Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pt. 4 (or 4a or 4.1 or something like that...)

"Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the DC Universe will never be the same... "

That was a big promise from DC and as one Trope writer confessed, they delivered.

As my world ended, so did that of my heroes. As my personal history was forever altered, so was that of the characters I grew up with. Two of whom I knew and liked, but never really followed much, got killed - Supergirl and the Flash. Barry Allen's death was a complete shock; I owned Flash comics for crying out loud!

But Supergirl's? Well, not so much. She never was treated as a major player -except when she punched Darkseid through a planet in the Great Darkness Saga. Or when she nearly killed the Anti-Monitor.

(Hmmmmm. Maybe she was a major player after all. "Hey Darkseid, you got chicked! Hey, Anti-Monitor, you got chicked!" Maybe this woman was too dangerous to keep around! She wasn't raised by the Kents, you know. No telling WHO she'd punch next! "Batman... what did you say to my cousin?" "Oh, no..." POWWWW!)

But editorial staff wanted to change the DC universe -make it better. It was Marv Wolfman's idea, ever since he was a little boy of 10, to do this. Marv's a good writer, and fan-favorite artist George Perez was his buddy. They meshed nicely, and it showed in every panel of Crisis. Marv wanted a big superhero showdown with every character in the DC universe fighting one honking universal villain. George loves to cram as many characters as he can in one drawing. It was a match made in heaven.

You know, I know this will sound weird, but Jesus likes that stuff. He likes big magnificent operas. He likes changing worlds and times. He doesn't worry about piddly little grammar constructions like you or I. He talks about future events in past tense, unaccomplished actions as if they are already done. Like He knows everything. Like He's God incarnate.

Here - let me show you in Matthew's gospel. Jesus is talking about the future of Jerusalem and mankind, and as a teen I caught this and it took my breath away:

Matthew 24:6-22
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

Its a long quote, I admit, but the punchline is worth it.

Jesus, 2000 years ago, is talking about the future of our world. He's speaking of it in future tense AND past tense and doesn't seem to care which we like. He talks of future calamities as certainties that have been cut short.

Why are those terrible days being edited or reduced in length? Because of the elect - the very people Jesus has chosen to redeem. In other words, the good guys.

Jesus is saying, in effect, it will be so awful, so wretched and strife-filled, that God, my Father, will end it sooner than normal out of compassion for His people. He implies that they would have become villains if it continued any longer.

Remember the quote by Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight? "You either die a hero -or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." I believe that's what Jesus is warning us about.

Despair is infectious, and when our current sufferings exceed all previous sufferings, we lose hope and faith that it will ever change. Like Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, we must learn that our great physical strengths and skills will not armor our soul against hopelessness. Though he dies on the field of battle, ashamed of his weakness, Aragorn comforts him and affirms his bravery. It is a touching moment, immortalized in the hero's sacrifice and resting humility.

They say - DC that is - they are going to bring back Barry Allen, the Flash. Wolfman confirms that he DID leave "an opening in time" for such an occurence, that his death need not be final.

Some don't like that. They say it cheapens Barry's death, that it makes his sacrifice meaningless.

Jesus doesn't agree, for obvious reasons. Neither do I.

We need a hero to return to us who is/was willing to die, who knows the future becomes the past one minute at a time, one second at a time - and crises can strike at any moment. A hero who is not afraid of "wars or of rumours of wars" because he has seen it all.

In DC's universe, we need Barry Allen, the Flash.

In ours we need Jesus, the Christ. The Savior Who Knows the Future as the Past.

I hope that today you will call on Him who rules the ages.


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