Give a man a book, he’ll go on a multiverse killing spree.
That’s the outcome of part two of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” an hour brimming with some fantastic action, terrific fan-service and several scene-stealing performances. It’s almost as if it’s a different show, and it is, it’s “Batwoman.”
Don’t knock it ’til you watched it.
Lex Luthor is very much alive, with his own part to play, the Monitor assures the assembled heroes.
Lex immediately steals the magical Book of Destiny and sets out to destroy every Superman everywhere. The Monitor is surprisingly chill about his cosmic vendetta.
Now this is a problem because our heroes have been charged with rounding up the legendary heroes – paragons – who can save the multiverse.
The Monitor identifies Kara/Supergirl as the Paragon of Hope. Sara/White Canary is the Paragon of Destiny.
They need to find the Paragon of Truth – a Kryptonian on another world, and the Paragon of Courage, the Bat of the Future.
On Earth-99, Kate and Kara meet the Bruce Wayne of “Kingdom Come,” an elderly man in an exoskeleton. He’s played by Kevin Conroy, the actor at the heart of “Batman: The Animated Series” and simply the finest Dark Knight we’ve ever had.
For decades, Conroy has voiced Bruce/Batman in various spinoffs and videogames, but to my knowledge, this is his first live-action performance in the role, and the man delivers.
He’s gruff but charming, until Kara calls him out on killing his world’s Superman. The moment is a great reminder that Bruce Wayne was always the mask for him, in any universe. This man has indeed lived so long and killed so many, he is a monster.
He attacks Kara with the help of a sliver of Kryptonite. Kate comes to her aid, and in their struggle, Bruce is electrocuted.
So much for that paragon.
Turns out the Monitor is good with semantics. He had said the search would lead to the Bat of the Future – that’s Kate.
Kate is shaken, even more so by Kara’s vow to use the Book of Destiny to bring back Earth-38, no matter the peril.
Kate plays with the sliver of Kryptonite she retrieved from her “cousin,” and you know she’s wondering if she’ll have to kill a Kryptonian herself.
Kal, Lois and Iris are too late to save the Superman of Earth-75 from Lex.
On Earth-167, they encounter “Smallville’s” Flannel Superman – Tom Welling, who is surprised that Lex is coming to kill him, since he’s president.
Lex thrusts some Kryptonite at him, but Clark is unfazed, with good reason. He gave up his powers.
I knew we’d never see Welling in the Superman costume, but the news that he is now living as a mortal man is a surprise.
Lex slinks away through his interdimensional portal. It’s just no fun if he can’t kill a real superman.
A bemused Clark is joined by his wife Lois – Erica Durance, in her second role in two nights – who wants to show him what their girls have made. She thinks he’s joking when he talks about the multiverse ending.
“Sounds like a job for us.”
On Earth-96, Kal, Lois and Iris find Daily Planet Editor Clark Kent – Brandon Routh doing double duty and reprising his role from the 2006 film “Superman Returns.”
Routh brings such kindness and decency to his Superman, which is why it’s horrifying when Lex shows up with a new twist – he wants Superman to murder Superman and magically enrages older Clark.
As the two Supermen brawl over the skies of Metropolis, we are treated to one of the better action sequences of this or any CW hero series.
The Kals collide with such force in the air, the windows shatter on nearby office towers.
Their titanic struggle takes a turn when Lois finally gets the bright idea to take Lex out and retrieve the Book of Destiny. Lois and Iris get through to Middle-Aged Supes by reminding him of who he truly is, and he agrees to join them.
Meanwhile, Barry can’t let go of his bromance with Oliver, and that leads to an earth with one of the few remaining Lazarus pits. Problem: The pit revives the body, but Constantine doesn’t have the power to return Ollie’s soul, so for now, he’s a monster. Oops.
Sara promised her crew that they’d never have to do another crossover – a meta way of addressing how the Legends have been left out in recent go-rounds. But that leads to the hilarious appearance of Mick from Earth-74. He’s an aspiring romance novelist who is constantly harassed by the AI in the Waverider – Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart. I’ve so missed these two together. Whoever came up with this deserves a raise.
This episode had so many Easter eggs in it, I could probably spend a week cracking them all. Routh’s Superman lost his loved ones to the Joker, yes?
The Crisis is really making me warm up to Kate in a way her own series has not. “I think the multiverse is ending soon-ish,” she interrupts Kara and Sara. She only seems to trust Kara – and by the end of the hour, we find out not even her. Her cynicism and even hostility is a welcome contrast to the determined veterans around her.
We’re seeing so much of baby Jonathan, he must be key to defeating the Anti-Monitor, don’t you think?
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” continues on “The Flash.”