The superhero tv event of the year, and arguably of a lot more than that, begins with Supergirl. The most powerful of the CW heroes is a great place to start off a story that shakes the foundations of the CW Arrowverse. After all the lead-ins, hints, and rumors, the event opens with LaMonica Garrett, the Monitor, reading an introduction that’s almost word for word the opening text for the comics book series about the creation of the Multiverse. After talk of the age of heroes, the enemy of all life, and a montage of the CW heroes in action, we get a whirlwind tour of many different Earths and cameos by a lot of different characters. There will be some spoilers because there’s just so much going on here.
One of the last warnings of the Crisis’ Anti-Matter wave of destruction coming is the skies turning red, and then a bright white light as the world and everyone on it is destroyed. First stop is Earth-89, where Alexander Knox, from the first Michael Keaton Batman film, sits on a bench and reads a story about Batman and the Joker (a bit odd since Batman killed the Joker in that world), hoping the “big guy” is seeing this. The Danny Elfman music even plays in the background. Hawk and Robin II of the DC Universe Titans barely are on-screen long enough to register before the light claims them. The Ray, last seen on the Earth-X crossover, doesn’t fare any better. The much older Dick Grayson of Earth-66 (Burt Ward from the first tv show way back when) walks a version of Ace the Bat-Hound and exclaims “Holy Crimson Skies of Death!” as that Batman music also plays.
Done with the tour for now, we settle on Earth-38, home of the Supergirl series (named for 1938, the year Superman first appeared). A protestor walks the street, ranting about the end being near. The sign he carries is actually from one of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and the man himself is Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the voice of many DC characters on various cartoons. He almost gets killed by a callback to an earlier Supergirl episode when the Girl of Steel herself arrives to show his claims about no one being able to save them are wrong… at least for now.
Returning to the DEO, she joins her fellow heroes as they slowly become aware of the magnitude of the disaster starting to unfold. The dread antimatter wave starts to register on their long-range sensors, and even Brainiac 5 doesn’t have an idea of how to stop it. The wave’s first victim in the universe is going to be Argo City, home of Supergirl’s mother Allura, and where Superman and Lois went to allow her to have her baby safely. In a scene that should resonate with anyone who knows comic book superheroes, Allura leads the Kents to a hidden chamber, where a spaceship awaits, big enough for one small passenger. Actually using John William’s amazing Superman music, baby Jon Kent is sent off into space with Clark and Lois saying the dialogue from Marlon Brando’s Jor-El in the first Superman movie. Kryptonians do tend to send their kids off into space in a really insufficient amount of ships. Argo City, the last surviving piece of Krypton, is destroyed as the horrified heroes at the DEO look on.
Over on Earth-1, the “main” Earth of the Arrowverse, we see Team Arrow on Lian Yu, looking up at the red skies and ominous lightning, and then Flash in Central City being taken away by Harbinger. Next up, Batwoman in Gotham, who doesn’t even know about the multiverse and isn’t happy about being yanked away from her fight with the Wonderland Gang. At a bar quiz in Central City, Ray and Sara of the Legends of Tomorrow uncover another way they accidentally changed history, being corrected by the quizmaster played by Griffin Newman, who was Arthur on the Tick show. They, too, get taken by Harbinger. The gathered heroes end up at the DEO on Earth-38. After some initial weapon pointing by the DEO agents, Harbinger explains what’s going on. Superman and Lois were saved from the destruction of Argo, but they were the only ones, and Jon’s pod has gone missing. There’s confusion, introductions, unmasking, and a well-deserved punch before everything gets sorted out.
Harbinger briefs the gathered heroes, and Oliver backs her up, telling them about the destruction of Earth-2. Flash and the Legends are off doing some recon, we’re told, and then a new event happens. Harbinger tells them that this, too, is part of the Monitor’s plan. Brainy and Ray Palmer techno-babble at each other for a bit, and then there’s a lead on the missing pod. Things are already desperate, and the heroes have to split up. Even the Man of Steel is told he has a part to play, and it’s not finding his son. Lois, Brainiac 5, and Sara Lance, the White Canary, set off for Earth-16 to find the missing infant, while the other heroes prepare for a desperate fight to save what they can as destruction approaches.
