Welcome to the final installment of the Crisis Crash Course! It’s hard to believe The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event is mere days away, but here we are with one last rundown of the past week’s Crisis-related events from the Arrowverse of TV shows, including Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, and Arrow. It’s a giant-sized final issue as all four shows got into the act this week to some degree, and we’ll take a look at all the important happenings ahead.
First, though, there were a few pieces of news outside of the shows. The first was the release of the final trailer for Crisis on Infinite Earths. The trailer included a new look at Tom Welling as the Clark Kent of Smallville, as well as the live-action debut of legendary Batman: The Animated Series voice actor Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne. It also gave viewers an idea of what The Monitor’s mission for the heroes will be, and featured what appeared to be the destruction of the Earth-38 universe. Big stuff just for a trailer.
The second piece, which we reported on Monday but which was confirmed by DC just today, is that The CW’s Crisis is getting a comic book tie-in. Original Crisis scribe Marv Wolfman will co-write the tie-in stories with Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim. The stories will feature characters who will not be appearing in the CW event, including Felicity Smoak, Wally West, The Ray, and more. A deluxe collection for the two-issue series will be released later in 2020, which was not confirmed by DC but which is up for pre-order on Amazon, with a new cover by Crisis inker Jerry Ordway, which you can see below.
And finally, elsewhere on the promotional front, The CW released some new photos from the event, including one of actor Stephen Lobo in the role of Jim Corrigan, the human host for The Spectre.
Another photo, released via TV Insider along with some others, shows Brandon Routh’s Kingdom Come Superman fighting with Tyler Hoechlin’s Earth-38 man of steel:
What has brought these two men of tomorrow to blows? In the original Crisis series by Wolfman & George Pérez, The Anti-Monitor has the Psycho-Pirate, whom he’s recruited away from The Monitor to act as his lackey, use his emotion-manipulating abilities to make the heroes of Earths-6, S, and X fight the heroes of Earths-1 and 2. Could something similar happen here? The Psycho-Pirate first appeared in the Arrowverse during last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover, as played by actor Bob Frazer, but he’s been conspicuously absent from any promotion for the Crisis event. It seems there are still secrets to be revealed in this crossover, and that’s an exciting prospect.
On to the events of the week!
Mar Novu’s Earth-38 Recruitment Drive
This week’s episode of Supergirl ended with a pair of scenes featuring Mar Novu, aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), apparently making his first return to Earth-38 in months. The first came at the tail end of a scene between J’onn J’onnz (David Harewood) and his brother, Malefic (Phil Lamarr). Some background: at the end of last season, Novu freed Malefic from the Phantom Zone, and Malefic immediately swore revenge on J’onn. Over the course of this season it’s been revealed that Malefic was sent to the Phantom Zone as a teenager after being unable to control his ability to ‘incept’ others’ minds and bend them to his will. Following Malefic’s exile, J’onn inadvertantly erased the memory of his brother from his own mind, and the mind of their father (Carl Lumbly). Following a series of attacks by Malefic, and Malefic’s own capture by Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), J’onn and his brother finally made amends by melding minds and absorbing each others’ pain over their past sins.
This week, J’onn said goodbye to his brother, and following Malefic’s departure The Monitor appeared. Novu revealed that he had freed Malefic from the Phantom Zone, and that he’d done so as a test for J’onn. He told J’onn he’d observed him during the “Elseworlds” crossover and recognized him as a fierce warrior who was held back by his past. Allowing J’onn to confront and accept his mistakes, Novu said, will allow him to be an even stronger fighter in the crisis to come.
With J’onn effectively recruited, The Monitor returned to his star platform headquarters, as previously seen during “Elseworlds.” Waiting for him there was Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer), whom Novu had saved from death at the hands of his sister in last season’s finale. Novu, once again carrying the Book of Destiny, told Lex that he brought him back to life because the universe has need of his mind. He told Lex that he can finally become the hero he’s always wanted to be, though an arrogant Lex said he’s always been the hero.
We’ve already seen Lex fighting alongside the heroes of Earths-1 and 38 in the very first promo released for Crisis. At the time I’d theorized that it might be a Lex Luthor from an alternate Earth, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The original Crisis series did see heroes and villains briefly teaming for a two-pronged confrontation with the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time. Following the creation of a new, combined Earth, though, the villains retained no memory of the team-up, a fact discovered by Batman, Robin, and the Alex Luthor of Earth-3 when they visited a newly-imprisoned Luthor.
J’onn J’onnz and Lex Luthor weren’t the only people The Monitor brought fully into the fold this week, though.
This week’s Arrow had the team back on Lian Yu, the island where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spent five years (off and on) and where he basically became the Green Arrow. They were brought there by Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), who also brought along all of the different items that Oliver has retrieved over the course of this season: the dwarf-star particles from Earth-2, the plans for the Pulse Wave Generator from Russia, and Dr. Wong. Lyla told the team that they needed to use all of those components to build a weapon for The Monitor, and that they needed to do it on Lian Yu due to energy fluctuations that had been occurring there and that they could harness to power the device.
