Over the past year, both Marvel and DC Comics offered up crossover events: Marvel’s Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis and DC’s Final Crisis by Grant Morrison. Both are crossovers on the grandest of scales – mega-crossovers, you might say – and both are steeped in historical ambitions. DC’s Crisis is the third in a trilogy of crises, seeking to build on the success of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which made history in the 1980s with a crossover that had real and long-lasting effects on the DC Universe. It’s also probably no coincidence that Marvel’s big crossover is a “secret,” just like Marvel’s big 1980s crossover Secret Wars, a trend-setting trailblazer for the cosmic-war sub-genre of crossover.
Those two early crossovers set the standards by which all crossovers are measured: a looming menace of doom on a massive scale, the sacrificial death of a beloved hero, and lasting changes in the fictional world’s status quo. Oh, and try not to leave casual readers scratching their heads too much. Let’s take a look at how Secret Invasion and Final Crisis measured up. (WARNING: Capricious spoilers abound.)