Cosmos Ex Machina
by Captain Havok
word took on its own life after Marv Wolfman and George Perez destroyed
the DC Multiverse in the 1980ís, becoming legends in the process.
The colloquialism has even carried over to in-universe dialog, referring
now to the first and second crisis. These events are not married to
DC, however, as events such as Marvelís Civil War or Annihilation
could be called Crises, having irreparably changed that universe. Many
of these events have one factor in common: a previously unknown celestial
occurrence or being stirring and shaking our universe like a martini
in a Bond movie.
the Monitors in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and Alexander
Luthor in Infinite Crisis were well developed and written, selling
books like pancakes in a church, many times these cosmic events or characters
seem to cheapen a story. JLA/Avengers comes to mind. Mind you,
without cosmic characters, it is difficult to find a reason for cross-universe
characters to mingle, but a new cosmic character was created for this
event, the vast array of cosmic entities from both universes were not
enough. A little game between The Specter and The Living Tribunal would
have sufficed, but instead a previously-unknown third party was created
to bring the universe's greatest heroes against each other.
is the most recent instance of this cheapening. Now, I greatly enjoyed
52, but I felt the climax was the World War III section of
the title, culminating with the changing of Black Adamís magic word.
Skeets became a surprising and frightening villain in 52, devouring
the Phantom Zone. Skeets as a villain would have been a great change
to the universe, giving us a rival for the like of Superman, Green Lantern,
and of course an arch-nemesis for Booster Gold. Instead, Morrison pulled
back to tell us Mr. Mind, a b-list Captain Marvel villain had possessed
Skeets and was behind a previously unknown plot to devour the multiverse.
A strange ending was crapped out because a nice, tidy ending couldn't
be found. Mr. Morrison, you can't give us the excuse you gave for the
X-Men. You knew when your run on the title was ending, you had a full
year to give us a good one.
Secret War events are possibly the most confusing of all. Some otherworldly
being summoned the heroes of the Earth to fight, the events of which
are undone once this challenge is completed. Somebody is trying
to tell us this is a genuine, in-continuity story, though itís really
a crazy What If? cleverly disguised as a crossover event.
Spider-Man ends up with a black, symbiotic alien costume (because an
artist was too lazy to draw the webbing) and some other crazy stuff
happened. Comic book fans are very accepting of obfuscating events,
stories, and characters; but the Secret War
is one that even has us wondering what drunken Antarctic camel wrangler
thought up this experiment in pointlessness.
truly great crisis is one that can change the universe with the tools
already made available. Brad Melterís Identity Crisis
and Mark Millarís Civil War were dramatic character pieces
that shook up our worlds, forever changed some characters, and kept
the cosmos out of it, making it mean more to us and keeping it relatable.
Itís difficult to relate to Nova being the last Nova Corps member
after the first issue of Annihilation, but we all understand
Ralph Dibnyís pain at the loss of his wife. We canít relate to the
death of Jade in front of Alexander Luthorís giant hand in space in
Infinite Crisis, but too many of us have experienced the rift between
great friends that formed between Iron Man and Captain America in
There are so many wonderful characters handed down to comic book writers today. Men like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditka, Bob Kane, Jerry Seigel, and Joe Shuster created some of the most timeless characters in fiction, with all their foibles and humanity laid out. Continuity has formed friendships, rivalries, grudging alliances, and fierce foes. There will always be the cosmic crises, extraterrestrial events, and Watchers coming down to tell us something bad is about to happen, but it is the personal crisis that I will truly treasure.