Those energy fluctuations were having a crazy impact on time on the island, as long-dead people from Oliver’s past started popping up left and right, including a gang of mercenaries who Oliver faced and defeated during his first year on the island. During the final showdown with the mercenaries, Oliver’s son, William (Ben Lewis), completed building the device and attempted to activate it, which he theorized would draw in the island’s chronal energy from the mercenaries and take them out. He found himself unable to turn it on, though, and realized it was keyed to only work with a specific person’s DNA. When Oliver tried and failed, William realized that it wasn’t meant for Oliver: it was meant for Lyla. As Lyla held the orb-shaped weapon, a bright light washed over her and the rest of the island, and the mercenaries vanished. Lyla immediately put the orb down and told her husband, Diggle (David Ramsey), that she had to go. A breach opened up out of nowhere, and Lyla walked through it.
Later, after most of the team had boarded a boat to leave the island, Oliver and Mia were talking about their relationship and sharing a nice father-daughter moment when the skies above them turned red. A breach opened up again, and Lyla appeared again, this time in a blue and silver uniform. She told Oliver and Mia she was a harbinger of things to come, and that the crisis had begun.
We’ve known for weeks (if not years, really) that this was coming, but it was still exciting to see Lyla finally assume her final form as Harbinger. Unfortunately this development also mostly obliterates my theory about how Ryan Choi (to be played by Osiric Chou in Crisis) becomes the all-new Atom, as the dwarf-star particles I thought would be key to it have already been used. Maybe Lyla passes them on to him somehow?
What also remains to be seen is how much Harbinger’s role in Crisis will mirror her role in the original comics. We already know based on promo materials that she’ll be travelling around recruiting heroes to The Monitor’s cause, which was one of the key functions she played in the series. It was while on that mission in the comics that she came to be under the control of The Anti-Monitor, which ultimately led to her murdering The Monitor. Will that story play out the same way on television?
As for what caused the red skies to appear when they did, that explanation came elsewhere.
Nash Wells Meets His Maker
This week’s episode of The Flash was primarily focused on Team Flash rescuing Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) from the thrall of Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy), but that doesn’t mean Crisis-y things weren’t still happening. Throughout the episode Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is seen in the underground tunnel he’s been in basically all season. Having unearthed the metal door last week, Nash considers what to do when a booming voice, which Nash assumes is The Monitor, tells him that all of his questions will be answered if he just kneels and submits. The two go back and forth over this, Nash reiterating that he wants to destroy The Monitor, the voice telling him to just give in.
The chamber begins to shake and Nash’s lights go out, at which point the events of the rest of the episode intercede and Nash is attacked by a Bloodwork-infected zombie. Nash struggles against what turns into a horde of the infected, and just as they’re about to overwhelm him, a wave of ultraviolet light (generated by Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) back at S.T.A.R. Labs) washes over the entire city, including the tunnel. The UV wave cures everyone of Bloodwork’s infection, and saves Nash’s life.
The problem is, Nash doesn’t know that’s what happened. As far as he knows, whoever was behind that metal door saved him from the zombies. The final scene of the episode, a scene that played at the end of every episode of this week’s Arrowverse shows, had Nash agree to submit to the voice. He pressed the symbols on the metal door in a specific sequence, and after a moment the doors shot open, bright light filling the room. As Nash revelled in it, white energy – what looked like anti-matter – burst through the door, grabbing a screaming Nash and pulling him in, the door slamming shut behind him.
It’s probably safe to assume that the next time we see Wells will be as Pariah. In the original Crisis on Infinite Earths series by Wolfman and Pérez, Pariah was a scientist who, in his quest to uncover the secrets of the universe, unwittingly awakened the Anti-Monitor, thus kicking off the events of the series. He found himself, due to the machinations of The Monitor, drawn to wherever evil was about to present itself, doomed to watch worlds be destroyed the the anti-matter wave but never to die himself.
It certainly seems like Nash opening the door in that chamber is what frees The Anti-Monitor and initiates the crisis, as a time-stamp on-screen indicated that he opened the door around midnight on October 10th, the date within the series that the event is due to begin. At that same time back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash saw the skies over Central City turn red, and the same was seen by Oliver and Mia in the skies over Lian Yu. That, coupled with the tone of the voice and the commands it gave to Nash, indicates to me that the voice Nash was speaking to was not actually The Monitor, but in fact The Anti-Monitor.
This raises a question, though: if The Anti-Monitor has been trapped this whole time, and was only just now freed by Nash, how did he destroy Earth-2 back in the Arrow season premiere? In the original Crisis comic, the anti-matter wave was capable of destroying the future and the past of a world along with the present. Perhaps, upon being freed now, The Anti-Monitor decided to attack Earth-2 in the past to make an example of it. Or perhaps he knew he would have to destroy Earth-2 so that Nash Wells, who I theorized recently is actually the Harrison Wells of Earth-2, would hunt him down and eventually free him. Who doesn’t love closed-loop time travel?
This is it. The Crisis on Infinite Earths is upon us. As mentioned at the beginning, this will be the final installment of the Crisis Crash Course for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, for those who don’t watch all of the Arrowverse shows each week, this feature has been a helpful recap of what’s been going on in the run-up to the crossover. And for those who do watch all of them, hopefully I’ve been able to provide some context for what’s happened, and how we may see the Crisis of the comics play out on-screen. We’ll all find out together in two days, when Crisis on Infinite Earths begins on Sunday, December 8th, at 8PM Eastern on The CW.