Yesterday, the news officially broke that The CW's Marc Guggenheim would team with writer Marv Wolfman and artists including Tom Derenick and Tom Grummett -- "they only let us hire artists named Tom on this book," Guggenheim jokes -- for a Crisis on Infinite Earths 100-Page Giant one-shot. The issue, which will be available on December 15 at Walmart stores and shortly after that in the direct market, will fill in some gaps between the first and second hour of the upcoming crossover event, which launches on Sunday night on The CW. The pair joined ComicBook.com to talk a little bit about the project as well as sharing first look at some interior art from the two-issue story.
The preview pages, which you can see below, feature a handful of shots taken from between the scenes of The CW's "Crisis" crossover, and features characters like The Ray, Kid Flash, and Felicity Smoak -- none of whom were able to make on-camera appearances for "Crisis on Infinite Earths." This is what Marc Guggenheim meant when, a while back, he tweeted that he thought fans would be pleased with the solution they found for not having Felicity, one of the most important characters on Arrow for almost a decade, in the mega-event.
"The beauty of comics is that you never have a cartoon character tell you they have a scheduling conflict," Guggenheim told ComicBook.com during a recent interview. "No, honestly. One of the raisons d’etre behind doing the comic at all, is that the medium of comics allowed us to see characters we couldn’t include in the live-action version. The Arrowverse after eight years is so replete with all these fan-favorite characters. Even 48 pages wasn’t enough to get in every character, so I’m sure Twitter will have issues with the ones I chose."
Who did Guggenheim choose to save the multiverse in the crossover? Felicity Smoak, Nyssa Al Ghul, The Ray, and Wally West.
"I will say I gave serious thought to The Huntress," Guggenheim admitted after we asked about Jessica de Gouw's character, one of the first costumed vigilantes in the Arrowverse. "She nearly took Nyssa’s slot. The rationale was that we had done a comic book tie-in that bridged seasons two and three of Arrow and she had featured prominently in that, so Nyssa had not yet had her chance to be immortalized that way."
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" is something that Arrowverse fans have been gearing up for since the premiere of The Flash -- some earlier, considering that Arrow's first season actually introduced the character of Lyla Michaels. So while certain things are happening in real time, Guggenheim said that the comic is one of those things that was planned pretty far in advance.
"We started talking to DC about doing this as we were breaking 'Crisis,'" Guggenheim told us. "I should have taken a note of when the first meeting was, but it was quite a while ago. This has been in the works for quite some time. As we were breaking the crossover, we knew that we were doing the comic, so the two were able to get generated in tandem with each other. A lot of teams you do a tie-in and it’s an afterthought. Here it all went together in lockstep."
Wolfman added, "It allows for us to tell a much larger story. This is integral to the entire storyline."
And while reading 100-Page Giant will not necessarily be required for everyone watching the crossover at home, it is not just "here's now the crossover impacted people who you'll never see." There are appearances by The Flash, The Monitor, Lex Luthor, Batwoman, and other characters who will play key roles in the Crisis on the small screen.
In one of the preview pages, seen above, Pariah appears on a world that is about to be destroyed -- and it looks suspiciously like DC's "New 52" Earth -- the world created following the events of Flashpoint. That world is more or less the main DC continuity -- albeit with some significant tweaks following another couple of event series titled Convergence and DC Universe: Rebirth.
The inclusion of these characters in the one-shot, though, means fans get a canonical Arrowverse Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern -- even if it seems unlikely we will ever see them onscreen.
In another preview page, which you can see below, one of the worlds targeted for elimination appears to be the Earth inhabited by the Superman and Lois Lane from the Fleischer cartoons of the '40s. Not quite the Earth-2/"original" Superman from the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of the comics, this is nevertheless a pretty close approximation, given that he's still "leaping tall buildings in a single bound" rather than flying.
Even the design of the Metropolis cityscape veers toward the art deco look that helped make those cartoons look so dynamic -- and here, we get to see a pre-Jimmy Olsen reality, where Lois used to take her own photos.
