstar himself. I love the show Lucifer and Ellis just completely kills on that show, but when I saw that… I woke my girlfriend up by squealing. Lol!! I just went “eeee!!! LUCIFER!!!”
BASS: Tom Ellis as Lucifer came in and burned down everything. I will admit to being the asshole who never gave the pilot a chance (never even gave the comic a chance back in the day because Gaiman wasn’t writing it, though of course Carey is a wonderful writer, I eventually learned), and so it was particularly something to see this character/performance that I have zero connection with suddenly drop in and dominate the entire situation. That grin. Those unblinking eyes. Mia never had a chance. How fortunate that he was in Constantine’s debt. I really need to see that damn show.
BEXAR: And I love that he mis-pronounced Constantine’s name on purpose.
BASS: Another wonderful little beat. Moving on, there was so much going on in Part II, I forgot to relate the Paragons back to the seven runes on that subterranean door that Wells has been banging on for the past couple of weeks. I had been thinking they represented the Legends, just because one of them reminded me of Ray’s helmet, but that was a miss.
BEXAR: Ugh, I didn’t even catch that either. *facepalm* I thought one of them looked similar to the ‘S’ shield. I do like that Tom Cavanagh is Pariah because he is so good at switching up his emotions with each Wells.
BASS: Cavanagh should get a multi-season award for changing his deal up every year. He’s soooo damn versatile. That’s one of my favorite things about that show. Okay, how about that anti-matter cannon treadmill poor old John Wesley Shipp was trapped on? After blasting through #11 of the original series last week, I was certainly hoping for a cosmic treadmill appearance, which might still happen, but it was cool to get this. That was a brutal hit when he said he’d been running for 30 years. So that’s why he got cancelled! That original series showed up in 1990 after the Year of Batmania, and my little brother and I never missed an episode. It was so cool to have both him and Amanda Pays be cast in the early seasons of this latest volume with Gustin, but when we got the flashback of the two of them looking into each other’s eyes in 1990, full eighties glam still shining through, ooof! That was another zero-to-waterfall moment. Paging Julio Mendez!
BEXAR: Oh I loved that moment. I loved the TV show and have the show on DVD. I’ve met Shipp a few times and the guy is just the absolute best. Seriously, I don’t think he’s that different from Barry Allen. That being said. When they played that clip of him and Tina, my mouth dropped. I didn’t think they would give us that and when they played it. Damn… I was a kid again. The fact that Flash-90 was the one to sacrifice his life just made it that much more touching. I knew there would be a workaround (because as we have stated, you can’t kill off the title character of a show that is picked up for another year).
BASS: Right? I was working so hard to figure out how they would do it in a way that wouldn’t feel cheap, and this was really the only acceptable solution of still hitting us in the gut while keeping Gustin in play. With regard to your parenthetical, watching Ollie & Mia in the first part, it hit me, there’s no way that I want THE FLASH without Barry/Gustin, but I would be all about a ninth season of ARROW starring Ms. McNamara. She seems to have the chops to ground a second volume growing forward while honoring the tradition of legacy that’s such a hallmark of Detective Comics Comics.
BEXAR: Which we are getting with the SIRENS series. It will be her, Black Canary from Earth-2 and someone else. Speaking of… where is Black Canary from Earth-2?
BASS: Or was, right? She’s not much of anywhere anymore. That’s a good point, there were so many people running around, I didn’t miss her. Okay, what about Ryan Choi! As many callback guest-stars as they announced ahead of time, I was thrilled that he came in under at least my radar. Did you read his series by Simone & Byrne?
BEXAR: Dude, I did not, but I do know/like the character. Thought he was a great creation. I loved that he’s being played by Osric Chau who was also Kevin on Supernatural (the CW loves reusing good actors). I thought he really brought the same kind of charm that Routh has brought to the Atom on Legends. And who I am assuming will take up the mantle once Routh leaves during Season 5?
BASS: Okay, I’m glad to get that context. Have not hit SUPERNATURAL (my household is Team Jess or Die). The guy definitely brought it. Highly recommend that THE ATOM series. Morrison conceptualized the whole deal and then Simone & Byrne start off the whole thing by [redacted]. Whoop, sorry. The tangents, they will take me. And there’s one about every thirty seconds in this thing. Okay, we’ve been over Jefferson Pierce’s arrival, then there’s the spot where Kate & Kara have their big moment, anything you care to add to that that we didn’t already cover?
BEXAR: Oh yeah, once again, the Kara/Kate scenes are callbacks to Clark/Bruce. Kate gave Kara the kryptonite and gave her the chance to destroy it and just like Clark did with the Kryptonite ring, she told Kate to keep it and “have the courage” to never use it. This was a big turning point for me. I wanted to see if they would keep up with the Clark/Bruce storyline-ish, and they did and nailed it. The ‘S’ and the ‘Bat’ are Earth’s Finest for a reason.
BASS: They did nail it. And I’m glad the writers didn’t drag it out at all either. That was a worrisome little beat at the end of Part II. All right, Kara & Kate’s friendship is the post-Crisis linchpin, I’m so glad we agree. How about Jim damn Corrigan just sauntering up?
