Review: The Crisis on Infinite Earths Tie-in Comic Is a Fun Companion to the TV Series

While not yet in comic book stores, Crisis on Infinite Earths Giant #1, the first of a two-part official tie-in to The CW's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" mega-crossover, is available in Walmart stores now, and making its way to the direct market soon. The issue, like the rest of Walmart's 100-Page Giant offerings, blends new stories with classic tales, and in this case brings back Crisis on Infinite Earths scribe Marv Wolfman and teams him up with fan-favorite artists Tom Derenick and Tom Grummett to write stories set in the world of The CW's Arrowverse. Wolfman has a steady hand to guide him through those waters in the form of his co-writer, Marc Guggenheim (the co-creator of Arrow and "Crisis on Infinite Earths" showrunner).

There are two pieces to look at here: Wolfman and Guggenheim wrote a lead feature as well as a backup feature, both of which take place between parts one and two of the crossover event. That means there's no spoilers here, as long as you have actually been watching the show, but it feels very engrained in the story. That alone is a win for a lot of fans, who were bummed that some of the characters represented in the lead feature -- Felicity Smoak, The Ray, Wally West, and Nyssa al Ghul -- were not able to show up in the TV crossover. The backup feature, which centers on Earth-38's Lex Luthor, sets up his quest to kill all of the multiverse's Supermen, as seen in the second hour of the show.

The art in the lead feature is stellar -- Derenick conveys emotion well, the layouts are exciting, and the character designs are mostly on-point. One could quibble with some design elements of Pariah and The Monitor, but that may be more a case of TV's bulkier costumes not porting over 1:1.

Derenick does a great job of emulating some styles when needed -- as we reported on when the book came out last weekend, the issue crosses over not just with TV universes but with the New 52 universe of the comics (which is obliterated promptly), and the world of the old Fleischer Superman cartoons.

As with the TV series, Guggenheim and Wolfman ably manage the cameos and the story -- and they even throw in a particularly fun Easter egg for fans of Wolfman's Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths one-shot from years back.

Tom Grummett, who draws the Lex Luthor backup, is versatile and talented. He manages to be chameleon-like, and to differentiate various different Luthors and Supermen in a way that works well for the comic. If there is one complaint it's that his likenesses are not especially spot-on. It may be that some of the actors just haven't signed off on that yet, but the big thing that stands out is the way Superman is built: not slender and flexible like Tyler Hoechlin's Supergirl character, but essentially identical to the Superman Grummett used to draw in the '90s when he was the regular penciller first on The Adventures of Superman and later on Superboy.

The story on the backup develops a little slower, too, but it builds character for the Luthors and sets up stakes for Superman. It also seems likely that the story in the backup will not be as grand in scope as the lead feature, meaning that a slower pace does not necessarily mean pacing problems.

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Ultimately, this is a really good read across the board. It isn't the best work either of the writers or artists have done, but considering the quality of their bodies of work, that's a really high bar to set. It's a great way to tide fans over until January 14 when "Crisis on Infinite Earths" comes back to conclude its Arrowverse story, and the sharp writing and crackling art make it an enjoyable diversion even for those who aren't especially up to date on the shows.

Rating: 4/5

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