COMIC BOOK DEATH MATCH: Secret Wars #7 vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths #7

With 1965’s Green Lantern #40 thrown in for good measure…

Fred Van Lente’s COMIC BOOK DEATH MATCH is back and better than ever! Now, as a monthly feature for 2024!

See, Marvel this year is celebrating the 40th anniversary of 1984’s 12-issue Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars by re-releasing each installment as a Facsimile Edition every month. And of course, what is the DC event it’s always compared to? Why, 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, of course. And that series is also being re-released monthly too. (It started in April.)

It’s a great time to revisit two maxiseries that redefined comics for good and for bad. You can click here to find the previous entries, but right now the tally stands at Secret Wars 3, Crisis 3. (The Secret Wars #7 Facsimile Edition is out this Wednesday.)

Ring the bell, Fred!


Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #7: “Berserker!”

This installment mostly just continues storylines from the previous ish without introducing anything new, except for the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman, a character literally no one asked for.

I doubt most readers realized that Jessica Drew had been de-powered, thereby leaving a hole in the Spider-Verse. But who is this person, other than the fact her new Mike Zeck-designed costume is awesome, and that she has presumably been quietly Spider-Womaning in the same Battleworld-transplanted section of Denver that Volcana and Titania hail from? (I mean, you kind of have to assume that, though that’s never spelled out in the story.)

In case you were wondering, Zeck did in fact design Spider-Man’s black costume first, then retrofitted it into Carpenter’s in real time—since, don’t forget, Spider-Man’s black costume showed up on the stands before it does in continuity chronologically. Got it?

The villains dump Wasp’s corpse on Heroes’ Village and drive off laughing, which seems, um, tactically unwise. I have a feeling Dr. Doom would have said this was a bad idea, had he known about it, but he’s not around to object. Galactus has finally figured out Doom has been wandering unhindered around his house for two issues and zaps him back to Battleworld. He mopes off to his room to contemplate his cosmic insignificance, forcing Volcana to sell her soul to the Enchantress to save her Wolverine-skewered boyfriend, Molecule Man.

Captain America says they can’t retaliate against Wasp’s murderers because someone has to sit here and keep an eye on Galactus (huh?) so She-Hulk goes and attacks Doom’s base single-handedly. This seems like an uncharacteristically dumb thing for Jennifer to do (she has a law degree!), but since nobody else in this series acts like they’re supposed to, why should she be any different?

After some initial success, the sheer numbers overwhelm Jen, and she gets a Hercules-in-Under Siege level beatdown—though this savaging in Secret Wars predates that one by a couple of years.

We end without knowing whether Jen’s alive or dead. Professor X telepathically tells Cap that the X-Men will take over as Galactus’ — I cannot stress this enough — totally unnecessary babysitters, so Cap is ready to go all Omaha Beach on the villains’ camp next ish.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7: “Beyond the Silent Night”

“This is IT!” is my favorite nonsensical hype copy on any comics cover. I love anything enthusiastically proclaiming its own existence. “Suck, it Magritte, this IS a pipe!”

Also: Does anything important happen in this issue? I’m not sure. The cover leaves it really vague.

Can I just say how much I admire the balls on DC who were like, screw it, just reveal the story’s ending on the cover. I bet they not unreasonably assumed that they had had so many dead heroes on their covers over the years that many readers would be like, “Oh, I wonder how Supergirl gets out of this one.” But no! Psyche! They did it, those bastards! They finally really did it! They blew it up!

Okay, after six issues of, to this reader, patience-straining set-up, this series finally starts kicking into gear. We get detailed origins for all the new characters introduced in the series so far. A footnote directs me to the “classic” 1965 Green Lantern #40 for background, which I obediently did, and was delighted to find it was exactly the kind of fucknuts Silver Age insanity the DCU is built on, insanity that, sadly, Crisis on Infinite Earths very much intends to do away with.

In the John Broome-penned “Secret Origin of the Guardians,” Alan Scott, the Earth-Two Green Lantern, deflects a meteor with his power ring, then finds that its beam can now affect wood, which it couldn’t before (due to “necessary impurities in the power battery,” sure, a likely story, editor note). This revelation is so Earth(s)-shattering that Alan immediately has to go to Earth-One to tell Hal Jordan. Hal suggests they ask Power Ring Siri what’s going on, something Alan doesn’t know why he didn’t think of (wait, I know, because then the story wouldn’t happen).