BEXAR: Oh that whole scene was so well done. Before I get to Jim Corrigan, Stephen Amell has really just done a bang-up job this season on Arrow. He’s made me love the show again. Okay, so back to the MOFO SPECTRE!! Just going “oh hey, I was someone else, something else” and then his eyes going green. Like, I’m really surprised I didn’t wake up my girlfriend more than I did last night cause I went “OH SHIT!” and she went (groggily) what happened?! Hahaha! I had to do the whole “oh nothing hun, just my show”, but this was a great call back to the beginning of ARROW this whole season when he said “to save my world I would have to be someone else, I would have to be something else…” which I thought was just him being the sacrifice, but nope! This whole damn season has been one gigantic easter egg of Oliver becoming The Spectre (who I don’t think Ollie has ever been him in the comics, but I know Hal was and we all know that Hal and Barry are best friends as well… nice little nod to that friendship, whether intentional or not).
BASS: Ooooh, tremendous pickup, that sailed all the way past me. Yeah, once again, when I was reading the original last week, thought to myself, “It would be insane if they were able to work The Spectre into the adaptation, but it would have taken a season worth of groundwork being laid.” And then they just did it anyway. It would be like if Adam Warlock just suddenly showed up in the third act of RAGNAROK and then went on to be just as crucial to the cinematic INFINITY WAR as he was in the Starlin original (again drawn by Perez, interesting synchronicity). Okay, we all knew Lyla was going to go crazy and kill The Monitor, but I actually thought that would be the big month-gap cliffhanger. They just went ahead and took out Earth-1 entirely! Those writers were tired of juggling that ensemble.
BEXAR: Hahaha! AAAAAND done with the whole CW ARROWVERSE in one swoop. Hahaha! But seriously, watching them all perish did make me go ‘Oh snap’ (pun intended). I was curious how they were going to do that. And real quick sidenote: how amazing has Routh been as Superman?? When he comes back from another world gone and he keeps going and Lois asks, “Why the Black?” and he answers that, “In the darkest times, people need to remember that hope shines through” like, Seriously?! I love Cavill as Superman, but Routh is the embodiment of the old Donner/Reeve Superman.
BASS: I could not agree more. Seems like in 2006 before the Singer movie came out, I read that he had been working at a bowling alley in LA (probably?) and had won the Halloween costume contest that year as Clark Kent and it’s like, “No shit.”
I’m grateful for the unfortunate snap pun because it segues into something that bothered me a bit. Bear with me. You know how in Stephen King’s IT, originally, it was published in 1986 and takes place in the present of 1985 and then flashes back to when they were kids in 1956? Well, when that killer new Muschietti adaptation hit, they shifted it so that the present is now our present and the past is 1985, or late eighties? It was an extremely jarring move, and the effect it had on some folks who had not read the novel is that it seemed like they were just cashing in on the current 80s-retro craze at the time. You know, more kids riding their bikes to save the day. Like in PAPER GIRLS or STRANGER THINGS. And Mike damn Wheeler was even Richie this time! Folks thought King was appropriating the current trend when he was really the founder. Okay? Well, seeing this, everyone turning to dust suddenly, I was just like, “Damn it, it’s happening again. People are going to think Crisis is ripping off Thanos.” When once again, it’s the original deal. Does that compute?
BEXAR: Ha! No, I totally get what you mean and while I didn’t think of it that way, I 100% see what you mean. “Oh here is CW ripping off Marvel” when really this already happened 30 years ago.”
BASS: Wow, and with that IT example, I didn’t even think about the original CRISIS originally being published in 1985. That was a cornerstone year across the space-time continuum, apparently. If you disagree, ask Doctor Emmett Brown.
BEXAR: GREAT SCOTT!!
BASS: You can never have enough Brown hyperbole. And then the paragons all wound up at Vanishing Point. But there’s a twist! We lose Routh in favor of Cryer. Certainly a shame, given all the praise we’ve heaped on him, but narratively, this is on-brand.
BEXAR: So as much as that pissed me off (and hopefully we get Routh back again as Superman in the final 2 episodes), you are 100% right. That was completely on point with something that Lex would do. He would totally kill a Superman to save himself. His sister? Meh. Himself? Totally! And while I missed Cryer on Supergirl, he is an absolutely fantastic Lex Luthor.
BASS: Yes, it’s been stunning how great he is. I actually liked him a little bit better last season on SUPERGIRL than amidst all of this, so I definitely recommend that you check that out. All right! Everything looks as grim as can be for our heroes! The only worse news than there’s only seven people left at the end of time is that you have to trade in your Brandon Routh Superman at the last minute for Jon Cryer Luthor.
BEXAR: BOOO LEX!! And sadly we have to wait a whole damn month before we get the final two episodes. I think that was just poor planning on their part.
BASS: It will be a brutal wait, but January 14th will be so sweet when we get there. I really enjoyed doing this with you, Brother. Lots of good insight. We will have to do it again.
BEXAR: Oh dude, I had a blast doing this and can’t wait to do it again for Crisis on Infinite Earths PART 4!
PEACE OUT, CONGREGATION!!
BASS: Texas forever.
BEXAR: Tejas forever!
-Rob Bass & Robert Bexar