They come up with a desperate plan to evacuate as much of Earth-38 at they can, but it involves turning to Lena Luthor for help. Given recent events on Supergirl, no one really trusts her, but she, too, doesn’t want everyone to die, so helps out, after hurling several more barbs at Alex when she comes to ask. Superman is shaken by what he’s seen, and the ever-optimistic Supergirl does her best to get him back in the right frame of mind. Oliver takes a moment to give something special to Mia (how it got to Earth-38, I have no idea) and they talk about legacy and loss. Barry returns from superspeed recon, and he and Oliver do some catching up. Angered at what he hears, Oliver demands, and gets, a quick meeting with the Monitor. The enigmatic being explains some of what’s to come to Oliver. Massive earthquakes begin, and Supergirl, Superman, and Flash take off to handle the damage and rescue who they can.
The away team ends up in the ruins of Star City in the year 2046, a dark future Sara has seen before. She fights this version of Oliver until he recognizes her, and is stunned she’s alive (although he knew she was in the Legends episode he appeared in). Sara tells him about her Oliver, and the life he led, while Lois thanks him for saving her baby. A massive exodus begins back on Earth-38, which includes a Legion cruiser (although the only one we’ve seen so far left with Mon-El and Winn a while back). J’Onn is piloting, although with his powers, I’d think he’d be more useful in the fight.
Another nasty element from the comics, the Shadow Demons, show up to destroy whatever they can. Atom, Green Arrow, Batwoman, and Mia do their best to hold off the horde. There’s some great teamwork, but our small band of heroes look like they are going to fall to the weight of numbers. They get reinforcements as Superman, Supergirl, and Flash return. Out on the streets, Dreamer is reduced to essentially traffic control, and Kelly Olsen shows she got a present when her brother left the show. Alex makes a useful suggestion to Lena, and they get their massive portal up and running.
Sara finishes her tale, and Old Oliver shakes his head, remarking her world is stranger than his. She tells him he’s a good man on every Earth, and they leave with the baby. The skies go red as Earth-38’s time starts to run out. As many as can be are evacuated, and the battle gets worse as the Demons get more aggressive. Seeing this is a lost cause, with many fights yet to come, the Monitor returns and begins forcibly evacuating the heroes, one after another. Oliver is left to last, and he refuses to give up before everyone is safe. And he means everyone.
Disabling the Monitor with a trick, the Green Arrow makes his last stand, getting wounded over and over as the mass of enemies close in. Finally, the inevitable happens. Oliver reaches back to find his quiver empty, drop his bow, snarls in rage, and leaps to the attack, fighting for just a few moments as the antimatter wave erases Supergirl’s home.
The next rallying point is Star City on Earth-1, and the battered and bloodied Oliver appears there, on a medical bed. The gathered heroes are stunned and shocked as he says some goodbyes and the Monitor tells how many the archer managed to save by his actions. The hero that began the Arrowverse dies as the Monitor confesses surprise, and Nash Wells, now Pariah, issues a gloomy prediction.
What I liked: The word is overused these days, but this truly was epic. The number of appearances they worked in was amazing. The rights for the different music alone would keep lawyers and agents busy. You get an idea of how dangerous this is, and they had some shocking deaths and losses. I’m a sucker for a noble heroic death, and Oliver certainly lived up to that ideal. I was stunned they killed him so early in the event.
What I didn’t: There were a few bits that didn’t quite work or glitches they needed a fanboy/geek like me around for (the newspaper, the Legion cruiser). Benching J’Onn and Dreamer for the fight really didn’t make any sense. If Kelly is going to eventually become a new Guardian, I’m fine with her having the shield, but if that was just a little bit of weirdness in the crossover, it’s out of place and doesn’t make much sense to me.
This was a fantastic opening act. I’ll give it the rare 5 out of 5.