Now that Justice League finally hit the big screen (it’s so much better than Pottersville!), it’s time for their TV counterparts to crossover again in Crisis On Earth- X! Except Batman is over in Gotham, which now makes (Green) Arrow wonder why it bothers showing up on Thursday. Whereas each part of last year’s Invasion! crossover could still function as a discrete episode of a particular series, this year’s installments are so integrated that they forgo individualized series title cards. The best way to tell which show you’re watching is by which core cast is billed first. The list of thespians that have been in all four shows just expanded! I’m glad they compressed the story’s airing into two nights for maximum momentum.
Brace for SPOILERS on Earth-Whatever-Number-This-Is!
The Earth-X is question is not Marvel’s Kingdom Come equivalent. Unexpectedly it’s not Earth-10 but a secret Earth-53. You have failed Roman numerals! I thought that meant it was going to go bye-bye at the story’s end to preserve DC’s 52 fetish. You can tell Earth-X is evil because the skies are red. Well, that & the Nazis ruling the planet. It makes Earth-2 look much better in comparison, especially now that it’s protected by Jessie & The Quicksters. (We need an arc about them fighting the Scots Mirror Master!) Along with Agents of SHIELD, this is your inexplicably relevant reminder that Nazis are still bad. This is also handled better than Secret Empire because they never try to pass off the fascist doppelgangers as the real deal or legitimize their goals.
Following in the tradition of BVS:DOJ, Jimmy Olsen arrives early & spends most of the crossover murdered. At least this time his Guardian shield is repainted to look like Captain America’s original shield. This scene is possibly a political allegory.
Framing the crossover event around the Flash’s nuptials was a clever notion. In fact, love is the through-line of the whole thing. Having a strong narrative backbone is an improvement from Invasion! In a world where movie superheroes still have to use subtext, this explicitly normalizes homosexual romances. Even the non-romantic love of Firestorm is celebrated. Showing Nazis are enemies of various protagonists’ love demonstrates their villainy even before they get to the concentration camps. Of course Führer Arrow & General Überfräulein prove that being in love doesn’t automatically make people decent. Love is a many splendored yet not inherently good thing!
Waiting until the day before a wedding to RSVP is huge faux pas, superheroes! Renting out CC Jitters for the rehearsal dinner may be the crossover’s tackiest budget saver. Of course if given the choice between paying for a new set & a few seconds of King Shark, I would’ve made the same call. Kara sings Barry’s proposal song better than he does. The caterer (Jessica Parker Kennedy previously portrayed Plastique) is probably his granddaughter, Jenni “XS” Ognats. If Supergirl has dibs on all Legionnaires, this could be a female Impulse.
Alex Danvers falls prey to the wiles of Sara Lance, Time Seductress! (Maybe Sara has the same power as Helen of Troy, to which they’re each immune? This subconcious power could explain why Überfräulein doesn’t insta-murder her.) They bond over a mutual love of alcohol, which also seemed to be the main facet of Alex’s & Maggie Sawyer’s relationship. Their one-night stand is much better therapy for Alex than an enforced impromptu homecoming, & their scene outside the church was hilarious. Sara’s latest costume looks more like White Widow. Sadly she doesn’t share a conversation with her newest Black Canary successor, Dinah.
Heatwave got invited to the wedding but not Atom? Ray would’ve loved to have attended. (Flash also didn’t invite a time displaced Captain Cold as promised.) He does stave off a scalpel & embiggen his hand Ms. Marvel-style! Maybe next year Atom & Superman can share screentime.
The church battle was fantastic! Everybody got something cool to do like White Canary turning a censer into a meteor hammer! Did Killer Frost finally murder some people? (I don’t know if Zoom counted because Time Wraiths still make no sense.) Her costume was cooler last season. Kid-Flash isn’t present for the costumed group scenes, but he does has a nifty moment when he makes a gun backfire by throwing its bullets back into the barrel. Speedy is also absent, but at least she stopped being comatose last week. I would’ve liked to see Martian Manhunter cross dimensions to make it feel more like a Justice League event.
What successive fights lacked in choreography they made up for in cinematography. The perpetually unlocked STAR Labs was tinted creepily with red to obscure that the fight went too easily in Führer Arrow’s favor. If only Killer Frost had snapped his arm off while she had the upper hand! The simultaneous fight reflected in Green Arrow’s eye was a beautiful touch.
Überfraulein debuts before Power Girl? Melissa Benoist plays her as a much bigger fiend than Kara on Red K! (I wonder if Zod’s coup was successful in her dimension.) General Überfräulein (Overgirl sounds so flat, although technically she should be Überfrau after marriage) needs a heart transplant from Supergirl. So why did they Earth-Xers wait until she went to Earth-1 with its much higher concentration of superheroes? It doesn’t even need to be Earth-38’s Supergirl’s hearts, as the multiverse is probably rife with more vulnerable Karas. Since her cells are suffused with unstable radiation, I’m not even sure if a heart transplant would accomplish anything aside from getting them both out of action for part three. Have they tried negating it with red sun lamps or leeching it off with Earth-X’s Parasite?
I hope Mayor Queen leaving Star City isn’t a bail violation. I liked the stereotype reversal that he was the one keen to get married while Felicty has reasonable irrational concerns against. Green Arrow lacks superspeed is the new Batman can’t fly. Who told Oliver about Kryptonite & where did he get it? Interestingly Earth-X Oliver’s demeanor isn’t that far removed from the standard.