Despite what The Man tried to sell you in (finger quotes) “physics class” or (finger quotes) “Sunday School,” the real skinny on the universe is that 10 billion years ago, the tall blue super-geniuses of Oa led an idyllic existence with their boulder-levitating babies and giant frog races (yes, really).

However, one Oan scientist, Krona, sports the receding hairline that identifies bad people in a Gil Kane comic. He insists on probing the origins of the universe, despite the legend that doing so will destroy reality. “Such legends are tales only fools would fear,” Krona scoffs, and if this wasn’t a Silver Age DC superhero story, I’d be inclined to agree with him.

But this is a Silver Age DC superhero story, so of course as soon as he looks to the past to see a giant translucent hand holding a galaxy, cosmic lightning destroys his wayback machine. Evil is suddenly loosed in the universe: Non-Oans lose their immortality, and cavemen start beating the crap out of each other in a panel Stanley Kubrick would rip off by the end of the decade.

The Oans banish Krona to endlessly circle through the multiverse, then decide the best way to solve the problem of this newfangled evil stuff is to give a bunch of Space Cops magic green rings that don’t work against one thing. This ironclad logic serves them well throughout the following millennia until Green Lantern #40.

Turns out, that wasn’t a meteor Alan Scott zapped back on Earth-Two at all, but Krona in his banished energy form. This removed the woodphobia from the ring, freed Krona, and brought him to Earth-One. “Waves of evil” now bombard our beloved homeworld: massive tsunamis rage and mountains fire their rocky guts at cities like cannons. Kane renders all this craziness with the dynamic aplomb he’s justly famous for.

The Guardians summon Hal Jordan and Alan Scott to their temporary base in a conveniently vacant courthouse (fortuitously, the universe is in jeopardy on Memorial Day) where out of nowhere they fire Hal as this sector’s GL and give Alan his job. Hal is understandably pissed and challenges Alan to a Ring Duel (why aren’t Ring Duels a standard thing, if they were I might read Green Lantern more often). Alan defeats Hal, but it turns out Krona was possessing him and the Guardians the whole time.

Nothing if not persistent, Krona tries to pick up where he left off and probe the Giant Galaxy Hand, which, per Oan legend, will destroy the universe. Krona couldn’t care less. He’s clearly got OCD and can’t let this loose thread dangle. Alan’s soul has been absorbed by Hal’s ring, though, and together the two Green Lanterns force Krona to release the Guardians from his mental control. They zap the renegade back into exile, and the multiverse has been saved…

…at least until Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, wherein we learn the same cosmic lightning that blasted Krona also created the “evil” anti-matter universe, where the Anti-Monitor was spawned, just as the Pro-Monitor emerged from the primordial ooze of “good” Oa on Earth-One.

I have a lot of questions about the theological and cosmological implications of all of this. I deeply appreciate how Wolfman & Perez tie Crisis directly to the lovable sci-fi nonsense of Green Lantern #40 even as Crisis was intended to wipe said nonsense out of existence.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why DC felt like they had to do this. Marvel had been eating their lunch for years, in part because Spider-Man, the X-Men, and friends kind of act like recognizable human beings, while “The Secret Origin of the Guardians” reads like it was workshopped by mentally disturbed fourth-graders during recess at whatever high-walled institution they call home.

While the first half of this double-sized issue is a Who’s Who entry with captions, the second half at last delivers a meaningful superhero fight as Earth-Three’s Chosen One Alexander Luthor gathers the heavy-hitters of the remaining universes together to attack the Anti-Monitor in his appropriately spooky space castle. The Anti-Monitor starts wailing the crap out of Superman, and Supergirl sacrifices herself to save her cousin and force the baddie to retreat, saving existence—for now.

It’s a really good sequence! And I have a reason to care about what’s happening, finally, as the second longest scene up until this point, not coincidentally I am sure, was with Supergirl also. The other half of that two-girl scene, Barbara Gordon, gives a moving eulogy at Kara’s funeral. Crisis is starting to earn its reputation.


Our Tally So Far: CRISIS 4, SECRET WARS 3,


— COMIC BOOK DEATH MATCH: Secret Wars #6 vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths #6. Click here.

— The Complete COMIC BOOK DEATH MATCH Index. Click here.

13th Dimension contributor Fred Van Lente is an award-winning, New York Times-bestselling comics writer, as well as an occasional novelist, teacher, and playwright. Sign up for updates on his upcoming projects and check out the trailer for his comics-writing course at his web site,

Author: Dan Greenfield

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1 Comment

  1. Hey! I WAS one of those mentally disturbed fourth graders, & that issue of Green Lantern was wonderful at that age!

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