Crisis II – Roy Thomas’ Ideas

As we saw last week, even as CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was getting under way in 1985, DC Comics’ leadership realized that they had an enormous hit on their hands. And so, even though only the first issue or two had reached the stands, Executive Editor Dick Giordano solicited ideas from both his editorial staff as well as a number of key writers for a sequel project of some kind–a CRISIS II. A wide assortment of people put their ideas forward for this, but no one specific idea really caught on for long (although certain of the ideas were developed relatively far before being dropped or morphing into other projects.) Eventually, CRISIS II would see print as LEGENDS.

But of course, I find these roads not taking pretty fascinating. So what we see here is an even earlier memo submitted by Roy Thomas outlining his thoughts on what a CRISIS II project might be about. As we covered previously, the first CRISIS wound up doing a lot of damage to Thomas’ relationship with DC’s management as it wiped out Earth-2 as a concept–Roy had been designated the “Earth-2 editor”, and so he found himself suddenly a king without a kingdom. He also had to work out how to pivot his two ongoing titles, INFINITY INC. and ALL-STAR SQUADRON, both of which had been explicitly set on Earth-2, to function in the new singular DC cosmology. For all that he was having difficulties with the situation, though, Roy put forward his ideas like a trooper.

Roy’s initial idea here may be the genesis of the notion that Aquaman would become a villain in the later CRISIS ON CAPTIVE EARTH concept that for a while appeared as though it would be the series that moved ahead. And his notion of a year of a world without Superman portents the SUPERMAN titles in the immediate aftermath of the Death of Superman almost a decade later. The All-Star Squadron/Legion of Super Heroes crossover that he speaks about, though, never wound up happening.

Roy also dances around the notion of restarting the DC Universe from scratch at the end of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, something that Marv Wolfman definitely wanted to do at one point, but the logistics of which proved too difficult to undertake. Instead, DC wound up rolling out the changes wrought by CRISIS a bit more piecemeal, as creators became available and ideas for the relaunches solidified. It’s hard to remember looking back after all this time, but that period between CRISIS and the LEGENDS/The new launches for SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN was a bit of a hodge-podge patchwork.

9 thoughts on “Crisis II – Roy Thomas’ Ideas

  1. A weird thing to read as seen through the prisms of the fan-lore Preferred Narratives binaries of the time. Those have Jim Shooter as the jackass, and Dick Giordano as the kindly, encouraging, licentious Unca Dick. If Shooter ever responded to anyone in such a condescending and obnoxious manner, I’d be very interested in seeing it.

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    1. My apologies to the late Mr. Giordano. It’s Roy Thomas who’s being an absolute dillweed. If you don’t want your proposals accepted, letters like this are Exhibit A in how you don’t go about it.

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  2. The permanent hero as villain idea is intriguing on the one hand, but would have ultimately likely been disappointing either from a characterization / motivation sense, or from a not enough star power sense, ie. wanting Green Lantern and instead getting, say Geo-Force.

    Of course, we sort of got this anyway with Armageddon 2001, and that was, indeed, disappointing.

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    1. I was thinking of 1991’s “Armageddon 2001”, too, reading Roy’s suggestion for pulling the name from a hat, sworn to secrecy “on a(n) oath in (written in?) the blood of Robert Kanigher”? Morbid. 😉 I remember Monarch (could’a had a better name), the hero turned villain, initially had blue eyes, & then in later issues the eyes were brown, just before being revealed to be Hawk (of “& Dove”‘s. There were articles somewhere that Captain Atom may have been meant to become Monarch, but then he was switched out for Hawk. But Gerry & Roy’s ideas were 5 years earlier. My problem there is that every character is somebody’s favorite character. Except maybe the Red Bee (R.I.P. whose death was written by Roy). But you’re gonna upset somebody by making a hero into a villain.

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  3. The idea of a hero permanently becoming a villain is intriguing but likely would have been disappointing either from a characterization / motivation standpoint or simply from a star power one, ie. wanting Green Lantern and instead getting, say, Geo Force.

    Of course, I guess we got this anyway with Armageddon 2001, and yeah, it was disappointing on both fronts.

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  4. I don’t like the idea of a hero going bad being random (I much prefer it being story driven), but his mentioning GL turning bad was a bit prophetic. In terms of Toms last point, the final issues of DC Comics Presents are particularly interesting in terms of Pre-Crisis wrap-up (the final Phantom Zone story which Alan Moore’s final Earth-1 Superman story contradicts) and early attempts at a Post-Crisis Earth.

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  5. I have to say I liked Gerber’s Phantom Zone story more than Moore’s farewell to Superman.
    The problem with a superhero going bad forever is that if they’re big enough for anyone to care, it’s not going to last, guaranteed.
    I do think things might have been simpler if DC had rebooted everything from scratch instead of embracing the idea that any time anyone wants a reboot, hey give it to them, continuity doesn’t matter!

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