This issue will explore a little bit of Pariah's sentence -- which seems to be a little more like the comics than anything we have seen so far from Nash Wells, the odds-on favorite to become Pariah within the TV miniseries, especially since every episode of the Arrowverse shows this week ended with Wells seemingly enveloped by energy while confronting The Monitor (or was it the Anti-Monitor? We will find out soon).
The designs for most of the characters are pretty spot-on, and while this looks more like comics Pariah than it does Tom Cavanagh, the costume tweaks made for TV are pretty well-represented in the art.
Pariah, like The Monitor, was created by Wolfman and artist George Perez for the original Crisis -- but the writer says that he knows better than to be precious about the changes made to the source material.
"Because of I’ve been doing comics, animation, and video games, I do versions f these characters -- some of which I created -- for totally different markets, and I write them in a totally different style," Wolfman explained. "When I’m plugged into the CW shows in my head, that’s what I’m writing. I’m not even thinking of a character that I may have created. My job is to do their version of it, so I never even consider it."
A character he did not create, but who plays a key role in the comic, is Felicity Smoak. Since Emily Bett Rickards left Arrow at the end of season seven, the final season has been a balancing act -- mentioning and alluding to the main character's wife while skirting around the fact that we haven't seen her in months.
All that ends here -- but Felicity doesn't look happy about it. Just like the last time she saw The Monitor, she's not having any of his cryptic BS...and she isn't alone this time, with The Ray also not especially pleased with the situation he finds himself in.
Wolfman says that he has been following the Arrowverse from the very beginning and considers himself a big fan of the series. He was excited to co-write not just this comic book but also the Arrow hour of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" with Guggenheim.
"I’ve been a fan since the first one, and I’ve seen every episode of every show," Wolfman told ComicBook.com. "The CW is doing the characters that I grew up with, the way I love to see them, with a lot of fun and a lot of silliness and a lot of good storytelling and characters."
A trip to Earth-X, where the Freedom Fighters are still taking on Nazis and the skies are red, likely means that things are not going to go well for anybody there. The Ray will appear in the series, but apparently after being plucked from his natural habitat.
This probably means that, barring some kind of minor miracle, we won't get another season of Freedom Fighters: The Ray on CW Seed, and while that's a bummer, it's hard to mourn the end of "Earth-Nazi."
"I think you have to have the end of a bunch of universes in order for Crisis to be Crisis," Guggenheim admitted. "You can’t do an adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet without the Infinity Gauntlet. That being said, our endgame — no pun intended — didn’t have to involve a rebooting or a restructuring or a 'fixing' of the Arrowverse. When I met with all the showrunners, I basically said listen, while we don’t have work to do in terms of cleaning up continuity, we do have, because of the nature of the story that we’re telling, an opportunity tot make whatever radical changes that we want to make. Think of this story as a magic ticket, and pretty much anything you ant to see coming out of Crisis we can probably narratively make happen. So it wasn’t so much a burden of fixing something, it was the freedom of being able to change whatever we wanted to change. I don’t think we went crazy, but the original Crisis comic apart from just rebooting the DC canon or the DC Universe, also put a lot of new toys in the toy chest. Doctor Light and Wildcat, Lady Quark. Even ultimately what became Superboy Prime. Crisis did more than just clean things up, it put new pieces in play, and that was something we were very interested in doing."
As previously announced, the two-issue miniseries will not just tell a new story set in the world of the Arrowverse Crisis, but it will also feature both reprint material from the comics and a backup story featuring Jon Cryer's Lex Luthor, who first appeared on Supergirl and will play a significant role in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in the comics.
"Jon Cryer’s Luthor basically gets the idea to do what he does in hour two of the crossover from that story, so it all ties together really neatly," Guggenheim said. "The Superman story is really so much fun. To see all those Luthors and all this Supermen together, it’s fun for any comic book fan -- and knowing how impossible that would be in live action, this is a real treat."
"I gotta tell you, Marv writes an incredible Jon Cryer Lex Luthor," Guggenheim teased. "Just has his voice completely nailed, and you’ll see that also in the live action version as well."
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off on Sunday, December 8 on Supergirl, runs through a Monday episode of Batwoman and that Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. That will be the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis. Black Lightning's midseason finale will have a "Crisis" tie-in as well, although unofficially.