Crisis on Infinite Earths

Published by:

ISBN: 1-56389-434-3
Edition size: 2,500 numbered
MSRP: $250.00

Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-issue maxi-series published in regular comic-book format in 1985. By then, DC Comics' continuity between its tremendous title base had become untenable to the point that, for example, what was happening in Batman directly contradicted events happening in Superman, which in turn completely ignored Wonder Woman. This was, some would argue, inevitable, since there had been such a massive amount of turnover of both creators and titles within DC for the past fifty years.

Crisis was suppose to fix all that. It was designed to be the crossover event to end all crossover events, with almost every major DC character making an appearance. The concept of the "multiverse" was firmly established. Beloved characters would be changed forever; some would even die. Entire planets were destroyed. And DC was able to "clean house" and pave the way for a fresh start with its entire title set, thereby allowing new readers to discover a more sensible DC universe.

That was the theory, anyway. It did manage to rein in the continuity chaos for a short time. More importantly, though, it gave DC a serious fiscal booster shot, as the series was a wild marketing success. It has since been regarded as one of the most critical titles ever produced by DC. Detailed information on the series can be found on the Wikipedia page for Crisis.

I honestly don't know how to adequately author my displeasure at this so-called "limited edition". What we have here is a marketing department's version of snake oil. In 1998, Dynamic Forces partnered with DC Comics to distribute a "special" version of Crisis billed as the only "signed & numbered" edition that would be offered for sale. Whereas the normal direct-sales title would retail for a hardly unsubstantial $99.95, the S/N version would jump to a whopping $250.

What Dynamic Forces (and DC, for that matter) neglected to mention was that they had absolutely no intention of producing anything of the sort. Instead, they did this:

They also included a ridiculous "Certificate of Authenticity".

And what's this, you might ask? It is what it is - a bunch of signatures on the face of the slipcase with a handwritten fraction. Understand that this book, at the time, could be purchased at ANY comic store or other direct-sales outlet. In other words, there is absolutely nothing different about this edition. All Dynamic Forces did was grab 2500 off-the-shelf books, feed the slipcases to the signatories in a production-line fashion, print 2500 "certificates", and hike the price by 150%. Who added the fraction is anyones guess.

To put it another way, the picture above is a NORMAL direct-sales book that could be bought anywhere, except with a bunch of names and a fraction scribbled on the slipcase. That's it - nothing more. This somehow became the "signed & numbered, limited hardcover edition" of Crisis. A terrible, greedy, and shameful display of the power of clever marketing, targeted at limited-edition aficionados. And it worked. When it was released, all 2500 sold almost immediately (hell, I bought one).

Dynamic Forces has a rich history of pulling this sort of stunt with a multitude of books. It's only been recently that they've begun manufacturing their own GENUINE limited-editions, with dedicated signature pages and different production materials. If you are considering the purchase of a DF-related signed book, especially one of their older titles, be extremely wary. What you might get is a regular book converted into a "signed & numbered" title - nothing more.

Tragically, DC's mishandling of the Crisis S/N hardcover undermined the book's endemic elements. While $100 is a steep figure, it does sport some incredible production values, including:

If DC and/or Dynamic Forces had produced a true S/N version, it would've been fantastic and well worth the $250 MSRP. However, they opted for the quick and cheap money-grab. Therefore, this "edition" of Crisis earns a permanent, regrettable rating of AVOID.

Here are some additional photos of the book. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but the poster is huge (a little smaller than a standard theatre one-sheet).

- N U M B E R E D -

The awesome, fantastic, stupendous, jaw-dropping wraparound cover by legendary Alex Ross.

The book sans dustjacket. Very nice leather was used for the boards.

The spine.

A large poster of the original cover of issue #1 or #7 (depending on the printing), featuring great art by George Perez.