As is the way of major corporations be they publishing houses, film studios or comic book producers, if one particular piece of work is released and found to be a success – ie it makes them money – then a sequel is almost guaranteed.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was no exception; a massive story which encompassed almost if not every character then published by DC and which literally destroyed universes could be nothing more than a huge success. And so, unsurprisingly, a sequel was requested.
In the editorial piece at the back of LEGENDS #1, editor Mike Gold recounts how Executive Editor Dick Giordano got in touch with him and asked him “How would you like to do CRISIS 2?“
The remainder of the text piece tells how Gold put together the rest of the team for LEGENDS, recruiting Len Wein and John Ostrander before bringing in the artists, and that both Giordano and Gold had already selected Jerry Ordway.
Gold’s editorial in LEGENDS #2 goes on to say: “For a while, there was going to be a CRISIS sequel, and Jerry had been lined up for that project.“
The recruitment of Gold to DC and his involvement with what became LEGENDS had pushed the proposed sequel to one side and it never happened. As far as I’m aware, the only mention of this sequel in DC’s titles outside of Gold’s editorial pieces was from Bob Greenberger who was the Coordinating Editor for LEGENDS. He became the editor of SUICIDE SQUAD, one of the titles to be launched from LEGENDS and in his editorial piece for SUICIDE SQUAD #1, he wrote:
Unless someone tells me otherwise, that’s the only contemporary mention by name of CRISIS OF THE SOUL in a DC comic.
By the time both these editorial pieces were published, of course, many things had moved on and whatever the original sequel had meant to include was lost to time.
In 2005, issue #9 of Back Issue magazine ran an article about CRISIS OF THE SOUL which gave readers their first glimpse of what might have been.
The basic idea behind CRISIS OF THE SOUL was put together by Paul Levitz and read as follows:
Throughout the history of the universe, there have been tides of evil that have swept over worlds, bringing with them the doom of civilizations, species, and even the destruction of entire planets. The source of these tides has never been isolated, but they have been beyond any possible opposition: too rapid, too powerful, too final, and in the ultimate analysis, too unpredictable, except for the fact that they inevitably reoccur.
The tide has come to Earth, in the person of a seductively handsome young man, on a beautiful spring morning. He walks into a small town in America, attracted by the coming crisis moment in Earth’s destiny. He swiftly moves from city to town across the globe, in a pattern we cannot discern, searching and investigating this world to which he has come.
He is the Corrupter, the living tide come to take Earth. He is a living catalyst for evil who delights in the souls he ruins and feeds upon. Virtually immortal and timeless, he is tremendously powerful and committed to his aims with a passion rare among DC villains.
Robert Greenberger and Len Wein (who would both go on to work on LEGENDS) were brought in as Editor and Dialogue Writer respectively and, as mentioned above, Jerry Ordway was tipped to be the penciller and also offer plot points and suggestions. From the Back Issue article:
CRISIS OF THE SOUL veered from it predecessor in its scope: The crisis of INFINITE EARTHS was cosmic, whereas the crisis of SOUL was personal. Ordway found this appealing.
“The selling point on the project was that it was to be a more intimate story, with galactic repercussions,” Jerry explains. “Crisis [on Infinite Earths], by its very nature, had a sort of distant view of the armies of heroes battling the threat, which was huge … Soul was about corrupting individuals, and that appealed to me. I liked the idea of getting into the head of Batman, or Green Lantern, and seeing what could push them over the edge.”
It appears that a lot of work was done on CRISIS OF THE SOUL before it was put to one side; among plenty of other details, the Back Issue article features scans of character studies by Ordway for the series and a list of plot points that were to happen during the story. Given the amount of time that’s passed since the story was first proposed, it’s not that surprising that many of those plot points – or things close enough to them – have happened in other DC comics since.
Given the amount of information in the Back Issue article, it’s a shame we never got to see CRISIS OF THE SOUL; while it may be unfair to compare an outline and some ideas against a published mini-series, it certainly sounds like it would have been more fulfilling than what LEGENDS turned out to be.
Many thanks to Michael Eury, Editor in Chief of Back Issue for allowing me to use the excerpts above. If you want to read the whole article you can get the digital copy of Back Issue #9 from TwoMorrows Publishing for less than $5. There’s also a ton of other stuff in that issue.
I should also note the illustration at the top of this page comes from the article and is by Jerry Ordway and was originally featured on the cover of OFFICIAL JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA INDEX #6; the article version is in black and white but I’m afraid I couldn’t help myself and coloured it. (Apologies to Jerry Ordway!)