Without a multiverse, there could be no Crisis on Infinite Earths, but for years afterwards, the heroes of the DCU would refer to a Crisis. So what was the Crisis, post-CRISIS?
In 1988, POWER GIRL received her own mini-series. Originally hailing from the Krypton of the Earth-Two universe, her origin was altered in the new post-Crisis world and she became the time-frozen grand-daughter of Arion of Atlantis, who was fed false memories that convinced her (for a while) that she was Superman’s cousin, before she discovered the truth. In the text piece editorial at the back of the first issue was the following description:
The Crisis, in the revised timeline, involved an epic battle between the positive and negative universes which manifested itself on Earth as waves of anti-matter and the arrival of the Anti-Monitor. The super-heroes valiantly defended their world, although many fell in the battle. At the end of that event, the threat was banished and everyone picked up the pieces of their lives.
No more multiple worlds, post-Crisis, but still a battle between positive and negative universes.
In 1994, ZERO HOUR set out to correct various anomalies in the DCU’s timeline. Waverider is prompted by Rip Hunter to look up the Crisis which is described as:
A story of a multiverse – parallel dimensions with similar worlds. Then it came. A Crisis. A multiverse of lives and worlds – died. End of story.
It’s also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the Crisis was known “only to the Linear Men” as opposed to the Psycho Pirate who has long been held to be the only character who remembered the pre-Crisis multiverse.
In 2001, we finally get to see what the Crisis looked like. As far as I’m aware, issue #5 of JLA INCARNATIONS is the only time the Crisis has been shown in detail, as opposed to being talked about.
As Gypsy explains to Vibe:
“Our universe is under attack by the anti-matter universe of Qward, led by the Anti-Monitor. He seeks to destroy the vibrational walls between present and future . . . By reducing everything to a single point of time, the Anti-Monitor then plans to blast it with an antimatter cannon making his universe the only one. His opponent was the Monitor, who created these machines, like temporal tuning forks, to keep time aligned.”
While several elements of the original Crisis remain – the Monitor and Anti-Monitor, the gathering at the Monitor’s satellite, the vibrational forks, the anti-matter universe – the Crisis that happened in the post-Crisis DC Universe was not connected to parallel worlds but instead concerned with time.
In 2006, the weekly series 52 carried a back-up story featuring the History of the DCU.
Issues #4 and #5 dealt with the Crisis and at this point, the original history of the DCU had been restored – the version of the Crisis that was shown was a summary of the original series. Earth-One, Earth-Two, the Anti-Monitor, the multiverse – everything was in place. There is even a mention of the Psycho-Pirate being the only one who remembered it following the event; as the tale was being recounted to Donna Troy, however, she too became aware of the Crisis.
In 2010, DCU: LEGACIES was released. The mini-series followed Paul Lincoln, a Metropolis policeman, as he recounted the stories of various heroes he’d encountered over the years.
Issues #5 and #6 deal with the Crisis but not in any detail; the usual elements are there such as the red skies, Pariah and Harbinger, and even the Anti-Monitor for one panel, but little else. The bulk of the action takes place in Metropolis at the same time as issue #3 and there’s even the same moment of Metamorpho using his body to shore up a collapsing building as seen on Page 6 of that issue, but there are no details of what the Crisis is, or why it’s happening.
The closest we get is Paul, in his introduction, saying
“The weird thing is, even now, after all these years, I don’t know of any two people who remember what happened that day quite the same way. It’s almost as if there’s some sort of blot in the memory of time.”
The only other notable thing is Paul’s use of “that day” – in DCU: LEGACIES, the entire Crisis, from start to finish, is over within a single day.