Let me just say two words: utter crap.
Okay, before the lynching starts, let’s go a few steps back. Crisis is the mother of all crossovers, the biggest DC Universe story ever told. The whole DC multiverse was simplified to just one timeline, that had merged aspects of all the timelines that existed before. As a concept, it sounds not so bad. But as a story, it’s barely readable. Even someone like me, who likes to read superhero comics and has an average understanding of the DC Universe, had trouble even finishing it (out of boredom).
This comic is an extreme example of how culture can be embedded in its own timeframe. Crisis is a gift to those readers who followed the DC universe for years until the middle of the 80ties. It’s an epic climax to decades of world-building. Universes and heroes die, good and evil unite to fight something worse, and so on. It looks cool in concept, but nothing more. If you weren’t a reader at that time, if you don’t know half of the characters, than this will be an exercise in patience. I needed two months to force myself through this behemoth, without ever feeling like it was worth it.
The characterization is extremely thin. They tried to cram so many characters into it, that none of them felt like real ones. After a while I really didn’t care who of the heroes or villains got offed, they all seemed so interchangeable (although it was quite disturbing how much the series reveled in death and destruction). The plot jumped from scene to scene, barely managing to tell a coherent narrative. All so often scenes got interrupted and followed by a reference for another DC series that would tell what happened with this specific plot-line. In general there was no flow to the scenes, it felt too mechanically, too much like working through a checklist of events instead of telling a real story.
And then there’s the Anti-Monitor. He’s one of the most generic villains to ever helm such a big event (okay, Marvel had Onslaught). Guy wants to recreate the anti-matter universe in his image and to do that he has to wipe out the matter-multiverse. Neither does this explanation nor his motivation ever really makes sense. He’s just a powerful being for the good guys to take out. He’s boring and unconvincing, just like the rest of the crossover.
Overall, I can understand why this comic appealed in its day, but I think it’s something that should be revered in remembrance, not by actually reading it today. I especially like the afterword of the Absolute edition by Dick Giordano, that puts down most crossovers for being constructs, not stories that needed telling. Because, that was exactly how I felt after reading Crisis, a story put together like an engineering exercise. I can even believe that the people who worked on it saw Crisis as a calling (also in the afterword by Giordano), but there’s a good reason that fanboys shouldn’t be allowed to write what they see as their best ideas. The end-product is nearly always shit.
Okay, one good thing I have to mention about Crisis. The covers of the single issues were simply phenomenal. Sadly, the issues never managed to fulfill the expectations raised by these covers.