For anyone who has been watching the DC superhero shows airing on the CW — Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning and, now, Batwoman — one of the highlights they’ve come to anticipate is the annual crossover between all of them. Yet even with the wide-ranging adventures that have already been brought to life, few could have possibly imagined the shows’ respective producers tackling one of DC’s biggest comic book events, Crisis on Infinite Earths — but it’s upon us now.
Published between April 1985 and March 1986, Crisis was the brainchild of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, both clearly aware of the wide-ranging impact it would have on DC as a whole. Which was the plan in the first place.
“These days, DC and Marvel continually trade places as to which company has the most readers,” says Wolfman in an exclusive interview. “One month it’s DC. Next month it’s Marvel. And so on, back and forth. But back in the 1980s, DC’s sales lagged far behind Marvel. Many Marvel fans wouldn’t even bother looking at a DC comic. In fact, they really called themselves ‘Marvel Zombies.’ They were certain the DC universe couldn’t ever be good. Something was needed to show those readers that DC had great characters and great books.”
To that end, Wolfman came up with and proposed a 12-part maxi-series that would use every hero DC had to prove to the “Zombies” that, at the very least, they should give DC a try. “Something like this,” he says, “featuring over 400 characters in a universe-altering story, had never been tried before. It was a major risk and it could have failed, but DC approved my idea and, working with George Perez, we created a story that showed the Marvel Zombies how good DC could be.
“And it was a daunting task,” he emphasizes. “If we had failed, it was very possible that fans might never check out another DC comic again. But we took several years to carefully work out the story and to make sure it all worked. Fortunately, George and I were totally committed to this series and we built a story even the Marvel fans loved. Our slogan was, ‘Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the DC Universe will never be the same.’ And because we honored that pledge, readers still care for it. Crisis made such a big impact, companies are still publishing company crossovers, hoping to catch that elusive lightning in a bottle.”
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