“I’m giving you the chance to be a hero again. And not just to Gotham. The whole dang universe.”
WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Obviously, since this is Part Two of “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” we will be touching on events that happened in Part One.
After a tremendous loss to the first wave of Crisis, the heroes are in disarray. Though they want to mourn, circumstances don’t allow it; the antimatter wave won’t stop just so they can grieve. The Monitor refocuses the team on the next leg of their journey, including the news that to save the multiverse, the Seven Paragons, people who represent certain aspects of existence, must be found. With Kara tabbed the Paragon of Hope (it should be Superman but I get it, Supergirl actually has a show) and Sara is the Paragon of Destiny, five more Paragons remain to be discovered. The Monitor knows the mantle of the next two: that of Truth (who is another Kryptonian) and Courage (the Bat of the Future). Considering that this is, even as Crisis, a Batwoman episode, it’s not difficult to figure out where Kate Kane fits in all of this.
Taking a trip to the desolate Earth-99, Kara and Kate find a Bruce Wayne just as broken and battered, in both mind and body, as his forsaken world. He is not the Dark Knight anyone would remember, instead Bruce Wayne has become bitter and hopeless, a man who sees nothing left to fight for. His dialog with Kate is a cautionary tale of the dangers of fighting darkness; be careful lest ye become that darkness. It’s not until Kara discovers he has killed the Earth-99 version of Clark Kent that Kate understands how far her multiverse cousin has fallen. His diatribe against Superman is eerily similar to Ben Affleck’s initial judgment of Superman in Batman v Superman. An alien with godlike powers and no apparent allegiance to this world takes up residence is a recipe for disaster…or so Bruce believes. That cauldron of hatred and mistrust becomes his downfall and, upon returning from the journey, the Monitor shares with a confused and hurt Kate that she is indeed the Paragon of Courage. It’s a difficult thing for her to accept though Kara gives her some encouraging words, unaware that some of Bruce’s mistrust has rubbed off on Kate as she’s taken a sample of kryptonite from the dead Bruce’s exo-suit.
As the titular hero, Kate’s arc, however undeserved it may seem (considering there are greater heroes in the multiverse), is fitting for her and should pay dividends when Batwoman returns in 2020. But while she is not shortchanged by any means, there’s no questioning that Part Two’s MVP arc goes to the search for the Paragon of Truth.
Joined by Iris, Lois and Clark jump between Earths to discover which Superman is this Paragon of Truth. Their mission is spurred by the fact of Lex Luthor, resurrected by the Monitor, has stolen the Book of Destiny and is using it to kill the Superman across all Earths. The runner-up moment in Crisis, Part Two is when Lex meets the Clark Kent of Earth-167, none other than Smallville himself, Tom Welling. He’s still on the Kent farm, has a family with Lois (Erica Durance) and, a most shocking revelation to Lex, has given up his powers to have a family. It’s a sacrifice Lex, a megalomaniac to the highest order, can’t possibly understand, though it does change his approach in putting an end to his Kryptonian archenemy.
When Clark, Lois, and Iris arrive on Earth-96, they find a Clark Kent who has suffered the pain of loss the Monitor declared; He is their champion Paragon. But their success is short-lived as Lex uses the Book to make this Kingdom Come (KC) Superman battle Tyler Hoechlin’s Supes in what’s, at least for a network show, a captivating one-on-one super brawl. Lois eventually breaks Lex’s spell, appealing to KC Superman’s love for those he lost and bringing him into the fold for the fight to save the multiverse.
Though, like its predecessor, Crisis, Part Two relies on a healthy dose of fan service, its success (versus Part One) lies in the seamless integration of this nostalgia with the narrative’s primary themes. Even Tom Welling’s brief appearance gives us both a reminder of the humanity in all Clark Kents while simultaneously pointing out the stained soul that is Lex Luthor.
The final twist, Harbinger’s summoning by the Anti-Monitor, upends what should have been a somewhat hopeful conclusion. What does it mean for her role serving the Monitor and our white hats? Whatever it is, we’ll find out on The Flash. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
A Crisis in Flux
• As I’m not a fan of Supergirl, I don’t know much about this version of Lex Luthor except to say that 1) Jon Cryer does not portray the malevolent calm and genius of Luthor, 2) he’s still better than the Jesse Eisenberg portrayal, and 3) his resurrection by the Monitor makes no sense. Are you telling me that someone else couldn’t have used the Book of Destiny just as well as he did to track down the right Superman? This is another one of the hiccups that stories of time travel and multiverse-hopping are known for; if used incorrectly, they can cheapen life-altering events for the sake of future storylines. Crisis is far from over so I may be proven wrong here, but Lex’s revival seems more like a measure taken to keep him as a villain for either Supergirl or the upcoming Lois and Clark series.
• If there was anything Part Two didn’t land, it’s the Oliver resurrection story. His death in Part One seems like quite the red herring and if we’re forced to watch him die again—but for real this time—it further cheapens his sacrifice. And even as I say that, knowing that a second death will be Oliver’s true swan song, there’s a chance it could land a bit better than the first one.