So Earth-X’s Reverse-Flash is just Earth-1’s Reverse Flash on interdimensional holiday. They could’ve avoided more paradoxical headaches by not doing that. They went with Tom Cavagnagh over Matt Letscher since he was going to be there anyway. (Does TV Eobard remind anyone else of The Master a little?) At least they spared us an evil Barry redux. He changed his insignia & mask to match the Earth-X power couple even though he didn’t share scenes with a doppelganger. Since he’s driven by spiteful self-interest & murdered Earth-1 Nazis without hesitation, I’m not sure why he’s playing second fiddle to altverse fascists. I kept waiting for him to betray them & seize power. It was his idea to ruin the West-Allen wedding, right? The Flash lets him escape because … DAMN IT, BARRY!
They don’t have the same death-defying issue with Captain Cold since he’s the Earth-X version. Newbie The Ray, his boyfriend, is unexpectedly from Earth-1. I wanted to learn how that happened, but I guess we have to wait until the Freedom Fighters: The Ray prequel cartoon. (Either the superpowered Freedom Fighters are dead now or they have to wait for a non-crossover episode with a budget for brand new guest stars.) Mr.
Terrific’s Tallrific’s naming dialogue with The Ray was perfect. Captain Cold is sticking around on Earth-1 for a bit. His motives are opaque, but I reckon he needs a vacation from Nazi-World. I want to see him interact with all the Rogues that owe Earth-1 Snart favors.
Metallo & Red Tornado look so much better here than they did on Supergirl! Please port their CGI models over to her show. She can really use some well designed recurring supervillains! Too bad they’re destroyed in both realities. You’d think Metallo would be working with the Freedom Fighters given his power source, but they got a heroic Red Tornado instead. Red Tornado’s come a long way from carpet samples, although his tornadoes were egregiously not scarlet. Poor thing still gets wrecked by superheroes for trying to win the war. Initially I mistook one of Überfräulein’s lines for Metallo’s, but he’s apparently still John Corben on Earth-X. Assorted superheroes blasting Metallo at once until he exploded was wünderbar!
Although it was heavily foreshadowed that he was two days away from retirement, Professor Stein’s sacrifice was handled well. I will miss Victor Garber & his songs because he’s my favorite Sinestro. Too bad Firestorm didn’t get one last transmutation hurrah. This story definitely sold me on their surrogate father-son bond. Jax hasn’t had nearly enough development as the rest of Leg-Ends Of Tom Morrow (but T. O. Morrow was only on Supergirl so far), so hopefully the silver lining is he gets more spotlight. If he can’t access Firetorm powers anymore, I support him becoming the Spectacular Sticky-Man. That sobriquet’s definitely going to need Cisco-ing to avoid him sounding like a pervert.
Once stealing Supergirl’s heart fails, Führer Arrow’s contingency plan is not great. His wife is set to go supernova in Central City … while he & his troops are there randomly shooting civilians. If he really cared about conquering a second Earth, he ought to be sometime else on Wellenreiter the evil Waverider. Maybe passion turned him suicidal? After Kara makes General Überfräulein go boom in space, Green Arrow shoots Führer Arrow in the heart for giving love a bad name. Everybody else kills assorted Nazis in Jin-Roh masks. There’s no talk of knocking out the invaders & sending them home for trial. Who got stuck on dead interdimensional Nazi cleanup duty? Naturally this doesn’t mean that Earth-X’s fascism flaw is fixed.
The big crossover is capped off with dual weddings. As much as I enjoyed the earlier badass Iris & Felicity team-up, it’s gauche for for Felicity to glom onto Barry’s & Iris’s special day like that. The next episode of (Green) Arrow is named “Irreconcilable Differences,” so maybe the Olicity wedding won’t be long for this world. I completely forgot Diggle can marry people. So if there is a downside to this crossover, it’s that two solo heroes got married in a different show. This could be especially disconcerting for fans of only The F-Lash since its series has been building to this wedding for years. If you’re watching all the series anyway, it’s not a big deal. Fans of LOT will be disappointed that impromptu weddings finally happened on their show but without either ordained Waverider crewman officiating.
A massive amount of logistics went into making this happen. I’d expect all the series casts to be fully available if they film episodes sequentially but apparently not. This makes me forgive that terrible flashback episode of Supergirl where we learn Midvale High students are grilled on elementary American Revolution facts & none of the Danvers sisters’ present issues were worked through. Is it also responsible for the nonstarter Diggle as Green Arrow arc? Tommy Merlyn returning briefly as Earth-X’s Prometheus was a pleasant surprise, especially since Colin Donnell went out of his way for just a cameo. The wardrobe, special effects, & stunt teams put in lots of extra effort too.
The mega team doesn’t get named, but it’s essentially Justice League! Not only was this event full of spectacle, it also had lots of great character moments. It’s better the Justice League movie, but it has the unfair advantage of being an hour longer in addition to drawing on six years of attachment. It had fewer flaws, mostly because it didn’t need massive reshoots. (The Earth-Xers putting shock collars on the unconscious heroes instead of instantly killing them was one instance where disbelief suspension is greatly strained.) If you’re not caught up the shows this season, it could be daunting. Can everybody please buy a ticket to Justice League so I can finally see a cinematic Legion of Doom in part 2? You can enjoy both the DC movies & TV shows!
Crisis On Earth- X was anything but. I dread most comic book crossovers these days, but this is an example of everything that can go right. It juggles a ridiculous amount of characters well during its perfect runtime. The story has depth beyond an excuse for epic set pieces. It’s such a great crossover I’m already dreading how next year’s will underwhelm me. I don’t foresee them being able to do Crisis On Infinite Earths well. Why isn’t Starro The Star-Conqueror the villain of one of these crossovers instead of something Kid-Flash mentions he fought offscreen? (Those damn Dominators stole its mind control shtick.) How about an Amazo that’s not a boat? Going full “Mirror, Mirror” is hard to top!
Agents of SHIELD finally returns this week, so I’ll write that up for next time.